Data and AI Service design

Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence Lab Unveils Synthetic Speech System

Communicating with computers by natural speech is a dream which goes back to Star Trek and 2001 (and well beyond, but this is not a history of science fiction). Recently, there have been clear advances in how computers understand humans – Alexa, Siri and their friends, as well as the new levels of call centre hell. But computers speaking to humans still sound robotic, because they are chaining words together and the intonation never sounds quite right. But now that’s changing too, with speech being constructed on the computationally intensive fly. And that may be important not just in its own right but as a step towards more fundamental changes in how people and machines interact with each other.

MIT Technology Review

Organisational change

Blend small changes with large changes


Transforming everything at once doesn’t work, so it’s important to be both continuous and incremental and discontinuous and dramatic.

Barry Quirk -Twitter

Data and AI

How to Hypnotise an Artificial Intelligence

This is fiction. Sort of. One of the problems with artifical intelligence is that if it is trained on real world human data, it will reflect the prejudices, foibles and distortions of real world humans. And if it isn’t trained that way, it’s usefulness in the real world will be pretty limited. But what if that training could be deliberately gamed?

Terence Eden

Universal basic income

Basic income and the new universalism

Universal basic income is often talked about as just another form of social welfare, a sort of universal credit without the tapers. But it can also be seen as a much more radical political and social shift.

This essay digs deep into those issues in a very readable way, ranging from philosophical underpinnings through to links to the fear of automation, a fear that is itself perhaps becoming more universal as automation spreads into white collar work.

Roope Mokka and Katariina Rantanen – Demos Helsinki

Data and AI

A Hippocratic Oath for AI developers? It may only be a matter of time

Developing artifical intelligence is often seen as essentially a technical problem. But it also raises difficult ethical issues about accoutability, transparency, discrimination and privacy. Does that mean that the developers of such systems should be subject to some form of hippocratic oath?  That seems both to be an important question and a rather naive one. In the month where we learned that Uber deployed software to evade regulatory oversight, it’s clear that this is about organisations and their culture and about social norms and expectations as much as it is about the behaviour of individual developers.

Benedict Dellot – RSA