The great awakening. Our January Newsletter.

Tim LeRoy
on 11 January 2017

It’s called many things: deep learning, neural networks, thinking computer systems, the start of Skynet, but whatever its name, A.I. is awake and an ever-growing part of our lives.

Our January newsletter is dedicated to interesting and important reading that helps us to understand the very complex, but highly important role A.I. will play in the future, and is playing in our lives already.
winte is coming

Even for experienced technologists, the applications for Artificial Intelligence and their implications are not easy to grasp. So to understand the big picture(s) it helps to get a good briefing first, and in his excellent video/deck AI, Deep Learning, and Machine Learning: A Primer Frank Chen also explains why there is a good reason for using that picture….

Google brain

The Great A.I. Awakening.

You’ll need the best part of an hour to read this excellent piece from The New York Times, but it’s well worth it. Gideon Lewis-Kraus spent a lot of time embedded with the Google team that used artificial intelligence to transform Google Translate, and uses that story to explain, brilliantly, how machine learning is poised to reinvent computing itself.

[Get a cuppa, mute the phone, and read more here]

If you don’t have an hour now, Gil Fewster rounds it up briefly and in layman’s terms. Because it’s such a complex story, Fewster admits to being a bit over-excited, but the highly-informed comments and responses below the post make for great reading too.

[read the article on Medium here]

speech recognition

“Language is widely seen as humankind’s most distinguishing trait. AI researchers insist that their machines do not think like people, but if they can listen and talk like humans, what does that make them? As humans teach ever more capable machines to use language, the once-obvious line between them will blur.”

This is another long article, but The Economist’s Tech Quarterly ‘Finding a voice’ is well worth the time.

ai code

Machine learning will become the new standard feature.

Soon, some of the cleverest business intelligence tools will stop being special and start being a regular feature in most software stacks. New is the new normal.
[read more here]

For every pro, and of course there are many, there are cons, and there maybe more of those. Artificial intelligence is going to make it easier than ever to fake images and video, so you won’t need fake newsrooms full of Macedonian teenagers to rig an election.
[read the real news about fake things here]

poker dogs

Some of the Dootrix team used to spend their lunch hours playing cards, so it’s no surprise that they’ve moved on and have built their own bots and taught them to play Hearts. More about that in another issue, but for now ‘scientists’ are upping the Ante.


In a step towards understanding the origins of human speech, researchers have worked out a way to understand the meaning of bat calls. Using A.I. of course.

[read about the Bat chat here]

Joi Ito

“…one of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society? How can we best initiate a broader, in-depth discussion about how society will co-evolve with this technology, and connect computer science and social sciences to develop intelligent machines that are not only ‘smart,’ but also socially responsible?” Joi Ito.

[MIT helps launch a global initiative to advance artificial intelligence research for the public good.]

The power of MIT’s fund might help push for something that looks like self regulation, but the IEEE – the professional association focused on advancing technology for the benefit of humanity – has published a framework it’s hoping will guide the industry toward the light. It hopes that the ideas will help technologists build benevolent and beneficial autonomous systems. A nice little ambition.

[read about the IEEE’s framework here]

“Looks like the Quakers have finally run out of patience and have decided to build a Death Star.”  Black humour on Twitter.


To end with, a quick word about us. At Dootrix we’re not just using A.I. to play cards, so if you are keen to work with a team of brilliant minds, or know someone who is, please do get in touch. Either as a developer or a designer (we’re hiring) or if you think we could help your organisation.


Subscribe to our newsletter for free advice delivered to your inbox on a fortnightly basis.

Related articles