We understand the necessary hashtags – Our April Newsletter

Elliott King
on 14 April 2017

Can you teach Artificial Intelligence empathy or curiosity? When are we most likely to outsmart a computer and why should you kill your most popular webpage? These questions answered and much more in our April newsletter.


“Twenty-five is, on average, the golden age when humans best outsmart computers,”

While the link between youth and creativity has long been established, scientists now say that one of the clearest signs of creativity – the ability to make random decisions – peaks at the age of 25.

“This experiment is a kind of reverse Turing test for random behaviour, a test of strength between algorithms and humans.”

The full academic research article is here, or you can get a shorter layman’s briefing from iNews. Probably best to start with the latter.


“Intelligence is not consciousness. Intelligence is the ability to solve problems. Consciousness is the ability to feel things….. there has been immense development in computer intelligence and exactly zero development in computer consciousness.”

But according to author and futurist Yuval Noah Harari this will change, and fast. “In 300 years, Homo sapiens will not be the dominant life form on Earth, if we exist at all.”

This is a fascinating interview covering the rise of artificial intelligence, whether digital consciousness is a necessary byproduct of digital intelligence, and what it will all mean for human beings. The longer, full podcast is here.


“I have set the date 2045 for the ‘Singularity’ which is when we will multiply our effective intelligence a billionfold by merging with the intelligence we have created.” Golly.

Ray Kurzweil, Google’s Director of Engineering, and another well-known futurist (with a high-hitting track record for accurate predictions), has also being giving our collective future some thought.

We’re not sure we share his optimism that ‘a future of unparalleled human-machine synthesis’ sounds like a total blast, but he’s talking a good game.

 “We cats didn’t invent the Internet to share it with this.”

Can AI ever be as curious as humans?

Since no skill can be learned without a minimum level of interest, curiosity may be considered one of the critical foundations of talent. As Albert Einstein famously noted, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”

AI’s desire to learn a directed task cannot be overstated. But is that real curiosity?


Can you teach a chatbot empathy?

The ability to reproduce human speech convincingly still eludes chatbots. Talk to one for any length of time and it soon becomes clear that it is a machine.  A Chinese team, however, has built a chatbot capable of conveying specific emotions. The MIT Technology Review is admirably open-minded about this.


Here’s the bit where we share some of our expertise, that hopefully you’ll find useful….

The recipe for a great Hackathon

In his previous role our Delivery Director, Charlie Allen, regularly ran hackathons for clients, so we asked him for his recipe, perfected with a pair of successful hacks for Manchester City Football Club.
In no particular order, these are Charlie’s essential hackathon ingredients.


Who needs a back end anyway?

The rise of JAMstack, Open Source at Microsoft, dawson, NativeScript and of course lots of lovely React. It’s a bumper edition of our monthly Most Useful Tools for Developers.


“You cannot understand good design if you do not understand people; design is made for people”  Dieter Rams.

So, is all design ultimately user experience design? “One of the key jobs of tomorrow’s UX designer will be to design products that establish trust from the user towards the machine”

Where will UX design be in 5 years? 5 Predictions.

“You can’t design by iteration and incremental improvement. Iteration cannot innovate and cannot create delight.”

In which Google gets a bit of a kicking for the failure of its iterative ‘design Darwinism’ to deliver truly innovative products.


It’s all gone a bit Tron

The sound of our roads to come?

With a lack of engine sound, pedestrians are having an increasingly difficult time knowing when electric vehicles are near.” Recreating and adding a combustion engine sound to electric vehicles is like adding a horse neigh to the first cars ever made.”

Unlike Audi, design studio UsTwo are thinking differently.

Particularly interesting are the soundcloud clips they came up with near the end of the article.


Why we removed the most visited advice page on our website

“All our content should be designed to meet the needs of real users. This page doesn’t meet any user needs because it doesn’t solve anyone’s problems…. it’s just information.”Using data to investigate how people use content can challenge our assumptions in surprising ways. Interesting article form the Citizen’s Advice Bureau‘s web team.

PS: It’s very interesting to see an organisation like the CAB fully embracing Medium.


RIP Cassini: A Look Back At the Doomed Probe’s Most Stunning Saturn Pictures.

NASA’s Cassini probe will soon plunge into Saturn, ending its 13-year mission to the ringed planet and triggering a wave of grief among scientists, engineers, and an adoring public.
How to Mourn a Space Robot.

At Dootrix we are designers and engineers, but above all we’re thinkers. We always use our collective brainpower and experience to build the right things, the right way.

If you need that kind of thinking, come and meet us, on the Farm or in the Mill – North or South – we’ll get a brew on and put your slice of the world to right.  Coffee or tea? Milk and sugar?


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