I've been experimenting with Amazon's Polly service. It's their fancy text-to-sort-of-human-style-speech system. Think "Alexa" but with a variety of voices, genders, and accents. Here's "Brian" - their English, male, received pronunciation voice - reading John Betjeman's poem "Slough": The pronunciation of all the words is incredibly lifelike. If you heard it on the radio, it…Continue reading →
One of my favourite movie moments is in the 1998 movie Antz - when one of the ants turns to camera and says: It's the workers who control the means of production! Even though we're not in the age of the Hollywood Blacklist, it's still rare to see overt - and literal - Marxism on…Continue reading →
I have a cheap WiFi enabled vacuum cleaner. One morning, I barked "ALEXA! CLEAN THE HOUSE." The gynoid immediately responded with "Now playing songs by Crowded House." The future's ace, innit? So I opened the cleaner's app, hit a button, and heard the sound of a domestic-droid doing its thing. For two minutes. The app…Continue reading →
From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce White supremacy and deepen social inequity. Benjamin argues that automation, far from being a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, has the potential to hide, speed up, and deepen discrimination while appearing…Continue reading →
We place a large premium on Human. Mostly because it is what we've always known. But, when given the choice, we often ditch humans for something better. Some random examples… Radio DJs Does anyone actually miss witless chatter between records? Use of Spotify suggests a large number of us don't need a Human to introduce…Continue reading →
For a domain based on Shakespeare - this blog doesn't talk about The Bard much. Sorry! I forced a bot to read 154 Shakespearean Sonnets. This is what it came up with... 47 Be where thou art, thou art the sea, Till all that belongs to it turn aside, And make another land into thy…Continue reading →
From internationally bestselling icon Jeanette Winterson comes her most highly anticipated new book about the bodies we live in and the bodies we desire.Continue reading →
I hate creating Alexa skills. What should be a 3-click process inevitably ends up requiring trips to multiple websites, to set up weird parameters, and reading outdated tutorials for obsolete libraries. So this is how to create a self-hosted Skill, using PHP. It runs on your own server and doesn't require any interaction. The Skill…Continue reading →
You are accused of a crime. Who would you rather determined your fate – a human or an algorithm?
An algorithm is more consistent and less prone to error of judgement. Yet a human can look you in the eye before passing sentence.
Welcome to the age of the algorithm.Continue reading →
What happens when a robot begins to question its creators? What would be the consequences of creating a robot with a sense of humour? Or the ability to lie? How do we truly tell the difference between man and machine?Continue reading →