Blogs

In my previous post on linguistic interactions between computer-managed communications and people, I discussed the interesting phenomenon in human-computer interaction (HCI) whereby humans can sometimes be unaware that they are communicating with a computer – an automated system – rather than a person. As I explained,...

I’ve got a theory. It’s based on very little evidence. More rumour and more hearsay. Large teams can’t innovate. There, I said it. Stick a load of people together and human nature tends toward the mean, the average. It’s like the wisdom of the crowds,...

Nearly every new tech startup launched this year will fail within 12 months. So said Mat Shore, founder of global training and innovation firm, Outside In[1]. Just one in 100 new tech businesses will survive more than 12 months trading; the rest will fail because,...

Do you want to pick fruit and vegetables for a living? No? Nor do most Britons, it seems. One of the unforeseen-but-obvious-in-hindsight Brexit consequences is that it turns out to be mostly foreigners who show up here at certain times of year and pick our...

In the early days of ContactEngine I liked to show off. In many ways showing off is a professional requirement for a CEO in an early stage tech firm. Looking back, many of the things I said were utter nonsense – however, one line that has...

We’ve recently been considering the field of linguistics more at ContactEngine: what it is, why we should care, and how we can use it to our advantage. I talked briefly in my previous post about the way language is medium-dependent and context-dependent – it varies...

A little over a year ago, the UN published its annual World Population Prospects report (1). It makes for interesting reading. Turns out we’re a fertile bunch: population today stands at a little over 7.6 billion souls and the report projects that this will increase...

Every year, just before my mind wanders to which taverna I’ll frequent, or I admonish myself for the bottle of raki I’ve yet to consume, I eagerly await the publication of OFCOM’s latest league table. Now, you might find this a strange preoccupation for someone who...

Linguistics is, in my moderate experience, a widely and grievously misunderstood subject. People know it has something to do with language; from there, assumptions tend to branch off into two disparate but equally misinformed areas. First, that linguistics is learning how to speak other languages...

Recently I wrote about Google's impressive-seeming Duplex AI voice assistant demonstration[1]. I said that although it seems magical, the trick depends on constraining the robot within very narrow parameters. Duplex is designed for "scheduling certain types of appointments" and that's it. By closing down the...

First published on FirstCapital.co.uk The machines will not take over the world. There, I’ve said it. I do not believe computers will ever become sentient. They won’t dream, fall in love or express the emotions of a new parent holding their child for the first time. They...

The trouble with being curious and working in technology is that the whole work-life balance evaporates. So ContactEngine's journey through AI inevitably became my personal journey too. I don't mean to boast, but in my spare time I'm building a house. It's not often you do...

Earlier on this year we had the privilege of becoming one of the chosen few to join the Microsoft ScaleUp Programme, based in London. I’ve always been an admirer of Microsoft – it’s my most trusted IT brand in fact – so I was very...

The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal is not the easiest backdrop against which to write a blog post espousing the benefits of micro-personalising customer content. It does, however, demonstrate that if companies want to justify the data they collect and hold, they need to use it in...

My recent posts have focused a lot on what AI can’t do. It isn’t magic, it won’t take over the world, it won’t write a great novel. It would struggle to write a bad novel, come to think of it. Jeffrey Archer’s career is safe,...

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not what the name describes at all. We can barely define human intelligence, let alone create our own version. So, what does the term really mean? And what about the numerous other terms that get thrown around? Is ‘machine learning’ a...

"At least when there's an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there would be no death," says Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla cars and rocket-maker SpaceX, in a new documentary[1]. "It would live forever. And then you'd have...

Recently, Laura van Beers interviewed Professor Francesca Toni of Imperial College London (here) about how AI could be used to understand human arguments. Towards the end of the interview, Professor Toni mentioned that her work might one day lead to a way to tackle a...

Around 100 years before the birth of Christ, somewhere in the Mediterranean – let’s call it Rhodes – lived a man called Hipparchus. He was a mathematician and astronomer who liked a challenge, and one particular challenge was this: if you are going to train...