Deep Music on Alexa

I just tried the Deep Music skill on Alexa. It generates AI music – which sounds pretty much as you’d expect. It’s a bit repetitive, but not too bad. This is an area of Machine Learning that will get a lot better in the near future. So, my AI voice assistant can now play AI generated music at me!

Technological Unemployment

There is a great graph-filled post over at Slate Star Codex called Technological Unemployment – much more than you wanted to know. After analysing a lot of data from the US economy, the author arrives at some tentative conclusions: The main point seems to be that the evidence for large-scale technological unemployment is mixed. There is evidence of technological underemployment however. There are signs that people are now struggling to adjust. The final paragraph is:

 “This is a very depressing conclusion. If technology didn’t cause problems, that would be great. If technology made lots of people unemployed, that would be hard to miss, and the government might eventually be willing to subsidize something like a universal basic income. But we won’t get that. We’ll just get people being pushed into worse and worse jobs, in a way that does not inspire widespread sympathy or collective action. The prospect of educational, social, or political intervention remains murky.”

Dude, you broke the future!

There is a great post over at Charlie Stross’ Blog that gives the text of his keynote at the 34th Chaos Communication Congress in Leipzig, December 2017. He makes some interesting points about old, slow AI – i.e. corporations, and compares them to cannibalistic organisms that shed people like cells. He talks about the ways the standard limiter of regulation are failing (regulatory capture and regulatory lag). He ends with a fairly negative assessment of where we are heading. It’s a thought-provoking talk, and well worth reading / watching.

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Facebook and the Algorithmic Curation of Content

Facebook has recently got into trouble over an accusation that they are suppressing conservative news stories in the trending news categories. Facebook have an algorithmic system that promotes trending topics to a human curation team, who make the final decision about what gets promoted. Obviously human beings have bias. One of the interesting things that has happened in finance is that banks are using algos more and more to ensure that humans aren’t involved in situations where there can be a conflict of interest. One example is the 4pm FX fix which are now required to be handled algorithmically. There’s a trend here – algorithms are being used to ensure fairness. Will media companies be forced to have algorithmic editors to remove bias from reporting?

Da Vinci 3D Printer Arrives

Yesterday my XYZ Da Vinci 3D Printer arrived. I had a really fun day setting it up and doing some test prints. The first print I made was the “key chain” print that is on the firmware. This created a rather lame “XYZ” logo that I assume you can attach to your keyring.

IMG_0099.JPGThe CD that came with the printer only has Windows versions of the XYZ Printer software, despite proclaiming Mac versions as well. Fortunately, the software is downloadable from their website.

Next, Helen created a model in XSI of an egg cup that looks like a bird’s nest. She exported it to Blender and then we created an STL file which we then imported into the XYZ Printer software. The print for this took about 3 hours, and the results were less than perfect. The egg cup still looks pretty cool though.


This morning I printed a 3D printed shell and ordered an Arduino so I could reset my filament cartridge as described here.


So far I’m pretty happy with the printer. It was pretty cheap at £500, and I’ve really enjoyed playing around with it. I’m keen learn a lot more about 3D printing, and I think that this printer is a great one to start with.

Configuring a Jaalee iBeacon Transmitter

I received 5 iBeacon transmitter units from today. They arrived unassembled, so I put them together and configured their local names with my iPhone.

The first hurdle I found in setting them up was getting the battery in the right way around. Each unit comes with a watch battery, and you need to have the side with the plus sign facing away from the circuitry.

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