A recently patented Microsoft chatbot would allow people to bring their deceased loved ones “back to life”. How do we feel about that?

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Black Mirror, Be Right Back

For anyone who has ever suffered a loss, Microsoft could have an incredible solution — but it’s a controversial one. The US Department of Commerce recently granted the tech giant a patent permitting the manufacture of a chatbot based on a deceased person’s information, including “images, voice data, social media posts [and] electronic messages.” If Microsoft goes ahead with the idea, it would create AI versions of humans, possibly accompanied by digital representations of their face or body.

We already have access to the technology needed to make this happen. And we’ve seen AI used to bring the dead back…


How Sustainability and New Zealand’s Covid-19 border closures are connected

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Right now, the world looks at New Zealand in awe, and that’s thanks to its highly effective pandemic response. Decisive action on border control after the outbreak of coronavirus limited the total number of Covid-related deaths to just 26 (the equivalent of 293 per 1 million people). It also means that our Kiwi friends can already enjoy a relatively normal life while we in the United Kingdom remain confined to a never-ending Netflix binge — although we can now see light at the end of the Covid-y tunnel.

But it’s not just New Zealand’s location at the ‘edge of the…


Rodney Ascher’s vivid, cinematic documentary is the ultimate conspiracy theory must-watch for ‘Living in a Simulation’ newbies

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If you know nothing of simulation theory, Rodney Ascher’s journey “down the rabbit hole of science, philosophy, and conspiracy theory” might just fire up your CPU. If your exploration of the concept has already gone beyond the cursory, then I don’t think A Glitch in the Matrix will fall on the right bandwidth for you.

In his newest documentary, Ascher takes a commendable shot at probing the fascinating idea that we’re living not in reality but in a computer simulation — an idea…


We don’t all get a Hollywood “meet-cute,” so what is artificial intelligence doing to help the rest of us find our perfect partner?

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As Valentine’s Day approaches, I wonder how many of you are flirting with the idea of watching Love Actually. I won’t have time for my one of my favourite romance movies as my husband surely has a candle-lit dinner planned (hint, hint).

But that’s ok. While I’ll miss Hugh Grant dancing through the halls of №10 Downing Street to Jump, I’ll gladly avoid reliving Emma Thompson’s character’s heartbreak — it kills me every time! If only she’d had artificial intelligence to help pick her beau…

The business of online matchmaking is a hugely profitable one, with an estimated value of…


How scientists are leveraging artificial intelligence to solve the pandemic

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Since coronavirus first appeared in China, researchers have looked to artificial intelligence for many different answers. In fact, machine learning (ML) systems and computational tools are why we were able to start testing potential vaccines as early as March 2020 — far sooner than humans could ever hope to create one without the help of such technologies.

Why? Because AI technologies allow scientists to rapidly draw insights from vast data sets that previously would have taken huge teams YEARS to analyse. …


It’s now the end of January, a month in which most of us tighten the purse strings. So why do I still have shopping on the brain?

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In line with my local Covid rules, I was able to pop down to my nearest high street to pick up some Christmas gifts and festive food in the run up to the big day.

My husband decided we just didn’t have enough pigs in blankets (sigh), and with one present to collect, I broke my self-imposed exile for a single morning of high-street retailing. This trip lingers in the memory as tight new restrictions in the UK mean this was my last shopping expedition.

That morning, I’d fully expected an onslaught of frustrated festive shoppers, impatiently lining up around…


How Ambient Intelligence looks set to replace Human-Computer Interaction with Human-Environment Interaction

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Thanks to the media, sci-fi films like Ex Machina and I, Robot, and a few outspoken visionaries like Elon Musk, most people now have at least a basic understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI), its various subsets, and their many potential applications.

But what about Ambient Intelligence (AmI) — have you heard of that? Don’t worry, very few have, despite this emerging field being around for over a decade at this point.

As a discipline, AmI relies on advances in AI, particularly Machine Learning (ML), pervasive/ubiquitous computing, and contactless sensors. …


New rules say that Santa Claus can deliver gifts this year, but what AI tech might help him get the job done faster?

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Recently, all four UK nations were offered a sip of well-deserved Christmas cheer as the Government announced a temporary relaxation of Covid restrictions for the festive period. The decision permits three households to bubble-up between the 23rd and 27th of December. Naturally, the move has its critics, but most appear happy. Whatever side of the Christmas tree you sit on, the burning question on everyone’s lips is…can Santa Claus swing by?

A little birdie (a snow-dusted Robin redbreast, to be precise) tells me the official line is that, yes, good old Saint Nick can indeed do his usual rounds this…


What do Barbra Streisand, an environmental activist & a failed censorship attempt have in common? Information & the web!

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Barbra Streisand’s Malibu mansion

I don’t often read articles on the British Royal Family, especially in the tabloids, but one news story caught my eye a few weeks back. Whether true or not, apparently the Duchess of Sussex was told by experts to abandon her ongoing privacy court case against one of the UK’s best-known red tops before she falls victim to the Streisand Effect.

If this guidance is prudent, and I’d say it is, the Duchess would be well advised to pay heed. And that’s because the Streisand Effect is no laughing matter — especially in today’s increasingly privacy-unfriendly digital landscape.

If you…


Gone are the days of relying on recommendation engines to customise UX. This is personalisation 2.0, courtesy of Salesforce

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I’m just as passionate about automation as I am about user experience (UX) design, in much the same way as most mothers and teachers care for their children and pupils equally. But the tricky thing about automation and UX design (or design of any kind, for that matter) is that they don’t always get along so well — not unlike siblings or peers. That, sadly, can make for the thorniest of problems.

As with kids, both automation and UX design are extraordinary in their own ways, while both also have their distinct flaws. Each, when left in peace to go…

Catriona Campbell

Behavioural psychologist; AI-quisitive; EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position. catrionacampbell.com

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