Everything Amazon’s Alexa learned to do in 2017

Amazon’s Alexa is leading the AI assistant pack. Echo devices are dominating smart speaker sales, and that was before Amazon brought the devices to more than 80 nations around the world. To defend its crown, Amazon moved fast this year to outpace competitors like Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana. Apple’s delayed HomePod is due out next year, while Samsung and Facebook are also reportedly planning to debut smart speakers. It can be challenging to keep up with all the features Alexa has added to stay ahead of some of the largest tech companies on the planet, so here’s a rundown of everything Alexa learned to do this year. Continue reading “Everything Amazon’s Alexa learned to do in 2017”

4 predictions for conversational AI in 2018

As marketers look into 2018, they see the conversational AI landscape is primed for increased consumer adoption. In fact, in a recent survey, nine out of ten people said they prefer messaging directly with a brand. This year, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon all lean-in to messaging and conversation. In 2018, the big four will make conversational AI the main gateway to communicate with the customer.

Consumers and brand marketers will see an uptick in the following areas: Continue reading “4 predictions for conversational AI in 2018”

How IBM builds an effective data science team

Data science is a team sport. This sentiment rings true not only with our experiences within IBM, but with our enterprise customers, who often ask us for advice on how to structure data science teams within their own organizations.

Before that can be done, however, it’s important to remember that the various skills required to execute a data science project are both rare and distinct. That means we need to make sure that each team member can focus on what he or she does best.

Consider this breakdown of a data science project, along with the skills required for each role:

Continue reading “How IBM builds an effective data science team”

5 tips to humanize your chatbot

Chatbots are an increasing part of our daily lives, redefining how we engage with the internet and with businesses. Canadian messaging company Kik explains it like this: “First there were websites, then there were apps. Now, there are bots.” Just like the early internet, bots are set to transform commerce as we know it, making it easier than ever for consumers to reach, engage, and transact through instant commands. Continue reading “5 tips to humanize your chatbot”

Accenture predicts the top tech stories of CES 2018


Each year, tech consulting giant Accenture makes predictions about the kind of technology we’ll see at the annual Consumer Electronics Show. I interviewed Greg Roberts, managing director for Accenture’s North American high-tech industry practice, about the predictions for CES 2018, the big tech trade show that will take place in Las Vegas in the second week of January. Continue reading “Accenture predicts the top tech stories of CES 2018”

5 best practices for implementing voice marketing in 2018

Hey Alexa, play some music.
Ok, Google, turn on the lights.

Five years ago, these commands would have made no sense. But for the past two and a half years, voice-enabled speakers have steadily gained traction, introducing the world to voice-activated technologies. As we approach 2018, there’s no sign of slowing down the smart speaker revolution. Continue reading “5 best practices for implementing voice marketing in 2018”

AI might just live up to all the hype one day

If AI isn’t the most hyped technology of the 21st century, it’s certainly right up there with earlier manias for mobile, virtual reality, the internet of things, and big data. Companies large and small feel pressure to claim they use AI in some key way to drive their business. But does AI deserve this level of hype? On one end of the spectrum are the doomsayers (including heavyweights like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk) who see the technology posing an existential threat to the future of humanity. In contrast, there are those who see AI as the breakthrough that could solve many of the world’s most intractable problems. Visionary Ray Kurzweil believes AI will soon enhance virtually everyone’s mental capabilities. Musk’s own startup, Neuralink, is reportedly developing a brain-to-machine interface that could improve memory or allow for more direct interfacing with computing devices. Continue reading “AI might just live up to all the hype one day”

Data journalism’s AI opportunity: the 3 different types of machine learning & how they have already been used

This week I’m rounding off the first semester of classes on the new MA in Data Journalism with a session on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Machine learning is a subset of AI — and an area which holds enormous potential for journalism, both as a tool and as a subject for journalistic scrutiny.

So I thought I would share part of the class here, showing some examples of how the 3 types of machine learning — supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement — have already been used for journalistic purposes, and using those to explain what those are along the way. Continue reading “Data journalism’s AI opportunity: the 3 different types of machine learning & how they have already been used”

Artificial intelligence: Transforming the workplace and world

When humans develop their own cognitive abilities, it’s called “natural intelligence.” When computers begin to think like humans, it’s “artificial intelligence” (AI).

About a year ago, the New York Times featured a section on The Great A.I. Awakening, showcasing Google’s mission to transform its Translate service with AI. Continue reading “Artificial intelligence: Transforming the workplace and world”

SEO is not enough in the age of voice

With so many technological innovations now transforming our lives, it should be noted that the ideas for these innovations have existed for decades in science fiction novels and television. The capacity to talk to a computer (and have it talk back) was a staple of Gene Roddenberry’s, Star Trek, where the Starfleet computer was voiced by Roddenberry’s wife, Majel. The 1970 movie, Colossus: The Forbin Project, featured a supercomputer that was intended to prevent war and proclaimed itself “the voice of World Control.” And before Google’s self-driving cars, the 1980s brought us KITT, an advanced artificially intelligent, self-aware, and nearly indestructible car from the TV show, Knight Rider. Continue reading “SEO is not enough in the age of voice”

Why the best approach to voice marketing might be nothing at all


Seemingly overnight, capable voice recognition joined forces with artificial intelligence and machine learning to push voice-enabled experiences to the forefront of business thinking. But before brands leap into the fray, they need to recognize where and when to invest in the new technology. For some, that means investing elsewhere, for now. Continue reading “Why the best approach to voice marketing might be nothing at all”

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