I spend most of my working life striving to automate things, but in other parts of my life (what remains of it aside from work) I’m getting increasingly annoyed with the automation of everyday life.
Supermarket self-checkout machines, “live chat” customer service… I could pick from any number of modern irritants made worse by the removal of humans, but today I’m going to pick on TfL‘s ticketing system.
You have until March 4th 2013 to watch this excellent BBC4 documentary called “Google and the World Brain“.
If you live on Earth I recommend that you watch it. (Although you probably have to be in the UK to watch iPlayer)
Starting off with the problems of copyright in the digital age, it goes much further – it prompts you to think about everything from corporate responsibility to AI and the direction of human civilisation.
There’s too much to cover, but here’s a quick write-up with links to some of my favourite moments.
I’ve been thinking a lot about sentiment analysis recently; for a number of reasons:
Datasift (a new product by Tweetmeme, currently in rather exclusive alpha) offers sentiment analysis as part of their streaming filters for Twitter.
Valley-based Fflick are developing their own sentiment engine via machine learning algorithms. The current manifestation of this is a movie review site, but they will be pursuing other verticals – no doubt once the tech has improved and they’ve got some $$s.
Qwiki, which I wrote about yesterday, appears to be on the artificial intelligence trail too. The task of establishing whether content is relevant/important/canonical is an incredibly daunting task to automate.
Finally [prompting this post] this morning I see a product launched by Lewis PR: Chatterscope monitors brand mentions and performs sentiment analysis – A free alternative to Radian6 and Alterian, perhaps? Monitoring and alert functionality is obviously useful, but sentiment analysis – that’s the marketing holy grail, and I’ve always been
Today, I’ve been trying out the alpha version of Qwiki, which was unveiled at Techcrunch Disrupt on Sep 27th.
It’s ambitious technology. Their goal is to “improve the way people experience information” and [even more ambitiously] to “advance information technology to the point it acts human”. These two statements indicate somewhat separate challenges. That first point is largely a delivery problem, the latter keeps Nobel Prize winners awake at night.