Music score with headphones

Pandora’s been trailing behind Spotify and other music services, but now it’s trying to catch up. It just released its latest feature, personalized playlists that are customized to your moods and activities. By using machine learning algorithms to recommend music to you based on it’s extensive music information database, Pandora may now have an edge on Spotify.

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Podcast equipment

A new project coming out of UC Santa Cruz is using artificial intelligence to generate a podcast. This AI generates the narrative and the voices that read the narrative. The fictional storyline is based on an American county called Sheldon County, and it generates unique characters in that county, weaving through their individual experiences. While the entire podcast won’t be ready until 2019, you can listen to bits of the initial episodes (see above link).

For now, this project is just one storyline, but the PhD student behind it plans to have the AI generate completely personalized podcast series—entirely different for each individual who wants to listen.

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Two well-dressed men

There’s a fashion game that crowdsources fashion sense from its community and then gives it to you: After community members rate which specific items (shoes with pants, pants with shirt, necklace with shirt) go with which other specific items, the app uses that information to create various outfit pairings. Then the community rates which of these outfits are the hottest, allowing everyone to see which styles work and which ones don’t. Machine learning also steps in to offer you ways to complete your outfit, basing its suggestions on data generated by your user community.

It’s not only helpful for you, it’s also helpful for retailers. They can see what trends are hot while the season is moving, instead of gathering outdated data in an industry that moves rapidly. Retailers don’t have to wait for actual inventory to move before they see what people like, and this can save them from buying a product that their customers won’t buy.

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A group of people at a concert

Computers are now able to take videos of crowded places and accurately identify multiple humans in them in real time without using a depth sensor. (Thank you, Facebook.) That concept may be hard to mentally visualize, so take a look at this video before we continue:

This tech advancement is interesting, and it has the potential to morph into other applications. Facebook would like to use it for virtual reality tech. But some have suggested law enforcement would be really interested in this tech to track suspicious people in a crowded surveillance video setting. With video surveillance search engines, they could isolate all people who look like they’re punching, kicking, shooting a gun, or whatever other specific action law enforcement would like to look for. Maybe 2-D video analyzation could be the next update to China’s police glasses.

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When the Justice League came out a few months ago, people were up in arms about the poor CGI used to cover up Henry Cavill’s mustache, a mustache he couldn’t shave because he was under another movie contract that required it. It turns out that a $500 computer and an AI might be able to erase Superman’s mustache a bit better than Hollywood did. Watch the video comparison here:

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You saw the movie when you were nine years old, but you know it showed a young boy alone at sea adrift on a raft. You just cannot remember the name of it for the life of you, and you really want to find it. You’ve mentioned it to several people, but nobody’s heard of it, or maybe they vaguely remember the plot but can’t help you with the name. Now there’s an AI that might help. You can search its video database to find that illusive movie by typing in specific objects.
On the other hand, if you’re a movie maker and you want to have your videos indexed by this company, you can sign up to send your videos through their analyzer for free, at least for now. Then your movies would pop up as people search the site.

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This augmented reality (AR) company uses deep learning to pull Uma Thurman and John Travolta from Pulp Fiction and project 3D versions of them into a living room (see video below). While we think this tech’s current form has a lot of glitches to work through before it’s flawless, it’s still brilliant, and it gives us a unique view into our possible future: one day you’ll be able to have anybody from a video hanging out in your living room in 3D.

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You may have heard of, a Montrealian company that’s creating customized voices for personal assistants. It can mimic your voice—all you need to do is record one minute’s worth of your dulcet tones onto their website and it can create an eerily similar copy (depending on the sample’s audio quality).
Once you’ve created your “digital voice,” you can use it to read your audio book or text messages or a number of other things. Does anyone else find this a bit narcissistic? Narcissistic and yet very intriguing. It’s currently available for the English language, preferably American accent, but once this tech is in place for English, it’s only a matter of time before it expands to others.

One side offering that’s worth mentioning (in case this tech creeps you out) is that says you can send them audio clips when you question their veracity, and they’ll check the authenticity for you. Little glitches in the audio are clues that the audio is a fraud.

Finally, because it’s a super interesting factoid, this company is named after the Australian bird that mimics sounds it hears—including car alarms, chainsaws, and camera shutter clicks (we’ll let the venerable Sir David Attenborough explain it to you in the video)—so an apropos name choice.

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