REPORT – TODAY’S PUPPETMASTERS 1 – Big data: Who owns, reads and uses them

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Artificial intelligence algorithms are all around us and shape our lives and behaviour more than we can possibly imagine.

 A long article in the 14 December edition of the NY Times Magazine described the different stages of a technological revolution that’s going on almost unnoticed: in recent months Google added an artificial neural network to Google Translate, the free service used by millions of people to convert text into over one hundred different languages. As a result the system is now capable of digesting a document by reading and processing entire sentences at a time instead of just word sequences. The quality levels achieved are now such that the Japanese translation of some passages of Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby were comparable to the human translation by writer Haruki Murakami. The Times article explained how this achievement was made possible thanks to the deployment of a special class of Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms known as “deep learning”.

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