Recommended Reading: The accent struggle for Alexa and Google Assistant


Smart speakers (and the virtual assistants they house) offer voice control for so many connected devices it's hard to keep count. Those audio gadgets can also assist with a range of questions -- that is, if they can understand you. The Washington Post took a close look at the performance of Alexa and Google Assistant when it comes to understanding people with strong accents. The results show that while these devices are certainly handy and increasingly popular, there's still a lot of room for improvement. The Facebook CEO covered a range of topics, including its evolving approach to fake news and a comment about Holocaust deniers that warranted a clarification afterwards.

The Rap of China Uses AI to Select First Female Judge


A new series of last year's TV hit The Rap of China has kicked off and with it comes the show's first female judge joining the likes of Kris Wu and MC Hotdog. The selection of Hong Kong singer G.E.M., real name Gloria Tang Tsz-Kei, has raised some eyebrows among critics due to the use of artificial intelligence in her selection, as well as her hip-hop credentials. "G.E.M joining The Rap of China is a bit of an embarrassment as her previous image falls short in terms of rap elements," one music critic after learning of the singer's inclusion on the talent show's judging panel. Although the news has drawn widespread criticism from a host of music critics, the move was not unexpected. With G.E.M's involvement, this show hit a new peak in terms of viewing figures in its first week.

What to take to a festival: Friends, drink... and a giant bar chart

BBC News

Some would say it's the magic of a festival - stumbling upon a random stage and accidentally discovering your new favourite band. You could call it following your festival instinct. But what if you ditched all that and did the complete opposite? What if you took arguably the most nerdy thing in the world - statistics - and used it to try to have the best festival experience ever? I consulted a stats expert, packed up a giant bar chart, and headed to 2000 Trees in Gloucestershire to find out.

Using machine learning for music knowledge discovery


Researchers at the University of Pompeu Fabra, Cardiff University and the Technical University of Madrid used machine-learning algorithms to discover new things about the history of music. One of the main tasks of musicology researchers is to develop and validate musical hypotheses, after studying historical documents and other available information. Many historical documents have now been digitized and can be accessed and browsed on a computer, making it easy for researchers to access them online. However, basic search engines operate at an "exact text string matching" level, and hence do not always capture the underlying meaning in the content. In a recently published study, music data science researcher Sergio Oramas and his colleagues tested natural language processing (NLP) approaches that could make the most out of archived historical documents, helping scientists to uncover new hypotheses and identifying interesting patterns in available data.

Amazon Alexa: is it friends with your kids?

BBC News

The tech giants are racing to get digital assistants into our homes - the Amazon Echo Dot currently has a 40% discount during Amazon Prime Day - but debate rages over whether they are suitable for children. There have certainly been teething problems. Toy giant Mattel abandoned its "AI babysitter", Aristotle, last year following privacy concerns. And music streaming service Spotify is currently testing a way of filtering out songs with explicit lyrics following complaints from parents that family-friendly versions of tracks did not play by default when requested on smart speakers. Amazon Echo meanwhile added a feature to encourage children to be more polite to it following concerns that the abrupt way in which people talk to it was teaching children to be rude.

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Google Home Mini


You've just noticed a great price on an Amazon Echo Dot or Google Home Mini smart speaker. The prices are intended to make them impulse purchases, because both Amazon and Google are desperate to get their foot in the door of your home. Voice assistants and smart home automation are expected to be the next big thing in tech, and both companies know that once you experience the convenience of a smart speaker in one room, you're likely to want it in others. Before making a purchase, you really should do your homework. It all comes down to the hardware, the capabilities of their digital assistants, and the way they can do things such as play music and control other smart devices in your home.

Will data kill the AI star?


AI is the newest rock star on the technology scene. But just because artificial intelligence (AI) is the hottest new thing, that doesn't mean it can survive the inherent data challenges that come with it. These challenges include data accessibility, selection, timeliness and trust. So just as "video killed the radio star," data is threatening to kill the AI star. According to a recent Infosys survey, 49 percent of organizations reported that they will not be able to deploy AI because of data challenges.

World's First Cognitive Dance Party - Daybreaker with Watson


IBM Watson and Daybreaker hosted the World's First Cognitive Dance Party in San Francisco by using Watson Tone Analyzer, Watson Personality Insights, Chef Watson and Watson Beat. With Personality Insights API Daybreak was able to base the colors, music playlists, kick-off fitness session, healthy breakfast, and intention card all on the each attendees' personality. Tone Analyzer drove the color of a rising cognitive sun based on sentiment analysis of tweets of around the country. While Watson Beat created new riffs using inputs from pianist ELEW, using one or several of his musical filters. Even the Breakfast was courtesy of Chef Watson, which featured unexpected ingredient combinations, tailored again to attendee personality.

Google Home, Mini, and Max are all deeply discounted at Walmart through July 17


The Google Home is one of the top home assistants on the market right now with a few different models to choose from. Whether you need news and weather updates or hands-free calls, Google Home can take care of many needs. With three versions available, there's no bad decision to make, especially since they can be linked together. And if you run to through July 17, you can load up thanks to sales on all three smart home devices. If you're looking to dip your toe into the digital assistant game, the Google Home Mini is a great place to start.

R NLP & Machine Learning: Lyric Analysis


This is part one of a three-part tutorial series in which you will use R to perform a variety of analytic tasks on a case study of musical lyrics by the legendary artist, Prince. Musical lyrics may represent an artist's perspective, but popular songs reveal what society wants to hear. Lyric analysis is no easy task. Because it is often structured so differently than prose, it requires caution with assumptions and a uniquely discriminant choice of analytic techniques. Musical lyrics permeate our lives and influence our thoughts with subtle ubiquity. The concept of Predictive Lyrics is beginning to buzz and is more prevalent as a subject of research papers and graduate theses. This case study will just touch on a few pieces of this emerging subject. To celebrate the inspiring and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, you will explore the sometimes obvious, but often hidden, messages in his lyrics. However, you don't have to like Prince's music to appreciate the influence he had on the development of many genres globally. Rolling Stone magazine listed Prince as the 18th best songwriter of all time, just behind the likes of Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Stevie Wonder. Lyric analysis is slowly finding its way into data science communities as the possibility of predicting "Hit Songs" approaches reality.