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Delightful AI from Google Doodles

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates two awesome achievements, hundreds of years apart in history: Artificial intelligence and the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Check it out if it’s still live, or watch the video below to learn how the team at Google worked across departments to pull this delightful experience together.

It makes AI and machine learning approachable

Google Doodles can have a “water cooler” appeal akin to TV shows like Game of Thrones and LOST. That means that it’s easy to spread the word about something cool and interesting, and it’s mainstream enough that you can have a conversation about it with your friends over IM or colleagues at lunch.

This is the first Google Doodle that uses AI and machine learning, and it makes it clear to the user how those technologies are being applied. The short intro is fun and easy to understand, and then it’s dead simple to build your own melody. Once you’re done, the processing message explains that 306 Bach compositions were analyzed to help inform the AI on the best harmonies for the melody you provided.

When the hamsters are done running the wheels, you get a beautiful composition (my sample size of 6 compositions have all been great!). If you like what you hear, you’ll be prompted to submit the output back to Google to help compile an even larger Bach harmony dataset, which will continue to make AI smarter.

AI-powered music? We’re all musicians now!

Sure, it would probably still take years of training to become a world-class composer, but for all the budding and aspiring musicians of the world, think about how AI and machine learning can help accelerate that training. For those of us who aren’t musically inclined, AI-driven music composition applications could be a great tool we could use when we need some catchy tunes for a project, like a video or podcast.

Do you have some thoughts on the Google Doodle? AI or machine learning? Leave them in the comments!


Siri Has a Sense of Humour

The newest shiny object on the block is the iPhone 4S. Although most people were disappointed with the announcement last week, a couple key features stood out as game changers.

For most, it was Siri, an application exclusive to the 4S. Siri is voice activated and responds in a woman’s voice. She can help you do nearly everything from schedule reminders, to write and read your text messages, to finding a local Indian restaurant.

She’s also pretty funny.

On launch day, we already have a Tumblr of funny answers that Siri as given to ridiculous questions. Shit Siri Says plays off the name of the popular Twitter account (and not-so-popular TV show), Shit My Dad Says. My favourite back and forth at the time of posting?

Fun, friendly, clever. Just like Apple itself.

Apple has a reputation for creative, clever, intelligent and easy-to-use products. The killer app for the iPhone 4S is no exception, and it looks to be more than just a selling feature for this years release. It gives the product a personality, something Apple usually accomplishes through aesthetics instead of apps.

Is it a must-have smartphone because of this? Probably not. Will you go around and show all your friends the funny things that Siri says? Definitely. And that will help strengthen not just the relationship consumers will have with the product, but also with Apple.

If this is Steve’s swan song, it’s a pretty sweet tune.