And now robot journalism…

robot-journoContinuing my recent theme of AI and automation doing the jobs formerly done by you and I, here’s a link to a story about robot journalism from the excellent

Labour-saving devices are one thing but you do wonder what’s going to be left for people to do. Stephen Hawking, no less, said back in 2014 that AI “could spell the end of the human race”.

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Sci-fi movie written by artificial intelligence

exI’m currently helping to produce glossy mags for various prestige car-makers. I shouldn’t really name the companies but let’s just say one of them uses the slogan, Vorsprung durch Technik.

Forwards with technology is one translation of that phrase and so the company concerned likes to spotlight technology in general in its magazine features, not just that which is used in its cars.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already been used by Google as an image manipulation program called Deep Dream and Sony’s research with AI penned a song last autumn that sounded a bit like a Beatles-inspired tune.

What I didn’t know was that AI has also been used to write a sci-fi movie – my favourite film genre. Sunspring is a short film that’s amusing, surprising and even tense in places – but not particularly coherent.

The film screenplay was authored entirely by AI, using a kind of computing known as artificial neural networks. Based on how the brain and nervous system work, it’s the same sort of technology that a smart phone uses when it autofills words in a text message.

However, it doesn’t seem like AI can yet rival great sci-fi movies like Ex Machina, my favourite of recent years.

Read more in the Guardian.


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It’s in the script…

Happy 2017! side-view-of-mic-and-mouth_n1ofp9om__s0000I love a new challenge and recently I got the chance to help write the script for a video promoting the work of an international charity.

Writing something that’s to be spoken is not a task I’ve too much experience of. The exceptions have been best man speeches, business pitches – and, of course, the kind of stuff used to accompany Excel presentations (this last during my career’s middle management phase!).

For this charity video job, I found you really do have to say the words out loud to see if they work. I was even supplied with a recording of the voice of the actor who will be used on the video to help me develop the script.

It was all great fun – and in a good cause. The script will probably pass through several further amends before it’s used but I’m happy to have played a part.

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Curtain up for new performing arts centre

wellingtonBudding stars of the stage will be able to strut their stuff soon at a school’s new performing arts centre in Berkshire.

I wrote about the design challenges of the £15m project at Wellington College for the excellent Architects Datafile magazine. Read the story online here (turn to p23).

The development includes work to extensively refurbish and provide new uses for an existing theatre that was built to honour film star and Wellington old boy Christopher Lee.

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Museum’s 18-carat gold toilet to open to public

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-09-20-37Very much a wordsmith working in the digital world, I’m now ghost-writing Twitter tweets and LinkedIn posts for a gold mining company.

I’ve always loved how my career as a journalist has given me a window into so many different aspects of life that I wouldn’t otherwise know or understand – and now I’ve a basic idea of what’s news on the gold markets.

It’s not all serious, though. Read about how the Guggenheim Museum has made an 18-carat gold toilet available to the public!

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‘Grauniad’ sub-editor retires

sub-editorHopefully, I’ve plenty more years to go but here’s a great piece from David Marsh, who has been the production editor of the Guardian newspaper and retires today.

There’s a lot in it that will strike a chord with all wordsmiths out there.

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We will rock you, promise Queen tribute band

freddie tributeTribute band Killer Queen (pictured) will this summer perform at a world-famous US music venue that can host an audience of near 10,000 – yet just weeks earlier they will strut their stuff on a stage located in the playing field of a Harpenden school.

On July 2, Killer Queen top the bill at Sir John Lawes secondary school for the return of the popular and family-friendly Festival on the Field. Later the same month, they jet off for the iconic Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Colorado.

Killer Queen’s lead singer Patrick Myers, who has been performing as the late Freddie Mercury since 1993, believes Queen’s music works well whatever the size of the crowd: “The music of Queen works really well live and as a shared thing. But the real quality of these songs is that they really speak to people and they’ve become the soundtrack to people’s lives.”

Read the full story, from an interview by yours truly, that’s published by Festival on the Field sponsor the Herts Advertiser.

To get tickets for the event, go to

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