Today we’re excited to announce that Dessa is being acquired by Square! We’ll continue to operate under the Dessa brand, keep our headquarters in Toronto, and be open to collaborations with other organizations or companies. You can read more about it in a blog post from Square, and in a letter from our CEO Stephen Piron below. This is only the beginning — stay tuned for more news about our work together on applied machine learning.


Today we are announcing that Dessa is being acquired by Square. By joining forces, we will be able to build machine learning applications that allow people to do more with their money than ever before, and in general, stretch the limits of what’s possible with AI. …

Authors: Rayhane Mama & Sam Shi

Image for post

Read a story featuring our work on deepfake detection by Cade Metz in The New York Times.

Before we start: The codebase and data we present in this article can be found in our open source Github repository for anyone to replicate and build on. What appears below is an excerpt from a full article about our work on deepfake detection, which you can find on the Dessa website.

Link to full article: Dessa website

Download the source code and data: Github repository

Download the trained model and check out our experiments: Atlas Experiment…

Image for post
In addition to inventing RealTalk, the engineers behind the project also came up with the joke about Rogan sponsoring a hockey team made up entirely of chimps (voiced by the fake Joe Rogan).

ICYMI: Earlier this summer we broke new ground with RealTalk, a speech synthesis system created by Machine Learning Engineers at Dessa (Hashiam Kadhim, Rayhane Mama, Joseph Palermo). With their AI-powered text-to-speech system, the team managed to replicate the voice of Joe Rogan, a podcasting legend known for his irreverent takes on consciousness, sports and technology. On top of that, their recreation of Rogan’s voice is the most realistic AI voice that’s been released to date.

If you haven’t heard the voice yet, you should.

Here’s the video we shared on YouTube featuring a medley of their faux Rogan’s musings:

Our initial post focussed on the ethical implications of fake voices and AI’s growing capabilities in deceiving human senses. …

Image for post
…and it’s the voice of Joe Rogan. Disclaimer: Joe didn’t actually endorse our work like this. (Source: a screenshot from the YouTube video the RealTalk team created for the project.)

Today we’re excited to announce that three Machine Learning Engineers at Dessa (Hashiam Kadhim, Rayhane Mama, Joseph Palermo) have produced the most realistic AI simulation of a voice we’ve heard to date.

It’s the voice of someone you’ve probably heard of before: Joe Rogan. (For those who haven’t—Joe Rogan is the creator and host one of the world’s most popular podcasts, which to date has nearly 1300 episodes and counting.)

Obviously, something like this has to be heard to be believed. So without further ado, check it out for yourself:

Remember: 100% of the following audio was generated from the machine learning model using only text input. This includes the breaths, ‘um’s and ‘ah’s, and all other noises.

A New Course for Graduate Students at The University of Toronto

Image for post
The University of Toronto is the birthplace of deep learning, and also one of the world’s foremost centres for research across the board.

Today we’re excited to announce a new course for graduate students at the University of Toronto, facilitated by Ragavan Thurairatnam, our Chief of Machine Learning, and Jodie Zhu, one of our Machine Learning Engineers.

Ragavan and Jodie were recently appointed as Adjunct Lecturers at the University’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, where they will teach a course on Applied Deep Learning to graduate students studying at the school (as well as those from other faculties). In addition, the course will also feature a number of guest lecturers from our Machine Learning Engineering team throughout the semester.

Image for post
Ragavan is a pioneer when it comes to applying deep learning in industry.

We think this course will fill an important gap in the current academic offerings for students advancing their knowledge of machine learning. At UofT and other institutions today, the majority of courses focus almost exclusively on the theoretical underpinnings of the field. With this course, Ragavan and Jodie are setting out to change that. …

Image for post

Pop into Dessa’s offices and you’ll soon find traces of the company’s fascination with outer space. A Lego replica of Saturn V, the rocket that made it to the moon, sits on our reception area coffee table. Venture a bit further, and you’ll discover that each of the meeting rooms are named after spaceports from around the world. For a few employees on Dessa’s software and machine learning engineering teams, this company-wide enthusiasm for space has evolved into a full-blown passion project.

Image for post
The space2vec team has transformed our company’s enthusiasm for space into a serious side-hustle. Pictured left to right: Jinnah Ali-Clarke, Pippin Lee & Cole Clifford.

Combining their interest in space with an exploration of deep learning’s potential applications for astronomy, 3 of Dessa’s engineers have collaborated on a project called space2vec since summer 2017. Recently, the team built a deep learning system that identifies supernovas from telescope images with record-breaking speed: cutting the time it would take astronomers to identify supernovas almost in half! …



A (not-so) secret AI lab at Square. Learn more at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store