100 things machines learned to do this year


They are not coming for the human species yet, but they do have their increasingly capable sights set at doing pretty much everything better, faster and more reliably than we ever have. Here’s a list of 100 things that robots and computer programmes have learned to do within just the last few months.


  1. Beat humans at poker

2. Carefully pick up vegetables without crushing them

3. Sail the seas to warn us of tsunamis

4. Make coffee like a barista

5. Help you cheat in exams

6. Listen. Just genuinely listen

7. Set up dates

8. Train call centre workers to be nicer

9. Drill for oil

10. Go fishing

11. Distribute medicine

12. Perform eye surgery

13. Do your tax returns

14. Tell if you’re having a fight

15. Go to work for you when you are sick

16. Be your social coach

17. Make insurance agents trustworthy

18. Monitor your baby’s breathing

19. Do the 110m hurdles

20. Cook (Financial Times paywall)

21. Identify what you are doing

22. Test your driving skills

23. Tell what you are wearing

24. Fly like a bat

25. Finish your drawings for you (interactive)

26. Become bureaucrats

27. Make you ski better

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28. Be your personal sales coach

29. Tell you if you talk too much

30. Police online comment sections

31. Restore an image from just a few pixels

32. Carry your luggage

33. Fight botnet attacks

34. Make you look better in photos

35. Bring towels to your hotel room

36. Keep an eye on the police

37. Pollinate flowers

38. Solve crimes (Financial Times paywall)

39. Guess your age

40. Be your golf caddie

41. Walk like a chicken

42. Be your flying chauffeur

43. Tell whether you’d like the fan on

44. Be the wingman your sister would approve of

45. Look after senior citizens

46. Be a virtual nurse

47. Drive through a rainy night

48. Assess your credit-worthiness without bias

49. Act in a play

50. Sort Skittles

51. Decode digital brain data

52. Be children’s role models

53. Predict whether an elderly person is going to fall

54. Serve fast food

55. Navigate London traffic

56. Out-creep insects

57. Detect cancer

58. Spy on your dogs

59. Recognise the faces of monkeys

60. Tweet poetry at you

61. Translate Russian, Hindi and Vietnamese

62. Spot the latest fashion trends

63. Read your mind

64. Make it rain in the desert

65. Jam with you

66. Look after your pet

67. Be your personal physiotherapist

68. Be your backseat driver

69. Identify suicidal behaviour

70. Monitor your employees

71. Draw just like you do

72. Detect autism before its symptoms begin to show

73. Put the 1% out of a job

74. Allow us to see deeper into space

75. Build airplanes

76. Read the road ahead

77. Peer-review academic journals

78. Avoid humans

79. Predict how well an ad will work

80. Watch out for you

81. Recognise objects in videos

82. Fetch you a beer

83. Make you dance

84. Keep airline passengers calm and content

85. Begin to trust us (or not)

86. Help judges make better decisions

87. Advise you on how to care for your skin

88. Tell who is and who isn’t human

89. Affect your credit score

90. Guide people in meditation

91. Create a password based on your lip movements

92. Write advertising copy

93. Climb stairs and descend slippery slopes

94. Make power grids more efficient

95. Fix your posture

96. Man the doctor’s office

97. Keep astronauts on their feet

98. Play the drums

99. Become edible

100. Optimise and automate content distribution on social media

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