Is there life on Mars?

Unbabel Newsletter #008– 3 Jan 2018

Original strip by Tetley Clarke

Greetings futuristic subscriber,

Have we finally discovered that humankind is being run by an alien civilization? Can we now move objects with our minds? Is there life on Mars?

Okay, maybe I’m getting a little bit ahead of time. This is 2018, not 2028.

But, regardless of my sci-fi predictions, I just really wanted to say that I hope this new year is treating you well, and to let you know that it’s okay if you cancel your gym subscription, give up on that low carb diet, or even reinstall the Facebook app on your phone, 3 months from now.

Now, before you dive into the insatiable content feast below, you should probably swing by our blog (wink, wink), and glance through the latest articles such as how to write the perfect message to your customers.

Bye, have a beautiful time,

Maria Almeida

P.S.: Like what we’re doing with this newsletter? Please consider forwarding to a friend and getting them to subscribe.

Consume more content 📝


Thousands once spoke his language in the Amazon. Now, he’s the only one. — A brilliant piece by The New York Times about Amadeo García García the man who is now the last native speaker of his tribe’s language. “One evening this summer, Amadeo sat alone and began to speak his language, saying one sentence in Taushiro, then translating it into Spanish, before repeating the process. It was growing late, the crickets and frogs were getting louder, and Amadeo raised his voice above them. “I am Taushiro,” he said. “I have something that no one else in the world has. One day when I am gone from the world, I hope the world remembers.”

The importance of pauses in conversation — “Um”, “uh”, “mm-hmm” and interruption are not killers of conversation, but its lubricants.


Google’s voice-generating AI is now indistinguishable from humans — Can you tell the two apart?

Why Artificial Intelligence is not like your brain, yet— Contrary to belief, Artificial Intelligence resembles the gray matter in your head about as much as a pull-string doll resembles a rocket scientist.

Using Artificial Intelligence to Augment Human Intelligence — By creating user interfaces which let us work with the representations inside machine learning models, we can give people new tools for reasoning.


2017 was the year we fell out of love with algorithms — Fears of bias, election hacking, and damaged children have earned algorithms a bad reputation. But, how can will we drag them out of the mud?

Deep Learning achievement over the past year — 2017 saw great developments in text, voice, and computer vision technologies, and this article on Stats and Bots kind of sums it all up.

15 Visionaries who have already seen the future — Working with the most advanced science and technology, these visionaries are mapping out the shifting landscape of the 21st century, including Professor Andy Way who we have recently spoken to in the first episode of “Understand with Unbabel”.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai: “I don’t know whether humans want to change that fast” — Is Google growing too big and moving too fast? In this rare interview, Google’s CEO talks about the company’s pace and technological developments for the future.


Presence Prison: Are you chained to the green dot? Turn off and break free — “As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care. The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is letting people design their own schedule around when they can do their best work.”

The end of culture fit — “A hiring process built around an undefined notion of “culture fit” is fraught with bias”. No wonder so many companies are moving away from “culture fit” to focus their recruiting more towards intentional diversity and inclusion efforts.

Last Exit to Brooklyn — Scott Galloway sold L2, the firm he founded in 2010, today to Gartner. Four hours post-closing, he wrote this.


2018, the year of global creolization — “The two-year transition we’ve just experienced is remarkable primarily for one thing: the degree to which the massive global ethnonationalist reaction has largely failed to slow or halt the process of continued global political, economic, and cultural integration. Powerful as nationalist ideologues and their angry mobs are, for better or worse, they seem incapable of slowing the juggernaut significantly. Much to my own surprise, given my dark expectations at the beginning of the year, ethnonationalists around the world have largely failed to produce anything beyond cosmetic, theatrical gestures in service of their declared agendas. Two years in, it is becoming clear that the global reactionary movement is primarily an aesthetic reaction, trafficking in symbols rather than substance. Of course, they’ve won some minor battles, but I find myself ending the year on a much more cheerful mood than I began it, with far greater faith in a globalized, cosmopolitan future. The tide appears to have turned.”

The meaning of life, according to a spaceship — Reflecting on Kim Stanley Robinson’s angry optimism in a bleak world.

The Queen of Code — You probably don’t know who Grace Hopper is, but you should. “As a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy, Hopper worked on the first computer, the Harvard Mark 1. And she headed the team that created the first compiler, which led to the creation of COBOL, a programming language that by the year 2000 accounted for 70 percent of all actively used code.” And, favorite computer fun fact, she’s also credited with popularising the expression “computer bug” when, back in 1947, she reported an actual moth that got stuck in one of Harvard Mark II’s relays. Now her story is being told on the latest film in FiveThirtyEight’s “Signals” series.