Machine Learning Algorithms

Artificial Inteliigence

Are machines that learn for themselves the stuff of nightmares or a vision of a wonderful utopian future?

The answer, of course, is neither.

We all know that technology is neutral, even though we forget a lot of the time. But there is that niggling doubt. What if they broke through the barrier and became sentient and intelligent?

It’s possible, but probably a long way off.

Artificial Intelligence and robots are hot topics for Science Fiction at the moment and I’m one of those who believe we should use fiction to help us imagine the future so we can be better prepared for it. Good or bad.

The more of us that have a basic understanding of how the tech works the richer the debate about how it’s used will be, so I was pleased to find some fun stuff from Google that starts to demystify machine learning.

Here’s an AI experiment that tests a neural network to see if it can guess what you’re sketching.

I’m rubbish at drawing but it guessed 2 out of my 5 doodles and as the designers say, “The more you play with it, the more it will learn.”

Take a look –

Little Modern Miracles


I’m really pleased that my story – Little Modern Miracles – has been published as part of the Wordland 7: Mountebanks anthology.

“Tread carefully now, because you’re about to rub shoulders with mountebanks, tricksters, charlatans, illusionists and rogues. Watch out for fly-by-nights, fakers and fakirs. Keep a look out for clowns, japesters, carpetbaggers and cardsharps. Watch the cards carefully. Find the lady. Ooh, bad luck. Why not try again? Come on, lay your money down. you’re bound to win this time…”

If you want to read it, and I think you should, you can buy a Kindle copy here and from other retailers here.





The parcel arrived early on a Sunday morning while they were having breakfast.

As soon as he could he took it down to his workshop.

An ex-military robot, reconditioned to monitor his family’s health for danger signs.

It was from a second-hand bidding site and the only difference from the more expensive ones, that he could see, was that it was from a private seller rather than an established shop. Why pay over the odds?

He unpacked it carefully.

The badly translated instructions were difficult to understand, but painstakingly he worked through each step. Hoping he was getting it right.

Enter this string of characters.

Enter this code.

Press this button.

Upload the family photos for recognition and recall.

The final piece of data it wanted was the factory code on the inside of the box so it could configure itself to the specifics he’d purchased – a preventative health-care system.

Preventative, that’s what made it worth the money.

He tapped in the factory code and took it outside.

It hovered for a while and then shot up high into the air. It was designed to roam freely, making its own decisions on where it should go and what it should do. Continue reading