World Refugee Day 2017

Something new.

Since September 2015, Google has been working with humanitarian organizations to respond to the refugee crisis. On World Refugee Day, we made 2 films to help share an update on a few ongoing initiatives.

NetHope: Providing Internet access to refugees

Refugee.Info Hub: Providing vital information to refugees

Read the full Google blogpost.

Speak to Go: A WebVR Experiment

Something new.

WebVR Experiments

Something new.

Sideways Dictionary

Something new.

AI Experiments

AI Experiments is live.
https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com

There’s a bunch of amazing experiments on the site; but this one below is the one I spend the most time with during its early development phase.

Honestly; I never felt more out of my depth on a project than at the beginning of this one. Sat in the kickoffs with Alex, Kyle and Yotam who were deep in the weeds talking about t-SNE, dimensionality reduction, hi-dimensional space, convolutional neural networks, and supervised vs un-supervised learning. Was a full-on nose-bleed, crash course, in ML. But so worth it. Do not fear this stuff. It’s a different world to start; but after a few weeks it starts to take. So please enjoy….

The Infinite Drum Machine
https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com/drum-machine

Sounds are complex and vary widely. This experiment uses machine learning to organize thousands of everyday sounds. The computer wasn’t given any descriptions or tags – only the audio. Using a technique called t-SNE, the computer placed similar sounds closer together. You can use the map to explore neighborhoods of similar sounds and even make beats using the drum sequencer.

Here’s the explainer video:

For an extra sneak peak into the development process; here’s a video showing an earlier prototype. This one has around ~40k short samples from Freesound! For the final version we licensed ~17k.

This is one of the last projects I started working on in New York, so it’s great to see it out in the real world. Mad props to Alex, Catherine, Manny, Yotam, Eric, Jonas, Kyle, Gene and bunch of other very smart people.

And yea…. what Kyle said.

AI Experiments website:
aiexperiments.withgoogle.com

Hello London. I’m back.

It’s Sunday evening and I’m a bit all over the place. My wife and I took a Virgin Atlantic flight on Thursday night from New York and landed at Heathrow on Friday morning. It was a one-way trip.

Wait? What?

After nearly three and half amazing years in New York, I’m back in London. I’m excited to say I’m starting a great new job and will be joining a fantastic team as Head of Production at Google.

Writing that it I can’t help but think I’m about to get found out in the biggest way possible. We’ll see…..

I’m going to miss the team in New York and the city. I don’t have the superlatives to explain how fucking awesome it was (yes, I said awesome… I’m allowed). During my time there I worked on 60+ projects; some big, some small, some successful, some failures. I never thought I’d be given the opportunity to create a new brand for [one of] the biggest companies in the world. But I was. And we did. Along with a bunch of other amazing stuff.

“It also felt like a good moment to tidy up and hit reset on a bunch of stuff. Especially digital things like email, tags, folders and social. I ran FullContact on iCloud, Google, and LinkedIn to merge and de-dupe the data – and hit delete on the old shit. After that I killed Angel List, G+, Instagram, Product Hunt, Snapchat, Squarespace, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, Vine, Youtube and more. From today @hellokinsella is dead. A new and shiny @kinsellaxyz is alive.”

But this isn’t about the work I did. It’s about the work I’m going to do. I’m super excited to be joining a team that is already knocking it out of the park. Here’s a snapshot:

In September 2015, the team worked on a project called Assembly of Youth, which used feature phones and SMS to bring the voices of children around the world directly to their representatives at the United Nations General Congress. It presented them to some of the world’s most influential people in a powerful display in the atrium of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the team worked alongside the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps to launch the Refugee Info Hub. Built and launched in just 36 hours, the portal brings valuable information to the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and making their way to Europe. Within four months of the Hub’s launch the platform had been used in 18 locations across Europe by more than 30 NGOs, and helped more than 100,000 refugees.

More recently Project Jacquard, which “makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms”, won the Cannes Product Design Grand Prix.

And this week they launch Project Bloks, “a research project aiming to create an open hardware platform to help developers, designers, and researchers build the next generation of tangible programming experiences for kids”.

I start tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Tulum, Mexico 2016

Back in NY, just returned from an fantastic short break in Mexico with Steph. We stayed at the gorgeous Casa Malca in Tulum for 4-days. So beautiful and peaceful. Wish we could’ve stayed longer.

Tulum.jpg
Taken with the Leica Q #nofilter

View photos in the gallery.

One of the highlights while we were there we catching an couple of electronic musicians, producers, and live performers from Córdoba, Argentina.

One made beats and played them with Ableton Live and a MIDI keyboard. The other jammed live with a chromatic harmonica & pedal FX. It was like deep space Vangelis. Perfect for the setting. Perfect for the vibe.

Needed the break after putting a shift in at work (see last few posts) but feeling recharged and inspired. Don’t spend your money on stuff. Spend it on experiences and memories.