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We and AI: Investigating the Invisible

We and AI: Investigating the Invisible

By WeandAIpodcast

A podcast series asking questions about artificial intelligence and the impact it's having on the world around us.

Join us on our AI journey.

Hosted by Kevin Butler and Peju Oshisanya
Produced by Laura Robinson
Theme music by Michael O'Reilly
Supported by We and AI
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How can AI help Santa? We and AI Holiday Special

We and AI: Investigating the InvisibleDec 18, 2020

How can AI help Santa? We and AI Holiday Special

How can AI help Santa? We and AI Holiday Special

Join Kevin and Peju as they head off on a festive adventure, asking a number of AI experts the crucial holiday question: how can AI help Santa Claus?

We’ll be investigating the power of AI to create (bad) holiday films, strange Christmas carols, and lots of Yuletide magic. However and wherever you’re celebrating the season, this episode will lift your spirits and bring you some good cheer!


Peju spoke about a neural network that researchers at the University of Toronto taught to write a Christmas carol:

Kevin mentioned a team at MIT who used an algorithm called textgnrnn to create titles and plots for Christmas films. Find out more about it here:

Special holiday thanks to our contributors:

Louis Columbus
Helen Gould
Dr Robert Elliott Smith
Deepak Paramanand
Phillip Hunter
Brhmie Balaram
Eline Chivot
Umang Patel
Saint Nicholas was voiced by Harry Burton:
Our festive backing music is by Linda Seeley;

This episode was co-produced by Laura Robinson and Kevin Butler

Hosts: Kevin Butler and Peju Oshisanya

Sound engineer: Michael O'Reilly

Jingle written by: Michael O'Reilly

This podcast has been produced by an independent partner of We and AI and may not represent the views or practices of We and AI as an organisation, or that of its members.

Dec 18, 202035:13
We and AI: Ask Phillip

We and AI: Ask Phillip

In this special episode of ‘Investigating the Invisible’, we’re sitting down to interview Phillip Hunter, an expert in conversational AI and one of the brilliant minds behind Amazon’s Alexa.

Phillip’s been working in the field of conversational AI for 25 years. He was formerly Head of User Experience at Amazon Alexa Skills, and now he’s embarking on his own conversational AI venture called CCAI.

That means he’s the perfect person to chat to about all things conversational AI.

And Kevin and Peju have come armed with plenty of questions, which have been submitted by members from across the We and AI group. Join us, as we find out:

Why is Alexa called Alexa? Is Alexa always listening? What counts as conversational AI? What does talking to AI mean for the future of communication?

So, forget about asking Alexa: pull up a chair, and get ready to ask Phillip.


Phillip mentions two books:

Talk: The Science of Conversation, by Elizabeth Stokoe — a social psychologist explores language, conversation and communication from a scientific perspective

Because Internet, by Gretchen McCulloch — a discussion of the way the internet is changing the English language

Peju talks about Alexa usage rates increasing during lockdown, and there is statistical evidence of that: according to a survey by Voxly Digital in April 2020, 3 in 5 users agreed that their voice-assistant is helping them get through isolation (however, it is worth noting that Voxly Digital produce apps for Amazon Alexa and Google assistant).

By the end of the episode you might even be questioning Kevin and Peju. For example when talking about male versus female voice assistants, are we stuck in thinking that a machine should have the characteristics of a human, and how dangerous is it to project human attributes on them? Should voice assistants be gender neutral, and should we stop thinking of them as versions of ourselves? Find out more about this issue on our blog:


Nov 23, 202001:12:24
AI and Jobs: How is AI affecting the world of work?

AI and Jobs: How is AI affecting the world of work?

In this episode, Kevin and Peju explore the way artificial intelligence is changing the world of work.

We’ve all seen the headlines promising mass unemployment due to AI — but how realistic are these concerns? How will AI impact who is hired and who isn’t? And what does the future workplace look like when our colleagues are algorithms?

Join us as we put these questions (and many more) to our experts, Deepak Paramanand and Jeff Wellstead.

Deepak is Product Lead at Hitachi Europe, and former Senior Product Manager at Microsoft.

Jeff Wellstead has had an incredible 25-year career as a HR leader, helping organisations across investment banking, consulting and technology prepare for rapid growth.

Together, they’ll share their insight on AI and jobs, so you can work out the questions you need to be asking about this crucial topic.

If you enjoy this episode, make sure to rate, review and subscribe, so you can join us on the next stage of our journey to investigate the invisible.


The news headlines mentioned in this episode are:

Bank of England economist warns thousands of UK jobs at risk from robots and AI’ published in the Independent, Monday 20th August 2018 Job Loss From AI? There's More To Fear!, Aug 7, 2018 A.I. and Unemployment: Which Cities Face Biggest Impact, November 21, 2019

Notes on the Amazon case study

The software was created by a team at Amazon’s Edinburgh office in 2014 as a way to automatically sort through CVs and select the most ‘talented’ applicants.

But the algorithm taught itself to favour male candidates over female ones

The problem seemed to have been caused by bad data. The system was trained on data submitted by applicants over a 10-year period – most of which came from men.

It was started in 2014 and scrapped by Amazon in 2015 — so five years ago rather than 6 as Kevin said.

You can find out more about the Amazon here:

21 jobs of the future

The article we were talking about was the ‘21 HR jobs of the future’ published in August 2020 in the Harvard Business Review

Authors are Rob Brown from the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work and Jeanne Mesiter who is the Managing Partner of Future Workplace — both organisations that deal in predicting the future of jobs.

Find the article here:

McKinsey study

Kevin mentions a Mckinsey study, Skill shift: Automation and the future of the workforce

For more information about the issues discussed in this episode, take a look at our blog post on:

Nov 23, 202001:07:19
AI and Bias: is AI 'biased' (and is that our fault)?

AI and Bias: is AI 'biased' (and is that our fault)?

Welcome to the very first episode of the We and AI podcast! To kick-off the series, Kevin and Peju are investigating the topic of bias.

The problem of ‘biased AI’ dominates the public conversation around artificial intelligence today — and it plays a major part in every episode in this series.

So, we want to start our journey by addressing bias: what is it, what impact does it have, where does it come from — and can we get rid of it?

Joining Kevin and Peju on this inaugural episode are two very special guests: journalist Angela Saini and technologist and author Dr Robert Elliott Smith.

Angela is an independent British science journalist and author. She’s probably best known for her documentaries on the BBC, and her two books on the history of science, including her most recent: Superior: The Return of Race Science.

Rob is the CTO of Mirza, a company developing tech to help close the gender pay gap.

He’s also Senior Fellow of the Computer Science Faculty at University College London — and excitingly, he’s just published a book: Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms and How to Stop The Internet Making Bigots of Us All.

With Angela and Rob on-hand to help, we’re ready to delve into the most important topic surrounding AI today. Are you ready to follow us?


Peju mentioned the GCSE grading scandal which occurred when algorithms were used to determine GCSE and A-level results in August of 2020.

Angela mentioned Data, a fictional character in the TV show Star Trek.

Angela mentions a book by Jennifer Eberhart, Biased: Uncovering the hidden prejudice that shapes what we see, think and do.

Kevin mentions the famous example of Amazon’s failed AI recruiting tool (find out more about this on our AI and Jobs episode).

Rob mentions the science fiction novel The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's by American writer Neal Stephenson, which describes artificial intelligence as ‘pseudo intelligence’.

For a more detailed discussion of the themes that emerge in this episode, read our blog post at

Nov 23, 202001:15:56
Welcome to the We and AI podcast: Investigating the Invisible

Welcome to the We and AI podcast: Investigating the Invisible

Artificial intelligence is a technology quietly shaping the world around us. Every aspect of our lives — from healthcare to jobs, government policy to social media — is being affected by AI.

But for most of us, AI is an abstract idea. We might not even realise the impact it's already having on us and our shared future.

That's why we need to start asking questions about this powerful technology, the way it's being used, and the way it's being built.

Join Kevin Butler and Peju Oshisanya as they find leading tech experts, and put them to the test with all the questions we need to be asking about AI.

It's the first step in our journey to dispel myths, illuminate the unknown and make the invisible, visible.

And we really hope you’ll join us.

Oct 28, 202002:56