AI Business Podcast 20: Feelings and Thiel-ings

Is Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah a sad song – and how would a computer know?

Max Smolaks

March 16, 2021

Is Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah a sad song – and how would a computer know?

Hello and welcome to yet another episode of the AI Business podcast!

We return after a short break, to talk about empathy, advertising, and Palantir, an AI company that built a business worth $15 billion with 30 salespeople – now featuring in its very own drinking game!

AI Business · AI Business Podcast 20: Feelings and Thiel-ings

We begin by talking about Moods, a service from Vevo, the company that owns and manages most music videos on the Internet. Moods now uses AI to identify the tone and emotion of music in order to help advertisers more effectively target their campaigns – initial options include ‘fun,’ ‘heartfelt,’ ‘impassioned,’ and ‘empowering.’

Now, the obvious problem with this service is it ignores the less positive emotions that are integral to art, like sadness, despair, and perhaps even hatred. How can we teach computers to understand human emotion? And if the advertisers, in their infinite wisdom, choose to focus exclusively on positive emotions, who’s going to bankroll the next Nine Inch Nails?

In the second part of the podcast, we continue talking about one of our favorite subjects – AI, analytics, and surveillance wunder-venture Palantir. But there’s a plot twist: every time we mention the name of its founder, libertarian saint Peter Thiel, Max drinks. You can hear the podcast descending into chaos and almost feel the anguish of our publisher.

What happened with Palantir? Well, the company is actually going from the strength to strength, and has secured a major distribution deal leveraging IBM’s considerable sales muscle. This means a lot more Palantir software, used by many more government agencies and corporations – joining the ranks of the CIA, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, LAPD and the Space Force.

We also cover: Gym music! Shoes! Doomscrolling! Rammstein! Things wrong with IBM!

As always, you can find the people responsible for the circus podcast online:

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