December 2017’s Coolest Things

Over the festive season people come together, set aside their competitive natures and make peace. Except on the Sutherland Labs slack channel. War rages on in the slack channel throughout December as everybody in the labs rushes to get one last stab at their colleagues before the holiday lull. Every month we compete to find the coolest things that are happening in the world and whoever finds the coolest wins eternal glory and bragging rights. This December, these were the strongest contenders:

Battle of the Chatbots

This article puts three Christmas gift finding chatbots head to head to see which one does the best job of narrowing down the hunt for the perfect present. It seems that ASOS were too intent on funnelling people towards specific products that they were trying to push. Lego didn’t ask enough questions about the receiver before throwing out fairly rando suggestions and Marks and Spencer’s landed right in the sweet spot of asking the right questions, really “listening” to the answers and still providing a fun experience for the user. Well done M&S.

NZ Police Recruitment

Police recruitment is usually a fairly drab and serious business, so this video from the New Zealand police is a breath of fresh air. Featuring clever edits to reflect the diversity of the police force they are trying to recruit – including one cut when a police dog transforms into a police cat – this high energy, fun video leans into an unmistakably kiwi sense of humour to get its message across. Although if you really want to get a better sense of the camaraderie on that force then you might be better off watching “NZ Police read mean tweets.”

Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash

The Harry Potter books have been so wildly successful that they reinvigorated a flagging publishing industry, resuscitated the UK’s tourist industry and span off into more films than you can shake a fairly big stick at. But JK Rowling has been replaced by a predictive keyboard for this most recent addition to the series. Botnik fed all 7 previous books into their device and much like the monkeys with typewriters that we have been hearing about for so long, it managed to produce a perfectly absurd, but recognisable, chapter of a brand-new book. If you have any interest in Harry Potter whatsoever it is well worth taking a look at Chapter 13 “The Handsome One” which is still available online.

That is all that we have for you this month. Everyone wandered off before we could get into the usual brutal last week of the month’s tussle over the coolest things. Have no fear, the battle will start again with renewed vigour in the new year. 2018 had better have a lot of cool things in it, because we are ready to kick off!

Communications Director

Sutherland Labs
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