Unbabel’s Monthly Reads – July

At Unbabel we’re avid users of Slack, coordinating hundreds of overlapping workstreams, keeping the growing team of a multinational startup all on the same page, and generally living out our internal culture: one that values continuous learning about the areas we work in and on, and seeks to discover new and better ways to work.

As we’ve grown, more voices have been added to one of our channels, #worth_reading rebellious academics, failed philosophers, restless souls, frustrated artists, and all-round geeks— and we think the collective curation here has now become a resource worth sharing more widely. 

So let’s look at what we shared this month: 

The man behind the bits 

Before a man named Claude Shannon came along with the publication of his Mathematical Theory of Communication,” everyone thought that each medium written, spoken language, pictures, videos, etc would require different ways of communicating. The revelation was that all of them could be turned into binary digits, or bits.

A Man in a Hurry: Claude Shannon’s New York Years



 Come here much?”

Artist Jonas Eltes was inspired by conversing in his limited Italian to create his latest installation, Lost in Computation, where two chatbots speaking different languages converse through the distorted layer of Google Translate. 

Two Star-Crossed Chatbots Are Having a Conversation via Google Translate



When a language just won’t quit

Language symbolises a culture’s identity, and no one takes it more serious than the Euskara-speaking communities (or Basque), whose efforts to keep their language alive have survived brutal fascism and globalisation alike. 

The mysterious origins of Europe’s oldest language



Growth hack backfires 

Has growth hacking gone too far? The global developer community is up in arms about this startup’s method of hiring famous devs and getting them to insert advertising content into their formerly purely open source code.

How a VC-funded company is undermining the open-source community



Correlation strikes again!

It appears the closer we are to the equator, the more language diversity there is. The question of why humanity speaks so many languages sparks many theories, so, of course, simulation models were run to get to the bottom of this. The results may surprise you. 

We still have no idea why humans speak over 7,000 languages



 World Wide Web ≠ Wild Wild West 

It’s been 13 years since Facebook was founded, arguably the last giant technology company to have emerged in more than a decade. So what’s going on? 

The end of the internet startup



Don’t streß

If you’ve ever been to Germany and looked up at a road sign you’ll have come across the letter“ß”, or eszett in the word Straße,” the word for street. It’s often transliterated as ss,” and strangely enough, it’s never had an official uppercase counterpart. Until now. 

Germany has ended a century-long debate over a missing letter in its alphabet



Oh God, deep learning + cats 

Deep neural networks are now automatically generating pictures of cats. 

Game over. 

Deep learning with cats (^..^)



“Siri, remind me what I told my mother this time last year”

Everything we say, transcribed and documented, for generations to come. Will recording every spoken word help or hurt us? The possibilities are as intriguing as terrifying. But do they go back to how we lived for thousands of years? 

What Searchable Speech Will Do To You



Everything you always wanted to know about diversity reports (but were afraid to ask)


I’m going to spare you all my attempts in wittiness since Sarah Cooper says it best in her latest masterpiece: In the interest of transparency and mounting pressure from other companies doing it, we are very excited to release our Annual Diversity in Tech Report and share all the gains we’ve made in hiring other people”.

Honest Diversity in Tech Report


That’s a wrap, y’all

Have a nice weekend.

Director of Brand and Communication. Born in New York, raised in Lisbon, forged in the fires of London. Often found being walked by Moses the Dog, drinking coffee, in the cinema, following Radiohead on tour, on his racing bike (sometimes all at once). Eternally curious, tells a good story.

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