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Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on Twitter will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they control it, wish to influence its direction - Theodore Zeldin

A Mundane Comedy is Dominic Kelleher's new book, which will be published in early 2020. We will be publishing extracts on this site and across social media during the last quarter of 2019. Please feel free to contact us with any questions about the book.

What's Changing? - Artificial Intelligence



Artificial Intelligence (AI) is typically defined as the ability of a machine to perform cognitive functions we associate with human minds, such as perceiving, reasoning, learning, interacting with the environment, problem solving, and even exercising creativity. Examples of technologies that enable AI to solve business problems are robotics and autonomous vehicles, computer vision, language, virtual agents, and machine learning.


Please see below recent artificial intelligence (AI)-related change.


See also: 


June 2019


May 2019

  • Quartz noted that AI is learning teamwork. Researchers have managed to train AI bots to work as a team in a deadly game of capture the flag.


March 2019

  • AI contributed US$2 trillion to global GDP in 2018, according to a PwC report. The report also estimated that the AI industry could contribute $15.7 trillion to the world economy by 2030. The greatest economic gains by 2030 will be the 26 percent boost to GDP in China and the 14.5 percent boost in North America.


February 2019


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018

  • AI has the potential to help tackle some of the world’s most challenging social problems. To analyse potential applications for social good, McKinsey compiled a library of about 160 AI social-impact use cases. They suggested that existing capabilities could contribute to tackling cases across all 17 of the UN’s sustainable-development goals, potentially helping hundreds of millions of people in both advanced and emerging countries. Real-life examples of AI were already being applied in about one-third of these use cases, albeit in relatively small tests. They range from diagnosing cancer to helping blind people navigate their surroundings, identifying victims of online sexual exploitation, and aiding disaster-relief efforts.
  • AI will test truthfulness in European airports, reported Quartz. Virtual border guards will look more sceptical and use different tones of voice if they think passengers are lying.
  • How to create more diverse workplaces and how to use AI ethically are among the more challenging dilemmas facing business and government, according to The New York Times. While the issues may appear to have little in common besides their complexity, they do overlap. Recently, for example, according to news reports Amazon abandoned a hiring tool that used artificial intelligence because it favoured men.
  • One source of income inequality is prejudice. Unconscious (and conscious) attitudes direct opportunities more to favoured groups and steer them away from those on the outs. Forbes noted that Silicon Valley types assumed they could solve the problem like any other - with software, by having AI look at the patterns and make the decisions. Then came the warning signs in research that AI-driven systems were maybe not as free of bias as their creators thought - for example, Amazon dropped recruiting software that used AI because it preferred to hire men over women.
  • AI and automation technologies have the potential to transform government processes and public services, freeing up employee time spent on manual, repetitive tasks. But what does the ordinary citizen make of AI, asked Raconteur.
  • US-based workforce information firm Kronos partnered with IBM to create an AI-powered Watson Career Coach for hourly workers.The mobile-based, chatbot service provides workers with personalised advice on recommended trainings, earning promotions and raises, and switching positions within their organisations. The service, noted TrendWatching, is aimed at companies in, for example, the food service or retail sectors who employ large numbers of lower paid hourly workers where it is difficult to provide meaningful 1:1 human career management.
  • Google’s AI assistant appreciates good manners. It won’t scold you for not saying “please” and “thank you,” but it will be nicer if you do.
  • Further reading:


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


July 2018


June 2018


May 2018

  • No longer confined to the realms of science fiction, artificial intelligence (AI) has become central to the corporate agenda, with PwC predicting it could add $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The AI for Business special report, published in The Times, examines the many business areas which could be boosted by smart use of AI, from education to energy.

  • From booking systems to customer and feedback services, chatbots are ubiquitous in business. But in areas, such as health or the home, people seem less willing to engage with what is effectively a computer running smart software or a machine that “learns” thorough artificial intelligence (AI). However, according to Raconteur, businesses are increasingly taking advantage of advances in emotionally intelligent AI to open up new opportunities to gain people’s trust when it comes to more sensitive subjects. 

  • The rise of the personal computer and the internet have given us an early taste of how access to augmented intelligence might change ther world. But a new Quantumrun six-part series talked about a future of truly limitless intelligence, the kind that learns on its own, takes action on its own, a magnitude of intelligence that “can liberate or enslave the whole of humanity”.

  • Retail companies are turning to AI, with companies like Walmart using the tech for shelf-scanning robots to manage inventory. CB Insights took a look at how AI is impacting all parts of the retail chain, from heavy lifting in the warehouse to chatbots online. 

  • Accenture research has shown that, globally, AI could boost profitability by an average of 38%, leading to an economic boost of $14 trillion by 2035.

  • EY pointed to a number of recent cases where AI has been able to accelerate human innovation:

  • 1) Google used DeepMind to reduce the amount of energy required to cool its massive data centers by 40%. Google engineers were stunned the software could achieve these savings. The rule of thumb was that the most energy efficient way to cool a building was to run as few systems as possible, maxing out each one before bringing additional units online. But the AI didn’t do this. Instead, it turned on almost all the cooling systems simultaneously, but ran them at lower power levels, balancing the heat load across almost all of them.
  • 2) In 2016, AlphaGo (a software developed by DeepMind) defeated world’s top player (Lee Sedol) at the board game Go. The game Go originated in China two to three millennia ago and has possible moves to the tune of 10^170 (more than the number of atoms in the universe). There are plenty of rules of thumb about the best ways to play the game. However, during the contest with Lee Sedol, AlphaGo came up with entirely new ways of approaching the game, for instance, it choose to cede territory around the perimeter of the board in situations when humans, based on strategies developed over generations, do the opposite.
  • 3) Google's AI research team Magenta created the Neural Synthesiser, or 'NSynth', a software capable of generating entirely new sounds. It invents audio using deep AI neural networks, which blend the sounds of two instruments to create a novel, hybrid sound. 
  • Philosophers and others in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI’s mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities. In contrast, the scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of  both these worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend them, warned The Atlantic. And governance, insofar as it deals with the subject, is more likely to investigate AI’s applications for security and intelligence than to explore the transformation of the human condition that it has begun to produce.

  • One of the main concerns with AI technologies today is the fear that they will propagate the various biases we already have in society. A recent Stanford study turned things around however, and highlighted how AI can also turn the mirror onto society and shed light on the biases that exist within it. The study utilised word embeddings to map relationships and associations between words, and through that measure the changes in gender and ethnic stereotypes over the last century in the United States. The algorithms were fed text from a huge canon of books, newspapers and other texts, whilst comparing these with official census demographic data and societal changes.
  • While there is a lot of news about how artificial intelligence is changing business, Inc. argued that the most common misconception about AI is that it's complicated and only for large companies and that you don't need to be a data scientist to know how to leverage data just like you don't need to be a developer to create the concept behind an app. There are plenty of simple consumer-facing tools powered by AI that can help people run a small business or startup.
  • Scarcely a day goes by without artificial intelligence making news in some form or other, noted Burson Cohn & Wolfe. Much of it is about the new applications for AI, which have been used to create new beers, diagnose depression, detect cardiac arrests, and even write poetry. But there are also ominous warnings about the dangers of AI, with Google co-founder Sergey Brin last month joining Tesla’s Elon Musk, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the late Stephen Hawking worrying about the technology’s threat to humanity.
  • The FT noted that the potential scale of deep learning’s impact on business had been laid out in an April 2018 report from McKinsey Global Institute, Notes from the AI Frontier: Insight from Hundreds of Use Cases. Depending on the industry it is in, the value a company could hope to gain from applying this technology ranges from 1 to 9 per cent of its revenues. This points to trillions of dollars of potential impact on business - and the workers who are the first to learn how to apply it will be the big winners.
  • Roland Berger’s Think:Act magazine asked what exactly do people mean when they talk about AI in 2018 and tried to answer the question as to where to start if you want to embrace AI in your business.
  • We already have lots of choices when it comes to the products in our life, noted Inc. Coffee or tea? Nike or Adidas? Apple or Samsung etc? Futurist (and Inc. magazine columnist) Amy Webb claimed the stakes of those decisions will soon be a lot higher,  as she talked about the larger role AI will play in our everyday lives in the not-too-distant future. "You won't be deciding between systems like iOS or Android for your phone," she said. "You'll be deciding: Do you want your life operating system to be Amazon or Google? If you think it's hard choosing a smartphone, just wait."
  • Over the next 15 years, AI will take ever (financial) services types of jobs, according to research firm Autonomous’s new report. Two converging trends have enabled forms of AI that can effectively mimic or replace human labour, argued Fast Company. On the one hand, specialised hardware has increased processing power, making it possible for AI systems to generate outputs in real time. At the same time, the amount of data available to feed those systems has skyrocketed, thanks to search histories, online photos, and more. 
  • McKinsey believes that AI can be a huge help to the leader who’s trying to become more inwardly agile and foster creative approaches to transformation. When a CEO puts AI to work on the toughest and most complex strategic challenges, he or she must rely on the same set of practices that build personal inner agility. Sending AI out into the mass of complexity, without knowing in advance what it will come back with, the CEO is embracing the discovery of original, unexpected, and breakthrough ideas.
  • AI is a wide-ranging tool that enables people to rethink how we integrate information, analyse data, and use the resulting insights to improve decision making - and already it is transforming every walk of life, believes the Brookings Institution, which offers recommendations for getting the most out of AI while still protecting important human values.
  • The most momentous challenge facing socio-economic systems today is the arrival of AI, argued The Washington Post. If AI remains under the control of market forces, it will inexorably result in a super-rich oligopoly of data billionaires who reap the wealth created by robots that displace human labor, leaving massive unemployment in their wake. But China’s socialist market economy could provide a solution to this. If AI rationally allocates resources through big data analysis, and if robust feedback loops can supplant the imperfections of “the invisible hand” while fairly sharing the vast wealth it creates, a planned economy that actually works could at last be achievable.
  • Artificial Intelligence will enable breakthrough advances in areas like healthcare, agriculture, education and transportation, argued GZEROMedia. But how do we deal with the complex questions and societal concerns that AI raises? How do we ensure that AI is designed and used responsibly? How do we establish ethical principles to protect people? And how will AI impact employment and jobs? Microsoft explored these issues, and offered suggestions on the way forward in a new book, The Future Computed - read more here.
  • Rand asked whether AI could upend concepts of nuclear deterrence that have helped spare the world from nuclear war since 1945? Stunning advances in AI- coupled with a proliferation of drones, satellites, and other sensors - raise the possibility that countries could find and threaten each other's nuclear forces, escalating tensions.


April 2018

  • We are here to create” is an interview with Kai-Fu Lee, pioneering AI researcher and head of one of China’s Top VC firms. He’s been frank about the risks: “We’re all going to face a very challenging next fifteen or twenty years, when half of the jobs are going to be replaced by machines.