Click this blog to see a list of the various posts I’ve written — including on the brain, AI, education, and entrepreneurship.

Picture of me in Khorog, Tajikistan

Thanks for visiting! I started this blog a few years ago, but only started writing more regularly in late 2020 when I took a sabbatical from full-time work.

Below is a list of the blogs I’ve written so far. I enjoy connecting and learning from others so reach out on linkedin or twitter or share your comments here. Thanks!

- The Brain: A Primer for the Novice (Blog Series on Neuroscience and AI)
- Conversational AI Explained (Blog Series)

Business and life lessons on how to survive and thrive in the face of uncertain and volatile times.

Photo Credit: Torsten Dederichs

Fragility can be defined as those things that break easily under pressure or stress. What’s the opposite of fragile? Most of us think of robust — or things that don’t break under such pressure. But in actuality, the opposite is a new term: anti-fragile — or those things that actually get stronger under stress or pressure. Scholar and author Nassim Taleb introduces the triad concept of fragile, robust, and anti-fragile in his book “Antifragile: Things that Gain Disorder”.

Volatility is Not all Bad

Taleb illustrates the difference…

A few things you might not have learned from Borat

Image Source

Borat, the fictional Kazakh character, might have provided some people a first, if odd, introduction to Central Asia. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the region (Tajikistan) as part of a social enterprise I’m involved in. Through such travel and by later reading more about the region, I have come across a great deal I wasn’t aware of and, like with my recent blog on Africa, I hope to share some of my learnings and findings.

At a personal level I can share that Tajikistan is a beautiful

NLU complexities: challenges and open problems in Conversational AI

Image Credit

This blog was guest-written by Leo Cordoba.

In the last few years we have witnessed a race between companies to create the biggest, most powerful and most interesting named NLP (Natural Language Processing) model. These models are trained on huge corpuses of textual data and learn meaningful representations of words (and other tokens, such as emojis 😀). Sometimes these models can be used directly and in some cases they need to be trained on specific “downstream” tasks like sentiment analysis or question answering. …

…But were afraid to ask.

Image Credit: Nounproject

The previous blogs in this series share what conversational AI is and where it's making an impact, what industries it's disrupting, and the ecosystem of companies and technologies involved in shaping the industry.

This article aims to share a basic high-level understanding of how data flows through a chatbot or voicebot and some definitions to help understand the terminology associated with building and operating such a bot.


Rasa, the open source company for building bots, has a great glossary that describes such terms. Here are a few important ones:

Utterance — A message sent by…

The companies, products, and technologies shaping the future of conversational agents.

Conversational AI Ecosystem — Updated April 2021

Conversational AI is a fast-growing industry with a number of start-ups and established companies offering a wide variety of products and services for an even wider variety of customers.

We compiled, reviewed, and curated nearly 200 companies and technologies, created one big list and categorized them in several ways to try to help understand what’s taking place in the space:

  • Category of Product / Service Offering
  • Domain or Industry Area
  • Investment / Funding

Builders vs. End-Users

As we started reviewing the various companies and their offerings it became clear there were broadly…

In a world of wealth and growing prosperity, where do we go from here?

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Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World” by Rutger Bregman is an enjoyable a quick read about the opportunity to shape our ideal world and future. He also did a related TED Talk that I highly recommend watching. Although I had previously seen the viral clip, I didn’t realize the author was the same individual who gave a searing speech at Davos a few years ago till I came across Trevor Noah’s Daily Show segment with Bregman after reading the book.


Market size and opportunity for conversational AI technology.

Image Credit: SpaceX

What Problems Does Conversational AI Solve?

Conversational AI is the broad term used for the class of machine learning technologies and products associated with interpreting or emulating conversational dialogs. A big application here is intelligent agents: chatbots or voicebots that aim to generate human-like conversations so that users can interact naturally via text (typing) or by audio (speaking) to interact with the bot/service and accomplish some sort of task.

Specific applications range from customer support chatbots you’ve used on websites, intelligent virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, or industry specific applications like personal finance chatbots, recruiting chatbots, restaurant…

An exploration of voicebots, chatbots, intelligent virtual assistants, and the latest machine learning technologies behind conversational AI.

Elvis Image Source, Original Song Link.

The idea of speaking to an intelligent agent and having a human-like conversation has intrigued and captivated the imagination for decades.

In recent years, Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa have started to fulfill some of the promise of having a virtual assistant attend to basic tasks and simple information retrieval. However, when it comes to business applications the results have been less impressive. Text-based chatbots emerged with a limited range of success and true voice-based agents didn’t fare much better than the old-style…

Key ideas behind building organizations that innovate.

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries” by Safi Bachall discusses ways in which organizations can nurture innovation to solve big and ambitious problems. The key premise of the book is that organizational structure matters more than culture:

Leaders who order their employees to be more innovative without first investing in organizational fitness are like casual joggers who order their bodies to run a marathon.

The book distinguishes loonshots from franchises: franchises are the mainstay of an organization — in a corporation a cash-cow such…

Loves Technology, Startups, and Tacos.

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