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The city had never been so quiet. Or if it had, Frankie had never been around to witness it. She usually always fled London at Christmas, along with everyone else she knew. There would be the obligatory pints and ill-advised shots with friends in Soho on the 23rd, and then they would all decamp to family piles in Berkshire, Sussex, Kent, while Frankie would end up sitting on her suitcase next to the loo on a northbound train to see her dad.

When it had dawned on her that she needn’t make the journey this year, Frankie had laughed, relieved…


The third of our contributions by writer and journalist, Philip Ellis

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AI is going to irrevocably change how we live and work. But these world-changing systems are currently being developed by a specific set of people with their own specialist skills, their own perspectives, and unavoidably, their own unconscious biases. How do we ensure that AI serves everyone?

We’re already beginning to see AI systems exhibit their own version of bias, from Siri struggling to understand accents to the especially egregious example of Google Image misidentifying the faces of black individuals as gorillas. …


The second in our contributions by writer and journalist Philip Ellis

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Artificial intelligence is the paradigm-shifting technology of our age, poised to change the way we live to a greater degree than other similarly hyped fields like virtual reality or the blockchain. When it comes to who will dominate this massive industry, the popular narrative is that the duopoly of the United States and China is already a done deal, but in fact a number of countries are stepping up their investment in AI readiness.

“It’s a space race redux, where world superpowers battle to define generations of technology to…


Contributed by writer and journalist, Philip Ellis

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In January, Internet Gaming Disorder became officially recognised as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation. Comparable to gambling addiction, IGD is characterised by symptoms such as spending excessive amounts of time online, an inability to control use, and a loss of interest in other activities. While far from being a new phenomenon, the fact that the WHO is now taking online addiction seriously has got a lot of people worrying about their own digital habits.

In the UK, the average adult spends eight hours and 41 minutes each day on…


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The Germans have a word for it; something guttural that translates to “grief bacon.” A hole you fill with food. Although in my case it was chocolate.

You don’t mention it when I open the door, tell me I look well, which a more sensitive soul might take as a dig, but I know you just haven’t noticed the stretch of my T-shirt. You stopped noticing me a long time ago.

We walk through into the kitchen, where the coffee is already pressed on the tiny breakfast table. It goes cold as you lead me by the hand into the…


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Phone sex is less fun, Lyla decides, when neither of the participants happens to be you — not to mention a nightmare to transcribe.

Party 1: You like that, baby?

Party 2: *Unintelligible grunt*

Even more of a faff is trying to preserve the narrative of sexts when they consist entirely of emojis. Lyla knows she’s on perv duty as part of her punishment, even if the official story is that she’s just ‘filling in’ while Raj has his appendix removed.

She should have just kept her mouth shut and her head down; always easy enough to see in retrospect…


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It wasn’t my fault I was speeding. I had an absolute mare of a day, right from the off; rowing with Angela about mortgage repayments over burnt toast, still shivering from an ice-cold shower thanks to our temperamental boiler. Work was no better, with the shadow of annual reviews looming over us; the spectre at the coffee machine. John said I was safe, but everyone knows John would sell his mother to Alan Sugar if it meant a five per cent pay rise.

So I stayed late, to try and get my head around the latest batch of spreadsheets which…


There are three things I love about Serena Thompson; she’s whip-smart, she makes a mean margarita, and above all, she’s loyal. I can’t think of a single time in my life where she wasn’t there for me. After my mum died, she moved into my flat for a week to make sure I was eating properly. When Olly dumped me, she keyed his car. When me and Olly got back together and then he gave me chlamydia, she sat holding my hand in the clinic waiting room, vocally brainstorming revenge schemes.

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So when Serena called me from an unknown number…


Telekinesis is nowhere near as cool as people seem to think, except for maybe those times when you’re feeling too lazy to reach for the remote, or you want to take the condom off without having to touch it. The amount of concentration, the sheer mental energy, makes much more than that impossible. Parlour tricks, tiny life hacks, that’s all.

That’s why I keep my act small. It’s not entirely limited to cutlery, as the name might suggest; there are some pretty nifty illusions in there, most of which have more to do with sleight of hand than with anything…


Christopher was born feet first on a humid August evening. Sara had held him in for the duration of her band’s set at the working men’s club, initially thinking he might just be wind. Somewhere around the halfway point of the show she realised she was having her baby, and skipped the encore, limping to the car park where her husband, the drummer, was waiting.

Davy flung open the rear doors of his van and helped Sara inside, planning to put his foot down and get them to the nearest hospital. But Christopher had other ideas, and Davy was forced…

Philip Ellis

Freelance writer and journalist.

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