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Happy birthday, world's coolest savant

Today, British autistic savant Daniel Tammet is 10,220 days, or 245,280 hours old (that's 28 years for you non-savants out there). He is blessed/cursed with the kind of savantism made famous by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (formerly known as "idiot" savantism), but Daniel manages to sustain relatively normal social interaction with others. (He credits growing up in a family of nine children, and thus being forced to socialize, for his normalcy relative to other savants, of which there are only about 50 known in the world.)

A lot of savants can do things that no normal person can do, like tell you what day of the week August 18, 1876 was without consulting an almanac, in about five seconds (it was a Friday), multiply 27 to the power of four in his head (531,441) or memorize and recite long strings of numbers with ease. But there are a few things he can do that even most savants cannot. For instance, he once learned functional Icelandic in a week, and recited pi to several thousand places from memory (without errors -- it took more than five hours).

So how does he do it? As a recent profile of Daniel on 60 Minutes revealed, the answer may shed light on the abilities of all savants: he is a synesthetic. That is to say, he associates numbers with colors, just as composer Franz Liszt claimed to have associated music with color. (Hip-hop artist Pharrell Williams also claims to have synesthesia.)

Interesting note: one man who has done some crucial research in this area is Oxford professor of developmental psychopathology Simon Baron-Cohen, cousin of Borat star Sascha Baron-Cohen.

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New AI-Driven Music System Analyzes Tracks for Perfect Playlists
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Whether you're planning a bachelorette party or recovering from a breakup, a well-curated playlist makes all the difference. If you don't have time to pick the perfect songs manually, services that use the AI-driven system Sonic Style may be able to figure out exactly what you have in mind based on your request.

According to Fast Company, Sonic Style is the new music-categorizing service from the media and entertainment data provider Gracenote. There are plenty of music algorithms out there already, but Sonic Style works a little differently. Rather than listing the entire discography of a certain artist under a single genre, the AI analyzes individual tracks. It considers factors like the artist's typical genre and the era the song was recorded in, as well as qualities it can only learn through listening, like tempo and mood. Based on nearly 450 descriptors, it creates a super-accurate "style profile" of the track that makes it easier for listeners to find it when searching for the perfect song to fit an occasion.

Playlists that use data from Sonic Style feel like they were made by a person with a deep knowledge of music rather than a machine. That's thanks to the system's advanced neural network. It also recognizes artists that don't fit neatly into one genre, or that have evolved into a completely different music style over their careers. Any service—including music-streaming platforms and voice-activated assistants—that uses Gracenote's data will be able to take advantage of the new technology.

With AI at your disposal, all you have to do as the listener is decide on a style of music. Here are some ideas to get you started if you want a playlist for productivity.

[h/t Fast Company]

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