Deep Learning and Voice Recognition

Singularity, Deep Learning, and AI

DRAFT: January, 2019

CREDIT: The Deep Learning Revolution, by Terrence J. Sejnowski



Sadly, I was giving up on voice recognition just as it was emerging. I gave up, after 30 years of waiting, around 1995. Bad idea.

Voice recognition stopped being just cute, and exploded onto the world scene during the late 1990’s. It has taken almost two decades to commercialize, but the technologies birthed in the late 1990’s have now yielded commercial grade results. 

Why then? Why the late 1990’s?  Because an underlying technology called “deep learning” had come of age. Because Thanks the research arms of NSA and DARPA needed answers. Because, to get the answers, they turned to SRI international. SRI made the biggest breakthroughs. They cracked “speaker recognition” at that time. They failed, however, to crack “speech recognition”. That came later.

Specifically, important papers were published in the late 1990’s describing how deep learning could solve the nagging issues facing speaker and voice recognition. The deep learning method used was called long short-term memory (LSTM). (Hochreiter and Schmidhuber, 1997.)

Deep learning for speech recognition came later. In 2003, LSTM started to become competitive with traditional speech recognizers on certain tasks.. Later it was combined with connectionist temporal classification (CTC) in stacks of LSTM RNNs.

Voice recognition today is widely commercialized. In 2015, Google Voice Search experienced a dramatic performance jump of 49%. (They drew upon “CTC-trained LSTM” – in other words, the LSTM technologies birthed in the late 1990’s had by 2015 yielded commercial-grade results).

All major commercial speech recognition systems (e.g., Microsoft Cortana, Xbox, Skype Translator, Amazon Alexa, Google Now, Apple Siri, Baidu and iFlyTek voice search, and a range of Nuance speech products, etc.) are based on deep learning.

“Deep Learning” was birthed in the late 1990’s, but the research leading up to the term goes back to the 1980”s.


“…Public spirited, Impeccably honest, hands-on, innovative, and “bottom-line oriented…”
Maynard Jackson, Three-term Mayor of Atlanta”

“There are none in my thirty-three years in the Coca-Cola business that have exemplified higher standards.”
Tom Carney, Coca-Cola veteran (now retired) in personal letter to John Reid


    John Reid graduated with a Masters from MIT forty years ago, and has been successfully tackling huge issues – most of them directly relevant to his passion for system design – ever since. He has been in the C-suite in the corporate, non-profit, city, and state government worlds.

    His career has taken him to virtually every corner of The Coca-Cola Company. He was past Chairman of Cross-Cultural Solutions, a global non-profit enabling volunteering abroad; Chief Administrative Officer of the City of Atlanta; Deputy Director of Operations for The State of New York; COO of The Edison Project, now Edison Learning, the grandfather of the Charter School Movement; CEO of LearnNow, sold to Edison, and CEO of Comet Systems, one of the early innovators in internet technologies and search toolbars.

    He has traveled extensively, leading teams and speaking publicly about complex, often sensitive issues to a variety of stakeholders. He has collaborated with doctors in Latin America, government officials in Washington and Moscow, think tanks in Brussels and Singapore and Slovenia, peer global companies in food and beverage, and retail customers throughout the world.

    He is married to Karen Flanders-Reid, and has five children and four grandchildren. John currently serves on the Boards of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, where he is Chair and The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education. In addition to the Board service above, his past Board service has included The Princeton Review,, The Duke University School of the Environment, the Emory Center for Ethics, Research Atlanta, the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Georgia Conservancy, and the Midtown Alliance. He and his family live in Atlanta.

    Read about John’s accomplishments at

    Contact John at


The story that the titles and dates simply cannot capture.

Time after time, JCR has been asked to join or lead teams whose job was to meet challenges – both problems and opportunities. He has risen to those challenges and has delivered outcomes. The outcomes have been on time, within budget, and designed in such a way that the solutions were durable – sustainable over time.
John C Reid, 2014

High Growth at Coca-Cola USA

    His career started with Coca-Cola, and he was there during its ascendancy to the very top of the global food and beverage industry. He served 27 years there – and retired in 2014. His career began in Coca-Cola USA, where he was VP Strategic Planning, VP Fountain Operations, VP Fountain Marketing, SVP Marketing, and SVP Business Development. Coca-Cola enjoyed explosive growth over these years, successfully introducing Diet Coke and Sprite,

    Called by the Mayor

      He was asked by the three-term Mayor of Atlanta to lead the Mayor’s team – and he answered the call. The outcome? Outstanding progress for the City: the administration was hailed for getting the 1996 Olympics for Atlanta, for building a fifth terminal for the airport, for resolving a major dispute with a solution known widely as “Freedom Park” and “Freedom Parkway”, for revamping neighborhood planning, and more generally for preparing the City for the greatness it now enjoys.

      Called to help change public education

        He left Coca-Cola in 1996 to answer another call – the challenge of public education. He was asked to apply his systems design, operational and team-building skills by leading “The Edison Project”. Their challenge was to literally alter the face of public education by building schools that were very different, and much improved, from the norm in public education. JCR met the challenge. Working for Benno Schmidt, the former President of Yale University, who was Chairman of Edison, he built a team and the team designed a methodology for operating a national school system – which thrives and continues to transform public education to this day. He was elected President of Edison in January, 1998.

        Building Teams in Start-Ups

          After Edison, he took on four additional start-up challenges – a non-profit, a two technology companies, and one education company. He grew them all and each was successfully sold. And the non-profit, Cross Cultural Solutions, is today one of the leading organizations in the world supporting international volunteering.

          The Early Days of the Internet

            One of the technology companies, Comet Systems, was a Manhattan-based start-up and a leader in the field of client-side software – distributed via a simple download that could be accomplished in seconds through a narrowband connection. Comet distributed over 75 million clients while JCR was CEO, and innovated aggressively in the area of search and search toolbars.

            Called by a Governor

              After orchestrating the sale of his fifth start-up, JCR was honored to be asked to join the administration of the incoming Governor of the State of New York. As Assistant Secretary of Education, he had oversight responsibility for all New York State Higher Education, especially CUNY and SUNY. He was further honored when the Governor, by Executive Order, asked JCR to serve as the Executive Director of his Commission on Higher Education, whose mission was to chart a course for New York higher education for the 21st century. Based on the enormous success of this Commission, he was asked to serve as the Executive Director of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, and he was promoted to be Deputy Director of State Operations, a position which gave him oversight responsiblity for all 80 state agencies, reporting to the head of government, the Director of Operations. He served two governors.

              Returning to Coke in Global Leadership

                After this second major period of government service, JCR returned to The Coca-Cola Company to lead all education, training and leadership development of this enormous global enterprise. As Global Director of Coca-Cola University, he had to design, and then implement, systemic approaches which allowed the Company to ensure outstanding capability-building throughout the world.

                After this sevice, JCR was promoted by Coca-Cola to a global vice presidency – Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. In this assignment, the challenges were significant and the outcomes were tangible. Under the mantle of the authority of the CEO, JCR designed and led the implementation of a system-wide, cross-functional strategy to tackle head-on the challenges of obesity. Aggressive innovations in packages such as the “mini-can”; in sweeteners such as stevia; in labeling such as front-of-pack labeling, and in active, healthy living such as the Company’s global Associate Well-Being Program; all of these and more were the direct result of JCR’s leadership.


John Curtis Reid (JCR)

Places lived:
Boston, MA, New York, NY, Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia

John holds a BA, magna cum laude, in Economics, from Brandeis University, and an MS in Management Science from MIT. At Brandeis, he was awarded the Sidney S. Cohen Award in Economics, awarded each year to the outstanding senior. At MIT, his concentrations were information systems and operations management.

Designing and implementing sustainable organizations, systems and business models.


Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta (Chair)
Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

Emory Center for Ethics (2008-2015)
Culture Connect (2008-2010, Chairman)
Cross-Cultural Solutions (2001-2008, Founding Chairman)
The Princeton Review (2001-2004, Audit Committee) (2001-2008, Founding Board Member)
Comet Systems (2001-2004, CEO)
The Edison Project (1996-1998, C00)
LearnNow (1999, CEO)
Georgia Conservancy (1991-1994, Executive Committee)
Duke University School of the Environment (1992-1998, Founding Board Member)
Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (1989-1990, Executive Committee)
Midtown Atlanta (1989-1996, Executive Committee)
Research Atlanta (1991-1994)
Georgia Alliance for Children (1985-1992, Board Chair)


The Coca-Cola Company
VP, Corporate Social Responsibility
Global Director, Coca-Cola University
Chief Environmental Officer

“You have accomplished so much….As our first chief environmental officer, you were the first leader of that function, which has contributed so much to the world and to the Company. You led Coca-Cola University globally. Today, we see your accomplishments as Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. Refresh 2020, your work on obesity, and your work on well-being are being widely embedded in plans and programs throughout the world.”
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

“John was asked to pioneer our first Corporate Environmental Affairs Department. He started this remarkable function from scratch, and his accomplishments are – quite frankly – too numerous to mention here. The bottom line is that the Company is a significant and respected player in the environmental arena. All of our packaging is widely recycled, our operations are institutionalizing a comprehensive management system, and an environmental commitment permeates our organization.”
Earl T. Leonard, Jr. Senior Vice President (now retired), The Coca-Cola Company

The State of New York
Assistant Secretary for Education
Deputy Director, State Operations

“Thanks to your leadership, The New York State Commission on Higher Education and the Commission on Property Tax Relief led the way toward reforms enacted into law, that today are guiding the State towards continued preeminence.”
David Patterson, Governor of New York, in letter to John

The City of Atlanta
Chief Administrative Officer
“John has served brilliantly….”
“…Public spirited, Impeccably honest, hands-on, innovative, and “bottom-line oriented…”
Maynard Jackson, Three-term Mayor of Atlanta

Comet Systems
Chief Executive Officer
(sold to for $33.5 million)
“John joined two great founders and took the Company from 10 million to 75 million software downloads. He encouraged the team to move their business model toward search toolbars. Remarkable results.“
Doug Stern, Comet Board Member

Chief Executive Officer
(sold to Edison Schools for $30+ million)
“John applied his operational savvy, negotiating skills, and extensive knowledge of the educational space to help kids learn and to help this young team flourish.“
Gene Wade, LearnNow Co-Founder

The Edison Project
(IPO valued Edison Schools at $672 million)
Chief Operating Officer (first in history)

“John is the best operator in this business.”
John Fisher , Edison Board Member

Coca-Cola USA
SVP Business Development
SVP Marketing
VP Fountain Marketing and Operations
VP Strategic Planning
Leader, West Coast Marketing
Leader, California, Alaska, Hawaii sales

“You led the regional team that completed US distribution of Sprite – and the result was that Sprite passed the competition and we never looked back. You led USA Strategic Planning when the Company introduced diet Coke. You led negotiations that resulted in aspartame being introduced into diet Coke. You led USA Food Service when the company installed the Dunwoody customer service center, introduced bag-in-the-box, and created integrated account teams that could meet the needs of new fast-growing fountain customers. You led Marketing in the aftermath of new Coke, and we all saw Coke returned to the #1 brand in America on your watch.”
Muhtar Kent, Chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

“How many times did I say ‘success is a journey, not a destination’- was it thousands? Your career epitomizes that idea, and it has been my privilege to be a fellow traveler….I recall your grace and style as we found solutions and made the Company stronger.”
Donald R. Keough, Board Member and President, The Coca-Cola Company

Intellectual influences:
“My grandmother, the first woman to graduate from Tufts Medical School; My grandfather, who taught Mathematics, and – upon going blind – passed the bar after studying the law in Braille; My mother, whose study at Wellesley and her tenacity in graduating from Harvard, made me realize that absolutely anything can be accomplished with navigational skills; my father and his father (my grandfather), whose passion for boats and boatbuilding and all things of the sea, gave me the navigator gene that I still employ today; Christopher Alexander, the great architect and author of “A Pattern Language”, who made me realize that leverage and pattern recognition are pretty much the same thing; MIT’s Professor Jay Forrester, who I interned for at MIT, and whose stunning work in systems dynamics led me to realize that system interconnections have a vocabulary of their own – and leverage goes to those who build languages based on this vocabulary.”

Turning points:
“I was blessed with a full-ride through Brandeis and huge support from my Professors there (I won the Senior Award for best student in Economics) to take my interest in systems design to MIT. The Department Chair actually asked me to intern for the summer after graduation – at Wassily Leontief’s Harvard Economic Research Project, where she was Research Director.”

John grew up outside Boston – in a little town on the North Shore called Winthrop. His brother, father, and grandfather were boatbuilders, so he remarks that it is more than unusual for him to be working on systems issues in huge institutions.

John says, “I was always pulled toward systems, especially information systems. As an intern at Coke, I designed over a summer a prototype decision support system – that was the first of many that followed. Because I was running sales for Coke out of LA, I got wind of Apple, and bought the first Apple !! at Coke! I then learned Basic and designed a promotional tracking system for weekly price-off ads that is now a global standard.”

So why Coke? John didn’t know it then, but his arrival in Atlanta was more than a summer fling. He quickly saw that the consumer dimension, with all of its human and psychological dimensions, was by far more interesting than just data analysis and programming. So all of that curiosity and energy was directed toward the world of the consumer and customer of a massive, complex institution. He found himself always asking – how can we make this experience better?

Public Service:
So why all the public service? He says “I would like to attribute all this to angelic qualities, but I am afraid that is not the case. It really is simpler than that: how do you turn down a Mayor when he calls? A Governor? The answer is – you don’t. It was only when I got there, and starting managing in these exciting, crisis-filled environments, that I realized that these massive institutions had the very same system design challenges – with human interface issues always the #1 concern – that I saw at Coke. I loved the public sector challenges – I just hated the dysfunction.”

And why start-ups? He goes on: “Same story! I began in the world of start-ups when I received a call from Benno Schmidt – who had stepped down as the President of Yale to commit himself to transformational change in K-12 education. He asked me to lead the team at the Edison Project, as COO, reporting to him as Chairman – how does a person turn down an opportunity like that? I don’t know, so I gave it my best shot. Three years later, we had built 30 schools and had 21 new ones in the pipeline – 51 schools in total and the first ever truly national K-12 system of schools in the Country. A fabulous experience with a great team.”

Most memorable non-profit experience? “There have been so many. I guess my most exciting challenge was Cross-Cultural Solutions. The Executive Director sought me out when this non-profit was supporting volunteers in Delhi. His big question was: can we do more? For more people, in more places? This led to my becoming Chairman, during the eight years when CCS skyrocketed successfully into China, Russia, Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Tanzania – laying a system’s design foundation that continues to provide service to this day.”

What about leadership? He says “I have spent my life working with teams of leaders seeking to tackle really big issues – both problems and opportunities. The best teams fight the tendency to declare victory. They are all about the journey, not the destination. That tug of constructive discontent motivates me, and I have also enjoyed teams that see this at the heart of what they do.”

Very few have enjoyed a career so global.Themes? “I have long been a Diamond two million miler with Delta. I have worked with colleagues throughout the world- in over 55 cities, and dozens of towns and hamlets. I have worked in Singapore on ASEAN issues, in Brussels and Bonn on EU issues, in DC on American issues, and never cease to be amazed at what a huge world it is but how similar the problems and opportunities are. My basic take-away is this – anyone who says that issues are global is just plain wrong. Ditto anyone who says issues are local. Virtually all issues are both: they have a component of universals, and a component of empirically-driven local color. To me, building one’s capability in this nuanced and complex environment is a never-ending challenge.”

Many people today think we have a leadership crisis, but John is hopeful, and is more inclined to view issues through a system design lens. “The world’s systems were designed when banks were permanent, and static thinking prevailed. The world has always been dynamic – we all just don’t really like change! So we neglect adaptation and learning in all things, ,especially in systems design. My passion has always been to design adaptation and learning into any system from the beginning. Easy to say and very tough to do!”

In the last few years John has focused on advancing a variety of global initiatives in the well-being space. In particular, he co-led the design and implementation of the now-global Associate Well-Being Program of The Coca-Cola Company and the dozens of community-based active, healthy living programs now in place around the world.

See more about John’s background at

Reach John at



John was born in Winthrop, Massachusetts, a coastal town on the north shore of Boston. He is married to Karen Flanders-Reid.

They have five children, and four grandchildren.

Their children are John, Jen, Max, Olivia, and Sophia. Their grandchildren are James, Violet, Sage and John Scott. Daughter Jen lives in the Atlanta area with her husband Bryan. Son John lives in Houston with his wife Christine.

From left to right (back): Max, Jen, John, Karen, John Harding From left to right (front): Sophia and Olivia​

Flanders-Reid Family at JCR Retirement_20140326

With grandchildren Violet Anne Whitfield and James Patton Whitfield.


Karen and John


John, Karen and their kids divide their time between Atlanta and Chattahoochee Hills, where a hamlet called Serenbe is located. Serenbe is an exciting example of new designs for sustainable living. Find out more about Serenbe at

They support a number of initiatives related to sustainable place-making, including the Serenbe Playhouse. Karen is a Board Member of the Women’s Network for a Sustainable Future. John chairs the Board of The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta. He also serves on the boards of the Georgia Partnership for Educational Excellence. He has served on many Boards in the past, including Duke University’s School of the Environment, Emory University’s Center for Ethics,, The Princeton Review, The Georgia Conservancy, and Cross-Cultural Solutions.


The categories and tags of this website align to JCR’s interests below (in no particular order).


Systems design, systems dynamics, general system theory, adaptive learning systems, deep learning, machine learning, artificial intelligence(AI), systems design, systems architecture, modules, modular systems, modular design, system design patterns, pattern recognition systems, natural language processing systems, homeostasis, forecasting systems that mine big data, digital immortality.


Amazon, E-Bay, Hybrid (Physical and Virtual) retail, warehousing and distribution, 3rd party models, drop shipping, same-day delivery. Also, disruptive internet-enabled businesses such as,


Personalization, Amazon, Bezos, Home Delivery, Home Dispensing, Technology, E-Commerce, Internet, Big Data, Forecasting, Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime, Privacy,,, Pinterest, TripAdvisor, Yelp, GPS, Sensors, Quantified Self Movement, Accelerometers, Genomics, patterns, SIRI, ECHO, digital immortality.


Design, Interior Design, Urban Design, Organizational Architecture, Systems Architecture, Residential Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Real Estate Economics, Real Estate Development, Real Estate Financing, Christopher Alexander,,, Computer-Aided Design, CAD, patterns, courtyards, A Pattern Language


Community Foundations, History of Community Foundations, Donor-Advised Funds, Public-Private Partnerships, Trusts, Estate Planning, The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta (CFGA)


Beverages, Ingredients, 4MEI, BPA, Sweeteners, Sweetness, Stevia, Sugar, HFCS, Aspartame, Cyclamates, Saccharin, Cane Sugar, Beet Sugar, Carbonated Soft Drinks, Wine, Beer, Liquor, Coffee, Milk, Juice, Energy Drinks, Juice Drinks, Bottled Water, Municipal Water, Home Delivery, Home Dispensing, Cargill (stevia and HFCS), Ajinimoto (aspartame), Cooperative Purchasing, Flavor manufacturing, FEMA


Regulation, Regulatory Affairs, Self-regulation, Public Policy, FDA, EFSA, WHO, SEC, Self-regulation, FEMA, Flavor manufacturing


Internet, Technology, Apps, Sensors, Social Media, Content generation, Trip Advisor, Hotwire, Amazon,,,, Hybrid sites, Language processing, Pinterest, Affiliations, Groups, MIT, Stanford, Bob Langert (MIT), Internet of Things


Technology, Internet, Software, Object-Oriented Programming, Firewalls, Sensors, Danny Hillis, Applied Minds, Pattern Recognition, Image Recognition, Voice Recognition, Thought Recognition, Natural Language Processing, Data Mining, Digital Publishing, Digital Printing, Smart Home, Quantified Home Movement, Quantified Self Movement


Values, Core Values, Loving, Caring, Sharing, Ethics


Mediation, Arbitration, Collaboration, Facilitation


Natural Environment, Well-Being, Compliance, Beyond Compliance, Equilibrium, Beyond Equilibrium, Homeostasis, Energy, Energy Storage, Elon Musk, solar, renewable energy, Smart Meters, Grid Design, Shaping power through off-peak incentives and on-peak disincentives, home batteries.

Well-Being – Natural

Well-Being, Natural Well-Being, Sustainability, Environment, Rene Dubos, Water, Solid Waste, Public Policy, Recycling, Life Cycle Analysis

Well-Being – Personal

Well-Being, including activity, caring, and eating; Personal Well-Being, Health, Obesity, Chronic Disease, Mindfulness, Resilience, Healthy eating, Healthy drinking, Healthy cooking, Physical exercise, Prevention, Predictive Medicine, Genomics, Personalization, Microbiome, Forecasting, Public Policy, Assessment, Screening, Diagnostics, Genome Editing, Adaptive Health Systems Design, Medicare, Obamacare, Active, Healthy Living, Homeostasis, Telemedicine, Aging, Elderhood, Atul Gawande (aging thought leader), digital immortality

Well-Being – Community

Well-being, Community Well-Being, Serenbe, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Design, Railroad towns, Real Estate Economics, Real Estate Development, Real Estate Investing, Design, Construction, Construction Materials, Construction Techniques, Zoning, Community Foundations, Building Codes, Public Policy, Christopher Alexander, Adaptive Physical Systems Design, The Eden Alternative (aging communities), Smart Homes, Green Homes (aging communities), Bill Thomas (aging thought leader), Christopher Alexander (urban design thought leader)


Education, Learning, K-12 Education, Higher Education, Corporate Universities, Community Colleges, Charter Schools, Privatization, Public Policy, Assessment, Formative Assessment, Summative Assessment, Common Core, Diagnostics, Special Education, Remediation, Personalization, Adaptive Learning Systems, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, Image Recognition, Voice Recognition, Pattern Recognition,


Global, Citizen, Global Citizen, Nation States, Democracy, Oligarchy, United Nations, Europe, European Union, EU, ASEAN, LATAM, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, U.S., Canada, Russia, India, China, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand

Global Agencies

G8, G20, United Nations, Consumer Goods Forum (CGF), GS1, World Trade Organization (WTO), World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control (CDC), International Standards Organization (ISO).


Consumer, Shopper, Merchandising, Family, Neighborhood, Community, Consumer Segments, Consumption at home, Consumption away from home, Impulse Shopping, Need States, Dayparts


Management, Leadership, Motivation, Inspiration, Operations, Strategic Planning, Forecasting, Planning and Control, Marketing, Advertising, Promotion, Packaging, Social Media, Public Affairs, Industry Affairs, Industry Development, Supply Chain, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Call Center Management.


Advertising, Promotion, Merchandising, Pricing, Revenue Growth Management, Right Execution Daily, Commercial Practices, Impulse Buying Behavior, Social Media, Branding, Brand Names, Trademarks, Attributes, Benefits (Consequences), Values


Coca-Cola Marketing, Icons, Iconology, Core Values, Loving, Caring, Sharing, Marketing, Selling, Account Management, Bottling, Franchising, Packaging, Vending, Away-from-Home Consumption, Home Consumption, Bottles, Cans, Bottle/Can, Fountain


History, Philosophy, Literature, Linguistics, Mathematics, Logic, Sociology, Economics, Econometrics, Probability, Behavioral Economics, Neuroscience, Psychology, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning

Business Models

​In Design:,

In Search:

in Music:

In Financial Services:

In Publishing:

In Virtual Reality:

In Virtual workplaces:

In E-commerce:,,

In Finance:,

In Fundraising: (crowdsourced funding)

In Education: education management organizations (EMO), Edison Learning. MIT U-Labs

In Well-being:,,, Turntable Health, Iora Health

In Philanthropy: community foundations, donor-advised funds