Much AI/ML research focuses on building systems that excel in a narrow area (image recognition, planning, motor control, NLP). While there is tremendous benefit there, it's also interesting to consider building autonomous agents which combine multiple subsystems (NLP, Planning, etc).
Josh Marlow is a startup-addict. He's a python web-app engineer by day, and a functional programmer by night.
A Basic Agent Paper (http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=91035)