Weeknotes 110 – robots everywhere and futuring galore

Temperature is dropping, and we are slowly getting out of vacation times. There was not a lot last week to right about so I keep it short. I missed the new format of Pivot podcast I’m following for tome time. The Pivot Schooled edition are five longer edition with some high-profile guests. It costs 30 dollars for all five; this week Uber CEO will going have a discussion with the founder of gig-workers collective. I am curious how it will be.

Also this week a new academic conference on Robot philosophy. This fits very well the topics of this newsletter so I will have a look at a couple of sessions for sure. It is also an slightly different setup from the DIS online conference I ‘attended’ earlier: all presentations are recorded, but there are live discussion sessions you can attend. It is too bad I did not have an excuse to go to Aarhus, the organising university, but it is on the other hand a lot cheaper (registration is 10 euro).

We are also very busy planning some events for ThingsCon. Of course our annual event that will happen in December in an online format. More on that beginning of September I expect as we open also call for participation. Next week Thursday we will have a smaller gathering in the form of a workshop we organize together with IoT Eindhoven on ‘Building Trustable and Responsible Technology Business’. Check more information and RSVP at the meetup page.

Together with the Smart Cities team of The Hague we are organizing a Salon end of September (24, 15-17h) on responsible onboarding public digital ecosystems. All on their living lab Scheveningen. Read more at the meetup-page. As soon as there are more details, I will share these of course here too.

Let’s dive into the news of last week. Futuring and robots are the main drivers of the news here. And some track & trace at the moment that the COVID-app is introduced in the app stores here in the Netherlands. I expect some articles next week on that. I have installed the app but disabled the functioning for now, as I am still not totally convinced I need to support the initiative. More on that next week, on with the robots etc.

But let me start with the this recommendation for a presentation by Genevieve Bell on the 4th industrial revolution that is all about AI-powered cyber-physical systems:

The 4th Industrial Revolution: Responsible & Secure AI | Genevieve Bell

I might be a bit skeptical in using big words as 4th industrial revolution (AI-powered cyber-physical systems (CPS)), but I know Genevieve Bell for her very interesting insights and presentations and this one is definitely a very nice one. She very well analyses what drives an industrial period, and give a great fundament for technology history. Highly recommended! The first part is the presentation, after is Q&A.

Lots of robotics landed in my saved articles this week. From robots that make sense and those that are less interesting.

Oregon Business – Rise of Robots

As follower of this newsletter you can imagine this heading was triggering my attention. Indeed a rise of robots is near (or happening), but the subject of this article is not per se the type robot that will drive this rise I think; humanoids are often a over complicating format I think.

Future of farming: AI-enabled harvest robot flexes new dexterity skills

Future of farming: AI-enabled harvest robot flexes new dexterity skills

This used to be a typical human capability: judging the fruit by its presences.. “Now that Root AI’s robot has mastered the art of picking oblong vegetables as well as oblate shaped berries, could this technology help enhance global food security?”

FedEx introduces robots to ‘most difficult’ job in sorting facility

Another industrial robot that is stepping up with capabilities to do a humanlike task. Without being humanoid.

Delivery robot plunges into canal

This is a weird article. Interesting though how apparently people start to relate to the delivery bots. “A British company has urged residents not to worry if they see one of its robots in distress after a delivery robot fell into a canal.”

Robot-friendly workplaces: Japan sees shared rules paving path

This is interesting: “Nearly two dozen major Japanese companies will join an effort to help workplaces more easily accommodate robots” What does it mean to work together with robots?

Robot boat completes the three-week Atlantic mission

This feels like a no-brainer. As we sending robots to the moon for research, why not also at our own planet. “A UK uncrewed ocean-going vessel provides a glimpse of the future of robotic maritime operations.”

The robots occupying our sidewalks

Robot dogs are introduced and labeled as potential helpers for visual impaired. At the same time the future with o lot of robots on the sidewalks might be challenging.

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?

Robot technology for everyone or only for the average person?

This makes so much sense and is also long time predicted: exoskeletons as helpers for basic moving capabilities. New is the flexibility for more types beyond the average person.

Trust in all these automation will remain bridle if we keep seeing this kind of things happening…

A Surveillance Standoff Over ‘Smart’ Streetlights

Just another example that you need to remain critical in what is added to our public space.

Earthquake detection and early alerts, now on your Android phone

Earthquake detection and early alerts, now on your Android phone

You can have different takes on this idea by Google: (a) nice to have Google solve a problem to keep enough sensors up and running. (b) you known and unknown community of networked fellow people is a army of helpers for your future, (c) a new step in all over tracking strategies after COVID tooling…

Pick your favorite narrative…

To close, some nice articles this week on (practical) futuring.

Calibrating the Future: Designing Purpose Into Provocations | by Scott Smith | Practical Futuring

I’m looking forward to the book by Scott Smith ‘How to Future’ that will be there in a couple of months. In this article he is looking into calibrating futures as important element of the futuring craftmanship.

Introduction to Assemblage Space –

Introduction to Assemblage Space

If you are into futuring and methods than this an interesting introduction by John Willshire to the so-called Assemblage Space, “part of an ongoing body of work around information, innovation and futures.”

Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom | by Ted Chiang

Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom | by Ted Chiang

More futuring, or design fiction: “Ted Chiang is one of our generation’s greatest speculative fiction writers. Reading Ted Chiang will make you a better person…”It is kind a long read but really nice future sketch where we have a device (called prism) that is a translator for a parallel universe..

Ok, and one last thing…

Elon Musk’s Underground Highway Is Now a Reality and It’s Going to Change the Way You Commute

Elon Musk’s Underground Highway Is Now a Reality and It’s Going to Change the Way You Commute

This whole concept of underground highway feels still as not the most efficient way to solve a transport issue, driving around with single persons in Teslas…. But maybe there will be once chained vehicles as it is a controlled environment and we might call it subway (electric vehicles underground)….

Enjoy your week!

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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