Weeknotes 125; on futures for all, and failed predictions

What a week… Especially the events in Washington of course. It overshadows all news moments on vaccines for instance. Are we skipping the roaring twenties for a ‘Kristallnacht’? On the responses by Twitter and Facebook, and all others. I listen to a couple of podcasts that discussed the topics extensively like Dittering and Stratechery, and Sway and Pivot. And there are many more but keeping up with Twitter and talk shows deliver so many opinions that it is sometimes enough. Benedict Evans just sent his newsletter with this take:

“However, the move by Apple and Google to remove Parler from their stores is, I think, much more significant than Facebook and Twitter’s Trump bans, and the move by AWS and Twilio to deny it service is more significant again. There’s a parallel with the moves to cut off Wikileaks, Cloudflare cutting off 8Chan, and more recently Visa and Mastercard’s move against Mindgeek: private companies are free to decide who they do business with, but what if their product is essential or near-essential?”

My initial feeling is of course that we will be better without the hate speech president on Twitter and his followers, but if we zoom out it is the ultimate edge case of a system that is built on wrong drivers that cannot control themselves. I think it is a good step to react now with the bans, but it should be acknowledged that a new form of regulation is necessary. I might have mentioned it before, but my hunch is that the real problem is not the platform for different opinions, the problem is the design of clickbait-stimulating algorithms, the self for-filling prophecy system, etc that is the driver of the problem and should be the first step to stop. Switch all filtering and start designing a new system with the learning of the current state of the systems… But I understand this is hard to accomplish. Maybe keep profiling for advertising and make the platforms responsible for the content of the ads. It is probably not enough but could be a step to try…

Futures for all, not just for one
Just in, and looks like it is addressing the right issues related to where we ended up now; starting to leave the focus on for-filling user needs.

“In this issue we hope to inspire new ways of thinking about our futures: moving beyond a single user to a complex system, considering who defines what future we aim for, and adapting and inventing in the face of radical change.”

The continuing rise of virtual private neighbourhoods
“People are increasingly hanging out in small, private communities. Global timelines and newsfeeds won’t come back.”

I cannot help to think back on a thought exploration I did for Reboot conference in Copenhagen back in 2009 or so on “Virtual Gated Communities”. It took some time, and that is also what is happening with bigger changes. It is also one of the (hopeful) scenarios out of the manipulating timeline mess we have now, and I did not foresee at that moment for sure…

Let’s also check some other news… IoT has not reached it’s -promised by consultants- 50 bln connected devices. Far from…

Where does IoT go from here?
The writer is of course a stakeholder in the predictions of the future as an important developer of IoT platforms, but this is an interesting analysis. 

The context of the failed predictions of a couple of consultants a decade ago; 50 bln connected devices in 2020, is the starting point; “The promise of the IoT market has been growing for the last 15 years, with many market analysts predicting that we would reach 50 billion devices by the magic year 2020. Now that we’ve arrived here, the reality is a little more conservative (we’re about 41 billion devices short of the forecast). Has IoT failed to live up to its promise? No, but the industry is evolving in a radically different direction to the one predicted a decade and a half ago…”

2020 was a year of reckoning for the IoT
Looking back to the failed stories of IOT missing its 50 bln mark, Stacey is taking another angle: 

“The internet of things isn’t a market; it’s an enabling infrastructure that companies, cities, and individuals need to put in place in order to take advantage of the insights generated by all the data those connected “things” provide”.

In the meantime a new decade is started where connected might be default, the real impact is in our filtered life as I wrote earlier. Some nice articles that relate:

Headphones need smart transparency mode with voice recognition
As mentioned in my look into 2021 post living a filtered life is growing to be an important development. This post by Matt is illustrating an aspect; how to use our state of locked-in-noise-reducing-bubbles could be more selective in filtering. 

GANksy – an AI Street Artist that Emulates Banksy
GANksy is an AI program trained on Banksy’s street art.

And it delivers interesting work. Different than Banksy societal messages (as there are not subtext here), but visually compelling I think. A nice segway in collaborative human-nonhuman art making…

And of course also again enough this week on our relation with robots and robotic behavior.

How Boston Dynamics Taught Its Robots to Dance
You remember that movie of last week with the dancing Boston Dynamics’ robots? Of course, as the clip is watched about 25 mln times now. But how did they teach the robots the dance? 

Interesting to read about the back-and-forth of learning what works well and not and the benefit of endless repeating moves for optimizing.

Watch a Robot Dog Learn How to Deftly Fend Off a Human
Are the robots learning from the simulation of is the simulation learning from the robots?

This avocado armchair could be the future of AI
Find a partner in GPT-3 to design new variations of your idea…

“Now OpenAI has put these ideas together and built two new models, called DALL·E and CLIP, that combine language and images in a way that will make AIs better at understanding both words and what they refer to.”

Like an avocado chair…

Slow computing, repair for the joy of doing, the responses to our filtered lives?

The Impractical but Indisputable Rise of Retrocomputing
Repair is not only something to save money, or being woke as a maximizing sustainable consumer; doing the repair work can be satisfying on itself.

“People are buying these PCs not necessarily for daily use, but for the satisfaction, they get from rebuilding them. It’s a trend one might chalk up to quarantine boredom, though it’s been gaining traction for years.”

The year Right to Repair became essential
The campaigner from Right-to-Repair: “It’s been quite a year for the Right to Repair movement in Europe! From influencing votes on premature obsolescence to pushing for smartphones to be regulated, from expanding our coalition to calling out corporations.”

This is a good sign I think. I am also wondering if the repair movement is also related to the time we have on hand (some of us) working from home. Just like the uplift in DIY and house improvement. Or is it purely a bigger trend to wokeness?

New book! Dr. Smartphone: An Ethnography of Mobile Phone Repair Shops
Documenting a culture. Super interesting. It should give a great insight into the role mobile phones have now in our lives, and might also be a nice wrap-up of a certain era?

A Sustainable Internet for All
I think I missed this before, an interesting publication bundling visions on a sustainable internet for all.

“Branch is an online magazine written by and for people who dream of a sustainable and just internet.”

And to close, something to watch out for, the new Evoluon, and keeping track of CES.

Samsung unveils its latest digital cockpit with massive screens at CES 2021
CES is there and we see new concepts of merges of cars and living rooms. 

How it is becoming a 360 lifestyle is what Samsung is showing us here. It is that over the top video that combines every possible technology that Samsung can play a role, but still interesting.

Also interesting to see how next to screen-technology from South Korea (Samsung), Apple seems to be looking for another part-supplier for its car-project with Hyundai. www.designboom.com

NNN / New Evoluon
Back to the future! Looking forward to this fancy-futuro new plans for Evoluon.

So far for now. Hope the news will return to less-extreme events. As mentioned last week I might have a look at the CitiesxCities conference and follow some sessions from the TU Delft Dies Natalis.

See you next 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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