Weeknotes 130; collective blobs and intentional mistaking AI

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Inspired by a podcast (Another Podcast) of Benedict Evans discussing Clubhouse: the current social networks are not judged on the social character but the discovery: TikTok vs. YouTube, Clubhouse vs. Podcast. And in his newsletter, he wonders: “But if social is pop culture, you can’t ‘win’ pop culture or own or control it – you can only try to ride it and try to keep up, and there will always be something new.”

That to jump in a look at last week, the second week of the Clubhouse-hype. What I think is interesting is that Clubhouse has found a way to discover audio that is happening in a way that podcasts lack discovery. Just like TikTok created a form of discovery that YouTube can not offer (or Facebook). It is another time, but what seems to happen that the social networks built on relations between people and the reputation of users are now shifting to the mechanics of addictive discovery pur sang.

As a disclaimer: I am not saying that the success of Clubhouse is only about this discovery model, the good-old nearness factor, being close to like-minded friends and famous is a fundament. But the spread and the buzz are mainly caused by the addictive discovery.

The topic Clubhouse might be a bit of the usual focus here, on intelligent things and our relations. It remains an overview of what happened last week and the reflections on that. I am planning to start a specific newsletter more in-depth on the human-nonhuman relations in cities. Hopefully, I can point you to that next week (I am creating a deadline for myself here 🙂).

As I announced last week, I had two ‘Things That Predict’ new initiatives happening last week at the Industrial Design faculty. The presentation and Miro-session at the Master Research Day and the bachelor elective Designing Connected Experiences kick-off. The latter 8 teams will work on the exploration to design things that predict in the city context. I was happy to the students ask some good questions. Looking forward to the results!

We sent out a newsletter to our ThingsCon community. Looking back at our latest event and announcing some new Salons and workshops April 9 at IoT Rotterdam and April 22, May 6, and 20 with Eindhoven IoT. Keep an eye on the website.

Ok, let’s have a look at the news of last week. Snow and ice distracted us here in the Netherlands from Covid, literally sometimes, looking at the open-air parties happening… And collective blobs and intentionally designed mistakes in AI.

Round of robots and other artificial life forms
Collective worm and robot ‘blobs’ protect individuals, swarm together
Interesting how swarm robots are guided by an individual operating leader to be most efficient in collective behavior.
www.eurekalert.org  •  Share

Government Seeks ‘Dog-Like,’ Throwable and Other Robots
The dog as a trojan horse for introducing futuristic machines, this week more examples, like this one in the gov-context. This picture using the robodog for providing sanitizing soap is suggesting peak robodog…
www.nextgov.com  •  Share

This robot can help replant our disappearing forests
More than unreal engines and other humanoids, the concept of a robot as a tool will develop further as the first step. And what if we can connect this to a good cause? “Conservationists say we need to plant one trillion trees to help slow climate change. Now a robot is capable of planting a hectare of trees in under six hours.”
www.weforum.org  •  Share

Hyundai shrinks its ‘walking car’ robot to carry cargo, get rides from drones
And on another domain mobility providers diversify offerings: “Hyundai Motor Group is back with a new “walking car” robot that can use its wheels to roll along a path or stand up and navigate tougher terrain on its legs. This time, the concept is designed to carry cargo and is small enough to be carried by a drone. ”
techcrunch.com  •  Share

DoorDash has acquired salad-making robot company Chowbotics
“Food delivery platform DoorDash has acquired salad robotics startup Chowbotics in a deal it says will allow it to help restaurants on its platform expand their current offerings.” Indeed interesting, Doordash is becoming a platform party that helps restaurants to diversify the distribution apparently.
www.theverge.com  •  Share

A sneak peek at MetaHuman Creator: high-fidelity digital humans made easy
Do you know the uncanny valley-concept? The moment that robots become too realistic to be appreciated. After that valley comes to the next phase; perceived reality you can imagine to have a natural relation with. For example: check this unreal engine…
www.unrealengine.com  •  Share
Months after buying Uber self-driving project, Aurora signs Toyota deal
In line with the expectation that the development path of autonomous driving will start with dedicated functions. Like taxies: Aurora is planning to test self-driving Sienna minivans later this year.
arstechnica.com  •  Share
How to trigger behavior?
From anger to action: Differential impacts of eco-anxiety, eco-depression, and eco-anger on climate action and wellbeing
How to get people to change their behavior? “Interestingly, those feeling eco-depressed were more likely to report participating in collective climate action, while those feeling eco-anxious were less likely to join the cause.”
www.sciencedirect.com  •  Share
Privacy Without Monopoly: Data Protection and Interoperability
“The problems of corporate concentration and privacy on the Internet are inextricably linked. A new regime of interoperability can revitalize competition in the space, encourage innovation, and give users more agency over their data; it may also create new risks to user privacy and data security.”
www.eff.org  •  Share
Is This Beverly Hills Cop Playing Sublime’s ‘Santeria’ to Avoid Being Live-Streamed?
I’m not sure if this is a real story or just a way to trigger attention. It could be part of the next minority report… “Police officers in Beverly Hills have been playing music while being filmed, seemingly in an effort to trigger Instagram’s copyright filters.”
www.vice.com  •  Share
Don’t make it too easy!
Anxious feelings about optimization through the complexity
I like this kind of exploration of the way we want to live together with technology. An optimized world is not a good experience.
interconnected.org  •  Share
A New Artificial Intelligence Makes Mistakes—on Purpose
Connecting this to that post of Matt Webb on itchy frictionless experiences: Design frictions! “A chess program that learns from human error might be better at working with people or negotiating with them.”
www.wired.com  •  Share
UNstudio proposes plug-in dwellings in munich with its van B residences
Great to read, interesting I think, and this is what indeed is happening now: the rules from the digital world we live in: “(…) what makes van B truly special and unique is that it offers a completely new form of ‘smart’ living. this is not smart in the usual sense of tech integration; it instead involves reinterpreting ideas from the digital world in order to improve the analogue, physical spaces we inhabit.”
www.designboom.com  •  Share
Scenarios: Blockchain competitiveness in the energy sector
This intro feels like it is all about blockchain-buzz, but the interesting part is -acc to me- how we will cooperate with the technology… “A diverse cross-sector expert panel has helped us explore the impact of blockchain in the Danish energy sector towards 2030. Read the report here.”
cifs.dk  •  Share
NNN / Nurturing Architecture
“Rachel Armstrong radically re-envisions our approach to co-inhabiting space and offers a new framework for building practices able to deal with the wicked nature of centuries’ fundamental challenges through Experimental Architecture. It shifts away from the principles of the industrial age towards conditions and a set of tools for an ecologically engaged human development. This enables a new collaborative interplay of various disciplines, agents, material flows, processes and entanglements that together form a ‘choreography of space’—one that allows the exploration of a more sustainable way of co-inhabitation.”
nextnature.net  •  Share
Why France’s new ‘repairability index’ is a big deal
“France’s effort to combat planned obsolescence and transition to a more circular economy. It also has global implications.” Good developments to stimulate a more sustainable world.
grist.org  •  Share

Not sure if I can make all of these (probably not) but you might be interested in one or more too:

Cross Media Cafe is organizing a session on Synthetic Media tomorrow (Tuesday 15:30). Find out what that is.

Sensemakers AMS is doing a session on business transformations in IoT Wednesday 19:00.

Uncertainty cocktails: After Future Shock organized by Changeist on Clubhouse Friday 18:00.

Have a great 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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