Weeknotes 132;

Welcome to the new readers. Thanks for subscribing! And thanks to Matt for the shout-out last week. I am a fan of his blog and it is almost a weekly returning inspiration source with interesting thoughts. Check this week for instance the post on ‘Nothings is real vs everything is real’ exploring with to-the-point how the future of real. And I also liked the thought experience on AI-pagers, see below.

For the new subscribers, I aim for publishing end of Monday (European time), but occasionally meetings mess up the planning ;-) I start with a short overview of the past week what happened in Cities of Things-lab and ThingsCon, two important activities. And share an overview of news that has mainly a relation with the topics of human-nonhuman relationships in the broadest sense, and IoT. I end with an overview of possible interesting events to join the coming week.

Last week; new research, ThingsCon,…

So to look back at last week. Nice to mention a new master graduation student of IDE has kicked off his project. The students at IDE come from all over the world, I now have 5 graduation students, one in South Korea, one in China, one from Italy, and two from the Netherlands. Normally they all live in Delft, but in this covid, they end up abroad, like Peicheng from China. He is in Shenzhen and can not come back easily. Luckily his project is framed on ‘hacking’ a XiaoMi vacuum robot and other devices with predictive knowledge, so he is close to the source ;-)

I am happy to have Nazli Cila as chair in the supervisory team as we have worked together for some years and my first contribution to an academic paper was her paper on Products as Agents. Still quite relevant turned out in a client project we did last week. I will keep you posted on his projects and the others!

We had a nice conversation with the teams of ThingsCon Germany and The Netherlands to discuss plans for the coming year. Keep track of our plans via the website or newsletter. And welcome Lorna Goulden as a fresh member of the Dutch board!

…, visiting events, …

I mentioned before that I miss the intensity of events now (keep track on the newsletter of Monique of the latest insights on events as social objects), but it has one upside: you can easily follow events you normally would skip, for instance, if it is too expensive for the expected return of inspiration. Last week I checked out DLD All Stars. DLD is a long-running German conference that in a true German conference fashion combines a kind of corporate audience with potential interesting curation of content. It was interesting to see how Dennis Crowley was framing its user base now as machine-to-machine more than end-consumer oriented (and claiming to have a billion users in that frame). I am curious about what that means for the design practice.

Another speaker (Marc Berg from Freenow) claims that we will see flying taxis earlier in our cities than fully autonomous driving cars. I understand the message, but I might expect that our cities will adapt to self-driving vehicles at a certain moment accelerating the adoption, and these vehicles might be more cost-efficient in the end. We will see in a decade or two. At the same time, Oliver Zipse of BMW is promising that they are shifting their strategy towards a cradle to cradle production and taking responsibility for the end-to-end life of the products. A big challenge is to find the new business model in an autonomous service-based mobility landscape; it is not easy to transform the business models he thinks. He sees that a city like Munich (where DLD is based) will change to a bicycle + car-based mix, with public transport declining.

Also at DLD was Rem Koolhaas, with his thoughts on the shift towards more rural living. This is not a respons on Covid, he has be preaching this for years, I can remember a talk about 5 years ago in Amsterdam with the same topic. The dichotomy between cities and rural without any in between, might be accelerated now as we have tasted remote working…

I missed the other events on the list, except for some Clubhouse conversations I hopped in (and out). Let’s see what will be interesting this week.

…, and a podcast…

And let me not forget to mention the new podcast of Peter Bihr I was interviewed for and was published last week. Getting Tech Right is a very nice series and I was honored to be invited to share some thoughts. We discussed the value-sensitive design and other ways to incorporate a different frameset in design processes. The case of Public Stack of WAAG is an example I mentioned as we starting a project contributing to the research on the design layers.

Now, some captured news-items.

This week talk of the town..
On Clubhouse the Conversation Around NFTs Is Really About ExclusionNumerous articles last week on NFT the non-fungible tokens, a blockchain-based digital signature for images. The articles were most (all) related to the possibilities for the art world to create digital art that could become more like physical pieces in value-model. It is interesting how this only now a thing. And also interesting to have this urge to replica old-world principles…
What the NFT? VC David Pakman dumbs down the intensifying digital collectibles frenzy

What the NFT? VC David Pakman dumbs down the intensifying digital collectibles frenzy More on NFT and especially why this already existing phenomenon is becoming hype in just 24 hours… And nice images of cryptokitties!
Mundane robot revolution continue…
The robot revolution is here: How it's changing jobs and businesses in Canada

The robot revolution is here: How it’s changing jobs and businesses in Canada
“As the use of robots and autonomous machines increases across industries, governments need to have a strategy in place. The labor force will transition out of automated tasks into new jobs.”
Boston Dynamics doesn’t want you to shoot paintballs from Spot the robot dog
This week’s application of Spot the robodog is arty. And not appreciated by Boston Dynamics…
NYPD tests robot dog to clear crime scene in the Bronx

NYPD tests robot dog to clear crime scene in the Bronx
What would happen if you combine the idea of the paintball robot with this one… “The NYPD is testing a 70-pound robotic dog to help fight crime.”

Hi, Robot: Japan’s android pets ease virus isolation
“Nami Hamaura says she feels less lonely working from home thanks to her singing companion Charlie, one of a new generation of cute and clever Japanese robots whose sales are booming in the pandemic.”
The appearance of robots affects our perception of the morality of their decisions | University of Helsinki

The appearance of robots affects our perception of the morality of their decisions | University of Helsinki
It might not come as a surprise, we are doing the same as we do with humans apparently… “Knowledge in moral psychology pertaining to artificial intelligence and robotics is important when discussing the ethics of their development.”

Soft gel could power robot muscles that grow stronger with a workout
What does this mean? If we want to create a weaker robot, feed it with chips and a couch! “Our muscles get stronger when put under stress and now robot ones could do the same, thanks to a soft gel that becomes harder when exposed to vibration”
Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space

Space startup Gitai raises $17.1M to help build the robotic workforce of commercial space
Speaking of robot-workforce… “Japanese space startup Gitai has raised a $17.1 million funding round, a Series B financing for the robotics startup. This new funding will be used for hiring, as well as funding the development and execution of an on-orbit demonstration mission for the company’s robotic technology, which will show its efficacy in performing in-space satellite servicing […]”
Wyze Robot Vacuum review: Better than it has to be at this price
Known for its cheap connected cameras is Wyze making a cheap vacuum robot. Will it democratize the robot cleaning?
Gita robot delivers food to Philadelphia International Airport customers contact-free

Gita robot delivers food to Philadelphia International Airport customers contact-free 
“Gita is a new robot at Philadelphia International Airport that delivers food to passengers, contact-free, while they wait.”

This coding robot from the makers of your Roomba is a genius toy—and majorly on sale
It is a kind of marketing habit of robot makers for the consumer market to create a learning version to understand coding. At least, here another example by iRobot…
'Farms are going to need different kinds of robots'

‘Farms are going to need different kinds of robots’ 
“A growing number of tech firms are helping farmers better look after their animals and crops.” Interesting to look at specific applications to understand the change we experience in our robot-enhanced lives…

NNN / HUBOT: New jobs available
Speculative art collective Next Nature Network has introduced a tool for applying for Hubots: “HUBOT explores the future of work, and shows creative ways in which humans and machines could work together.”
NNN / HUBOT: New jobs available
Shifting realities, new interfaces…
Perseverance’s Eyes See a Different Mars
We don’t see what the reality is, we see what we see as the reality. Or our reality. That is the case on earth living together, but even more when we transpose our senses to the next planet… “The Red Planet’s red looks different to an Earthling than it would to a Martian—or to a robot with hyperspectral cameras for eyes.”
In Hong Kong, this AI reads children's emotions as they learn

In Hong Kong, this AI reads children’s emotions as they learn
Terrible, not better… “A Hong Kong company has developed facial expression-reading AI that monitors students’ emotions as they study. With many children currently learning from home, they say the technology could make the virtual classroom even better than the real thing.”
EU report warns that AI makes autonomous vehicles ‘highly vulnerable’ to attack 
I was a bit reluctant to share this as ‘news’ as it feels more like ‘old news’. But it is an official report and it is coming a moment that the first steps in opening regulation for -level 2- autonomous vehicles is starting… “A European Union Agency for Cybersecurity report says machine learning should be considered part of the autonomous vehicle supply chain.”
Decoraction: a Catalogue for Interactive Home Decor of the Nearest-Future
Nice paper exploring future material behavior of our home decoration that adapts and becomes alive. I like this as a living together experience with your home.
Phone call anxiety: why so many of us have it, and how to get over it
Why do I share this? I don’t know why but I found a couple of references to this phenomenon of phone anxiety. Is it something new and happening, or just a coincidence? And will our fear of being together live on a distance influenced by our lockdown rituals? 
Let’s invent new interfaces, not new products (Interconnected)
Interesting idea to create a pal tech solution by having a pager with AI conversational interface to become your unintended counterpart. Or butler. Or reflector. We only need an excuse to talk in ourselves (ok, some people don’t need an excuse for that ;-)
On processes…
🔮 Community-Led Companies are the Future
Is it a real new way of business, or a new way of marketing your business? “A thriving community is a company’s most valuable asset, and companies that put the community at the core of their strategy will beat those who don’t. ”
Reimagining the Research Lab
As a practitioner of building a research lab within my company for the last decade or so, this is an interesting exploration. Referring to some thoughts from well-known peers. I miss the book reference to Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino on building a culture of innovation.
Design Fiction or Science Fiction
True and useful difference: “Design Fiction isn’t literature. It’s using the materialization practices of Design to make things that tell stories, not literature that can’t help but tell stories.”

“This is wonderful. Created an @ElectricObjects playlist with a couple of loops”
If you have an Electric Objects art screen like I have, then this is very nice! “This is wonderful. Created an @ElectricObjects playlist with a couple of loops

And to close…

That was a bit more than expected… 

To close this week’s newsletter; a look into the coming week’s events. I don’t have that much on the agenda, it is a bit a silent week before the coming packed weeks: Mozfest (8-12 March), HRI2021 (9-11 March), SXSW (16-20 March). I expect there is an uncertainty cocktail planned on Friday at Clubhouse, follow Scott Smith there. And for the Dutch-speaking, artist TINKEBELL is chatting on Clubhouse Tuesday at 8pm about 10 years after Fukushima, a place where she made some interesting art projects about last decade.

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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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