Weeknotes 158; intelligences and dogbots

Welcome to another edition of the weekly update on all things interesting around – mainly – IoT, AI, autonomous, companions in tech, tech impact in life, and cities. I am realizing this is quite a broad scope, or might sound like it, but it is generally saying what my interest is that drives the articles I share hear every week. It works as extended memory for me too and also a way to filter. I skip now for instance a lot of the new variations on a robotic gizmo that is not really adding anything, or is not even a true robot. The combining element is that it is about tech (mostly) influencing our dealing with reality. Not only seeing reality or using different tools for the same old principles.

That said, in the end, it is a personal selection that triggers me as new and impactful, and not a strongly themed filter. That is one of the reasons I did not change this newsletter to Cities of Things, how close that theme is with my personal filter. I created a separate Monthly version for that.

Enough meta introduction. As usual also a look back to last week. Working on the field lab Amsterdam-Munich is an important part. We will have an official moment on 11 October in Munich that the Letter of Intent for the prolonged creative exchange program between the cities is signed. That makes the work on establishing the field lab even more official (we did already start discussing it with the different consortium partners for some time), and ramping up, even more, to connect to more Munich partners. I will create a special page on the initiative this week so will let you know in next week’s newsletter.

In the coming semester, I will be supervising graduation students at the Delft University of Technology again. One of them (Mohamed Fayed) kicked off his project last week – designing safe routes in sensing smart cities – is done in corporation with AMS institute’s Responsible Sensing Lab. What if the security cameras can be shuttered by citizens, or even more interesting, what if the control of the cameras is delegated to passing citizens that like to create a safe route. Does that make sense, what interactions will that trigger, and what will it do with the experience of the street? Specifically, a second-order agenda is to make the current owners of the cameras more aware of switching them on and off.

Another project has still to start but is part of a research project of WAAG on designing for the public stack. What does their developed vision on the public stack do for design methods? We had a session with some design practitioners from WAAG and INFO and the graduation student that will start later. Already useful reflections.

Last week was a lot about ethical questions. I also attended part of a workshop organized by some of the researchers we earlier organized the MAB20 workshop. It is about an Embodied AI & the role of gender. I have to watch the keynotes, I was only part of the break-out rooms discussing the (mis)gendering of people by AI. Why is it developed in the first place, what is the intention, and who is involved. Keep an eye on the workshop website if you are interested, there will be reporting soon I expect, and papers later. There will follow workshops on other aspects of embodied AI as it is part of a series of workshops on Diversity and Inclusion for Embodied AI.

Next to this, I joined the 10th-anniversary meetup of Sensemakers AMS. Quite an achievement, congrats! Check the presentations with a look back to sensing prototyping tech and a looking into future themes via their Youtube channel.

This week, that already started – an excuse for the late drop of this newsletter – I don’t have public meetups I think. There is an interesting inaugural address this Friday of Bregje van Eekelen who I have been supervising a graduation student a year ago. For now, let’s have a look at the news of last week that captured my eyes and made me think.

Intelligences — Sentiers

“Making sense of a world in constant change. Thoughtful, inquisitive, and eclectic, each issue presents a carefully curated selection of articles exploring technology in society, signals of changes, and prospective futures.”

In the times of AI, thinking about intelligence is kind of key. I like this overview of concepts and especially second the views about augmented iso artificial intelligence, and companion intelligence.

Unlimited digital sensing unleashed for imaging, audio, and driverless cars | Imperial News | Imperial College London

“Imperial College London and Technical University of Munich (TUM) researchers have developed a technique that joins new hardware and algorithms to unleash the full potential of digital sensors like these.”

Sensors that can detect entities as light, sound, etc beyond physical limits. Powerful promise.

Hyundai’s Newest Employee Is This Robot | CarBuzz

The plans for the Boston Dynamics robots in the ownership of Hyundai might be more than this ‘horseless carriage’ concept of dogs as security officers. We’ll see.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot is securing its position in a niche market – TechTalks

Speaking of Spot, “The new update to Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot doesn’t come with a flashy video. But it could have a huge impact on Spot’s position in the industrial mobile robot market.”

The dogbot was kind of dumb helper remote-controlled, but now it get more autonomy so it seems. Living up to the expectations…

Japan’s betting on autonomous cars – for a unique reason – Tech Wire Asia

“Autonomous cars aren’t new, but the Japanese government is driving an acceleration in its tech and policies for a humbling reason.”

And to fulfill this clickbait: the reason is that they prepare for the rapidly aging population.

BMW calls existing e-bike regulation ‘too complex and irrelevant’ – Bike Europe

“BMW chose IAA Mobility as the best platform to present their BMW i Vision AMBY, their first high-speed pedelec for urbanists. For BMW, it is a visionary two-wheeled solution for the urban mobility of tomorrow.”

Regulations are always the point of discussion.

How news organizations used automated news to cover COVID-19 – Poynter

“As the virus spread across the world, governments and health authorities made a considerable amount of open-source data available to the public.”

Why is this interesting? It is a bit further in the article that it refers to “Adopting a computational mindset” I do not think that adopting is the right level, finding a way to deal with automated intelligently composed data that also learns to understand data could be a useful outcome for our relation with autonomous technology as a whole.

Notes from the Metaverse – by L. M. Sacasas – The Convivial Society

Did I share this last week? “Listen now (25 min) | A week after the fact, here is the audio version of the last installment: “Notes from the Metaverse.” I don’t think so…

Thanks for reading! 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.