Weeknotes 180; cell-powered mathematical collaborators

Hi all. Another week passed by. A windy one over here. Everything stayed put but there was some rescheduling of meetings last Friday. Instead of meeting a new team of students from Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences for a project related to the CityLab 010 project was online; we catch up soon! Also, another team of students did start in the minor Responsible AI from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will dive into interactions with vocal things in our cities.

The projects nicely tab in both cities of things like the notion we need to inverse the digital twin into physical values. This is what we are looking at for ThingsCon this year (scheduled for 9 & 10 June) too as I mentioned last week too. We will send out more details later this week in our newsletter.

Next to updates on the MUC AMS field lab project we had the official kick-off with the partners in the above-mentioned Cities of Things Lab010 field lab. We were guests at Gemaal op Zuid in Afrikaanderwijk, one of the locations to dive into Cities of Things co-design. We had a very good session aligning all plans and intentions.

I visited a session on Radicle Civics for a Flourishing Society which delivers some interesting points on structures, social contracts, and trojan horses. You can watch the whole session on YouTube. The reflections were very interesting, and the introduction by Indy Johar was very rich. Framing Things as Citizens is of course always a win 🙂

Also last week AMS-institute organized a scientific conference-themed Reinventing the City. I joined a couple of sessions over the course of the days in between other meetings (as you do, the pro and cons at the same time of online conferences…). I don’t know if the sessions will be shared. Would be nice, if only to be able to watch some of the other parallel sessions. 

Events this week

For this week I have fewer events on my list. STRP is organizing a nice online scenario evening on Hybrid Infinities. Tonite IoT London as an online session. Future City Foundation has a winter webinar on Thursday. Longer exhibitions I will check: Superflux at DroogTegenlicht 20 years at HNI. O’Reilly is looking into the technology trends of 2022 this Thursday.

On to the news of this week

This week autonomous driving is present more than usual with some acquisitions and technology developments. Robots too.

This human cell-powered robot fish is actually a huge medical breakthrough
ROBOTICS – How about that: the merge of humans and robotics to the max. “The futuristic creature could help researchers understand how to grow human hearts.”
Machine Learning Becomes a Mathematical Collaborator 
CO-PERFORMANCE – “Mathematicians often work together when they’re searching for insight into a hard problem. It’s a kind of freewheeling collaborative process that seems to require a uniquely human touch.”
Why you can’t rebuild Wikipedia with crypto 
INFRASTRUCTURE – The weekly critical notes on Web3 and alike: “Web3 Is Going Just Great is a two-month-old website that chronicles the latest crises in NFTs, DAOs, and everything else happening in crypto. We interview its creator, Molly White, who is also a longtime Wikipedia contributor.”
Jaguar Land Rover says all of its cars will come with Nvidia’s Drive computers by 2025 
AUTONOMOUS – “Jaguar Land Rover is teaming up with Nvidia to install the chipmaker’s Drive platform in all of its cars starting in 2025. The new hardware will enable advanced driver assist and autonomous driving features.”
Volkswagen in talks to buy Huawei’s autonomous driving unit: report – TechCrunch
AUTONOMOUS – Will 2022 become the year for a foundational step up in autonomous technologies?“Volkswagen is in talks with Huawei to acquire the latter’s nascent autonomous driving unit for billions of euros”
New Chips from Infineon, TI, and Toshiba Drive Advances in Autonomous Driving 
AUTONOMOUS – More on autonomous developments. “As the autonomous vehicle market heats up, new MCUs and ICs have hit the market this year to enable new ADAS functionalities.”
Autonomous vehicle testing goes live on London streets 
INFRASTRUCTURE – Next to ramping up technology the regulations are even so important (or even more..) 
Sony’s AI Drives a Race Car Like a Champ
AUTONOMOUS – I always understand that F1 races are won for an important part with the strategies for tires, understanding the material. So why not remove the drivers totally? “The company built GT Sophy to master the game ‘Gran Turismo,’ but it may help the development of real self-driving cars.”
Robot kid successfully conveys six emotions on its face
ROBOTICS – I am also a bit skeptical about this quest for humanoids that look like humans. But it is of course a source to understand how human emotions work.“An android child capable of expressing six emotions puts us one step closer to a future in which we share our homes with companion robots.”
Their Bionic Eyes Are Now Obsolete and Unsupported
EMBODIED – Understanding the dependencies of technology is important to be aware. Not everything is as crucial as bionic eyes, but still… “These early adopters found out what happened when a cutting-edge marvel became an obsolete gadget… inside their bodies.”
Your brain might be a quantum computer that hallucinates math
EMBODIED – More techno enhancing optimism. But nice points on the interactions to learn from tech “More fine-grained analyses, ideally combined with perturbation approaches, will help to decipher the individual roles of brain areas and neuronal codes in mental arithmetic.”
Top 5 Robot Trends 2022 
ROBOTICS – Late notice trends for 2022… In short: robots become ubiquitous. “The International Federation of Robotics analyzes the top 5 trends shaping robotics and automation around the globe.”
When robots are everywhere, what happens to the data they collect?
ROBOTICS – I am not sure if this is the case, but well, better safe than sorry; “It is easy to underappreciate the privacy risks posed by robots that are more likely to be viewed as pets than data-hungry devices. Owners of Roombas, for example, have a remarkable ability to zoomorphize their robotic vacuum cleaners, in some cases even describing them as family members.”
The average person doesn’t have a chance with the smart home 
INFRASTRUCTURE – Indeed, noticed: “If you’ve been shopping for a major appliance lately, you might have noticed that everything — from ovens to fridges, TVs, dishwashers, and microwaves — is equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s so popular these days that it’s increasingly difficult to buy appliances without smart features onboard.”
Tellart Founder Matt Cottam on the Importance of Immersion in Both Life and Design 
FUTURES – I am following the work of Matt Cottam and Tellart for years. Projects can be rather poetic or visually stunning and it is blurring the core narrative that is always important for understanding our future route.
Conscientious Urban Technology — Sentiers
INFRASTRUCTURE – On my reading list: “The founding Director of the University of Michigan’s new Urban Technology program, on the growing importance of technology in cities, data, architecture and design, feedback loops, generalists, and futures.”
Attending to the World 
ECONOMICS – Nice overview of the last era in online: attention economies.“So, here then, is yet another entry for the attention files presented as a numbered list of loosely related observations for your consideration (…)”
A Vibe Shift Is Coming. Will Any of Us Survive It?
FUTURES – Not too far ahead, more trending shifts. If you are into this kind of things: ““People going off in a lot of different directions because it doesn’t feel like there’s a coherent, singular vision for music or fashion.” He sees Substacks and podcasts as the new blogs and a move away from Silicon Valley’s interest in optimizing workflow, “which is just so anti-decadence.” Most promisingly, he predicts a return of irony.”
Fun Online Traffic Simulator
INFRASTRUCTURE – Tinkering with traffic.

Paper of the week

Let me take one of the list this week, papers that I used in my research for predictive relations in cities of things: the notion of Fluid Assemblage as described in this paper:

Redström, J., & Wiltse, H. (2015). Press Play: Acts of defining (in) fluid assemblages. Nordes , 1 (6)

Contemporary materials, technologies and contexts of design and use, we argue, now result in ‘things’ that need to be understood as fluid assemblages rather than traditional objects. these often combine a surface-level simplicity of use with dynamic, sophisticated, and hidden back-end complexity.

They also extended this concept in the book Changing Things: Redström, J., & Wiltse, H. (2018). Changing things: The future of objects in a digital world. Bloomsbury Publishing.

I like the framing of continuously changing things a lot, the marriage of digital and physical is very well described in this concept. The ethics part is also an important element; what happens with all these things that become connected. In the book, there are some open ends on the consequences for design in practice, but for a couple of years a course at Umea University with the same name is delivering every year interesting students projects that create learnings for the design consequences. I think Heather reflects on these in an article in her latest book that still is on my list to read… Wiltse, H. (2020). 12 REVEALING RELATIONS OF FLUID ASSEMBLAGES. Relating to things: Design, technology and the artificial, 239.

See you next week!

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Iskander Smit is an innovation 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, and chairman and organizer of ThingsCon Netherlands.