Weeknotes 181; human-intellitech co-performance

This is a repost from the weekly newsletter on Revue.

Hi all. This was a crazy week. Still is. As I schedule this post end of Monday evening or so it might happen a lot when you read this on Tuesday. How important is everything? It is a feeling you probably all have. On the other hand; stopping everything is also not helpful, terminating normal life from a distance does not feel right too. There is of course also always discussion about how genuine these responses are, posting a flag or something on social media. I do not like to judge. If it helps to express something that is not possible in another form, then it is fine I think.

Should I say anything or remove this? I leave it for now. And I think I keep on living here, proceeding with my normal activities, and at the same time keep aware, donate something more, be open to real needs. And hope for the best…

Updates of last week

In between the news not many events to report from. I attended STRP scenarios on ‘Hybrid Infinities’ in the online space. A different tool this time: Ohyay. A kind of mix of Mibo and Spatialchat but more straightforward. And the makers did tune it nicely. Having all participants play a game with your mouse pointer felt a bit like these warming-up routines at (TEDx) conferences that you have to stand up in the room and be spontaneous with your neighbor; not my cup of tea normally but it worked ok this time.

The talks delivered nice art examples shaping the notion of hybrid infinities. For me, there was an extra hybrid layer watching from the couch. I did not take notes, just experienced the examples :)

The works of Leo Scarin showed for instance his project where he merged reality in the virtual space; having to add real touch sensations to the things so experienced in the VR: “Variations in a Remote Room”. It plays with the physical experience depending on virtual behavior; what will that do for your experience?

The session of Radicle Civics can be rewatched here. The first 25 minutes have the presentation of Indy Johar.

If you are into Stephen Wolfram, you might think this a nice conversation on his physics project diving aspects like “Universality, the Principle of Computational Equivalence, and undecidability” and more.

I also watched a presentation “Creativity in Multiplayer Mode Introducing Metalabels” by Yancey Strickler (one of the founders of Kickstarter) that I think is an interesting interaction/reflection on the discussion on DAOs. “Metalabels are groups of people using a common identity for a common purpose on public releases that manifest their point of view”. This is very near the idea of the Cities of Things Knowledge Hub concept (2nd paragraph)….

Plans for this week

Next to usual activities I am looking forward to the start of the students of HvA AAI minor (responsible AI) working on interactions with vocal things in the city.

I am invited to share thoughts on trends again for a class of students of the MILE program.

And I am looking forward to this workshop with Scott Smith and John Willshire. And also the AITech session with Kars Alfrink on his research to contestable AI. I mentioned his work in an earlier newsletter. Sensemaker AMS will have a DIY session in-person again.

News of the week

This week some new human-intellitech co-performance, autonomous driving, and the weekly Web3 critique.

At Last, a Self-Driving Car That Can Explain Itself
CO-PERFORMANCE – “Mitsubishi’s AI not only improves performance, but it also fosters trust”It is not about a self-driving car, but about an assistant that is helping out with cues based on realtime analysis. An assistant that you can interact with.The technology is promising; the example in the case of driving can be annoying. But annoying tech can also feel more real :)
Uncanny Valley review – a menacing robot examines the meaning of life
ROBOTICS – Rating an uncanny valley is kind of strange. What does a 5-star review mean? The most creepy realness? Or the most real unreal?“German writer Thomas Melle delivers a lecture via an animatronic counterpart in an unsettling show that poses big questions”
Toyota Patents Artificial Muscles for Robots, Might Build Them in the U.S. 
ROBOTICS – We can use robots as tools, or boost ourselves with exoskeletons. Or we can merge these: “Toyota’s new robots will be able to move in a similar fashion to humans if the Japanese carmaker manages to properly implement its newly disclosed artificial muscle solution.”
Centipedes, the ‘envy of engineers,’ inspire a new generation of robots | Science | AAAS
ROBOTICS – All of nature is the inspiration for our created creatures. Centipedes are able to move in a different way than dogs for instance. And I can imagine an army of centipedes components as one huge chain.
Sensitive robot ‘thumb’ uses computer vision to ‘feel’ touch
SENSING – I can remember that someone years ago predicted that cameras would be the main sensors as they are versatile and relative cheap. Here is a nice example of how sensing touch is executed with a camera.“Researchers in Germany have created an artificial thumb with an elastomer exterior and metal interior equipped with a small fish-eye lens that detects pressure – both its magnitude and direction.”
12 best pet tech devices for cats and dogs: Amazon, Litter Robot, more
MUNDANE TECH – A nice example of how connected technology is dripping in every type of product. How silly even. “Let technology help you take care of your cats and dogs, improving your life and theirs with automatic feeders, battery-operated toys, and more.”
Zooming in on embodied social sensemaking: Mapping the design space in the context of videoconferencing
VIRTUAL LIFE – Jelle is a great researcher. Interesting topic to mix embodied elements and video conversations. “This paper investigates, through design, how interactive artifacts scaffold embodied social sensemaking. (…) a reflective ordering process revealed a design space made up of six phenomenal aspects and three basic types of scaffolding. The analysis adds further details to existing design frameworks for embodied sensemaking. The paper provides guidance to designers who aim to create meaningful and theoretically grounded embodied augmentations of remote social interaction technologies.”
Ozmo: Skyscraper Window Washing Robot 
ROBOTICS – You can see this as a low barrier robotizing of existing activities. Or you can see it as a so-called horseless carriage. What do you think? “Meet Ozmo from Skyline Robotics: an automated window cleaning system that uses an industrial robot, computer vision system, AI and machine learning to reach areas”
False Futurism
METACRITICS – I am not convinced by this article, as it focuses too much on Facebook. Does it add to the usual rhetoric? But I leave it to you to judge.“Tech companies have always overstated the benefits their technologies will grant us and understated how much they serve their own ends of power and profit. The metaverse will be no different, especially since it’s unlikely to arrive in the form currently being sold to us.”
AI-Generated Andy Warhol Will Star in Forthcoming Netflix Docuseries
SYNTHETIC – Uncanny? What is the difference from an actor playing the role?“The Andy Warhol Diaries will be narrated by the artist himself — sort of.”
Kenya to use solar panels to boost crops by ‘harvesting the sun twice’ | Global development | The Guardian
BOOSTED TECH – “Successful trials found growing crops beneath panels – known as agrivoltaics – reduced water loss and resulted in larger plants” Layers of technology create an interesting marriage of technology and human.
GM seeks US approval to deploy self-driving car without a steering wheel 
AUTONOMOUS – Will the self-operating vehicles leave campuses? “NHTSA to review the safety of driverless Cruise Origin before possible 2023 deployment.”
An NFT Bubble Is Taking Over the Gig Economy
REALITIES – “Two-thirds of freelancers on Fiverr say they’re servicing the NFT industry. But is it sustainable?”Another week, another skeptical article on Web3 related happenings. The question of whether it is sustainable might be not so important, as long as you are not counting on it.
Car Thing. Spotify’s new smart player designed for your drive.
TWINNING – I am pretty sure that this Car Thing was announced earlier. I see now campaigning has seriously started. I understand that they start the real campaign now after launching the daily drive function with makes the device, even more, a physical twin of virtual service. Still way too complex imho
Will Web3 enable fair local-for-local platforms? Maybe… 
INFRASTRUCTURE – Indeed an interesting rethinking proves that the design of the future decentralized services can have different outcomes.“A reaction on Twitter about Gorillas’ ultra-fast grocery delivery was food for thought. “Flash delivery can also be done via the traditional way; ask the neighbors (via the neighborhood app). As recently done with success. I had forgotten to buy mushrooms. Within 7 minutes on the doorstep. Coronaproof with a smile”.”

Paper of the week

Let me highlight this week a paper based on a graduation project I supervised last year. Always nice if a graduation project leads to this. It is about trust and autonomous vehicles, which relates to one of the articles of last week. The paper is by David Valentine:

Valentine, D. C., Smit, I., & Kim, E. (2021). Designing for calibrated trust: exploring the challenges in calibrating trust between users and autonomous vehicles. Proceedings of the Design Society, 1, 1143-1152.

Trust is an important factor in building acceptance of autonomous vehicles within our society, but the complex nature of trust makes it challenging to design for an appropriate level of trust. This can lead to instances of mistrust and/or distrust between users and AV’s. Designing for calibrated trust is a possible option to address this challenge.

David did a deep dive into models of trust and learned from designing a toolkit for designers of autonomous vehicles. This paper focuses on the theory, not on the toolkit. One of his findings was that trust is not only defined in the interaction with the vehicle while using but also in the phase just before that, the expectations you build. Nice to compare with the described system above that aims to enhance trust in autonomous transport by adding a helpful coach.

Find the paper here in PDF.

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.