Weeknotes 191; predicting behaviours

Hi all. I hope you had a good week. My week was all about preparing and proposing and some student coaching. In short.

And ThingsCon Summer Edition is now in less than five weeks, so this is one of the moments in the organizing process it starts to accelerate a bit. Completing the program, discussing with speakers and hosts, finding nice projects to show at the exhibition, building the website etc., don’t forget to check the schedule. The early bird offer ended last week, but I made a discount code for 25%, especially for newsletter subscribers here. This offers ends this Sunday, 15 May. Registration via the website and use the code TC22-25procent

Enough promotion :-)


Not that many events this week that reached me.

This evening in Amsterdam, there is a very promising workshop by Speculative Future Amsterdam on a super relevant topic: Unintended Consequences by Smart Things

Also, this evening a webinar linked to the release of a new book by Kevin Driscoll: The Modem World. With time differences somewhere in the evening.

Wednesday, Sensemakers AMS is having a DIY session.

Following Monday, we have our workshop of the MUC AMS field lab Cities of Things in Munich as part of MCBW, so if you are nearby…

News of last week

Ok, time to dive into the exciting news items of last week with the usual mix of robotics and -this week a bit more- autonomous driving vehicles.

Predicting Others’ Behavior on the Road With Artificial Intelligence
AUTONOMOUS – Understanding intentions is a key quality for autonomous driving. “If a robot is going to navigate a vehicle safely through downtown Boston, it must be able to predict what nearby drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists are going to do next.”scitechdaily.com  •  Share
Designing user interfaces with bots not buttons 
INTERPLAY – Great thinking and exploring thoughts as Matt is doing so well.In this article he explores what the role of NPCs (non-player characters) can be, not only in VR like environments but in all software.Referencing a concept of Gordon Brander; geists:“They’re just little scripts that find connections between notes, and use procedural generators to construct algorithmic provocations.”And referencing a book by Brenda Laurel on the role of agents in our interactions.And I feel for his prediction a lot: “as users become accustomed to agents and NPCs, we’ll see more interfaces on desktops and phones that behave like Subconscious: bot not buttons”interconnected.org  •  Share
Antitrust: Commission sends Statement of Objections to Apple over practices regarding Apple Pay
LOCK-INS – It seems a new phase in the maturity of mobile platform so people say. “The European Commission has informed Apple of its preliminary view that it abused its dominant position in markets for mobile wallets on iOS devices.”ec.europa.eu  •  Share
Report shows that Amazon uses data from Alexa smart speakers to serve targeted ads 
OWNERSHIP – Anyone surprised? “A research report titled, “Your Echos are Heard: Tracking, Profiling, and Ad Targeting in the Amazon Smart Speaker Ecosystem,” investigates how Amazon Alexa smart speakers use voice data to target ads at users.“www.theverge.com  •  Share
Newly-developed lensless camera uses neural network and transformer to produce sharper images faster: Digital Photography Review
FUTURE TECH – Always interesting to see foretelling technologies develop; curious to see if it will deliver a shift. “Lensless cameras have many potential use-cases but have generally been held back by lengthy processing requirements and low-resolution images. A research from a team at the Tokyo Institute of Technology is looking to change that.”www.dpreview.com  •  Share
Meta has built a massive new language AI—and it’s giving it away for free
INTELLIGENCE – Interesting move of Meta… “And in an unprecedented move for Big Tech, it is giving it away to researchers—together with details about how it was built and trained.”www.technologyreview.com  •  Share
Cruise’s robotaxis now cover 70% of San Francisco – The Robot Report
AUTONOMOUS – Did we reach a tipping point? “Cruise expanded its robotaxi services to nearly 70% of San Francisco, according to co-founder and CEO Kyle Vogt.”www.therobotreport.com  •  Share
Apple Car May Take Commands From Siri Like An iPhone, Updated Autonomous Driving Patent Suggests 
AUTONOMOUS – Is this a breaking invention or a no-brainer. The real difference will be in the way of execution of the interplay of the car and passenger “Point out or say exactly where you want to be dropped off with this Apple patent”www.carscoops.com  •  Share
Apple Hopes to Solve Motion Sickness In Self-Driving Cars Using Virtual Reality
AUTONOMOUS – More Apple patents on autonomous driving this week. Coincidence? “Motion sickness in a car is something many deal with through medication, but a recently granted Apple patent might have a solution through virtual reality.”www.motortrend.com  •  Share
Prepare for smart robot revolution
ROBOTICS – These kind of statistics are always more a trend than a guaranteed reality, but it seems our life will change…. “The analyst firm forecast that by 2030, 80% of humans will engage with smart robots on a daily basis, due to smart robot advancements in intelligence, social interactions and human augmentation capabilities, a figure up from less than 10% today.”www.computerweekly.com  •  Share
A visit to the human factory 
ROBOTICS – The continuing quest for shaping humans for real… “Engineered Arts in the UK is a small company, but it makes the world’s uncanniest robots: machines with realistic facial expressions that make you wonder what it means it be human. Its latest model, Ameca, provokes fear and excitement in equal measure, but why build robots that ape humans in the first place?”www.theverge.com  •  Share
Virtual reality ‘answering machine’ records the real world while you’re in VR 
META – Great to know you won’t miss anything immersing out of reality… “People using virtual reality at work could use a new system to capture what happens around them and play back a 3D reconstruction later”www.newscientist.com  •  Share
FTX’s Steph Curry Ad Is the First Honest Celebrity Crypto Commercial 
CRYPTO – Politics blurring lines. “The sector’s rise has minted a generation of overnight millionaires and billionaires, some of whom have political ambitions. As the Washington Post recently reported, crypto investors and executives are pouring millions of dollars into the upcoming midterm elections, seeking to help elect candidates who will support the industry’s preferred regulations.”www.wired.com  •  Share
How to build neighborhoods we actually like
CITIES – As we are working on a community hub for Cities of Things this triggered. “Where you live has more of an impact on your physical, emotional, and mental health than you think.”www.freethink.com  •  Share
Radar trends to watch: May 2022 
INTELLIGENCE – as always fine overview of trends of past month by O’Reilly. With a different meaning of FOMO (Faster Objects, More Objects), and other intriguing abbreviations like LAION (Large Scale Artificial Intelligence Open Network), STEGO etc. www.oreilly.com  •  Share

Paper for this week

One of the sessions at ThingsCon will dive into “Animistic Design”. Looking into possible speakers this paper was suggested: Robotic Improvisers: Rule-Based Improvisation and Emergent Behaviour in HRI

A super interesting topic again. “A key challenge in human-robot interaction (HRI) design is to create and sustain engaging social interactions. This paper argues that improvisational techniques from the performing arts can address this challenge. Contrary to the ways in which improvisation is generally used in social robotics, we propose an understanding of improvisational techniques as based on rules that shape motion choices.”

Alcubilla Troughton, I., Baraka, K., Hindriks, K., & Bleeker, M. (2022, March). Robotic Improvisers: Rule-Based Improvisation and Emergent Behaviour in HRI. In Proceedings of the 2022 ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction (pp. 561-569).

Find the paper PDF here

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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.