Weeknotes 201; robotics and wheels

Hi! End of July already. Here and in the rest of Europe at least we see that the proof of a changing climate is happening. It is hot again…

In this summer vacation week, there is not so much to tell about events as they are not happening. I have had nice conversations about the field labs MUC AMS and C010 and am starting up a new activity, having a role at this start-up. Let’s share more later. Also collected some good stuff around Web3 from different perspectives. I am writing a report on this for a not-for-profit financial institution.

I finally finished Ways of Being, a bit later than planned. I liked it a lot, James is always adding different lenses on the things happening, which is inspiring and applicable.

All these activities will continue in the coming months I expect in maybe different focus/balance.

Not much to do at events. I skipped General Seminar for this time as with the time difference it starts end of the evening. You might have a look at some conferences in September like NEXT(Hamburg) and two golden oldies returning: dConstruct (Brighton) and Interesting (London). 

News captured from last week

Quite a lot. On robotics and autonomous vehicles mainly this week though.

OpenAI Says It’s Fine to Sell Images Made With DALL-E 2
INTELLIGENCE – New possibilities for those that can master the search. “Upon announcing the public rollout of the DALL-E 2 beta, OpenAI declared that all DALL-E imagery can be commercialized and sold.”
Reconfigurable Mobile Robot for Manipulation Tasks in Cluttered Environments 
MOVING ROBOTS – The experiments with ways to let robots or autonomous vehicles move with new kinds of flexibility is always inspiring to see. This is one made by ETH Zurich. 
Baidu unveils autonomous vehicle without steering wheel
AUTONOMOUS – So, of course we get these steerless autonomous vehicles. No surpirse. The regulation is the bottleneck after all. And that a search company is doing AV is also something we know. Would they be faster to the market than Google? “China’s search engine giant Baidu Inc on Thursday unveiled its new autonomous vehicle (AV) with a detachable steering wheel, with plans to put it to use for its robotaxi service in China next year.”
GM And Ford Want To Put 5,000 Autonomous Vehicles On The Road Without Pedals Or Steering Wheels 
AUTONOMOUS – Who is first? China or the US? Not with the vehicles but with the regulations in place… Maybe the competition between the two brands Ford and GM might speed up the process? 
On the Way to Solving the Big Data Problem in Autonomous Driving
AUTONOMOUS – The data exhaust will be something to keep in mind. Will we have another form of air pollution in the cloud? “Even ordinary vehicles which are driven by people are generating huge amounts of data. Self-driving vehicles create up to 1 terabyte of data each hour. This tremendous amount of data represents a barrier to the quick adoption of autonomous cars.”
Tesla Tackles Potholes, Autonomous Trucking Pressures Gavin Newsom, & More
AUTONOMOUS – “Autonomous driving news has been flooding the zone lately. One story pops up and before we get to covering it, another does, and then another. ” Nothing to add…
Helping Robots Learn On The Fly With Augmented Data
LEARNING – Simulations of reality in data… “A new study from researchers at the University of Michigan shows that feeding a robot fabricated or augmented data when no data sets were available increases the ability of that robot’s performance by 40%.”
CMU researchers teach robots to do chores by watching humans – ==
LEARNING ROBOT – “With WHIRL, developed at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), a robot can learn to perform household tasks just watching a person perform them. ” So cosy to do the dishes together.
6 AI robot products for aging in place home care
ROBOTICS – Not the robots are new or revolutionary but that it is promoted in this mainstream newspaper as support for aging… “AI robots, smart pill dispensers, and health tracking bracelets are changing the future of aging in place home care.
4 Misconceptions About Robots
ROBOT LOVE – It seems that there is a campaign for robot happening… “Robots are a very real part of the modern world, in everything from car factories to vacuum cleaners.”
Engineers Give Soft Robots a Heart
ROBOT NATURE – “A collaborative team of researchers from Cornell and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory has used hydrodynamic and magnetic forces to drive a rubbery and deformable pump that provides soft robots with a circulatory system. This system mimics the biology of animals in nature.”I am not convinced that we need to rebuild nature with robots in a weaker form; better create robot specific with robot character.
Robot dog learns to walk in one hour | Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems
ROBOTICS – Another kind of evolution; “Like a newborn animal, a four-legged robot stumbles around during its first walking attempts. But while a foal or a giraffe needs much longer to master walking, the robot learns to move forward fluently in just one hour.”
Amazon is buying primary care tech provider One Medical for $3.9B 
BIG TECH/FARMA – “Amazon is so far not saying much at all about its plans for One Medical under the wing of Amazon.”That acquisition makes sense. We have our robots and healthcare as part of packages.
Open Lecture at CIID: “Keeping up with the Kardashevians”
TALKS – Back in the mid/end 2000s it was always great to have a presentation by Matt Jones. He went to Google and did less public speaking. Good to have him back! A write-up of a talk of last month.“In this presentation, he is recapping and doing a Back in April 2022, (…) It ends up talking about trying to reframe the energy transition/climate emergency from a discourse of ‘sustainability’ to one of ‘abundance’ – (…)
Meta Newsroom on Twitter: “Mark Zuckerberg just announced a Feeds tab on @facebook, where you can see a chronological feed of posts from those you follow. (…).
SOCIAL BIG TECH – Sometimes progress is winding back.
Municipalities Explore Autonomous Vehicles to Expand Citizen Mobility | StateTech Magazine
AUTONOMOUS – Apparently the fleet is increasing… When will there be a tipping point beyond the experiments? “Anticipating the trend toward autonomy and seeking to establish themselves as leaders in civic tech, many cities now have AV pilots up and running as a way to enhance safety, promote sustainability and expand public transit.”

Paper for this week

In line with the lots of news on human-nonhuman relationships and forms of intelligence, this paper fits the discourse.

“Building artificial intelligence (AI) that aligns with human values is an unsolved problem. Here we developed a human-in-the-loop research pipeline called Democratic AI, in which reinforcement learning is used to design a social mechanism that humans prefer by the majority.”

Koster, R., Balaguer, J., Tacchetti, A., Weinstein, A., Zhu, T., Hauser, O., … & Summerfield, C. (2022). Human-centered mechanism design with Democratic AI. arXiv preprint arXiv:2201.11441

More via the link.

See you next week; still not on vacation :)

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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.