Weeknotes 204; cognizant machines

Hi dear readers. Let’s do a quick update again and dive into the news items of last week.

Next to the open sources I follow also have some subscriptions to Substacks and other newsletters and some paid podcasts. Like Dithering, the 15-minute chat of John Gruber and Ben Thompson. Gruber is running his Apple-oriented newsletter for years and Thompson is the poster child of expert newsletters turned into a subscription-based version. They discussed the acquisition of iRobot (Roomba) by Amazon. One of their points was that the buzz around Amazon capturing your house for ecommerce purposes was too dramatic. The quality of current operations of a Roomba does hint toward a dirty database if that would be the case. They are right for a part; it is not about the current quality but future possibilities and looking towards the data Xiaomi is capturing via the vacuum robot. Last year a student at Industrial Design Engineering dived into this for his graduation project. The design of the Roomba might be very well changed, influenced by the different goals of Amazon…

This also connects to the paper for this week.

Cognizant Machines: A What Is Not A Who
INTELLIGENCE – I am really into the belief that we should not compare different forms of intelligence, but should strive to leverage intelligence to serve different goals in different ways.www.noemamag.com  •  Share
Text-to-image AIs are changing art forever
AIAR – “Text-to-image AIs that draw whatever you describe in text are making it easy for anyone to create unique art online.” It is changing art forever is the clickbait title. Partly true, just like the invention of new media always inspires artists to us it for new stories.www.freethink.com  •  Share
On Technique – O’Reilly
COBOT – The introduction of GTP-3 and Dall-E 2 and the spread of use have also pushed new forms of human-robot collaboration.“How might Copilot’s descendants change the craft of programming?”www.oreilly.com  •  Share
Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow
CONTRACTS – Another useful exploration by Doctorow, this time looking into the role of contracts in the describing of our world reality. Not the legal ones, but especially contracts as logs of agreements. It is what the startup is trying to contribute to.pluralistic.net  •  Share
A Step Forward in Human-Robot Collaboration: Han’s Robot Opens A New Era of Intelligent Collaborative Robots
ROBOTICS – This article is more like a one on one repost of the press release, but still might be a nice example of the near future we live with cobots.sports.yahoo.com  •  Share
Hay Kranen on Twitter: average people per country
INTELLIGENCE – “I asked DALL-E 2 how average people look like on the main square of an average town in a country.” Hay Kranen shows that the remarkable results are initiated by the right framing questions.twitter.com  •  Share
Economic misconceptions of the crypto world 
CRYPTO – “Cash isn’t savings, scarcity doesn’t create value.” There might have been articles before, but good realistic view I guess.noahpinion.substack.com  •  Share
Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022
STATS – I am not so much into the media stats anymore, but looking at the changing behavior of teens gives an insight in the future. Or at least the future of now, as there might be another trend than TikTok after a while.www.pewresearch.org  •  Share
AI May Come to the Rescue of Future Firefighters 
INTELLIGENCE – Augmented intelligence can be more important than artificial intelligence. It is about adding other ways of looking that creates collaborations between human and non-human intelligence. And this can be applied in super practical cases “New research suggests that AI could provide first responders with a much-needed heads-up about a dangerous condition called flashover.”www.nist.gov  •  Share
Robot helps reveal how ants pass on knowledge 
EXPERIMENTS – “Scientists have developed a small robot to understand how ants teach one another.” How robots can help to understand nature by simulations.www.sciencedaily.com  •  Share
Resilient robots
ROBOTICS – This sounds like a different type of travelling salesman problem. “A robot, or a group of robots, on a mission often have conflicting priorities. The primary mission of a team of search and rescue robots, for example, is to find survivors. But when they do, they also need to be able to send information to the rest of the team. The best way to find survivors may be to spread out, but the best way to send information is to stay close together. If robotic teams are going to be deployed in more real-world situations, they’re going to need a system to balance these priorities.”www.seas.harvard.edu  •  Share
Tiny Robot Constructed Entirely From DNA 
NEW LIFE – This is still very early and fundamental research, but what will happen when robots can be build from human material “The DNA origami method enables the self-assembly of 3D nanostructures in a predefined form using the DNA molecule as construction material. The technique has been responsible for major advances in the nanotechnology field.”www.unite.ai  •  Share
Stretchy computing device feels like skin—but analyzes health data with brain-mimicking artificial intelligence
SECOND SKIN – “(…) team at Pritzker Molecular Engineering have designed a stretchy, wearable chip able to analyze health data in real time, opening the door to more effective, less obtrusive health monitoring.”pme.uchicago.edu  •  Share
The Best Examples Of Human And Robot Collaboration
ROBOTICS – Not a surprising list of human-robot collaboration areas, but some examples.www.forbes.com  •  Share
Tesla: The ultimate example of data privacy vs convenience 
AUTONOMOUS – “Yet, unlike most connected devices we purchase, we didn’t really review the data privacy implications of owning a Tesla before we ordered it.”staceyoniot.com  •  Share
Tech, Cyber Companies Launch Security Standard to Monitor Hacking Attempts – WSJ
SECURITY – Good not to forget..Amazon’s AWS, Splunk, IBM and others are cooperating on a format for cyber alerts.www.wsj.com  •  Share
Researchers Have Taught Machines How to Follow Lego Instruction Manuals
COBOT – Or is this the other way around? “One day a robot might automate your favorite hobby, too.”gizmodo.com  •  Share
Eventfulness – Ribbonfarm Studio
CONCEPTUAL – Knowing the extensive and smart explorations Venkatesh Rao can make, this promises to become an interesting series on the concepts of time. “What does it mean for time to be eventful?”It is not a new topic, I have read quite some research while looking into the concept of predictive relations, still it is nicely introduced. In a future world where realities will shift it is a key concept I think.studio.ribbonfarm.com  •  Share
We have encountered an error 
AUTONOMOUS – Overview on all kind of stats and some realistic and less realistic future renderings.seekingalpha.com  •  Share
“Our Xiaomi Pilot Test vehicle has achieved a safe and smooth driving experience under various conditions.”
AUTONOMOUS – Not surprised that a big Chinese electronics company is aiming at hte self-driving car market to be. “Our Xiaomi Pilot Test vehicle has achieved a safe and smooth driving experience under various conditions.”twitter.com  •  Share
Xiaomi’s CyberOne is a humanoid robot with a weird walk | Mashable
ROBOTICS – Xiaomi has launched a humanoid robot called CyberOne. It can detect human emotion and create 3D visual reconstructions of the world. It also walks funnily.mashable.com  •  Share
Investing in Flow Andreessen Horowitz
SOLUTIONISM – “Shelter is one of our most basic needs. (..) When you care for people in their homes and provide them with a sense of physical and financial security, you empower them to do more and build things. Solving this problem is key to increasing opportunity for everyone.”It is a typical Big Tech move to solve societal problems with a tech-optimizing solution… And Neuman is of course, the posterchild of building castles in the air…a16z.com  •  Share
These sensors know when your office is underutilized—and when your grandma takes a fall
SENSING – Multipurpose, mundane sensors to make your environment intelligent and helpful. It sounds like a commercial for partly preferable tools… “Butlr’s thermal sensors track people’s movement through spaces, but without watching you.”www.fastcompany.com  •  Share
5 Things We Should Expect Online in a Decade, According to a Futurist
FUTURING – These 5 things feels are knocking on an open door but the note on Web3 triggers some thoughts that we should make scenarios that the democratisizing intentions of Web3 might be misused by totalitarian regimes just like Web 2.0 was…. www.gizmodo.com.au  •  Share

Paper for the week

Not sure if I had a reference to the research of Kars before. His topic is very important as we will be dealing more and more with AI in our mundane life. As in vacuum robots, but also on the street.

“As the use of AI systems continues to increase, so do concerns over their lack of fairness, legitimacy and accountability. Such harmful automated decision-making can be guarded against by ensuring AI systems are contestable by design: responsive to human intervention throughout the system lifecycle.”

*Alfrink, K., Keller, I., Kortuem, G. et al. Contestable AI by Design: Towards a Framework.Minds & Machines (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11023-022-09611-z*

Find the paper here.

This is repost from the newsletter

Published by


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.