Weeknotes 209; retro feelings

Hi all! One week into October. Getting in the new rhythm. Thanks everyone, for the reactions.

No big updates this week. I did not attend any events or so. Like Benedict Evans also opened his newsletter with; there seems to be a new rush in AI tools. Like the new imaging tools from Meta last week, and Google: Phenaki (a model for generating videos from text) and Imagen (signaled before but new announcement), Adapt (useful general intelligence), Summarize.tech (making summaries of long YouTube video), Interiorai (change your home to any style of interior), Descript storyboardConsensus (instantly extract, aggregate, and distill scientific papers). Check also O’Reilly’s Radar.

Sad news that Bruno Latour passed away. One of the most inspiring philosophers of this time, especially when interested in human-tech explorations. The actor-network theory is famous, and such an inspiring reference, but also his latest thinking on climate change was very important. This thread gives an overview of his work, and this is a recent interview.

Events for the week

News of last week

How one interview can trigger others to reflect. And more retro feelings…

The Battle for the Soul of the Web
DESOC – I think I shared a paper on Decentralised Societies and SoulTokens maybe before; here are more reflections “Long before the NFT boom or the Web3 backlash, an unglamorous movement was underway. Where does it stand now?”
Robotic engineers are creating cyborg cockroaches, roboflys and more 
ROBOTICS – “Robotic engineers are scouring the insect world for inspiration, and creating machines that could be used for emergency response, farming and energy.”
George Hotz: Self-Driving Cars Are A Scam 
AUTONOMOUS – More on the Hotz interview. I remembered Hotz from a session at SXSW that was super energetic and hyper, 4 yours ago maybe? He planned to offer a software kit for self-driving. So new insights? Or a sign of a sceptical time? “Autonomous cars have been under development well over a decade but are still far from production. Connected cars may be a better idea.”
Pluralistic: 09 Oct 2022 $100 billion later, autonomous vehicles are still a car-wreck 
AUTONOMOUS – The Hotz article also triggers Cory Doctorow to revisit earlier critical thoughts 
Why Fully-Autonomous Cars Won’t Be A Common Sight On The Roads Anytime Soon
AUTONOMOUS – Wondering if this article is triggered by the provocation of George Hotz too. A nice overview of the sentiment “While the world can’t wait to have cars that fully drive themselves, it’s unfortunate that it’s not happening anytime soon.”
Retro Digital Dashboards by Daniel Lazo
RETRO – Nice! “Here is a cool project by Daniel Lazo (Sight Extended) that brings to life some amazing digital dashboards from 70s and 80s concept cars.”
I wish my web server were in the corner of my room 
PSYGITAL – Another one of these nice posts of Matt exploring a hunch that can become a concept and more. What if you run your website from a dedicated server in your room, creating new connections with a digital presence. “Seeing your website’s actual server is the virtual equiv of the Overview Effect and I want to have that feeling the whole time!”
A New Philosophy Of Planetary Computation 
COMPUTATION – A trigger to read: “A transformation is underway that promises — or threatens — to disrupt virtually all of our long-standing conceptions of our place on the planet and our planet’s place in the cosmos.”
The right to longevity 
TRUST – Good framing “After the EU “right to repair” should there perhaps be a “right to longevity” for connected objects, to enable them to be reanimated by open-source code and platforms once they have had their motivating spirit of software removed by the shuttering of whatever service they were originally the avatar of? “
clone builds a low-cost, durable robot hand that easily grabs & holds objects
ROBOTICS – This is a creepy hand, uncanny… “the clone robot hand has 27 degrees of freedom from its 36 muscles which make it fully function like a human hand.”
ABB invests in Scalable Robotics no-code 
NOBOTICS – Low code/no-code in robotics: “ABB announced that it entered into a strategic partnership with Scalable Robotics to enhance its portfolio of robotic welding systems.”
The robot takeout revolution is closer than you think 
ROBOTICS – Seeing is believing? “After more than five years reporting on self-driving technologies, I’ve learned to be skeptical when companies tell me they’re on the verge of large-scale commercialization. But after seeing Tuohy’s robots in action, I believe him.”
amazon delivery robot: Amazon abandons live tests of Scout home delivery robot
AUTONOMOUS – Sometimes things are too soon? “The company is now scaling back or “reorienting” the program, and it will work with the involved employees to match them to other open roles within the organization, Amazon spokesperson Alisa Carroll said, adding that it was not abandoning the project altogether.“
DeepMind trained gamified AI to find the fastest algorithm for crucial math in computer science. Not long after, the AI beat a 50-year-old record
INTELLIGENCE – Another achievement of AlphaZero, this time solving a different type of game “Researchers converted the problem of finding efficient algorithms into a single-player game.”
The White House released a non-binding AI Bill of Rights | CNN Business
BILL OF INTELLIGENCE – “The White House on Tuesday released a set of guidelines it hopes will spur companies to make and deploy artificial intelligence more responsibly and limit AI-based surveillance, despite the fact that there are few US laws compelling them to do so.”
A Bold Effort to Cure HIV—Using Crispr 
SEQUENCING – Promising… “An experiment tests whether the gene-editing technology can stop the virus from replicating, which would ultimately wipe out the infection.”
Wow, A Simulation That Looks Like Reality! 🤯
INTELLIGENCE – You might already follow the channel Two Minute Papers of Karoly Zsolnai-Feher on the best AI papers. This time he has written the paper himself “The Flow from Simulation to Reality”

Paper for the week

Prediction with futures is exploring the role of predictions as part of futuring. “In particular, the growing emphasis on prediction as AI’s skeleton key to all social problems constitutes what religious studies calls cosmograms: universalizing models that govern how facts and values relate to each other, providing a common and normative point of reference. In a predictive paradigm, social problems are made conceivable only as objects of calculative control—control that can never be fulfilled but that persists as an eternally deferred and recycled horizon.”

Hong, S. H. (2022). Predictions without futures. History and Theory61(3), 371-390 (link)

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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.