Weeknotes 223; action design for AI futures

Hi everyone. Last week’s top-of-mind news was a bit hard to think of… Scrolling back the layoffs in Silicon Valley remain on top of the news; Alphabet, Spotify, and no exceptions it seems, apart from Apple. The latter is doing some silent product updates and switching on some hidden features in the Homepod mini, which is the way to go for product development nowadays. Nice to see how someone improved Siri by using a ChatGPT integration.
Speaking AI; The speed-up is still happening, and Microsoft has now officially made an additional investment in OpenAI, with new tools continuously appearing. Questions about the Intellectual Property of the generated visuals and text have been raised, and legal claims have been announced. In the meantime, Google is believed to be freaking out on ChatGPT. At the same time, Google Research is sharing its research progress. It is passing the Turing test already. It needs cheap human labor still to get it less toxic, Time claims.

I attended the launch of a new book – or rather, a collection of “cahiers” – called Action Design for Urban Futures, written by Ben Schouten and many other contributors. It is intended to form a Civic Empowerment Toolbox to help local movements organize activities to improve their neighborhoods and collective personal environment. It is targeted towards future designers, scholars, and policymakers, but also – and perhaps especially – those who are initiating these kinds of changes, with a planning tool to jump-start their civic initiatives. The planning tool is a matrix covering aspects of empowerment on one axis (mobilization, organization, operation) and societal levels of influence (individual, collective, institution). Previous initiatives are evaluated to gain learnings. The most actionable part is a game-like canvas to explore all these aspects together.

It is definitely an interesting toolkit. In the end, it is probably more useful for the professionals involved in bottom-up initiatives. I will look into it more deeply as part of our initiatives connected to neighborhood-driven design for the Cities of Things.

In the meantime, we have started the development of (software) tooling for the STRCTRL method and language. Working on the prototype and preparing for the next iterations will be the focus for the coming months.

Events in the Coming Week: What to Do and See? For those who are not following me on Instagram, there is a nice hidden gem in the old Foodcenter Amsterdam we explored; Markt Centraal is organizing evenings and lunches in the central market building that is worth a visit if you are curious about the heritage (like an original Keith Haring piece on the old Cooling Building) and nice food.

The more regular tips:

On with the news from last week. I captured too many things, but this is a selection.

Continue reading Weeknotes 223; action design for AI futures

Weeknotes 222; GPT-3 as a personal coach

Hi all! Another week full of ChatGPT and comparable AI explorations. Below are some new examples. I will keep the update short this week. Working on the startup and keeping track of the news. This week there are some events planned that I might attend so will report on this next week.

This is the second newsletter I sent out via Ghost instead of Revue. This is a symptom of what is happening with Twitter; winding down in a way. Or crashing in a race to the bottom… Next to the newsletter saga, now my favorite Twitter client Tweetbot is broken due to new API rulings of Twitter. Getting everyone on their own apps is an understandable strategy for commercial reasons maybe but it might break trust in the tool even more… The open character of Twitter stimulating the platform to grow as a messaging platform was once a strong strategy. But that was when Twitter was more of a community and communication tool, nowadays it has become more of a publication platform…

It is easy to make a connection with ChatGPT. You can make the case that the tool is in the same phase of opening up to all makers to create their own new applications or at least find their own applications in an open platform. Not exactly the same, of course, 15 years later, the baseline of use of platform tooling has changed. Nevertheless, we might see a more closed strategy as soon as the business model becomes dominant. I wonder if this timeline from an open platform to a closed system is described in the literature… The first pilot of ChatGPT professional just started.

Events this week

  • I might check out the network Newyear drinks of Amsterdam Trade, who we are in contact with for the MUC AMS Cities of Things field lab
  • On Wednesday there is an event on Action design for urban futures organized by some scholars I know from Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and Technical University Eindhoven
  • Back in the day, I attended Product tank Amsterdam quite regularly. Tonite, there is another meetup (I will miss).
  • London IoT Meetup is also tonite. Next week in London you can visit Design for Planet.
  • Sensemakers AMS is having an Arduino workshop on Wednesday if you are into that.
  • I used to be more connected to the Digital Society School in Amsterdam; this Wednesday, there is a showcase event.
Continue reading Weeknotes 222; GPT-3 as a personal coach

Weeknotes 221; Mundane AI that matter

Hi all! As mentioned last week I am moving the newsletter to a new tool as the former one (Revue) is discontinued from next week, and all data will be lost. I am now extra very happy to have been very consistent in copying the content of my newsletter to my blog. So I have been considering a couple of tools as new email engine, like Emailoctupus, Beehiiv, and Buttondown, and even just using my WordPress blog as email-tool too. In the end I choose for Ghost however. Mainly as it has the best way to make nice bookmarks previews in the email, what is the main part of this weekly newsletter of course.  It is not as good as Revue was for that goal, it misses part of the workflow. But for now it seems to work nicely. Welcome to Ghost!

So I imported the subscription list and so you have received this newsletter via Ghost now at the usual time. I will send out another short one via Revue in case this one ends up in a spam folder. So in case you did not receive this one in your mailbox, you might check your spam folder (or else subscribe :-) )…

So long for the practical stuff. My first week of 2023 was dedicated to working on Structural. We moved to our first dedicated office in Amsterdam West, as mentioned last week, we are settling and occupying the walls by mapping out our language and plans for tooling. I also wrote some 2023 outlooks (see below) and caught up with Wilbert and Marco (as OG Behavior Design AMS team :) ).

2023 predictions

As said, I did my own outlook for 2023 just like every year: Is 2023 prompting new tech relations in AI bubbles?
I am not the only one, of course, still, some predictions are coming in. This week I noticed some: roboticsmicromobility, on breakthrough technologies, and exponential things.

Always present in these outlooks: GPT-3, or variations. And as every week now a lot of tools are dropping. It felt like the start of the AppStore back in 2008…
Some of the AI news of this week is about ChatGPT in your IDE, its impact on note-making – the end of organizing, having a conversation with the (famous) deaths, writing malware, just search different, filling spreadsheets, and many many more… And Apple is finally introducing its mixed reality headset is the rumor now.

Events for the coming week (still slow I think in the new year):

News update: the core of this newsletter: what were the interesting news articles? There was CES still, of course, with lots of new (TV) screens, strange cars (see below), and the introduction of Matter in everything. The Verge has a nice overview. Or listen to the podcast of Stacey Higginbotham to catch up on all that Matter…

Continue reading Weeknotes 221; Mundane AI that matter

Is 2023 prompting new tech relations in AI bubbles?

The new year is a week old now. High time for a traditional look into the year to come. Last year we came out of COVID lockdowns, or were even still in the last legs of it at this time of the year. That impacted our lives also in relation to the surge of tech in our daily life for everything. And then at the end of February, the world was shaken up by a war on this continent (Europe). It impacted the positive mindset and economics; I am not telling anything new. Weirdly enough, the war did not go fully digital but was back to old-fashioned ground war. The intelligence and the communication technology is more key than ever though. In that sense, it is a hybrid war.

I do not want the predictions built around this though. I am afraid it is more likely it will take longer than shorter. Zooming out, there is also some longer shift happening towards a different focus in the world order, especially with China slowly but steadily expanding interests and influence. I doubt we will see any big shifts this year, but it is definitely something to keep in mind. One of the practical impacts is our attitude to data-driven devices and services. TikTok is the most known and highly discussed if regulations are necessary. It requires new thinking for sure, and it is not limited to our social media; also the new wave of cars that have much more sensors create an environment that is listening more than ever. The same is true for all kinds of consumer goods and infrastructures.

Continue reading Is 2023 prompting new tech relations in AI bubbles?

Weeknotes 220; happy new year!

Hi all! First of all, a happy 2023 to you! I just returned from a delayed fireworks event in Amsterdam that was moved to the 2nd of January at 20:23 as last Saturday the weather conditions prohibited fireworks… The advantage was that I was able to see it, and it was worth it. Very nice fireworks but especially the combination with the drones was executed very well. If you want to see the show on a screen, there will be plenty of movies online, I expect. For example.

Also, today we got into our new office in Amsterdam; a nice old school building with lots of light just inside the ring in the western area of Amsterdam. We are especially happy with a huge white wall to start mapping out the sequences (want to know more, let me know). And exploring the impact of some new tool for us…

This is the first post in 23, nr 220 already. I am planning to keep doing this for sure, I like to have a weekly rhythm. However, it has become a bit more night work even since last year. I was not planning for big new year’s resolutions for the newsletter, but it is always nice to think about the format, of course. I will keep that on the todo-list for later.

As mentioned earlier there is a need to change the newsletter tool I am using, as Revue will be discontinued by the new owner of Twitter. Still need to make a choice, need to do that before next week, I will then send the newsletter in the duplex. Will let you know by then.

After the Xmas break I needed to catch up on the news and stuff. I focus on the news articles below. There are not many events planned this week as half of the people are still on a break or doing new year’s drinks.

There are a lot of posts doing year-in-review. Personal or more looking back on changes in tech and/or society. Like StratecheryInterconnectedDesignswarmAlperKottkeNYTSloan. I might make some time to do it this week. Also, revisit the predictions of last year and write some new ones. That might be summarized as: 2022 was the year generative AI became recognized and acknowledged, in 2023 it will show its real impact as a sneak preview and beyond…

The news with the usual mix of robotics, generative AI, and tech impacts.

Continue reading Weeknotes 220; happy new year!

Weeknotes 219; empathy in AI

Hi all! The word is out; Revue will be discontinued by the new Twitter management from 18th January… So I need to relocate this newsletter to another tool. I still need to decide which one. Substack I am already using for the Cities of Things newsletter (which highly needs an update). Or I should follow the advice of Erwin and go for Ghost, which is a bit more expensive, though. Or good old TinyLetter? EmailOctopus we are using now for ThingsCon, a Mailchimp clone. I (re)post this newsletter also always to my blog Targetisnew.com via WordPress, not ideal as newsletter I think though. Anyhow, a nice task for the holiday break. And building a new routine authoring this email…

Speaking on Twitter, I noticed earlier; I am not keeping track of all the rumble around Elon’s Twitter. Changes can be changed tomorrow. All in all, it is a reason to focus more on the Mastodon account; there is a lot more engagement with the posts there now. And the number of users is ramping up fast.

Helpful AI

Just got noticed: I got off the waiting list for the Notion AI helpful writing tool. No time for extended testing before finishing this newsletter will let you know more later. One of the functions is to summarise texts. Like this one of the paper description below: ”We studied autonomous e-commerce delivery vehicles & scenarios in France, with an international perspective. This article outlines their state of practice & potential in regular & exceptional circumstances.”

It is part of the Helpful AI tooling that is popping up everywhere. Matt Webb shared the first prototype of a tool that support meetings with transcribing and more. His reflections on the consequences of 24/7 transcribing all your conversations are worth reading too. How will that change our self-image?


Predictions for 2023, that time of year has started too. Like these:


Continue reading Weeknotes 219; empathy in AI

Weeknotes 218; generative loneliness

Hi all. Writing this newsletter as usual Monday evening/night, collecting interesting reads I missed from the RSS feeds and newsletters and being aware that time is too short to be complete. Which is fine, I guess…

Last week worked on the tooling for Structural most of the time, but we also had our ThingsCon Winter Unconference planned on Friday. It was a very nice event, as we had hoped for. With a small but super engaged crowd, nice semi-planned sessions by participants, fun student projects to explore, an inspiring opening talk, and cozy closing drinks. And on top of this, Dries helped to resurrect my Nabaztag! I can share a bit more next week as we hope the after-movie is ready.

Impression: https://mastodon.social/@iskandr/109484002281512357

Also, last week I caught up with Gert and visited the new initiative of Arjan, and the kick-off of the RAAK research on Human Values for Smarter Cities. Kars shared the latest on his research on designing contestable AI that is an important driver.

This week the event calendar is quite low, running toward the end of the year.

News captures for this week

The wave of new generative ai tools focusing is hard to keep track of, just a few here arttheater playssummary videoslogosreplies, most of them taken from the extensive overviews of BensBites.

There is a real debate on the impact on the realness of text after ChatGPT, not for nothing, someone builds a detector to check the realness… There was a lot of continuing debate on the capabilities vs truth of ChatGPT and how it can fool you easily, especially on topics you are not an expert on. Last week I shared some good articles on this, and more this week. And more.

Continue reading Weeknotes 218; generative loneliness

Weeknotes 217; mediocre computing

Hi all!

This was the week of real generative AI hype. Again, but more widespread than the earlier ones, as it reached the mass media straight away. GPT-3, DallE and now ChatGPT. You could not avoid it.

Not all is positive. Some found easy ways to manipulate to get evilbreak into someone’s house, or bypass filters (examples via The Algorithm newsletter).

The generated answers are striking and look very smart but they can be quite wrong. Ben Thompson wrote a good piece yesterday diving into the problems. It is tricky, especially as it looks so balanced, that you can easily be fooled and see it as trustful. It is what Bruce Sterling discussed in his talk that I covered last week; the AI is missing a touch of understanding concepts. Deterministic vs. Probabilistic as Thompson writes. 

It unlocks tons of little experiments. Ben Tossell has a lot of examples here. I hope that this will help people learn how to deal with AI, how to team up without blind trust… Or listen to the podcast of Benedict Evans. And read about the concept of Mediocre Computing -see below- as a way to relate to these new AI tooling.

I did not run into a lot of events this week some events for this week. Except of course ThingsCon; This Friday we (as in ThingsCon) organize an intimate gathering in unconference style in Rotterdam. There is room for some more attendees, so check you calendars and join us!

Continue reading Weeknotes 217; mediocre computing

Weeknotes 216; reality mapping

Hi all! Hope you have a good week.

I had my official goodbye moment at INFO. Thanks Jann for the nice words and all former colleagues of course too. As tradition it is expected to say some words as leaving employee. So I wrote some things and thought I would have Lex, the generative AI, to complete a part, or, better, give some suggestions. I did not expect it to make a complete description of INFO’s core promises. I did like this framing: Squeezing that in one sentence would be like this: INFO opens up clients, to create the potential for growth, the INFO way…

It triggered me in the rest of the speech writing as intended by the tool. Especially the “INFO opens up clients” I liked as it connects to the mutual relationship INFO like to have with her clients; not only serving the best but also aiming for real partnership.

The next day on Friday, I visited a little symposium in Eindhoven on “AI for All; From the Dark Side to the Light”. Bruce Sterling did a good job showing how the current generative AI is thinking and what its capabilities are. Using a hand as a prompting case, it became clear that these tools do not really understand the concept of a hand but try to create images based on text similarities. Resulting in strange representations of hands. It was not only funny, it made clear that we should not trust too much in these tools, or better said: value them for what they are: “automated statistics”. An excellent way to explore more is to feed the tools with concepts like “the unimaginable, the undreamed-of, etc.

Marleen Stikker addresses some counter AI arguments, or better said, some in awareness of how to appreciate the AI as a decision maker; the AI is not alive, is living without consequences, keep that in mind. “Quantification of nature is a false representation as humans are already contextualising “reality””

In everything, the talks made clear that designing the right collaboration between humans and AI is key (the co-performance). In the latest blog of Tobias Revell the showcases of Dcode project were mentioned, which are a good inspiration for these types of considerations.

For the coming week, these are some possible events on the agenda

And more news bits from last week:

Continue reading Weeknotes 216; reality mapping

Weeknotes 215; AI support

Hi! Good to have you here again this week. This week is a shorter update than last week’s impressions from the generative AI tool design of MidJourney. However, there were again multiple new tools using the potential or promises of generative AI as product features or complete tools. Notion announced AI support with similar capabilities as Lex for help in case of lack of inspiration while writing and combines it with several other existing functions that become more helpful through AI.

Metaphore.systems are claiming to have a new type of search that fits the current way of prompt-based interaction with the machines. Speaking about prompt-writing, more and more support for learning to prompt efficiently is popping up. And Getimg.ai feels really like we are entering a real generative AI hype. You will find some more in the news captures of this week below.

On personal updates next to working on Structural, we also had a session on the Shapes of Thinking project in Museon and were able to visit the lovely exposition in Kunstmuseum on Anni and Josef Albers.

Next to that, we sent out the mailing for ThingsCon Winter Unconference (9 December in Rotterdam, check out more here).

Other events this and next week that might be interesting: AI for All – from the dark side to the light (this Friday, Eindhoven), Immersive Tech Week (next week, Rotterdam), London IoT Meetup (this evening), that’s it what is on my radar now.

The news of last week: with more generative AI, robots, autonomous vehicles, and DeFi, but also some geopolitics.

Continue reading Weeknotes 215; AI support