Weeknotes 214; the invisible present

Hi! A crypto crash, a democratic uptake, climate hell, twitter meltdown, one of those weeks…

Updates from last week

Last week we had a good week with Structural meeting with our first user and having conversations with two others. The students at Rotterdam UAS working on another iteration of the Wijkbot made some serious steps to make it more autonomous.

We found a location for the ThingsCon Winter Unconference 2022 and sent out our first mailing. Check it out if you like to join us on 9 December 13:00-20:00!

I listened to the interview by Ben Thompson with MidJourney founder David Holz, and shared how inspiring it was on Mattermost (ok, also on Twitter), and got a remark that it was a pity it was behind a paywall. So let me share some of my impressions here.

“In the end, the best way of knowing is starting by consciously not-knowing.” Ben Thompson is summarising his interview with David Holz, founder of MidJourney, one of the generative AI tools that use the techniques that DallE has become famous for. I really liked the interview. It is only accessible to members of Stratechery, but let me share some of the nice insights.

The tool of MidJourney has its own style of images with a certain dreamy feel to it that is different from DallE and Dreamstudio, although the latter can produce similar images. What I found most interesting to hear are the choices they made in developing the tool to stimulate imagining, the prompt they literally use in the tool. The tool is built in Discord as a chatbot that you can ask to imagine your imagery. It does not try to be a human though, as often is done with bots. It is honest as a tool. But the whole setup is creating that the tool is mixing human and machine creativity in an exploring generative way. As a first-time user, you land in a newbie channel to find out the tricks and learn from other newbies. Being aware of all other art that is generated remains a part of the experience. You can see what others imagine, what prompts they use, and what results they deliver. This is a rich way of learning.

Another aspect they carefully designed is the waiting time for images to build up. It is a benefit to have it built up not all at once, but seeing it come together, makes you understand even more how it generates your imagination.

David says that he aims to build new human infrastructure as “the world’s going to need a lot of new things, and we need infrastructure to build new things”. It connects a lot to the concept of co-performance I have mentioned here before and written about here. AI is not a dumb tool for humans, it is a partner in exploring shared goals. Generative AI is the most direct form of that concept, the most transparent to use that word.

“a lot of people who want to make the icon for the chatbot a little robot. And I was like, “Absolutely not. This is not a robot. You are not working with a robot. It’s a vehicle. We put a little sailboat on there.”

Mid-journey is telling: “There’s no conversation between you and the computer, but then there is a conversation between you and other people.”

David shared more on his way of developing the tool, and now into V4, which is a big release. “Version four is in a weird place right now where we’re still using some of the data from the older versions to kind of define the look, but the system itself is so different. It really should have a new look of its own.” It is not marketed widely as there will be stress on GPUs if the growth is too rapid; the GPU crunch. They are one of the largest GPU users in the world now. An image is now generated balancing GPUs from eight different regions from all over the world.

There was a lot more in the interview, but I found the conversation on building a generative AI tool most interesting. In this weekly update Ben Thompson shared some parts too and is accessible without a subscription.

Events of interest

Ok, a short list of events that might be interesting.

  • We visited Glow this weekend in Eindhoven. If you are into light art is always nice. I am not sure, but I think the number of good work vs. average was a bit lower this year, but still, there is enough to see.
  • We were not able to visit the Evoluon, but next week there is an event that I hope to attend.
  • That Smart City Expo conference is happening now in Barcelona; in case you work at a city on smartness or are a vendor that something has to sell to cities 🙂
  • Sensemakers is doing a workshop on 3D printing and laser cutting this Wednesday.
  • Today you can still (remotely) visit a symposium Humans at the Centre of HRI.
  • Immersive Tech Week is approaching; in Rotterdam.
  • And as said, 9 December we are organizing ThingsCon Winter Unconference

Captured news

Let’s look at the interesting news articles of last week dealing with human-machine interactions, responsible tech, autonomous systems, and generative intelligence.

In general, I like to share the blog of Matt Webb – Interconnected. This past week again, two articles worth reading I think.

Continue reading Weeknotes 214; the invisible present

Weeknotes 213; silly web3 products

Hi all. This newsletter might be a bit shorter than usual as some deadlines exist. I think I captured enough news items to make a complete newsletter, though.

And more, in general, there is a lot to do on the Twitter saga, of course. Many people are moving towards Mastodon to try out if that can be a replacement. I made my account there back in 2016 but did not use it a lot, to be honest, in the last years. But I am also giving it a new chance. It is nice to start fresh with a clean sheet but that is also the drawback of course. Not all people that I follow on Twitter posting interesting news are moved (yet) so for now, it remains two parallel channels for me. It also is not always possible to check other’s list of following people; a way to find new people to follow, depending on the server they are on. If you want to find me, my address is @iskandr@mastodon.social

Also, a possible fall-out of Postmusk Twitter is the shutting down of Revue, the tool I use for publishing this newsletter. It is still a rumor I think but repeated quite often. I guess it will be announced in advance; I am considering what possible alternatives are. Substack, Tinymail, etc.

Anyway, on to the newsletter…

Announcement

The Arch Linux developers published an announcement about the end of 32-bit support. On Feb 29, 2020, they will stop providing 32-bit bootstrap ISOs, the archive will not contain 32-bit packages anymore and the official wiki and forums will be

Hmm. You might find this an odd paragraph, and I agree. I got access to the new AI writing tool Lex. They promise to inspire you as soon as you get stuck with writing. So I thought, let’s try here. It produced the Italic part. Not sure if this is an inspiration that makes sense :-) On the other hand, maybe it had figured me out that I needed a weird example to beef up the newsletter…

So, anyway, on to the event calendar for the coming week.

  • I totally missed last week that IoT 2022 Conference was starting this week in Delft at this very moment. I announced it months ago when it requested papers. It is an academic conference focusing more on technical aspects, but you can still check it out. Otherwise, you might find some interesting papers.
  • Mentioned earlier: Design for Planet Festival (in London)
  • The Hmm (in Amsterdam)

And not for the coming week, but let me announce it here: we are planning a ThingsCon unconference on 9 December in Rotterdam. We will start sending out more information later this week. You can keep an eye on the website.

The news of last week

Bits of generative ai, robots, political star wars, and silly Web3 products.

Continue reading Weeknotes 213; silly web3 products

Weeknotes 211; intergalactic generative ai

Hi! What about last week? Been busy developing the new tooling and beyond. Takes all the time and attention. I visited 15 years of IxDA, though, which was a nice rendezvous of UX friends. And I watched another nice talk by James Bridle on crabs, and a small documentary on autonomous hardware I missed earlier.

For this week’s presence at DDW we composed a webpage on the new WijkBot Kit that is part of the Rotterdam project on Cities of Things. Check it out, and also visit the exhibition if you are in Eindhoven this week.

Yesterday I also attended the session on MUC AMS collaboration and had a short visit to the Klokgebouw. Next to the exhibition with WijkBot, there was the DesignUnited one on a more-than-human design called Transitions.

I might pay a short visit to DRIVE this Friday if there is time, became a yearly tradition. If I have time on the weekend, I will do another day and will check out Manifestations and Retro Future in the newly opened Evoluon.

Other events this week: demonstration of Responsible Sensing Lab at Marineterrein this Thursday afternoon. The Metaverse cha-cha-cha dance party by The Hmm and Affect Lab Thursday evening, and AI for Good #2 next Monday evening.

On with the news captured last week. Generative AI is getting hotter than hot… But also robotic garments and tokenomics. And DDW impressions.

Continue reading Weeknotes 211; intergalactic generative ai

Weeknotes 210; hyperautomation

Hi all. Happy new week! What about last the last one? There was something with Meta for sure. A PR show for the VR activities and a new headset. It got a lot of attention. My impression is that it might have the potential for specific cases but is still an immature product to use comfortably.

I paid a short visit to the Society 5.0 festival. In a nice session on “A short history of the architectures of trust” Edwin Gardner made a nice overview of different era’s from 1450 till the further future. From the Spoken World to the Printed World to the Activated World. And of course the framings of Web1, 2, and 3. He defined the public sphere as an architecture of trust and how we should build trust in the electric age. Find more in his blog/newsletter.

On Friday, I attended Design 4 AI and was able to visit two talks live and a very nice workshop on prompt engineering with Dreamstudio, build on Stable Diffusion. Both talks focused on the role of AI in relation to human activities. Elisabeth Churchill, director of UX at Google, discussed how we are designing the illusion of intelligence and should design the right collaboration and assistance. She promoted a kind of trickle-up design, design for the smallest possible change that can impact on a high level.

Matt Jones introduced metaphors of optometrists, ritual use of machines, centaurs, Octopi, and Rubber ducks to discuss a different form of AI: personal AI, which is humble and owned by you.

I hope the talks will be published online.

For this and the following week, these might be interesting events:

And an overview of the news and articles of last week:

Continue reading Weeknotes 210; hyperautomation

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)

Weeknotes 208; meta acting humanoids

Hi all! Happy animal day! Is that an international thing? I think so. No animals around to treat here, though…

To start with some personal news: this is the first newsletter I send out working at Structural. I have been doing some advising work the last months, so mentioned them before; we decided it would make sense to go full-time. That ends a long affiliation with INFO

For the record, I will continue to work on a couple of projects for Cities of Things Foundation. And plan to keep organizing ThingsCon events. But I am looking forward to putting the focus on the development of Structural.

What is Structural all about? In short, it is a new kind of analysis and design for infrastructures and services. We are helping design Beautiful Contracts, that are mutually beneficial and collectively good. A new way of looking at promises and counter promises. The analyses are based on a language developed by Majid Iqbal and detailed over the past years, now further developed with a young and fresh international team. I am really looking forward to helping to bring this further, create the right tooling and contribute to improving the services of organizations.

To conclude, I think the way of thinking and approach is very applicable to the complex society we live in and the shift from platform economy to protocol economy, prompt-based interactions. It fits in that sense very well my interests in human-technology interactions that this newsletter is about for years.

More from last week

I did attend the panel on Designing the future with Applied Sci-Fi, with potential very good speakers. There were a bit too many sections with too many speakers in too little time to dive deep. Bruce Sterling stressed that Design fiction is designed more than science fiction if it is done well. Anab Jain was indicating how the tools are shaping us, and design fiction can be dangerous even as it creates a mindset that might be partly responsible for the mess we are in now.

CliFi was a new framing and responsible SciFi. Solar punk FTW, Julian Bleecker mentioned.

Alex MacDowell on the practice, future world building for movies. Designers should ignore the scripts. The relationship with clients is something to deal with consciously Radha Misty mentioned as clients can be afraid for the future.

Negative options are more appealing to adopt, which can skew the future reality.

Julian is in favor of creating objects for the future as this makes you better think about the deeper choices. The design fiction is not the deliverable; the conversations about that fiction are.

You can watch the panel here.

Some events for this and next week:

Continue reading Weeknotes 208; meta acting humanoids

Weeknotes 207; chips with everything

Hi all! Already a week past since the vacation. Busy catching up with the Cities of Things field labs in Rotterdam, where we tested a rough conversational robot kit for the Afrikaandermarkt, and the Munich Amsterdam plans, where we presented the attentive neighborhood community hub for the Circular Society Forum. Next to that, rounding up a research report into web3 from a different lens. And preparing for a new role, I will tell more next week, I think.

Let’s quickly dive into the news of last week and some potential interesting events. The season has started, and a lot is organized again, I notice. Last week I attended the online PRIMER22 conference. Or at least I tried, but due to the time difference, I was able to catch a few talks. A pity Hopin as a conference tool makes you feel very distant always.

For this and next week, these events might be interesting:

And some of the news I noticed last week.

Can Society Learn From the Mistakes of Futurism?
FUTURISM – I would say yes. It should learn even, doing futurism is meant to make mistakes and learn. “The next few decades showed that futurism is harder than it looks. Technological changes may seem inevitable, but they often come down to one person making an arbitrary choice.”www.wired.com  •  Share
Nvidia says falling GPU prices are a story of the past 
TECH – It seems that Moore’s Law is under pressure not for technology reasons but for the rising costs making it economically not viable to keep up with the pace. www.digitaltrends.com  •  Share
Upset by high prices, GM’s Cruise develops its own chips for self-driving cars 
CHIPS WITH EVERYTHING – Speaking on Moore’s law in context of Nvidias plans, this is another development to take notice. Like Apple and others chips are developed for specific applications. The future?“General Motors’ autonomous driving unit Cruise has developed its own chips for self-driving cars to be deployed by 2025, as they aim to bring down costs and scale up volume, executives said Tuesday.”www.reuters.com  •  Share
Is AI Art a ‘Toy’ or a ‘Weapon’? 
PROMPTING – “A prolific AI artist shares his perspective on the controversial medium.”www.theatlantic.com  •  Share
The creator economy: a power law
ECONOMICS – Next to the protocol economy, we have the creator economy as a contextual backdrop for Web3 technologies and new organizational principles. It seems.“Where does power really lie in the creator economy value chain, and which are the most attractive market segments?”www.mosaicventures.com  •  Share
Stephen’s Web ~ Becoming an AI-fueled organization 
INTELLIGENCE – AI is already there… “”In fact, more than a quarter of our survey respondents have reached full-scale deployment of five or more types of AI applications within their organization,” report the authors.“www.downes.ca  •  Share
RADAR FUTURES REPORT – A FUTURE IN SYNC
FUTURING – A DAO as publication or vice versa… “These days, it’s hard to feel like we’re on the same page: with each other, with the world around us, even with ourselves. In response, it feels like we’re seeking the solid ground of synchrony: reaching out to the collective, reaching back to our roots, and reconsidering our relationship with space and time to find our footing yet again. Exploring these ideas, what sits behind them, and what kind of future trajectories they inspire will be the basis for RADAR’s first Futures Report.”futureinsync.radardao.xyz  •  Share
Expanding access to the future of work with crypto payouts
CRYPTO – The valuation of crypto is changing, up and down. New regulations by the US government might change the landscape, will there be a recognized digital currency after all based on the blockchain principles. Payment providers will need to take a stand so it seems: “Stripe now reaches a majority of the globe: 4.4 billion people in more than 110 countries can receive funds in local currencies or crypto.”stripe.com  •  Share
The Pathologies of the Attention Economy 
ATTENTIONING – Exploring aspects of the still very happening attention economy with Citton’s Ecology of Attention: “This analysis should at least encourage us to ask new questions about our own struggles with attention and distraction.”theconvivialsociety.substack.com  •  Share
Daring Fireball: Apple Watch Ultra
DEVICES – Listening to a conversation of Ben Thompson and John Gruber in their podcast Dithering (paid plan), I realized that the new Ultra Watch seems to bring the new phoneless world more near. Together with the new AirPod Pro that is beefed up with more computing power the role of the phone is loosing its communication functions, the glass slab is purely consuming visual communication (a lot still). I wrote a piece on this when the first Airpod was introduced as the likely future. It still is on that trajectory.daringfireball.net  •  Share
Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) Review: A New Standard 
HUMANE TECH – What will happen with tech becoming like the Airpods have achieved now? It impacts communication habits for sure.www.wired.com  •  Share
Can smart mobility hubs be a game changer if you ignore their city logistics role? 
HUBS – Hubs are more than parking places for mobility solutions “Mobility hubs can play a role in service- and construction logistics (including storage of goods), microhubs for cargobike companies, companies offering zero-emission light electric freight vehicles, and more.”www.citylogistics.info  •  Share
Radar Trends to Watch: September 2022 – O’Reilly
INTELLIGENCE – Check if you missed anything.www.oreilly.com  •  Share
Daniel Eckler 👨‍🚀 on Twitter: “Stable Diffusion is only 30 days old… a MEGA THREAD 🧵 on its rapid rise.” 
DIFFUSIONS – Great thread with examples of the newest kid on the AI generated images block, Stable Diffusion, now video…twitter.com  •  Share
de lichtkogel.nl
CITIES – In Dutch: I contributed to the editor board of this publication on a bike-friendly city by the Ministry of Infrastructure.delichtkogel.nl  •  Share

Paper for this week

To stay a bit in the Web3 space. Back in 2014, Vitalik Buterin wrote a defining blog on Distributed Autonomous Organisations, one of the core components of Web3 technologies. This year he is one of the authors of a reflective paper on the state of a decentralized society: Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul. Judge for yourself if it is ‘saving’ the Web3 movement from the investment angle…

In this paper, we illustrate how non-transferable “soulbound” tokens (SBTs) representing the commitments, credentials, and affiliations of “Souls” can encode the trust networks of the real economy to establish provenance and reputation. More importantly, SBTs enable other applications of increasing ambition, such as community wallet recovery, sybil-resistant governance, mechanisms for decentralization, and novel markets with decomposable, shared rights.

Weyl, Eric Glen and Ohlhaver, Puja and Buterin, Vitalik, Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul (May 10, 2022). http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4105763

This post was sent as newsletter via Getrevue.

Weeknotes 206; prompt galore

Hi all! I’m back from my vacation, so it is high time to send out the newsletter again. I still need to catch up with all the emails, so this edition might be a bit shorter, but good to get into the rhythm again.

The big news was all about the Ethereum merge to proof of stakeTikTok is copying BeReal. And, of course, Figma was bought by Adobe. For 20 billion…

Also getting even hotter: prompt engineering (or designing, authoring, different terms for the same): it is the favorite narrative with future thinkers, including myself :) More than a frame to deal with the uncertainty the new AI tooling is unlocking, and more than a new fancy new job, it unlocks new aesthetics as James Bridle mentioned years ago, it defines new relations we have with technology. A bit of hype is ok for now. So check the Promptbase and keep your eye on the meetup for Prompt Engineers. And better, follow (the discord-communities of) smart thinkers such as oio studio and Near Future Laboratory.

Events to check for this week:

I did not have the time to catch up with all sources. Expect a bit less robots for that reason. Nevertheless, I found some quick findings in the core sources of my news consumption. Happy to see that two of them are also covered in its highly valued newsletter of Patrick :-) Recommended it before.

And thanks, Peet, for the shout-out in the podcast!

Continue reading Weeknotes 206; prompt galore

Weeknotes 205; AI art and human AI

Hi all. A short update. Vacations are running to an end, but the events are not back yet. Personal activities are rather comparable to last week, working on helping the startup and the research paper on Web3.

I had a short and pleasant conversation with Julian Bleecker, and one of the topics was the new role that will emerge of a prompt engineer. Like being an expert in entering the right search queries to make interesting Dall-E 2 images. Two weeks ago it passed this newsletter connected to a different story. It will be a super important role indeed, and it will be a core interaction concept in many digital tools and services of the coming time, I expect.

So things are starting up again slowly with events. I considered this event this Wednesday ‘Hoe intelligent is AI’ (in Dutch). And if you are in London, definitely check out Interesting next week. And dContstruct of course as I mentioned before. In case you are planning to go to the Service Design Days in Barcelona in September, don’t forget to attend the workshop by Structural

Continue reading Weeknotes 205; AI art and human AI

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.

Continue reading Weeknotes 204; cognizant machines