Weeknotes 121; a model for AI collaboration

These weeks running into ThingsCon annual event are busier than expected, although I probably would have written this down last year too… In the end I did not have the time I usually have to browse the news and with a day of meeting decided me to skip last weeks edition.We are looking forward to a very nice edition. Rather different than last year for certain, as an online experience. But we think we made a program in good style of ThingsCon I think. Well, check out our full program here: goodthingsfest.org/program

Next to the overall organization I am active involved in the sessions on Trust Toolkit for AIwalk and talk on creating physical audio spaces, and, no surprises, the session on living with intelligent things. And the student program will be very nice too, come and see the exposition on Tuesday afternoon.

It is meant to pick a couple of sessions in the week and at Friday we have a more plenary feeling with talks accessible for all registered (more than 200 already). 

Continue reading Weeknotes 121; a model for AI collaboration

Weeknotes 120; the automating society

Almost without noticing whole days become zoom-days (aka Whereby, BBB, Teams), slurping time from writing these weeknotes among others…But I don’t complain. I will keep the update itself a bit shorter as I think I saw some interesting articles pass by that I captured in my Instapaper for reviewing for this newsletter.

It was a nice week for building on the ThingsCon annual conference. The program is now really coming together, and I’m happy sessions are getting real shape. See the program page on our website, and especially check the latest edition of a walk and talk session, listen instead of watch the speakers, and emerge the topic of shaping physical audio experiences together with a nice stroll in your own neighborhood… Happy to have experienced podcast maker Sam Warnaars doing the interviews, and we have made a nice list of speakers to invite. We also opened registrations for the workshops on Monday that has a limited capacity, so don’t wait if you are into making!

Speaking of podcasts; we are planning one for ThingsCon too, interviewing the contributors to the RIOT publication. Dries invited me to write a piece with him so we taped a podcast too, published somewhere in the coming months.I also mentioned that I was looking forward to another interesting AiTech Agora lunch presentation, and it was indeed insightful. I did not make notes but luckily the sessions are recorded and accessible for everyone to check via this youtube-channel (although the one of last week is not yet uploaded).

Continue reading Weeknotes 120; the automating society

Weeknotes 119; the ethics of predictive technology

That was not a bad week for geopolitics, I would say. Still, a very close call what was nerve recking and weird to see. But when I watched Biden and Harris Saturday night’s winning speech and it even more kicked in than before, this will be a turning point. Still curious to see what will happen in the coming two months, but it could have been lots worse. And I follow the analysts that predict this is not a guaranteed end to a populistic politics shift…

Nemesis | The DOOM! Report

And how will it influence tech? Expect there will be written a lot more about that. Benedict Evans wrote in his newsletter on the impact on visas, TikTok, privacy and content moderation, anti-trust, and the blaming of Facebook. So positive energy, international mindset, all ingredients for more innovative feeling. And more social as the rule of business as zero-sum-game is broken. A focus on the collective for reaching goals instead of the individual is popping up in more places, as I mentioned a couple of weeks back.With all the politics, the ‘normal’ news seems a bit lower. Or I missed it, of course while distracted…

When Does Predictive Technology Become Unethical?

I missed this one before. Very related to the research in Delft on predictive relations. It is interesting to see that predictive systems become more and more part of tech discours. Today I was part of discussion on so called positive energy districts and raising the question about the role of collaborations with predictive systems did trigger valuable discussions.

The Batteries of the Future Are Weightless and Invisible

Once in a while there is news on the future of batteries, one of the most defining parts of our experiences with the devices we use nowadays…“There’s a renaissance underway in structural battery research, which aims to build energy storage into the very devices and vehicles they power.”

Wynn Las Vegas introduces fashion robot dog

The use of Spot robot-doggy becomes crazier every week… This variation is “a robotic, fashion-forward dog.”

This week, I’m looking forward to an Aitech session with Jens Kober on robots learning through interactions. And I will have quite some meetings on detailing of sessions for ThingsCon’s event. Together with Dries De Roeck, I wrote a piece on ludicrous IoT for RIOT publication of this year, and we do an interview for the soon to launch linked podcast series. I’m curious to see what Apple Silicon will bring, and I might buy myself a blue 12 mini as a birthday gift… Let you know next week!

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Weeknotes 118

November has started. An even more exciting Month than usual with the special happening in the US, of course. I’m not going to speculate on the outcomes and aftermaths as there are other channels for that. I can say that I am not expecting a smooth transition, and hopefully, the culmination of dividing forces will not come to a dramatic clash…

That said, let’s have a quick look back at last week. I did not visit many public events that deserve reporting. The digital twin webinar of Digital Society School was interesting; however, technical hick-ups made me miss most of it. I will try to look back later. The program is rather relevant.

I gave a masterclass new interfaces for a course Media Perspectives is organizing, and it was moved to digital space at the last notice, which changed the dynamics, of course, a lot. But with the use of Miro and a quite straightforward workshop we there was good energy and discussions. The workshop’s set-up in three rounds in break-out groups, with the groups building on each-others work, proved an excellent energizer again.

Let me mention ThingsCon preparations again. We are shaping the program more and more, and we are really looking forward to the different activities. We also filled in the Friday program a bit more. Check out the page if you didn’t before, and don’t wait too long register. For the logistics of planning workshops and sending special badges, we set the final day for registration on November 15. Spread the word!

Continue reading Weeknotes 118

Weeknotes 117; blurring digital and physical experiences

Last week was the week of DDW. This year also completely online. As I mentioned last week, they managed also in this format to create an overwhelming feeling with lots of different programs. I have been following only a couple of them (partly). CLICKNL DRIVE, Design United’s Upclose & Personal, Embassy of Health with Waag, and Manifestations. All good experiences. Without going into the details, one theme that returned in multiple fashions was the attention for the collective versus the individual interest. At DRIVE on Monday it was mentioned specifically as a response to the opening presented projects that still focused on the ‘traditional’ user centered design. Especially with mobility it deserves to have attention for the impact on societal levels and this should be a starting point, not an after thought. It came back at a couple of other sessions too, the most clearly in the health session on Thursday where the Coronamelder-app was one of the topics. The tension between an app that serves the individual in providing a ‘passport’ for acting in society, versus a collective goal to contribute locating the spread of the virus, which was the original setup.

We organised another round in our ThingsCon Salon series on Trust in Design and had a nice group of participants to discuss the cases. We had some nice pointers to take to the next session where we will discuss the toolkit.Ok, let’s dive into some of the news of last week. Let me give shout out (again) to Patrick Tanguay’s newsletter Sentiers, as I could have included almost all of it here…

Continue reading Weeknotes 117; blurring digital and physical experiences

Weeknotes 116; on technology assistants, ambient reassurance

My planning was a bit messed up, whole of Monday in sessions, meetings, and transit. So a bit delayed.

Dutch Design Week has started. The program is smaller and only online of course, but still, they managed to make me confused about what is happening when and where. I hope that is on purpose. On Monday I visited my first hybrid event, CLICKNL Drive. And I missed another, Upclose & Personal by Design United. Both tips for the rest of the week, every day another theme.

CLICKNL Drive was well produced, as these days events are happening: it is more of a TV-show than an event. I liked how the people in the room and the people at home blended in, also the speakers were mixed online and on location. The topic of the Monday session was mobility. Good discussion in the second part on the real issues to discuss: what is the end goal of mobility solutions: the best for individual travelers or start with aiming for a just society. I feel a lot like the latter.

Next to the DDW events, I might have a look at a conference called Curbivore on a new framing; curb commerce. Wondering if this is a typical US phenomenon.

We also discuss Trust by Design in ThingsCon Miro-session on Thursday. And we announce our annual event program and have opened registration: Good Things Fest, 7-11 December!

Some interesting news items last week on AI, our relation to technology assistants, and ambient reassurance, and there was an Apple event.

Continue reading Weeknotes 116; on technology assistants, ambient reassurance

Week 115 – robot stories, conversations and more


I will be experimenting with the format of this newsletter a bit. In this introduction I limit myself to an introduction, and dive into the collected news items right away. Impressions from last week are mixed in.

Like every week, I collect some robot-stories. In the broadest sense of the word: automated processes to human-like robots. This week the focus is on the enhanced products and industrial processes.

Also on the relations – or better – conversations, we will have. How to design these? Also interesting to combine this with the insights on social sidetones to add in the conversation mix too. And how will this find its place when we will have telepresence devices. Combine this with the disconnection of reality and zoomed-faces and brainlike computers. A deep reflection in the essay on magic and the machine seems to be the right round up.

Next to this, some more practical and physical installments. Printed wifi is very interesting. The Samsonite meets Project Jacquard feels like missed opportunities. Will Apple be able to create the right mixed reality?

To end this week’s round up; two fun projects; a strange vehicle and weird building.

Continue reading Week 115 – robot stories, conversations and more

Weeknotes 114; on future, AI, Amazon. And robots.

Hi all. A couple of weeks’ silence in the weekly updates. I was on vacation as mentioned and last week was the first week back. Right on Monday, we did a session with the team of ThingsCon at NGI Policy Summit to discuss our learnings from 6 years of building a community and organizing events around the critical making of IoT. It was a nice discussion but we found it hard to get into a real discussion with the participants; the Hopin-platform creates a kind of distance between the panelists and the audience I think. A good learning (read also the latest newsletter of Peter Bihr).

Tuesday was dedicated to two graduation ceremonies of students at TU Delft I supervised. Congrats Siddharth and Xueyao! I will update the website of Cities of Things later with some insights.

Also nice to meet the two teams of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences who are going to look into the design of things that predict.

On Thursday Friday I was able to follow a couple of sessions at The Next Web conference, also online this year of course. I liked the talk by Ben Hammersley and Genevieve Bell. Also here Hopin was used, it is a kind of standard tool now. It offers the basics quite well but I am not convinced of the engaging part. It is one of the discussion topics we have with the ThingsCon team in planning our December event. Nice to find all the ideas!

And I picked up the news again. Technews that is, related to the topics I focus on mainly. It is hard not to be distracted by all the dark world news floating around of course…

Continue reading Weeknotes 114; on future, AI, Amazon. And robots.

Weeknotes 112; on the human-nonhuman partnerships, the fuel of AI, and living in rural clouds

Summer is over so it seems… September sounds at least quite different always.

Let me start this week to congratulate David Valentine with his graduation titled ‘Design for Calibrated Trust for Acceptance of Autonomous Vehicles’ with cum laud. His research into trust in relation to autonomous vehicles is very insightful, and the toolkit is potentially supporting the design teams of this new category of objects. The project is part of the Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

I also attended the PhD Defense of Péter Kun ‘Design Inquiry through Data’ which presents an interesting framework for those that are interested how data and machine learning become part of design practice.

Also last week we had a successful ThingsCon workshop we organized together with Lorna Goulden of IoT Eindhoven on ‘Don’t Be Evil – Building Trustable and Responsible Technology Business. We had an interesting group of participants, Miro worked very well as collaborative tool, and we are definitely planning to continue towards a definition of possible tools to support for instance tranparency and accountability.

The coming week is the final week before I will be off for a couple of weeks of vacation, so I’m planning ahead for some new projects starting with students as part of the research into Things That Predict and Cities of Intelligent Things, and the ThingsCon Salon in The Hague and NGI session. (latter not yet on the website).

Also looking forward to participate in a workshop on Designerly HRI (Human Robot Interface) as part of Ro-man 2020 conference. My contribution is about the potential role of predictive knowledge in the relation with robots.

More on human-nonhuman partnership in the news last week. And more AI. But let start with some quantum philosophy.

Continue reading Weeknotes 112; on the human-nonhuman partnerships, the fuel of AI, and living in rural clouds

Weeknotes 111 – on Robophilosophy, augmented life and tech impact.

What happened last week? It was quiet with the graduation students, one is finalizing for graduation this week, another is planning for a green-light this week, two others are have these moment is end of September. I will update the DDL Cities of Things website soon as a project finishes.

Furthermore, we have been planning three ThingsCon events, one happening this week (Don’t be Evil workshop), the other is a Salon in The Hague, and we will also do a session at NGI Policy Summit end of September.

Last thing to mention is the Robophilosophy conference organized by Aarhus University. Interesting to see how they solved the online conference experience. A mixture of live presentations and discussions, and pre-recorded talks. The talks were – as usual with academic conferences – linked to the accepted papers in the program. The discussion sessions tried to combine papers in themes like Design, Moral Robots, Ethics, etc. These sessions were very formatted with strict time-limits for the speakers. That was good to prevent long winding answers, but on the other hand, it did prevent a real discussion to happen IMHO.

I did not have time to follow all sessions. I liked the session of Aimee Van Wynsberghe, John Danaher, Selma Sabanovic. The latter stressed how robots are a means for humans to communicate, and you can in that sense use robots for building communities. Aimee introduced the notion of reciprocity in the interaction with robots, as mean to create social systems. Design for reciprocity should be part of design for HRI (Human-Robot Interactions). I was wondering how this relates to the notion of co-performance that Kuijer and Giaccardi described. I think there is an interesting different approach to look into: with co-performance there is a mutual goal.

Danaher did a good final presentation as he dived into the question how social robots change our values. I don’t have the answer yet. Danaher sketched the roles of robots in relation to agency: from tools (negative agency) to supervised (low agency), interdependent (high agency) and reflective (moral agency). I might need to chew a bit more on this.

In the news I share here I have always some robotics topics, every week new instances of robot companions are introduced so it seems, gradually but surely taking a place in our lives…

Continue reading Weeknotes 111 – on Robophilosophy, augmented life and tech impact.