Weeknotes 126 – robot interactions in 5-minute cities

Last week, it was a mix of preparing for future plans, and having some nice projects presented. The two Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences teams I mentioned before here finished their design projects that dealt with predictive knowledge. The team ‘WePredikt’ added predictive behavior to the Somnox sleep cushion. Team ‘WeConnect’ designed a device to prevent burnouts by creating a kind of a reversed-Tamagotchi. Check their product pages to find out more details; overall I think they did a good job! I will dive into their learnings about adding predictive knowledge soon.

Some time ago, I was invited to a session on the future of mobility in the city by Urban Arrow. The report of the session is published, and I had time to post the main conclusions here.

I also checked some of the program of the Dies Natalis, that I mentioned last week. The theme was Resilient, and they tried to create an interesting online asynchronous experience. It can still be watched here. Always interesting to have new approaches, good input for the program committee for Dutch Digital Day that I am invited for again this year. Keep you posted.

Last week (or a week earlier maybe), a small upgrade to the online meeting setup: I received the OBSBOT camera, a Kickstarter project that I almost forgot that I had backed it. The OBSBOT Tiny is the cheaper camera with the same AI features of following you around and gesture-controlled zooming in and out. The image is entirely white and in the first weeks it works quite well. And it is a nice conversation starter. It is a nice example of how ‘AI’ is used to sell products nowadays and how it enhances products by not only connecting but also adding intelligence.

What else happened last week? Some interesting articles on HRI (Human Robot Interaction), as apparently this type of device, become standard part of CES.

Continue reading Weeknotes 126 – robot interactions in 5-minute cities

Weeknotes 125; on futures for all, and failed predictions

What a week… Especially the events in Washington of course. It overshadows all news moments on vaccines for instance. Are we skipping the roaring twenties for a ‘Kristallnacht’? On the responses by Twitter and Facebook, and all others. I listen to a couple of podcasts that discussed the topics extensively like Dittering and Stratechery, and Sway and Pivot. And there are many more but keeping up with Twitter and talk shows deliver so many opinions that it is sometimes enough. Benedict Evans just sent his newsletter with this take:

“However, the move by Apple and Google to remove Parler from their stores is, I think, much more significant than Facebook and Twitter’s Trump bans, and the move by AWS and Twilio to deny it service is more significant again. There’s a parallel with the moves to cut off Wikileaks, Cloudflare cutting off 8Chan, and more recently Visa and Mastercard’s move against Mindgeek: private companies are free to decide who they do business with, but what if their product is essential or near-essential?”

My initial feeling is of course that we will be better without the hate speech president on Twitter and his followers, but if we zoom out it is the ultimate edge case of a system that is built on wrong drivers that cannot control themselves. I think it is a good step to react now with the bans, but it should be acknowledged that a new form of regulation is necessary. I might have mentioned it before, but my hunch is that the real problem is not the platform for different opinions, the problem is the design of clickbait-stimulating algorithms, the self for-filling prophecy system, etc that is the driver of the problem and should be the first step to stop. Switch all filtering and start designing a new system with the learning of the current state of the systems… But I understand this is hard to accomplish. Maybe keep profiling for advertising and make the platforms responsible for the content of the ads. It is probably not enough but could be a step to try…

Continue reading Weeknotes 125; on futures for all, and failed predictions

Weeknotes 124; dispersing into the new year

Happy new year! Maybe not the most cheerful year-turning ever. The turn of the year will not end the tough pandemic-winter period, and however, the vaccines offer some hope for the future, it will take some time to fully play out the new future… Nevertheless: happy new year.

It is a moment for reflection and making plans. One of the things I try to do every year is gathering some trends and trains of thought in the coming year. Check the post on my blog on the filtered reality and the popping of bubbles.

Last week I had a holiday break. I did some work on the plans for 2021 and ThingsCon administration, video-editing, and after-movie planning, but managed to keep tasks open for the new year too… ;)

Looking ahead: this week is about catching up with the students doing research, graduation projects, and selecting new projects (there are too many applying for projects now, which is nice, of course…), and looking into possible new educational links with Cities of Things at TU Delft.

No events yet this week on my list. Normally there are numerous new year drinks planned, some will be online, but it makes a lot of sense to skip them.

Continue reading Weeknotes 124; dispersing into the new year

Weeknotes 123; the year of the (digital) avatar

A short and quick weeknotes as I am a bit in a holiday mode as everyone. Last week, we had some ThingsCon after, but mainly it was about catching up with the other work. Having updates with the graduation students and speaking to students that like to do new projects. Good to see more students find their way than we can cater to the Cities of Things Lab. 

Making plans for 2021 more concrete was another thing. I might be updating more on that later. 

Also, as you do in these times for holidays start; three sessions to end the year. With INFO’s colleagues, including a ‘Secret Sinta’ celebration, with TU Delft IDE with some quizzes and with the Connected Everyday Lab.

Ok. let’s check on the news of last week…

Continue reading Weeknotes 123; the year of the (digital) avatar

Weeknotes 122; smooth human robot interactions

Thanks for the plug, Frank! I was pleasantly surprised by the recommendation by Frank Meeuwsen in his Cappuccino series (code 323304). Check it out for more tips. And thanks for subscribing to new subscribers.

It was a pity I did not publish last week as I was too busy with organizing ThingsCon. But let’s make it up this week, I hope. 

Speaking of ThingsCon, it was a great week. We choose to create a different format than just rebuilding the regular online conference in two online days. We wanted to cater to an event feeling that we noticed with ourselves; you hop in and out sessions, and sessions are often second in attention space. So we created a program that could be consumed per session more than as a whole conference. We realized that it would be hard to have the same feeling of community as we usually have. I think, however, that we did manage to have a bit of that anyhow. 

We also experimented with a couple of new formats and repeated others that we tried out earlier in Salons. The Make & Remix day worked very well. The workshops in the morning and the active remixing of your creation was very lovely. I participated actively in the Smartibot session, and we had great fun. I think the others did too.

Saskia Dörr on Twitter: “Heute beim #Thingsfest meinem ersten fernsteuerbaren Smartibot gebaut 💪 😅- viel gelernt und Spaß gehabt! Danke an @rossatkin und @thingscon #Making #GoodThings”

The Talent day was also very energetic. The mix of masterclasses, topical sessions, and the exhibition worked. And we had an evening with a real ceremony and especially the band intermezzo is something to keep. The hand-out of prizes is a bit strange; you miss a bit of the moment of handing out cheques.

Continue reading Weeknotes 122; smooth human robot interactions

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!

This newsletter is weekly sent to subscribers via Getrevue.

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