Weeknotes 221; Mundane AI that matter

“Mundane AI that matter”, acc MidJourney

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

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…


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