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Target_is_New - Issue #135

Hi all!
Last week was packed with external events. I was a bit disappointed not being able to follow a lot of Mozfest. I attended two sessions last week in the end. The program looked very interesting but also overwhelming and a challenge to make the right choice.
That is typical also the case with SXSW. Last year it was canceled on late notice, this year it was fully online. With a huge amount of sessions to chose from but also with some flaws.
Reflections on SXSW
Looking back at the online version of SXSW, I concluded that it was quite a different edition that missed a lot of the energy and inspiration you normally have, being away from home, in a giant bubble of people making the stuff you use, with random meetings, etc. It was a pity that the setup of the platform did not manage to have only a bit of the special community feeling in the system. It was a straightforward set of live and on-demand talks. The on-demand one stays even online till half of April so the need for the rush is not there at all.
I was invited to contribute to a Dutch group blog and that created a sense of urgency to follow it last week and share impressions. I wrote three posts (all in Dutch), the first on the trends presentation of Amy Webb, the second on a combination of talks reflecting on Chinese and Western design culture, and the last one an overall reflection with a short overview of a couple of talks.
People tend to ask what you have learned from the conference when you are back. This time I found that harder than ever. It is not about one big trend, but often it is about a set of weak signals, combined with confirmations of developments you were watching already. The last time I was in Austin in 2019 it was already very prominent that inclusivity and ethics should play a role in thinking about tech. That was still very present in the program, even more maybe. Also, AI is still very everywhere. But it was more combined maybe with cultural backgrounds.
I have a slight feeling that topics as synthetic media and filtered and extended realities are upcoming, touched upon but not yet as big as AI. I might expect that will be a hint to next year though. Moving away from a human-first focus to a humanity-first, or even beyond; ecology-first, popped up in a couple of presentations. Combined with the You of Things, a shift of focus is on its way.
So maybe if I should take-out one thing; that it would be that there is a quest for the new reality. A reality that is both artificial, filtered, but also embodied again as we might get confused about what reality is after all…
And further…
The rest of the week was packed with meetings and plan-making. It is not healthy for your night rest to have these evening conferences…
The news of the week
On to the other news of last week. I thought for a moment that there was nothing on NFTs this week to reach the bar, but it did in the end. Of course a round-up of new applications of robotics and specific robot-doggies.

Robot roundup
Shape-shifting robots in the wild: the DyRET robot can rearrange its body to walk in new environments
Ford partners with U-M on robotics research, new building
MIT robot doctors see patients, fight spread of COVID-19
A New York Lawmaker Wants to Ban Police Use of Armed Robots | WIRED
Hyundai sets sights on autonomous home-delivery robot - News - GCR
How to fight isolation in locked-down nursing homes? Friendly, furry robots.
NFT digital artwork by humanoid robot Sophia up for auction
Robotics without robots
NVIDIA’s AI Puts Video Calls On Steroids! 💪
The Algorithmic Auditing Trap. ‘Bias audits’ for discriminatory tools…
Further futuring
Living Things Are Not (20th Century) Machines: Updating Mechanism Metaphors in Light of the Modern Science of Machine Behavior
Demiurgical Businesses
Explore Synthetic Futuring
Looking into the coming week...
To close, a reading and listening tips. I like to mention here the new Getting Tech Right podcast of Peter Bihr, this week with guest Patrick Tanguay. The latter is the publisher of Sentiers newsletter, which is often a valuable resource for this newsletter too by the way.
I am looking forward to a focus group session on autonomous driving, updates with the students, the inaugural speech of Martijn de Waal, and the symposium on Civic Interaction Design, and I might even attend some events. However, I expect I might have to skip these… :-)
Have a great week!
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Iskander Smit
Iskander Smit @iskandr

I am working @Infonl as innovation director, also blogger, co-organising @ThingsCon & Behavior Design AMS meetup #bdams
Visiting researcher and lab-director at TU Delft Industrial Design Engineering (

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