Twill #12 - IKEA thinks we're crazy, the networking of everything, smombies and a humanoid merbot.

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This week: IKEA thinks we're crazy, the networking of everything, smombies and a humanoid merbot.
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Twill by yiibu

May 1 - Issue #12 - View online
A weekly dispatch on our evolving relationship with technology. Topics: Near-future design, autonomous everything, design ethics, machine learning and the human impact of embedding technology into everyday life.

This week: IKEA thinks we’re crazy, the networking of everything, smombies and a humanoid merbot.

Links and tidbits
0.0 “Image search is true search. I really like this train of thought. 
This is not to say that words don’t have uses … we now have this hugely rich visual web that is exactly one tab placement away in Google’s interface from completely changing the default way we explore the world … what would happen to the world if the default was set to ‘images’?
1.0 Many of you feel sorry for this lamp. That is because you’re crazy An old but now all the more relevant IKEA commercial that will make you laugh, worry you’re growing too attached to objects, and feel guilty about not redecorating–all in one fell swoop!
...how sad do *you* feel about this lamp?
2.0 AI and machine learning are the next wave in commoditization. The jury is still out as to whether this will be awesome or we should be very afraid. 
Even a chair can be smart enough to understand you and move to where you would be seated.” Says Xiaomi (…the company that massively commoditised Android devices through super-fast turnaround experimentation and audience-sourced design).
3.0 Can’t decide if this Bedtime VR Stories concept is awesome or merely a slight improvement (despite mum being a purple orb!) on the millions of families who already Skype and FaceTime from afar. Really loving the VR goggle personalisation trend however.
4.0 The 3rd Industrial Revolution is not really about computers and the internet, it is the networking of everything. Well argued point by Kevin Kelley and one of the first arguments that makes me hopeful that robots may not after all steal all the jobs.
In short, productivity is for robots. Humans excel at wasting time, experimenting, playing, creating, and exploring. None of these fare well under the scrutiny of productivity. That is why science and art are so hard to fund. But they are also the foundation of long-term growth.”
5.0 A few weeks back, we linked to a super-creepy real-time speech re-enactment technology. This week, Twitter announced that it is now able to detect what’s happening in live video. (…which could in the future be the first step in triggering super creepy speech re-enactment). 
6.0 The evolution and history of the keyboard which included an early period of enormous variation when each manufacturer arranged arrow keys in a different order. Also related, the many ways that Chinese typewriters are so different and how they led way to predictive text on smartphones:
“When I sit down and push a button with a symbol on it, I assume that symbol will appear on the screen. In China the assumption is the symbols on the keys are not a one-to-one relationship – something happens in between.”
derickafox / Creative Commons
7.0 Traffic lights for smombies (i.e. most of us).
8.0 A collection of short animated rendering of 2000(!) mechanical ‘things’ doing whatever thing they do (…also includes a link to download the 3D source files). 
9.0 Data scientists mostly do arithmetic, and that’s a good thing. “There is a very small subset of business problems that are best solved by machine learning; most of them just need good data and an understanding of what it means that is best gained using simple methods.” 
10.0 VR has already been through one trough of disillusionment. It’s just that few of us remember it. Thoughts and anecdotes on the past and future of VR.
A headset bigger than a salon hairdryer with the big helmet, and really low polygon lobsters flying around in a poorly-rendered space.
This week in robots
1.0 You may have noticed that this section is a bit fluid in its definition of robotBut why is it so hard to define the term? A variety of perspectives from research, ethics, business, and the general public.
2.0 What happens when robots are assigned ethnicities? A particularly interesting topic given the rise of intangible (chat) bots that primarily interact with people using text, voice and an exchange of social objects e.g. GIFs, videos. Could ethnicity be more convincingly conveyed through voice and culture than how a robot looks?
3.0 A riot-control robot unveiled in China looks ominously like a ‘Doctor Who’ Dalek. Happily for us it cannot levitate and can only chase you on level ground.
4.0 Stanford has designed and tested a humanoid ‘merbot’. The humanoid aspect may seem unnecessary but there are reasons behind it. 
The "tail” section contains the merbot’s onboard batteries, computers and array of eight thrusters, but it is the front half that looks distinctly humanoid with two eyes for stereoscopic vision and two nimble, articulated arms [ideal for fragile reef environments].
Stanford's most dextrous looking merbot.
5.0 If this sewer diagnostic bot takes all the jobs, you may be hard pressed to find a human who argues. Next up is hopefully a fatberg removal bot.
Thing from the past. Thing from the future
Source: Library of Congress. See the link below for lots more shapes and sizes.
From the past: I hope someone is exploring different form factors for the next generation of man-made things that fly. Wouldn’t drones be more lovely if they resembled Alexander Graham Bell’s amazing tetrahedral kites?
From the future: Google has filed a patent for injecting a device into your eye ball. It is powered by “radio frequency energy” received by a small antenna, and has its own data storage.
From the past but returning to the future: A rekindled interest in DC powerbecause that’s what solar photovoltaics produce (we then currently convert it to AC, and then sometimes back to DC, to run modern electronics such as LEDs).
That is all
Our best wishes for a productive week.
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