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Twill #6 - Invisibility cloaks, robot case law and what happens when an AI overhears the news.


Twill by yiibu

March 20 · Issue #6 · View online

An occasional dispatch on our evolving relationship with technology.

Invisibility cloaks, robot case law and what happens when an AI overhears the news.

yiibu news
A detailed description of Steph’s upcoming Physical Web workshop is now available on the UX Lisbon site. We’re also happy to announce that she will present The Emerging Global Web at UX Lisbon on May 26th.
More announcements next week!
Links and tidbits
0.0 The ethics of invisibility cloaks (…yes, these are now conceptually enough of a thing that we need be concerned about their ethics).
1.0 The future of content. Perspectives from SXSW regarding the growing tension (social and otherwise) between human- and machine-created content. (If you’re interested in this topic, here is also an introduction to the field of ‘computational creativity’).
2.0Robots blur the line between people and instrument, for instance, and faulty notions about robots lead jurists to questionable or contradictory result.”
A newly published paper outlines a half century of case law involving robots and suggesting future challenges and topics for discussion. It all begins with deep sea salvage…
3.0 The most interesting things that Facebook is doing in machine learning. A short answer on Quora from Facebook’s director of Engineering for Applied Machine Learning. Includes links to several papers and the names of Facebook-ers to contact (on Quora) with questions.
4.0 From the department of ‘machines will take our jobs’ (or maybe just help us save time, money, brain cells etc.) researchers are using machine learning to pre-select restaurants for health inspection based on social media posts. 
…researchers estimate that these improvements to the efficacy of the inspections led to 9,000 fewer food poisoning incidents and 557 fewer hospitalization in Las Vegas during the course of the study
5.0 Google has put it’s amazing robotics division up for sale claiming (amongst other reasons) the unit’s failure to come up with products that could be released in the near term. An ex-employee suggests an interesting and very different reason
Boston Dynamics are very successful pioneers. But their algorithms aren’t based on Deep Learning principles. And Google is leading the world in Deep Learning…Why is this important? The difference is robots that can walk vs robots that can dance ballet.
6.0 Amazon Echo, home alone with NPR on got confused…and hijacked a thermostat. Sounds a bit like the outcome of a round of Clue (…Cluedo if you’re British)
Raises an interesting question about complex systems and un-testable interactions. When you have autonomous robots and intelligent devices and smart software all interacting with each other, how can we know what a given "smart” thing will do in a given situation? We can’t.
7.0 For those who enjoyed last week’s article on human-cooling and heating robots, here is another, apparently viable approach–jettisoning heat into space.
8.0 One day’s observations from Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, animated in a loop in full colour. Truly amazing! Covers 24 hours in 12 seconds at a time lapse factor of 7,200×. Instructions on Github it you want to have a go generating one for yourself.
9.0 Your next competitor is Facebook (…or WeChat, or some other social app with critical mass and good-enough functionality). We first flagged this a few years ago but the trend only seems to be accelerating. “Be open to the idea that a Facebook group that does even 80% of what people want might easily be your toughest competitor” 
10.0 A market for printing money…just not the way you think. Part of an interesting article on counterfeiting and plastic vs. paper banknotes.
Right now the United States manufactures most of the world’s paper money. Small countries lack the facilities and the infrastructure to securely make paper notes, so America does it for them — for a price.
Intellectual surrender in the face of increasing complexity seems too extreme and even a bit cowardly, but what should we replace it with if we can’t understand our creations any more?
12.0 Varying interpretations of U.S. trade sanctions made large parts of the internet disappear this week for users in Syria, Cuba and Iran. “Sanctions as they affect technology can be really problematic, because they can end up affecting the very people that the US wants to help.
Thing from the past. Thing from the future
From the past: Last fall, the U.S. Naval Academy reintroduced the requirement of a formal course in celestial navigation after an absence of nearly two decades (…a much needed skill it turns out in case of cyber attack). Recently dredged out by the Smithsonian, The Raft Book is one of the resources they now use.
From the future: Find some old military tech, grab yourself some LIDAR and a room full of very enthusiastic engineers, and you have…Dominos’ new pizza delivery robot? (For full effect, watch the video)
Our best wishes for a productive week.
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Bryan and Steph
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