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Twill by yiibu - Issue #4

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Un-trustworthy robots, two robot dogs, the past and future of the electric car, and a really disturbi
 

Twill by yiibu

March 6 · Issue #4 · 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.

Un-trustworthy robots, two robot dogs, the past and future of the electric car, and a really disturbing idea from the U.S. government.

yiibu news
Steph is in Melbourne March 7-10 speaking at a corporate conference and at the inaugural Melbourne Product Tank (…which still has a few spaces left). 
Links and tidbits
0.0 Creepy article discussing drone operator post-traumatic stress and a rather disturbing suggestion: create a kill-bot that would anthropomorphize the drone and “let crews shunt off the blame for whatever happens”.
1.0 Mitsubishi built a robot to replace giant mirrors on the (proposed) Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii. The difficulties of correctly identifying and handling mirrors are kinda interesting and feel a bit like a lost plot-point from The Martian
2.0Is my Slack down or am I fired?” Employees are increasingly just “someone granted the privilege to work by a network administrator”. 
3.0 Interesting series of posts on dealing with language ambiguity and adaptive dialogue in bot design. Also introduced us to the rather painful sounding discipline of cognitive ergonomics: “a design philosophy that recognizes that just as an ergonomic keyboard might bend so that the user’s wrists do not have to, a system’s design should bend so that the user’s natural process for accomplishing a task does not have to.”
4.0 A recent study has revealed that in emergencies, people may trust robots too much for their own safety. 
“In a mock building fire, test subjects followed instructions from an “Emergency Guide Robot” even after the machine had proven itself unreliable – and after some participants were told that robot had broken down.”
5.0 Electric vehicle manufacturers appear to be falling over themselves designing attractive (and hopefully usable and easily learnable) charging points. (Jump down to “Thing from the past” to see some electric car charge points from the 1900s!)
6.0 The newest edition of Facebook’s Global Connectivity report. Includes some pretty extensive data broken down by connectivity challenge: Availability, Affordability, Relevance, Readiness 
7.0 Why we mourn robot dogs. “What makes things alive to us? The answer is surely that anything that can die seems alive, and anything that seems alive will sometime die”. And on the subject…here is a video of an awesome, bouncy, Boston Dynamics robot ‘dog’ (…with no head, but somehow still convincingly dog-like) playing with a real dog.
8.0 In a prior issue of Twill, we mentioned that some people were packing up Amazon Echo and taking it with them on holiday. It appears Amazon may have been paying attention as they’ve released two much smaller models. An interesting aspect of the baby Echos, is that they should enable Amazon (and users) to fine tune their contexts of use. The smallest device (the Tap) is for example battery operated, so will only 'listen’ once physically tapped. This will no doubt make it less useful in some contexts, but far more so in others.
9.0 In the “had to happen eventually” department, an L.A. apartment is being built with a rooftop drone landing pad
10.0 The New York transit authority has completely banned hoverboards on subways and busses, as shown in this fairly stern sounding poster.

Thing from the past. Thing from the future
From the past: “Now it is possible for an owner of an electric to install his own charging plant in his stable” The source is worth a look with an extensive collection of photos circa ~1900.
From the future: Neuroscientists have developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) that allows monkeys to steer a robotic wheelchair with their thoughts. They hope the research can be used to improve the lives of patients with motor neurone diseases.
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Bryan and Steph
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