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Twill - Issue #7 Playing Counterstrike with vegetables, hacking Wikipedia and real-time face spoofing.


Twill by yiibu

March 28 · Issue #7 · View online

An occasional dispatch on our evolving relationship with technology.

Playing Counterstrike with vegetables, hacking Wikipedia and real-time face spoofing.

yiibu news
Stephanie will be in Copenhagen in September to talk about the Physical Web. More details soon :-)
Links and tidbits
0.0 What is a robot? What is a human? A great primer (with lots of photos and references) on our changing relationship with the idea of a robot over the past century. If you’re interested in the (past and future) evolution of robots, we also highly recommend Robot Futures by MIT Press.
When you ask most people what a robot is, they’re going to describe a humanoid robot…they’ll describe a person made out of metal. Which is essentially a mirror for humanity. To some extent a robot is just a very handy embodiment of all of these complex emotions that are triggered by the rate of technological change.
2.0 Meanwhile, incredibly non-human looking factory-bots are getting better and better.
“OTTO 100 is smart enough and flexible enough to avoid obstacles on its own, plan new routes when necessary, and make sure to keep from smushing the humans that it works with.” (It can also ‘help’ larger palette-carrying bots unload the stuff on their palettes).
3.0 The quest to develop smarter and smarter skin patches. This flexible patch is noninvasive and includes electrochemical sensors that detect glucose in sweat and a battery for heating microneedles that deliver a drug. 
4.0 Fascinating story of a fisherman’s journey to sustainable fishing in a rapidly changing world. (Not about tech per se…but very much about designing within constraints).
If you were to create a network of our ocean farms totaling the size of Washington state, you could feed the planet.
5.0 Short video: Real time face capture and re-enactment. Crazy creepy. Calls into question generations of assumption about the difference between live and recorded media.
6.0 Facebook, Google and the race to sign up India. An overview of the complex and differing attitudes and motivations of the giant companies that seek to help connect the world.
While Silicon Valley executives are prone to talk about universal internet access in evangelical, almost philanthropic language, Google and Facebook are not financing their connectivity initiatives with money put aside for corporate social responsibility — they are using their core budgets.
7.0 And on that note…an example of why giving people free internet access with special characteristics only results in people routing around those characteristics.
Angolans have started hiding pirated movies and music in Wikipedia articles and linking to them on closed Facebook groups, creating a totally free and clandestine file sharing network in a country where mobile internet data is extremely expensive.
[Note that this article caused a bit of a backlash. Wikipedia posted a rebuttal and the whole topic was explored further in yet another article. Fascinating example of the challenges we will continue to face as the internet grows and some of these services become de-facto infrastructure).
8.0 Scientists noticed Vladimir Putin walked a bit weird and worried he might be ill. Turns out he’s fine and they have instead coined a new and rather James Bond inspired term: “gunslinger gait” (…sorry, this one was too weird not to include).
‘gunslinger’s gait; may result from a behavioural adaptation, possibly triggered by KGB or other forms of weapons training where trainees are taught to keep their right hand close to the chest while walking, allowing them to quickly draw a gun when faced with a foe.
9.0 Connecting the next ‘x’ billion will be for nought if we run out of spectrum. (More details soon here at DARPA).
[DARPA] has launched a new Grand Challenge [last year’s was all about robots] that will have teams develop artificial intelligence-powered radios that cooperate with each other to avoid wireless congestion
[Very geeky and gigantic US spectrum allocation chart also available for download.]
10.0 Microsoft Tay had no AI. A long deconstruction for why Tay was probably not what we thought it was (which might explain its subsequent behaviour). […is behaviour too specific a term for a thing that impersonates an AI? Does behaviour imply intent?]
To be worthy of AI, it is not enough that a system "look intelligent”….For Tay to be AI, its behavior should be based on some combination of Natural Language Parsing (NLP) and common sense knowledge/reasoning, including understanding of conversations.
Thing from the past. Thing from the future
From the past: Pants. Because as recently as the 1930s, American women could be arrested for wearing them in certain contexts…in this case to a courtroom when called as a witness. (Included as a reminder that inventing new things is often the easy bit compared to shifting laws and culture).
The offending pants and the demin dress subsequently worn in prison.
The offending pants and the demin dress subsequently worn in prison.
From the future: A vegetable (any one will do). Mental models are changing and us ‘olds’ are just not keeping up. Seriously though, we should be paying more attention to this… 
Desmoineaux ordered a Makey Makey kit, which allows you to alligator-clip nearly anything into a button input, after seeing people online using produce [yep…as in vegetables] to play Super Mario Bros. Her first experiment was played with a chunk of ginseng.
Bye for now!
Our best wishes for a productive week.
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