Weeknotes 223; action design for AI futures

Weeknotes 223; action design for AI futures
A room that helps mapping knowledge in a hybrid combination of physical and virtual thinking. by MidJourney

Hi everyone. Last week's top-of-mind news was a bit hard to think of... Scrolling back the layoffs in Silicon Valley remain on top of the news; Alphabet, Spotify, and no exceptions it seems, apart from Apple. The latter is doing some silent product updates and switching on some hidden features in the Homepod mini, which is the way to go for product development nowadays. Nice to see how someone improved Siri by using a ChatGPT integration.
Speaking AI; The speed-up is still happening, and Microsoft has now officially made an additional investment in OpenAI, with new tools continuously appearing. Questions about the Intellectual Property of the generated visuals and text have been raised, and legal claims have been announced. In the meantime, Google is believed to be freaking out on ChatGPT. At the same time, Google Research is sharing its research progress. It is passing the Turing test already. It needs cheap human labor still to get it less toxic, Time claims.

I attended the launch of a new book - or rather, a collection of "cahiers" - called Action Design for Urban Futures, written by Ben Schouten and many other contributors. It is intended to form a Civic Empowerment Toolbox to help local movements organize activities to improve their neighborhoods and collective personal environment. It is targeted towards future designers, scholars, and policymakers, but also - and perhaps especially - those who are initiating these kinds of changes, with a planning tool to jump-start their civic initiatives. The planning tool is a matrix covering aspects of empowerment on one axis (mobilization, organization, operation) and societal levels of influence (individual, collective, institution). Previous initiatives are evaluated to gain learnings. The most actionable part is a game-like canvas to explore all these aspects together.

It is definitely an interesting toolkit. In the end, it is probably more useful for the professionals involved in bottom-up initiatives. I will look into it more deeply as part of our initiatives connected to neighborhood-driven design for the Cities of Things.

In the meantime, we have started the development of (software) tooling for the STRCTRL method and language. Working on the prototype and preparing for the next iterations will be the focus for the coming months.

Events in the Coming Week: What to Do and See? For those who are not following me on Instagram, there is a nice hidden gem in the old Foodcenter Amsterdam we explored; Markt Centraal is organizing evenings and lunches in the central market building that is worth a visit if you are curious about the heritage (like an original Keith Haring piece on the old Cooling Building) and nice food.

The more regular tips:

On with the news from last week. I captured too many things, but this is a selection.

The map room is a physical room-size wiki for collaboration from the 1950s
Posted on Friday 20 Jan 2023. 3,037 words, 13 links. By Matt Webb.
META LEARNING - A signature post of Matt exploring his thoughts on future knowledge tools based on a long history of collaboration tools. The map room relates to some of the thinking we do at Structural...
Who Owns the Generative AI Platform? | Andreessen Horowitz
Generative AI will have a massive impact in the software industry and beyond. The goal of this post is to map out the market dynamics and business models.
ON TOPIC - This is a relevant question indeed. Indeed, this is good news: "Based on the available data, it’s just not clear if there will be a long-term, winner-take-all dynamic in generative AI." The article is resembling the feeling; we don't know exactly how it will work out but it is changing the game for sure, with possible new rules. Possibly, the start is to think about new relations with technology.
24 Seriously Embarrassing Hours for AI
All the recent goodwill and enthusiasm could evaporate fast
AI DEHYPE - Gary Marcus has been popping up in some podcasts last weeks (Ezra Klein, Scott Galloway) making the case that AI development is powerful and useful but is also now overhyped. If I understand his message right he tries to warn against the danger of inflated expectations.
Can GPT-3 Explain My Past and Tell My Future?
I loaded journal entries from the past 10 years into GPT-3—and started asking it questions
AI THERAPIST - A follow-up of the explorations of last week on using GPT-3 as reflecting therapist.
Self-driving Mercedes now approved in Nevada
Mercedes-Benz has permission to deploy its Level 3 autonomous driving system, DRIVE PILOT, in Nevada, and California could soon follow.
AUTONOMOUS - Slowly but steadily autonomous drivers becoming more skilled.
Tokyo wants to build a future-proof city. Here’s how
Tokyo plans to build a sustainable mini city in its bay area. It’s hoped the high-tech project will provide a blueprint of what cities of the future should look like.
WEF - A typical World Economic Forum introduction? Comparing it to the plans of The Line in Saudi Arabia might deliver insights into future city strategies and their correlation with cultural contexts.
The Designer Economy | NOEMA
With the right structures in place, we can transform the government from a passive issuer of regulations and transfer payments into an active builder of an equitable and sustainable economic future.
PREFERABLE FUTURES - US focused in strategies to follow but goals are generic "Rather than commanding one ideal path, the politics of design are about what features we want in that future. With the right structures in place, we can transform the government from a mere regulator and issuer of transfer payments into a direct investor and implementer of a vibrant, verdant, family-friendly and egalitarian future."
Automating the Automators: Shift Change in the Robot Factory
Software is hungry. Feed it.
SHIFTING - What is the role of a software developer really? "They’d say that the job involves writing some software, sure. But deep down it’s about the purpose of software. Figuring out what kinds of problems are amenable to automation through code. Knowing what to build, and sometimes what not to build because it won’t provide value."
How to Spot AI-Generated Art, According to Artists
Creatives disagree about the ethical uses of these tools, but one thing is clear: AI art identification is about to become a whole lot harder.
SYNTHETIC LIFE - "In the near future, Melenciano believes, most viewers will not be able to identify AI art consistently without computer assistance. “As this progressively goes out into the world, I think the most important thing is being able to detect what's real and what's not,” she says. “Not so much by the human eye, but by services.” Synthetic media detection is likely to be a hot topic of discussion as AI generators continue to proliferate."
What Happens When AI Has Read Everything?
The dream of an artificial mind may never become a reality if AI runs out of quality prose to ingest—and there isn’t much left.
Ottonomy launches new Ottobot YETI autonomous delivery robot - The Robot Report
The Yeti is the latest model of an autonomous last-mile delivery platform from Ottonomy.io. It features omnidirectional steering.
A Virtual Social Life Is Possible with Brain-Machine Interfaces
VR and brain-computer interfaces will combine to give disabled people agency in both the real and virtual worlds.
Why we love to anthropomorphize space-faring robots
Robot explorers have been surveying the Martian landscape for decades. NASA engineers and scientists explain why they take on human characteristics.
LIVING THINGS - "Spirit and Opportunity were two rovers that were totally identical in their design. But based on the different places where the rovers landed on Mars, they ended up having two very different experiences."

To close as always, signaling of an interesting academic paper. This week I like to share a paper that was mentioned in the post of Matt on Corporate Insecthood. An intriguing exploration: Here, we examine whether, and in what ways, ordinary citizens conceptualize the corporation as a person. We present evidence that corporations are anthropomorphized, but only to a certain degree. Compared with other entities, the average corporation is considered about as similar to a person as an ant. Corporations differ in the extent to which people are willing to grant them personhood however, and this pattern is predicted by how salient the organization's mental and moral traits are.

Strohminger, N., & Jordan, M. (2022, February 14). Corporate Insecthood. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/rxkhe

See you next week!

PS: I started using the Arc browser, let me know if you like an invite.

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