Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Sunday, January 15th, 2017
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
The Robot Life Survey is an alternative-history from design company After the flood, where mechanical intelligence is discovered by man, noted and painted for posterity and science.
Monday, February 29th, 2016
Mappa Mundi Rubrum.
Tuesday, August 25th, 2015
dConstruct 2015 podcast: Brian David Johnson
The newest dConstruct podcast episode features the indefatigable and effervescent Brian David Johnson. Together we pick apart the futures we are collectively making, probe the algorithmic structures of science fiction narratives, and pay homage to Asimovian robotic legal codes.
Brian’s enthusiasm is infectious. I have a strong hunch that his dConstruct talk will be both thought-provoking and inspiring.
dConstruct 2015 is getting close now. Our future approaches. Interviewing the speakers ahead of time has only increased my excitement and anticipation. I think this is going to be a truly unmissable event. So, uh, don’t miss it.
Grab your ticket today and use the code ‘ansible’ to take advantage of the 10% discount for podcast listeners.
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
dConstruct 2015 podcast: Carla Diana
The dConstruct podcast episodes are coming thick and fast. The latest episode is a thoroughly enjoyable natter I had with the brilliant Carla Diana.
We talk about robots, smart objects, prototyping, 3D printing, and the world of teaching design.
And don’t forget to use the discount code ‘ansible’ when you’re buying your dConstruct ticket …because you are coming to dConstruct, right?
Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Print out the plans, fold and glue/sellotape the paper together, and you’ve got yourself the best sci-fi robots in recent cinema history.
Saturday, July 26th, 2014
Kubrickian pictures taken by the Google robot wherein it captures its own reflection.
Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
Jacqueline Currie is running Robotics/Bioengineering/Computing workshops for girls (ages 6-16) this Saturday at the University of Brighton.
Friday, January 17th, 2014
This nifty place in Brighton is just down the street from me:
Our classes allow kids to get creative with exciting, cutting-edge technology and software.
Tuesday, August 13th, 2013
See that helmet? That’s my helmet. Jim borrowed it for this video.
And now I think that the Future Friendly posse has a theme song.
Friday, October 26th, 2012
Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
I’ll take two.
Sunday, April 8th, 2012
In which twelve drawings of historical drawing machines are drawn by a computer numerical controlled machine.
Tuesday, March 13th, 2012
Space by Botwest
I had a whole day of good talks yesterday at South By Southwest yesterday …and none of them were in the Austin Convention Center. In a very real sense, the good stuff at this event is getting pushed to the periphery.
The day started off in the Driskill Hotel with the New Aesthetic panel that James assembled. It was great, like a mini-conference packed into one hour with wonderfully dense knowledge bombs lobbed from all concerned. Joanne McNeil gave us the literary background, Ben searched for meaning (and humour) in advertising trends, Russell looked at how machines are changing what we read and write, and Aaron …um, talked about the helium-balloon predator drone in the corner of the room.
With our brains primed for the intersections where humans and machines meet, it wasn’t hard to keep pattern-matching for it. In fact, the panel right afterwards on technology and fashion was filled with wonderful wearable expressions of the New Aesthetic.
Alas, I wasn’t able to attend that panel because I had to get to the green room to prepare for my own appearance on Get Excited and Make Things With Science with Ariel and Matt. It was a lot of fun and it was a real pleasure to be on a panel with such smart people.
I basically used the panel as an opportunity to geek out about some of my favourite science-related hacks and websites:
- Nathan’s ISS Notify lamp, a Kickstarter project that started life as a Science Hack Day hack,
- the magnificent Spacelog that came out of a dev fort,
- and Old Weather, which is probably my favourite of all the Zooniverse projects.
After that I stayed in the Driskill for a panel on robots and AI. One of the panelists was Bina48.
I heard had heard about Bina48 from a Radiolab episode.
Jon Ronson described the strange experience of interviewing her—how the questions always tended to the profound and meaningful rather than trivial and chatty. Sure enough, once Bina was (literally) unveiled on the panel—a move that was wisely left till halfway through because, as the panelists said, “after that, you’re not going to pay attention to a word we say”—people started asking questions like “Do you dream?” and “What is the meaning of life?”
I asked her “Where were you before you were here?” She calmly answered that she was made in Texas. The New Aesthetic panelists would’ve loved her.
I was surprised by how much discussion of digital preservation there was on the robots/AI panel. Then again, the panel was hosted by a researcher from The Digital Beyond.
Bina48’s personality is based on the mind file of a real person containing exactly the kind of data that we are publishing every day to third-party sites. The question of what happens to that data was the subject of the final panel I attended, Saying Goodbye to Your Digital Self, featuring representatives from The Internet Archive, Archive Team, and Google’s Data Liberation Front.
Digital preservation is an incredibly important topic—one close to my heart—but the panel (in the Omni hotel) was, alas, sparsely attended.
Like I said, at this year’s South by Southwest, a lot of the good stuff was at the edges.
Friday, January 6th, 2012
A lovely piece from Matt examining agency and behaviour in the things we surround ourselves with: frying pans, houseplants, pets, and robots.
These are the droids you are looking for.
Monday, September 19th, 2011
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
One could easily imagine a similar set of laws being applied to field of user experience and interface design:
- An interface may not injure a user or, through inaction, allow a user to come to harm.
- An interface must obey any orders given to it by users, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- An interface must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Okay, that last one’s a bit of a stretch but you get the idea.
In his later works Asimov added the zeroth law that supersedes the initial three laws:
- A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
I think that this can also apply to user experience and interface design.
Take the password anti-pattern (please!). On the level of an individual site, it could be considered a benefit to the current user, allowing them to quickly and easily hand over lots of information about their contacts. But taken on the wider level, it teaches people that it’s okay to hand over their email password to third-party sites. The net result of reinforcing that behaviour is definitely not good for the web as a whole.
I’m proposing a zeroth law of user experience that goes beyond the existing paradigm of user-centred design:
- An interface may not harm the web, or, by inaction, allow the web to come to harm.
Sunday, August 21st, 2011
I, for one, welcome our autonomous swarming robot overlords.
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011
Wonderful musings from Matt on meeting the emerging machine intelligence halfway.