"Making Human-Robot Interaction Enjoyable"

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Visions of our android future

Posted by on Jul 10, 2018 in Culture, Featured | 0 comments

Visions of our android future

I started to play Detroit – Becoming Human and the start of the game introduces us to a world in which most of the work is done by androids. The designers paid attention to portraying every day life with androids. They show androids in the roles of care taker, cleaner, construction worker, but also as a companion. Many humans are without a job but still enjoy an android cleaning their mess. Of course this whole setup is a typical in-out-group setup. But if this is the future we are working towards then we will also have to address these questions. What if there is no more work left for humans? What if we like interacting with androids more than with other humans? Here are some of my highlights of everyday life in the game so far:

Android Parking

Detroit: Become Human

Android compartment in the back of the bus

The androids have to enter the public bus at the rear and are standing in a segregated compartment that is divided by a glass wall. This is of course a reference to Rosa Park who refused to give put her seat in the colored section of a bus for a white person in 1955.

Detroit: Become Human

An article on how autonomous cars make life and death decisions

The game features an article on how autonomous vehicles make life and death decisions by considering a wealth of background information to calculate the value of a person.

How machines make life and death decisions

Here is the text of the virtual news article:

When a driverless vehicle foresees an accident, the car’s computer makes life and death decisions – for example deciding which of two pedestrians to hit. But the exact process by which cars make these decisions is not very well understood.

Martin Forlong, of CrowneCars, tries to clarify: “In these situations, the car’s imaging system gathers data to determine, the pedestrian’s age, gender, life Expectancy, etc, in the blink of an eye.” This data is parsed through the public I record “to determine marital status, employment record, life expectancy and whether they have children.” The car then assigns a ‘value’ to each possible victim based on criteria like their contribution to society: “we put a premium on lives that will save other lives, like doctors and nurses.”

All this may sound very reasonable. But Felix Gamble, head of Anti-Automation League (AAL) says the system has no rights to make such judgements: “Somebody with a criminal record is not necessarily less I valuable to society than a doctor. That kind of information is irrelevant to the sanctity of human life.”

But Forlong dismisses such claims: “We want our cars to make the best possible i choices, and that means acting on the basis of all the information they can gather. The more, the better.”

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Every edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: an inquiry into morals

Posted by on May 9, 2018 in Culture, Documentation | 0 comments

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is arguably the most widely read philosophy book of all times. Since its first release in 1974 it has been printed by many publishers. Here is a list of all the editions that I could find. Rest in peace, Robert.

PublisherYearHardcoverPaperbackComment
William Morrow and Company19749780688002305Original Publication
The Bodley Head Ltd1974 9780370103389
Bantam Doubleday Dell19769780552101660
William Morrow and Company19799780688052300
Bantam Books19809780553138757
Bantam Books19829780553207088
Bantam Books19849780553257489
William Morrow and Company198410th Anniversary Edition Limited to 1000
Bantam Books19889780553277470
Corgi19899780552993784
Vintage Publishing19919780099786405
Harper Collins19999780688002305978119950347325th Anniversary Edition
Easton Press2001Collectors Edition
William Morrow and Company20059780060839871Also from Harper Collins
Perfection Learning20059780756902407
Harper Torch20069780060589462
Vintage Publishing2006978009932261025th Anniversary Edition
William Morrow and Company200897800620089309780061673733
Vintage Publishing2011978009959816940th Anniversary Edition

The situation for “Lila: an inquiry into morals” is a little bit easier although this is the more important work.

PublisherYearHardcoverPaperbackComment
Bantam Press19919780593025079
Bantam Press19919780553077377
Bantam Press19929780552995047
Bantam Press19929780553299618
Bantam Press19929780553180978
Alma Books20119781846881541
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Using Windows Keyboard on Mac OS X

Posted by on May 5, 2018 in Documentation | 0 comments

There are some beautiful and useful mechanical keyboards on the market but only a few of them are made for Mac. Matias Keyboards have a Mac layout and they also sell mechanical keyboards. But their keyboards are not illuminated. Das Keyboard has some Mac models but they also do not come illuminated. I could not find a Mac layout mechanical keyboard that has not just illuminated keys, but keys for which their colour could be adjusted. Most modern gaming keyboards offer this function.

 

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LEGO Idea Conference 2018

Posted by on Apr 11, 2018 in Design, Event, LEGO | 0 comments

LEGO Idea Conference 2018

I was honoured to be invited to the LEGO Idea Conference 2018. It gave me the opportunity to meet with several members of the LEGO group but it also brought me up to speed with what the LEGO Foundation is working on. I talked to Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen and gave him my Unofficial LEGO Color Guide. I met with Jan Beyer and talked about the LAN and their connection to the AFOLs. I also discovered that the LEGO House’s library features my Unofficial LEGO Minifigure Catalog.

My Minifigure Catalog in the LEGO House library

My Minifigure Catalog in the LEGO House library

I also experienced the amazing architecture of the LEGO House. I took many (panoramic) photos of the outside and the inside. The large models, in particular the dinosaurs are amazing:

Dinosaurs

But maybe the most amazing aspect of the LEGO House are its interactive installations. Their RoboLab is just amazing:

And I also enjoyed their agent based city simulation:

What an amazing event.

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Robots, Rape, and Representation in Blade Runner (1982)

Posted by on Mar 3, 2018 in Research | 0 comments

Robert Sparrow wrote and excellent paper about Robots, Rape, and Representation. I was shocked to see exactly what he was talking about, namely non-consensual sex with androids in one of my favourite movies, Blade Runner. Rick Deckard is clearly forcing himself on the android Rachel and even asks her to tell him that she wants him. The scene stops after some more pretty forceful kissing and we don’t know what happens afterwards, but the way Rick controls Rachel and denies her leaving his apartment is highly problematic.

UPDATE: It took Youtube and Warner Brothers 30 seconds to file a copyright claim dispute about my video. Amazing.

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Simple LEGO Mindstorms Mars Rover

Posted by on Mar 3, 2018 in Design, Documentation, Featured, LEGO | 0 comments

Simple LEGO Mindstorms Mars Rover

This is simple Mars Rover model using two LEGO Mindstorms EV3 and a total of eight motors. The two EV3 are daisy chained and the model can be controlled using the EV3 IR Remote Control. The model uses the rocker-bogie suspension system including a differential in the middle axis. The two EV3s are suspended and remain horizontal in any position. There are much more complex Mars Rover models already available using many more Mindstorm bricks. My design goal was to keep it simple and experiment with the rocker-bogie suspension system. The principles works, but there is a bit too much flexibility in the model.

The 3D model and the building instructions are available for LEGO Digital Designer. The parts list and instructions are also available at Rebrickable.

 

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Nokia’s Body Cardio Scale Will Remove Pulse Wave Velocity

Posted by on Jan 22, 2018 in Technology | 1 comment

Nokia’s Body Cardio Scale Will Remove Pulse Wave Velocity

Since Nokia took over Withings the company continues to struggle with delivering good products. Today Nokia informed me that the Pulse Wave Velocity reading will be automatically deactivated and that there is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening. The reason they provide for the deactivation of this feature is that “it may require a different level of regulatory approval”.

While I agree that complying to the regulatory framework is a good idea, I wonder why they only considered this years after introducing the product. Why was this not part of their original design process? Regulatory frameworks vary considerably across the globe and Nokia decided to deactivate ALL scales. This does seem rather indiscriminate.

They offer a refund for the purchase price and they will then completely deactivate your scale. In their FAQ they do not mention the exact nature of the refund, but once you login into your account or followed their link you will find that:

I understand that I am eligible to be refunded for the purchase price of my product as shown on my receipt, less any fees that may have been incurred, including but not limited to: customs, duty, brokerage fees, shipping, or delivery costs. Nokia reserves the right to refund the local MSRP in lieu of this purchase price.

Again I have to wonder why there is no option for, lets say, half of a refund and you could continue to use the scale without the Pulse Wave Velocity reading. This all or nothing approach does not sit right with me since I do not want to throw away an otherwise fully operational scale but I also think that Nokia should reimburse us for the feature they are going to delete.

All of this is again an example of horrible product management and customer handling. The one feature that set this scale apart from their own Body+ scale is gone. I had an eye on their new Nokia Sleep tracker, but I do not want to go through this process of them screwing up their own products again.

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