Category Archives: .

The robots will not take over, their masters will

Johannes Ernst: Confusing the Robot Takeover and the robots’ masters’ takeover

So far, there is NO INDICATION that any kind of robot, or any other kind of technology is going to be autonomous in any way, shape, or form, any time soon.

But there is OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE EVERYWHERE that lots of people — typically by means of the organizations they run and the products that those companies build or deploy — want to use robots and other technologies to control you and me and the rest world.

Is Robbie-The-Supposedly-Authonomous-Robot really taking over my life if he is ultimately built, maintained, supervised and upgraded by Google? Even if he looks autonomous?

Screenless Web

There is a web app whose primary interfaces are touch and audio.

Touch is for input. It has the affordances of a D-pad: up, down, back, forward, select. Also: options, aka right click. Implemented on a phone, these would be swipe up, swipe down, swipe left, swipe right, tap. Up and down traverse a browseable list. Left and right traverse history. Tap performs the default action on the current item. Long press activates options.

Audio is for output. It reads off menu items. It is a screen reader. It may be able to speed up speech. Audio would be best implemented via an earbud.

A second input type would be voice. I don’t see this as a navigation tool as much as an endpoint. Yes: talking on the phone. No: voice search.


Use Cases

Driver-oriented apps. A driver could navigate available radio stations without taking their eyes off the road. There could be a podcast directory. Or a news site where stories are audio but the ability to pick stories adds value.

Workout UX. A person who is jogging or doing other intense exercise could navigate a UI without interrupting their flow. For example, there could be a music player with UX targeting exercisers.

Cheaper and smaller mobile devices, with longer battery life. A screen adds a lot of cost, consumes a lot of space, and burns a lot of battery.


Engineering

The app could be implemented as a web page on a mobile device. There would be little displayed, only a prompt for using the touch input controls. Audio output would be via Aria/WCAG.

But there would need to be a screen reader built in to the app. Usually the end user supplies their own screen reader, but that only works for apps whose target audience is hearing impaired. It wouldn’t work for apps using audio accessibility technology for a general audience.


Ideals

I’m specifically interested in the _web_, not native apps. What inspires me is how web accessibility technology can serve the general public.

But maybe that’s bad factoring. To the extent that what I’m working on here is a type of user experience, and a value proposition, the user doesn’t care whether I’m delivering with web or native technologies. It may be easier to build on web accessibility than native SDKs, but if not then this isn’t truly a web technology.

When I googled the term “screenless web” today I didn’t find any comparable idea. I found “screenless displays”, as a reference to projector-based UI, and I found “screenless web” as an idea about wearable tech. My idea is related to wearables, but can work fine on a phone as well.


Whiteboard

I worked out sample flows for a radio experience. You’ll need to open up the below image, zoom in, and explore.

No-Look Radio

Moulted Accounts

Cicada-Shell-2081

There will be an abandoned account somewhere. It still exists but nobody is checking it.

It may be an abandoned blog with no new postings. A Facebook that nobody logs in to. A former frequent poster on Stack Overflow.

They’re often being overwhelmed by spam. Spam accumulating is like dating genes by comparing the number of genes with a known mutation rate.

At an extreme the poster has died.

They make me think of moulted cicada shells.

Dear Public Diary

A personal blog is a diary that anybody can read.

You might check in on your friends’ personal blogs, because their personal stories are interesting to you. But you wouldn’t read personal blogs by people you don’t know.

You don’t write secrets in it because it’s not private.

You don’t sweat the writing too much, because nobody is going to read but you and a few friends.

Kind-of Halfpipe

It was a super scary pit of doom up close. Graffiti, burning hot pavement, highest dropoff way beyond my ability. First time I turned around at the edge. 2nd time I got the courage up to jump off the edge a few inches up. Made it. Next time a little bolder – ride along a narrow edge, drop in with a jump. Turning back up the slope I realize I can do a footplant on the other side of the ditch and go down into the hole instead of up and out. That points me towards the other side, and when I get there it’s a wall begging for some kind of trick. Holy shit! It’s a half pipe!

Halfpipe built for uni
Halfpipe built for uni

On one side a drop in, other side a foot plant, other side (wall getting higher as I go down) a hand plant, turn around at the bottom with a 360 spin pushing off the far wall, back up the slope with the reverse series of tricks.

If this sounds braggy, I’m giving the wrong impression about my ability level. I can link up a series of tricks, but each one is small and tentative. The intention is recognizable, the execution is hit or miss.

I wonder if this sport will become common. Maybe in twenty years the concept of a uni half pipe with straight sides will be obvious. But for now I never ever see people doing this kind of stuff, so I get to discover the physics for myself.

Old Posts

I have imported 8 years worth of posts from gonze.com/blog, dating back to 2007.

I started blogging on this domain around 2003, using a minimalist scrap of perl by Rael Dornfest called bloxsom. If I could import those old posts I would.

I wonder when if ever this blog will get visitors again, aside from the writing I cross post to Facebook or Twitter. It’s like a dusty old shop that nobody ever comes into.

All the posts still exist in archive.org, even back to 2003! But I like having them on my own server, under one roof, in one continuous chain.

Stateless Societies

This morning I was thinking about statelessness, the end of countries as we think of them.

There are two sides of the coin:

1. Open borders. Let anybody in or out. No permanent citizenship.
2. Power flowing from money, which is mainly held by global-scale corporations and the ultra rich.

How would a state transition in this direction? What would the migration path be? Is there a reasonable path to get there?