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You have probably come across the little pin that, for twice the price of the cheapest Apple Watch, wants you to attach it to whatever you are wearing at chest height to be your new daily AI companion. It bears many similarities to devices that you probably have around you, might have been notified about in this briefing, or are even reading this briefing on. However, Humane hopes that you find something in this new footprint that your current devices are not offering you yet. They are joined in the exploration of new form factors for AI by companies like RayBan with their Meta-collaborated sunglasses.
Beyond merely “putting” the AI on you, making it useful requires it to interact with the world, putting design constraints on the physical form factor that calls for a camera, microphone, and speaker. This is where functional design constraints and true user wishes and comfort might differ. While Humane envisions a seamless integration of AI into our lives, it would, so far, require a lot of awkward chest touching and a bunch of colored lights shimmering at you from your conversation partner.
I feel that the main difference in what Humane is trying to accomplish is to make AI readily and, apparently, more naturally available to you. This might very well change the way we experience and interact with the world around us. While we are used to, in some form, “reaching for” the powerful technologies around us to use them, Humane tries to eliminate or at least shorten that “reaching.” And as it is not particularly hard to imagine future iterations that become much better, more mainstream, and less visible, the way they might further integrate technology into our experiences is fascinating.
The American philosopher Don Ihde wrote fundamental pieces on the relationships between humans and technology that describe and conceptualize how technologies mediate our human experience. As such, they can embody us, meaning that we interact with the world through technology. Other technologies, such as infrastructure technologies, exist in the background of our existence, as we experience them but do not directly interact with them. A third type is hermeneutic relationships, in which we understand more about and perceive more of the world through technology. Traditionally, these have been rather distinct types of technologies, taking shape in the form of individual products. However, technologies have quickly evolved beyond those individual categories, providing functionality that spans across them. The pin hints at future versions that might do precisely that in a particularly interesting fashion:
With fewer hurdles of activation, devices are becoming a closer part of us (hermeneutic relationship), while also shaping how we present ourselves to the world (embodied relationship). Thereby allowing us to know more of what we are seeing and be able to communicate in new ways, all while the tech is becoming increasingly more invisible. Such relationships have been defined by the Dutch philosopher Peter-Paul Verbeek as augmentations. But, potentially more drastically, by becoming ever more invisible, a technology someone around you might be using to engage with you could be seen as background technology from your point of view. Thereby classifying it as something that shapes your experience of the world around you but in a way that blends in with the context and doesn’t involve direct interaction with you.
For now, picture the last time you used Google Lens to inquire about something. It is quite obvious when someone is engaging in a hermeneutic relationship to use technology to know more about the world than they naturally would. But how about 5 years from now? It will certainly become less obvious as we become ever more augmented by technologies. Although these are not opposing developments, they seem interesting for the challenges they might present. What future products might allow us to do so? How should they be designed with an awareness of these relationships? And when will we be unaware of someone interacting with us through technology? (via Julian)
AI’s Future: Beyond Models, Into Apps 🌐
In the whirlwind of AI discussions, there’s a constant buzz about the model layer. Sure, it’s flashy and innovative, capturing much of the spotlight in our AI narratives. But let’s not forget where the real long-term symphony is set to play out: the app layer.
Let’s break this down. There’s a school of thought that imagines our future with base AI models and their prompt-based operations reigning supreme. Now, no offense to these models, but envisioning them as the be-all and end-all feels like a stretch. It’s like expecting a hammer to not only drive nails but also to build an entire house.
I believe AI models are more likely to become the OS layer of our digital world, akin to Windows or macOS. Picture them providing a solid foundation, a base functionality with a set of default “apps” (think OpenAI’s DALL-E). Alas, the real magic happens with apps built on top of this layer. These are the tools that bring specific functionalities and, critically, UI/UX affordances that transform base AI capabilities into something genuinely user-friendly.
Take Photoshop and other photo editing programs, for instance. Can you imagine a future where you upload photos to ChatGPT and ask it to tweak and edit? That’s like asking a chef to cook a gourmet meal with just a spatula. Sure, OpenAI might power some aspects of these apps in the future. But at the end of the day, what I want (and what I believe most users want) is an intuitive UI/UX, coupled with functionalities that extend beyond the realm of what ChatGPT or similar models offer.
The future, my friends, is in the apps.
🔍 Why Big Projects Fail — And How to Give Yours a Better Chance of Success Large projects are often destined to fail. The authors have identified the five core reasons why success is so hard-won and one simple solution. Jane ⇢ Read
🏚️ WeWork Urges Landlords to Negotiate in Bankruptcy More than 20% of office space in the US is vacant right now. With WeWork filing for bankruptcy, this number is about to get astronomically bigger, especially impacting New York, Boston, and San Francisco, where 42% of WeWork offices had been established. Mafe ⇢ Read
🚀 My North Star for the Future of AI In a marvelous excerpt from her new book, Fei-Fei Li argues that the jump AI leadership took in the last decade from academia to hyper-capitalized Silicon Valley firms has had a unique and worrying set of implications for the development of the field. Sadly, less compelling—or at least realistic—is her call to put the genie back in the bottle and return universities to the gravitational center of the AI conversation. Jeffrey ⇢ Read
⚖️ The Great Social Media–News Collapse Profiling the difficult relationship between the news industry and social media revealed how both fueled the worst in each other. While obvious mutual benefits seemed within reach, merging the two inherently different spheres has proven difficult and detrimental. Julian ⇢ Read
💰 The Netflix Effect Netflix’s successful adaptation and innovation have not only kept it afloat but helped it thrive during industry-wide events like the writers’ strike. Their profits hit $1.6 billion—up 20% from last year—and added 9 million new subscribers. Pedro ⇢ Read
🤔 Where Do People Come From? A beautiful exploration into the question “Where do people come from?” Pascal ⇢ Read
» A concise yet expansive analysis and perspective provided by the amazing Ben Thompson on OpenAI’s keynote.
» Indulge your gadget nostalgia with this remarkable anthology of scanned DAK catalogs.
» Transform your Amazon Alexa device into a charming incarnation of WALL-E.
» Christmas presents for your pre-teen? Try skincare. Gen Alpha is moisturizing like no generation before.
» The Metaverse was always bound to fail. A key reason for this is Silicon Valley’s lack of understanding of what truly constitutes “fun.”
» Does AI become conscious, or perhaps it already is? This largely hinges on our own definition and comprehension of consciousness to begin with.
» A major flaw in our approach to evaluating AI lies in the very tests we utilize for this purpose.
» A suggested answer to the question: How does one succeed in AI?
- FTX → WeWork
- Magic Leap → Humane
- Influencers → Grift Shifters
- Amazon → OpenAI
- Cybertruck → Any other truck
(*) The “Tired/Wired” column in Wired magazine was a regular feature acting as a cultural pulse, spotlighting what was deemed “out” (Tired) and what was “in” (Wired) across technology, culture, business, and beyond.
Before our AI overlords seize control by wresting the steering wheel of your cherished car from your grasp, embark on a thrilling journey with expert driver George Eyles from London to Bath—in 1963, complete with road rage incidents.
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