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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Silicon Valley’s Big, Bold Sci-Fi Bet on the Device That Comes After the Smartphone  ·  

    Looks dumb, but I'm a hater and haters are gonna hate, I guess.

Naaaah dawg. My accountant just spent two emails and a phone call trying to make me feel guilty for taking ERTC so I'm going to indulge in a little self care? I'm gonna show you some HATE. You know. For me. And like I'm going to pause every now and then and save a draft and get back to work and come back to this because it's too delicious and I can tell I'ma spend two hours just straight loathing on this fucking Concorde Moment of tech journalism.

because this is the dumbest fucking shit I have ever seen.

I mean, let's start with the endless loop of a hand trivially grasping nothing. Pinch your fingers three times to pause the world's most insipid playlist. "Imagine staring at your empty hand with a logo projected on it." Down to the Sanskrit wedding ring - fuckin' McSweeney's couldn't write this article better. I'ma need that title image as a gif 'cuz this one takes too long:

And it is just so chockablock with cheesy goodness that I'ma have to go inline because holy fucking shit this is self-parody so incising and adept that if it were anywhere but the New York Times, I would accuse them of trolling. But it's the New York Times so naah, it's Principle Skinner And The Children.


A brief aside, though: ever thought much about space helmets?

I have. See, I wrote a short film with a prominent space helmet in it. It's pure science all the way and we hit it out of the park and I'm really pleased with it and so has everyone else been and one of the "a ha" moments of making a movie with a space helmet in it, as a fan of science and technology, is you go "well of course we're not going to project blinding fucking lights on the actor's face like every other film because that's super dumb." Except as soon as you shoot a single frame of an unlit space helmet you realize that the camera doesn't read your actor's facial expressions and the emotion drains right the fuck out of the scene and you run to 7-11 to buy a half-dozen keychain flashlights to gaff tape around the viewport because fuckin' hell you do not have a movie without facial expressions, I'm sorry, and yeah - the actor can no longer see shit and yeah - this is absolutely not what NASA or anyone else would do in this situation but you know what? It's a movie, and what matters is the audience.

Think about that next time you see some jackass flashing gang tags to dismiss their text notifications. Who is the audience here? 'cuz that whole "fuck haptics let's mime" approach that the tech industry loves? They love it because they are the audience, watching their shit up on the big screen, popping a boner over how fyooooooooochur it looks without sparing a single fucking thought of what it feels like to fucking use it. VR helmets, Marcel Marceau moves, those stupid Playmobil creations that Kroger now thinks are their customers? 100% "fuck yeah my shit looks good on someone else." This is why, incidentally, Neal Stephenson will always be a grasping idiot while William Gibson will always be a fucking genius: Gibson invented cyborgs who were fashionable. Stephenson invented "gargoyles" covered in Borg laptops. Everyone wants to be Molly Millions, everyone hits the cons like gargoyles.

And "my shit looks good on someone else" changes with the times. Take the first Star Trek. Phasers that looked like guns, walkie talkies that looked like walkie talkies. Take the second Star Trek. Phasers that looked like hand massagers, walkie talkies that look like lapel pins. The Federation in '66 was a bunch of gunslingers with belts full of domination, the Federation in '86 was a bunch of grief counselors taking in the complexities of the universe in their pajamas. Federation '66 was about giving the actors props to get them into the zone, Federation '86 was about making the actors look good in the minimalist chic your average '86 coke addict thought the future would look like.

So let's get back to the Graspersons:


    Inside a former horse stable in the San Francisco neighborhood of SoMa, a wave of gentle chirps emerged from small, blinking devices pinned to the chests of employees at a start-up called Humane.

Douglas Addams could do no better: "Far Out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.”

    It was just weeks before the start-up’s gadget, the Ai Pin, would be revealed to the world — a culmination of five years, $240 million in funding, 25 patents, a steady drumbeat of hype and partnerships with a list of top tech companies, including OpenAI, Microsoft and Salesforce.

That's right - we're a quarter billion dollars into ugly brooches. Take it from a jeweler - the only people who wear brooches are postmenopausal grandmothers and they favor rhinestones.

    Artificial intelligence “can create an experience that allows the computer to essentially take a back seat,” Mr. Chaudhri said.

What the fuck do you think Youtube is by the way

    They’re billing the pin as the first artificially intelligent device. It can be controlled by speaking aloud, tapping a touch pad or projecting a laser display onto the palm of a hand. In an instant, the device’s virtual assistant can send a text message, play a song, snap a photo, make a call or translate a real-time conversation into another language. The system relies on A.I. to help answer questions (“What’s the best way to load the dishwasher?”) and can summarize incoming messages with the simple command: “Catch me up.”

The first appearance of the space helmet: "wouldn't it be cool if some dipshit who didn't know how to load a dishwasher could stare at it like a moron, his hands full of greasy plates, and beg the heavens for guidance? Fuck yeah Sequoia would be all in on that shit." Let's pause to reflect, before moving on, that your average normie doesn't want to take a picture without the ability to look at it. But in the product video we'll just superimpose a perfect snap over his haplessness without having to worry about the fact that generally people want a modicum of QAQC.

    The technology is a step forward from Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant.

"Hey Siri how much of a dumpster fire is Alexa" "Hey Alexa How are things going at Google" "Hey Alexa how is Siri generally regarded"

    To tech insiders, it’s a moonshot. To outsiders, it’s a sci-fi fantasy.

Or, and I'm just spitballing here, it's the ultimate "if we build it they will come" circlejerk.

    Humane will begin shipping the pins next year. It expects to sell around 100,000 pins, which will cost $699 and require a $24 monthly subscription, in the first year. (Apple sold 381,000 iPods in the year after its 2001 launch.)

For $399. With no monthly subscription! And a pretty compelling use case! By 2009, there were 385,000,000 music players sold by Sony alone! "It's like a walkman but it doesn't skip, lasts twelve hours and holds 50 hours of music" is not a hard sell. "It's like a phone but you can't watch videos, scroll Facebook or call people, also

    For the start-up to succeed, people will need to learn a new operating system, called Cosmos, and be open to getting new phone numbers for the device. (The pin comes with its own wireless plan.)

..."People will need to learn a new operating system," the NYT said blithely, without the slightest acknowledgement of the simple power of blue bubbles.

    They’ll need to dictate rather than type texts and trade a camera that zooms for wide-angle photos. They’ll need to be patient because certain features, like object recognition and videos, won’t be available initially.

Wait wait wait they're expecting this thing to replace your fucking phone? "new phone who dis also don't confuse my AI"

    Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief executive, said in an interview that he expected A.I. to be “a huge part” of how we interact with computers. He has invested in Humane as well as another A.I. company, Rewind AI, that plans to make a necklace that will record what people say and hear.

For the record, Microsoft abandoned that shit more than ten years ago. Their whole focus was alzheimer's patients. They were winding it down when Google announced Glass because ten years of trying failed to find a use for the fucking thing.

    Ms. Bongiorno, 40, and Mr. Chaudhri, 50, have a marriage of contrasts. He shaves his head bald and speaks with the soft, calm voice of a yogi. She sweeps her long blond hair over one shoulder and has the enthusiasm of a team captain. They both dress in Jobsian black.

Let's call it what it is, though - Theranos Black. It's what you wear when you're trying to make people think you're Steve Jobs, not when you're Steve Jobs. See, Dieter Rams also wore all black. So did Karl Lagerfeld. So does Helmut Lang. When Steve Jobs wore all black? He was aping designers to make you think he was a designer rather than a tech nerd. When everyone else wears all black? They're aping Steve Jobs to make you think they aren't grifters.

    They met at Apple in 2008. Mr. Chaudhri was working on its human interface, defining the swipes and drags that control iPhones.

In other words, the absolute worst aspects of iOS.

    Ms. Bongiorno was a program manager for the iPhone and iPad.

In other words, a bureaucrat.

    A Buddhist monk named Brother Spirit led them to Humane. Mr. Chaudhri and Ms. Bongiorno had developed concepts for two A.I. products: a women’s health device and the pin. Brother Spirit, whom they met through their acupuncturist, recommended that they share the ideas with his friend, Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.

“You know," said Arthur, "it's at times like this, when I'm trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was young." Also, Brother Spirit's real name is Denpok

    Sitting beneath a palm tree on a cliff above the ocean at Mr. Benioff’s Hawaiian home in 2018, they explained both devices. “This one,” Mr. Benioff said, pointing at the Ai Pin, as dolphins breached the surf below, “is huge.”

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.”

    Humane’s goal was to replicate the usefulness of the iPhone without any of the components that make us all addicted — the dopamine hit of dragging to refresh a Facebook feed or swiping to see a new TikTok video.

"Like a phone, except you can't see or hear anything"

    The device’s most sci-fi element — the laser that projects a text menu onto a hand — started inside a box the size of a matchbook.

Projected haptics - championed by designers and eschewed by consumers since 1992

    It took three years to miniaturize it to be smaller than the size of a golf tee.

Huh, wow! Really impressive. Are you sure it took you that long to miniaturize a laser, Mr. & Mrs. Badhaptics Pointyhair? Or maybe it took you that long to negotiate prices on the one you want? cuz here's Forbes in 2012.

    Humane also retained Apple’s obsession with design details, from its device’s curved corners and compostable white packaging to the Japanese-style toilets at the company’s stark office.

LOL "what can we say about the office?" "it was... office-ey?" "no, no, something something design." "Well they bought Totos." "Fucking everyone buys Totos you can buy Toto at Home Depot now." "well what you got mister design" "shit I guess write about the toilets"

    Mr. Benitez Cong said he was “disgusted” by what the iPhone had done to society, noting his son could mimic a swiping motion at the age of 1. “This could be something that could help me get over my guilt of working on the iPhone,” Mr. Benitez Cong said.

allow me to show you something worse than swiping

    A haunting whoosh filled the room, and two dozen Humane employees, seated around a long white table, carefully concentrated on the sound. It was just before the Ai Pin’s release, and they were evaluating its rings and beeps. The pin’s “personic” speaker (a company portmanteau of “personal” and “sonic”) is critical, since many of its features rely on verbal and audio cues.

    Mr. Chaudhri praised the “assuredness” of one chirp noise and Ms. Bongiorno complimented the “more physical” sounds for the pin’s laser. “It feels like you’re actually holding the light,” she marveled.

    Less assuring: That whoosh, which plays when sending a text message. “It feels ominous,” Ms. Bongiorno said. Others around the table said it sounded like a ghost, or as if you made a mistake, almost. Someone thought it was a Halloween joke.

    Ms. Bongiorno wanted the sound for sending a text to feel as satisfying as the trash-can sound on one of Apple’s older operating systems. “Like ‘thunk,’” she said.


    The device is arriving at a time when excitement and skepticism for A.I. hit new highs each week. Industry researchers are warning of the technology’s existential risk and regulators are eager to crack down on it.

    Yet investors are eagerly pouring cash into A.I. start-ups. Before Humane even released a product, its backers had valued it at $850 million.

You are now aware that Facebook has lost $28b on virtual reality.

    The company has tried to promote a message of trust and transparency, despite spending most of its existence working in secret. Humane’s Ai Pins have what the company calls a “trust light” that blinks when the device is recording. (A user must tap the pin to “wake” it.) Humane said it did not sell user data to third parties or use it in training its A.I. models.

Of course, that light has a name. And of course, you need users to sell their data.

    In September, in an echo of Apple’s fashion-friendly launch of its Watch, the supermodel Naomi Campbell wore Humane’s pin — barely noticeable without knowing to look for it — on a gray Coperni blazer on the runway at Paris Fashion Week.


    Humane’s supporters have a pat way of dismissing skepticism about its prospects — they invoke the first iPod. That clunky, awkward device had just one use, playing songs, but it laid the groundwork for the real revolution, smartphones. Similarly, Humane envisions an entire ecosystem of companies building features for its operating system — an A.I. version of Apple’s App Store.

    But first, raisins. In a demo at Humane’s office of a feature that will be rolled out in a future version of the product, a software designer picked up a chocolate chip cookie and tapped the pin on his left breast. As it whirred to life with a beep, he asked, “How much sugar is in this?”

    “I’m sorry; couldn’t look up the amount of sugar in oatmeal raisin cookie,” the virtual assistant said.

    Mr. Chaudhri shrugged off the mistake. “To be fair, I have trouble with the difference between a chocolate chip cookie and an oatmeal raisin.”

1) Smell it.

2) Look closely at it.


4) And also, read the fucking package.

Space helmet design, personified: "I would never do this, but as the audience I would watch somebody do this, and when it doesn't work I will plead idiocy because fundamentally, my customers are fucking idiots."

What we have here is an expensive device that can barely do the things we need, fails miserably at the things we don't need, but has the words "AI" "Apple" and "valuation" attached to it so of course, they're going to sell 100,000 of the fucking things. Thing about Juicero? At least you got juice. This, apparently, is for people who feel the need to ask the air about their cookies, which is all anyone uses their phones for anyway.


b_b  ·  27 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Can I bank with it? Can I read the news? Can I do the crossword puzzle? Can I read excel sheets? Buy shit on Amazon? When the answer to 100% of these questions is yes, then there will be use case as long as the answers to “do I have to wear it” and “do I have to intone my private text messages aloud?” are no. The only Google glass I saw in person was on the streets of DC in 2013. I was with insomniasexx and we both just looked at each other for a moment then died laughing.

Nice answers though. I was laughing out loud at an airport bar multiple times.

kleinbl00  ·  26 days ago  ·  link  ·  

You're describing the two main problems of ubiquitous computing: utility and interface.

The world has gone app-happy because "can I read excel sheets" and "Buy shit on Amazon" require two different interfaces, and you get around all sorts of usability problems by starting with a blank screen. Notably, you start with a screen. And, the world has gone big screen because the less we use real computers, the more our ubiquitous computers have to do; tablets exist because the people who never really figured out how to run Internet Explorer can totally surf Amazon on an iPad without getting out their readers and the world is a better place.

If I'm being honest, this product exists because the smart watch is a compromise. The only thing it does well is health monitoring. It's a wretched screen for detailed information display. Notably, Apple rolled out that "pinch your fingers" bullshit a year ago and the world has largely responded with "meh." Apple likely understood this. It's not particularly natural, it's not the first thing you reach for, and if you aren't in the habit of having your hands full or covered in cookie dough on the reg, it's of limited utility. But hey - they have research that shows it's handy sometimes, for some people, and they've already got the sensors to recognize what your tendons are doing under your watch as part of their oxygenation and EKG sensing.

If you told me that the guy who headed up "gestures" until 2016 decided that what the Apple watch needed was a lack of screen and being pinned to your fucking lapel, I would absolutely believe you. The whole device screams "look what we can do without a screen" without noticing that it's also screaming "look how hard it is to give up a screen".

So, interface: "imagine interacting without a screen." Except they can't do that, they make you hold your hand up to your chest like you're describing a buxom woman with a mastectomy. And utility: "here's everything we can think of doing without a screen." Except it took way way way the fuck too long for them to figure out that having Siri read out the title and artist of your spotify playlist was excruciating so they had to punt.

'member this guy?

The answer to the question "how do you make a juice press not look like a juice press" is "through liberal applications of money and engineering." The answer to the question "how do you make a smart watch not look like a smart watch" is "put it somewhere else and put a laser projector in it."

How much more effective would this piece of shit be on your wrist?

And how many noncompetes would they blow through if they made that move?

Fuckin' Zardoz has a talking ring with a laser projector in it.

It's how the Eternals communicate with the Tabernacle. Notably, the Eternals are only ever shown conversing with the Tabernacle in quiet, empty rooms, which also happens to be a favorite locale of minimalist tech grifters. And notably, the Eternals are mostly shown using their god-like powers for trivial, effete bullshit, only to welcome the destruction Zardoz brings upon them to return them to their base human nature. But, as with so much of the tech industry these days, "I'll be a supervillain for good" is the modus operandi.

If Google Glass had been marketed to bicycle riders or motorcycle riders? It'd be in its 5th generation right now. "Here's an alternate screen for your phone that requires no hands and takes limited voice instructions that is designed to help you focus on your environment rather than the palm of your hand." Instead they went "here's an alternate screen for your phone because we can."