BCNM Around the Web April 2020

16 Apr, 2020

BCNM Around the Web April 2020

Here's the recap of what our amazing BCNM community has been up to from the web this past month!

BCNM Professor Nicholas de Monchaux spoke at a Science, Technology, and Society Colloquium at MIT in early March. He gave a lecture titled "Local Code: Technology, Creative Practice, and History as Instrument," talking about his work in urban design and planning.

From the lecture abstract:

Nicholas de Monchaux’s Local Code project comprises a series of design proposals for networked urban environmental infrastructure in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco; these were developed with local non-profits and community organizations and created using design and mapping software developed by de Monchaux and his team at UC Berkeley since 2010. This talk will showcase these digital tools and their applications, but speak most of all to the central role the history of technology and design culture plays in de Monchaux’s work. He will explain both the inspiration for Local Code in software experiments supported by ex-NASA administrator Howard Fisher at the Housing and Urban Development in the early 1970s, as well as a larger critical and historical project that formed part of the work’s publication in 2016.

Read more about de Monchaux's lecture here.

BCNM Professor Ken Goldberg was recently mentioned in a Reno Gazette Journal for his work on display at the Nevada Museum of Art. The article talks about living life while social distancing amid COVID-19, highlighting efforts by museums such as the Nevada Museum of Art sharing exhibits such as Goldberg's online.

From the article:

Museums all over the world are sharing virtual tours of their exhibitions and installations while their doors are closed. Many are also using the hashtag #MuseumMomentofZen to share the most serene and calming images from their collections. The Nevada Museum of Art shared “Bloom,” an internet-based earthwork by Ken Goldberg “that beautifully visualizes data captured by a UC Berkeley seismograph that measures the Hayward Fault’s movements.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Ken Goldberg was also recently featured in a Venture Beat article for his work on robotic grasping.

From the article:

Ken Goldberg is a cocreator of the Dexterity Network (Dex-Net), a system for robotic grasping developed at AUTOLAB in affiliation with Berkeley AI Research, the CITRIS People and Robots Initiative, and the Real-Time Intelligent Secure Execution (RISE) Lab, with support from Amazon Robotics, Google, Intel, Samsung, and Toyota Research. He’s also CEO of Ambidextrous Robotics, a company that has raised funding but still considers itself in stealth mode. He also signed the 2018 IEEE letter.

Before Jeff Bezos took the stage at re:Mars last year, Goldberg talked about robotic grasping and how deep learning and simulation data are advancing the field. Control of actuators, friction between grippers, interpretation of perception from sensors, varying centers of mass, and noisy data can make robotic grasping a challenge. But Goldberg said Dex-Net is capable of achieving 400 picks per hour on objects it’s never seen before. A 2016 analysis clocks human performance at roughly 400 to 600 mean picks per hour.

Read more about robotic grasping and Goldberg's work here.

Goldberg was also featured in both Venture Beat and TIME for his predictions and insight about the future of AI and automation amid COVID-19.

From the TIME article:

Ironically, if the coronavirus continues to spread, companies may try to accelerate the automation of some jobs so they don’t have to depend on workers, says Ken Goldberg, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley who studies automation and AI. In Israel, robots are taking the temperatures and vital signs of patients who may have the coronavirus and helping doctors diagnose them from another room. Employers in fields like agriculture and food preparation, and in warehouses, are already struggling to find enough workers in a tight economy, Goldberg says—the coronavirus could persuade them to stop looking for humans and embrace machines.

Read the rest of the article here and the Venture Beat article here.

Professor Goldberg also recently spoke to BCNM Director Abigail De Kosnik about AI and robotics at TechCrunch Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020 in early March.

From the article about the event:

Panelist Abigail De Kosnik, Director of the Berkeley Center for New Media, talked with Goldberg about how Chinese railroad workers in the 19th century were Orientalized as robotic machines impervious to pain, able to work in the mud and heat. Kosnik compared this stereotype with that of scheming “Asian masterminds.”

“Robots can either be this hyper-intelligent servant class that we don’t want or this servant class that has to be our slaves,” said De Kosnik.

Goldberg argues that both these stereotypes are not representative of reality. “In politics, Andrew Yang was saying that automation will wipe out all of our jobs, and I hear that trope so often. Most of us working in robotics are like, ‘What are you talking about?’ That is not imminent at all,” he said.

Read more about the event here.

BCNM Professor Greg Niemeyer was recently featured in a CalMatters report about California colleges moving online due to COVID-19. In the report, Niemeyer was highlighted for his efforts as a professor to help students during the transition online.

From the report:

Greg Niemeyer, an associate professor of media innovation at UC Berkeley, made a video to help colleagues struggling with the transition to digital learning. His top tips: Don’t be nervous. And remember that you may need to play with the format to keep students engaged—a lesson Niemeyer learned when he moved one of his own classes online.

Read more about the report and the impact of online classes on California colleges here.

BCNM Professor Jeremy Rue was recently featured in a Daily Cal article about UC Berkeley's shift to online classes.

From the article:

Faculty members have come together to discuss how to manage Zoom classes, according to Jeremy Rue, assistant dean for academics and a lecturer at the Graduate School of Journalism.

Rue added that online teaching requires instructors to be more prepared with lesson plans before class begins.

“I was on a digital pedagogy committee a couple years ago, and I think it was very illuminating because teaching online has a very different modality and requires a whole new way of thinking,” Rue said. “I think the struggle right now is that we’re all trying very quickly to adapt.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Alum Jane McGonigal was recently mentioned in a Kotaku article about gaming.

From the article:

“When we play games, we’re immediately and constantly focused on a goal,” wrote author and game designer Jane McGonigal in 2015. A game’s goal, she wrote, “focuses our attention and creates a sense of motivation and determination.”

Read the rest of the article here.

McGonigal was also recently featured in a Chicago Health article about her app SuperBetter and its focus on mental health.

From the article:

After suffering from a severe concussion in 2009, game designer Jane McGonigal created a resilience-building game and watched her anxious and depressive thoughts morph into positive ones.

SuperBetter, available online and as a mobile app, includes picking a goal — such as learning to belly dance or losing weight — and choosing actions to get you there, aided by positive affirmation and scientific stats. Watching yourself succeed on screen is designed to push you through real-life challenges.

Read more about SuperBetter here.

Alum Bo Ruberg recently gave a lecture titled "The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers Are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games" in late February as a part of an Informatics Guest Speaker Series at UC Irvine.

From the lecture abstract:

The queer games avant-garde is a vibrant network of independent video game developers whose radical, experimental, vibrant, and deeply queer work is driving a momentous shift in the medium of video games. This talk draws from interviews with these innovative game-makers. Their insights go beyond typical conversations about LGBTQ representation in video games or how to improve “diversity” in digital media. Instead, they explore queer game-making practices, the politics of queer independent video games, how queerness can be expressed as an aesthetic practice, the influence of feminist art on their work, and the future of queer video games and technology. This work offers a portrait of an influential community that is subverting and redefining the medium of video games by placing queerness front and center.

Read more about the lecture here.

Ruberg was also recently featured in a Daily Dot article about queer games for their book Video Games Have Always Been Queer.

From the article:

In Bonnie Ruberg’s Video Games Have Always Been Queer, Ruberg argues that games feature design elements that can be fundamentally considered queer. In Pong, this is homoerotic triangulation between the two players’ paddles and the ball. For Burnout Revenge, this can be seen through the morbid beauty of the game’s car crashes, which mirror the queer death drive.

Read the rest of the article here.

Alum Trevor Paglen was recently featured in a number of articles for his installation titled "They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead…(SD18)" at the Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI exhibit at the de Young Museum.

From an Art & Object article:

Addressing the perpetuation of societal biases and discrimination within AI, Trevor Paglen’s They Took the Faces from the Accused and the Dead…(SD18), presents a large gridded installation of more than three thousand mugshots from the archives of the American National Standards Institute. The institute's collections of such images were used to train ealry facial-recognition technologies -- without the consent of those pictured. Lynn Hershman Leeson’s new installation Shadow Stalker critiques the problematic reliance on algorithmic systems, such as the military forecasting tool Predpol now widely used for policing, that categorize individuals into preexisting and often false “embodied metrics.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Paglen was also mentioned in a Latin Post article about Tesla and the Nevada Museum fo Art, as Paglen's work is on display there.

From the article:

According to a spokesperson of the museum, Tesla and Nevada Museum first forged their relationship way back in 2014 where it led to a more substantive multi-year of relationship. Tesla also sponsored the museum's current art exhibition named "Where Art and Tech Collide." This art exhibit includes the works of Kal Spelletich, Leo Villareal, and Trevor Paglen that will run until June 21.

Read the rest of the article here.

Paglen was also mentioned in a Reader article about the Fact and Fiction in Contemporary Photography exhibit at the Joslyn Art Museum as his work is on display.

From the article:

Trevor Paglen, too, touches on the ubiquity of the military’s global surveillance in “Untitled (Reaper Drone)” (2010), presenting a Reaper drone as its subject. The drone only exists through its residual contrail — speaking about the military footprint occupying the globe, even in lands that are not experiencing conflict.

Read more about Paglen's work and the exhibit here.