Donning a rad vest made with googly eyes, Shitty Robots' inventor extraordinaire Simone Giertz (who recently announced she has a brain tumor) makes a solid case for creating "useless" things in a TED Talk (!) she gave in April.
In this joyful, heartfelt talk featuring demos of her wonderfully wacky creations, Simone Giertz shares her craft: making useless robots. Her inventions -- designed to chop vegetables, cut hair, apply lipstick and more -- rarely (if ever) succeed, and that's the point. "The true beauty of making useless things [is] this acknowledgment that you don't always know what the best answer is," Giertz says. "It turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works. Maybe a toothbrush helmet isn't the answer, but at least you're asking the question."
Bonus: In her behind-the-TED-Talk-scenes video, she shares how she made that googly eyes vest (because you do need to know):
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Simone Giertz (previously), a roboticist/satirist/artist/youtuber, has announced that she has a brain tumor the size of a golf-ball behind one of her eyes; it is operable but she could experience longterm vision-loss, paralysis, or cognitive impairment. Her video announcement is brave and funny and moving, and as one of her ardent admirers, I am certainly pulling for her. (via Four Short Links)
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Simone Giertz is the beloved creator of a series of Shitty Robots, and now she's working at longer lengths, having created hilariously profane, shitty-robot-themed show about vegetarianism and robots, which culminates in the construction, stalking, killing and eating of a tofu-impregnated robot that she and Adam Savage built. It's pretty much perfect. (via Beyond the Beyond)
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Robot law pioneer Ryan Calo (previously) has published a "roadmap" for an "artificial intelligence policy...to help policymakers, investors, technologists, scholars, and students understand the contemporary policy environment around AI at least well enough to initiative their own exploration." Read the rest
Simone Giertz—who previously made her own space program—has now moved on to inventing her own personal, portable mattress. Read the rest
Eminent computer scientist Ed Felten has posted a short, extremely useful taxonomy of four ways that an algorithm can fail to be accountable to the people whose lives it affects: it can be protected by claims of confidentiality ("how it works is a trade secret"); by complexity ("you wouldn't understand how it works"); unreasonableness ("we consider factors supported by data, even when you there's no obvious correlation"); and injustice ("it seems impossible to explain how the algorithm is consistent with law or ethics"). Read the rest
Our guest this week on the Cool Tools Show is Simone Giertz. Simone is a Swedish native who now resides in San Francisco. Millions of people come to watch her build shitty robots on YouTube and she recently launched her own astronaut training program to get herself into space. Simone's videos have been featured on The Ellen Show, The Late Show, Mashable, Business Insider, Wired, Conan O'Brien, and more. Whilst most recently joining master builder Adam Savage's tested team.
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Dremel 4200 ($114)
“I started building stuff about 3 years and I’m rediscovering everything that people have known for a long time. … Dremel tool kind of goes in the line of that … it blew my mind because I do a lot of aluminum fabrications. I make parts out of aluminum frames or customized parts that I already have and for that it's freakin' great because it's like having your own arm do it but at a much higher RPM. It's like a little pen. It's just such an accessible tool. You're just sitting there and you're cutting. It has the tiniest little cutter blades and it’s just nice. … It’s a super versatile tool and it takes up no space.”
Original Prusa i3 MK2S kit ($699)
"I am definitely not an authority in 3D printing. I am a total 3D printing novice. Read the rest
Simone Giertz is widely known online as the “queen of shitty robots.” As Boing Boing has previously noted, she's a contemporary Rube Goldberg who makes all sorts of weird and wacky inventions on her YouTube channel. But her biggest dream is to become an astronaut. Read the rest
Trump launched his campaign in front of an "audience" of actors paid $50/each to wear campaign shirts and cheer wildly, and he's brought his paid cheering section with him into the presidency, bringing along staffers to applaud at key moments during his press conferences and other appearances. Read the rest
Concrete Problems in AI Safety, an excellent, eminently readable paper from a group of Google AI researchers and some colleagues, sets out five hard problems facing the field: robots might damage their environments to attain their goals; robots might figure out how to cheat to attain their goals; supervising robots all the time is inefficient; robots that are allowed to try novel strategies might cause disasters; and robots that are good at one task might inappropriately try to apply that expertise to another unrelated task. Read the rest
Simone Giertz's oeuvre of "shitty robots" doesn't end with her marvellous slap-in-the-face alarm clock: her Youtube channel is full of examples of her work, each better than the last, from arms on her phone that let it commando-crawl along the sidewalk to the world's greatest hair-washing bot and the world's most alarming chopping bot. Read the rest
Simone Giertz says, "I built an alarm clock that wakes me up in the morning by slapping me in the face with a rubber arm. I picked apart a clock, wired it to an Arduino UNO and controlled a 165 rpm brushless DC motor through a relay."
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