The eyes have it: Facebook to introduce a blink removal tool for online pics

An interesting piece by Sophie Werthan in Slate reports that Facebook is developing a tool to change pictures so that closed eyes appear to be open.

In technical terms, the tool employs an Artificial Intelligence technique that learns to insert realistic, open eyes where closed ones are detected in photos.  The point is to help overcome disappointment when users blink in what would otherwise be a nice picture of them.

Review: Make it new—The history of Silicon Valley design

Barry Katz, professor of Industrial and Interaction Design at California College of the Arts, has written a book that, at 200 pages, conveys a worthy and instructive history of consumer design as it has applied and evolved in the famous Silicon Valley.

Self-driving cars and technology solutionism?

In a recent Wired post, Aarian Marshall makes the point that there are several ways of accomplishing the goal of making roadways safer for the people in them.  Many jurisdictions have adopted "vision zero" plans to reduce traffic injuries.  That is, they aspire to reducing traffic fatalities to none through various safety measures.

Wakanda as a technotopia

I recently had the opportunity to watch the latest instalment in the Marvel movie universe, that is, The Black Panther.  The movie concerns the eponymous superhero, who hails from a hidden, high-tech kingdom in middle Africa, called Wakanda.  After the death of his father, prince T'Challa must prove that he deserves to ascend the throne and to determine the future course for the kingdom.

AI: Good or bad?

I was intrigued by a couple of videos that I came across today.  These videos concern the merits and accomplishments of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems.  They provide an interesting contrast in approaches that we may adopt about the increasing role of AI in our lives.

Bike battles by James Longhurst

In a recent post about telegraph delivery boys, I noted that their employers were reluctant to take responsibility for collisions between them and pedestrians.  This, and many other points about the history of cycling on the roadways of the United States are related in "Bike battles" by James Longhurst of the University of Wisconsin.

Telegraph boys were the first Uber drivers

I have been reading "Bike battles" by James Longhurst of the University of Wisconsin.  The book is a review of the history of cycling in the United Stastes, with particular emphasis on the cultural and legal aspects of how bicycles have been granted (or not) access to public roadways.

I may have more to say about this interesting book later.  However, a passage on telegraph boys in the early 20th century struck me (pp. 112ff). 

Do smartphones shape people's purchase decisions?

A topic of perennial interest in technology studies is how technology shapes the way people think.  It is clear that the way people think affects technology, as in the example of how gender is encoded in architecture, recently noted in this blog.

Gender in hospital architecture

Annmarie Adam's book Medicine by design (2007) examines how hospital architecture shaped and responded to changing ideas about medicine and its place in the urban realm.  It uses the development of the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal (1893–1943) as its central case study.

Progress in treatment with antibiotics

In our class on Design & Society, we discuss the so-called dilemma of progress.  With any design whose introduction poses potential risk, there is a decision to make on how to regulate it.  In simplest terms, there are two possibilities:

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