Anthropomorphic cuteness is such a go-to for designers of robots that it has quickly become a trope of the product category. While cuteness in and of itself is far from a design sin, when it's used as a protective glaze of sweetness draped over questionable technology practices (like data harvesting), it becomes problematic. There's a line between designing a more aesthetically pleasing object and manipulating users by turning our own biological impulses into just another tool for engagement, and designers should carefully consider whether their work crosses it.
A quality read about improving manufacturing processes via a case study on Rapid Manufacturing, a metal fabrication company acquired by Protolabs in 2017. Among the process changes mentioned in the article: making welders grind their own welds, rather than send them to another team for rework. That change led to fewer pile-ups of work in progress, and also reduced the need for grinding overall, as the welders became more careful in their work. Beyond the efficient manufacturing tip, it's an insight into how accountability and ownership over our work changes how we approach that work in the first place.
Roadmapping the Future:
A "basic income" pilot program in Canada, which provided a baseline of revenue for households, has been shut down well ahead of the three year timeline that it was originally slated for. The results of the program to date seem to be mixed, but are far from an abject failure. Advocates of basic income programs say that a highly automated future of work, will make them necessary, and mitigate the harm of a too-rapidly changing economic landscape; critics say they are inefficient and misguided. Prematurely shuttering a bounded policy experiment like this one is a setback for coming closer to understanding the true impact, for better or worse, of a basic income system.
VICE is reporting that companies like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint were sharing real-time location data of their customers with bail bond companies, which in turn, were sometimes willing to sell that information to just about anyone via black markets.
You can add IKEA furniture to the list of companies taking "_____ as a service" approaches to selling and shipping products. The company is testing a new model that includes some circular economy features like the producer of the goods dealing with processing them at end of life and a spare parts program.
Not especially surprising, but Flickr's absorption by SmugMug, and the subsequent deletion of untold numbers of user photos demonstrates that if you don't own the archive, it isn't really an archive at all.