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Newsletter
Please see our weekly newsletter collection below. Our own staff and members contribute bits and bytes of interesting news and articles. They say that futurists make funny historians but we do our best to bridge that divide by illustrating our past themes and speakers as they develop and evolve. We hope that you enjoy reading these communications as much as we enjoy creating them for you. And if you have any news to share, please contact any member of our staff.

2017 February 10

TV Software Behaving Badly, Part 1: Smart TVs are spying on you. (Adam Beguelin, Paris, Jul 2011; Edward Felten, Austin, Feb 2004).
www.theverge.com/2017/2/7/14527360/vizio-smart-tv-tracking-settlement-disable-settings
 
TV Software Behaving Badly, Part 2: Half the TVs sold in the United States cheat on DOE energy consumption tests by recognizing the test clip the Department of Energy uses and auto-dimming the backlight during testing conditions. (We’ll never look at cheating strategies the same after seeing Doug Emlen’s presentation on animal weapons, Washington, D.C., Sep 2016.)
www.economist.com/news/business/21716075-tvs-samsung-lg-and-vizio-consume-far-more-electricity-home-they-do
 
The thing about AI is that it just keeps getting better. So self-driving cars are getting better—rapidly. According to data collected by California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, the number of incidents where a human had to take back control is in sharp decline from a year ago. (Alex Kendall, San Francisco, May 2016; John Markoff and Mike Hawley, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Tim Landgraf, Washington, DC, Sep 2015).
www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/02/01/us/ap-us-self-driving-cars.html
 
Congratulations to National Security Agency scientist Josiah Dykstra (Los Angeles, Feb 2013) on receiving the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.
www.obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/09/president-obama-honors-federally-funded-early-career-scientists
 
Is Snapchat worth $20–25 billion? Fortune] [New York Times] [Wired UK] (Really?) That’s double what Toshiba's memory chip business is worth.
 
Tweets by the President of the United States under the @POTUS handle are easily recorded for posterity, but tweets from other accounts are giving headaches to archivists like Brewster Kahle (San Francisco, Jun 2016, May 2016, Feb 2005).
www.politico.com/story/2017/02/trump-tweets-archivists-234635
 
Last summer Marc Raibert (Brooklyn, Jul 2016) told us that Boston Dynamics was working on a wheeled robot. Here’s a peek. As The Verge notes, it “looks like a cross between a Segway and the two-legged Atlas bot.”
www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/2/1/14468126/boston-dynamics-new-wheeled-robot-handle
 
Meanwhile, Rethink Robotics realizes the importance of software and completely redesigns their interface (Rodney Brooks, Atlanta, Dec 2004; Marco Tempest, Boston, Apr 2014; Henrik Christensen, Atlanta, Feb 2014).
www.spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/industrial-robots/rethink-robots-get-massive-software-upgrade
 
And elsewhere in the world of scary robots, check out the the Bat Bot, which has thin, elastic wings and flies much like a bat does (Russ Tedrake, Boston, Apr 2014; Daniel Mellinger, Washington, D.C. May 2012; Paul MacCready, Los Angeles, Nov 1998), while only copying the essentials of the animal’s anatomy.
www.livescience.com/57720-flying-robot-mimics-how-bats-fly.html
 
… While Uber wants its robots to fly more like helicopters. (Ian Glenn, Brooklyn, July 2016)
www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-02-06/uber-hires-veteran-nasa-engineer-to-develop-flying-cars
 
Google is selling its satellite imaging business (Steve Jurvetson, San Francisco, Dec 2013). Maybe it should have used a standardized, modular satellite design, like the CubeSat. Jordi Puig-Suari, one of its co-inventors, will talk about the CubeSat standard at our April meeting.  
 

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