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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 April 7

On the occasion of his winning the 2017 ACM Turing Award, Tim Berners-Lee has been rethinking, and even been critical of, his seminal invention. Besides our own Alan Kay, who won in 2003, we’ve had quite a collection Turing Awardees through the years:

  • Len Adleman (San Diego, Nov 2002)
  • Fred Brooks (Charlotte, Dec 2010)
  • Vint Cerf (Washington, D.C., May 2012; Philadelphia, April, 2006; Brussels, Jul 2002; London, July 1994)
  • Whitfield Diffie (Palm Springs, Feb 1995)
  • Edward Feigenbaum (San Francisco, Dec 2013)
  • Jim Gray (San Francisco, Jul 1998)
  • Robert Kahn (Washington, D.C., Sep 1998)
  • Butler Lampson (Los Angeles, Apr 2001)
  • Raj Reddy (Phoenix, Dec 2003)
  • Chuck Thacker (San Diego, Nov 2002)
And of course we’ll have the 2014 winner, Michael Stonebraker, speaking next week in Boston at Hyperconnected. if you are curious about any of the above talks, why not visit the archive? Claudia Miklas is always on hand to assist with User IDs and Passwords.
Speaking of Alan, he offers “7 Steps for Escaping The Present to Invent The Future” in an article for Forbes written by former TTI/Vanguard advisory board member Chunka Mui.  
https://www.forbes.com/sites/chunkamui/2017/04/04/7-steps-for-inventing-the-future/#71ab47cf33bf
 
We need new painkillers. Synthetic opioids (Christina Smolke, San Francisco, Dec 2015) would be one way to go. But as the title of a talk six years ago would suggest (Whacky Sea Creatures and Their Surprising Biomedical and Biotechnical Applications, Ellen Prager, Miami, Dec 2011), natural substances, such as the venom of the fang blenny fish, could be the basis of new, safer drugs.
http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/tiny-fish-could-solve-opioid-crisis-1.4047312
 
National Public Radio’s Marketplace show has stumbled upon a topic we’ve been looking at for years—the automation of the workforce. April 2017 is the show’s month to explore “robot-proof jobs” (Ian Stewart, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; John Markoff and Mike Hawley, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Michael Bernstein, San Francisco, Dec 2013; Andrew McAfee, Jersey City, Oct 2013). And that’s the topic of Nicole Immorlica’s talk next week (Data as Labor: The Future of Work in the Age of Automation).
 
Another longstanding TTI/Vanguard topic, computational thinking, was recently taken up by the New York Times. (Vikas Gupta, Washington, D.C., Oct 2104; Maryanne Wolf, Jersey City, Oct 2013; Mitchel Resnick, Chicago, May 2011; Jeanette Wing, Washington, D.C., May 2009).
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/04/education/edlife/teaching-students-computer-code.html
 
One of those ideas that seems obvious in hindsight: a graphene (Qing Cao, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Michael Strano, Charlotte, Dec 2010) sieve to turn saltwater into drinking water (Matthew Atwood, Vienna, Jul 2013; Dean Kamen, Jersey City, Oct 2009; Rick Smolan, Jersey City, Oct 2009; Gary Atkinson, London, Jul 2014).
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39482342
 
Gamification (Gabe Zichermann, Joichi Ito, and pretty much the entire Serious Fun meeting in Chicago, May 2011) is just one technique—and not by any means the darkest—that Uber has been using to sway its drivers to drive where it wants and when it wants (Barry Schwartz, Patty McCord, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015). Uber will be one of the companies to be discussed next week by Arun Sundararajan (The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism).
 
The News Integrity Initiative is a new consortium that includes Facebook, Mozilla, and $14M from Craig Newmark (Vancouver, October 2010) dedicated “helping people make informed judgments about the news they read and share online." It will be housed in the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. Fake news will be discussed in two sessions next week, one by Oxford’s David Robert Grimes (Paranoia for the People—The Rise of Conspiracy Theories in the 21st Century) and the other with returning speaker Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia (Finding Fake News).
 
Is there a Planet 9—“a giant, unseen ‘perturber’ lurking in the solar system's outer reaches”? The hunt is now aided by citizen science  (Jake VanderPlas, Washington, D.C., Oct 2014; Jordan Raddick,Vancouver, Oct 2010) via the site Zooniverse.org. (Of course, a lot of people still hold dear to their hearts the old Planet 9.)
 
The newsletter will take a week for our Hyperconnected conference. See you in Boston, or in your inbox on April 21.
 
“Take a course in good water and air; and in the eternal youth of Nature you may renew your own.”—John Muir

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