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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 June 29

Former speaker Brian David Johnson (San Fran, Feb 2017; Boston, Apr 2014) has graciously invited TTI/V members to attend the upcoming Threatcasting Workshop being held in Washington, D.C., on September 6 and 7. The event envisions possible threats (and solutions) ten years in the future. Please email Brian to reserve your spot. Note that’s the week before our own not unrelated Risk, Security, & Privacy meeting (overview, registration).
 
Can you picture a Fields Medalist winning a seat in the U.S. Congress? Us neither. But it happened in France, where Cédric Villani garnered 69% of the vote in a district south of Paris. (In 2015 The New Yorker magazine called him “the Lady Gaga of French mathematics.”) He won the medal in 2010 for an improved understanding of entropy—and, thereby, to optimal transport theory. (William Byers, Jersey City, Oct 2013; John Doyle, Brussels, July 2002)
www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/06/qa-why-top-mathematician-has-joined-emmanuel-macron-s-revolution
 
What a boon it would be for neuroscience to nondestructively observe at fine scale the individual and collective response of neurons to perturbations, such as the presence of drugs or neurotransmitters. Nanowire arrays developed at UCSD hold promise (Miguel Nicolelis, San Jose, Feb 2012; Andres Maricq and Ed Boyden, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009; John Donoghue, Geneva, Sep 2005).
twww.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2177
 
Also from UCSD—the alma mater of two members of the TTI/Vanguard team—come sensor-laden gloves to provide objectivity to physicians evaluating patients’ level of muscle spasticity. The result should improve pharmaceutical dosing (Chih-Ming Ho, San Francisco, May 2016) by basing it on a standardized metric rather than subjective palpation.
www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/news/news_releases/release.sfe?id=2190
 
We still can’t roll up an iPad like a newspaper and discipline the dog with it, but LG recently showed off a 77-inch flexible—and transparent—display. Tech magazines have been writing about flexible displays since at least 2000, and the first TTI/V session was nearly 14 years ago (Emily de Rotstein, Phoenix, Dec 2003).
 
Should there be a National Algorithm Safety Board, on analogy with the National Transportation Safety Board? Ben Shneiderman (Washington, D.C., Sep 2015) thinks so (article/podcast).
 
AR storybooks that animate a child’s bedroom with characters and objects: Are they a useful innovation, or do they stunt the growth of a child’s imaginative powers? We know which way we lean. At a minimum, it would be nice to have some research before we unleash them on the world. (Patrick Henry Winston, Boston, Apr 2017; Susan Bonds, Vancouver, Oct 2010; Mark Oehlert, Washington, D.C., May 2009)
www.twitter.com/Within/status/875384149330337795
 
Snapchat spent at least $250 million to buy Zenly, a GPS app that lets users see where their friends are on a continually updating map. What’s remarkable is not the price (okay, the price is remarkable for a service with only 4 million users worldwide) but that this sort of thing has taken so long. TTI/V speakers were predicting such services as far back as 2000 (Kimmo Kalliola, San Francisco, May 2016; Jed Rice, Memphis, September, 2006; Keith Dixon, Amsterdam, July 2000).
www.techcrunch.com/2017/06/21/snapchat-buys-zenly/
 
The University of Washington has created a course entitled “Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data” (yes, apparently the catalog uses that word). In some ways it’s part of a larger debate about, to borrow from the title of an article in the current issue of Harvard Business Review, the role of “liberal arts in the data age.”
 
Even data that’s not BS can raise troubling issues--such as, when you hire a vendor to help you analyze your data, who owns the analysis when the contract ends? That question has come up for the New York Police Department and Palantir, whose impressive roster of clients may include some TTI/Vanguard members. Perhaps we should share with the NYPD Roxanne Christ’s still-timely presentation, “Mining Your Own Business: Data Ownership in the Wired and Wireless World, A Lawyer's Perspective” (San Francisco, Feb 2010).
www.buzzfeed.com/williamalden/theres-a-fight-brewing-between-the-nypd-and-silicon-valley
 
The TTI/V newsletter will be on hiatus next week as TTI/V staffers celebrate American Independence Day everywhere from the headquarters in Santa Monica to the mountains of New Hampshire (Steven Cherry) and even to the lakes of Italy (Robin Lockett).
 

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. —Elmer Davis

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