Benefits of Membership
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.
The biomimetic approach has been inspirational, drawing on the marvels of spider silk (Tiger Tao, San Diego, Feb 2015, Todd Blackledge, Charlotte, Dec 2010), gecko ambulation (Duncan Irschick, San Diego, Feb 2015; Robert Full, Charlotte, Dec 2010; Sangbae Kim, Los Angeles, Feb 2011), and ant networking algorithms (Deborah Gordon, Seattle, Dec 2012). The latest animal leading to a technological breakthrough is one all too familiar to gardeners in the northeast this soggy summer: the slug. Researchers intrigued with slug slime have developed a flexible and biocompatible adhesive that sticks to wet surfaces.
Taking biomimetics one step further, an article in The Atlantic about “collective computation” describes how Santa Fe Institute (Geoffrey West, San Francisco, May 2016; Brian Arthur, San Jose, Sep 2000; Murray Gell-Mann, Phoenix, Oct 1999) researcher Jessica Flack and her group, find commonalities between macaque tribes, neurons, slime molds, and the Internet. Jessica will describe her findings and how collective decisions are made at this year’s [next]. A preliminary agenda for the meeting is now posted.
uBiome’s Jessica Richman (Austin, Feb 2016) is featured in Elle’s “2017 Women in Tech,” which “celebrates the founders, execs, engineers, and VCs shaking up the world's most powerful industry.”
Congratulations are also due to Advisory Board member Doug Lenat for securing major funding for Cycorp.
Intel signaled its interest in the health-and-wellness wearable sector with its purchase of Basis just a few months after we heard from its CEO (Marco Della Torre, San Francisco, Dec 2013). Intel has now pulled out of that market in favor of augmented reality in the workplace, which we featured three Decembers later (Mark Skwarek, Sanjay Jhawar, Matt Kammerait, San Francisco, December 2016). Coincidence?
In a provocative article, Joao Barros (San Francisco, May 2016) argues that autonomous vehicles “stand to revolutionize everything we know about wireless networking, urban data collection, and even the safety and livability of our cities.” More depressingly he notes the opportunity to target ads at captive in-vehicle audiences (Claudia Perlich, San Francisco, Feb 2017; Pittsburgh, Oct 2012; Will Scully-Power, San Francisco, Dec 2014).
Epidemiology (Luis Bettencourt, Washington, D.C., Oct 2011) can provide models for the spread of fake news (Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia and David Grimes, Boston, Apr 2017).
Karen Liu (Boston, Apr 2017) and her team at Georgia Tech have designed “assistive stairs” that use springs and pressure sensors to both cushion the impact of going downstairs and store that energy, which gets released to spring the user when going back up.
Implanted microchips are now for more than pets and early-adopter researchers (Kevin Warwick, Los Angeles, Nov 1998; Atlanta, Dec 2004). Employees can now open doors or make cafeteria payments with the wave of a chip-embedded hand.
Citizen science has the dual goals of engaging people in the scientific endeavor and gathering or analyzing scientific data (Jordan Raddick, Vancouver, Oct 2010). Add to your citizen science chops by tracking environmental conditions on Aug 21 with the NASA-GO Eclipse app, a project of the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment project.
Fabric, Part I: Cornell professor Jenny Sabin’s winning design for the 2017 Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) PS1 Young Architects Program competition—knitted installation of responsive tubular fabric structures—reminded us of the talk about the technologies of quilting by Nina Paley and Theodore Gray (Detroit, May 2015).
Fabric, Part II: Anyone who was with TTI/Vanguard in Paris in July 2011 surely remembers the delightful talk and performance by cellist extraordinaire (and Olympic Games national anthem composer) Philip Sheppard, in which he described how he transforms musical scores into visual art. He is now making these “graphic scores” available to the public as artistic prints and also as novelty items like T-shirts, phone cases, shower curtains, and—just in time for summer—beach towels.
“We are all glorified motion sensors.” —Vera Nazarian