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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 August 4

The FBI’s Next Generation ID system stores the biometric records of people with criminal records, but also anyone in military service, and has data from a variety of employment background checks and volunteer positions. And beginning August 31, a new rule will exempt it from a Privacy Act requirement to disclose the existence of someone’s records to them. Privacy will of course be a central theme of our September meeting. Please register by August 18.
A future world of designer babies (Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015)  is now one step closer. University of Oregon researchers have demonstrated an ability to edit the DNA of one-cell human embryos using CRISPR-Cas9 (George Church, Boston, Jun 2015; Ryan Phelan, San Diego, Feb 2015). According to an article in MIT Tech Review, the team showed “that it is possible to safely and efficiently correct defective genes that cause inherited diseases.”
A new supercomputer has booted up at the Texas Advanced Computing Center. Stampede2 will have a peak performance of 18 petaflops while consuming half the power of its predecessor. We visited Stampede1 back in Feb 2016, during our Big Understanding meeting in Austin.
It’s an easy rule of thumb: Any system can be gamed. Uber drivers (Arun Sundararajan, Boston, Apr 2017; Robin Chase, Atlanta, Feb 2014) have been logging out in concert in order to trigger surge pricing.
You’re watching less television, subscribing to cable services in smaller numbers, and now even buying fewer television sets. TTI/Vanguard has taken several looks at the convergence of computer networks and entertainment, including prescient talks by advisory board members Bob Lucky (Rancho Mirage, Calif., Jan 1994) and Alan Kay (Pasadena, Nov 1996).
Tech companies used to ignore Washington D.C., but these days they’re some of the heaviest spenders when it comes to lobbying Congress. Now Sam Altman, head of Y Combinator, wants to cut out the middlemen. He’s reportedly ready to spend heavily on “finding and boosting political candidates who share his views on climate change, universal basic income, federal research spending, and housing policy.”
And he’s not alone. Mark Zuckerberg also wants to fix the world, and he and his wife recently hired “a former top adviser to President Barack Obama and the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign” to “conduct research” for their foundation. The focus will be on “science, education, housing, and criminal justice reform.”
One thing Silicon Valley could fix within its own bailiwick is the ease with which people--most recently, people in the White House--can be fooled by fake emails.
In May, Microsoft named as head of MS Research its top AI researcher, Eric Horvitz (Seattle, Sep 2001 and Dec 2006). In July, it announced AI for Earth, which “will offer tools and services to non-governmental organizations that are tackling issues related to water, agriculture, climate change and biodiversity.” And in it’s just-released annual report, AI replaces mobility-and-cloud as a top priority for the entire company.
Meanwhile, Apple is doubling down on mapping (Brook DeLorme, Memphis, Sep 2006), with 70 new job postings in that group.
We note with great sadness the death of software developer Bassel Khartabil Safadi, a key contact for the Middle East open source community. He apparently was executed more than 18 months ago but his family only learned of it this week. Longtime friend of TTI/V, Joi Ito (Chicago, May 2011; Barcelona, Jul 2007), wrote about Safadi on the MIT Media Lab blog.

“To be rather than to seem.” —Cicero

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