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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 August 25

The tires of a car are where the rubber literally meets the road. Yet it’s still surprising that a change in wheel design can generate (pun intended) a 10% increase in fuel efficiency (Amory Lovins, Toronto, Apr 2002).
www.electrek.co/2017/08/22/tesla-model-3-aero-wheels-can-increase-efficiency-vp-engineering/
 
Congrats to Amanda Randles, whose talk on supercomputers and computational biology (San Diego, Feb 2015) made her one of our favorite researchers under 35, or over, for that matter. MIT TechReview just named her to its “Innovators Under 35” list.
 
Michael Hayden (Washington, D.C., Sep 2016 and May 2010) noted for us the anomalous status of cyber in the U.S. military—sort of falling into the Department of Defense, sort of within the intelligence services. Recently, the Cyber Command, which previously was under the NSA, has been elevated to the status of a unified command, and its head will now be named by the Secretary of Defense. The changes don’t, however, separate it from the NSA.
www.wired.com/story/cyber-command-elevated/
 
Sonos, a maker of speakers and other audio equipment, says “users must accept new privacy policy or devices may ‘cease to function.’" Lawyer and technologist K Waterman (Atlanta, Feb 2014) warned us that when devices get smart and networked, we no longer really own them.
www.zdnet.com/article/sonos-accept-new-privacy-policy-speakers-cease-to-function/
 
Also on the privacy front, India’s Supreme Court has conferred the status of fundamental right to privacy, undoing that nation’s push to register a retina scan of all Indians (John Perry Barlow, Daniel Weitzner, Barry Steinhardt, and Eric Haseltine, Toronto, Apr 2008; Marc Rotenberg, Austin, Feb 2001).
www.washingtonpost.com/world/indias-supreme-court-says-privacy-is-an-intrinsic-right-in-blow-to-government/2017/08/24/2c0b762c-8828-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html
 
If the iPhone 8 is capable of long-range (10m) wireless charging, how would that work? Apparently, a lot like Wi-Fi. (Vamsi Talla, San Francisco, May 2016)
www.ibtimes.com/how-does-apple-iphone-8-wireless-charging-feature-work-2579959
 
And where might that electricity ultimately originate? Perhaps a runaway-safe thorium molten salt reactor (Nathan Myhrvold, Seattle, Dec 2012; David Talbot, Salt Lake City, Dec 2010).
www.technologyreview.com/the-download/608712/a-thorium-salt-reactor-has-fired-up-for-the-first-time-in-four-decades
 
Arizona State University, or Amazon State University? Amazon is giving Echo Dots to 1,600 engineering students and ASU will offer three voice-technology courses in an effort to become “leaders in voice-technology development.” (Brian David Johnson, San Francisco, Feb 2017, and Boston, April 2014; Ellen Levy)
www.zdnet.com/article/asu-amazon-partner-to-offer-echo-dot-to-1600-engineering-students/
 
Would camera detection of drones be a worthwhile addition to air-traffic control systems (Glenn Roberts, Washington, D.C., May, 2007; MITRE field trip, Sep 2015)?
www.actu.epfl.ch/news/using-a-camera-to-spot-and-track-drones/
 
The CEO of CloudFlare wrote a detailed and almost anguished explanation of its terminating service to The Daily Stormer, and why its ability to do that isn’t good for the Internet. CloudFlare sees about 10% of all Internet traffic, and the head of its security practice spoke two years ago (Ryan Lackey, Philadelphia, Jul 2015).
www.blog.cloudflare.com/why-we-terminated-daily-stormer/
 
AI programs can all too easily inherit the biases of their programmers. For example, researchers at UMass found that some common natural-language-processing tools mischaracterized Twitter messages that contained African-American slang or vernacular. We’ll be looking at just this sort of thing—with Julie Ancis’s talk, The Social and Algorithmic Risks of Implicit Bias—next month at Risk, Security, & Privacy (agenda) meeting.
www.technologyreview.com/s/608619/ai-programs-are-learning-to-exclude-some-african-american-voices/
 
We hope you enjoyed the straightforward science and phenomenological wonder of Monday’s solar eclipse. Len Kleinrock marvelled at the third totality he’s witnessed, this time in the company of his Charleston, S.C.-dwelling son, on the son’s birthday. Now that it’s over, consider donating your eclipse glasses to Astronomers Without Borders to pass the opportunity along.
www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/what-should-you-do-your-used-eclipse-glasses-180964584/
 

“I watched from a beautiful nature reserve in central Missouri, and it was—without exaggeration—the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.” —Randall Munroe (xkcd)

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