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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 September 22

Welcome back from D.C.! Nancy’s Highlights meeting summary is in the archive, and is also being emailed to all members. The archive of last week’s meeting is now complete, with audio and video recordings and the presentations themselves.
Ridesharing is a central feature of a plan by Lyft to “fix L.A. traffic.” It’s not too late to register for our half-day meeting, “Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Cities” in McLean, Va., Tuesday, September 26th.
The best place to be in Puerto Rico right now might be the Arecibo Observatory, outfitted, as it is, with generators, a well for water, and a week’s worth of fuel and food. We say “might” because as of yesterday, NSF colleagues hadn’t heard from the Observatory. We wish the best for everyone on the island and throughout the Caribbean, and doubly so for Mexico City. Technology can help during disaster recovery (Patrick Meier, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Masumi Yamada, Paris, Jul 2011; Charles Perrow, Philadelphia, Apr 2006; Pat Gambaro, Washington, D.C., Nov 2001), but obviously we need to harden systems in advance to withstand the weather extremes of the future.
Artificial intelligence is getting more like natural intelligence: According to an article in the NY Times, “The world’s largest tech companies are … building machines that look more like the human brain, where a central brain stem … offloads particular tasks, like hearing and seeing, to the surrounding cortex.” (Todd Hylton, Washington, D.C., Oct 2014; Subutai Ahmad, Phoenix, Dec 2008)
Another recent article in the NY Times, “In the Future, Warehouse Robots Will Learn on Their Own,” features the work of UC Berkeley’s Ken Goldberg (San Francisco, Dec 2014).
TTI/Vanguard member BCG’s Martin Reeves (Boston, Apr 2017) argues in Scientific American that if AI is to close the gap between theory and practice, businesses will have to reengineer their operations.
And researchers at the Graz University of Technology have developed “a brain-computer interface application that enables music to be composed by thought.” (Chad Bouton, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; Rajesh Rao, San Francisco, December 2013; Philip Sheppard, Paris, Jul 2011; Tod Machover, Barcelona, Jul 2007).
At a conference in Moscow last month, an American/Russian team headed by Mikhail Lukin of Harvard University announced it “had successfully tested a 51-qubit device.” That’s roughly the number of qubits likely to be able to handle some problems better than two-valued computers. (Rodney Van Meter, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Carl Williams, Santa Monica, Dec 2007; Hideo Mabuchi, San Diego, Nov 2002)
The dust has settled from Apple’s recent new-products announcements, and a consensus seems to be shaping up that the new Apple Watch is more impressive than the new phones. That’s the view of longtime friend of TTI/Vanguard Chunka Mui (Boston, May 1999 and October 1992), writing in Forbes.
TTI/V member Northrop Grumman’s purchase of Orbital ATK is the largest defense-industry acquisition since TTI/Vanguard member Lockheed Martin’s takeover of Sikorsky Aircraft in 2015.
Advisory Board member Ellen Levy was one of the judges for the inaugural PLuS Alliance Prize, “which recognises innovation in both research and education.”
Paradoxically, dramatically slowing down the flow of digital information is “critical for the development of photonic integrated circuits.” (Mario Paniccia, San Francisco, Dec 2013; Stan Williams, Phoenix, Dec 2008)
A U.S. Navy advanced submarine uses an Xbox joystick to control its periscope.(Ralph Osterhout, San Jose, Feb 2003). New interfaces will be a central topic at our March 2018 meeting, Designing and Doing.

“Culture attracts capital a lot quicker than capital will attract culture.” —former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, on the opening this month of Cornell Tech
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