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.
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Are you ready to share the road with cars that have no steering wheels? The state of California is. Sometimes the future sneaks up on you, but not in this case—such scenarios were discussed at last month’s regional meeting, “Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Cities,” hosted by member organization MITRE. Presentations, videos, and Nancy’s highlights are all available in the member archive.
Google’s Project Loon (Mike Cassidy, San Francisco, Dec 2016) received permission this week to provide emergency Internet service to Puerto Rico.
Those of you who know TTI/V staffer Kelly Baughman will be happy to hear that her husband has returned from a relief trip to Puerto Rico repairing homes that were damaged by Hurricane Maria. We thank all the many volunteers, and wish the island the very best in its recovery.
In more “family” news, Stephen Welby, longtime TTI/V member and speaker, has joined IEEE, another longtime member, as its new Executive Director.
AIM, which stood for AOL Instant Messaging, shut down this week, joining MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger in the dust heaps of forgotten technology. Text messaging (Tero Kuittinen, Dublin, Jul 2001) itself is going strong (8.3 trillion/year worldwide).
Meanwhile, the iconic Fiskars orange-handled scissors is 50 years old this month and also going strong. (Frank Nuovo, Los Angeles, Feb 2011; Don Norman, San Jose, Feb 2003)
To paraphrase Hamlet, Technology, thy name is irony. Tesla (field trip, San Francisco, May 2016), a name synonymous with high-tech, is woefully behind on its already-modest production quota of Model 3’s because it has to make some critical parts by hand. (Erik Nieves, Detroit, May 2015; Henrik Christensen, Atlanta, Feb 2014)
In the movie Fantastic Voyage (51 years old this week), a human medical team is miniaturized and sent into a human body in a (miniaturized) submarine to perform a delicate brain surgery. (For some reason, this movie scared the bejesus out of one us, who saw it as a six year old.) In real life, a miniature robot made of edible materials would be eaten by the patient. Researchers recently brought that reality one step closer (Dennis Sylvester, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Jerome Canady, San Diego, Feb 2015; Kris Pister, Chicago, Apr 2005).
Sure, human–robot interaction is important. But what we really need is robot–insect interaction. (Paulo de Souza, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Richard Murray, Los Angeles, Sep 2004)
DeepMind can beat champions at Go (Ben Horowitz and Len Kleinrock, San Francisco, Feb 2017), but its researchers can’t win at the videogame StarCraft.
Two intelligence experts, George Beebe and TTI/V Advisory Board member Eric Haseltine, led a fascinating 90-minute CSPAN discussion on “Russian Influence in Democratic Elections.”
Ultrafast photography is one way to see around corners (Ramesh Raskar, Seattle, Dec 2012), but requires specialty equipment. Another MIT researcher is using a conventional smartphone camera and computational-photography tricks (Mark Levoy, San Francisco, Dec 2014, and Charlotte, Dec 2010) to use information in the penumbra to do likewise.
Although TTI/Vanguard hasn’t welcomed any of the newly minted science-oriented Nobel laureates, we have had talks on their various areas of expertise: physics—gravitational waves: Kip Thorne, Rainer Weiss, and Barry Barish (Carver Mead, San Diego, Feb 2015); economic sciences—behavioral economics: Richard Thaler (Dan Ariely, Atlanta, Feb 2008); physiology and medicine—circadian rhythms: Michael Young, Michael Rosbash, and Jeffrey Hall (David Virshup, Seattle, Dec 2006); and chemistry—cryo-electron microscopy: Joachim Frank, Richard Henderson, and Jacques Dubochet (Sanders Otte, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Ralph Merkle, Seattle, Sep 2001).
Also this month, the MacArthur Foundation announced its 2017 “Genius” awards. The design world is claiming three winners as its own: landscape architect Kate Orff, artist and geographer Trevor Paglen, and urban planner Damon Rich. It must be in the zeitgeist: Our March 2018 is entitled Designing and Doing.
And to remind you that design can also delight, here’s a lovely visualization (Tony Jewitt and Andrew Bradley, San Francisco, Feb 2005) of the Interstate Highway System as a subway (Nigel Holmes, San Jose, Feb 2002; Dafna Shahaf, Austin, Feb 2016).
“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose.” —Bo Bennett