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.
Cloudflare (Ryan Lackey, Philadelphia, Jul 2015) is launching a DNS service at https://126.96.36.199, claiming it’s faster than any other.
In just the sort of cyberattack that Doug Emlen (Washington, D.C., Sep 2016) told us to expect, foreign governments may be using cellphone-site simulators “to track individual cellphones and intercept calls and messages.”
Last month’s U.S. federal budget passage was good news for science, particularly for the National Institutes of Health, which will see a $3 billion increase over 2017. Overall, federal R&D spending increased 12.8%. (Charles Vest, Washington, D.C., May 2009)
Can the French keep up, at least with respect to AI R&D (Marie Ekeland, Paris, Jul 2012)? President Macron is betting €1.8 billion the answer is yes. (Still, it’s not like Yann LeCun (Pittsburgh, Oct 2012) will be moving back to Paris.)
France and the UK built the first commercial supersonic jet, the Concorde, but NASA would like TTI/V member firm Lockheed Martin to come up with the next one. The company was awarded a $248 million contract for a single-pilot craft that will fly 940 mph at only 75 decibels, to be completed by 2021.
Another TTI/V member firm, Bose, has created a venture arm to invest as much as $50m in startups that support its augmented reality platform.
When Sean Parker (San Francisco, Feb 2010) spoke to TTI/V about Facebook, he called out Spotify as his idea of the next big thing. Well, its non-IPO opened at $166 on Tuesday, about 25% above its reference price. Spotify, which has never been profitable, was thus valued at almost $30 billion by Wall Street. For comparison, Ford has a market cap of $44B, and Vivendi SA, parent company of the music label with the largest market share in the U.S., has a market cap of $27B.
Meanwhile, Facebook itself, fighting off a firestorm of criticism, has announced its readiness to embrace Europe’s upcoming GPDR privacy protections—a topic Jeff Jonas (San Francisco, Feb 2017; San Francisco, Dec 2014) will discuss in his talk, “Big Data and the General Data Protection Regulation” at our next meeting, Intelligence, Natural and Artificial, June 11–12, in Brooklyn, N.Y. (registration, agenda).
Fifty AI researchers from thirty different countries are boycotting KAIST University after it opened a lab with Hanwha Systems, a maker of cluster munitions. KAIST responded by saying it had “no intention to engage in development of lethal autonomous weapons systems and killer robots.” The ethics of AI will also be a topic for us in June, with a talk by Ben Kuipers on “How Can We Trust a Robot?”
“The federal government traditionally has had the authority to regulate automobiles, while states have kept tabs on drivers.” In this parlance, California is leaning heavily on the driving part of self-driving cars and has established a set of stipulations for ditching the human behind the wheel. (Tim Landgraf, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015; Evan Ackerman, Boston, Apr 2014; Rich DeMillo, Austin, Feb 2004)
Meanwhile, Uber settled with the sister of the the Arizona woman struck and killed by an autonomous vehicle, but other family members have now initiated their own lawsuit. (Arun Sundararajan, Boston, Apr 2017; Robin Chase, Atlanta, Feb 2014, and Memphis, Sep 2006)
If you have a Saks Fifth Avenue or Lord & Taylor account, your credit card information is probably compromised. Five million credit and debit card numbers have been stolen, with 125,000 “already showing up on the dark web” (Chris White, Philadelphia, Jul 2015).
Will we ever see wireless power recharging (Meredith Perry, San Francisco, Dec 2017; Nam Pyo Suh, Tokyo, Jul 2012) on highways for electric cars? (Amory Lovins, Washington, D.C., Oct 2011; William Mitchell, St. Louis, Sep 2008; Serge Roy, Montreal, Apr 2004)
Automated quilting was cool enough (Nina Paley and Theodore Gray, Detroit, May 2015), but at least it’s essentially a 2-D problem. Researchers at CMU now have a system that translates 3-D shapes “into stitch-by-stitch instructions executed by a computer-controlled knitting machine.” Next up: complex color patterns.
“What the hell is content? Nobody buys content. Real people pay money for music because it means something to them. A great song is not just something to take up space on a website next to stock market quotes and baseball scores.”
— Courtney Love