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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.

2018 May 11

We are delighted to see so much news from our community this week. First, congrats to TTIV member firm, Lockheed Martin. Their JPL-partnership InSight Lander probe launched this week. Next stop, Mars (ETA: Nov. 26, 2018).
And further congratulations to Lockheed Martin’s Marillyn Hewson for being named CEO of the year by Chief Executive magazine. Past winners in our orbit include Bill Gates (Seattle, September 1995).
Meanwhile, the list of ten (of 149) applicants approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation for a drone pilot program (apparently no pun intended) includes TTI/V member Intel and the Memphis Airport Authority in partnership with FedEx and GE.
Finally, former member Nokia is purchasing Space-Time Insight (Paul Hofmann, Austin, Feb 2016), a software analytics firm that specializes in industrial IoT applications.
Hopefully the drones will do better than autonomous vehicles have done lately. In the recent Tempe, Ariz., accident, it turns out Uber’s software mislabeled the pedestrian killed as a false positive (Alex Kendall, San Francisco, May 2016; Greg Dobler, Austin, Feb 2016).
On the human-driven front, more bad news. Ford has had to shut down production of its F-150 (field trip, Detroit, May 2015) due to a fire at one of its suppliers. Barry Lynn (Tokyo, Jul 2012; Philadelphia, Apr 2006) warned of just such a snafu.
In fact, Barry’s basic message was about the risks of globalization and industrial consolidation. Now, with the reinitiation of U.S. sanctions on Iran, not only Boeing but Airbus as well stands to lose billions of dollars in lost sales. And a ban imposed on Chinese telecom manufacturer ZTE by the U.S. government has caused the company to shut down operations entirely. ZTE was found to have violated U.S. export restrictions by illegally shipping goods to Iran.
How many times has Waze or Google Maps thought you were on a highway when in fact you were on a flyover or overpass or on a different highway crossing it (Alexandre Bayen, Los Angeles, Mar 2018)? Researchers at the University of Hong Kong have figured out a solution.
And how many times have you lost or forgotten your hotel key card? A pair of Finnish researchers came up with a solution. Unfortunately, it works all too well—it creates a master key that opens every other room in the hotel as well. (Claus Moberg, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Paul Holman, Seattle, Dec 2006; Jon Callas, Austin, Feb 2004; Patrice Peyret, London, Sep 1996)
Is IBM making fraudulent claims about Watson and cognitive computing (Doug Lenat, Austin, Feb 2016; Stephen Deangelis, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)? Roger Schank (Pittsburgh, Oct 2012; Cambridge, May 1996) makes the case they are.
Speaking of fraud, plagiarism (Jimmy Wales, Jersey City, Oct 2013) and for-hire essay writing have been fixtures in academia for decades. So perhaps it was inevitable in the Millennial era that they would migrate to YouTube.
Have you been wondering just what those Russian social media ads, intended to influence voters in 2016, looked like? On Wednesday, members of the U.S. House intelligence panel published all of the ads identified by Facebook as being connected to the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency. (Douglas Guilbeault, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Washington, D.C. Sep 2017).
The Santa Fe Institute (Jessica Flack, San Francisco, Dec 2017; Geoffrey West, San Francisco, May 2016; Luis Bettencourt, Washington, D.C., Oct 2011) is applying machine learning to 40,000 speeches from the French Revolution to trace the evolution of new political ideas that grew out of it and the language used to communicate them.
Just getting old documents into machine-readable form can be a massive challenge. Case in point: the Vatican Secret Archives’s 53 linear miles of documents, all handwritten. New AI software is interpreting the letterforms to the point where regular OCR methods can be employed. Training includes a medieval variant of reCAPTCHA (Luis von Ahn, Dallas, Feb 2007).

“Computers are basically insecure. Voting systems are not magical in any way. They are computers.”
 — Security guru Bruce Schneier, who will speak at our September meeting (registration, agenda) on “The Internet of Things and Cyber-Physical Systems.”

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