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.
With lidar so much in the news lately, it’s easy to forget that AVs also need radar. Well, Hyundai hasn’t forgotten, and recently made an investment in Metawave, which makes a single-antenna that sends different signals that can be blended by software when they bounce back.
New University of Alabama research can tell whether a flash drive is new or has been used before—just in time for a new MIT system for autonomous vehicles that uses a minimalist map, small enough to fit on a flash drive.
Once the cars are driving themselves, we won’t need driver’s licenses, but we need them now, and they’re going electronic—first in Iowa next year, and eventually nationwide (Dick Hardt, Dallas, February, 2007; Gordon Bell, Los Angeles, Nov 1998). When law enforcement pulls you over, the officer will check the license via a Bluetooth connection—what could go wrong? But even before that, the officer might know who you are, because facial recognition may soon be added to police body cameras (Andrew Bud, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017; Steve Mann, Toronto, Apr 2008; Rosalind Picard, Marina del Rey, January 1997).
At first glance, having a small rotocraft (Eric Cheng and Mike Hawley, and Jelena Jovanovic and Christoph Kohstall, San Francisco, Dec 2014) accompany the next rover to Mars (Erika DeBenedictus, Vienna, Jul 2013) might seem like a publicity stunt, but it won’t be an easy one: The spin rate needed to get the drone off the red ground greatly exceeds that of a helicopter on Earth, and the round-trip communication time between Mars and mission control means that the rover will pilot it with no human in the loop.
Elsewhere in outer space, Nova Spivak’s (Pittsburgh, Oct 2012; San Francisco, Feb 2010; Atlanta, Feb 2008) Arch Foundation intends to etch the full English-language Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales, Jersey City, Oct 2013; Washington, D.C., Dec 2005) onto wafers and send the package to the moon for safe keeping (Stewart Brand, San Diego, Feb 2000).
We can’t put a seed bank (Paula Bramel, Vienna, Jul 2013) on Mars (wait; why not?), but we could put the digital genome of all plants and animals on those wafers as well—once it’s compiled by the new Earth BioGenome Project.
Indeed, it’s the nature of life to not stand still. And if a NY Times headline is to be believed, “As D.I.Y gene editing gains popularity, ‘someone is going to get hurt.’” (George Church and Mike Hawley, Boston, Jun 2015; Ryan Phelan, San Diego, Feb 2015; Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Juan Enriquez, Washington, D.C., Dec 2005)
Despite being represented by the first ‘A’ in the agency’s name, it’s easy to forget NASA’s mission is to study the atmosphere as well as what’s beyond it. And now, NASA will be doing a lot less of it: The Trump administration has cancelled NASA's Carbon Monitoring System as part of what Science magazine calls “a broad attack on climate science” (Lindsey Dillon and Matt Price, San Francisco, Feb 2017). Oops. Revision: That article is a week old—a veritable lifetime in politics. Since, Congress has reappropriated funding for this important scientific activity (Tom Kalil, San Francisco, Dec 2017).
Meanwhile, even the administration itself giveth and taketh away. Or vice versa: ZTE may be back in business. (Serge Leef, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017)
Is email no longer a secure method of communicating? The gold standard of email security is PGP encryption, now being called into question by a team of European researchers led by a professor of computer security at Germany’s Münster University of Applied Sciences. The alleged vulnerability, which has been dubbed Efail by them, has already been challenged by, among others, PGP’s creator, Phil Zimmermann (Versailles, May 1998), and Jon Callas (London, Jul 2014; Austin, Feb 2004), who note the problem is not the standard but rather non-compliant email clients.
The gold standard of security meetings, by the way, was probably that Versailles meeting. It featured talks by Zimmermann and Whit Diffie—and by our own Bob Lucky and David Reed, both of whom will be at our upcoming June meeting. Maybe Ben Kuipers, who will speak on “How Can We Trust Robots?” can also weigh in on how we can trust email.
Unhappy about a U.S. Department of Defense project to speed up the analysis of drone footage, “about a dozen Google employees are resigning in protest over the company’s continued involvement.”
When is a shipment of soybeans not just a shipment of soybeans? When it’s the “first trade finance transaction using a single blockchain platform.” The claim is being made by Hong Kong bank HSBC on behalf of itself and Dutch bank ING who executed the trade for Cargill. (Bill Schafer, Boston, Apr 2017; Patrick Henry Winston, Atlanta, Feb 2014)
“[In a post-truth era] intelligence is in the bunker with some unlikely mates: journalism, scholarship, the courts, law enforcement, and science.”
—Michael Hayden who will speak at our September meeting (Washington, D.C., Sep 2016 and May 2010), in his new book, The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies;