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Newsletter
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 June 1

When is a game not fun? When two percent of the world’s population perishes. That was the outcome of a day-long exercise in global-pandemic management (Erica Ollmann Saphire, San Diego, Feb 2015; Luis Bettencourt, Washington, D.C., Oct 2011; Richard Carmona, Washington, D.C., May 2007) held by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Ten experts played the roles of U.S. officials in a series of meetings convened by the National Security Council. By the way, the simulation’s pandemic was engineered and set loose by terrorists, not generated by an animal virus mutating and jumping to humans, as Barbara Han (Austin, Feb 2016) warned us about.
www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/05/30/this-mock-pandemic-killed-150-million-people-next-time-it-might-not-be-a-drill/
 
Some consider diamonds to be tokens of devotion; others consider them tokens of wealth. D1 Mint Limited is further tokenizing diamonds with the crypto asset D1 Coin, which is propped up by 1500 investment-grade diamonds from Alrosa. Blockchain tracks all transactions, and is also being used to track the diamonds directly, from mine through middlemen to retailer (Vitalik Buterin, Philadelphia, Jul 2015).
 
Airborne radar has revealed giant troughs under Antarctic that could channel masses of ice toward the coast, accelerating the rise in sea level rise. (Michael Mastrandrea and Noah Diffenbaugh, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Charles Perrow, Philadelphia, Apr 2006)
www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-44245893
 
If the title of this year’s Turing Lecture, “A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture: Domain-Specific Hardware/Software Co-Design, Enhanced Security, Open Instruction Sets, and Agile Chip Development,” sounds oddly reminiscent of Dave Patterson’s talk at last year’s [next] (San Francisco, Dec 2017), it’s not so odd. The lecture will be given by Patterson and John Hennessy (San Francisco, Feb 2010), co-winners of this year’s Turing Award. The lecture will be open to the public in Los Angeles and livestreamed, 5pm PDT, June 4.
 
By the way over the past six years, AI’s compute power has doubled every 3.5 months, exceeding Moore’s Law by a factor of 25,000. (Dave Patterson, Doug Burger, San Francisco, Dec 2017)
www.blog.openai.com/ai-and-compute/
 
Quick hits:

 
Microsoft’s stock price has more than doubled in the past four years, and the company now has a greater market value than Google. By an odd coincidence, four years ago, Satya Nadella took over as CEO from Steve Ballmer.
www.theverge.com/2018/5/30/17408254/microsoft-google-alphabet-market-cap-value
 
Here’s one easy, albeit expensive modification of your car that Marco Della Torre (Los Angeles, Mar 2018) didn’t describe back in March: digital license plates. A mere $699, plus $7 per month.
www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/back-seat-driver/article211828814.html
 
The wind-powered ferries that Jay Gardner and Charlie Bogue (San Francisco, Dec 2016) described for us two years ago autonomously angled their sail for maximum wind. MIT is working on small, fully-autonomous boats that can be 3-D printed. Oh, and they can self-assemble into larger structures, like floating bridges and concert stages.
www.news.mit.edu/2018/fleet-autonomous-boats-service-cities-reducing-road-traffic-0523
 
TTI/Vanguard won’t be descending on Brooklyn for another nine days, but folks in the Big Apple this week were treated to Manhattanhenge, when the setting sun aligns dramatically with the city’s east–west corridors. Unlike Stonehenge, Newgrange, and Machu Picchu, New York’s alignment wasn’t engineered to coincide with the solstice—in fact, there will be another Manhattanhenge moment July 12 (Michael Wright, London, Jul 2014).
www.earthsky.org/todays-image/manhattanhenge-may-july-sunset-42nd-34th-14th-sts-nyc  
 
We’ll have a chance to enjoy a special sunset of our own on Monday, June 11, from the deck of the Atlantica, our human-captained dinner cruise vessel, which will take conference attendees around the tip of Manhattan and past the Statue of Liberty.
 
Also just in time for summer: HP has announced gaming headphones tricked out with a thermoelectric device (Akram Boukai, San Francisco, May 2016) that draws heat away from the wearer’s skull, providing a personalized air-conditioning effect.
www.engadget.com/2018/05/30/hp-thermoelectric-cooling-headset
 
In 1927 AT&T produced a seven-minute film that taught the public how to use its latest innovation—a telephone with a dial that allowed you to call someone directly. And yes, the film is silent, except for some piano music. Anyone interested might also enjoy an IEEE Spectrum video of Steven Cherry’s 2010 visit to Christie’s, where a copy of the oldest phonebook in the world was auctioned for a stupendous price. The video is half the length of the film, and does have audio.
 
A new 3-D printer from the University of Illinois creates delicate scaffolding out of hardened isomalt. Possible application areas include cancer research, device manufacturing, and Halloween candy. (Guy Wollaert, Atlanta, Feb 2014; Jennifer Lewis, Miami, Feb 2011; Ting Xu, Charlotte, Dec 2010)
www.news.illinois.edu/view/6367/653690
 
“Life would pall if it were all sugar; salt is bitter if taken by itself; but when tasted as part of the dish, it savours the meat. Difficulties are the salt of life.” ”
 —Robert Baden-Powell

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