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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 June 8

What goes up must come down:

  • The two investment funds that manage Intellectual Ventures’s (Nathan Myhrvold, Seattle, Dec 2013) patent portfolio have lost 15.4% and 24.7% of their value over the past decade. The S&P500 index has risen 8.4% in the same time.
  • Facebook now ranks a distant 4th in popularity among teenagers. YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are all more popular. (Fortunately for Facebook, it owns one of them.)
  • Andy Rubin, who co-created Android, is putting his Android phone company, Essential Products Inc., up for sale.
And what goes down sometimes comes back up:
  • Microsoft revenue and profits are sharply up—with surprising gains from its gaming (Marc Whitten, Seattle, Dec 2012), Surface (Chuck Thacker, San Diego, Nov 2002), and LinkedIn (Ellen Levy, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015; Daniel Tunkelang, Washington, D.C., Apr/May 2013) divisions—and it now has a market cap greater than Facebook’s.
Will they have similar luck with GitHub (Chris Wanstrath, Vancouver, Oct 2010), which Microsoft is buying for $7.5 billion? Maybe not, if too many chickens flee the coop now that the fox is guarding it.
Meanwhile, Facebook is fiddling while Rome is burning. Well, not exactly, but it has released “a neural network capable of translating music from one style, genre, and set of instruments to another” using unsupervised learning (Yann LeCun, Pittsburgh, Oct 2012). So now that fiddle can sound like a piano. While it watches teens move to YouTube.
As if Facebook didn’t have enough problems, Apple is going to war with Facebook over its Like buttons on websites. Turns out, Facebook can use them to track you across your web browsing (Claudia Perlich, San Francisco, Feb 2017; Will Scully-Power, San Francisco, Dec 2014), even if you don’t click on them. Apple’s Safari browser will now pop up a question: “Do you want to allow to use cookies?”
On the stairway to heaven, there are two paths you can go by. In quantum computing, not only are there three bit-states, there are a number of paths you can go by—that is, strategies for generating the third state. According to Scientific American, Intel has been looking at silicon spin qubits (Rodney Van Meter, Tokyo regional meeting, Mar 2017; San Francisco, Dec 2014), which use microwave pulses to control the spin of a single electron.
Speaking of alternate states of matter, back at our biotech meeting, Jerome Canady (San Diego, Feb 2015) told us about a cold hybrid plasma scalpel. Now a company in Germany is commercializing a cold plasma wound treatment.
Who owns the consumer? Supermarkets have always been platforms; now cars are too (Benedict Evans, San Francisco, Dec 2015): So now AI-infused gait-based biometric identification (Ingo Deutschmann, Washington, D.C., Sep 2016) may become a thing. Assuming everyone owns just one pair of shoes. (If you thought you’d never read the phrase “world's biggest footstep database” then you just don’t understand Big Data.)
Given the way Geoffrey West (San Francisco, Feb 2016) used the phrase “metabolism of cities,” we probably shouldn’t be surprised by a genetic algorithm that predicts the vertical growth of cities.

The newsletter will be on hiatus for the Intelligence, Natural and Artificial meeting next week. We’ll be back in your inbox June 22. In the meantime, have a great time with us in Brooklyn, or whatever else you’ll be doing!
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” ”

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