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.
The Highlights and Citations from last week’s meeting, Intelligence, Natural and Artificial, should be in the archive by the time you read this. Speaker presentations and videos are already there.
It’s still early in the game, but the score seems to be Cancer 2, Crispr 1. (Alicia Jackson, San Francisco, Dec 2015; George Church, regional meeting Jun 2015; Sri Kosuri, Ryan Phelan, San Diego, Feb 2015)
After five years of China heading the supercomputer Top500 list (Satoshi Matsuoka, Tokyo, Jul 2012), the U.S.—specifically Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Summit system—is expected to gain the top slot. Summit comprises 9,000 IBM CPUs and 27,000 Nvidia GPUs, joined by 300 km of fiber-optic cable. The University of Texas’s Stampede2 supercomputer, which we visited two years ago (Austin, Feb 2016), will presumably drop from its current #12 spot.
Jack Dongarra, who maintains the Top500 list, will be speaking at this year’s [next] meeting.
Congrats to Takayuki Inagawa, newly named president and CEO of member organization NTT DOCOMO Ventures.
… And to uBiome (Jessica Richman, Austin, Feb 2016) for being named a 2018 Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum, and Reshma Shetty (San Diego, Feb 2015), for being named one of Business Insider’s “39 most powerful female engineers of 2018.” www.businessinsider.com/the-most-powerful-female-engineers-of-2018-2018-4
The headlines—Bloomberg’s was typical: “Google Is Training Machines to Predict When a Patient Will Die”—don’t match the science (a paper in Nature entitled “Scalable and accurate deep learning with electronic health records”). This is why Socrates distinguished between the philosophers and the sophists.
Better use of electronic health records will be just one part of a talk by Amitabh Chandra, of the Harvard Kennedy School, on “Cost-Effective Healthcare” at our September meeting.
While we’re on the subject of upcoming speakers, Bruce Schneier (Austin, Feb 2001), who will be speaking at the September meeting on IoT security, is just one of many past speakers to have signed a letter denouncing an EU scheme to protect copyrighted material even at the cost of the openness of the Web. Others include Jimmy Wales (Jersey City, Oct 2013), Brewster Kahle (San Francisco, May 2016 and Feb 2005; Seattle, Sep 2001), Dave Farber (Philadelphia, Jul 1997), Ethan Zuckerman (Miami, Jul 2005, and Atlanta, Nov 2000), Joichi Ito (Chicago, May 2011, and Barcelona, Jul 2007), Pam Samuelson (Washington, D.C., May 2000), Rebecca MacKinnon (Washington, D.C., May 2012), advisory board member Alan Kay, Avi Rubin (Austin, Feb 2004), Dave Patterson (San Francisco, Dec 2017, and Phoenix, Dec 2008), Ed Lazowska (Seattle, Sep 2001), Fred Brooks (Charlotte, Dec 2010; London, Sep 1997).
And while we’re on the subject of deep learning (Irmak Sirer, Los Angeles, Mar 2018) advances that will probably be wildly misrepresented in the popular press, researchers at DeepMind have created a so-called Generative Query Network that can use unlabeled data to represent a visual landscape (Alex Kendall, San Francisco, May 2016) in new ways. “The GQN takes as input images of a scene taken from different viewpoints, constructs an internal representation, and uses this representation to predict the appearance of that scene from previously unobserved viewpoints.”
Worried about how migrant families will reunite, Congresswoman Jackie Speier had an idea—DNA testing. And now 23andMe has agreed to donate the needed kits.
Work being done at Harvard and Yale to “engineer dinosaurs back into existence” reminded Entrepreneur magazine of the Jurassic Park movies, but it reminded us of Ryan Phelan’s talk at Biotech and Beyond (San Diego, Feb 2015). As it turns out, though, dinosaur DNA has degraded too much. Instead, the plan involves “mutating chickens back to the very creatures from which they descended.”
We have no opinion on the main thesis of this article, but we’re happy to see some recognition for member firm BP’s “pioneering work with robotic crawlers on rigs and drones to monitor remote locations.”
The Weather Channel recently showed an EF Scale 5 tornado on-screen and—through the miracle of mixed reality (Todd Richmond, Los Angeles, Mar 2018; Nolan Bushnell, San Francisco, Dec 2016)—in its own studio. With, among other things, a live-voltage telephone pole nearly falling on the meteorologist, you have to see this seven-minute video to believe it.
“The Importance of Teaching Robots to Hug” (Guy Hoffman, Brooklyn, Jun 2018, and London, Jul 2014; Rodolphe Gelin, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; Don Norman, San Jose, Feb 2003)
Might climate change undo the Green Revolution? (Erik Andrejko, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Paula Bramel, Vienna, Jul 2013). Experiments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Adaptive Cropping Systems Laboratory outside of Washington, D.C. suggest that higher CO2 reduced the nutritional value of rice and other staple crops.
The work discussed is among the various research project’s we’ll be touring during our September field trip to the USDA’s Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (details here).
“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.” ”