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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.
The late John Perry Barlow’s autobiography (written with the help of longtime Rolling Stone reporter Robert Greenfield) is out. Mike Godwin, writing in Reason magazine, has a beautiful review.
After a two-year effort, the ACM has issued a new Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, the first wholesale revision since 1992. (Ben Kuipers, Brooklyn, Jun 2018; James Barrat, Boston, Apr 2014). The new code will be released July 17. Anyone interested can correspond with the committee.
- Accenture has a Fairness Tool that can evaluate an algorithm for potential bias.
- Kroger has announced a partnership with Nuro, an autonomous vehicle startup, for driverless grocery deliveries.
Three-time speaker Jeff Jonas (Brooklyn, Jun 2018; San Francisco, Feb 2017 and Dec 2014; Seattle, Dec 2006) once called the space-and-time information obtained from cell phone records “superfood” for big data. Now, in a win for privacy advocates (e.g., Cedric Laurant, Miami, Jul 2005; Marc Rotenberg, Austin, Feb 2001; Barry Steinhardt and panel, Toronto, Apr 2008; John Perry Barlow and Eric Hasseltine, Atlanta, Feb 2014), the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a warrant is necessary to obtain such records.
There’s a file format for everything—including, now, AR on your phone. (Mark Skwarek, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Jeri Ellsworth, San Francisco, Dec 2013)
Abusive spouses are violating restraining orders and continuing their harassment remotely—by manipulating smart-home devices. Something to think about before we all switch over to digital door locks (Kyle Roche, San Francisco, Dec 2016) and Nest thermostats (Yoky Matsuoka, Seattle, Dec 2012).
It was just a matter of time before generative adversarial networks (Irmak Sirer, Los Angeles, Mar 2018) were trained to guess user passwords. That day has come.
It’s a race to the bottom: Back in March, IBM announced the world’s smallest computer. Last week, University of Michigan researchers (Dennis Sylvester, San Francisco, Dec 2015) seized back the title with a “computer” just 0.3 mm to a side. (That’s grain-of-salt size.) The scare quotes are to note that unlike previous tiny computers (such as the 2x2x4 mm Michigan Micro Mote that Sylvester told us about), the new UofM machine, and the IBM one as well, don’t retain programs and data when they lose power. (They do have wireless transmitters and receivers though.)
Space is, of course, the final frontier, but is it also the next frontier for commercial activity? (Jordi Puig-Suari, Boston, Apr 2017; Dmitriy Tselaikhovich, San Francisco, Dec 2015; Jeff Greason, Seattle, Dec 2006) Morgan Stanley predicts the space industry, already valued $350 billion, will soon triple in size.
… and that doesn’t even include the trillionaire potential of asteroid mining (Dan Durda, Washington, D.C., May 2007)
7,400 students have signed up for a UC Berkeley three-month massive open online course on blockchain that begins next month. You can too. (Anant Agarwal, Jersey City, Oct 2013)
We note with sadness the passing at age 89 of Frank Heart, whose team at BBN built the first IMPs, including the one that Len Kleinrock’s lab used to send the world’s first packet-switched message.
Minority Report, here we come: Software from the University of Bonn predicts the next five minutes of video. (Richard Ford, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017) Right now it works best with cooking videos, but it’s a short step from vegetable slicing to capital crimes, right?
Elsewhere in the panopticon, China is requiring an RFID chip be installed in cars when they are registered. Nominally the goal is better traffic control (Alex Bayen, Los Angeles, Mar 2018, and Jersey City, Oct 2009) but the initiative complements existing videocamera programs and the country’s increasing face-recognition tracking.
We’ll look at network privacy—and the increasing lack of it—in September with a joint session featuring Stephen Wicker (Kindle privacy) and Daniel Kahn Gillmor (Facebook privacy). We’ll also be taking another look at traffic with a talk by Dan Ford about the interaction of autonomous vehicles and human drivers.
“I never said, 'I want to be alone.' I only said 'I want to be let alone!' There is all the difference.”