• Steven Cherry Tributes

    June 26, 2020

    In the midst of covid-19, we can’t quite get together in-person to toast Steven on his retirement. We’ve collected some of our thoughts here, only as a temporary placeholder until we can have a proper send-off.

  • TTI/Vanguard: Newsletter

    June 26, 2020

    Note from Lisa Yao: I am in the difficult position of announcing both the death of beloved former Advisory Board member Michael Hawley and the retirement of beloved current Director of TTI/V Steven Cherry. Neither event was unexpected, but our community is lesser for both losses. Mike’s life has been well-celebrated in many online tributes and in his New York Times obituary. Steven penned a poignant goodbye yesterday. And the team had a few things to add. Standing on the shoulders of these two giants, we look toward the future of TTI/V. We are a futuristic organization after all. But we also keep a nod to the past, to all who have served and shaped TTI/Vanguard over the years. 
    The early digital cell phones were open to eavesdropping and attacks. The early Wi-Fi routers were open to attack. You would think we’d learn something, but millions of smart home devices are open to attack. (Jason Hong, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017)
    The image of a delivery drone waiting for a bus seems crazy, but researchers at Stanford note that it could save a lot of energy. (Peter Calthorpe, Berkeley, Mar 2019)


  • TTI/Vanguard's Steven Cherry Retirement

    June 25, 2020

    I don’t know that there’s ever a good time to retire from one’s dream job, and even if there is, it’s probably not in the middle of a global pandemic that upends your company’s business model almost more than any other—even space flight can resume easier than our in-person meetings, so don’t let anyone tell you this isn’t as hard as rocket science.

    But, to quote one of my favorite proverbs of unknown origin, “tide nor time tarrieth no man” and to quote a favorite song of known origin—my mother’s favorite songwriter, in fact—“To everything, there is a season.” And the season for me to step down from my role as director is the summer of 2020.

    The first TTI/Vanguard meeting I attended was in the summer of 2013, in Vienna, Austria. Robin, with her usual thoroughness and probably in hopes of making a good impression on the new guy, sent an airport limo for me. My first official function was an advisory board meeting. (For many of the board, this was the conference highlight, not surprising, if you can imagine the dynamic between Len, Eric, John Perry, Gordon, Maria, Doug, Nicholas, and all the rest.) Even as the discussion progressed, I got into a heated backchannel email exchange with Alan Kay over the relative merits of Aristotle versus Isaac Newton. (I don’t mean to brag, but you want to be holding the Aristotle ticket on that ride.)

  • TTI/Vanguard Notes & News: Sensors, AI & More; June 20, 2020

    June 20, 2020

    Geofencing (Marco Della Torre, Berkeley, Mar 2019) is another case of ubiquitous technology, e.g., helping Walmart know that you’ve pulled into its parking lot to pick up your curbside delivery. But it’s also being used in some pretty creepy ways, such as by political marketers, capturing data from the cellphones of churchgoers, and then purchasing ads targeting those devices, and to “harvest data on potential voters” at the recent political protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

    If you attended our sessions this week, you were struckpossibly overwhelmedby the heartbreaking video from a recreation of the famous Clark Doll experiments, run by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s, in which not only white children, but black children as well, associated positive adjectives with white dolls and negative ones with black dolls. The full four-minute video is of course in our archive as part of Dan Gould and Michele Ruiz’s talk, but if you want to share a one-minute version, here’s a YouTube link:


  • TTI/Vanguard: September conference goes digital & more

    June 13, 2020

    We are in the middle of our Ubiquitous AI conference—five consecutive Tuesdays, three down (including our May 26 field trip) and two sessions to go. The archive has videos, highlights, presentations and everything else you need—Claudia Miklas is ready to help you access.

    Our September conference Game Changers, originally scheduled to be held in Washington, DC will be a virtual-only meeting. We are just a few months into our temporary pandemic-pivot from in-person to digital meetings. Thanks to our community’s endless support and curiosity, much of the TTIV experience has transcended physical space. We’ve already had one only-at-TTIV moment: our virtual visit to The Long Now, which no less of an observer than Gordon Bell said was as good as any field trip he can recall. But another holy grail of TTIV—the spontaneous, magical conversations and connections at a coffee break, dinner, or even on a bus—remains elusive. We’ll continue to experiment until we find a way to virtually bring those additional only-at-TTIV moments to our beloved community of “extroverted introverts".

    Congrats to member organization JPL for finding an exoplanet using a tiny satellite—a CubeSat (Jordi Puig-Suari, Boston, Apr 2017), of course.

    And congrats to TidalScale (Ike Nassi, Washington, D.C., Sep 2014) for its inclusion in CRN’s list of The 50 Hottest Software-Defined Data Center Vendors Of 2020.

  • TTI/Vanguard Notes & News: BYOB (Bring Your Own Background)

    June 05, 2020

    Congrats to members JPL and all of NASA for the Falcon 9 launch this week. It’s so great to see U.S. astronauts launching into space again from American soil, and this next step toward commercialization is an exciting one.

    Can wearables diagnose those with COVID-19 before they have any symptoms? A study by researchers at West Virginia University using data from their own app plus physiological data collected through the Oura ring claims 90% accuracy, though a press release about it doesn’t break that out into false positives and false negatives. (Ninety percent seems both impressive and not very useful in practice.)

    In a recent TTI/V podcast, Georgia Tech Professor Joshua Weitz argued that we need to ramp up testing to about 10 million per day. We’re not sure how we’ll get there, but we’re happy to see that Gingko BioWorks (Reshma Shetty, San Diego, Feb 2015) is on the case. It’s raised $70 million to develop a large-scale facility that can process tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests simultaneously.

  • Europe Strives for “Technology Sovereignty” the World Reopen

    May 29, 2020

    The EU’s new €750 billion recovery plan has more than recovery in mind. Its goal is to achieve “technology sovereignty” in such areas as 5G/6G, AI, cybersecurity, and cloud infrastructure. (Hermann Hauser, George Metakides, Berlin, Jul 2004; Reineke Reitsma, Amsterdam, Jul 2000)

    As many parts of the U.S. relax their various shutdowns and the remainder gets ready to, the most pressing question is, how likely are you to get infected in a restaurant, store, church, or other enclosed space? As it happens, our good friend-of-TTI/V William Haseltine (San Diego, Feb 2015; San Jose, Feb 2012; Phoenix, Dec 2008) has an equation, cited in a Psychology Today blog post by his sister-in-law and past speaker, physician Chris Gilbert (San Francisco, Feb 2017):

  • Zoom Is Not Enough: A Conversation with David Sax

    May 26, 2020

    with David Sax, author of the 2016 book The Revenge of Analog, about the subtle but still radical differences between the analog innovations of the past ten millennia and their digital counterparts of the last hundred years. Perhaps not all of them are improvements. 

  • More Covid-19 Data, More Microsoft Reinvention

    May 22, 2020

    Reactions to the coronavirus pandemic have mirrored existing political divisions in the U.S. Do they also mirror a class distinction? Though it was quite early in the crisis, George Friedman (Seattle, Mar 2020) argued at our last meeting that it did, as does this Washington Post op-ed, which notes that “Of the top 25 percent of income earners, more than 60 percent can stay home and still do their jobs. Of the bottom 25 percent, fewer than 10 percent can do the same.”

    Quick quiz question: What percentage of healthcare workers have gotten coronavirus? If you said 50, you’re wildly off—by more than double, in fact. Of the states that report such data, the one with the highest rate (New Hampshire) is at 25.8 percent. The average was 11 percent.

  • Getting Back to Work—Shield Immunity vs Herd Immunity: A Conversation with Joshua Weitz

    May 19, 2020

    A conversation with Georgia Tech Professor Joshua Weitz about a scheme for reducing the virus exposures and deaths that are inevitable once we relax our policies of sheltering-in-place.