Friday, July 27, 2018

The irony of Amazon crashing its own servers with its biggest Prime Day ever can’t go unremarked. Charlie Bell (Santa Monica, Dec 2007) told TTI/Vanguard that AWS was an outgrowth of Amazon’s excess capacity, but, as Michael Stonebraker (Boston, Apr 2017) noted last year, database and server technologies are still not where we need them to be.
Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter are at least trying to solve one problem. The new Data Transfer Project will “make it easier for users to download and transfer their data between services.” (Julian Ranger, London, Jul 2014; Roxanne Christ, San Francisco, Feb 2010)
By the way, overall, e-commerce accounts for no more than 13% of total retail sales, but 27% of apparel sales.
Amazon isn’t just an online company anymore. A headline in Forbes reads, “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money.” We at the newsletter refrain from editorializing, so we’ll merely explain that we’re calling attention to this article mainly to note how poorly understood is the “value proposition” of public libraries. (Chan Ping Wah, Singapore, Jul 2009; Raj Reddy, Phoenix, Dec 2003)
MIT researchers are still working to control robots with just brainwaves—now by using electromyography as well as EEG (Rajesh Rao, Tan Le, San Francisco, Dec 2013; Andrew Hibbs, Seattle, Dec 2012).
Will member organization USDA need outposts in Santa Monica and Manhattan? “One in every 100 homes in cities such as Los Angeles and New York house live poultry”—often luxury chickens costing as much as $350.
Brexit may be pulling the UK and France apart, but the two Chunnelmates have concluded an agreement to cooperate on AI.
Real-world self-organizing flocking behavior in robot drones (Daniel Mellinger, Washington, D.C., May 2012; Christopher Langton, Los Angeles, Nov 1998; John Long, Boston, Apr 2014).
Apparently, taxi rides aren’t annoying enough, and apparently we don’t think ill enough of Uber. The company is solving both problems by teaming up with Cargo, a New York startup, to give drivers snacks, phone chargers, and other items they can sell to their captive passengers.
150 companies in 90 countries working in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, including Google’s DeepMind, have signed a pledge to “neither participate in nor support the development, manufacture, trade, or use of lethal autonomous weapons.” (James Barrat, Boston, Apr 2014)
Facebook Gives Researchers 'Full Access' for Election Studies. Isn’t that how Facebook got into trouble in the first place? (Roger McNamee and Jonathan Taplin, Los Angeles, Mar 2018; Jonathan Taplin, Boston, Apr 2017)
Boston Dynamics (Marc Raibert, Boston, Apr 2017) has never produced its robots in commercial quantities—until now. The company will produce SpotMinis at a rate of about a thousand per year, with a variety of construction, delivery, security, and home assistance applications in mind.
PricewaterhouseCooper estimates that a loss of 7 million jobs to automation in the next twenty years will be offset by 7.2 million new jobs. Few of them will be in robotics and AI; most will come about because PwC expects automation to improve GDP by 2%. (Ian Stewart, Brooklyn, Jul 2016)
Rising sea levels could wreak havoc with the Internet backbone. (Bob Lucky, London, Jul 1992; Charles Perrow, Philadelphia, Apr 2006)
Qualcomm has announced a four-antenna array that will put millimeter-wave (Sundeep Rangan and Marco Mezzavilla, Brooklyn, Oct 2016; Robert Heath, San Francisco, May 2016) reception in 5G phones. Qualcomm expects four of the arrays to be in each phone, one on each side to cope with propagation issues (even your hand will block mm-wave signals).
Still puzzled by MoviePass’s business plan? Now you can double down on the confusion: MealPalhas a similar model, substituting the lunch counter for the moviehouse. But there’s no denying that technology is heating up the food industry like a good habanero does to a taco. Chick-fil-A is the latest company to enter the Blue Apron-type market, and the first fast food chain to do so. Personally, we’re more attracted by the Wellio (Erik Andrejko, Brooklyn, Jun 2018) vision of helping (using AI, of course) us do a better job of cooking our own healthful meals.
The Girl Scouts have rolled out 30 new STEM-related badges, including programming, cybersecurity, space science, and mechanical engineering. (And yet, you still can’t put this year’s cookie order on auto-renew.)

“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.”
 —Albnert Einstein

The TTI/Vanguard Team

Author: Steven Cherry

Director of TTI/Vanguard, “a unique forum for senior-level executives that links strategic technology planning to business success. In private conferences that are part classroom, part think-tank, and part laboratory, its members—corporate and government leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, and academics—explore emerging and potentially disruptive technologies.”

Twenty years experience as a technology journalist and editor, at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Founded the award-winning podcast series, Techwise Conversations covering tech news, tech careers and education, and the engineering lifestyle. Teaches an intensive writing class as an adjunct instructor at NYU. Previously taught essay writing and creative writing at The College of New Rochelle.