Friday, November 6, 2015

Congratulations to Advisory Board Member Eric Haseltine, TTI/V member Mark Maybury of MITRE, and former speakers Vint Cerf and James Hendler for their recent appointment to the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee.

Speaking of Vint, he spoke this week at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering (where Steven Cherry teaches a journalism course), joined by former speaker and advisory board member Deborah Estrin, on “The Coming Age of the Internet of Things.”

And speaking of MITRE, if you joined us on the fantastic field trip to its facilities in McLean, Virginia (Sept 2015), you’ll love learning more about their collaboration-centered building in Bedford, Massachusetts, which we toured using Google Cardboard. Also, here’s another look into Federally Funded R&D Centers.

Any firm with a paid Slack account can now access new features that enhance subgroup and channel management (Bill Macaitis, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015).

Could Edward Snowden soon find safe harbor in Europe? Our own membership (and even our own Advisory Board)  is split on this topic (which was debated by John Perry Barlow and Eric Haseltine, with David Vigilante serving as the moderator, in Atlanta, Feb 2014).

We have been illuminated by talks about the use of scattered light to see around corners (Ramesh Raskar, Seattle, Dec 2012) and infrared vision systems (Bill Parrish, San Francisco, Dec 2013); now MIT researchers are using reflected RF signals—specifically, Wi-Fi—to see people through walls.

And what would be better than that? Capturing the experience for playback in high-quality virtual reality. Lytro’s new spherical light field Immerge is designed for just that (Ren Ng, Seattle, Dec 2012).

If you’ve always wanted to do something fantastic—more fantastic than what you already do—look no further than this Fast Company headline: “Dream job alert! NASA puts out call for new astronauts.” (Erika DeBenedictis, Vienna, Jul 2013)

Does your family’s array of electronic devices align with most others? The Pew Research Center’s latest report on the Internet, Society, and Technology looks at personal-device ownership, ownership trends, and demographic differences (Gordon Castle, Philadelphia, Jul 2015).

As the U.S. presidential elections kick into higher gear, maybe it’s time to download Greenhouse. Written last year by then-16-year-old Nicholas Rubin, the browser plug-in reveals fundraising data about any major political name on any webpage as you hover over it. Governments, democratically elected and otherwise, were a big topic at our Revolutions meeting during the last election cycle (Joshua Levine, Peter Ackerman, and Andrew Rasiej, Washington, D.C., May 2012).

Are alternative currencies an inevitable evolution of the basis for transactions (Vitalik Buterin, Philadelphia, Jul 2015; John Henry Clippinger, Atlanta, Feb 2014; Bill Maurer, Pittsburgh, Oct 2012)? If so, that evolution is gaining speed, as these Economist articles on BitCoin and block chain attest. As well, our own member USAA has partnered with Coinbase to include members’ bitcoin balances in their overall financial snapshots.

TTI/Vanguard was fortunate to hear about the Chrome OS (not to be confused with the Chrome browser) prior to its 2010 launch (Matthew Glotzbach, San Francisco, Feb 2010). Google is denying an initial report that Chrome OS is poised to merge with Android for one cross-platform mobile operating system.

Reactions around here were mixed on Marvin Minsky’s recent look back at technology. Some found it special, others cynical. Still, Minsky’s impact on AI cannot be denied and his reflections are worth noting (Boston, Apr 2014; Atlanta, Feb 2008).  

Larry Zitnick applied deep learning to image analysis (Philadelphia, Jul 2015). Google is now using it for its Smart Reply, which automates email replies. What could go wrung?

As soon as we signed up a tokamak talk for next month’s [next] conference (MIT’s Dennis Whyte), tokamak news is everywhere--most recently in Germany, where the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics recently completed constructing the world's largest nuclear-fusion machine.

We can’t always give you a 17-year-in-advance heads-up on future technology, but we did that in 1998 with a talk by advisory board member Peter Cochrane and Ian Neild on pico-cells. The bragging rights continue: This week, member firm Nokia Networks partnered with former speaker Steve Perlman’s (Pasadena, Nov 1996) current startup in what will be the largest deployment of pico-cells.

Google cars are being specifically trained to behave more cautiously around children, and the company used Halloween to provide an alternative concept of what children look like. This is an example of a tenet noted by James Barrat (Boston, Apr 2014): It is incumbent on wise humans to clarify the ground rules that govern the choices of artificial intelligences.

Speaking of cars, whatever happened to the tiny, foldable, zero-emissions CityCar that William Mitchell shared with TTI/Vanguard with enthusiasm and elegance (St. Louis, Sep 2008)? Now we know, and it’s a remarkable story of hope, embezzlement, obsolescence, the eventual resurgence of hope, with a few geese thrown in for good measure.

From simultaneous translation (Craig Silverstein, Miami, Sep 2002) to tricorders (Walter De Brouwer, San Francisco, Dec 2013), Star Trek has inspired many of our speakers. Who knows what future technologies will be inspired by a new Star Trek series, to appear on television and the Web in 2017?

The latest thing to take flight from DJI isn’t a new quadcopter, but rather a small and lightweight, yet GPU-heavy, computer to ride along as a passenger on DJI drones and perform real-time image processing of the amazing video captured by the drone-borne camera. (Eric Cheng and Mike Hawley, San Francisco, Dec 2014)

And in news out of Russ Tedrake’s lab (Boston, Apr 2014), using an ultrafast stereovision algorithm, a self-guided drone can dynamically avoid obstacles while flying at 30 mph. Watch the video for a plane’s eye view of a beautiful fall day in Massachusetts. Some of us are enjoying the last hurrah of a perfect Indian Summer week. Hope you are, too (unless, of course, you get this kind of weather year round!).

“I don't get the kids today... with the boom boxes and the headphones. Uncle Lou, in the movie, Indian Summer

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.