Friday, May 17, 2019

One of the more interesting examples of last year’s “Less is More” meeting was the idea of doing machine learning at a network’s endpoints instead of centrally (Pete Warden, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018). Apparently, Facebook has the ability to run algorithms locally that would review and block posts that violate its terms of service. It’s not using that capability yet because doing so would deprive the central network of new data to improve those same algorithms.

Four years after Behrokh Khoshnevis (Detroit, May 2015) told us he could 3-D print an entire neighborhood of buildings, someone is finally doing it.

San Francisco is the first, but probably not the last, city to ban municipal use of facial recognition for surveillance. (Andrew Bud, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017; Hasan Elahi, Toronto, Apr 2008; Michael Miller, Atlanta, Feb 2008)

Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act already strictly regulates the collection of biometric data, including face scans—to such an extent that Sony does not sell its Aibo robotic dog companion in the state, because a camera in the dog’s nose is used to tell one person from another. TTI/V staffers Joy Boston and Lisa Yao still immensely enjoyed playing with Aibo (Manuela Veloso, Boston, Apr 2014) while in Tokyo for our regional meetings.

Maybe we should eliminate license-plate recognition too. Robin Chase (Atlanta, Feb 2014; Memphis, Sep 2006) argues persuasively that as we get rid of toll plazas, and as cities like New York move to congestion pricing, adding more license-plate-reading cameras is the wrong way to go.

By the way, in case you weren’t worried enough about cameras, a new lidar-based system can accurately photograph people and cars 28 miles away, even in heavy fog or smog. (Greg Dobler, Austin, Feb 2016 and NYU field trip, Brooklyn, Jun 2018; Ian Oppermann, Paris, Jul 2011)

In 2014 the U.K. mandated courses in programming from ages 5 to 14. A new study finds that fewer students take computing or information and communications technology courses after age 14—in fact, the number has dropped by 45%. Oops. (Eben Upton, Vienna, Jul 2013)

Another oops ... Universal Music received $107K worth of Uber shares in the seed round in 2010. In what must have seemed like an eye-popping ROI at the time, the group sold those shares one year later for $863K. On IPO day, that position was worth $532M. Sometimes even a win feels like a loss.

Then again, the entire Uber IPO was something of a bust, at least when measured against valuations and expectations. “A whopping 81% of the $29.55 billion in equity that Uber has raised is underwater,” according to one analyst.

A simulation exercise reproducing the conditions of the ET 302 plane crash suggests its pilots faced an almost impossible recovery scenario. (MITRE field trip, McLean, Sep 2015)

The 10-digit North American Numbering Plan has served the Western Hemisphere for decades. But Japan, which already has 11 digits in its phone numbers, plans to expand them to 14.

Can malware be detected by monitoring energy usage spikes? (Jonathan Chu, San Francisco, Dec 2017)

Not everyone is as obsessed with beer as Steven Cherry. Fortunately for the liquor lovers among us, Swedish distiller Mackmyra turned to Microsoft and Fourkind, a Finnish technology consultancy, to see if artificial intelligence can be of help. The first AI whiskey will be “a golden yellow single-malt with herbal notes of aniseed, ginger, and white pepper and a citrusy, spicy mouth with a dry finish.”

Elsewhere in Sweden, an AI is tracking parasite bugs on satellite photos.

Meanwhile, drones are making radiation maps of Chernobyl's "Red Forest.” (Ian Glenn, Brooklyn, Jul 2016)

Always do right—this will gratify some and astonish the rest.
 — Mark Twain

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.