Friday, December 4, 2015

The Moore Foundation recently gave Stanford $13.5 million toward building an “accelerator on a chip.” Is this one of the technologies that Stanford professor Subhasish Mitra will refer to on Tuesday in his talk, “Computing Performance: The N3XT 1000X”? You’ll just have to tune in and see! Here’s the URL for the live webcast of [next], December 8-9: We’re working on a mechanism for remote questions, but in the meantime you can email them to Steven ( or Bryan (
One percent of $45 billion is still a tidy sum, but kudos to Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and anyone else willing to divest themselves of $44.55 billion to be spent on fighting disease and other good works.
Kudos too to Advisory Board member Eben Upton for bringing the cost of a computer down to that of a mocha latte. Apparently the development of the new hardware was inspired by a conversation with two-time speaker Eric Schmidt (St Louis, Apr 1994; San Jose, Sep 2000).
Good news for Oklahoma, aka The Earthquake State: This year’s Gordon Bell Prize went to a team of researchers from the University of Texas, IBM, NYU, and CalTech, “for realistically simulating the forces inside the Earth driving plate tectonics.”
Please do not say the word “disrupt” any more. Please. Just. Stop.
What would you say are the ten most disruptive exciting technologies you heard about at TTI/Vanguard in 2015? Steven Cherry is compiling a list (and checking it twice). In the meantime, here’s Tech Insider’s top-40 list of this year’s innovations.
"In a terse statement Wednesday, Carnegie Mellon wrote that its Software Engineering Institute hadn’t received any direct payment for its Tor research from the FBI or any other government funder." As it happens, CMU has an NSA-funded lab, Cylab. So yeah, not the FBI, and not the Software Enterprise Institute. Jus’ sayin’. Anyway, why should anyone be squeamish about taking credit for Tor? Tor, like any technology worth its salt, can be used for good (Jacob Appelbaum, Washington, D.C., May 2012) or ill (Christopher White, Philadelphia, Jul 2015).
Board member Nicholas Negroponte thinks the Internet “is like roads and street lighting.” But wait, does that mean it should be paid for by taxes instead of subscriptions? Apparently Nicholas thinks so: “Going back to state owned connectivity is not such a bad idea.” What do you think?
People are still sharing and still signing the inspirational Open Letter to the Digital Economy, first published earlier this year.  
Congrats to Jon Schull (San Francisco, Dec 2014; Detroit, May 2015) and all the other J.M.K. Innovation Prize awardees! We liked Jon so much, he’s spoken twice. And after reading this, we somehow like him even more! 
And former speaker Robin Chase (Atlanta, Feb 2014; Memphis, Sep 2006) is among those honored with a 2015 Women in Sustainability Leadership Award.
We’re always interested in developments in spaceflight, whether human or robotic. So it’s great to see that even as NASA is giving Valkyrie robots to MIT and Northeastern (Russ Tedrake and Evan Ackerman, Boston, Apr, 2014), the Johnson Space Center is developing a new Modular Robotic Vehicle (William Mitchell, St. Louis, Sep 2008).
Here’s an anecdotal look at the process of brainstorming and ideation (Dan Bryson, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015; Alexandre Eisenchteter, Paris, Jul 2011). Martin Kallstrom tells the story of the provenance of his Narrative Clip wearable camera, which took inspiration from Gordon Bell’s MyLifeBits project and Steve Mann’s real-time videoblogging (Toronto, Apr 2008).
Back in March, Apple released ResearchKit, to help medical researchers collect data from iPhone users. But what about the other 70% of us on Android? Former Board Member and speakerDeborah Estrin now has us covered.
What does Iron Man give his girlfriend for Valentine’s Day? A dozen cyborg roses, of course.
(Ivan Poupyrev, Miami, Dec 2011)
Maybe a single rose could store all human knowledge in its DNA (Sri Kosuri, San Diego, Feb 2015;Stewart Brand, San Diego, Feb 2000; Matthew Linford, Miami, Dec 2011).
Jane McGonigal (Barcelona, Jul 2007) wants us to move to a four-hour workweek. We’d be happy to get back down to an eight-hour workday!
5G (Babak Daneshrad, Chicago, Apr 2005; Greg Timms, Vienna, Jul 2013) is still not fully defined, but we’d be happy with Alcatel-Lucent’s notion of 1 PB/s, which it claims to be on track for.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t note the passing of Joseph Engelberger, the father of Unimate and widely acknowledged as the father of factory automation in general. He was 90 and died peacefully in his Newtown, CT, home on Tuesday.
We’re so used to talking about technology as the fundamental way to improve lives, that it’s a bit of a surprise to hear that “more than seven in ten Americans think technology has become too distracting and is creating a lazy society.” We’ll let you know what we think...right after a few more cat videos.
See you in San Francisco next week—or on the YouTube! The newsletter will be back in two weeks. 

“What scares me the most is that both the poker bot and Dropbox started out as distractions.”
— Drew Houston

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.