Friday, March 20, 2015

We are getting very excited for Detroit’s Making Stuff – have you registered yet?

At a TED talk this week, Bill Gates warned us all of two dangers. The first was how ill-prepared we are for outbreaks of infectious diseases like Ebola—a topic TTI/Vanguard members are well-prepared to think about, after Erica Ollman Saphire’s recent talk, "Viruses, Virus Proteins, and Ebola” (San Diego, February 2015). The second danger, the threat posed by greater-than-human intelligence, was the topic of James Barrat’s talk last year, " Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era” (Boston, April 2014).

Some dangers are far more immediate, such as Cyclone Pam, which devastated the island nation of Vanatu. But at least Patrick Meier's Micromappers stood poised to process images and videos of the disaster-struck archipelago (San Francisco, Dec 2014; Paris, Jul 2011). It took a couple of days for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs to reach out, but images are available for tagging now at, and videos should be available soon. Check back at to contribute as a "Digital Jedi."

If you are at SXSW this week, head over to the Robot Petting Zoo to see Alex Reben's BlabDroid (Boston, Apr 2014) along with the rest of the menagerie of friendly robots. But don’t tell it too many secrets!

Speaking of robots, we also enjoyed a recent segment on the national public radio show Here & Now that featured our friends the CoBots—the robots that ask for help when they need it — brought to our attention last year by Manuela Veloso (Boston, April 2013). It’s cute when a robot will ask for help. It is ingenious when it will fetch you a beer—and don’t forget that Manuela’s bots do that too.

With the U.S. Department of Justice poised to extend the Americans with Disabilities Act to online content, the Web should soon become a more comfortable place for people who are blind or otherwise disabled—a goal of a number of past speakers, including Neil Scott (Atlanta, November 2000), Sile O’Modhrain (Geneva, September 2005), Michelle Covell (San Diego, February 2000), and, in the extreme, by John Donoghue (Geneva, September 2005) and Rajesh Rao (San Francisco, December 2013). For TTI/Vanguard members, this a long-overdue idea!

 Advisory Board member Peter Cochrane has a few talks out – do not miss Peter’s warning that traditional management approaches may kill your business:

San Francisco [next] 2014 speaker Eric Cheng has a great interview out in the Huffington Post, On Happiness, Photography, And Greeting Whales

Happy Spring!

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.