Our California colleagues have been enjoying the Superbloom. And soon our Washington, DC, community will have its turn. According to the National Parks Service, peak Cherry Blossom bloom will be next week, April 3–6th!
Did we mention California? Congrats to longtime member Michael Miller. He completed the Los Angeles Marathon this week, making the Golden State #40 in his quest to run marathons in all 50 states. In true TTI/V tech fashion, Michael tweeted along the way and rode an on-demand, app-controlled, electric JUMP bike back to his hotel.
Congratulations are also due this year’s Turing Award winners—Geoffrey Hinton, Yoshua Bengio, and Yann LeCun (Pittsburgh, Oct 2012)—for their advancement of neural net-based deep learning.
Researchers haven’t given up on the idea of gray goo (Eric Drexler, Philadelphia, July 1997; Bill Joy, Phoenix, October 1999; Ralph Merkle, Seattle, September 2001). Now a team headed by Columbia’s Hod Lipson (Brooklyn, July 2016) and MIT CSAIL’s Daniela Rus (Boston, April 2014) have demonstrated a robot composed of many loosely coupled components that have no individual addresses or identities (making them different from swarm or modular robots). These so-called particle robots “can perform only uniform volumetric oscillations (slightly expanding and contracting), but cannot move independently.”
We would have guessed the reverse, but a new report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research argues that collectively women in the workforce will be hurt worse by automation than men. (Ian Stewart, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; Barry Schwartz, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015; Lucy Sanders and Catherine Ashcraft, Washington, D.C., May 2012)
… On the other hand, while automation might reduce the total number of textile jobs worldwide, it could bring back some that had been shipped overseas, increasing U.S. employment in that field. (Connie Huffa, San Francisco, Dec 2018))
It looks like congestion pricing (Adam Millard-Ball, Berkeley, Mar 2019) is coming to midtown and downtown Manhattan. It could be part of an April 1 New York state budget package; if so, the fees would likely start in 2021.
Which is easier, tailoring a suit to the person, or tailoring the person to the suit? In the case of spacesuits and a NASA spacewalk scheduled for today, the latter. And as a consequence, “one of the two women on the mission, Anne McClain, will now have to give up her place to a male colleague.” How are we going to reduce gender bias in AI (Julie Ancis, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017) if we can’t even eliminate it in clothing? (Note to NASA: make another suit.)
Ford Motor Co. (Will Brick and Bill Coughlin, field trip, Detroit, May 2015) is still targeting 2021 for autonomous vehicles—in fact, it’s building a new Michigan factory for the purpose.
A couple of years ago there were reports of Russia building its own sovereign internet. Now it’s about to embark on an interesting experiment toward that end: “It’s going to test whether it can disconnect from the rest of the world electronically while keeping the internet running for its citizens. This means it will have to reroute all its data internally, rather than relying on servers abroad.” (David Reed, San Francisco, May 2016; Walter Wriston, Boston, May 1999; John Perry Barlow, Geneva, July 1995)
Just days after Ray Raychaudhuri (Berkeley, Mar 2019) talked to us about 6G, the FCC freed up the millimeter waves above 95 GHz, including a 21.2 GHz band for unlicensed devices.
The wood researchers at the University of Maryland (Tian Li, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018) are at it again. In a new paper in Nature Materials, they describe transforming a piece of wood into “a flexible membrane that generates energy from the same type of electric current (ions) that the human body runs on…. With this new technology, they can use a small temperature differential to efficiently generate ionic voltage.”
The EU Parliament has passed a law that would make YouTube and other media providers more responsible for copyrighted material uploaded to them (Pamela Samuelson, Washington, D.C. May 2000; Jérémie Zimmermann, Washington, D.C. May 2012). The legislation was framed in terms of European artist rights versus U.S. tech giants—certainly true at least for the degree of lobbying by U.S. companies to get legislators to vote the other way, which was called “intense.”
"The ultimate productivity hack is saying no."