Hyperloop & A Stockpile of Beer
If you’re Elon Musk, your New Year’s resolution for 2016 is short and sweet: Build the Hyperloop. Or at least an 8-km test track.
Do you ever find yourself struggling to recall something you read recently? Age may not be the culprit. A recent study suggests that humans retain less of the information that we absorb via electronic devices than from, say, an actual book. (Maryanne Wolf, Jersey City, Oct 2013)
But we may not need memory augmentation (Sunil Vemuri, Jim Gemmell, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009) as much as we thought: The human capacity for memory is 10x what it was previously thought to be.
And here’s a hopeful mix of high- and low-tech: Google Cardboard helped surgeons save a baby’s life (Michael Doyle and Leslie Ventsch, Seattle, Dec 2012).
We are not fans of monocultures, so we were distressed to read recent warnings that the blockchain—meant to be the most diversified of all disparate verified communication systems—is, at least in Bitcoin, vulnerable by its very lack of variousness. (Vitalik Buterin, Philadelphia, Jul 2015; John Henry Clippinger, Atlanta, Feb 2014)
For more mixed reviews on blockchain, Square’s Tony Arcieri says the technology’s hype factor is “considerable,” yet he calls out Ethereum for praise (Vital Buterin, Philadelphia, Jul 2015). tonyarcieri.com/on-the-dangers-of-a-blockchain-monoculture
Here’s another distressing surprise: a low-cost PC that lacks online connectivity, a decade after Advisory Board Member Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child (San Francisco, Feb 2005; also Mary Lou Jepsen, Geneva, Sep 2005 (display); Walter Bender, Barcelona, Jul 2007 (software); Michael Hutak, Singapore, Jul 2009 (Oceania)).
At this year’s Davos meeting, the World Economic Forum issued the latest in what seems to be an endless parade of robots-are-killing-jobs reports (Erik Nieves, Detroit, May 2015; Andrew McAfee, Jersey City, Oct 2013). Ho hum. But this one is a bit different—it forecasts not only a net loss of 5 million (7.1 million, offset by 2 million new jobs) but that the jobs most at risk of being replaced by machines are those in “administrative and routine white-collar office functions” led by losses in healthcare, energy, and financial services.
And UBS released a report at Davos that adds another prediction: Robots and intelligent software will bring about a further rise in income inequality. In an interesting, um, coincidence, “the Swiss bank concludes that Switzerland is the country best-placed to adapt to the new robot world.”
He’s not as cute as Relay, but the HUBO robot has taken Davos by storm. He’s also not new. The first HUBO was built in 2004, and HUBO II dates back to 2010. Just sayin’.
Speaking of taking the world—or at least the east coast of the U.S.— by storm, Jonas is coming. Weather forecasting is getting better (Anne Miglarese, Vienna, July 2013), but it’s still an imprecise science. A friend sent this helpful preparation planning chart:
— George Herbert
The TTI/Vanguard Team