Friday, April 24, 2015

Media outlets love anniversaries, and so the April 19, 1965, publication date of Gordon Moore’s first article about his “law” has drawn a predictable swarm of articles. In fact, IEEE Spectrum (which published the second article about Moore’s Law), has this month single-handedly published nine on its own. The cover page, with links, to the special report, is here, but should you want to dive in, you could do worse than to start with a Q&A with Carver Mead (yes, the Carver Mead who rewrote the laws of General Relativity for us in February), wherein he explains, among other things, in what sense it’s a law.

Speaking of laws, an interesting article recently noted that “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening.” We suspect that Reed’s Law is somehow playing a role here.

And yet another anniversary, and another important tube: YouTube turns ten. Four years before its inception Bob Metcalfe (Dublin, Jul 2001), predicted video would dominate Internet traffic, which came to pass in 2011, mainly because of YouTube and Netflix. More recently Craig Labovitz and Adrian Cockcroft (Los Angeles, Feb 2013) explained the essential roles of content delivery services such as Akamai (Tom Leighton, Philadelphia, Apr 2006) and cloud services such as Amazon's (Charlie Bell, Santa Monica, Dec 2007; Adam Selipsky, San Francisco, Feb 2010). In one of Vanguard's earliest meetings (Boston, Apr 1992), Advisory Board Nicholas Negroponte predicted video as a large player on the Internet, although he envisioned a pay-per-view, video-on-demand model – anticipating the growing challenge to Netflix by Amazon and iTunes.

Also in the spirit of anniversaries, this week marked the 25th year for what seems to be the second-longest-running internet publication, Tidbits, an Apple-related newsletter begun in 1990.

After what we learned at our April 2014 conference devoted to Robotics, no one should be surprised that robots have recently figured out how to mow lawns, make a latte, and gotten arrested. More poignantly, there’s the poor robot that is sacrificing its life this week, trapped in the Fukushima nuclear reactor, to get us critical data.

Lizards, on the other hand, just seem to be inspiring. Among the gecko-inspired entrepreneurs who focus on the critters' setae (Sangbae Kim, Los Angeles, Feb 2011; Robert Full, Charlotte, Dec 2010), rather than matters of compliance (Duncan Irschick, San Diego, Feb 2015), this Kickstarter pair are offering up a selectively adhering iPhone case.

For those of us who thoroughly enjoyed reading Andrew Blum's Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet, the library selection for the Net Futures conference (Los Angeles, Feb 2013), which featured a lovely peek back through history at Len Kleinrock's original node of the ARPANET, the new book by Nicole Starosielski, The Undersea Network, might be of interest. Get a preview at

In the past we have brought you previews of wholly new programming constructs (Emina Torlak, Washington, D.C., Sep/Oct 2014; Alan Kay, Washington, D.C., Oct 2011) and of machine-learning vision systems (Yan LeCun, Pittsburgh, Dec 2013; Michael Miller, Atlanta, Feb 2008; Steven Seitz, Barcelona, Jul 2007). Here is an MIT press release that brings these two topics together:

Perhaps you were an early adopter and purchased a MakerBot (in kit form!) when Bre Pettis first introduced TTI/Vanguard to his affordable, open-source 3-D printer in Salt Lake City, Dec 2009. If you did, you’ve been envying those who waited and now have printers that support multiple materials simultaneously. The Palette, by Mosaic Manufacturing, is poised to set you back on track. It lets your old machine switch among several input strands by serving as an interface between your computer and 3-D printer. 3-D printing will obviously be a big topic at our Making Stuff meeting—just two weeks away now! 

If you’re not confused you don’t understand things very well.
— Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway

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.