Mayem wins Cyber Grand Challenge, Artificial Neurons, Delta's Backups Don't Backup

If you have not yet registered for our upcoming Cybersecurity meeting (Washington, D.C. September 26-28), with a special workshop visit to the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence please visit:
DEF CON kicked off with the announcement of the top honors awarded at DARPA’s Cyber Grand Challenge, where competitors developed systems to autonomously detect, evaluate, and patch vulnerabilities before adversaries have the opportunity to exploit them. The winning system, Mayhem (Pittsburgh), will be the first machine allowed to enter DEF CON’s Capture the Flag competition—just another instance of “solving complex problems with games,” to borrow the title of one of the talks at our Serious Fun conference. (Seth Cooper, Chicago, May 2011).
When Adam Fudakowski (London, Jul 2014) described for us the Kickstarter economy, we didn’t know quite how big it was. Now a University of Pennsylvania study has found that “from inception to May, 2015, Kickstarter projects resulted in around 5,135 ongoing full time jobs besides those that went to creators and led to the hiring of around 160,425 temporary workers.” It also found that “every dollar given to projects via Kickstarter resulted in a mean of $2.46 in additional revenue outside of Kickstarter,” which apparently amounts to $5.3 billion in total activity.
If the goal is to engineer an artificial brain (Robin Hanson, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; Todd Hylton, Washington, D.C., Sep/Oct 2014), a good place to start is with artificial neurons (James Gimzewski, Boston, Apr 2014). IBM reports the creation of a population of 500 neuromorphically interconnected artificial nanoscale stochastic phase-change (Eric Furst, Seattle, Dec 2012) neurons.
University of Maryland researchers have developed the first fully programmable and reconfigurable quantum computing module (Rodney Van Meter, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Carl Williams, Santa Monica, Dec 2007; Hideo Mabuchi, San Diego, Nov 2002). Optical control of each ion that makes up the five qubit module is key to successful operation.
Smart cities and big data have been perpetual topics here at TTI/V. And some folks have combined them in interesting ways (most recently, João Barros and John Tolva, San Francisco, May 2016). But big data is one thing, and machine learning is another. Researchers at the MIT Media Lab are using neural networks to look at which urban and architectural designs promote safety on our streets.
Listen to (or read) Steve Jurvetson’s (San Francisco, Dec 2013) thoughts on the VC mindset, hot sectors of the economy, the lure of outer space, and the most important thing large firms can do. Spoiler alert: He implores innovators is to step outside their respective wheelhouses when attempting to do something impactful.
Remember the letter a few weeks back arguing that a Donald Trump presidency would be bad for innovation? (Vint Cerf, Jimmy Wales, and others.) It’s now been matched by one arguing it “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.” The new letter is signed by 50 former senior national security and international relations officials, including TTI/Vanguard speakers past (John Negroponte, Washington, D.C. May 2010) and upcoming (Michael Hayden, next month’s Cybersecurity meeting). Hayden also had an op-ed in the New York Timesthis week further outlining his views.
One of the lessons of next month’s Cybersecurity meeting will be that all too often, organizations fail to execute straightforward strategies that are known to support security and reliability. That was certainly true of Delta this week. The airline’s entire fleet was grounded by a fire, a resulting power surge that blew out a transformer, and, depressingly, a failure to have a source of backup power. Worst of all, airline systems are not updated in real time, meaning recovery from a data center failure takes hours and days instead of minutes. Sometimes it seems airline systems haven’t improved much since the 1990s, when we heard  from Travelocity/SABRE’s Terrell Jones in 1998 (March, Chicago) and SABRE’s Meg Lewis (St. Louis, Apr 1995). Joining Lewis on that 1995 panel was Skip Barnette of Delta, which had not yet transitioned to a user-driven reservation system. Maybe it’s time for Delta to update the system it has since implemented, or at least develop a reliable offsite backup (Pat Gambaro, Washington, D.C., Nov 2001).

Goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.—” —Michael Phelps, 21-time (and climbing) Olympic gold medalist

The TTI/Vanguard Team