Microrobotic Jellyfish, Qudits, Turing on the £50 Note
Longtime TTI/V member Stephen DeAngelis (Napa, Jun 2017; Washington, D.C., Sep 2015, Mar 2015; Chicago, Oct 2014) is excited to announce a partnership between his firm Enterra and Nestlé USA in which Enterra will be deploying its next-generation analytics and insights platform across the food-and-beverage conglomerate’s retail partner network.
One potential application for Marc Miskin’s microrobots (Pittsburgh, Jun 2019) was drug delivery. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems have designed a 3-mm robotic jellyfish that can swim, burrow, and transport objects within the body, steered by applying a magnetic field to it.
Even smaller particle robots (so-called grey goo (Hod Lipson, Brooklyn, Jul 2016; Bill Joy, Phoenix, Oct 1999; Eric Drexler, Philadelphia, Jul 1997)) will be the focus of a talk in at our [next] meeting, December 2–4, given by Columbia University researcher Richa Batra.
With bifocal lenses, the eyes adapt based on what they’re focused on. Why not have the glasses adapt instead? A group of Stanford researchers have developed “fluid-filled lenses that bulge and thin as the field of vision changes.”
Amazon’s investment in its veritable army of Kiva robots (Ken Goldberg, San Francisco, Dec 2014) makes plain that automation is changing workplace roles. The company is also investing in its human capital, announcing an initiative to retrain fully one-third of its workforce (Paul Daugherty, San Francisco, Dec 2018; Vishal Sikka, San Francisco, Dec 2017).
Noam Brown (Brooklyn, Jun 2018) is winning again—or, rather, his Pluribus poker-playing AI is. It has used self-play to up its game, successfully besting five Texas Hold ‘Em opponents at one time, including Len Kleinrock’s former student, poker champ Chris Ferguson. The game even defeated multiple copies of itself, reminding us of one of our favorite quotes from our late Advisory Board member, John Perry Barlow, “I don’t need enemies. I have myself.”
Another deep learning-based AI dubbed DeepCubeA—developed by University of California-Irvine—utilized self-play to solve Rubik’s Cube in an average of 28 moves, whereas human wizzes typically require 50.
The efficiency of photovoltaics (Supratik Guha, St. Louis, Sep 2008) depends on the conversion of electromagnetic radiation into electricity. Researchers at Rice University are using arrays of single-walled carbon nanotubes to channel broadband infrared—i.e., heat—into a narrow energy regime and then into electricity, theoretically boosting solar panel efficiency from 22% to 80%.
Purdue University researchers are doing more with less, encoding 20 qubits into two photons by exploiting both the frequency and time domains simultaneously. (Compare with prior photonics-based quantum-computing efforts that have required six entangled photons to encode 18 qubits.) They dub these extra-stable qubits “qudits.” (Prem Kumar, San Francisco, Dec 2018; Rodney Van Meter, Tokyo, Mar 2017; Hideo Mabuchi, San Diego, Nov 2002)
What to do when half-a-million people have an app, it functions precisely as intended, yet people feel as though it didn’t? That’s what happened when ShakeAlertLA failed to alert Southern Californians who were shaken by—but not alerted of—the temblors on July 4 and 5. Perhaps the threshold for alert should be user-controlled, as is the case with the Yurekuru app interface to Japan’s earthquake early warning system. (Masumi Yamada, Paris, Jul 2011)
Gratefully, the TTI/V Santa Monica team was shaken but not stirred by the July earthquakes, as we are located 150 miles from the epicenter. The canine members of our team were much more alarmed by the 4th of July fireworks than the Earth’s rumbling.
This week’s space news has nothing to do with the moon landing 50 years ago; surely, you’ve been finding plenty of that on your own. What you might not have seen is the potential to warm up Mars to support human or conventional plant life. So while we contemplate geoengineering on Earth to keep temperatures from spiraling out of control (Richard Turco, Santa Monica, Dec 2007), perhaps an aerogel could increase temperatures on the Red Planet so water remains liquid and plants can grow.
This week’s currency news has nothing to do with blockchain. Instead, the Bank of England announced that Alan Turing will be honored on England’s new £50 bank note, which is “expected to enter circulation at the end of 2021, will include an image of Turing, ticker tape of his birth date in binary code, and a table and formula from a 1936 paper that introduced the concept of how computers could operate.” Other scientists who made the shortlist can be found here.
"This is only a foretaste of what is to come, and only the shadow of what is going to be."
—Alan Turing (about the ascent of computers)