October 23, 2020 -NEWSLETTER: Collaboration everywhere!

Dear Robin,

[next] registration is open for members. Do not miss big name speakers such as Tony Fadell, Sebastian Thrun, George Church and others. We’ll also explore cutting-edge topics such as socio-political-techno responses to the pandemic, autonomy and privacy, the chemistry of quantum computing, wastewater as a forensic tool and so much more! We kick off with a virtual field trip to the New Jersey Institute of Technology this Tuesday, October 27.

Members do have to register separately for the visit to NJIT and [next]
NJIT virtual field trip
agenda and registration
[next] conference agenda and registration

Thank you so much for all of the compliments we have already received for these two upcoming events. Let's give credit where credit is due. Longtime TTIV community member David Bader and our own incomparable Nancy Kleinrock designed Tuesday's visit to NJIT. Legendary journalists (amongst other things) John Markoff (former New York Times) and Gregg Zachary (former Wall Street Journal) built the [next] agenda. Hats off and thank you for a yeoman job by all. 

Anyone familiar with our organization knows that we adamantly oppose censorship, but free speech does not equal the right to distribute false information. So we applaud member firm’s Facebook’s decision to remove Holocaust denier content and Twitter’s announcement to follow suit.

As you’ve surely heard, the U.S. Justice Department has brought an antitrust case against Google. Who better to comment on it than Steve Ballmer, who guided Microsoft through a similar action two decades ago. His recommendation to Sundar Pichai is to move toward the expected endgame as quickly as possible, rather than getting “stuck on the reasonableness of [Google’s] action” that led the tech giant to be broadly perceived as a monopoly (Jonathan Taplin, Boston, Apr 2017). In this wide-ranging interview, Ballmer also discusses his most recent endeavor, the nonpartisan nonprofit USAFacts, which “aims to make government data available so Americans can form their own positions on policy issues.” (Andrew Rasiej, Washington, D.C., May 2012)

Zoom hosted their annual conference, Zoomtopia. The event featured the possibility of increasing end-to-end encryption (along with all of the regulatory attention that will inevitably attract), immersive experiences, increased safety features, and the release OnZoom for hosting paid online events and welcoming third-party apps and integrations. (Raluca Ada Popa, San Francisco, Dec 2017)

Whether it’s the battery in your phone or the one in your electric car, recharge time matters. Xiaomi is making strides with its 80-W wireless charger, claiming that it can top off its phone’s 4000-mAh battery in 20 minutes.

The TTI/Vanguard team loves collaboration, so it makes us extra happy to see two long-time members—Intel and MITRE—partner to accelerate ultrawideband technology research.

One of the U.S. military’s greatest logistical challenges (amongst many, many logistical challenges) is to get the right type of fuel to specific machines all over the world. Thanks to an $11.4M grant from the Army Research Laboratory, the University of Wisconsin is angling to alleviate some of that pressure with unmanned aircraft that can run on diesel, jet fuel, gasoline, or even ethanol—whichever energy source is closest. (Saul Griffith, San Francisco, Dec 2019)

In the meantime, Airbus is betting on liquid hydrogen as its fuel of the future. (Joseph Romm, Montreal, Apr 2004; Amory Lovins, Toronto, Apr 2002)

Member organization NASA’s ORISIS-REX spacecraft has been studying the Bennu asteroid from a distance for two years, but this week it took the plunge and made contact—literally—by bumping into the surface with adequate force to stir up and gather a sample of rocks and dirt. We’ll be waiting for its ultimate delivery of the sample to Earth (in Utah on September 24, 2023, to be precise).

MIT’s Kalyan Veeramachaneni (Austin, Feb 2014) has launched a collection of open-source data generation tools—which they collectively call the Synthetic Data Vault—to enable researchers to study properties of real datasets but without the privacy concerns. (Jeanette Wing, Washington, D.C., Sep 2019) https://eml.iiconferences.com/e/81142/al-promise-synthetic-data-1016/5p7sfd/621406331?h=FxiUXs_FgRa8Tmp-uV59cofR-5TSIBOGC6RVz0BQ6Gw

Ethan Zuckerman (Seattle, Mar 2020; Washington, D.C., Apr/May 2012; Washington, D.C., May 2007; Miami, Jul 2005; Atlanta, Nov 2000) has launched the new podcast Reimagining the Internet to promote the creation of “online spaces in the public interest, serving civic good instead of a corporate profit motive.”

A perfectly thrown football pass is a beautiful thing to behold. Except that it’s not perfect. Without a bit of wobble, the tip of the ball would not tilt down as the ball descends toward the receiver. Physicists from MIT, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and the University of Nebraska teamed up to demystify the complicated dynamics of the pass.

Well, last week we concluded the newsletter with an item involving Qihoo 360; let’s do it again! This time they appear to have targeted smartwatch-wearing children—specifically, through the X4 watch its subsidiary 360 Kids Guard codesigned and built with Norweigian firm Xplora, which has the mission of “giving children a safe onboarding to digital life.” As Xplora explains, somewhere between early design and launch, a set of potentially privacy-invading real-time geotracking and ambient-sound transmission capabilities were excised from the watch, despite requests from parents to maintain contact with their kids, wherever they might be. A bit of inadvertently left-behind code made it possible for very determined hackers to track a young wearer’s location; Xplora has provided a patch. Still, this highlights the potential perils if security isn’t the number-one priority when designing an IoT device. (Jason Hong, Washington, D.C., Sep 2017; SRI field trip, Feb 2017; Steve Grobman, San Francisco, May 2016)

Magicians are very honest. They say, “I am going to fool you,” and they go right ahead and do it.—James Randi (1928–2020)