Friday, October 16, 2015

Three TTI/Vanguard members, Dell, HP, and Intel are part of a joint marketing campaign to remind us that even in the age of mobility, PCs are still the workhorses of computing devices.

Dell is, of course, also in the news for its pending record-setting acquisition of EMC. We are eager to watch the integration but “Dude—you are getting a storage and cloud company” doesn’t have quite the right ring to it…

In another collaboration between tech giants, Facebook and Google have teamed up to bring connectivity to the those currently without access to the Internet.  Advisory Board member Nicholas Negroponte, long a champion of connectivity as a basic human right, has a suggestion for how to make that right accessible to all. “The UN should launch and operate a low-Earth orbit satellite,” he told MIT Technology Review. And, in a wide-ranging conversation with Al Jazeera’s Ali Velshi, he talks about the history of the MIT Media Lab and One Laptop per Child, his relationship with Steve Jobs, and much more. (Longtime members will recall Nicholas’s excitement previewing the One Laptop project prior to its public announcement, in San Francisco, Feb 2005.)

California has enacted the nation’s strictest digital privacy law. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act protects digital communications by requiring state law enforcement and investigative agencies to obtain warrants if they want to compel a business to hand over metadata or communication records. It also requires a warrant to track the location of a phone or search its contents. (John Perry Barlow, Eric Haseltine, and David Vigilante, Atlanta, Feb 2014; John Perry Barlow, Daniel Weitzner, Barry Steinhardt, and Eric Haseltine, Toronto, Apr 2008; Marc Rotenberg, Austin, Feb 2001; John Perry Barlow, Palm Springs, Feb 1995)

But privacy can be statutory or by design. Wired magazine gives a pretty glowing review to the new Blackphone 2, which we heard about from its developer and past member, Jon Callas (London, Jul 2014; Austin, Feb 2004). The magazine has also joined forces with Sports Illustrated to predict what the hundredth Super Bowl (50 years from now) will be like. After you do a meeting on collaboration, you see it everywhere!

And now for a bit of TTI/Vanguard Advisory Board news: Don’t miss this article in which Alan Kay recounts what it took to make Xerox PARC a phenomenon of invention. He has shared similar lessons with us directly in the past. (New York City and Washington, D.C., May 2014; Washington, D.C., Oct 2011)     

CRISPR-Cpf1 joins CRISPR-Cas9 as a powerful tool in the bioengineer’s toolbox (George Church, Boston, Jun 2015 regional meeting; Ryan Phelan, San Diego, Feb 2015).

The Blue Brain Project (Henry Markram, Geneva, Sep 2005) has made great strides in reconstructing a neocortex in silicon mimicking 31K somatosensory neurons arranged and connected as modeled from a rat (full paper here). Its ultimate goal is to reconstruct a human brain. However, the project has no shortage of critics.

Who would have thought a laboratory remodel would instigate scientific discovery? Serendipity shone through for researchers who accidentally hit upon the potential for drawing/erasing quantum circuits on topological insulators because the lab’s overhead fluorescent lights emitted just the right frequency to interfere with their intended experiment. (Rodney Van Meter, San Francisco, Dec 2014; Justin Rattner, Seattle, Dec 2012; John Lupton, Salt Lake City, Dec 2009; Steve Saylor, Phoenix, Dec 2008)

When money is scarce but transactional needs remain, old-fashioned barter comes to the rescue, this time in Greece and with the help of the online network Tradenow, which connects people for productive trades (Bill Maurer, Pittsburgh, Oct 2012).  

In a controversial move, crowdfunding giant Kickstarter (Adam Fudakowski, London, July 2014) has teamed up with the White House to collect donations for Syrian refugees (Andrew Rasiej, Washington, D.C., May 2012).  We’ll leave it to you to decide if crowd-philanthropy is the way forward.

The website is getting another makeover, although this time to add functionality rather than to fix a broken system (Jini Kim and Mikey Dickerson, Washington, D.C., Sep/Oct 2015).

Tesla is moving autonomous-car innovation forward with lane-changing capability (Tim Landgraf, Washington, D.C, Sep 2015).  

Robots are finding their way into an increasing number of roles. This article reports on them taking over as sales associates at Best Buy (Connecting the Bots, Boston, Apr 2014).

At that meeting, Steve Cousins, who will again be joining us this December at [next], shared a 2009 video of a PR2 robot’s difficulties folding a towel. Unsurprisingly, progress has been made; recently a Japanese consortium demonstrated (albeit hidden with a big black box) the folding prowess of its Laundroid.  

Another talk we’re excited about at [next] will show new progress on microbatteries at the University of Illinois led by Paul Braun. But there were a couple of other very cool developments in recent weeks. UK researchers were able to harvest ambient radio frequency waves, turning them into usable electricity (Roy Freeland, Santa Monica, Dec 2007; Joseph Paradiso, Montreal, Apr 2004). And a team at the University of California, Riverside, borrowed the porous structure of mushrooms to improve battery life.

"Money lives in New York. Power sits in Washington. Freedom sips cappuccino in a sidewalk cafe in San Francisco." — Joe Flower

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.