The news media is finally taking note of all the technology coming to supermarkets—such as the numerous developments we saw in Ohio during our visit to Kroger’s store-of-the-future last month (field trip, April 2019). An Austin-based startup, for example, is testing drones to monitor inventory on shelves (something Kroger is already doing, using cameras).
Hackers have been going after critical infrastructure for years. Now they’re attacking supply chains. (Bruce Schneier, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018; Steve Grobman, San Francisco, May 2016)
A DARPA project to develop secure voting systems will soon find a commercial home. Microsoft is collaborating with Galois, the company that was awarded the DARPA research contract last year. (Eric Haseltine, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018; Avi Rubin, Austin, Feb 2004)
Did Boeing engineers sacrifice safety in favor of “relentless cost-cutting”? (Simon Tong, Brooklyn, Jun 2018).
We’ll hear from two experts in June on the question of whether AI software was at fault in the 737 Max failures.
Is a video game really a better detector of early-stage Alzheimer's than any medical test?
uBiome (Jessica Richman, Austin, Feb 2016) has suspended two of its doctor-ordered tests and its two principals are on “administrative leave” after the FBI searched its offices last month. At issue are the company’s billing practices, which are also being looked at by the California Department of Insurance and by several insurance companies.
At our last meeting we heard about buildings built with deconstruction in mind (George Berghorn, Berkeley, Mar 2019), and two weeks ago we had a newsletter item about end-of-life issues for satellites. This week it’s plastic: Berkeley Labs researchers are exploring the use of polydiketoenamine as the basis for plastic, exploiting the easy post-use regeneration of high-integrity monomers.
One million species are now at risk of extinction (Michael Mastrandrea and Noah Diffenbaugh, San Francisco, Dec 2014), including 40 percent of all amphibian species, 33 percent of corals …
… and 10 percent of all insects. Hopefully that doesn’t include the paper wasp; new research out of the University of Michigan finds “they recognize each other, have long memories, & display logical reasoning.” (Deborah Gordon, Seattle, Dec 2012)
Quick hits, quantum edition (all courtesy of Phys.org):
Japanese researchers now feel they understand not just the “downward wave of a bubble swarm forms in Guinness beer” but also “the mechanism underlying the texture formation.” It’s all about the angle at which the glass is tilted, as anyone who’s had a good bartender already knows.
NASA researchers are moving along in the development of the soft robots we first heard about five years ago from Vytas Sunspiral (Atlanta, Feb 2014).
Your smartwatch knows, or could know, when you’re washing the dishes or petting the dog—twenty-five activities in all, with 95% accuracy, according to researchers at CMU. (Marco Della Torre, San Francisco, Dec 2013)
The idea of bringing Israeli and Palestinian teenagers together began 26 years ago when an organization known as Seeds of Peace started in a summer camp in Maine. Now tech companies, such as Tech2Peace, are getting into the act, teaching conflict resolution as well as website creation, app development, and graphic design. (Esra'a Al Shafei, Washington, D.C., May 2012)
"I have decided to stick to love…Hate is too great a burden to bear."
—Martin Luther King Jr.