Friday, January 4, 2019

Send us your wildest, most audacious predictions for 2019. Let’s explore the things destined to make big change possible. (and speaking of—have you seen our 2019 conference calendar yet? )
Congrats to Amit Sahai (San Francisco, Dec 2014) for being named an ACM Fellow “for contributions to cryptography and to the development of indistinguishability obfuscation.”
“There is now more code than ever, but it is increasingly difficult to find anyone who has their hands on the wheel. Individual agency is on the wane.” Friend-of-TTI/V George Dyson has a thoughtful essay arguing that we’re in a new, more analog stage of the digital revolution.
We used to have the Turing Test (Marvin Minsky, Atlanta, Feb 2008; Doug Lenat, San Diego, Feb 2000); now we just want to know which is the best bot. And here is an “annual digital assistant IQ test” and an “annual smart speaker IQ test,” both put together by Loup Ventures.
Google, which by the way won both those contests this year, has opened an AI lab in Princeton, in connection with the university. But maybe Alexa (Kyle Roche, San Francisco, Dec 2017) will do better this year—it’s now using Wolfram Alpha to answer certain queries. (Stephen Wolfram, Washington, D.C., May 2009),news-28914.html
A slime mold working on the Traveling Salesman problem went from 4 cities to 8 with only a linear increase in time. (Dan Nicolau, Sr., and Dan Nicolau, Jr., San Francisco, Dec 2016)
A fire in September burned Brazil’s National Museum to the ground. Fortunately, back in 2016, Google began a virtual tour project that at least preserves much of the museum in cyberspace. If only Ptolemy III had had the Library at Alexandria digitized! (Anthony Shelton, Vancouver, Oct 2010; Chan Ping Wah, Singapore, Jul 2009; Brewster Kahle, San Francisco, Feb 2005; Raj Reddy, Phoenix, Dec 2003)
In an extension of Rajesh Rao’s (San Francisco, Dec 2013) work to remotely send one person’s EEG output to another person’s brain via transcranial magnetic stimulation, Cornell researchers have established BrainNet, currently a three-way network for direct brain-to-brain collaboration among several people. What is the test case for collaboration? Tetris, of course.
Should the U.S. create a National Innovation Foundation and adopt a more centralized approach to basic research? Or is it better to have competing ideas developed at a multitude of agencies and departments?
Quick Hits

It’s been quite some time since the best-ever TTI/V field trip—which was to CERN, back while it was still under construction in 2005. Now though, you can at least get a virtual view inside.
In the ongoing bots-vs-CAPTCHA (Luis von Ahn, Dallas, Feb 2007) wars, it looks like the bots have decisively won.
Can Samsung’s Bixby compete with Alexa (Kyle Roche, San Francisco, Dec 2017), Siri, and the Google Assistant?
Ethereum (Vitalik Buterin, Philadelphia, Jul 2015) is planning on reducing energy consumption 99% by replacing proof-of-work with a proof-of-stake that requires miners (called “validators”) to put up a stake—a pile of ether in Ethereum’s case—as collateral. A bigger stake earns a validator proportionately more chances at a turn, but it also means that a validator caught cheating has lots to lose.”
A new Israeli cancer treatment solves the problem of the limited range of alpha particles by inserting radioactive seeds in the body. The alpha particles are then released over time.
Researchers at the University of Illinois and TTI/V member USDA Agricultural Research Serviceare genetically engineering a shortcut that bypasses photorespiration and increases plant yields by 40%.

"Evil is the vulgar lover who loves the body and not the soul."
Plato, The Symposium

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.