Saturday, June 20, 2020

Is there a better example of our June conference theme of “Ubiquitous AI” than Amazon’s networking its warehouses with sensors to detect whether workers are socially distancing from one another? (By the way, in an echo of what Brett Bonner told us at our field trip to Kroger’s store-of-the-future (Monroe, Ohio, Apr 2019)—”We find cameras to be the best sensors; we have them everywhere now”—Amazon is using a combination of cameras and depth sensors, instead of putting sensors on its workers). Join us for the final week of “Ubiquitous AI” on Tuesday, June 23 (registration, agenda). We’ll hear from three startups using robotics in ways that, among other things, reduce the number of humans touching goods and surfaces.

Our hearts leapt at this this comment on the June 16th evaluation: “I was skeptical as to whether the quality of TTI/Vanguard events could really translate to the digital experience, and while the networking is certainly different and I am sure will evolve, the experience overall was excellent and truly representative of what we have come to expect.” As we stay digital (for now) we’ll keep delivering on the stuff we do wellbringing applicable and inspiring futuristic innovations to this community. And we’ll keep experimenting to make the networking deserving of this fascinating group of people.

More on “Ubiquitous AI”: The final session will be held on Tuesday, June 22; videos, presentations, and highlights from Tuesday, June 16, have been posted in our archive.

Geofencing (Marco Della Torre, Berkeley, Mar 2019) is another case of ubiquitous technology, e.g., helping Walmart know that you’ve pulled into its parking lot to pick up your curbside delivery. But it’s also being used in some pretty creepy ways, such as by political marketers, capturing data from the cellphones of churchgoers, and then purchasing ads targeting those devices, and to “harvest data on potential voters” at the recent political protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

If you attended our sessions this week, you were struckpossibly overwhelmedby the heartbreaking video from a recreation of the famous Clark Doll experiments, run by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the 1940s, in which not only white children, but black children as well, associated positive adjectives with white dolls and negative ones with black dolls. The full four-minute video is of course in our archive as part of Dan Gould and Michele Ruiz’s talk, but if you want to share a one-minute version, here’s a YouTube link:

A new MIT neuromorphic chip design has thousands of memristors, in the hopes of building a brain of hardware synapses. (James Gimzewski, Boston, Apr 2014; Stan Williams, Phoenix, Dec 2008)

Germany and France announced an initiative to develop European cloud computing platforms that are independent of those based in the U.S. and China. Perhaps it will be more successful than previous projects, such as European AI, a European search engine, and the European alternative to GPS, which took 11 years to build and has suffered major outages.

In other news from the continent, European food delivery service Just Eat Takeaway, is buying Grubhub, even as it and other such services are being criticized for demanding up to 40% of restaurant revenue on the food they deliver, and for questionable business practices steering users to particular restaurants to maximize their own fees.

Last-mile delivery will be one of the topics of the fourth and final installment of our June conference series (registration, agenda).

The Chinese government asked Apple to remove Pocket Casts from its App Store as part of its annual crackdown of information leading up to the anniversary of Tiananmen Square. Apple complied, which Pocket Casts has said it preferred to censorship of specific shows. (Disclosure: Pocket Casts is one of the six platforms Steven Cherry’s new podcast, Conversations in Technology, is available on.)

The Belfer Center (Aditi Kumar, Seattle, Mar 2020) has updated its Central Bank Digital Currency tracker. And it’s holding an interesting event, open to the public, Wednesday, June 24, 2020: Digital Currencies: The Future of Money?

The T-Mobile network outage this week wasn’t a denial-of-service attack. (Ryan Lackey, Philadelphia, Jul 2015) Rather, it seems “a fiber-optic circuit failed, and its backup circuit also failed.” (Tom Leighton, Philadelphia, Apr 2006) “This redundancy failed us and resulted in an overload situation that was then compounded by other factors. This overload resulted in an IP traffic storm that spread from the Southeast to create significant capacity issues across the IMS (IP multimedia Subsystem) core network.” Doesn’t that sound interestingly familiar to anyone who remembers the 2003 northeast blackout? (Jack Casazza, Montreal, Apr 2004)

Back in April, in a podcast interview about the Apple-Google API for contact tracing, Steven Cherry asked Stephen Wicker, who would write these apps? Wicker responded, “Anyone who's interested. Any computer scientist or even any decent coder who wants to contribute to this may come up with a program that can use the API.” Now the New York State Attorney General,  Letitia James, is asking Apple and Google to, as Gizmodo put it, “crack down on shady contact-tracing apps.”

We’ve seen flight attendants and wait staff hopelessly trying to enforce mask-wearing and social-distancing policies. Now United Airlines is creating its own no-fly list for passengers who insist on being no-mask.

Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.
― Richard Wright, Native Son



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.

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