TTI/Vanguard Newsletter: January 6, 2023

Happy new year from the TTI/Vanguard team. We look forward to welcoming members to four exciting conferences in 2023, beginning with Data, AI, and Robotics in Cambridge, Mass., March 14–16, kicking off the afternoon of March 14 with a field trip to MIT. Register here.
Next week, videos from the 2022 [next] conference in Scottsdale will be available from talks’ agenda entries for logged-in members. If you need help logging in, contact Brooke Lowenhar.

Friend-of-TTI/Vanguard Ike Nassi has brought our community along for the ride as he launched, developed, and now sold his firm TidalScale to Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Congratulations, Ike! (Ike Nassi, virtual conference, Sep 2021; Washington, D.C., Sep/Oct 2014; Paris, Jul 2011). Click here to read the article.

Congratulations to Annette Kleiser (Los Angeles, Jun 2022) of Dalan Animal Health for receiving USDA approval to provide its novel bee vaccine that keeps the bacterium-spread disease foulbrood from, well, fouling a queen bee’s brood, thereby saving hives and, consequently, the human food supply. Click here to read the article.

To evaluate the disruptiveness of science and technology research, a University of Minnesota sociologist performed a citation analysis on 45M manuscripts from 1945–2010 and 3.9M patents from 1980–2010, deeming a paper or patent highly disruptive if the study is subsequently cited preferentially over the papers it, itself, cites. Over the study period, the disruptiveness index has plummeted (by 90% on average!) across the social sciences, technology, physical sciences, and life sciences/biomedicine; research is now more incremental than radical. Still, the situation is not as bleak as at first glance: The number of highly disruptive papers is roughly the same as decades ago, but with the grand expansion of research being published, it is the proportion of innovative work that lags. (John Hennessy, San Francisco, Feb 2010)

But incremental doesn’t necessarily mean unimportant. For instance, the benefits of installing solar panels in parking lots to provide shade and electricity should be obvious. California is poised to join Rhode Island and Massachusetts in offering tax incentives to increase their prevalence, and France has mandated such installations for any sizable lot. Click here to read the article

Sometimes it isn’t obvious whether an incremental technology will ultimately prove disruptive. Time will tell whether the thermo-acoustic heat pump in development by French firm Equium will take the world by storm, advancing the march toward efficient and economical electrification of buildings. The nonrefrigerant heat pump uses a hi-fi speaker to generate acoustic waves in a helium-filled vessel to compress or expand the gas and, thereby, raise or lower the temperature, with the resultant heat differential transferred to water in the heat pump’s core. Now conducting field tests, the company anticipates launching its product late 2023. (Saul Griffith, San Francisco, Dec 2019; Scott Sklar, St. Louis, Sep 2008). Click here to read the article.

Is Twitter, under Elon Musk’s leadership, actually becoming an unsafe environment for left-leaning and/or marginalized individuals and groups, or is the media just bloviating in that direction? MIT Tech Review, determined to find out, used Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia’s Hoaxy tool (Boston, Apr 2017) and discovered Musk to be a key node in considerable hateful discourse on the platform. Click here to read the article.

In Scottsdale (Dec 2022), Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown shared her research on how transitioning to a healthy gut microbiome via fecal transplants could improve symptoms and behaviors of children on the autism spectrum. Moving to a still younger population, University of Michigan researchers evaluated the correlation between the relative health of the gut microbiome of one-month-old infants—who had recently switched from breastfeeding to formula—with their reactive fear response a year hence. Poor gut health and reactive anxiety were seen to go hand in hand. Click here to read the article.

Data on the world’s water resource is essential to its management (Sarah Porter, Scottsdale, Dec 2022), to preparation for flooding events (Desiree Matel-Anderson, Scottsdale, Dec 2022; Bessie Schwarz, San Francisco, Dec 2019; Henry Clippinger, Washington, D.C., Sep 2019), and to understanding climate change. The joint US–France International Surface Water and Ocean Topography satellite launched mid-December to survey 90% of the planet’s surface and measure the height of water in oceans and freshwater bodies. Watch the drama of the satellite unfolding here

Back here on Earth, the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is tasked with mapping and analyzing the physical world. Usually it focuses abroad on geopolitical hotspots, but when Hurricane Ian set its sights on Fort Myers, the NGA turned its imagery-analysis skills to real-time drone and satellite shots of newly deconstructed landscapes. This work guided rescue efforts here at home at a time when Google Maps-based directions had become suddenly obsolete.

As a major backer of nonprofit OpenAI, Microsoft hopes to lure web searchers away from Google by incorporating ChatGPT into its search engine Bing to answer users’ questions, not only return a list of Web hits. It has already added Dall-E 2 to its Image Generator tool (Aditya Ramesh, Washington, D.C., Sep 2022). Click here to read the article.

“If you invent a breakthrough in Artificial Intelligence, so machines can learn, that is worth 10 Microsofts.”—Bill Gates, 2004