TTI/Vanguard Newsletter: February 3, 2023

Assuming the significant caveats of carefully scrutinizing, fact-checking, and editing its output, ChatGPT is showing itself to be a useful productivity tool. Massachusetts State Senator Barry Finegold and his Chief of Staff—and upcoming Data, AI, and Robotics speaker—Justin Curtis have prompted OpenAI’s text generator to create the initial draft of legislation to regulate the use of AIs like itself. The Bill SD.1827—since cleaned up—is entitled “An Act drafted with the help of ChatGPT to regulate generative artificial intelligence models like ChatGPT.” Click here to read the article.

Here is our anticipated lineup for the meeting in Cambridge March 14–16:
JUSTIN CURTIS, Chief of Staff for Massachusetts State Senator Barry Finegold, speaking on using ChatGPT to write legislation to regulate generative AIs like ChatGPT
VIJAY GADEPALLY, Senior Scientist, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, speaking on tools for reducing data center energy consumption
CHRIS FISHER, Professor, Colorado State University, and Founder/Director, Earth Archive, speaking on using high-res aerial LIDAR to map the totality of Earth to establish a baseline record and build an open-source digital twin of the planet
MOLLY GIBSON, Cofounder and Chief Innovation Officer, Generate Biomedicines, speaking on the use of generative AI for the discovery of novel and useful proteins
HANDOL KIM, CEO, Variational AI, speaking on the use of generative AI for drug discovery, specifically small molecules to inhibit the activity of cancer-associated kinases
SANGBAE KIM, Professor, MIT, speaking on the biases humans have toward robots and their strengths and weaknesses
JAMES HENDLER, Professor and Director of the Future of Computing Institute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Knowing What AI Systems Know and Why It Matters
ANDREW MARCH, Asst. Group Leader, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, speaking on high-resolution deepsea mapping using autonomous sonar arrays
MARK VEILLETTE, Senior Technical Staff, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, speaking on synthetic radar data and visualization

Members, register for the conference today, and plan to arrive by noon Tuesday, March 14 to participate in the field trip to MIT, where we’ll tour:

  • The new Wright Brothers Wind Tunnel
  • Sertac Karaman’s drone control and simulated environment lab
  • The Center for Quantum Engineering with Will Oliver and Paola Cappellaro
  • The Immersion Center with Brian Anthony
  • Sangbae Kim’s robotics lab featuring manipulation, actuation, and humanoids

Unless projected into a vacuum, the beam of a laser will scatter, thereby dissipating power and losing effectiveness. Researchers at TTI/Vanguard member University of Maryland have succeeded in achieving an order-of-magnitude lengthening of an air waveguide (as opposed to a physical conduit like an optical fiber) composed of laser pulses that confine the coherent beam. The extent of their ephemeral 45-m air waveguide was limited only by the length of their hallway. (Xiangkun (Elvis) Cao, Berkeley, Mar 2019) Click here to read the article.

Hard-bodied robots are stiff and can be strong; the pliability of soft-bodied robots allows them to be flexible but also makes them weak. Instead of seeking a happy medium, Chinese researchers created “magnetoactive liquid–solid phase transitional machines” by embedding magnetic particles in gallium. With its low melting point, applying a magnetic field can induce a phase transition or cause the material to move in a coordinated manner. Demos include a jailbreak by a mini humanoid robot and magnetically manipulating a fastener into a hard-to-reach space. Click here to read the article.

Women-founded startup Forte Protein has unlocked the secret to induce fast-growing plants like lettuce into expressing bioidentical animal proteins with no need to grow livestock, thereby eliminating the carbon emissions, water use, land impact, and other negatives that go along with it. They do this by introducing the relevant animal protein gene into a plant during its fast-growth stage. Anticipated products include collagen, myoglobin, ovalbumin, and casein. (Nynke van der Akker, Vienna, Jul 2013) Click here to read the article.

WIth benefits that include low maintenance, energy storage startup Salgenx has announced its membrane-free scalable saltwater flow battery in capacities ranging from 250 kWh to 18 MWh. Specs include energy density exceeding 125 Wh/L, round-trip efficiency of 91% at 10 mA/cm2, and >25 year life expectancy. As an added bonus, the saltwater tank can simultaneously provide thermal storage if paired with a heat pump (John O’Donnell, St. Louis, Sep 2008). Click here to read the article.

The efficiency of conventional photovoltaics tops out around 20%, but two distinct technologies promise to double that. One is the use of a combination of nanowires, each with a bandgap tuned to a different frequency churned out by the sun; this is still in the research phase by Swedish engineers. The other, produced by Antora Energy, uses III–V semiconductors in its thermophotovoltaic cells to convert any source of high-temperature heat into electricity, with grid storage as its ultimate aim. (Supratik Guha, St. Louis, Sep 2008)

Facial recognition: It’s not just for people anymore. The Rentokil pest control company (parent of Terminix) has developed facial recognition for rats and is using it to help exterminators effectively target individual vermin in the most effective manner. Click here to read the article.

“The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath.”—W.C. Fields