We’re happy to announce the themes of our 2020 meetings. They say hindsight is 20-20; hopefully for next year foresight will be as well! Meetings for us are always works-in-progress, so we welcome your feedback and ideas—please write directly to Steven Cherry with any suggestions. Exact dates will be released soon.
Sixteen million people in eight states will still be voting on paperless machines in 2020, a new NYU study finds. TTI/Vanguard attendees have known this to be a problem for at least 15 years, when Avi Rubin (Austin, Feb 2004) first spoke about it—the same year Steven Cherry wrote about it in IEEE Spectrum. Now, Microsoft thinks it has a fix. Its new ElectionGuard system will go into trials next year.
A study of the economics of online disinformation advertising finds it to be a $235 million business. (David Robert Grimes, Boston, Apr 2017; Claudia Perlich, San Francisco, Feb 2017; Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Washington, D.C., Sep 2015)
Amazon has gone from handling just 8% of its final-mile shipments in 2016 to 20% (2017) to 30% (2018) to, this year, as much as 45%. It’s now the largest carrier of its own parcels and the largest third-party logistics provider in the world, with 390 warehouses, 50 planes, and 20,000 delivery vans. (FedEx field trip, Memphis, Sep 2006)
200 companies, including Amazon, Apple, GM, Walmart, and JP Morgan made an unusual vow this week: maximizing shareholder value will no longer be their main objective. Instead, these companies aim to focus on a more “purpose-driven” agenda, including investing in employees and prioritizing ethical procurement and negotiation. We’d like to add to that list prioritizing long-term research—which actually drives long-term shareholder value. (Alan Kay and Len Kleinrock, New York City regional meeting, May 2014; Judy Estrin, Phoenix, Dec 2008)
In another move that’s good for the environment, but is it good for the bottom line? J.C. Penney and Macy*s are going to be selling used clothing in their stores. They’re not the first—Neiman Marcus has a stake in an online used-clothing reseller Fashionphile, and this fall you’ll even be able to sell your own used clothing to Fashionphile in N-M stores. Robin Chase (Atlanta, Feb 2014; Memphis, Sep 2006) has long been ahead of this trend. In keeping with her commitment to low consumption, Chase wears secondhand clothes almost exclusively.
A plan to repopulate the Florida Reef Tract, the third largest coral reef in the world, took an important step forward recently with the first-ever generation of coral spawn (large egg deposits) in a lab. (Ryan Phelan, San Diego, Feb 2015; Ellen Prager, Miami, Dec 2011)
Tesla’s not having a good year—and now the problems have spilled over to its solar panel business. Walmart, which had panels installed at 240 of its stores, claims they caused fires at no fewer than seven of them and is suing the company for damages and to remove the remaining ones. (Field trip, San Francisco, May 2016; Dan Elitzer, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Alyssa Newman, Jersey City, Oct 2009)
The U.S. Navy is going back to mechanical throttles and other controls because touchscreen systems are to blame for several recent accidents, including a fatal collision involving the USS John S. McCain. (K. Venkatesh Prasad, Detroit, May 2015)
Cellular carriers have long reserved the right to throttle video traffic, but how often do they actually do it? All the time, whether they need to or not, according to a new study. (David Reed, San Francisco, May 2016; Gordon Castle, Philadelphia, Jul 2015; Vanu Bose, Chicago, Apr 2005)
Chips keep getting smaller—except for a new AI chip by Cerebras Systems that’s the size of a mousepad—an entire wafer—and has 400,000 cores. (Chris Eliasmith, Washington, D.C., Sep 2018; Qing Cao, San Francisco, Dec 2016; Subhasish Mitra, San Francisco, Dec 2015)
"Life is trying things to see if they work."