The Tech Issue — 2018 | The Tech Issue | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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The Tech Issue — 2018

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ROB DONNELLY | REV. DIANE SULLIVAN
  • Rob Donnelly | Rev. Diane Sullivan

Spectacular images of Vermont's fall colors have been filling my social media feeds these past few weeks. Many of the stunning aerial photos came from cameras on drones. Those battery-powered flying machines are everywhere, it seems; photographer James Buck used one to shoot this year's Seven Days staff photo.

The proliferation of drones is yet another example of the way technology is changing the way we perceive and interact with our environment. Seven Days attempts to document those changes in our annual Tech Issue.

In this year's edition, Katie Jickling chronicles the rise of the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Lab, which is pioneering the use of drone-assisted research. The school's team of pilots, which works with government and private-sector clients, aims to help develop a market for drone-related businesses in the state.

Ken Picard writes about a much larger battery-powered aircraft that's being developed in a Burlington International Airport hangar. Local startup Beta Technologies is working on a top-secret plane that can take off and land vertically. Employees are training to fly it using virtual reality.

Dan Bolles tried a VR simulator of a different kind for his story on Stowe-based Varises; the company is training orthopedic surgeons instead of pilots.

Not all local tech efforts are soaring. Mark Davis describes the ups and downs of Winooski-based MyWebGrocer. Once a homegrown startup success story, it had lost half of its Vermont workforce by the time a Miami company bought it last week for an undisclosed sum.

It's too soon to tell what that means for Vermont — and Winooski's Champlain Mill, where MWG is headquartered. The same worries whirled around the $1 billion sale of Dealer.com in 2014. Four years later, it still employs about 1,300 people in Burlington's South End.

The Tech Issue is timed to coincide with the 12th Vermont Tech Jam, a free career and tech expo organized by Seven Days, on Friday, October 19. The event's program guide, in the center of the paper, is an extension of the issue.

In addition to more than 50 local companies and colleges exhibiting at the Jam, there are several timely presentations and workshops.

The day starts with "Anatomy of a Data Breach," led by Attorney General T.J. Donovan. Along with a Federal Bureau of Investigation expert, he outlines how small businesses should respond to a cyberattack.

A panel discussion on artificial intelligence, and the opportunities and challenges it represents for Vermont, includes three members of the state's new AI Task Force.

Representatives from two developments on opposite sides of the state — the Black River Innovation Campus in Springfield and the Vermont Innovation Commons in Burlington, created by Tech Jam sponsor Vermont Works — outline how they plan to foster economic growth in these two very different communities.

It might seem anachronistic to compile all of this information in print and distribute 36,000 copies of it around the state, but our circulation numbers are proof that Vermonters still like their weekly newspaper. Can't light a woodstove with a website!

If there's one thing we've learned over the past few years, it's that technological change is unpredictable.

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