“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”–Carl Sandburg
I don’t know about the moon, but when it comes to Mars, it does not appear that NASA will be doing much more than saying hello in the foreseeable future. It seems there’s this little problem of money. On the other hand, it’s full speed ahead to the lunar surface for at least one private enterprise.
Space Exploration and Technology–NASA has finally admitted what experts have been saying for some time. It does not have enough money to land astronauts on Mars. They could get astronauts there and orbit, but not land. So I suppose they could say hello.
—Moon Express is full speed ahead on its own ambitious space project. They recently announced plans to launch a series of robotic lunar mining missions, the third of which will bring back samples from the surface in 2020. The company is racing four other enterprises as finalists for the Lunar X Prize of $20 milllion, which will be awarded to the first private venture to land a rover on the moon and send back high definition pictures.
eCommerce/Retailing– According to retail guru Brittain Ladd, Amazon could become the largest U.S. grocery retailer by 2030, if their proposed takeover of Whole Foods goes through. Ladd predicts Amazon will pass U. S. #2 retailer Kroger by 2025 and take over the top spot from Walmart sometime between 2027 and 2030.
Electric Cars–The greatest roadblock to massive roll out of electric cars may not be infrastructure, but batteries. Volkswagon, says that as many as 40 new giga-factories may be needed to meet global demand by 2025.
Transhumanism/Brain interface–DARPA has awarded a contract to six organizations, to be led by the University of California, Berkeley, to develop implantable interfaces that could transmit images and sound directly into the brain. The aim is to compensate for natural visual or hearing loss. (Reference back: in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #10, on the future of cinema and digital entertainment, film maker Steven Katz discussed this possibility.)
CRISPR/genetic editing–A team of researchers from Harvard and MIT are casting doubt on an earlier study that found that CRISPR/Cas9 gene edits could introduce unexpected mutations. The original study was done by Columbia University. It should be noted, however, that the Broad Institute, a joint venture of Harvard and MIT, is in a pitched patent battle with the University of California, Berkeley, for rights to various uses of the technology. CRISPR gene editing has the potential to change the face of human health, and perhaps even enter the domain of trans-humanism. See video embedded below.
—In the meantime, researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley (no surprise there) say they have synthesized a protein they call anti-CRISPR which shut of mutations in CRISPR altered genes.
Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–It seems that a security robot has committed suicide in Washington, DC. After sounding a security all-clear, it threw itself into a pool.
Coming Attractions: I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the Association of Professional Futurists July 27-29 in Seattle. More to come on that.
A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunes, PlayerFM, blubrry and , and has a channel on YouTube. You can also follow us on Facebook.