Podcast #26 Redux: Future Driving Part 1, Interconnectivity and Self-Driving Cars with Alex Wyglinski

This podcast was originally recorded and aired in November of 2018.

 “The Promise of Autonomous Vehicles is Great.”–Dan Lipinski

“My opinion is that it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk


There’s no shortage of opinions on the viability of self-driving cars.  Be you a bull or a bear, though, there is no denying that there is a plethora of big players banking on them with R&D spending.

The issues surrounding the technology are too many and complex to deal with all of them in a single podcast.  And while things like collision avoidance, navigation, regulation, liability and public acceptance take up much of the debate over the technology, one key element has not so often been discussed.  That would be connectivity.  To assure safety and efficiency, to any degree greater than currently exists with manually driven cars, they need to be able to talk to each other.

In episode #26 of Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler talks with Alex Wyglinski, president of IEEE’s Vehicle Technology Society and co-chair of the Community Development Working Group for IEEE Future Networks,  on how wireless connectivity might enable the technology.

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

Alex Wyglinski. Click for bio.

Episode #26 Redux: Future Driving Part 1, Interconnectivity and Self-Driving Cars

YouTube slide show of episode #26

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

Automation vs. Jobs: The Long and the Short of It.

This chapter appears concurrently in Age of Robots and includes content and quotes garnered from interviews with James J. Hughes, Jerome Glenn, Ian Pearson, Richard Yonck, John C. Havens and Alexandra Whittington on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast between April of 2017 and November of 2018. **

 “There are no right answers to wrong questions.”—Ursula K. LeGuin

Will automation kill jobs?  That’s not exactly the wrong question, but it is an incomplete one.  Which automation—robots, computers, A.I.?  Which industries?  And most important, in what time frame? The next five years are particularly fuzzy; things are simply changing too fast to tell.

Some History

On the eve of the iconic year of 1984, Isaac Asimov published an article envisioning the society of 2019.1 He foresaw a world where computerization and robots would change the world of work, and computer literacy would be vital for the jobs of the future.  He was right.

On the other hand, he conjectured that the transition to a more automated workplace would be largely complete by 2019.  He was clearly wrong.  The extent of the uncertainty and the varied nature of the many feasible scenarios indicate that the transition, if anything, is far from over.  We still don’t know the outcome;  but the next five years may bring us closer to knowing some answers.  Even then, though, we still might find much uncertainty.  Rapid change and disruption could become a permanent state.

Technological change has become so rapid—and to some extent chaotic–that even futurists feel challenged in ways they never have before.  Consider these words from James J. Hughes, executive director and co-founder of The Institute for Ethics in Emerging Technology:

“We’ve had the general experience over the past ten years that It’s hard to be a futurist nowadays.  You think up something that you think is going to be, for five or ten years, an issue that you’ll be able to be the only person talking about it.  Two weeks later it’s in the White House or in the European parliament being debated.” **

If futurists can’t keep up with it, how can the rest of us?

The Hype

The popular media, in its never-ending quest for click bait, greatly oversimplifies the questions.  This is particularly true of artificial intelligence and job loss.

“What we hear about [it] is mainly hype,” says Alexandra Whittington, Foresight Director of Fast Future Publishing. **

Jerome Glenn, chair of The Millennium Project and lead author on their State of The Future publications, points out that it is important to distinguish between types of A.I.  The narrow A.I. we currently have generally is focused on a single task, like playing chess or arranging airline schedules.  Human-like artificial general intelligence could be a much broader threat, but we have no idea when, or even if it will ever be achieved.  So, near term, he sees the less disruptive narrow A.I. as all that is on the table. **

The current flap over automation job reduction probably started with a 2013 report by the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, entitled The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerization.2 Supported by mountains of statistics and advanced mathematical formulas, they came up with the assertion that 47% of all U.S. jobs are highly susceptible to being automated, and therefore eliminated.  That was only the beginning.

Following a 2017 report by McKinsey that 800 million jobs globally could be affected by automation by 2030, a torrent of gloom and doom articles appeared in the mass media.  Just consider some of these:

  • Automation could destroy millions of jobsThe Guardian, August 2018
  • America is unprepared for the job apocalypse automation will bringCBS News, June 2018
  • Will robots take your job? Humans ignore the coming A.I. revolution at their peril—NBC News, February 2018
  • One million jobs will disappear by 2026. How to prepare for an automation future—CNBC, February 2018.

Emotional, knee-jerk reaction to the headlines has led to what could be characterized as a kind of neo-Luddism.

Like the early 18th century efforts  by weavers to destroy automated weaving looms and by horse breeders to block the proliferation of steam powered “horseless carriages,” there have sprung up various efforts to block technology today.  Consider, then, these headlines:

  • Professional Taxi Drivers In New York Want Self-Driving Cars Banned for 50 Years—Yahoo.com, January 2017
  • The Beef Industry is Desperately Fighting Lab-Grown Meats Over Labeling—Uproxx.com, February 2018

But there have also appeared many rebuttals to the doom and gloom scenarios, and one does have to drill down in these reports to fully in understand what might be going on.   The devil is most certainly in the details.

So, what exactly did McKinsey say?  It’s less stark than immediately meets the eye.  While over half of all existing workers could have up to a third of their functions automated, they also said only 5% of current jobs are fully replaceable by automation.  At least for now.  They further made projections of millions of jobs created by A.I. and robotics and suggested that only between 3 and 14% of all workers will need to find new occupations by 2030.3

Clearly, it is only certain jobs in certain industries that are likely to disappear in the near term.  And while cattle breeder and taxi driver are two occupations eventually in peril, it may already be too late to save the latter.  Uber and Lyft are seeing to that.

Historically, the ultimate technological demise of many industries has simply resulted in job creation in new industries; often many more jobs then were lost.  The loss of most jobs for horse breeding in the early 20th century led to creation of many more in automotive manufacturing, maintenance,  professional driving, and the petroleum industry.

But people have short memeories, and the speed and pervasiveness threatened currently by multiple disruptive technologies will likely dwarf anything seen in the past.

Hughes sees the push back against technology in these terms:

“Trump says he is going to bring back all these jobs, but he has never dealt with the impact of automation in the erosion of industrial jobs.  Luddism makes sense if there is no vision of how everyone gets fed and how we can have a good society without traditional jobs”. **

The Optimist

One optimist is noted British futurist and author Ian Pearson.  Writing in his Futurizen blog in March of 2017, Pearson states:

AI has been getting a lot of bad press the last few months from doom-mongers predicting mass unemployment. Together with robotics, AI will certainly help automate a lot of jobs, but it will also create many more and will greatly increase quality of life for most people.4

How can he be so sanguine in opposition to the torrent of doom and gloom saying in the popular press?  He asserts that there is a lot of counterbalance that is being ignored in the press and sees three main areas of robotic and A.I. job creation.

These include, first, the need to program and maintain robots and A.I “Even with industrial robots you need a skilled workman on the factory floor showing them what to do,” he says.  But industrial robots are a lot easier to program than more general-purpose artificial intelligence, which he compares to the complexities of teaching children.  He believes that, though this won’t last forever, it will get us quite a few decades of extra jobs.

A second area is in jobs where what he terms “emotional repertoire” is required.  In things like interacting with patients and maintaining customer relationships, A.I. can only do so much.  “It can’t pick up body language or facial expressions and can’t tell whether you’re lying or exaggerating. Having a nurse or a technician between you and the AI can allow you to give far more detail to that program.”  He also suggests that people won’t open up to a computer program or robot in the same manner that they might to another human being. “The human forces you to be more open and honest about whatever it is you are doing.

Third, he believes A.I. and other forms of automation will aide entrepreneurship.

“I think a lot of us would be an entrepreneur if it wasn’t so difficult,” he says.  He sees setting up a small company as a daunting task with tons of red tape, which can easily be farmed out to A.I., as long with handling logistics of manufacturing and shipping.  Adding artificial intelligence to a green employee, and you “upskill” them as he says, and makes them a more useful employee.**

The fly in all this ointment is the emergence of emotional A.I., or affective computing.  Richard Yonck is a futurist author who has written on the subject, and to some extent warns that A.I. that can read, and react appropriately, to human emotion, might threaten even the jobs that Pearson described.

Pearson does not entirely disagree with him. He thinks that Yonck is talking about a different time horizen than he is.   He sees A.I. able to do just about everything humans can do, and then some, by around 2050.  But in the near term of just a few years, he still sees it as a more stimulative technology.

The Skeptic—

Richard Yonck (author, Heart of the Machine)  puts himself somewhere in between Pearson and the more pessimistic doomsayers in the foresight and economics communities.

In a 2017 interview he stated:

I think it will have a strong impact but probably not as severe as some of the prognostications. Automation, computerization A.I. and so forth.  But we saw from the great recession we don’t need to have 46 per cent of jobs to go away to have an enormous impact.  It’s true there are going to be new jobs and new value, and additional value placed on human emotional capabilities.  I half agree there will be a number of new jobs that arise out of qualities that are distinctly human in whatever role. Nursing, teaching, psychotherapy, roles where we have a level of emotional connection that machines simply cannot or will not have for a good few decades.  But I question whether that could offset all of the losses. **


So where do we go from here? It’s complicated.

Almost to a person, the pundits quoted above look at Universal Basic Income as a solution to mass technological unemployment.

Hughes puts it this way:

“We have been advocating for the importance of grappling with technological unemployment and advocating for universal basic income guarantee.  That’s now become mainstream. We need to be able to make that deal with the public. Yes, lots of people are going to lose their jobs, but we’re going to get all this cool stuff and we’re going to make sure that everyone gets fed and everyone’s going to have an income. Folks don’t really believe it yet, they don’t see the politics. “**

Another possible solution—attitudinal, rather than socialistic—comes from Heartificial Intelligence author John C. Havens.  He sees that the currently dominant economic model in the West as a roadblock to preventing  automation job loss. He thinks that it makes no sense to have all these fantastic, disruptive technologies but still be living in an economic system based on GDP developed in 1944.

”It’s absurd not to bring societal infrastructure up to the level of technology.” He says and cites a possible solution in adopting what is called the triple bottom line, emphasizing not only growth and profitability, but also human and environmental well being. **

But again, one must ask oneself, is there any likelihood of the politics and economics being there for either of these solutions—at least in the short term?

The silver lining in the cloud, at least for the next few years, is that only a few select professions in a few industries are in danger of disappearing entirely.  While taxi drivers are under assault from ride sharing, the autonomous-driving demise of all professional taxi and truck drivers appears much farther out.

The stark fact, as of this writing, is that much of the West is experiencing labor shortages.  Even China is facing a shortfall of over 20 million skilled tech workers in the next few years.5    In the near term, labor shortages, rather than profits, may drive the proliferation of automation.

The verdict, then, is that we have not achieved the new equilibrium that Asimov envisioned by now.  Change has accelerated but is nowhere near complete.  We don’t now know for sure where it all will lead; we might have a better idea in five years.


Which jobs in which industries and in what timeframe are most likely to be transformed or completely displaced by technology?

Will automation deployment be accelerated as a short-term solution to skilled labor shortages?

How should society deal with job loss due to automation?

**Sackler, M. (2017-2018). Seeking Delphi™.  from https://seekingdelphi.com/podcasts/

  1. Asimov, I. (2019). 35 years ago, Isaac Asimov was asked by the Star to predict the world of 2019 Here is what he wrote.   https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/12/27/35-years-ago-isaac-asimov-was-asked-by-the-star-to-predict-the-world-of-2019-here-is-what-he-wrote.html
  2. (2019). Oxacuk.   https://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/downloads/academic/The_Future_of_Employment.pdf
  3. Mckinsey, . (2017). Jobs lost, jobs gained: What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages.  https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/jobs-lost-jobs-gained-what-the-future-of-work-will-mean-for-jobs-skills-and-wages
  4. Pearson, I.D. (2017). The more accurate guide to the future.   https://timeguide.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/ai-is-mainly-a-stimulative-technology-that-will-create-jobs/
  5. People’s daily. (2019). China to see shortage of 22 million high-end technical workers by 2020.  http://en.people.cn/n3/2019/0115/c90000-9537759.html

You can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, and YouTube You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @Seeking_Delphi

News of The Future This Week: September 26, 2019

“The promise of autonomous vehicles is great.”–Dan Lipinski

Ah, the promise may indeed be great,  but the inevitable unintended consequences, as is depicted in the cartoon to the left, will continue to perplex.   Personally, I don’t have to worry about my wife running off with a driverless car.  She’d be perfectly happy to run off with her horse.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

Autonomous Vehicles–Everybody is getting into the act.  Now Hyundai says it will team with Aptiv to market a self-driving car by 2022.  The big question, though, is whether all these players will set a standard to communicate with each other.  That subject was addressed as part of an APF award-nominated Seeking Delphi™ podcast on future driving.

America: not so keen on this? Image: Shutterstock

–Before the automotive powers-that-be get too enthusiastic about rushing to market, they better start dealing with consumer attitudes.  A University of Washington study suggests American commuters are not too keen on the idea of self-driving cars.

–Just when you thought all the autonomous car issues had pretty much surfaced, along comes BMW with an ad on their twitter account about having sex in self-driving cars.  They quickly removed that add with no explanation for the deletion.

Orion capsule. Image: NASA

Space/NASA–NASA has taken a major step towards its goal of returning American astronauts to the moon by 2024.  They have ordered 6 Orion capsules–with an option for an additional 6–from Lockheed-Martin

–Astronauts will need more than new vehicles to return to the moon;  they will also need new spacesuits.  Current models are designed only for spacewalks, not for walking on the lunar surface.  To that aim, NASA now plans to test new spacesuits on international space station in 2023–one year in advance of the present lunar landing schedule.

–NASA hasn’t forgotten about the rest of us.  We don’t need spacesuits, but we do need to watch out for asteroids that pose a threat to Earth.  A new space telescope to watch out for them is planned for a 2025 launch.

Energy–Researchers at Duke University claim a breakthrough technology for creating new meta-materials that can be used to harvest thermal energy.  They work much like solar cells, but absorb from the infrared, rather than the visible, spectrum.

–IKEA doesn’t just make furniture.  They make energy, lots of energy.  They do it by investing heavily in solar and wind energy, and now say they will produce more than they consume by sometime next year.

Quantum computing–Does Google reign supreme in the quantum world?  That’s what they are claiming with what as they say is the solving of problem that classical computers can’t touch.  Here’s more on quantum computing: a Seeking Delphi™ podcast with Strangeworks founder and CEO whurley (William Hurley), recorded at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March of 2018.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts,, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

News of The Future This Week: September 7, 2019

“I don’t believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life.”–David Duchovny

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

This week’s stories include some plausible explanations for Fermi’s paradox. Conspiracies–or an indifferent kid with a cell phone–are not among them.  There is one chilling theory that the story leaves out, though, and a link to that is also provided.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

The truth is out there…or not.

E.T./Fermi Paradox–Enrico Fermis asked “where are they?”  Singularity Hub provides a brief podcast with some explanations,  But they left out the chilling dark forest theory–best described in Cixin Lui’s novel, The Dark Forest. It’s explained here.

Space/Moon/Mars–Too difficult to launch rockets to the moon on a regular basis?  No problem–build an elevator there.  A new approach just might be feasible.

–Never mind the Moon.  Elon Musk continues to focus on Mars.  There are a myriad of engineering and biological problems he’ll need to solve before he can send humans there–but with help from NASA, his SpaceX is already looking for the ideal landing site.

–Speaking of SpaceX, they have some issues much closer to Earth.  Fast Company reports that they are playing what amounts ot a game of chicken with their StarLink satellites. And they made the European Space Agency blink first.

–Starlink, of course, intends to provide wireless global internet access from space.  But there’s plenty of competition.  And now, aerospace startup OneWeb claims it will be able to reach virtually the whole planet–even the artic–with an array of 650 satellites and a few ground stations, by sometime next year.

Reuse Beer. Ewwwww.

Sustainability–Recycling? Sustainable energy, food production, and waste processing?  They sound like great ideas.  But beer made from recycled toilet water? Ewww.

Artificial intelligence–A Seattle-based research lab has reached a milestone by creating an A.I. that can pass an 8th grade science test.  Great.  Now all we need to do is invent an 8th grader that can pass it.

–On a more practical note, Alex Zhavornkov, and his InSilico Medicine have developed an A.I. program that has shown promise in designing drug molecules.  In partnership with the University of Toronto, their program created  compounds that have  shown promise in the lab.

Self-Driving Technology–Cars….trucks….busses…boats…flying taxis.  Just about any kind of autonomous vehicle imaginable is being developed somewhere by somebody.  But a self-driving golf ball?  Why would anyone do that?   Nissan did it–apparently because….they can!

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts,, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

News of The Future This Week: August 21, 2019

“I say something, and then it usually happens.  Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens.”–Elon Musk

Who knew?  Elon Musk is actually capable of being realistic about his unrealistic timelines.  My projections for the two Elon pronouncements of the week?  Maybe sometime in the next 200 years for the first one.  Definitely sometime in the next 200 million years for the second one.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

Elon is serious!

Elon Musk–‘Ol Elon is up to his old tricks.  He’s again advocating we teraform Mars by nuking its dry ice polar caps.  He must be serious because he even has a tee shirt to promote it.

While he’s advocating we ravish Mars, Elon is also warning that an asteroid will eventually get us here on Earth.  Really? That can’t happen, can it? Just ask a dinaso–oh, wait.

NASA/Space Exploration–NASA’s on-again, off-again mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, appears to be back on.  The agency has confirmed a mission to launch a probe there sometime between 2023 and 2025.

AI/BCI–As demand for AI software and chips continues to escalate, it isn’t all a bed of roses.  IEEE says there is both opportunity and peril for makers of specialized A.I. chips.

–Elon Musk’s Neuralink–among others–is proposing to implant computer chips in the brain, initially to control neurological disorders.  But Susan Schneider, a prominent University of Connecticut cognitive scientist and techno-philosopher, is warning that adding artificial intelligence to BCI (brain-computer interface) may not be such a good idea.  You can hear Dr. Schneider, speaking on conscious machines at last years South by Southwest conference,  in the Seeking Delphi episode linked HERE.

Hold the anchovies, please

Robotics/autonomous vehicles–Unemployment is about to strike the ranks of pizza delivery drivers on U.S. college campuses. Starship technologies has raised $40 million to fuel the nationwide rollout of its army of autonomous delivery robots, starting with George Mason University and Northern Arizona University.

China is accelerating its push to challenge U.S. technology in self-driving cars, and has dediated an isolated mountain highway for testing of the vehicles.  They hope to have at least 50% of all new car sales to include smart technology as soon as next year.

–Ever one of the most forward looking states on the planet, Singapore will begin testing driverless busses next week.  And of course, rides can be booked via an app.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts,, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Podcast #33: The Disruptors with Matt Ward

“This is the age of disruption.”–Sebastian Thrun

“Innovations can only be disruptive in relation to something else.”–Clayton M. Christensen


Disruption.  It’s a term that’s frequently on the lips of just about anyone interested in technology.   Is it the technology, though, that’s disruptive? Or is it the individuals that are driving the technology?  Maybe all of us who latch on to the technologies are the disruptors.

I think it’s all three.  In the latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast, I speak with fellow podcaster, Matt Ward.  He’s an entrepreneur, angel investor, and host of The Disruptors.  In a kind of dueling podcasts, we interviewed each other for our respective programs.

You can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ on Apple podcasts , PlayerFM,  or YouTube











Episode #33: The Disruptors with Matt Ward



YouTube slide show for podcast episode #33


The Disruptors

Matt Ward bio

The Disruptors: Douglas Rushkoff episode

Book Review of Max Tegmark’s Life 3.0

Seeking Delphi episore #6 with Olle Hägstroömm

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