News of the Future This Week, February 21, 2018

“While technology is important, it’s what we do with it that truly matters.”–Muhammad Yunus

So what’s more important–technological breakthroughs or how we apply them?  The cloud is a technology;  blockchain is an application.

So where do the 10 breakthrough technologies that make up MIT Technology Review’s annual list for 2018 stand?  All over the place.  Many, if not all of them, might be described as either incremental improvements or advanced applications built on existing technologies.   Where is the line?  Tell me if you know.

Technology Breakthroughs–MIT Technology Review published its annual list of breakthrough technologies for 2018.  Not surprisingly, it’s chock full of digital and bio technologies.  Good list?  Somehow I feel there is more out there.

EM Drive. A propulsion system without propellant? Image credit: nasaspaceflight.com

Space/propulsion systems–Talk about your breakthrough technology: China claims to have perfected the EM drive.  You might not see it on that MIT list anytime soon, though.  It will take more than talk to convince the mainstream scientific community, which views the concept as an impossible violation of one of Newton’s third law of motion.  It claims to create thrust without a propellant.

–NASA isn’t sold on the EM drive, at least not yet.  But they are considering reviving a decades old plan to use nuclear powered rockets in an effort to send manned craft to Mars by the 2030’s.

Energy/Transportation–BP is forecasting a peak in oil and gas demand by 2040. It sees the mass emergence of self-driving electric vehicles as the main cause.  Considering their vested interest, they may be ignoring the possibility of a more rapid drop off.

Bored in Space?

Space Commerce/Tourism–Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, also  CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, has now formed a new enterprise, Bigelow Space.  One of his proposed projects is to launch an inflatable orbiting space hotel by 2021.  I’m just wondering what one would do up there, other than float around in microgravity.  Maybe binge watch episodes of the Lost In Space reboot?

Aerospace/Advanced Transportation–A Chinese team has announced the design of a hypersonic jet that could make the trip from Beijing to New York in as little as two hours.  If feasible, it could upstage the planned 2020 test flight of a new Lockheed jet which aims to make the trip in 7 hours.  There is no announced timetable for building and testing the Chinese craft.

Electric Vehicles–It might not be as sexy as a 6,000kph jet;  but Volkswagon has provided a teaser preview of its proposed 112mph, 400+ mile range electric vehicle.

Coming Attractions–Seeking Delphi,™ the podcast, will return in March, featuring interviews with Roberto Sacarro on social robotics, and Jerome Glenn, on The Millennium Project’s 19th State of the Future publication.  We’ll also feature some on the spot interviews from the Intelligen Future tracks at the 2018 SXSW conference from Austin, Texas.

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

 

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

News of The Future This Week, February 14, 2018

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

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

If David Duchovney is right–and I for one agree with him–then Fermi and his paradox certainly become relevent.  But it hardly proves that extraterrestrials don’t exist.  It just proves we haven’t been able to confirm any signals or communication.  What hampers us from doing so?  The vastness of the universe? Our relatively inferior technology?  Maybe they are hiding, as in Cixin Liu’s chilling novel The Dark Forrest?  These are all possiblities, true.  But in a strange ocurrance of the law of unintended consequences, the biggest current hindernece to finding E.T. could be bitcoin mining.

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

 SETI/Cryptocurrencies–This heading might look like an oxymoron.  But in a bizarre turn of events, the cornering of the GPU market by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining has created a shortage that is hitting the video game market, and even the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

NASA/Space–In another unusual turn of events, NASA will be sending a Martian meteorite back to its home planet on a rover scheduled for launch in 2020.  The purpose is best described as “target practice” for precision lasers designed to pick targets for sample collection that a future mission might return to earth.

How about these for target practice?

The FCC is looking closely at SpaceX’s plan to provide sattelite delivered  internet.  The head of the agency views it favorably, so don’t bet against it.

The Trump administration’s latest NASA plans call for a return to the moon.  They call for it; but they don’t budget it.  It likely won’t happend until after The Donald leaves office, even if he gets re-elected.

Autonomous Vehicles —The U.S. Transportation Agency has called a summit on autonomous vehicles for March 1 of this year.  One can only hope that the government might become as concerned with artificial intelligence as it is with this one application.

Matt Chappell has been effectively cured of HIV

Genetic Editing/HIV–As gene editing techniques continue their rapid advance, efforts are accelerating to control, and possibly cure, HIV.  The template may be one patient who has been off medications for over two years with no recurrence.

Artificial Intelligence/Singularity–In an interview with Futurism.com, the father of artificial intelligence says that the singularity is 30 years away.

Nanotechnology–Reasearchers at Arizona State University, working with a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have created nanorobots designed to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

“A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

News of the Future This Week, January 31, 2018

“The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human.”–Aaron Carter

You’ve heard it all, and lately you’re hearing it more.  The singularity is near.  Robots are going to take our jobs.  Robots are going to take over altogether.  Robots are even going to take over our sex lives.  Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying it won’t happen;  I just think it’s farther away than the impression most people are getting from all the news.  What’s here right now is genetic editing, and with it, the possibility of directing human evolution. The very real and very near possibility of changing what it means to be human.  Read all the artificial intelligence and future of work articles–yes.  But listen to what  Elizabeth Parrish has to say about modifying the human genome to reverse aging and to keep up–cognitively and physically–with robots.

Seeking Delphi™ will be on vacation next week.  Enjoy the peace and quiet.

Singularity/Being Human/Artificial Intelligence–Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos,  Yuval Harari speculated on whether are future will indeed still be human.

A quasi-human future? Image credt: Kai Stachowiak

–Ray Kurzweill isn’t the only one talking about a technology singularity.  Futurism.com, with an eye toward separating fact from hype, polled several other technology experts for their take on liklihood and timing. 

–I remember when the Cold War simply meant fears of nuclear anhilation.  Physics.org says we should watch out for artificial intelligence as well.

–A big part of being human is IQ (intellectdual quotiant) and EQ (emotional quotiant). But the future of success in the workplace, according to Fast Company, might be AQ (adaptability quotient).

Here’s the latest take on the robot job apocalypse.     A new report suggests the UK will lose one in 12 jobs to robots and automation by 2030. That’s less then some forecasts, but still enough to be a bother.

In this weeks Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, Ending Aging, Part 2, with Elizabeth Parrish,  the CEO of Bioviva, says we need to alter the human genome in two ways.  The first is to reverse aging, which her company is working on.  The second is to enhance humans cognitively and physically to keep up with robots and artificial intelligence.

Laser imaging–Do you like how those 3-D images appear out of thin air in the Star Wars world?  Now a team of BYU physicists have actually created this effect with lasers.

Space Commerce–It seems like everyone and his brother is getting into the business of private space launches.  That’s bound to create the need for support services, and UK company, Effective Space, hope to launch a  satellite repair service by 2020.

Self-Driving vehicles–Have we been hearing altogether too much about autonomous vehicle development, lately.  Satirical web site, The Onion, seems to think so.  The released the image below with headline Tesla Debuts Carless Driver.

Image Credit: The Onion

 

Thanks for visiting and reading.  See you in two weeks.

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

 

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

News of the Future This Week, January 24, 2018

“There are no right answers to wrong questions.”–Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin in 2004

This week’s future news is dedicated to the author of my favorite Science Fiction novel, Ursula Le Guin.  She died yesterday at age 88.   Her 1971 novel, The Lathe of Heaven, depicted a vision of a mildly dysfunctional Portland, Oregon, on the verge of a major apocalypse, at the turn of the 20th century.  But the real message, amidst the effects of chaos, complexity and unintended consequences, was “think globally, act locally.”  It is a must for anyone seriously interested in how our thoughts and actions create our future.

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

 

 Artificial Intelligence–We’ve heard it before; let’s hear it again.  Yet another pundit is forecasting huge job losses to artificial intelligence an autonomous vehicles.  In this case, fully 1/3 of all jobs by 2030.

 

–If the above isn’t vexing enough, The Verge reports that artificial intelligence will, as they put it, “supercharge surveillance.”  All those passive security cameras will, in effect, wake up and smell your location.

–Speaking of digital surveillance, Futurism.com reports that we are well on our way to having location tracking implants, a la a recent episode of Black Mirror.  They put the time frame as some time in the latter half of the 2030’s–or about 20 years from now.

–Artificial intelligence?  How about an artificial synapse?  MIT engineers have apparently created such a device, which could lead to brain-on-a-chip technology,

Automation–Amazon opened its first Amazon Go fully automated convenience store, in Seattle, Washington.  It uses sensors and cameras to track your movements and purchases, and charge you through an app on your smartphone.  And maybe creep you out, as well.

Cryptocurrency/Blockchain–One of the allures of cryptocurrency, for its users, is the ability to fly below government radar.  Unfortunately, that can mean money laundering, terrorism funding, and tax evasion.  India becomes the latest country to look into this, with reports it wants to tax cryptocurrency investments.

–Another appeal of cryptocurrency–and anything executed in a blockchain, for that matter–is security.  Well, maybe. According to  a new report from Ernst & Young, hackers have been stealing millions from ICO’s.

Space Travel/Colonization–If you think Mars colonization is ambitious, consider what Mars One CEO Bas Lansdorp is proposing: floating balloon habitats in the upper atmosphere of Venus.  That sounds more like a prison colony than a “habitat” to me.

 

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

News of the Future This Week, January 17, 2018

“Consumers want a better world, not just better widgets.”–Simon Mainwaring

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) recently concluded.  Some of the news coming out of it suggests there are still product marketers who think consumers do just want better widgets.  Let’s hope that doesn’t lead to major investment in The Internet of Stuff.

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

 CES 2018–IEEE Spectrum notes 5 important takeaways on the future of 5G wireless technology from CES 2018.  Most notably, it may gear up sooner than some think.

 —Nissan shared its vision for autonomous electrical vehicles at the show.  They suggested doing the other automakers one better, by adding a machine/brain interface.  Methinks Elon Musk, via Tesla and Neuralink might already be looking into that.

As for those crazy widgets,  Futurism.com reported on the most ridiculous ideas to come out of CES 2018.  These include robot strippers and a $6,000 smart toilet.  What will they waste their time thinking of next?

But we can have robodogs…this one will set you back $1,700.00

Don’t expect a personal robot butler anytime soon.  Based on Popular Science’s assessment of robotics and automation at the show, the robots won’t serve us, or take us over, any time soon.

 —Business insider reports that voice assistant integration was the top smart-home trend at CES.     Q. Hey Google, can you verify that?    A. Ask Alexa.

Space travel/exploration–China has unveiled a plan to zap space junk with orbiting lasers.  Now if only somebody could figure out how to zap robocalls.

Smart Cars–Elon Musk says that Tesla model 3 owners will be able to do just about anything with voice control.  He still needs to figure out how to build them fast enough to supply order backlog before the technology becomes obsolete.

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrencies–Bitcoin price dropped sharply this week, amid reports that the EU may place restrictions on cryptocurrencies.  This chart published by Mother Jones makes many historic investment bubbles look cheap by comparison to Bitcoin–even those infamous tulip bulbs.

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Future Last Year: 2017 In Review

“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.”–Elon Musk

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”–Alan Kay

Technology was everywhere in 2017.  And everywhere technology went, Elon Musk was sure to lead.  Perhaps we should paraphrase Alan Kay.  The best way to predict the future, is to watch Elon. If anybody is inventing it, it’s him. Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX, Neuralink, Hyperloop.  If it involved renewable energy, autonomous vehicles, space commerce, transhumanism, or warnings about artificial intelligence (lot’s of warnings), it probably involved Elon.

With that, I name Elon Musk, in total, our first Future Story of The Year, for 2017.  Here’s a very brief history of his year, along with some of the other top stories from 2017.

While you’re reading about it all, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Elon Musk

Tesla– Even as the lower priced ($35,000) model 3 production lagged way behind predictions, Elon revealed the new Tesla semi.  It’s great that he aims high, but in 2018 he will need to deliver, not just promise.

SpaceXAs of this writing, the Falcon Heavy rocket sits on pad 39A at Cape Canaveral.  It’s the precursor of even heavier launch vehicles that Elon hopes will send humans to Mars by 2030. 

HyperloopMusk may have invented it, but Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is making the bulk of the headlines these days.  Kudos to Elon, though, for open sourcing the concept and allowing competition to rapidly develop it.

The Boring CompanyWhile aiming to odominate the transportation on the surface of the earth (Tesla) and space above it (SpaceX) , Elon also created The Boring Company to drill tunnels below it. give him credit for a sense of humor with this company’s name.

Neuralink–When it comes to A.I., Elon’s motto seems to be “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” He created Neuralink to accelerate the merger of mind and machine.

So…how many new technology ventures will he create in 2018, as he continues to invent the future?  I’d put the over/under at 2 1/2.

Other top stories of the Year.

Artificial intelligence, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, self-driving cars, Bitcoin and blockchain, reversing aging and the future of work, were all frequently in the news in 2017.   Somewhat less visible were stories about laboratory grown meat, reversing aging, hypersonic weapons, 3D printing and advanced drone technology.  Here are few top story lists from other sources.

Futureseek Daily Link Digest

Wired Magazine’s top stories of 2017

Favorite 2017 Science Stories, The Verge

Science Fiction vs. Science Fact: Replicating Machines (my article from the first issue of Age of Robots)

IEEE Spectrum best stories of 2017

2017 in 3D printing

Dave Barry’s less than reassuring look back at 2017

Seeking Delphi™ finished the year with a podcast interview with SENS foundation,s chief science officer,  Aubrey de Grey, on ending aging.

 

Happy New Year, all.  2018 figures to be quite a ride.

Coming Attractions–2018 will kick off with an interview with Bioviva CEO Elizabeth Parrish, the first person to edit parts of her own genome to reverse aging.

 

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Future This Week: December 5, 2017

“The autonomous car is definitely coming…”–Masayoshi Son

Cars, cars, cars.  In America, we love our cars.  And, whether gas, electric, or hybrid, we love to drive them.  So what happens when they drive themselves?  And an even better question: when they get built in emotion A.I., will our cars love us?  OK, that last one is not a real issue–yet.  But every major car company is working on self-driving, all-electric cars.  The news this week is just full of cars, cars, cars.

 While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

 Self Driving Cars/Autonomous Vehicles–General Motors has announced plans to launch a self-driving, ride-sharing car service in major U.S. cities by 2019.  The aim is to compete directly with Uber and Lyft.

Uber is not standing idly by.  Volvo says they expect to sell them tens of thousands of self driving cars between 2019 and 2021.

Next Big Future reports that every major car company is working on all-electric, self-driving vehicles.   Ford, for one, also plans a self-driving, ride-sharing service by 2021.

What will Elon think of next?

Electric Vehicles–You can’t make this up, but apparently Elon Musk can.  He’s on record, and apparently serious, about launching a Tesla into orbit around Mars early next year.  The good news is, as long as it stays in orbit, it won’t need a charging station.

Ford’s chairman says they will introduce several electric car models in China over the next few years. He added that he expects China to be the leader in EV proliferation.

–According to recent reports, though, the Canadian province of Ontario will likely not reach its 2020 target for electric vehicle deployment.

Flying Cars/Taxis–Yeah, sure. Why should all the traffic jams be on the ground?  Volocopter says its flying taxis will be up (literally) and running in two to three years.

Space/Lunar Exploration–China has announced big plans for the moon.  A robotic lunar station, and a dark side radio telescope are targeted for 2019.

Brexit scenarios to 2030–The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features SAMI Consulting’s Jonathan Blanchard Smith discussing four post-Brexit scenarios for the UK.  (YouTube slide show link below)

Aubrey de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in a few days.

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM, blubrry , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.