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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News of The Future: June 4, 2019

“Mars is there, waiting to be reached.”–Buzz Aldrin

“President Bush announced that we were landing on Mars today … which means he’s given up on Earth.”–Jon Stewart

Will we find microbes on Mars?  Can we make breathable Oxygen on Mars? I guess we’ll find out sometime between now and when we get there.  I’m not betting on Elon Musk’s aggressive timetable, and I’m certainly not expecting to go there myself.  But I do have a ticket to send my name there.

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.

Mars/Moon/SpaceA team of researchers from Caltech has come up with a process by which breathable Oxygen might be generated from Carbon Dioxide for the benefit of future Mars explorers.  This is probably preferable to having it shipped there by Amazon.

–If you’re looking for life on Mars, you might want to look for pasta-shaped rock formations.  According to a University of Illinois scientist, a microbe that forms such growths lives in extremely harsh, low oxygen environments on Earth, and might be able to thrive on Mars.

–Neither you nor I are likely to be going to Mars anytime soon–if ever.  But you can send your name there.  NASA is inviting individuals to submit their names to be etched in a microchip headed there on the 2020 rover.  (Thanks to Eric Klein of the Lifeboat Foundation for providing me with the ticket below).

Future Transport–Back on Earth, Elon Musk’s latest promised gimmick will be to  produce a Tesla roadster powered by SpaceX rocket thruster technology–by next year.  Warning: do not exceed the sound barrier.

–The Canadian province of British Columbia is not taking climate change lying down.  They will phase out gas-powered vehicles, requiring 10% to be emission free by 2025 and banning gas-powered vehicles entirely by 2040.

–Wanna buy a flying car?  Listen to Seeking Delphi™ podcast #27.  Want an emission free vertical take-off-and-landing vehicle (VOTL)?  See the video below.

 

Sustainable Energy–If you’re seeking the holy grail of renewable, clean energy, there’s bad news.   Cold fusion, once and for all, is not it.  Google has blown more than a few bucks chasing that unicorn the last four years.

Biotechnology–Therapy delivering nanobots have moved one step closer to becoming reality.  IEEE Spectrum reports that South Korean scientists have propelled stem-cell carrying magnetic nanobots through a live mouse.

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 

News of The Future This Week: May 24, 2019

“Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile.”– Masayoshi Son

What–he worry?  Ford’s delivery robot.

Will that thing to the left make you smile?  I have my doubts about that.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of the uncanny valley, you will be soon.  Welcome to the creepy 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.

Robotics–Just a few weeks after the CEO of Ford admitted they had underestimated the difficulty in deploying self driving cars,  IEEE Spectrum reported  on Ford’s self-driving vans, with door-to-door delivery robots.  Can the bots be considered unemployed before they are formally employed?

Future Business–Fast Company projects that the companies of the future will be sustainable and employee owned.   This mirrors the triple-bottom line approach espoused by John C. Havens in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #17.

NASA’s lunar gateway. Image: Maxar Technologies

Space/NASA–Up until now, NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon have been rather vague.  No longer.  A $1.6 billion infusion for its Artemis Lunar project has resulted in a firm target of 2024.  The plan includes an orbiting lunar space station.  Can they do it by 2024?  The New York Times reports that it’s unlikely.

–The Artemis 1 mission, won’t carry astronauts.  But it will carry yeast into orbit around the sun.  The mission will launch 13 cubesats next year, one of which will carry two varieties of yeast to test their survivability and growth in the radiation of deep space.   E.T. make bread?

–A team of USC students have accomplished a rocketry first.  They are the first students to design and build a rocket that reached the 100Km (62 mile) altitude that is defined by international law as the boundary of space.  The school’s report says it used a parachute to land safely after reaching it’s targeted height–but it doesn’t say where.  Oh well, to quote that old  Tom Lehrer song, “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department says Wernher von Braun.”  [See Video below]

Elon Musk–Tesla might be in all sorts of financial troubles,  but Elon Musk has landed some funding for his The Boring Company.  His tunnel-digging enterprise has just landed its first paying customer, The Las Vegas Convention Center.  The center’s board of directors, as part of a $1.4 billion expansion plan, has allocated $46 million for two tunnels beneath the 200-acre site.  They will be cut to provide passage for electric vehicles and pedestrians.

Anti-Aging–George Church and his Rejuvenate Bio team have been relatively secretive about their efforts, to date, to reverse the effects of aging in dogs and mice.  But maybe we will learn more this summer, as Church has been confirmed as a speaker at LEAF’s Ending Age-Related Diseases conference in New York,  July 11-12.

–LEAF (Life Extension Advocacy Foundation) released the first installment of its LifeXten Show.  YouTube link below.

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

News of The Future This Week: May 14, 2019

“I would love to have a robot butler.”–Brett Ratner

“I think I’d take a human butler over a robot one.”–Tom Felton

Want one of these?

Are you disappointed that we still don’t have flying cars?  Well then, you might also be bummed out that we don’t have robot butlers, either.  And while one company is trying to provide those robot butlers by an odd hybrid operated by human remote-control, I’m thinking it’s still a bit premature.  I won’t be letting a robot handle a bottle of ’83 Lafite Rothschild any time soon.

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.

Robotics–If Alexa, Siri, or even a Roomba, is not enough for you, the Japanese firm MIRA may have just the answer.  They plan to launch the world’s first robot butler service. But there’s a rather odd catch, and it’s maybe a bit creepy.  The robots won’t operate autonomously. They will be operated by remote control by employees of MIRA.

–Robots in the home might have a ways to go.  But robots in the hospital?  Those are here now. (see below)

5G/mobile technology–Even as the U.S. and China square off in a battle dominate the emerging 5G segment of cellphone technology,  Russia is making a desperate play to make up for it’s own lagging effort.  They want to scare US consumers into thinking it’s dangerous. Will anti-5Gers become the kindred spirits of anti-vaxxers?

Future Thinking–Ever notice that experts are often spectacularly wrong in forecasting the future of their fields?   According to the Atlantic magazine,  that’s because they view things too narrowly, and they cite a study to prove that broad thinking generalists often make better forecasters.

Fast Company says China’s propensity to take the long view will win in the end, economically.  They aim to be the global center of trade and commerce, and a divided, short-term oriented U.S. government may be no match for them.

Uber–Also for the Atlantic,  a word of caution on Uber.  Their tepid IPO might just be a reponse to their risky view of the future.

Lunar Exploration–The Trump administration wants the U.S. to return astronauts to moon by 2024.  They even have shifted some money to NASA for the project.  But the ultimate cost of said missions is still not been made public.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have unveiled the desgin for their Blue Moon  lunar lander, which they also target for a 2024 touchdow.  It’s an impressive looking structure, but methinks the name Blue Moon might have some I.P. issues.

This is what Blue Moon conjures up for me.

 

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Aligned Design, laying out their proposed framework for the safe and beneficial development of A.I. and other automated systems.

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