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 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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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News of The Future, This Week: December 19, 2017

Blockchain is the tech. Bitcoin is merely the first mainstream manifestation of its potential.”–Marc Kenigsberg, founder, Bitcoin Chaser

The price of a single Bitcoin, as of this writing, sits at just north of US$18,300.  At that level, I don’t think that guy to the left is going to be finding too many of them in his virtual hat.  But as this week’s lead story suggests, some workers in Japan will soon need Bitcoin wallets.***

 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 

 Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency/Digital Payments–A Japanese company will start paying part of it’s employees salaries in Bitcoin.  Participation is voluntary; that’s probably a good thing.  When the bubble caves in, those employees might wind up looking like the bum in the cartoon.

Wired Magazine reports that a serious unintended side effect of Bitcoin is environmental damage.  The mining of Bitcoin, according to a source they cite, is burning more energy than the entire nation of Serbia.

–Despite strong growth of digital payments and cryptocurrencies, it appears cash won’t be going away any time soon.  According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, digital payments will account for about 30-35% of all non-credit transactions by 2025.

The Future of China–Next Big Future reports that China has embarked on a three year plan for a massive roll-out of artificial intelligence systems centered mainly in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, and energy efficiency management.

The Chinese won’t make it easy for foreign firms entering the self-driving car market, though.  They won’t be allowed to map roads in China, and will have to partner with Chinese firms to do so if they want to sell, build or operate autonomous vehicles there.

According to a new report Global Cities report by Oxford Economics,  Asian cities (mostly Chinese) will outstrip European and North American cities in total economic activity by 2035, and will account for nearly half of global GDP.

Advanced Transport–Virgin Hyperloop One set a new speed record for the vacuum tube transport system.   The system reached  240 mph (387 kph) on December 18, surpassing the record of 220 mph (355 kph) set this past summer by Elon Musk’s hyperloop.

Coming Attractions–2017, Future Stories, year in review, coming next week.

***By the time I hit the “publish” button on this post, the Price of Bitcoin had fallen, in just a few hours, to under $17,000.  That represented a drop of 15% from its high over $19,000 earlier in the day.

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