The Future This Week, August 21, 2017

“I wish I had never gotten involved with steroids.  It was wrong. It was stupid.”–Mark McGuire

I’ve been saying it since I first learned about CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, two years ago.  It’s going to happen.  Maybe it has even already happened.   Performance enhancing drugs will be a thing of the past;  they will be replaced by performance enhancing genetics.

Genetic editing/human enhancement–In a wide ranging article in Next Big Future, the potential for athletic performance enhancement is analysed.  Is the super-human athlete coming?

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–In an open letter to the United Nations, leading industrialists in the robotics and A.I. field urged an immediate global ban on autonomous weapons.  The group of 116 business leaders from 26 companies included Elon Musk, and Mustafa Suleyman, founder and Head of Applied AI at Google’s DeepMind.

DARPA announced a new program to develop better means of testing, adapting and predicting the behavior of autonomous machine learning systems.  One objective of the effort, called assured autonomy is to get beyond the predominant view of assurance systems, that such algorithms, once deployed (say, as in self-driving cars) will not learn and evolve beyond our control.  (A subject covered in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #14 on self-replicating machines).

–Robots don’t have to threaten your life or evolve out of control to be creepy.  Check out the dancing robots in the YouTube video below.

 Electric/Autonomous Vehicles–Remember the Volkswagon hippie microbus of the 1960’s?  The German automaker now plans a 21st century version of the vehicle;  it will be electric and have level 3 autonomy.    Debut is planned for 2022. Just add a peace sign, blast Jimi Hendrix on the sound system, and you are ready to go.

 

Wearable devices/material science–A university in China reports being able to create strong, flexible silk–that even conducts electricity, by feeding graphene to silk worms.   The resulting material could be used for a new class of wearable health sensors and create flexible robot bodies.

Coming Attractions–Speaking for wearables, the next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Bloomlife CEO and co-founder Eric Dy.  The company’s health monitoring device that keeps tabs, simultaneously, on pregnant women and their unborn babies,  recently won an impressive innovation contest.

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

The Future This Week: August 14, 2017

“Life isn’t a tiptoe through the tulips.”–Shannon Hoon

“When tulip mania dies down, all that remains are pretty flowers.”–Adam Cohen

I understand the value of cryptocurrency–I think.  But the valuation? Forget it.  Investors’ lives certainly won’t be a tiptoe through the tulips when and if the Bitcoin bubble bursts.  But I’ll still love hearing Tiny Tim sing about it.  And yes, tulips are still pretty flowers.

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency–The price of a single Bitcoin topped $4,000 for the first time.  Is cryptocurrency the future of our economy?  I have my doubts.   And if you are looking for a way to short it, that makes two of us.

Semi-conductors/material science--With transistor miniaturization in silicon-based microchips rapidly reaching its physical limit,  Moore’s law could also be coming to an end.  But researchers at Stanford University have identified two semi-conductors that could extend the limits of silicon-based miniaturization by augmenting its properties.

Does “too cute to eat” also mean, “too cute to accept an organ transplant from?’

Biotech/gene editing–A group led by Dr. George Church, of Harvard University, has succeeded in using gene-editing to make piglets more suitable for growing replacement human organs.   Dr. Church believes that the first pig-to-human organ transplants may be as close as two years away.

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–The premiere issue of Age of Robots has hit the digital newsstands.  My article, Self Replicating MachinesScience Fiction vs. Science Fact, appears, along with stories on artificial intelligence, medical robots,  machine consciousness, and more.

   Quantum Reality–A future after death? The notion of life after death has always been the exclusive realm of the spiritual/religious world–until now, that is.  Physicist and author Roger Penrose,  along with some others with impressive scientific credentials, now believe that information stored in our brains in a quantum state may live on, along with our consciousness, after we die.  This report, on the Galaxy Today web page, hints at any number of ideas which I have expounded on in my other blog,  The Millennium Conjectures.

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

APF Minicast #2: Global Health Futures, July 28, 2017

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”–Albert Schweitzer

Today’s sessions at the Association of Professional Futurist’s annual meeting in Seattle, Washington, consisted of morning sessions on efforts to improve human health in the third world.  It included talks from Brian Arbogast of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, on transforming sanitation; Sarah Chesemore, also of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, on the future of vaccine delivery; and Jan Flowers, research scientist and clinical faculty member at the University of Washington, on dissemination of health informatics programs in resource constrained settings.  They provide brief summaries of their work in today’s mini-cast.

 

APF 2017 mini-cast #2: Global Health Futures

 

2017 APF minicast#2 (YouTube): Global Health Futures

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Podcast #13: The Urban Landscape Of The Future

“All cities are mad, but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim.”–Christopher Morley

A Jetsons future?

Where will you live in 2050? What will the cities of the future look like?  Tomorrowland? The Jetsons? Waterworld?  Maybe they will look pretty much the same, but feel very much different.  To sort out some of the possible scenarios, I sought out an expert on the urban landscape of the future.  Cindy Frewen, Ph. D., is an architect and an adjunct professor in the University of Houston’s graduate foresight program.  She designs near-term urban futures, and constructs scenarios for possible longer term futures.

Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes and PlayerFM, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

Cindy Frewen 
Image credit: Kansas City Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast #13: The Urban Landscape Of The Future

You Tube Slide Show of Episode #13

Cindy Frewen bio on Futurist.com

News items:

DARPA XS-1 space plane

Attacking Cancer with CRISPR gene editing

Music-making neuromorphic chip

World’s first robotic cop deployed in Dubai

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Podcast #8: Inventing The Local Future

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”–Abraham Lincoln

“Think globally, act locally.”–Variously attributed

If you’ve never heard the phrase, “think globally, act locally,”  you’ve probably been living under a rock.  It’s origin is murky, but the concept is best attributed to Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes, and his 1915 book, Cities in Evolution.   100 years later,  Neil Richardson and Rick Smyre have written the 21st century blueprint for Communities of the Future, in their 2016 volume, Preparing for a World That Doesn’t Exist–Yet.  In my Seeking Delphi podcast interview with Neil Richardson,  we discuss many of the bold ideas in the book, including the authors’ call for enabling what they call a “second enlightenment.”   We also discuss three key points in the book–terms the authors coined–master capacity builder,  polycentric democracy and creative molecular economy.  Previous podcast episodes of Seeking Delphi have showcased technological quantum leaps that have the potential to cause radical upheaval of civilization.  Authors Richardson and Smyre point the way for small to medium organizations and communities to deal with it–to embrace, use, and grow with it.    A means to invent the local future.

Links to relevant stories and organizations appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.  The YouTube video of Robot’s Delight is embedded below.

 

 

 

Episode #8: Inventing The Local Future 28:50

 

 

 

(YouTube slideshow)

Preparing For A World That Doesn’t Exist–Yet, on Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Emergent Action

Communities of The Future

European biocomputing project

India, China and Japan to increase coal usage through the 2020’s.

Facebook anti-suicide project

 

 

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Short Fiction: A Life Pod at Riverton

Here is a fascinating question for those who fear the apocalypse. Can there be a post-collapse world that might not be so bad? In this short piece of fiction, my University of Houston foresight colleague, Eric Kingsbury, suggests a future transformation that might not be so bad. It’s re-blogged from his site, http://www.kiteba.com

Kiteba: A Futurist Blog and Resource

Speculative fiction has always been a great way to imagine the future. The following is a short climate-related piece I wrote.

A Life Pod at Riverton

“When we look at biological analogues,” Jane began, lifting the cover off the evap system and dropping to one knee, “we see the many ways in which large organisms are vulnerable when climate push comes to climate shove.”

The sun hovered in an infinite sky, bright, blanching out any atmospheric color. It was spring, and the air was warming, with a sweet sugar breeze.

Jane lifted a hand to shadow her eyes.

“Elephants, lions, cows, all the big mammals,” she said, then gestured in the direction of several grassy mounds that rose from the prairie. “Too big, too slow, too pack-oriented. Vulnerable.”

Then, she reached into the evap unit and pulled out a length of rotten rubber hose.

“So too all the networks dependent on…

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Podcast #5: Teaching and Learning the Future

“Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.”–Benjamin Franklin

“Those who can’t do, teach.  Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”–Woody Allen

teach-the-future-logoMy apologies to all you educators out there.  I just had to get that Woody Allen line in.  It makes sense, though, that teaching something as fluid, changing and uncertain as the future requires creative tools to involve the student and develop the appropriate mindset.  In episode #5 I talk with two individuals who are taking different approaches to the task.

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop

The first interview is with career futurist educator, Peter Bishop, founder of Teach the Future.™  His aim is nothing less than to make future-think modules a standard in education.  I then talk with game developer Robert Mattox about his old school approach to involvement–a board game.  Appropriate links to all the subjects in this program can be found below the audio and YouTube files that follow.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

 

Robert Mattox

Robert Mattox

Podcast #5: Teaching And Learning The Future, 26:50

Hope City

Hope City

 

 

 

 

Teach The Future

Hope City

Smart robots will outnumber people by 2050

McDonald’s to kill the drive-through with mobile ordering and curbside delivery.

SpaceX plans lunar tourism next year.

 

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