News of The Future This Week: February 8, 2019

“A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero.”– Garrett Hardin

 

We’ve been there before.   Gloom and doom predictions of explosive population growth.  And while estimates have been greatly toned down from those from the 1960’s and 1970’s, there are still dire warnings out there.  But what if there is an extreme alternative veiw to Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons?  A radical new proposal is out, and depending on your point of view, the reason for it may or may not surprise you.

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.

Future Demographics–A new book takes issue with UN projections of massive population growth in the coming decades.  According to Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker  in their new book, Empty Planet, world population will stabilize and start to decline in 30 years.  They also say that once the decline starts, it won’t stop.  Seems to me they are substituting one linear scenario for another, though.  If things shift once, they can shift again.

Future Driving/Autonomous Vehicles–With all the hype, you’d think our streets will be bustling with self-driving cars within the next couple of years–if not a few months.  Not so fast, says Tom Krisher, writing for the Associated Press.   He cites five sticking points, not the least of which is consumer acceptance.

–If the above isn’t discouraging enough, a University of California professor has a warning.  Self-driving cars might actually make traffic worse, rather than better, if they are not managed properly.

Artists conception of a generation starship next to a Saturn V rocket. Credit: Adrian Mann

Space exploration/colonization–How big would a generation starship need to be to support human survival for hundreds or even thousands of years?   Hint:  according to a new study reported on by Universe Today, it would make the Saturn V that launched astronauts to the moon look like a Mini Cooper.

–Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk keep up their relentless charge toward the final frontier.  Musk’s ambitious plan to send space tourists around the moon by 2023 was also reported on by Universe Today,  while Space.Com focused on Bezos’s vision for reusable spacecraft.

Biotechnology–CRISPR genetic editing may have come a step closer to becoming the reliable “DNA word processor” it has been hyped to be.  Researchers at  UC Berkeley–one of the pioneering institutions in CRISPR–have identified a new protein that may render the technique safe enough for human experimentation.

–While not initially focused on radical rejuvenation therapy, a $100 million Longevity Vision Fund has been launched to spur aging research.  The enterprise is the brainchild of Sergey Young, who in turn cites the inspiration of Peter Diamandis.  Look for more on the related subject from next month’s Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, Germany.

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright and a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey.

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: January 31, 2019

” I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.”–E.B. White

I don’t know how E.B. White would have felt about the chickens in this week’s future news; but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have changed his view of literature.  The chicken and egg thing is still ambiguous, though.

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.

Genetic Editing–What came first, the chicken or the egg?  That age old question might take on new significance, as researchers at the University of Edinburgh have modified the cluckers to lay eggs containing anti-cancer drugs.  

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have reported a breakthrough with gene drive.  This is the technology that makes genetic changes that are passed on to offspring.  They have succeeded–with some limitations–in executing the current technology in female mice, the first such demonstration in a mammal.

Image: The Dali Museum

Artificial Intelligence–The so-called Uncanny Valley just got deeper and creepier.  An artificial intelligence-created clone of Salvador Dali now greets visitors to his museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

–From the ridiculous to the sublime.  Centauri Dreams says A.I. might hold the key to succesful exploration of interstellar space.  Particularly in deep space, where communication with home base may take years to complete, unmanned probes will need to make intelligent decisions on their own.

–When it comes to assessing the current state of A.I., just how much is real and how much is hype?  The Verge gives its view of exactly where we are today and where it may be going.

The regulation conundrum: Pedestrian? Vehicle? Robochicken crossing the road?

Automation/Robotics–Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it R2-D2?  Futurism.com reports that regulators are clueless when it come to regulating Amazon’s delivery robots. Anybody surprised?

Flying Cars–Houston, we have a problem. Just when we though the age of the Jetsons was finally upon us, Wired reports a major obsticle.  the cost and complexity of carbon fibers may keep the aeiral vehicle population from attaining mass proportions.

In case you missed it, here is the Seeking Delphi™ podcast on flying cars, from November of last year.

 

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright.

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: January 9, 2019

“Consumers are statistics.  Customers are people.”–Stanley Marcus 

The 2019 Consumer Electronics Show is underway in Las Vegas.  Considering the 180,000 attendees, perhaps we should be calling it the Statistics Electronics Show, per Stanley Marcus

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 2019–Robots are everywhere at CES in Las Vegas.   Chinese firm Ubtech introduced two humanoid robots.  USA Today provided a CES robot overview, which it calls the robot revolution.

–In spite of Ubtech, one source reports that Trump’s trade war has cooled many Chinese tech firms on CES.

Bell’s Nexus flying taxi.

–It’s not exactly a flying car, but an Uber partner, Bell, introduced a vertical takeoff and landing flying taxi at CES.  For more on flying cars an VTOL check out Seeking Delphi™ podcast #27 from November of last year.

–It’s not electronics, but it is cool new biotechnology and possibly one of the most impressive things on display at CES 2019.  Impossible Foods, introduced it’s all veggie Impossible Burger 2.0, and critics are calling it virtually indistinguishable from beef.

–In a keynote address, Ford CEO Jim Hackett outlined ambitious plans for automotive connectivity to enable autonomous vehicles, encourage ride-sharing, and reduce congestion.  More on these subject is available in Seeking Delphi™ podcasts #26 (connectivity in autonomous vehicles) and #28 (intelligent traffic control).

–For more on these and other technologies featured at CES, check out these videos from CBS New York and CNBC.

Walking Car? Take a hike!

Automotive–Heard enough about electric, autonomous, and flying cars? Check out this: a walking car, from Hyundai. (OK, this concept was unveiled at CES, too, but it really deserves its own category.)

Quantum Computing–IBM revealed a 20 qubit quantum computer that will be it’s first commercial entry into the field. Still more from CES.  Honestly though, consumers may ultimately benefit from the fruits of quantum computers, but they are not likely to own one.  Relevent background is available from the Seeking Delphi™ SXSW 2018 minicast #3 with whurley.

Security/Facial Recognition–A new survey conducted by the Center for Data Innovation finds that most Americans are OK with the government using facial recognition technology. This is especially so when applied to airport security.

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: November 28, 2018

“Land on Mars, half a million dollars–a round trip ticket.  It can be done.”–Elon Musk

“It’s not going to do any good to land on Mars if we’re stupid.”–Ray Bradbury

Even as NASA successfully deployed its latest Mars lander, Elon Musk was reasserting his intentions to go to Mars.  Literally.  Himself.  I hope I live long enough to see if he makes it.

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.

Space–Mars ho!  NASA has done it again, with the successful touchdown of the Mars Insight lander.

NASA Insight lander’s first view of Mars

–In a wide ranging interview, Elon Musk flatly stated that he doesn’t just want to send others to Mars, he wants to move there himself.  He set the odds of his doing so at 70%.  I’m guessing Vegas would set odds a bit longer than that.

–Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s marriage with NASA has taken another step closer to the altar. The first uncrewed NASA test of the Elon’s Space X Falcon 9 Dragon Crew rocket has been set for January 7 of next year.

CRISPR/gene editingThe assertion by a Chinese researcher that he has created the world’s first CRISPR gene-edited babies has created a major stir in the scientific community.  And Chinese authorities claim to have no prior knowledge of the venture.

Environment–Buried in all the headlines about the new US government report on climate change, is the staggering potential cost.  It could be a staggering $500 Billion per year by 2090.

Future Food–What is the government’s role–or what should it be–in regulating laboratory grown meat?  Wired asks that question in a new article.

Maybe good for your health–but ewww.

Sanitation–Everything else uses technology these days, so why not toilets?  Before you say “ewww,” consider that the FitLoo, a smart toilet created by the European Space Agency and MIT, can monitor feces for early signs of disease.  OK.  Now say “ewwww.”

Self-Driving Cars–In the latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast, with Alex Wyglinksi of Worcester Polytechnical Institute,  interconnectivity is the focus.

YouTube slide show, Seeking Delphi™ episode #26

Coming soon–part two of the three part “Future Driving” series on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast.  Flying cars!

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: November 14, 2018

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

“We are approaching the end of the line for automobiles.”–Bob Lutz

Elon doesn’t believe in flying cars, either.  But then his bread is buttered on a more conventional side.  And he certainly isn’t shy about providing ever more driver auto-assist features to his Teslas.  I’ll be talking to strong proponents of both autonomous and flying cars in the next two Seeking Delphi™ podcast episodes;  in the mean time the manual vs. autonomous argument is all over this week’s news.

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.

Coming to a street near you–if you live in the Phoenix suburbs

Self-driving cars–Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!  Waymo says it will roll out a driverless ridesharing service next month.  The test program will be limited to about 100 square miles in the suburban Phoenix area.

–On the other hand, there are still some big names in tech playing the skeptic on fully autonomous vehicles.  Legendary Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is one of them.  He cites infrastructure built for us imperfect humans as the reason he thinks it won’t happen any time soon.

Bob Lutz says they are coming for your car.

–Contrary to Wozniak, a former GM executive believes we are nearing the end of the era of personal, manually driven automobile.  He thinks autonomous vehicles will not only take over, but conventional cars will eventually be banned.

–Self-driving or not, the demand for petroleum will continue to grow in the years ahead.  In fact, the International Energy Agency projects that growing demand in emerging markets will lead to high prices and shortages in the 2020’s.

–Then there’s the weird story.  There always has to be a weird story.  Fast Company reports that a new study suggests that one of the common activities in self-driving cars might turn out to be–you guessed it–sex.  Then again, it’s apparently a pretty common activity in conventional cars as well.

World Economy–Next Big Future projects that Asia will represent half the world economy by 2028. And in another article, they project that China will enjoy per capita income equal to that of Europe by 2040.  What they don’t say is where the world gets the resources to support all of that.

Privacy–If your data security is a worry, you ain’t heard nothing yet.   A British firm that makes hand implantable RFID chips for personal security, is now proposing to provide them to companies for their workers.  And the workers are not  happy about it.

The new space race

Space Commerce–A field that barely existed 10 years ago has come a long way in a decade.   Space.com takes a look at where it has been and where it is going.

Coming soon–a three-part Seeking Delphi™ podcast series on future driving–including episodes on self-driving cars and flying cars.  Up first, Alex Wyglinski of IEEE on the importance of connectivity in self-driving cars.

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: November 6, 2018

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride”–John F. Kennedy.

I wonder how JFK would have felt about an electric bike ride.  Yes, an eBike.  They are coming, as everything, but everything, seems to be adding technology.

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.

 Future Transport–Cars, buses and trucks are going electric.  So why not bicycles? General Motors has revealed two models of electric bike it plans to market beginning next yearAnd they are conducting a contest to name them.

Borrrringgg

–While electric and self-driving cars are getting all the attention on the ground, and flying cars above the ground, Elon Musk keeps digging underground.  He announced that The Boring Company will preview its nearly completed transit tunnel in the L.A. suburb of Hawthorne on December 10, and plan to open for public rides soon thereafter.

Chinese tech giant Baidu is the latest company to announce entry into self-driving car development.  They plan to partner with Volvo and Chinese state automaker FAW.

–Is it a robot? Is it a transport? Is it supercart?  Electronics giant LG is developing a “smart” self-driving shopping cart it hopes to launch in Korea.  It will follow shoppers around and also help them to track their purchases.

Robotics/Automation–The good news?  Amazon will be hiring 100,000 seasonal employees for the holiday rush.  The bad news? That’s down from the 120,000 they hired last year.  Expanded use of automation and robotics appears to be the reason for the decline.

–Even as Amazon expands automation in its holiday fulfilment services, it’s about to get some serious competition for its automated Amazon Go stores.   Retail giant 7-Eleven has announced its intention to launch a cashier-less checkout system for its convenience stores.

_A Chinese startup company, Makeblock, has an interesting take on teaching students about robotics.  They produce LEGO-like do-it-yourself robot kits.

SpaceX floating helipad. Image: NASA

Space Commerce–Elon Musk can’t be in the news for only one technology.  His SpaceX company unveiled it’s floating helipad for space capsule recovery this week.

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has been acquired by blockchain company, ConsenSys.  Planetary Resources CEO, Chris Lewicki, who will join the new company, was interviewed on Seeking Delphi 2017 APF minicast #3 last year. (below)

 

Coming soon–a three-part Seeking Delphi™ podcast series on future driving–including episodes on self-driving cars and flying cars.

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: October 29, 2018

“It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it’s a painting, and if you can walk around it it’s a sculpture.”–Tom Stoppard

The future tech news continues to be dominated by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and space commerce.   Some of it is exciting, some of it is disturbing and some of it–well, I’m not sure what to think.  When you read about an A.I. generated paiting fetching big bucks at auction, you just have to scratch your head.

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.

Portrait of Edmund Bellamy, produced by A.I.

Artficial Intelligence–An A.I. generated painting has sold for $432,000 at auction.  Is this why A.I. developers get paid so much?  Christie’s had estimated a value of between $7,000 and $10,000–which on the surface of it seems excessive in itself.   Apparently, some people have more money than they know what to do with.

Automation/Robotics–A Swiss firm will build a factory in China that will use robots to build more robots.  You’d think there would be enough surplus labor available in China that it would be the last place to need such.

Automomous vehicles–Will self-driving cars be the solution to urban congestion?  The New York Times reports that a major urban planning guru is suggesting the opposite–it will make it worse.

–For better or for worse, Tesla continues to go full speed ahead toward self-driving vehicles.  A new software update will add several new capabilities to its autopilot feature.

Autonomous or not,  Tesla is finally ramping up to a level of mass production.  Next Big Future reports that they will pump out roughly 450,000 vehicles in 2019, and approach one million per year by 2022.

Musk’s moon base. When will the condos go on sale?

Space Commerce–It wouldn’t be News of The Future This Week without at least two  Elon Musk companies making headlines.  Musk tweeted over the weekend that SpaceX will have a moon base operational by 2025.

—  What would you do with a fiber so strong that a cubic centimeter of it could haul 160 elephants?  Maybe build a space elevator.   The Chinese team of researchers who developed such a material are thinking just that.

–Robots building robots may seem a bit odd in China,  but in space it makes sense.  Relativity Space, a company backed by Mark Cuban, is developing a 3-D printer that will spit out robots–and other needed devices–for space colonies on the moon, Mars or  asteroids.  They don’t expect an actual market until sometime in the 2020’s at the earliest.

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