News of The Future This Week: August 12, 2018

“I could have gone on flying in space forever”–Yuri Gagarin

 

Move over, Buck Rogers.  The U.S. administration wants to build a space force. With budget deficits approaching 10 figures, it could just be posturing–or wishful thinking.   Elon Musk inisists he isn’t posturing on getting to Mars, though.  He’s all over the space news this week–for a change.

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–U.S. vice president addressed the Pentagon with details of a proposed Space Force to be implemented by 2020.  With a trillion dollar deficit looming, and a congressional majority composed of Republicans who (supposedly) espouse smaller government, it will be interesting to see where the funding will come from.

–The space force may be in doubt, but it’s full speed ahead to Mars, as far as Elon Musk is concerned.  He convened a secret Mars workshop, attended by prominant scientists and engineers, to address colonization of the Red Planet.

Meanwhile, Russia intends to compete with Elon and his SpaceX for heavy payload launch capability–eventually.  Their rocket with 70 ton launch capacity is targeted for a rollout in 2028.  Don’t look now, Vladimir, but with ten years lead time, Elon is bound to build something bigger.

TESS, image credit: NASA

–For you exo-planet fans, new estimates from NASA suggest it’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite could identify up to 10,000 new alien worlds over the next two years.  As many as 3500 of them could be smaller than Neptune, down to and including Earth-sized planets.

Automation/future of work–  Back on the ground, Elon Musk has other issues to deal with.  His plans to fully automate a Tesla plant haven’t gone so smoothly.

Alternative energy/Environment–Elon has competiton in the alternative-energy trucking space as well.  The ironically named Nikola has reportedly raised $100 million dollars for the launch its hyrdrogen-powered trucking venture.  

The Human Condition–Millennium Project CEO and State of The Future lead author, Jerome Glenn, says that we have done better than most people expected.  He goes so far as to say, in this Seeking Delphi™ interview linked below, that “we are winning as a species.”  He does acknowledge critical issues that could derail the trajectory of progress, however.

Episode #24: The State of The Future, with Jerome Glenn

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News of The Future This Week: August 5, 2018

“Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?”–Edgar Bergen

 

The future of work is a very “now” debate.  While many see an A.I. job-killing armageddon over the next 10-20 years, others are more sanguine.  This week’s stories include some new published points of view that lean to the more optimistic side.

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 

 Automation/Future of Work–Worried about losing your job to A.I, robotics, or some such form of automation?  According to this report in Next Big Future, the 2020’s AND 2030’S could see a tech-driven economic boom.   Maybe it won’t be so bad.

–Boom or no, technology is bound to kill at least some jobs.  Two technology authors, reporting in Forbes, discuss the job opportunities in the era of man/machine interface.

To the above end, a Stanford scholar says that artificial intelligence will both disrupt and benefit workplace.

Image Credit: Tech Insider

Artificial Intelligence–Read any good novels lately?  According to one computer scientist, artificial intelligence may be writing them within ten years.  

Hackernoon explains the how and why of using A.I. to make better predictions.  Uh oh, I hope futurists won’t be rendered obsolete!

DARPA aims to help keep the current U.S. lead in development of A.I.  They’ve initiated an excelerated program to award $1-million breakthrough development grants within three months of proposal submission, with an aim towards providing results within 18 months of award.

A report from QY Research forecasts exponential growth in the market for A.I. software over the next few years.  They project the annual global market value to grow to $78 billion by 2025,  up from $2.65 billion in 2017.

Future Energy–A recent technology breakthrough could triple the output of solar cells.  Researchs in the UK have come up with a method to increase capture efficiency from 20% to 60%.

Award-winning Mars habitat design by Team Zopherus of RRogers, Arkansas

Space Exploration–Speaking of government research grants, NASA is in the game, too.  They’ve awarded $100,000 to five private enterprises competing to design a Mars habitat.

NASA has named a class of 9 astronauts to fly the first commercially built manned spacecrafts. Their partnerships with Boeing and SpaceX hope to yeild the first mission before the end of next year.

A new NASA report suggests it is impossible to terraform Mars.  Well, at least impossible using today’s technology.  Elon Musk isn’t buying it, and neither am I.  What about tomorrow’s technology?  What a bout Clarke’s first law?  “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

Coming Soon–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature and interview with Jerome Glenn, co-founder and executive director of The Millennium Project, on their most recent edition of The State of The Future.

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News of The Future This Week: July 15, 2018

“I believe we are on the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.”–Elon Musk

 

Yeah, well, ol’ Elon would say that.  His SpaceX venture is heavily invested and involved, both with NASA and other space faring concerns, and is somewhere between trying to colonize Mars long term and actually turning a profit, near term.  But in the final analysis, what they seem to be locked into is a race with Boeing to launch the first commercial manned space vehicle, and thus  get back to where NASA was over 50 years ago.

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 Commerce–Despite all the bravado, Elon Musk may not be winning the race for the first commercial manned space launch.  A new internal NASA document suggests they believe that Boeing may beat them to the punch.

Oh SpaceX, were art thou?

–According to that same government audit report, neither company is likely to be ready to launch crews to the ISS in 2019.  It states that neither company is likely to be able to do so before Augist of 2020.

–While Boeing and SpaceX race to send crews into space, another concern has a loftier goal.  Israeli firm SpaceIL plans to launch the first privately-funded, unmanned lunar lander, in February of next year.  They’ll use a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in an attempt to claim the Google X prize.

Hail! Halil, Asgardia, land of the free and brave!

–Manned space commerce may still be a ways away, and space colonization even farther out.  But that hasn’t stopped Russian computer scientist Igor Ashurbeyli and the 200,000 denizens of self-acclaimed space nation Asgardia from naming him the first leader of the (as of now) virtual nation, as Futurism.com reports.

 Hail, Hail Asgardi…er…Freedonia…land of the free and brave!

Longevity/Anti-aging research–One of the leading figures in the radical human longevity field has tempered his former optimism.  In silico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov now thinks the 150+ year human lifespan he has long dreamed of won’t become reality any time soon.

On the other hand, researchers at Stowers Institute for Medical Research have made a stem cell breakthrough that could lead to antiaging therapy.  They’ve discovered the one cell in flatworms capable of regenerating an entire organism.

Future transportation–Do  you think self-driving cars are a bit out there?  Flying cars?   Now a French firm is proposing what amounts to a flying train. (Video below).

French flying train proposal.  Maybe they’re just giddy about the World Cup?

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News of The Future This Week: July 8, 2018

“Artficial Intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029.”–Ray Kurzweil

“There is no reason and no way that a human mind can keep up with an artificial intelligence machine by 2035.”–Gray Scott

 

Make no mistake about it.  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is still a pipe dream.  Nobody is exactly sure how to create  it.  But that doesn’t seem to discourage technology inventors like Ray Kurzweil and techno-philosophers like Gray Scott from their certainty that someone eventually will.  I remain agnostic on the question; my role is to report on it, not to predict it.  Who knows, maybe in a few years an A.I. will be able to predict itself.  What comes first, the chicken or the A.I.?

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–Is Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of human level A.I. by 2029 realistic?  This evaluation of the global A.I. race, by The Lifeboat Foundation, suggests it is.

source: Lifebooat Foundation

–The A.I. job apocalypse forecasts just keep on coming.  The latest to raise the red flag is hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio.  Speaking on CNBC this week, he said that A.I., while increasing productivity, it is also exacerbating the wealth gap and has become a national emergency.

According to The Economist, A.I. poses a unique threat of fake videos so realistic, that dead celebrities may essentially become immortal.   Elvis is alive and in the virtual building.

Sayonara, Ralph Kramden. image: Baidu

Chinese conglomerate, Baidu, has announced a new artificial intelligence chip that it intends to use in a number of applications.  The first such use will be in autonomous buses to be launched in Japan next year.

Researchers from UK firm, Wayve, have created a neural network A.I. that they claim can be taught to drive a car in 15-20 minutes.  Now if they could only train your teenager to avoid dinging the family sedan at the mall.

Biometrics–London’s trial of A.I. for facial recognition has been a complete bust.  Yet a 98% false positive I.D. rate has not deterred the enthusiasm of the city’s chief of police.

–In the meantime, Australia has launched its own facial scanning scheme.  It’s a trial to replace passports with facial recognition scans at the Sydney airport.  Let’s hope the accuracy is better than London’s.

Home, sweet (3D-printed) home.

3D printed house–We’ve been hearing about 3D printed housing for some time now.  For the first time, a multi-room 3D-printed house has been occupied in France. It took 54 hours to print and its creators claim a construction cost savings of 20% versus conventional methods.

Space Exploration–Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has announced intentions to land astronauts on the moon by 2023.  It’s a first step to what they hope will be the establishment of a permanent manned base.

Next Big Future reports that SpaceX is helping NASA stay out in front of China through 2030.  The key is getting their BFR off the ground several years sooner.

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News of The Future This Week: July 1, 2018

“I would love to have a robot at home.”–Hugh Jackman

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

 

Robot butler? Maybe.  Robot sommelier? No thanks.

But right on cue with last weeks podcast #23, with robot psychiatrist Joanne Pransky, this week’s news is full up with robots.  (See a YouTube link to the Pransky interview at the bottom of this page).

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 

Robots/Voice Assistants–A new survey by the Brookings institute finds that even while many Americans are OK with Alexa and Siri, 61% are uncomfortable with robots in the home.  The afore-mentioned Joanne Pransky takes issue with the survey’s methodology, even while she attempts to explain the problem.

An AI-equipped robot named CIMON has been launched to join the international space station aboard the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule.   It’s the first Ai-equipped machine ever to be launched into space.

Bye bye ASIMO

Honda has announced the retirement of their famed robot, ASIMO.  They’re shutting him (her? it?) down to focus their robotic technology on more practical uses such as elder care and disaster relief.

CybersecurityThe future of security in the digital world might lie in the realm of a quantum random number generator.   According to IEEE Spectrum, it may be the only was to generate truly random numbers.

Energy– UK-based Tokamak Energy has heated plasma in a  to a record 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million Farenheit).  They say this could lead to commercial nuclear fusion by 2030.  Let me know if you see Bigfoot or a unicorn first.

Space/NASA–NASA has again delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, now scheduling the launch for 2021.  Cost overruns–bringing the total expenditure estimate to $9.7 billion–may threaten the continuation of the project.

Bioprinting/Biotechnology–3D printed implantable organs may be getting closer to reality. Tech crunch reports that a startup company in a San Francisco biotech incubator is leading the way.

Seeking Delphi Podcast #23–A Conversation with Joanne Pransky, The World’s First Robotic Psychiatrist®

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News of The Future This Week: June 17, 2018

 “We are losing privacy at an alarming rate – we have none left.”–John McAfee

 

Is privacy dead?  Speaking on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast back in April, futurist Gray Scott said that privacy is not so much dead, as it seems to have become irrelevant.  Our desire for free online content has motivated us to give it up for good.  But this week’s lead stories, on surveillance levels in China and an A.I. that seemingly knows  your behavior before you do, take the issue to whole new levels.

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 

Privacy/Surveillance–Already using facial scanning technology to make sure students are paying attention in class, and brain wave sensors to determine workers’ emotional states, China has taken its Big Brother approach to controlling a step farther.  Starting next year it will require RFID tracking chips installed on all newly registered cars.

–If tracking your every move isn’t creepy enough, computer scientists at the University of Bonn have created a software program that can predict your actions five minutes into the future.  It might sound like a great thing to have at the race track (assuming it also would work on horses). But one has to wonder if it could ultimately lead to a Minority Report scenario.

Retail/Consumer futures–Do malls have a future in age of e-commerce?  According to Westfield Corporation, a major mall operator, they do–though by 2028 they might look quite different.

Westfield 2028

Transportation/Electric Vehicles/Self-Driving Cars–According to a report by Washington-based think tank Securing America’s Future Energy, self-driving cars aren’t likely to steal your job until 2040 or so.  They also project that autonomous vehicles will boost the US economy by $800 billion by 2050.

Artist’s conception of high-speed electric O’Hare shuttle.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company won a bid to provide underground transportation from downtown Chicago to O’Hare international airport.  According to Musk, the high-speed electric vehicle system should be completed within 3 years.

Space Launch Systems–California-based SpinLaunch Systems has raised $40 million to develop a space catapult launch system by 2022.   The aim is provide orbital launch capabilities for materials and supplies for under $500,000 per mission.  The system will not be able to support manned missions–the G forces generated will be too great for human tolerances.

An estimated half million bits of space junk–leftover pieces of old satellites and space craft–orbit the earth and pose a collision threat to future missions.  Russia, among others, wants to develop a laser system to blast the annoyances out of orbit.


Robotics/Coming Attractions–
The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Joanne Pransky, who bills herself as The Worlds First Robotic Psychiatrist.®

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 

News of The Future This Week: June 8, 2018

“The environment is everything that isn’t me.”–Albert Einstein

 

Back in the ancient days of 2014, Bill Gates predicted there will be no poor countries by 2035. Is this likely?  Who knows?  But it’s hard not to see that renewable energy and materials will become increasingly critical if the world is to maintain current population and economic growth rates.

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 

Environment–Technologies to remove and recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have long been dismissed as too expensive.   But a paper published this week in the journal Joule suggests that existing technology might bring the price down to as low as $94 a ton, vs. previous estimates of $1000.

Renewable Swedish meatballs?

–Energy isn’t the only renewable imperative.  Swedish furniture retail giant Ikea says it will use 100% renewable or recycled materials in all its products by 2030.  That would be up from the present level of 70%.

A new project aims to map the entire global ocean floor by 2030.  Only about 10% of the sea bottom is currently charted.

3D Printing–Renewable materials aren’t the only critical need for a growing world population.  Housing is vital, too.  And while there have been several stories in the last year about 3D printed homes in prototype stage, a Dutch company claims it now can create the first habitable printed home that can pass building inspection.  They look a little like above ground hobbit holes.

3D printed Dutch homes

CRISPR/gene editing–The US Food and Drug Administration has put the brakes on what aims to be the first human trial of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to treat Sickle Cell Disease.  In a press release issued by by the therapy’s developer, CRISPR Therapeutics, the agency cited “certain questions” that need to be resolved before proceeding.

Blockchain–Former Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno,  writing for Hackernoon.com, says Asia will use blockchain to take over the world economy.  Among the reasons he sites, is the simple fact that they are already in the technological lead.

–Taking over the economy is one thing.  But former Augur CEO Matt Liston, wants it to take over religion, as well.

Hypersonic warfare–Russia is building a new submarine capable of firing hypersonic missiles. It’s projected to be finished by 2027.  In the meantime, the US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $928 million contract to build hypersonic missiles, with a prototype to be ready by 2022.

Robotics/Coming Attractions–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Joanne Pransky, who bills herself as The Worlds First Robotic Psychiatrist.®

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