The Future This Week, April 9, 2017:

“I want to die on Mars; just not on impact.”–Elon Musk

 

Mr. Musk

No. Really.  This is The Future This Week.  It only seems like Elon Musk This Week.  Indeed, there is at least one twitter account dedicated exclusively to Elon Musk news.   If forced to make a prediction, I’d say there will be enough material for a 24/7 Elon Musk cable news channel by next year.  When it comes to inventing the future, nobody tops Elon.   Tesla, SpaceX, Solar City, Neuralink, Hyperloop One (OK, that last one isn’t his company, but hyperloop is his idea).  You get the idea.   He’s all over the place;  with some of this stuff he might actually be successful.  Like Babe Ruth, he may set a home run record but strike out a lot in the process.

 

Tesla/SpaceX/Musk news–

Robotics–

Biometrics–

 

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

The Future This Week, April 2, 2017: Robot Job Apocalypse?

“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.”–Erich Fromm

You’re fired!

Today’s lead story brings to mind a classic gag from Woody Allen’s early stand-up comic days.  He told the story of how his father came home from work one day to report that he had been laid off from his factory job; he was replaced by a 50-dollar part on the assembly line.  The sad thing was, his mother immediately ran out and bought one of those parts.

The notion that a manufacturing plant  could be comprised of 3D printers run and maintained by robots is mind boggling.  So who maintains the maintenance robots?  Maintenance maintenance robots?  And who maintains the maintenance maintenance robots….?

3D Printing/Automation–

Yes, Voodoo manufacturing has created the world’s first robot-run 3D printing plant.   It allows the humans to concentrate on the creative work while the robots do the menial work, 24/7.  So what happens when A.I. starts doing the creative work?

Writing in the futures blog on Futurizon,  Ian Pearson, Ph.D., takes the position that A.I. will actually create jobs, not take them.  Dr. Pearson will be my guest on the Seeking Delphi podcast, the week of April 10.

 

Miranda. Maybe this is where all those lost socks went?

Space/NASA–NASA astronauts made a big booboo when they lost an important part of the International Space Station during a spacewalk earlier this week.   One of four pieces of cloth shielding designed to protect the station from impacts by small bits of orbiting  space junk, broke free and floated away.  The astronauts were able to make the other three pieces make do.  That’s a good thing.  For all we know, the interplanetary lost and found could be on Miranda.

Next Big Future reports that there is a push within the Chinese government to triple spending on space science over the next several years.  It’s still far less than NASA spends, though. Projections through the year 2030 are provided.

Digital Media–Business Insider issued a report, along with a free slide presentation, on the future of TV and the digital media that is rapidly replacing it.  Most notable is a forecast that fully 75% of all mobile data will be video by 2022.  My guest next week will be filmmaker and author Steven Katz  to discuss the future of  cinema and the digital video entertainment it is competing with.

Cargo drone or killer whale?

Aviation/Drones– An automated  amphibious cargo drones the size of a Boeing 777 could take to the skies by 2020.  Daily Mail reports that the California company building them is about 70% complete on the first test model.  The final production model will have a carrying capacity of 200,000 pounds.

Biotech/Anti-Aging–PureTech Health has licensed a possible anti-aging compound from NovartisMIT Technology Review reported that Boston-based startup company .  The drug, everolimus has been shown in clinical trials to increase effectiveness of flu vaccines in elderly patients, suggesting that it effectively makes immune systems younger.  The substance is related to rapamycin, which has previously been shown to increase average life span in mice by as much as 25%.

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

The Future This Week, March 26, 2017–Live Forever, or Just Live Better?

“I think science has begun to demonstrate that aging is a disease. If it is, it can be cured.”–Tom Robbins
“I’m not afraid of death.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”–Woody Allen

Our time is limited. Or is it?

It seems as if many of the biggest players in science and digital industry are obsessed with slowing, stopping, or even reversing aging.  New stories appear every day, it seems.  And of course, David Wood’s comprehensive study of the issue, The Abolition of Aging, was the subject of the first two episodes of Seeking Delphi.  But an editorial in Wired Magazine suggests that the moguls of silicon valley are trying to solve the wrong problem. It asserts that they should be working to improve the quality of life, not the quantity.  There are good arguments both ways–reversing aging could greatly improve human health and cut costs drastically–the lions share of healthcare spending treats the diseases of aging.  What do you think?   The big stories this week:

Biotechnology/Aging Research–

  • A pair of breakthroughs, one from The University Ulm in Germany, the other from the University of Ulster in the UK, suggest means of using young blood cells to provide anti-aging properties.  The two studies are summarized in this article by Next Big Future.

 

 

  • Writing in Wired Magazine, Emily Dreyfus argued that huge investments in anti-aging  research by major silicon valley entrepreneurs is barking up the wrong biological tree.  She thinks they should be investing in better quality of life rather than increased quantity.

Autonomous Vehicles–

Social Robotics–

  • The world’s first social media robodog has been created by Jason Buzi.  Now we just need a robot veterinarian to take care of it. (See below).

 

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

 

 

The Future This Week, March 19, 2017

“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”–George Carlin

The moon, and space exploration in general, continued to make news this week.  It seems the moon is just howling for some company.  Here’s what’s been happening during the current lunar phase.

Space Exploration–

 

Additive Manufacturing/3D printing–

  • In an interview on the Seeking Delphi podcast, Dr. Paul Tinari made a variety of bold statements regarding the future of 3D printing for everything from food to cars, homes, battleships, and even human bodies.  (YouTube link available at the bottom of this post.)

 

 

Biotech–

  • Gene editing startup eGenisis raised $38 million dollars in venture capital funding for its process to use CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to grow pig organs for human implantation.  The company was co-founded by Harvard genetics guru, Dr. George Church and 30-year old Dr. Luhan Yang.

 

YouTube slide show: Podcast #7, 3D printing with guest Dr. Paul Tinari.  Also available on iTunes.

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

The Future This Week, March 12, 2017

“You affect the world by what you browse.”–Tim Berners-Lee

Ah, our automated future. http://www.savagechickens.com

The Tim Berners-Lee quote above is a sort of digital version of “you are what you eat.”  Perhaps, today, we are what we browse.  But what we browse is of deep concern.  Can we keep it private? Can others, particularly government, abuse our rights and destroy our privacy with what they know about our lives online?  That’s just one of the technology issues in The Future This Week.

Digital Technology–World Wide Web inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had some chilling words about his digital offspring on its 28th birthday.  Speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, he warned the web is in peril due to three troublesome trends.  Privacy of personal data, in the wake of the Wikileaks revelation of massive CIA cyber-spying, fake news that spreads like wildfire, and unregulated political advertising.  I welcome a discussion on these issues in the comments section below.

Speaking at Google’s Cloud Next conference, Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt predicted that big data will become so important that nations will fight over it. “He who has the data can do the analytics and algorithms,” he said.  You can see his full speech on the Business Insider link here.

Digital Entertainment–Several sources reported that Netflix is delving into interactive story telling that enables the viewer to chose from diverging story lines.  This would represent a kind of digital video version of the Chose-Your-Own-Adventure kid-lit novels that were popular in the 1980’s. Actors would film multiple variations of story lines and viewers would be allowed to chose the direction of the story at various points.  The first series may roll out later this year.

Renewable Energy–Those hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles discussed in episode #3 of the Seeking Delphi podcast may be one step closer to reality.  New work revealed this week by the energy department’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.  A big challenge is the extrication of  hydrogen from water., which, in itself, is an energy intensive undertaking.  The process Berkeley lab has been working on involves using special catalyst materials called photo-anodes to drive distillation of Hydrogen from water using sunlight.   Their scientists have identified 12 newphoto-anode substances in the past two years, more than doubling the previously known count.

Biotechnology–CRISPR gene editing pioneer, Jennifer Doudna, laid out her vision for the technology.  Speaking at the same South by Southwest conference that hosted Tim Berners-Lee, she focused primarily on the potential for eradicating genetic diseases.  Meanwhile, a Chinese team released results of the first CRISPR trials in healthy, viable embryos, reporting that they were able to correct genetic mutations in some of them.

Global Economy–A new report issued by The Brookings Institute projects a global increase in the middle class of 2.2 billion people by 2030.  The report also sees 88 per cent of this growth coming from Asia.

Hawking

Existential Technology Risks–Almost on cue for the most recent Seeking Delphi  episode,  physicist Stephen Hawking warned that establishment of a global government may be the only way to keep our technologies from destroying us.  He acknowledged that a world government could become a problem in itself–particularly a tyrannical one–but stated strongly that we need a means to identify threats, and act quickly to counter them in a unified manner.

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

The Future This Week, March 5, 2017

“If you want a nation to have space exploration ambitions, you’ve got to send humans.”-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil might have added, “or have profit motives.”  The news about commercial space exploration is almost nonstop these days.  Here’s what’s been happening in the past week.

Commercial space ventures–

In more down-to-earth news:

 

New Feature: The Future This Week.

“Bad news travels at the speed of light; good news travels like molasses.”–Tracy Morgan

Future news travels here, if a week behind (eat your heart out, John Oliver).   And we won’t report on hexagonal pizzas. I promise.

Without further ado, then, here is this past week’s future-related news.

Biotech–

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark office issued a ruling in favor of the Broad Institute, a joint venture of Harvard and M.I.T., in its patent dispute with the University of California, Berkeley over the rights to CRISPR/Cas 9 gene editing.  The ruling upheld patents granted to Broad in 2014, and effectively stated that they were different enough from those applied for by Berkeley to stand.   Shares of Editas Medicine which has an exclusive CRISPR license from Broad were up 20% after the ruling. Both sides indicated expectations that the I.P.  battle has probably just begun.

 

  • Since CRISPR/Cas9 and other new and powerful gene editing techniques have the potential to exact great change in the human genome–and with it the entire future of human experience, it would probably be a good idea to engage a public discussion on how and when to proceed,  and with what applications.  That’s just what a group of U.S. scientists suggest.  In a far reaching report issued jointly by The National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine,  they suggest heritable human germ cell tests be limited primarily to the treatment of intractable genetic diseases, at least until more public discussion can be generated.

 

  • Dr. George Church of Harvard University, who was mentioned in the first Seeking Delphi podcast on radical longevity extension, predicted that age reversal in humans will be achieved in 10 years.  This vs. the 50% probability within 25 years forecast by David Wood in The Abolition of Aging.  I hope I’m around long enough to see at least one of them be right.  If you missed the podcast,  the YouTube version is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Elon Musk–(yes, he’s reached the point of being his own category–just a few of the relevant stories below)

Technology–

  • Bill Gates doesn’t warrant his own category these days, but he did say something bold.  He suggested that if robots take your job, they should be taxed.   While acknowledging that such a measure could hinder innovation to some degree, he also realizes that massive job losses need to be offset.  One way he suggests is to use the tax proceeds to to fund training for jobs that humans will still do.  Hmmm.  Like robot maintenance?

 

If you see something during the coming week that ought to be here next time, please let me know.  The next Seeking Delphi Podcast, scheduled for midweek release, will feature futurist and financial manager Jim Lee talking about Technology Investing for the Future.

 

 

 

David Wood on The Abolition of Aging,  in the premiere episode of  the Seeking Delphi, podcast.