The Future This Week: December 12, 2017

“The pace of progress on Mars depends upon the pace of progress of SpaceX.”–Elon Musk

Who will get there first?

Oh really, Elon?  It seems that Boeing may have something to say about that.  We got to the moon because of a frantic race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, propelled by the cold war. If an when we get to Mars, it just might be because of a frantic race between commercial ventures, fueled by the almighty dollar.

 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 

Mars/Space Exploration–Speaking on CNBC recently, Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenberg said, “I firmly believe the first person to set foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket.”  There was no immediate comment from Elon Musk, whose SpaceX aims to be there first.  Whoever gets there first, maybe they can getaround on the Tesla that Elon intends to launch into Mars orbit next year.

President Trump announced that the Moon will be the next destination for U.S. astronauts.  Whether he intends to put the treasury’s money where his mouth is remains to be seen.

Physics.org reports that a new space suit design will have a “take me home” button for astronauts who get separated from their craft and disoriented on space walks. Danger, Will Robinson!

Artificial Intelligence–The IEEE released the second edition of its global treatise on ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems, today.  The report can be requested for download here.   The report was mentioned in Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #17, featuring an interview with the initiative’s executive director, John C. Havens.  (YouTube video  link below).

Researchers from the University of Texas and the city of Austin are employing deep learning and big data to try to alleviate traffic jams.  They will present their findings at an IEEE conference on big data later this month.

Using A.I. to alleviate traffic? Good!  Using A.I. to create fake porn of anybody?  Er–not so much.  The Verge reports that just a few photographs and some open source A.I. software is all that it takes to graft anybody’s face onto any picture in a convincing manner. As they put it, seeing may no longer be believing.

Biotech–Researchers at the Salk Institute say they have been able to use CRISPR gene editing to reverse disease in mice.  They used a new procedure that does not actually cut the genes, but affects the expression–or epigenetics–of genes. It turns them on or off.

Researchers at the University of Rochester say they have successfully been able to insert new information directly in the the pre-motor cortex of the brains of two monkeys.   Anyone for trying this on politicians?

Material Science/Athletics–British sportswear brand inov-8 is partnering with the University of Manchester to introduce graphene-infused athletic footwear in 2018.  Laboratory tests have shown the shoes to be stretchier, stronger and more wear resistant than conventional rubber-soled sneakers.

 

Aubry de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in soon.

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.

The Future This Week: December 5, 2017

“The autonomous car is definitely coming…”–Masayoshi Son

Cars, cars, cars.  In America, we love our cars.  And, whether gas, electric, or hybrid, we love to drive them.  So what happens when they drive themselves?  And an even better question: when they get built in emotion A.I., will our cars love us?  OK, that last one is not a real issue–yet.  But every major car company is working on self-driving, all-electric cars.  The news this week is just full of cars, cars, cars.

 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 

 Self Driving Cars/Autonomous Vehicles–General Motors has announced plans to launch a self-driving, ride-sharing car service in major U.S. cities by 2019.  The aim is to compete directly with Uber and Lyft.

Uber is not standing idly by.  Volvo says they expect to sell them tens of thousands of self driving cars between 2019 and 2021.

Next Big Future reports that every major car company is working on all-electric, self-driving vehicles.   Ford, for one, also plans a self-driving, ride-sharing service by 2021.

What will Elon think of next?

Electric Vehicles–You can’t make this up, but apparently Elon Musk can.  He’s on record, and apparently serious, about launching a Tesla into orbit around Mars early next year.  The good news is, as long as it stays in orbit, it won’t need a charging station.

Ford’s chairman says they will introduce several electric car models in China over the next few years. He added that he expects China to be the leader in EV proliferation.

–According to recent reports, though, the Canadian province of Ontario will likely not reach its 2020 target for electric vehicle deployment.

Flying Cars/Taxis–Yeah, sure. Why should all the traffic jams be on the ground?  Volocopter says its flying taxis will be up (literally) and running in two to three years.

Space/Lunar Exploration–China has announced big plans for the moon.  A robotic lunar station, and a dark side radio telescope are targeted for 2019.

Brexit scenarios to 2030–The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features SAMI Consulting’s Jonathan Blanchard Smith discussing four post-Brexit scenarios for the UK.  (YouTube slide show link below)

Aubrey de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in a few days.

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.

Podcast #18, U.K. 2030: Four Post-Brexit Scenarios

“Brexit was the first brick that was knocked out of the establishment wall.”–Nigel Farage

“Brexit was a fantastic example of a nation shooting itself in the face.”–Hugh Grant

 

Even as Trumpism continues to agitate and divide the U.S., Brexit continues to do the same in Britain. As the process plays out through lengthy and difficult negotiations, no particular outcome is clear. In this podcast episode #18 of Seeking Delphi™,  I talk with one of the architects of SAMI Consulting’s wide ranging report on 4 possible scenarios for Brexit, through 2030.  The future is murky, but one way or the other, it will get here.

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

Follow me on twitter @MarkSackler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode #18; U.K. 2030; Four Post-Brexit Scenarios

YouTube slide show of Episode #18

 

Jonathan Blanchard Smith, SAMI Consulting page

Brexit affects U.K. pharmaceuticals and healthcare

Brexit labor shortage could hit winemakers

Brexit Northern Ireland border issue

GM plans to launch autonomous ride-sharing program in 2019

California set to drop law that would limit self-driving vehicle manufacturer crash liability

Ontario to miss its 2020 electric vehicle targets.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX to orbit a Tesla vehicle around Mars–maybe.

 

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The Future This Week: November 28, 2017

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”–Alfred Hitchcock

It seems movie theater owners are taking Hitchcock quite literally.  At our first break from home binge watching in almost a year, my wife and I went to a local cinema. We arrived right on the dot at the advertised starting time of the movie, and immediately suffered through 20 minutes of commercials–exactly what we get away from by watching Amazon and Netflix and premium cable channels.  I just love paying to binge watch commercials.

 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 

Digital entertainmentAmazon, Apple, and Netflix  are expected to be spending nearly $20 Billion, combined, on digital content by 2022.  Take that, Bollywood.

The Venture Reality Fund reports that Hollywood’s investment in AR and VR is booming.  Overall, AR/VR investment in the second half of this year is seen as rising by $2.3 billion, or 79 per cent, over the same period a year ago.  Oh boy, even those insufferable commercials will be enhanced.

The worm turns–on mars.

Space Travel/Colonization–What’s better than pigs in space?  How about worms on Mars?  A recent study by researchers at Wageningen University found that earth worms can grow and reproduce in Martian-like soil. It’s part of a study to see if food plants can grow in the same compound, to support potential colonization.

–Woody Allen once said, “man can’t live on bread alone; often there must be a beverage.”  Anheiser-Busch is taking that literally by sending beer into space.  A Dec. 4 SpaceX launch will send beer making ingredients to the international space station, a very early step toward sending it to Mars with the first colonists.  Talk about opening new markets.

Future Life/2030 Forecasts–A new report from The World Economic Forum paints a heady picture of life in the year 2030.  Genetically engineered pets…smart toilets…internet connected clothes…wow, I can hardly wait.

 

A similar study, reported in Forbes, focuses more on how we will change as humans by 2030. It’s not about augmented reality, it’s about augmented us.

Transportation/Sustainable Energy–Hydrogen powered trains will be coming to Germany by 2021.  The technology is being built by French concern, Alstom.

Robotics/AI–China announced plans to open a fully automated police station, sans humans.  The facility will deal primarily with driving -related issues, making it more like a western motor vehicle department facility.  It’s all in line with China’s stated goal of being world leader in artificial intelligence by 203o.

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.

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.

The Future This Week: August 7, 2017

“Your genetics is not your destiny.”–Dr. George Church

I’d like to ask Dr. George Church a question about the above quote.  Does he mean that nurture can overcome nature?  Or does he mean your genetics can be changed?  Considering he’s one of the leading geneticists in the world, and is closely involved in one or more enterprises involved in gene editing, I’m guessing it would be the latter.  Either way, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing was prominent in news this past week.

CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing–A multinational team of American, Korean, and Chinese researcher succeeded in correcting a serious genetic disease in human embryos.  The paper appeared online in the journal Nature and was widely reported by various news sources.  While creating excitement for the technique’s potential, it also raised concerns for the potential advent of genetically modified “designer” babies.

UC, Berkeley researcher, and CRISPR co-developer, Dr. Jennifer Doudna, weighed in on the Nature paper, along with views on a variety of potential uses and abuses of the technology.  In a wide ranging interview with Newsweek, she mentioned cancer, diabetes and bio-terrorism as potential targets the technology could be used to fight.

Researchers at the University of Chicago reported success with CRISPR created skin grafts in treating diabetes in mice.  While not technically a cure, it could provide an effective long term treatment alternative to insulin shots.  The researchers also asserted that the technique could be useful in treating a variety of other diseases.

A brief explanation of CRISPR gene editing

 

3D Bio-printing–Doctors at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson medical school successfully inserted a 3D printed bone replacement implant in a patient who had suffered irreparable damage to a portion his skull.  Such a procedure was unthinkable just a few years ago and may be an indicator that bio-printing is on the verge of becoming a major health industry.

Robotics/Automation–Zume Pizza, of Mountain View, CA, has taken a Silicon Valley approach to making their pies.  They use robots.  While humans have not been completely automated out of the process, the robots do the repetitive parts of the process.

 Politics–According to WIRED, there is a good reason why people can’t stop talking about Mark Zuckerberg as a 2020 presidential candidate.  That reason is Mark Zuckerberg; his actions speak louder than his words.

Renewable Energy–Fresh on the heels of Atlanta’s goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035, California is poised to set a statewide goal to do the same by 2045.  A bill mandating just that has passed a  committee in the state senate.  Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it if it becomes law.

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.