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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Podcast #23: A Conversation With Joanne Pransky, Robot Psychiatrist

 “I can’t imagine a future without robots.”–Nolan Bushnell

 ™

In the popular HBO series Westworld, robotic hosts are depicted as being placed into a kind of psychiatric analysis by their creators.  Could this actually happen one day?  Joanne Pransky thinks it will.  She bills herself as the World’s First Robotic Psychiatrist® (yes, she even registered that title!).  She was dubbed the real life Susan Calvin by Isaac Asimov, after the robot psychologist he created in his classic 1950 short story anthology, I, Robot.  In this episode of the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, host Mark Sackler talks to her about this and other significant issues in the man/machine relationships to come.

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

 

Asimov with Pransky c.1989

Pransky and friend.

 

 

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Podcast #23 A Conversation With Joanne Pransky, Robot Psychiatrist

YouTube slide show of podcast #23 with Joanne Pransky

Cover of a 1950’s edition of Asimov’s I, Robot

Sofia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joanne Pransky bio

 

SXSW 2018 Minicast #2 Redux: Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine?

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

News of The Future This Week: June 1, 2018

“For the wise man looks into space and knows there is no limited dimensions.”–Lao Tzu

 

After decades of glacial progress, the space age is about to re-accelerate.  And the big players are not just NASA and the Russian space agency.   Space Commerce–private enterprise–is set to lead the way.

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/exploration/colonization–According to Next Big Future, we are on the dawn of the true space age.  And Elon Musk and his BFR are leading the vision.

–Planning on going to Mars?   Very challenging.   Plan on maintaining a colony on Mars?  Almost beyond challenging–especially when it comes to procreation.

China has invited scientists from all over the world to apply to visit their planned space station, scheduled for launch in late 2022.  No word yet on whether they’ll place limits on U.S. STEM students.

Jeff Bezos says he plans to build a moon base by partnering with NASA and the European Space Agency.  Plans is the operative word–there is no commitment at this time from either of the aforementioned agencies.

–Genetic editing isn’t just for Terra Firma.  Singularity Hub reports that NASA is engineering microbes for use off-planet.   The hope is that they can be used to produce nutrients and building materials.

Artificial Intelligence–Just hours after it was revealed that a major employee backlash had hit Google,  they announced they will discontinue developing A.I. for military applications after it’s current Department of Defense contract expires next year.  A wave of resignations and petition signings turned the tide.

In a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology artificial intelligence equaled human experts in facial recognition.  Furthermore, the collaboration of A.I. and human experts acheved near perfect results.

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: May 18, 2018

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

 

Ah memory.  How fleeting and ephemeral–as well as inaccurate–it can be.  Apparently, now, it can be transferred or even implanted falsely.  Westworld may be closer than we think.

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 

Neuroscience/Memory–A team of UCLA scientists claims to have successfully transplanted memory from one snail to another.  I’m not exactly sure what the point is, but I hope the little buggers protected their ATM PIN numbers.

If fake news isn’t bad enough, it appears that UC Berkeley scientists have figured out how to implant fake memories in the human mind using holographic images.   While this could have constructive uses in physical therapy and psychotherapy, it’s also ripe for abuse.

Getting there? Hard. Staying there? Brutal.

Space Colonization–Getting there is less than half the battle.  Maintaining a colony on Mars is replete with challenges, and a new study says having babies maybe one of the biggest ones.

Artificial Intelligence–Demand for artificial intelligence engineers continues to outstrip supply.  In response, Carnegie Mellon has created the first undergraduate program specializing in such.

INTEL has it’s own A.I. plans, at least in the hardware department.  It’s Lohi chip, planned for release next year, will have the equivalent of 100 billion synapses–about the number in the brain of a mouse.

On the road to strong A.I.–machines that can learn anything.

DARPA may be a step closer to the quantum leap that will enable artificial general intelligence.  As advanced as we may think today’s A.I. is, it still only does tasks it is initially designed for.  But DARPA’s L2M initiative is making strides toward developing a system that can adapt to new situations outside their initial programming–a major step towards achieving strong A.I.

SpaceX/Elon Musk–Elon continues to work overtime on ambitious transport projects of all kinds.  The latest is a scheme, combining the joint efforts of SpaceX and Hyperloop, to create a transport system that will enable 1-hour travel time to almost anywhere on earth.

On the road to an ambitious future like the one described above, Musk plans 24 hour turnaround and relaunch of his reusable Falcon 9 rocket, starting in 2019.

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Podcast #22: Social Robotics and Symbiotic Autonomous Systems with Roberto Saracco

 “We’re going to become caretakers for the robots. That’s what the next generation of work is going to be.”–Gray Scott

 

I’m not worried about depressed robots.  But I am worried about masses of people being depressed about robots.  Or any other form of autonomous system, for that matter.  How we use them, how we communicate and interact–and ultimately control them–is critical.  IEEE, ever in the forefront of maintaining standard practices and ethical approaches to technology, is directly in the fray on this one, with its Initiative on Symbiotic Autonomous Systems.  Roberto Saracco, a noted computer scientist and educator from Turin, Italy, is co-director of the initiative;  he joins me for this episode of Seeking Delphi.™

 

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

 

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Episode #22:  Social Robotics and Symbiotic Autonomous Systems with Roberto Saracco

 

YouTube slide show of Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #22

Related podcast: SXSW 2018 minicast #4, Extreme Bionics and the Future of Human Ability

 

The Uncanny Valley?

 

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler