News of the Future This Week, February 21, 2018

“While technology is important, it’s what we do with it that truly matters.”–Muhammad Yunus

So what’s more important–technological breakthroughs or how we apply them?  The cloud is a technology;  blockchain is an application.

So where do the 10 breakthrough technologies that make up MIT Technology Review’s annual list for 2018 stand?  All over the place.  Many, if not all of them, might be described as either incremental improvements or advanced applications built on existing technologies.   Where is the line?  Tell me if you know.

Technology Breakthroughs–MIT Technology Review published its annual list of breakthrough technologies for 2018.  Not surprisingly, it’s chock full of digital and bio technologies.  Good list?  Somehow I feel there is more out there.

EM Drive. A propulsion system without propellant? Image credit: nasaspaceflight.com

Space/propulsion systems–Talk about your breakthrough technology: China claims to have perfected the EM drive.  You might not see it on that MIT list anytime soon, though.  It will take more than talk to convince the mainstream scientific community, which views the concept as an impossible violation of one of Newton’s third law of motion.  It claims to create thrust without a propellant.

–NASA isn’t sold on the EM drive, at least not yet.  But they are considering reviving a decades old plan to use nuclear powered rockets in an effort to send manned craft to Mars by the 2030’s.

Energy/Transportation–BP is forecasting a peak in oil and gas demand by 2040. It sees the mass emergence of self-driving electric vehicles as the main cause.  Considering their vested interest, they may be ignoring the possibility of a more rapid drop off.

Bored in Space?

Space Commerce/Tourism–Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, also  CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, has now formed a new enterprise, Bigelow Space.  One of his proposed projects is to launch an inflatable orbiting space hotel by 2021.  I’m just wondering what one would do up there, other than float around in microgravity.  Maybe binge watch episodes of the Lost In Space reboot?

Aerospace/Advanced Transportation–A Chinese team has announced the design of a hypersonic jet that could make the trip from Beijing to New York in as little as two hours.  If feasible, it could upstage the planned 2020 test flight of a new Lockheed jet which aims to make the trip in 7 hours.  There is no announced timetable for building and testing the Chinese craft.

Electric Vehicles–It might not be as sexy as a 6,000kph jet;  but Volkswagon has provided a teaser preview of its proposed 112mph, 400+ mile range electric vehicle.

Coming Attractions–Seeking Delphi,™ the podcast, will return in March, featuring interviews with Roberto Sacarro on social robotics, and Jerome Glenn, on The Millennium Project’s 19th State of the Future publication.  We’ll also feature some on the spot interviews from the Intelligen Future tracks at the 2018 SXSW conference from Austin, Texas.

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 

 

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 Last Year: 2017 In Review

“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.”–Elon Musk

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”–Alan Kay

Technology was everywhere in 2017.  And everywhere technology went, Elon Musk was sure to lead.  Perhaps we should paraphrase Alan Kay.  The best way to predict the future, is to watch Elon. If anybody is inventing it, it’s him. Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX, Neuralink, Hyperloop.  If it involved renewable energy, autonomous vehicles, space commerce, transhumanism, or warnings about artificial intelligence (lot’s of warnings), it probably involved Elon.

With that, I name Elon Musk, in total, our first Future Story of The Year, for 2017.  Here’s a very brief history of his year, along with some of the other top stories from 2017.

While you’re reading about it all, 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 

Elon Musk

Tesla– Even as the lower priced ($35,000) model 3 production lagged way behind predictions, Elon revealed the new Tesla semi.  It’s great that he aims high, but in 2018 he will need to deliver, not just promise.

SpaceXAs of this writing, the Falcon Heavy rocket sits on pad 39A at Cape Canaveral.  It’s the precursor of even heavier launch vehicles that Elon hopes will send humans to Mars by 2030. 

HyperloopMusk may have invented it, but Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is making the bulk of the headlines these days.  Kudos to Elon, though, for open sourcing the concept and allowing competition to rapidly develop it.

The Boring CompanyWhile aiming to odominate the transportation on the surface of the earth (Tesla) and space above it (SpaceX) , Elon also created The Boring Company to drill tunnels below it. give him credit for a sense of humor with this company’s name.

Neuralink–When it comes to A.I., Elon’s motto seems to be “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” He created Neuralink to accelerate the merger of mind and machine.

So…how many new technology ventures will he create in 2018, as he continues to invent the future?  I’d put the over/under at 2 1/2.

Other top stories of the Year.

Artificial intelligence, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, self-driving cars, Bitcoin and blockchain, reversing aging and the future of work, were all frequently in the news in 2017.   Somewhat less visible were stories about laboratory grown meat, reversing aging, hypersonic weapons, 3D printing and advanced drone technology.  Here are few top story lists from other sources.

Futureseek Daily Link Digest

Wired Magazine’s top stories of 2017

Favorite 2017 Science Stories, The Verge

Science Fiction vs. Science Fact: Replicating Machines (my article from the first issue of Age of Robots)

IEEE Spectrum best stories of 2017

2017 in 3D printing

Dave Barry’s less than reassuring look back at 2017

Seeking Delphi™ finished the year with a podcast interview with SENS foundation,s chief science officer,  Aubrey de Grey, on ending aging.

 

Happy New Year, all.  2018 figures to be quite a ride.

Coming Attractions–2018 will kick off with an interview with Bioviva CEO Elizabeth Parrish, the first person to edit parts of her own genome to reverse aging.

 

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: November 20, 2017

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

Ah, the moon; so close, and yet so far away.  Has it really been almost fifty years since Neil Armstrong took his one small step for man?  Now, finally, the race is on to go back to our nearby celestial neighbor.  But in 1969, the only motivation was to win a race that was instigated by the cold war.  Now there is different driver in play.  It’s money;  many of the new players, in what is now a multi-way competition, are commercial ventures.

 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 

Space/Lunar explorationMoon Express has unveiled its lunar rover that’s due for a 2019 launch.  Described as an R2D2 lookalike, it would be the first commercial launch beyond earth orbit. The $20 million lunar X-Prize is hanging in the balance.

Yoda would be proud

China has announced plans to catch up to the US in space rocketry by the early 2020’s,  and a longer term goal of developing nuclear powered space vehicles by 2045.

Next big future reports on the possible development of what’s being called an interlunar photonic railway.  It’s based on the the laser powered space sails being planned by Breakthrough Starshot.

Electric Vehicles–Tesla unveiled two new ambitious vehicles, slated to begin production in 2019.  Its big-rig truck has a projected single-charge range of 500 miles and acceleration capabilities far better than diesel powered semis.  The roadster will boast a 620-mile range and a 260 mph top speed.  The price for these indulgences?  I’m not asking; i know I can’t afford either one.

Zoom Zoom

–Elon Musk may be the pioneer in all-electric vehicles, but he’s certainly not alone.  Volkswagon plans to invest an immodest $40 Billion on electric car technology through 2022,  and Toyota is targeting 2020 for its launch of an EV in China.

Senescence/Anti-aging research–Harvard professor and serial biotech entrepreneur Dr. George Church is moving headlong towards enabling human aging reversal.  His Rejuvenate Bio firm plans to test an age reversal therapy in dogs in 2019, and if successful, followed by human trials in 2022.

Scientists at Northwestern University say they have found what may be the first anti-aging genetic mutation.  The genetic anomaly was found in a small Amish community in Indiana.  Individuals who possess the mutation experience longer than average lifespans.

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.