The Future This Week: October 2, 2017

“Mars is there, waiting to be reached.”–Buzz Aldrin

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

Ah, Mars.  Indeed it does seem to be just sitting there for the taking.  And while I do appreciate Elon Musk’s desire not to die there on impact, I’m not so sure he cares whether you die there on impact.  Or here on Earth, either, for that matter.  His Mars ambitions are all over the news this week. As is usual for ‘ol Elon, they seem, well, over ambitious.

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Mars/rocketry–The latest SpaceX pronouncement from Elon Musk, is that he aims to put humans on Mars by 2024.  To attain that ambitious goal, he’s planning a new rocket design. It replaces the previous ITS (Interplanetary Transport System) design, with a new one called BFR.  What does BFR mean?  Well, its a BFD.

–Apparently Mars isn’t the only place Elon Musk wants to send you via his new BFR.   He also wants to use it for very fast air transport on Earth.   He might think it’s a good idea, but others not so much–as this article in The Verge suggests.

–Will we ever find Martians?  NASA’s Mars 2020 rover aims to look for them. Or rather, for the carbon signatures of past Martian microbes, using a super hot laser technology.

–Speaking of colonizing Mars, the United Arab Emirates has stated a goal of building a major metropolis on Mars within 100 years.  They plan to build a prototype right hear on Earth to test out the needed survival technologies. 

Home sweet Home–Mars habitat

Electric/next generation vehicles–Even as Elon Musk goes over the top with his rocketry ambitions, the bottom has, in a way, fallen out of his electric vehicle ambitions.   It turns out that only 260 new Model 3 Teslas were produced in third quarter, versus an original projection of at least 1,500.

–Elon isn’t the only one with an aggressive agenda for electric vehicles.  GM has announced they plan to introduce some 20 new all-electric models by 2023.

BMW says they will add Amazon’s Alexa to their 2018 models.  Great, it’s bad enough when that GPS voice gets all snarky on you; now there will be two of them.

Blockchain–Move over cryptocurrencies and other financial applications powered by blockchain.  The CDC wants to use the technology to track disease outbreaks for the betterment of public health.

–Speaking of cryptocurrency, South Korea has joined China in banning new ICO’s.  Initial Coin Offerings are the cryptocurrency equivalent of stock IPO’s.

Coming Attractions–On the next Seeking Delphi™ podcast, I’ll be speaking with Linda Groff, PhD, on her new book exploring options for future human evolution.  Yes, for perhaps the first time in history, there are options.

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APF 2017 Minicast #3: Space Commerce

“Space exploration is a force of nature unto itself that no other force in society can rival.”–Neil deGrasse Tyson

After exploring the health of the planet and it’s people on day 1, The Association of Professional Futurists turned toward the heavens on day 2.  Recorded live at the Boeing Museum of Flight, Seattle, WA, July 29,2017.  Here is a brief overview of what we heard, from the visionaries we heard it from: Brian Tillotson and Marna Kagele, both scientists at Boeing; Jeff Roberts, director of launch programs for Space Flight Industries; and Chris Lewicki, president and CEO of Planetary Resources.

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APF Minicast #3: Space commerce

APF Minicast #3 (YouTube): Space commerce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Future This Week: July 17, 2017

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”–Carl Sandburg

I don’t know about the moon, but when it comes to Mars, it does not appear that NASA will be doing much more than saying hello in the foreseeable future.  It seems there’s this little problem of money.  On the other hand, it’s full speed ahead to the lunar surface for at least one private enterprise.

Space Exploration and Technology–NASA has finally admitted what experts have been saying for some time.  It does not have enough money to land astronauts on Mars.  They could get astronauts there and orbit, but not land.  So I suppose they could say hello.

Moon Express is full speed ahead on its own ambitious space project.  They recently announced plans to launch a series of robotic lunar mining missions, the third of which will bring back samples from the surface in 2020.  The company is racing four other enterprises as finalists for the Lunar X Prize of $20 milllion, which will be awarded to the first private venture to land a rover on the moon and send back high definition pictures.

eCommerce/Retailing– According to retail guru Brittain Ladd,  Amazon could become the largest U.S. grocery retailer by 2030, if their proposed takeover of Whole Foods goes through.   Ladd predicts Amazon will pass U. S. #2 retailer Kroger by 2025 and take over the top spot from Walmart sometime between 2027 and 2030.

Electric Cars–The greatest roadblock to massive roll out of electric cars may not be infrastructure, but batteries.  Volkswagon, says that as many as 40 new giga-factories may be needed to meet global demand by 2025.

Transhumanism/Brain interface–DARPA has awarded a contract to six organizations, to be led by the University of California, Berkeley, to develop implantable interfaces that could transmit images and sound directly into the brain.  The aim is to compensate for natural visual or hearing loss.  (Reference back: in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #10, on the future of cinema and digital entertainment, film maker Steven Katz discussed this possibility.)

CRISPR/genetic editing–A team of researchers from Harvard and MIT are casting doubt on an earlier study that found that CRISPR/Cas9 gene edits could introduce unexpected mutations.  The original study was done by Columbia University.  It should be noted, however,  that the Broad Institute, a joint venture of Harvard and MIT, is in a pitched patent battle with the University of California, Berkeley, for rights to various uses of the technology.   CRISPR gene editing has the potential to change the face of human health, and perhaps even enter the domain of trans-humanism.  See video embedded below.

In the meantime, researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley (no surprise there) say they have synthesized a protein they call anti-CRISPR which shut of mutations in CRISPR altered genes.

 

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–It seems that a security robot has committed suicide in Washington, DC.  After sounding a security all-clear, it threw itself into a pool.

 

Coming Attractions:  I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the Association of Professional Futurists July 27-29 in Seattle.  More to come on that.

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.