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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News of The Future This Week: June 17, 2018

 “We are losing privacy at an alarming rate – we have none left.”–John McAfee

 

Is privacy dead?  Speaking on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast back in April, futurist Gray Scott said that privacy is not so much dead, as it seems to have become irrelevant.  Our desire for free online content has motivated us to give it up for good.  But this week’s lead stories, on surveillance levels in China and an A.I. that seemingly knows  your behavior before you do, take the issue to whole new levels.

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 

Privacy/Surveillance–Already using facial scanning technology to make sure students are paying attention in class, and brain wave sensors to determine workers’ emotional states, China has taken its Big Brother approach to controlling a step farther.  Starting next year it will require RFID tracking chips installed on all newly registered cars.

–If tracking your every move isn’t creepy enough, computer scientists at the University of Bonn have created a software program that can predict your actions five minutes into the future.  It might sound like a great thing to have at the race track (assuming it also would work on horses). But one has to wonder if it could ultimately lead to a Minority Report scenario.

Retail/Consumer futures–Do malls have a future in age of e-commerce?  According to Westfield Corporation, a major mall operator, they do–though by 2028 they might look quite different.

Westfield 2028

Transportation/Electric Vehicles/Self-Driving Cars–According to a report by Washington-based think tank Securing America’s Future Energy, self-driving cars aren’t likely to steal your job until 2040 or so.  They also project that autonomous vehicles will boost the US economy by $800 billion by 2050.

Artist’s conception of high-speed electric O’Hare shuttle.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company won a bid to provide underground transportation from downtown Chicago to O’Hare international airport.  According to Musk, the high-speed electric vehicle system should be completed within 3 years.

Space Launch Systems–California-based SpinLaunch Systems has raised $40 million to develop a space catapult launch system by 2022.   The aim is provide orbital launch capabilities for materials and supplies for under $500,000 per mission.  The system will not be able to support manned missions–the G forces generated will be too great for human tolerances.

An estimated half million bits of space junk–leftover pieces of old satellites and space craft–orbit the earth and pose a collision threat to future missions.  Russia, among others, wants to develop a laser system to blast the annoyances out of orbit.


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: 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 25, 2018

“Amazon is definitely serious about delivering its goods by an autonomous air force.”–Steven Levy

 

Autonomous cars.  Self-navigating boats.  Self-flying drones. Ah, if only there was a self-writing blog; I would sleep in more often.  The vehicles of the future are all over the news this week.  Let’s catch up.

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 

Future Transport (autonomous, electric, etc.)–According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 80% of the world’s urban buses will be electric by 2040.  They also see 28% of all new car sales as electric by 2030.

Soon to be numbered?

–In December 2015, the FAA announced rules to require all flying drones over a certain size to be registered.  Now a new report, also from Bloomberg, suggests that they want to take the regulations a step further, and require license plates.

MIT, ever in the forefront of just about everything and anything autonomous and robotic, has a new invention.  It’s a 3-D printed autonomous boat.  The hope is it might help clear up urban road congestion.  No mention yet of urban waterway congestion, though.

 

–While we’re talking about MIT, they have a new technology for drones, too.  Its a virtual reality environment to train drones to maneuver through obstacles without putting the real world at risk.

–Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk don’t see eye-to-eye on the existential threats of artificial intelligence.  But they do agree on the life-saving potential of A.I. when used to power self-driving cars.

Falcon Heavy launch. Image credit: SpaceX

Space Commerce–Elon Musk aims big; even too big, at times.  But when it comes to space commerce, his SpaceX company is apparently achieving  big.   An analysis by Next Big Future finds that his Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets may be as much as 15 years ahead of other competitors is the commercial space race, and as much as 10 years ahead of China’s space agency.

Privacy–Facebook is apparently playing a proverbial “both sides against the middle” when it comes to talking privacy with the government.  On the one hand, Mark Zuckerberg promises congress and the EU parliament better safeguards of user data privacy.  On the otherhand, he’s selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies

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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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