News of The Future This Week: March 4, 2019

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”–Franklin Pierce Adams

Is artificial human memory possible?  Today’s lead story deals exactly with that possibility–and it links rather directly to a question I have about the quest to end, and even reverse, human aging.  If we live indefinitely, will we need some sort of artificial enhancement in order to hold decades or evern centuries of additional memories?  When you reach a certain age, after all,  it’s hard enough to remember what you had for breakfast.

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.

 Neuromorphic Computing/Memory–Researchers at UCLA claim they have created a neuromorphic “brain” out of synthetic nanowires.   They say it exhibits behavior similar to human memory.

Image: undoing-aging.org Click for link.

 Aging Research/Rejuvenation–Aubrey de Grey has become much more upbeat about the progress being made toward reversing human aging.  He now thinks robust human longevity extension could be here by 2037.  You can here his preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference (Berlin, Germany March 28-30) on the Seeking Delphi podcast here.   The YouTube slide show version of the interview is embedded at the bottom of this page.

Houston, the Dragon has landed. Image: NASA

NASA/Space Launch/Space Commerce–SpaceX successfully tested an unmanned launch of the first private passenger vehicle, reaching the International Space Station late last week.  If all goes well, the first manned mission will bring astronauts there later this year.  It would be the first manned U.S. space launch since the space shuttle was retired a decade ago.

NASA intends to test a nuclear powered rocket by 2024, per it’s 2019 budget.  Other advance propulsion systems are also in the works.

CRISPR/Biotech–Switzerland-based CRISPR therapeutics has become the first non-Chinese entity to use CRISPR genetic editing to treat a human medical condition.  The procedure was done in attempt to correct a genetic blood disorder.  Previously, Chinese researchers have used CRISPR to treat cancer.

A Chinese research group claims to have given a mouse night vision by a simple injection of nano particles into the animal’s eyes.  They say the effect has minimal side effects and lasts for up to ten weeks.

Breakthrough technologiesMIT has issued it’s annaul list of the top ten breakthrough technologies.  Custom cancer vaccines, a wearable ECG, and laboratory-grown meat are notable inclusions.

Wearables/Fitness–A university research team in Singapore says they have developed self-charging, fitness tracking socks.  The socks could also be used to power other wearables.

YouTube slide show of  the 2019 Undoing Aging preview podcast with Aubrey de Grey

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: February 24, 2019

“I had to stop driving my car for a while… the tires got dizzy.”–Steven Wright

Elon Musk is at it again.  And if you believe him, there will be another excuse for bad driving available by the end of next year.  He says Tesla auto-pilot could be reliable enough for drivers to safely sleep behind the wheel.   Will Tesla really be ready?  Will the public be ready?  If not, it could end very badly.

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.

Self-Driving Cars–Elon Musk is promising Tesla drivers they will be able to nap behind the wheel by the end of next year. There are a lot of skeptics regarding that timeline–including myself.  And there are already a lot of drivers out there who seem to be sleeping.

Space/Space Commerce–Musk is also taking criticism in other areas as well.  In a widely publicized talk in New York this past week, Amazon CEO and Musk space commerce rival Jeff Bezos laid into the SpaceX goal of colonizing Mars.  He also had uncomplimentary words for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism venture.  There’s nothing like commercial competition…

Regardless of what  Jeff Bezos thinks of Virgin Galactic, its spaceplane reached the boundary of space for the second time this past week.  And for the first time, it carried a passenger along with the astronaut crew.

–It’s a far cry from Mars,  but SpaceX did launch the first private lunar lander with its Falcon 9 rocket.  The lander was designed and built by Israeli firm SpaceIL.

–While  private ventures continue to gain the lion’s share of news headlines regarding manned flight and Mars exploration, NASA remains focused on exo-planets.  Universe Today reports on it’s proposed WFIRST space telescope, planned for a launch in the mid 2020-s.  They suggest it will be up to 100 times more powerful than Hubble and capable of detecting perhaps a million exo-planets.

Artists conceptioon: robot museum built by robots.

Robotics/Automation–What’s more au courant than a robot museum?  How about a robot museum that is itself built by robots?  That’s apparently what South Korea is planning to do.

5G/Mobil Technology–Even as Verizen unveiled plans for rolling out 5G technology to 30 cities later this year, Donald Trump called for 6G–which doesn’t even exist.

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright, a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey, and a discussion with David Wood on his latest book, Sustainable Superabundance: A Universal Transhumanist Invitation.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: February 16, 2019

“Diagnosis is not the end, but the beginning of practice.”–Martin H. Fischer

What will it take for artificial intelligence to replace doctors?  Probably a lot more than you think.  It is getting better and better–often superior to M.D.’s–at diagnosing illness.  But heed the quote above.  Diagnosing an illness is not treating it.  To do everything that a physician does will probably require AGI (artificial general intelligence) which, as of now, is nowhere in sight.

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.

AI/Medical Diagnosis–This from a study by a UC San Diego physician using data from a major Chinese medical center:  artificial intelligence can now diagnose some childhood diseases better than many doctors.

Cardiovascular disease is another area ripe for A.I. diagnosis.  IBM has entered into a partnership with the Broad Institute to develop such a system.

In other A.I. news,  Fast Company finds seven flaws in Donald Trump’s proposed initiative.

–Some AI applications are sublime, some are ridiculous.  In which category would you place a “smart” cat shelter that lets in felines, but keeps out canines?

Mars One–not as good an idea as some thought.

Space News–Mars One is dead.  Unless, just maybe, a mystery investor comes forward to save it.

Material Science-The Verge reports gallium nitride might be chip material of the future.  It could make them smaller and more energy efficient than those made with Silicon.

Heidi Toffler–The wife of iconic futurist Alvin Toffler has died at age 89.  She finally shares the credit with her late husband of Future Shock fame.

Self-Driving Cars–Science Daily reports that the University of Michigan is working on teaching self-driving cars to anticipate pedestrian movement.  It’s an important step towards making autonomous vehicles safe for prime time.

Easier walking directions?

Augmented Reality–Google is working on an augmented reality upgrade to its map app.  It’s specifically designed to be used with walking directions.

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright and a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: February 8, 2019

“A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero.”– Garrett Hardin

 

We’ve been there before.   Gloom and doom predictions of explosive population growth.  And while estimates have been greatly toned down from those from the 1960’s and 1970’s, there are still dire warnings out there.  But what if there is an extreme alternative veiw to Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons?  A radical new proposal is out, and depending on your point of view, the reason for it may or may not surprise you.

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 Demographics–A new book takes issue with UN projections of massive population growth in the coming decades.  According to Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker  in their new book, Empty Planet, world population will stabilize and start to decline in 30 years.  They also say that once the decline starts, it won’t stop.  Seems to me they are substituting one linear scenario for another, though.  If things shift once, they can shift again.

Future Driving/Autonomous Vehicles–With all the hype, you’d think our streets will be bustling with self-driving cars within the next couple of years–if not a few months.  Not so fast, says Tom Krisher, writing for the Associated Press.   He cites five sticking points, not the least of which is consumer acceptance.

–If the above isn’t discouraging enough, a University of California professor has a warning.  Self-driving cars might actually make traffic worse, rather than better, if they are not managed properly.

Artists conception of a generation starship next to a Saturn V rocket. Credit: Adrian Mann

Space exploration/colonization–How big would a generation starship need to be to support human survival for hundreds or even thousands of years?   Hint:  according to a new study reported on by Universe Today, it would make the Saturn V that launched astronauts to the moon look like a Mini Cooper.

–Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk keep up their relentless charge toward the final frontier.  Musk’s ambitious plan to send space tourists around the moon by 2023 was also reported on by Universe Today,  while Space.Com focused on Bezos’s vision for reusable spacecraft.

Biotechnology–CRISPR genetic editing may have come a step closer to becoming the reliable “DNA word processor” it has been hyped to be.  Researchers at  UC Berkeley–one of the pioneering institutions in CRISPR–have identified a new protein that may render the technique safe enough for human experimentation.

–While not initially focused on radical rejuvenation therapy, a $100 million Longevity Vision Fund has been launched to spur aging research.  The enterprise is the brainchild of Sergey Young, who in turn cites the inspiration of Peter Diamandis.  Look for more on the related subject from next month’s Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, Germany.

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright and a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: January 31, 2019

” I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.”–E.B. White

I don’t know how E.B. White would have felt about the chickens in this week’s future news; but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have changed his view of literature.  The chicken and egg thing is still ambiguous, though.

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.

Genetic Editing–What came first, the chicken or the egg?  That age old question might take on new significance, as researchers at the University of Edinburgh have modified the cluckers to lay eggs containing anti-cancer drugs.  

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have reported a breakthrough with gene drive.  This is the technology that makes genetic changes that are passed on to offspring.  They have succeeded–with some limitations–in executing the current technology in female mice, the first such demonstration in a mammal.

Image: The Dali Museum

Artificial Intelligence–The so-called Uncanny Valley just got deeper and creepier.  An artificial intelligence-created clone of Salvador Dali now greets visitors to his museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

–From the ridiculous to the sublime.  Centauri Dreams says A.I. might hold the key to succesful exploration of interstellar space.  Particularly in deep space, where communication with home base may take years to complete, unmanned probes will need to make intelligent decisions on their own.

–When it comes to assessing the current state of A.I., just how much is real and how much is hype?  The Verge gives its view of exactly where we are today and where it may be going.

The regulation conundrum: Pedestrian? Vehicle? Robochicken crossing the road?

Automation/Robotics–Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it R2-D2?  Futurism.com reports that regulators are clueless when it come to regulating Amazon’s delivery robots. Anybody surprised?

Flying Cars–Houston, we have a problem. Just when we though the age of the Jetsons was finally upon us, Wired reports a major obsticle.  the cost and complexity of carbon fibers may keep the aeiral vehicle population from attaining mass proportions.

In case you missed it, here is the Seeking Delphi™ podcast on flying cars, from November of last year.

 

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: November 28, 2018

“Land on Mars, half a million dollars–a round trip ticket.  It can be done.”–Elon Musk

“It’s not going to do any good to land on Mars if we’re stupid.”–Ray Bradbury

Even as NASA successfully deployed its latest Mars lander, Elon Musk was reasserting his intentions to go to Mars.  Literally.  Himself.  I hope I live long enough to see if he makes it.

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–Mars ho!  NASA has done it again, with the successful touchdown of the Mars Insight lander.

NASA Insight lander’s first view of Mars

–In a wide ranging interview, Elon Musk flatly stated that he doesn’t just want to send others to Mars, he wants to move there himself.  He set the odds of his doing so at 70%.  I’m guessing Vegas would set odds a bit longer than that.

–Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s marriage with NASA has taken another step closer to the altar. The first uncrewed NASA test of the Elon’s Space X Falcon 9 Dragon Crew rocket has been set for January 7 of next year.

CRISPR/gene editingThe assertion by a Chinese researcher that he has created the world’s first CRISPR gene-edited babies has created a major stir in the scientific community.  And Chinese authorities claim to have no prior knowledge of the venture.

Environment–Buried in all the headlines about the new US government report on climate change, is the staggering potential cost.  It could be a staggering $500 Billion per year by 2090.

Future Food–What is the government’s role–or what should it be–in regulating laboratory grown meat?  Wired asks that question in a new article.

Maybe good for your health–but ewww.

Sanitation–Everything else uses technology these days, so why not toilets?  Before you say “ewww,” consider that the FitLoo, a smart toilet created by the European Space Agency and MIT, can monitor feces for early signs of disease.  OK.  Now say “ewwww.”

Self-Driving Cars–In the latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast, with Alex Wyglinksi of Worcester Polytechnical Institute,  interconnectivity is the focus.

YouTube slide show, Seeking Delphi™ episode #26

Coming soon–part two of the three part “Future Driving” series on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast.  Flying cars!

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available 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: November 14, 2018

“My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous cars.”–Elon Musk

“We are approaching the end of the line for automobiles.”–Bob Lutz

Elon doesn’t believe in flying cars, either.  But then his bread is buttered on a more conventional side.  And he certainly isn’t shy about providing ever more driver auto-assist features to his Teslas.  I’ll be talking to strong proponents of both autonomous and flying cars in the next two Seeking Delphi™ podcast episodes;  in the mean time the manual vs. autonomous argument is all over this week’s news.

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.

Coming to a street near you–if you live in the Phoenix suburbs

Self-driving cars–Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!  Waymo says it will roll out a driverless ridesharing service next month.  The test program will be limited to about 100 square miles in the suburban Phoenix area.

–On the other hand, there are still some big names in tech playing the skeptic on fully autonomous vehicles.  Legendary Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is one of them.  He cites infrastructure built for us imperfect humans as the reason he thinks it won’t happen any time soon.

Bob Lutz says they are coming for your car.

–Contrary to Wozniak, a former GM executive believes we are nearing the end of the era of personal, manually driven automobile.  He thinks autonomous vehicles will not only take over, but conventional cars will eventually be banned.

–Self-driving or not, the demand for petroleum will continue to grow in the years ahead.  In fact, the International Energy Agency projects that growing demand in emerging markets will lead to high prices and shortages in the 2020’s.

–Then there’s the weird story.  There always has to be a weird story.  Fast Company reports that a new study suggests that one of the common activities in self-driving cars might turn out to be–you guessed it–sex.  Then again, it’s apparently a pretty common activity in conventional cars as well.

World Economy–Next Big Future projects that Asia will represent half the world economy by 2028. And in another article, they project that China will enjoy per capita income equal to that of Europe by 2040.  What they don’t say is where the world gets the resources to support all of that.

Privacy–If your data security is a worry, you ain’t heard nothing yet.   A British firm that makes hand implantable RFID chips for personal security, is now proposing to provide them to companies for their workers.  And the workers are not  happy about it.

The new space race

Space Commerce–A field that barely existed 10 years ago has come a long way in a decade.   Space.com takes a look at where it has been and where it is going.

Coming soon–a three-part Seeking Delphi™ podcast series on future driving–including episodes on self-driving cars and flying cars.  Up first, Alex Wyglinski of IEEE on the importance of connectivity in self-driving cars.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook