News of The Future This Week, February 14, 2018

“I don’t believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life.”–David Duchovney

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

If David Duchovney is right–and I for one agree with him–then Fermi and his paradox certainly become relevent.  But it hardly proves that extraterrestrials don’t exist.  It just proves we haven’t been able to confirm any signals or communication.  What hampers us from doing so?  The vastness of the universe? Our relatively inferior technology?  Maybe they are hiding, as in Cixin Liu’s chilling novel The Dark Forrest?  These are all possiblities, true.  But in a strange ocurrance of the law of unintended consequences, the biggest current hindernece to finding E.T. could be bitcoin mining.

 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 

 SETI/Cryptocurrencies–This heading might look like an oxymoron.  But in a bizarre turn of events, the cornering of the GPU market by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining has created a shortage that is hitting the video game market, and even the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

NASA/Space–In another unusual turn of events, NASA will be sending a Martian meteorite back to its home planet on a rover scheduled for launch in 2020.  The purpose is best described as “target practice” for precision lasers designed to pick targets for sample collection that a future mission might return to earth.

How about these for target practice?

The FCC is looking closely at SpaceX’s plan to provide sattelite delivered  internet.  The head of the agency views it favorably, so don’t bet against it.

The Trump administration’s latest NASA plans call for a return to the moon.  They call for it; but they don’t budget it.  It likely won’t happend until after The Donald leaves office, even if he gets re-elected.

Autonomous Vehicles —The U.S. Transportation Agency has called a summit on autonomous vehicles for March 1 of this year.  One can only hope that the government might become as concerned with artificial intelligence as it is with this one application.

Matt Chappell has been effectively cured of HIV

Genetic Editing/HIV–As gene editing techniques continue their rapid advance, efforts are accelerating to control, and possibly cure, HIV.  The template may be one patient who has been off medications for over two years with no recurrence.

Artificial Intelligence/Singularity–In an interview with Futurism.com, the father of artificial intelligence says that the singularity is 30 years away.

Nanotechnology–Reasearchers at Arizona State University, working with a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have created nanorobots designed to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

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News of the Future This Week, January 31, 2018

“The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human.”–Aaron Carter

You’ve heard it all, and lately you’re hearing it more.  The singularity is near.  Robots are going to take our jobs.  Robots are going to take over altogether.  Robots are even going to take over our sex lives.  Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying it won’t happen;  I just think it’s farther away than the impression most people are getting from all the news.  What’s here right now is genetic editing, and with it, the possibility of directing human evolution. The very real and very near possibility of changing what it means to be human.  Read all the artificial intelligence and future of work articles–yes.  But listen to what  Elizabeth Parrish has to say about modifying the human genome to reverse aging and to keep up–cognitively and physically–with robots.

Seeking Delphi™ will be on vacation next week.  Enjoy the peace and quiet.

Singularity/Being Human/Artificial Intelligence–Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos,  Yuval Harari speculated on whether are future will indeed still be human.

A quasi-human future? Image credt: Kai Stachowiak

–Ray Kurzweill isn’t the only one talking about a technology singularity.  Futurism.com, with an eye toward separating fact from hype, polled several other technology experts for their take on liklihood and timing. 

–I remember when the Cold War simply meant fears of nuclear anhilation.  Physics.org says we should watch out for artificial intelligence as well.

–A big part of being human is IQ (intellectdual quotiant) and EQ (emotional quotiant). But the future of success in the workplace, according to Fast Company, might be AQ (adaptability quotient).

Here’s the latest take on the robot job apocalypse.     A new report suggests the UK will lose one in 12 jobs to robots and automation by 2030. That’s less then some forecasts, but still enough to be a bother.

In this weeks Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, Ending Aging, Part 2, with Elizabeth Parrish,  the CEO of Bioviva, says we need to alter the human genome in two ways.  The first is to reverse aging, which her company is working on.  The second is to enhance humans cognitively and physically to keep up with robots and artificial intelligence.

Laser imaging–Do you like how those 3-D images appear out of thin air in the Star Wars world?  Now a team of BYU physicists have actually created this effect with lasers.

Space Commerce–It seems like everyone and his brother is getting into the business of private space launches.  That’s bound to create the need for support services, and UK company, Effective Space, hope to launch a  satellite repair service by 2020.

Self-Driving vehicles–Have we been hearing altogether too much about autonomous vehicle development, lately.  Satirical web site, The Onion, seems to think so.  The released the image below with headline Tesla Debuts Carless Driver.

Image Credit: The Onion

 

Thanks for visiting and reading.  See you in two weeks.

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.

 

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The Future This Week: November 28, 2017

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”–Alfred Hitchcock

It seems movie theater owners are taking Hitchcock quite literally.  At our first break from home binge watching in almost a year, my wife and I went to a local cinema. We arrived right on the dot at the advertised starting time of the movie, and immediately suffered through 20 minutes of commercials–exactly what we get away from by watching Amazon and Netflix and premium cable channels.  I just love paying to binge watch commercials.

 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 

Digital entertainmentAmazon, Apple, and Netflix  are expected to be spending nearly $20 Billion, combined, on digital content by 2022.  Take that, Bollywood.

The Venture Reality Fund reports that Hollywood’s investment in AR and VR is booming.  Overall, AR/VR investment in the second half of this year is seen as rising by $2.3 billion, or 79 per cent, over the same period a year ago.  Oh boy, even those insufferable commercials will be enhanced.

The worm turns–on mars.

Space Travel/Colonization–What’s better than pigs in space?  How about worms on Mars?  A recent study by researchers at Wageningen University found that earth worms can grow and reproduce in Martian-like soil. It’s part of a study to see if food plants can grow in the same compound, to support potential colonization.

–Woody Allen once said, “man can’t live on bread alone; often there must be a beverage.”  Anheiser-Busch is taking that literally by sending beer into space.  A Dec. 4 SpaceX launch will send beer making ingredients to the international space station, a very early step toward sending it to Mars with the first colonists.  Talk about opening new markets.

Future Life/2030 Forecasts–A new report from The World Economic Forum paints a heady picture of life in the year 2030.  Genetically engineered pets…smart toilets…internet connected clothes…wow, I can hardly wait.

 

A similar study, reported in Forbes, focuses more on how we will change as humans by 2030. It’s not about augmented reality, it’s about augmented us.

Transportation/Sustainable Energy–Hydrogen powered trains will be coming to Germany by 2021.  The technology is being built by French concern, Alstom.

Robotics/AI–China announced plans to open a fully automated police station, sans humans.  The facility will deal primarily with driving -related issues, making it more like a western motor vehicle department facility.  It’s all in line with China’s stated goal of being world leader in artificial intelligence by 203o.

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Book Review: Life 3.0, Being Human In The Age of Artificial Intelligence, by Max Tegmark

“The short answer is obviously that we have no idea what will happen if humanity succeeds in building human-level AGI.”–Max Tegmark, in Life 3.0

 

Reprinted with permission of the publisher, my review of Max Tegmark’s new book, from the November/December issue of Age of Robots.

Full issue available for download here.

LIFE 3.0: BEING HUMAN IN THE AGE OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE Max Tegmark ©2017, Borzoi Book published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 364p. Review by Mark Sackler

 

Max Tegmark is not one to shy away from bold scientific pronouncements. The MIT cosmologist and physics professor is perhaps best known for his taxonomy of a four level multiverse—some levels of which are predicted by certain theories, but none of which have been proven to exist. In his previous book, Our Mathematical Universe, My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, he offers the astounding conjecture that the whole of reality may be nothing more than pure mathematics.

So, what, if anything, makes Life 3.0, Being Human in The Age of Artificial Intelligence different? Unlike a universe of multiverses, or of pure mathematics, it deals with issues that are right in front of our faces. And his taxonomy of Life 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 is not a mere conjecture that can’t yet— or might never—be tested. Artificial
intelligence is happening right in front of us, and we have a multiplicity of issues to deal with, while we still can control it. Even as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk are shouting loudly about the potential dangers of artificial intelligence, and many actual AI researchers are countering that the dangers are overblown and distorted, Tegmark is doing something to bridge hype and reality. Or at least, he’s trying to. The problem is, there is no consensus even among the experts. He provides the reader with a wide range of scenarios. Many are not pretty—from a corporation using advanced AI to control global markets and ultimately governments, to a runaway AI that discards human intervention to rule the world itself. And yet, he asserts, all of the scenarios he presents have actual expert believers in their possibility.

The ultimate answer is, we don’t know. Tegmark is not so much warning against its development—it’s probably impossible to stop—as he is advising about its challenges, opportunities and dangers. He knows that the experts don’t really know, and neither does he. But he’s not afraid to present bold scenarios to awaken our awareness. He sums it up best in Chapter 5, Intelligence Explosion:

The short answer is obviously that we have no idea what will happen if humanity succeeds in building human-level AGI. For this reason, we’ve spent this chapter exploring a broad spectrum of scenarios. I’ve attempted to be quite inclusive, spanning the full range of speculations I’ve seen or heard discussed by AI researchers and technologists: fast takeoff/ slow takeoff/no takeoff, humans/ machines/cyborgs in control. I think it’s wise to be humble at this stage and acknowledge how little we know, because for each scenario discussed above, I know at least one well-respected AI researcher who views it as a real possibility.

Tegmark makes is clear, that for all the unknowns, we need to proceed with caution. Bold conjectures and scenarios sometimes turn into realities. And some of these potential realities are not where we want to go. Decisions we make about machine intelligence in the next few decades will go a long way to deciding the future of humanity—our evolution or even our continued existence. He goes on to present possible scenarios for what we might look like in 10,000 and even 1 Billion years. It’s fascinating, but mind-numbing. We simply might not be able to control any of it.

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Podcast #17: IEEE and Ethical Considerations In Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems

“The real question is, when will we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist of? And who will get to decide that?” —Gray Scott

 

Gray Scott’s comment aside, there are more pressing issues than a robot bill of rights.  Artificial intelligence development is progressing at an ever accelerating rate, and bringing with it questions of privacy, unemployment, and potential malevolent uses of the technology.  In this edition of the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, I talk with author John C. Havens about these issues.   He’s executive director of the IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations In Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems.

Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook

Follow me on twitter @MarkSackler

 

Episode #17: Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems with John C. Havens

YouTube slide show of Episode #17

 

John C. Havens biography

IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems

Heartificial Intelligence on Amazon

Dubai appoints state minister for A.I.

India appoints experts to advise government on A.I.

Tesla announces addition of new autopilot features in the near future

Eric Schmidt warns U.S. on China’s impending lead in A.I.

Saudi Arabia’s newest citizen, Sofia

 

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Podcast #16: Options for Future Human Evolution

“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?”–Milton Berle

“There are no shortcuts in evolution.”–Louis Brandeis

Milton Berle was simply funny;   Louis Brandeis is about to be proven  wrong.  Humanity is on the cusp of a new era, full of promise and peril.  We are on the verge of directing our own evolution, and when that comes, it will come at a breakneck pace.  Breakthroughs in biotech and info-tech are rapidly hurtling us towards an age of self-directed evolution.  It will be change by choice, not by chance.  What are those choices, and how will we deal with them? How will it change what it means to be human?  That is the subject of a forthcoming book by futurist Linda Groff,  who joins me as my guest on this episode of Seeking Delphi.™

Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

Episode#16: Options For Future Human Evolution

 

Linda Groff, bio.

Global Options and Evolutionary Futures

News Story Links

Kalashnikov hover bike

Renault hover car design contest winner

Senate subcommittee unanimously approves self-driving car legislation 

Sex robot damaged beyond repair at arts festival in Austria

 

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