The Future This Week: December 12, 2017

“The pace of progress on Mars depends upon the pace of progress of SpaceX.”–Elon Musk

Who will get there first?

Oh really, Elon?  It seems that Boeing may have something to say about that.  We got to the moon because of a frantic race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, propelled by the cold war. If an when we get to Mars, it just might be because of a frantic race between commercial ventures, fueled by the almighty dollar.

 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 

Mars/Space Exploration–Speaking on CNBC recently, Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenberg said, “I firmly believe the first person to set foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket.”  There was no immediate comment from Elon Musk, whose SpaceX aims to be there first.  Whoever gets there first, maybe they can getaround on the Tesla that Elon intends to launch into Mars orbit next year.

President Trump announced that the Moon will be the next destination for U.S. astronauts.  Whether he intends to put the treasury’s money where his mouth is remains to be seen.

Physics.org reports that a new space suit design will have a “take me home” button for astronauts who get separated from their craft and disoriented on space walks. Danger, Will Robinson!

Artificial Intelligence–The IEEE released the second edition of its global treatise on ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems, today.  The report can be requested for download here.   The report was mentioned in Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #17, featuring an interview with the initiative’s executive director, John C. Havens.  (YouTube video  link below).

Researchers from the University of Texas and the city of Austin are employing deep learning and big data to try to alleviate traffic jams.  They will present their findings at an IEEE conference on big data later this month.

Using A.I. to alleviate traffic? Good!  Using A.I. to create fake porn of anybody?  Er–not so much.  The Verge reports that just a few photographs and some open source A.I. software is all that it takes to graft anybody’s face onto any picture in a convincing manner. As they put it, seeing may no longer be believing.

Biotech–Researchers at the Salk Institute say they have been able to use CRISPR gene editing to reverse disease in mice.  They used a new procedure that does not actually cut the genes, but affects the expression–or epigenetics–of genes. It turns them on or off.

Researchers at the University of Rochester say they have successfully been able to insert new information directly in the the pre-motor cortex of the brains of two monkeys.   Anyone for trying this on politicians?

Material Science/Athletics–British sportswear brand inov-8 is partnering with the University of Manchester to introduce graphene-infused athletic footwear in 2018.  Laboratory tests have shown the shoes to be stretchier, stronger and more wear resistant than conventional rubber-soled sneakers.

 

Aubry de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in soon.

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 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.

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 7, 2017

“We’re going to become caretakers for the robots. That’s what the next generation of work is going to be.”–Gray Scott

Hmmm.  Will we be caretakers for them, or them for us?  Will there even be a next generation of work? Hot on the heels of my Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, with John C. Havens, on ethical considerations in artificial intelligence, comes a flurry of additional A.I.-related stories.

 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 

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–In a Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, author and IEEE consultant John C. Havens, argues that businesses must adhere to triple bottom line standards if A.I. is going to serve humanity in a beneficial way.  That means environmental and employee/customer well-being outcomes as well as profits.

Financial giant, J.P. Morgan Chase, says that A.I. and big data could trigger the next market correction.  This is nothing new, as autonomous computer algorithm trading was a significant driver in  the volatility that led to the 1987 market crash.

The New York Times reports that major tech companies are struggling with a shortage of artificial intelligence programmers.  Their solution?  Automate the process, of course.   In other words build A.I., itself, to build more A.I.

MIT students have tricked an artificial intelligence program into misidentifying a turtle as a gun.  That sounds more like the title of an Oliver Sacks story than a purposeful scientific endeavor.  But the idea was to see if it could be fooled, as a test of the reliability its image recognition capabilities.  Apparently, the students won and the A.I. lost.

Sofia, the new Saudi citizen

–At this point, it seems more like a cheap publicity stunt, but Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a humanoid robot named Sofia (see YouTube video at the bottom of this post.)  And no less ridiculous–at this early juncture–was Tokyo’s decision to grant residency (whatever that means) to an artificial intelligence logarithm.

Self-Driving Cars–Software bugs are not usually lethal,  but in autonomous vehicles they certainly could be.  IEEE Spectrum reports on a new method for finding and weeding out such bugs before disaster strikes.

Space Exploration/Colonization–Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos says we have to explore and colonize space in order to save the Earth.— On the other hand, maybe he’s just looking for new markets to monopolize.

Internet of Things–According to analysts at market research group, Reportsnreports, the Internet of Things market will grow more than tenfold to top $185 billion by 2023.  They estimate that the 2016 value was just over $16 Billion.

 

 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.

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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The Future This Week: October 23, 2017

 “I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.”–Elon Musk

Nothing accelerates technological development like competition. It was the competition between the US and the Soviet Union that put a man on the moon in 1969, decades sooner than it would otherwise have occurred.  The finish line of that race ended the competition, and we haven’t gone back since.  But a new competition, multi-faceted and far more diverse, has begun.  The commercial development of space figures to re-accelerate our push into the final frontier. If you’re a fan of space exploration and exploitation, stay tuned, the next few years are going to be exciting.

 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 

Fly me to the moon…in 2022

Space exploration/exploitation/tourismUnited Launch  Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace have announced a joint venture to place a habitat in lunar orbit by 2022.  While they describe fully how they intend to get it there, they don’t yet say who will inhabit it or what it might be used for.  Anyone want to rent a lunar-orbiting apartment?

Richard Branson says his Virgin Galactic commercial space venture will launch its first astronauts into space in about 4 months.  He also says his program will do more for humanity than Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX plans to colonize Mars.  Branson vs. Musk is not exactly USA vs. USSR; in fact,  it might actually be more sustainable.

–Branson and Musk aren’t the only billionaire-sized egos in space.  Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin announced  a breakthrough that brings it one step closer to launching sub-orbital space tourism flights by 2019. They successfully test fired their new BE-4 rocket engine.

While NASA progresses at a snails pace in returning US astronauts to the moon, it’s ramping up the effort to detect nearby, habitable earth-like planets.  How they will ever get us there is another question, altogether.

Artificial Intelligence–Elon Musk says that the AI in a Tesla will soon be able to predict your destination and bring you there without asking. That’s good; half the time I have no idea where I’m going.  Seriously, though, that’s amazing–and kind of creepy at the same time.

The New York Times reports that tech giants are paying big bucks for the services of Artificial Intelligence experts.  The deals they offer them often include signing bonuses and multi-year contracts, sometimes resembling those offered to professional athletes.

–Dubai and India are both jumping on the A.I. bandwagon, as far as government monitoring and regulation is concerned.  Dubai is appointing a minister of artificial intelligence, while India is establishing an expert panel to advise government on policy.

Biotechnology–An Italian neurosurgeon says he will conduct the world’s first full head transplant in December of this year.  And you were skeptical of self-driving cars.

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: October 9, 2017

“My vision of the future is pretty much standard fare. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and there are flying cars.”– Joss Whedon

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”–Douglas Adams

These flying car stories just won’t go away.  Now hover cars are in the mix as well–though merely hovering might have no great added value other than saving on tires.  I still think Douglas Adams has the best idea, as long as he’s not talking about cars.

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 Facebook.

Flying/Hovering/Self-Driving Cars–Boeing has jumped into the fray with flying cars.  They’ve purchased Aurora Flight Sciences, a Virginia-based concerned that has been helping Uber develop flying taxis.

–Yuchen Chai,  a student at UK art and design school Central Saint Martin, won a design contest for a hover car.   The contest was co-sponsored by Renault.  Based on the video at this link, it appears to travel just a few inches over the ground.  I don’t know about you, I would rather travel over the traffic then over the road.

Chevy Cruise Car, touted as first mass-producible self-driving car

Meanwhile, back on the ground, GM has purchased LIDAR sensor company Strobe, Inc.   The purchase will help then accelerate their race with Tesla, Alphabet, Uber, and who knows how man other enterprises, to rush self-driving cars to market.

At least one technology expert says humans should not be trusted to drive.  Omar Rohim, CTO of UK concern Energi Mine,  says our emotions get in the way of safe driving, and predicts that in 25 years we will be banned from driving ourselves–AI will take over everything.  This story comes on the heels of a US Senate subcommittee unanimously passing a measure to enable and encourage self-driving cars by standardizing regulations.  The measure  was previously passed by the house or representatives.

Artificial Intelligence–How fast and how far is it progressing?   This Motley Fool article provides some rather stunning projections.

Two new scaremongering report on A.I. and jobs project that up to 60% of businesses could be affected by 2022, with jobs replaced in the process.  This comes even as New Scientist says scaremongering has us asking the wrong questions about A.I.

Augmented Reality–The world’s first multi-user hologram table is slated to go on sale sometime next year (see image below).  It’s made by Australian company Eurclideon and is expected to be used, initially, for city planning  and related uses.  Down the road? Looks like it would make for a cool game of Monopoly.  You’ll need some monopolies to afford; the initial price is pegged at US $47,000.

Multi-user hologram table

 

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.

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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