News of The Future This Week: September 7, 2019

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

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

This week’s stories include some plausible explanations for Fermi’s paradox. Conspiracies–or an indifferent kid with a cell phone–are not among them.  There is one chilling theory that the story leaves out, though, and a link to that is also provided.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

The truth is out there…or not.

E.T./Fermi Paradox–Enrico Fermis asked “where are they?”  Singularity Hub provides a brief podcast with some explanations,  But they left out the chilling dark forest theory–best described in Cixin Lui’s novel, The Dark Forest. It’s explained here.

Space/Moon/Mars–Too difficult to launch rockets to the moon on a regular basis?  No problem–build an elevator there.  A new approach just might be feasible.

–Never mind the Moon.  Elon Musk continues to focus on Mars.  There are a myriad of engineering and biological problems he’ll need to solve before he can send humans there–but with help from NASA, his SpaceX is already looking for the ideal landing site.

–Speaking of SpaceX, they have some issues much closer to Earth.  Fast Company reports that they are playing what amounts ot a game of chicken with their StarLink satellites. And they made the European Space Agency blink first.

–Starlink, of course, intends to provide wireless global internet access from space.  But there’s plenty of competition.  And now, aerospace startup OneWeb claims it will be able to reach virtually the whole planet–even the artic–with an array of 650 satellites and a few ground stations, by sometime next year.

Reuse Beer. Ewwwww.

Sustainability–Recycling? Sustainable energy, food production, and waste processing?  They sound like great ideas.  But beer made from recycled toilet water? Ewww.

Artificial intelligence–A Seattle-based research lab has reached a milestone by creating an A.I. that can pass an 8th grade science test.  Great.  Now all we need to do is invent an 8th grader that can pass it.

–On a more practical note, Alex Zhavornkov, and his InSilico Medicine have developed an A.I. program that has shown promise in designing drug molecules.  In partnership with the University of Toronto, their program created  compounds that have  shown promise in the lab.

Self-Driving Technology–Cars….trucks….busses…boats…flying taxis.  Just about any kind of autonomous vehicle imaginable is being developed somewhere by somebody.  But a self-driving golf ball?  Why would anyone do that?   Nissan did it–apparently because….they can!

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

News of The Future This Week: August 21, 2019

“I say something, and then it usually happens.  Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens.”–Elon Musk

Who knew?  Elon Musk is actually capable of being realistic about his unrealistic timelines.  My projections for the two Elon pronouncements of the week?  Maybe sometime in the next 200 years for the first one.  Definitely sometime in the next 200 million years for the second one.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

Elon is serious!

Elon Musk–‘Ol Elon is up to his old tricks.  He’s again advocating we teraform Mars by nuking its dry ice polar caps.  He must be serious because he even has a tee shirt to promote it.

While he’s advocating we ravish Mars, Elon is also warning that an asteroid will eventually get us here on Earth.  Really? That can’t happen, can it? Just ask a dinaso–oh, wait.

NASA/Space Exploration–NASA’s on-again, off-again mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, appears to be back on.  The agency has confirmed a mission to launch a probe there sometime between 2023 and 2025.

AI/BCI–As demand for AI software and chips continues to escalate, it isn’t all a bed of roses.  IEEE says there is both opportunity and peril for makers of specialized A.I. chips.

–Elon Musk’s Neuralink–among others–is proposing to implant computer chips in the brain, initially to control neurological disorders.  But Susan Schneider, a prominent University of Connecticut cognitive scientist and techno-philosopher, is warning that adding artificial intelligence to BCI (brain-computer interface) may not be such a good idea.  You can hear Dr. Schneider, speaking on conscious machines at last years South by Southwest conference,  in the Seeking Delphi episode linked HERE.

Hold the anchovies, please

Robotics/autonomous vehicles–Unemployment is about to strike the ranks of pizza delivery drivers on U.S. college campuses. Starship technologies has raised $40 million to fuel the nationwide rollout of its army of autonomous delivery robots, starting with George Mason University and Northern Arizona University.

China is accelerating its push to challenge U.S. technology in self-driving cars, and has dediated an isolated mountain highway for testing of the vehicles.  They hope to have at least 50% of all new car sales to include smart technology as soon as next year.

–Ever one of the most forward looking states on the planet, Singapore will begin testing driverless busses next week.  And of course, rides can be booked via an app.

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

News of The Future This Week: August 6, 2019

“I don’t want people in China to have deep pockets but shallow minds.”–Jack Ma

Image: Lightspring via Shutterstock

Even as demonstrators fill the streets of Hong Kong and a trade war rages with the U.S., a new report cites 7 Chinese companies poised to become global tech powerhouses.  And that’s not the only notable future-tech news this week out of the world’s most populous country.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear Seeking Delphi™ host Mark Sackler’s views on the future, and how we should think about it, on Matt Ward’s podcast, The Disruptors, episode #131.

ChinaForbes magazine has unveiled its China 500 list.  Near the top are 7 firms that South China News says are poised to become global technology leaders.

–China has been touting its aim to be the global leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.  MIT Technology Review reports that it has already started employing A.I. in education–with some encouraging results.

Boring in China

–While Trump’s trade war may have the effect of shutting down much of the commerce between the two largest economies in the world, it doesn’t seem to be bothering Elon Musk. His transit tunnel-digging venture, The Boring Company, is set to open operations in China this month.

Automation/Robotics–Worried about being replaced at work by a robot?  A new study out of Germany suggests that most people, if they had to lose their jobs, actually prefer losing it to a robot then to another human worker.

–Amazon has possibly moved a step closer to initiating drone delivery service.  Drone flights outside the line-of-site of the operator are not legal in the U.S., but a recent successful test might nudge the F.A.A. in the direction of approval.

–In podcast episode #25, Seeking Delphi presented futurist Alexandra Whittington and her views on the potential gender-specific effects of artificial intelligence on women (see below).  Now, McKinsey and Company have issued a report on how automation may effect the future of women in the workforce in Asia.

 

 

Death-From death at the hands of a murderous sex robot to massive asteroid apocalypse, New Scientists chronicles seven unique, though some rather unlikely, ways you might meet your demise in the future.

Space/Moon–NASA plans to team up with SpaceX, Blue Origin, and other commercial ventures to aid in the return to the moon.  Time suggests this strategy might be risky.

–Despite the high cost of going to the moon, the head of NASA says a lunar landing by 2024 is still possible without siphoning funds from the International Space Station or science projects.

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

News of The Future This Week: July 26, 2019

“Shoot for the moon.  You might get there.”–Buzz Aldrin

“Shoot for the moon.  If you miss you’ll end up in the stars.”–Artie Shaw

Questions of the day: 1. Is a manned return to the moon possible by 2024?  Is a fusion-generated power plant possible by 2025?  Will cyborgs rule the world in 2100?  Answers1. Maybe. 2. Maybe 3. Most of us are already cyborgs.    Read on for details.

While you’re reading about all this week’s future-related  news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Moon/NASA/SpaceX–Can NASA make it back to a manned landing on the moon by their target date of 2024?  Elon Musk  wants to do them one better, claiming his SpaceX may make a cargo landing on the lunar surface by 2021 and follow that up with a manned mission in 2022.  Take that with a grain of salt,  along with all of Elon’s other projections.

–One thing NASA will likely need, if American astronauts will make it back to the moon by 2024, is an updated space suit.  The current model dates to 1977.

Sustainable energy/fusion–The world’s first fusion powered reactor cleared a key hurdle on the road to projected commercial fusion energy by 2025.  It seems as if Fusion power has been 10-20 years away for the last 40 years. We’ll see…

Image: Shutterstock

Transhumanism–British scientist James Lovelock is predicting that the world will be ruled by cyborgs in the year 2100.  Really?  The definition of cyborg, according to Dictionary.com, is a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent on a mechanical or electronic device.  Based on the way most of us are welded to our smart phones, I’d say this has already happened.

Transport--Sorry Back to The Future fans, the hoverboard is still a work in progress.  Frenchman Franky Zapata failed in his attempt to fly a hoverboard of his own invention across the English Channle.  OK, who ever heard of a Frenchman named Franky? (video below)

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Artificial Intelligence–A new study commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science has some bad news for companies, big and small, that are selling A.I. that detects human intelligence.  They say it can’t be trusted.

Aging/Longevity–Nucleotide synthesis–or lack thereof–has been identified as a key factor in cellular senescence.   A study by researchers at the University of South Carolina suggest that preventing cells from losing nucleotide synthesi–which creates the building blocks of DNA–could slow the aging process.

Computing/chip technology–IEEE has issued a new roadmap for device design and manufacturing.  A varitey of technologies are discussed in the document which lays out a path to one nanometer devices by 2033.

The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features a conversation with Matt Ward, host of The Disruptors.

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

News of The Future This Week: July 17, 2019

Returning after an extended summer break.

“I poured spot remover on my dog.  Now he’s gone.”–Steven Wright

Is your dog gone? Not to worry, it seems that similar technology to human facial recognition might help you find 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 Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Artificial Intelligence/Dogs–If you think being tracked by facial recognition is creepy, how do you think your dog will react to being tracked by its nose prints? A Chinese A.I. company is doing just that–for the expressed purpose of identifying lost dogs.

–If that sounds odd, a group of cognitive biologists and computer scientists wants to grant internet access to higher intelligence members of the animal kingdom like apes, elephants and dolphins.  And you thought human tweet storms were crazy?

 Transhumanism/Neuroscience–Elon Musk unveiled details of his Neurolink venture, and its plans to interlace the brain with a chip or sensors connected by hundreds of microwires.  The initial plan is to help individuals with neurological or sensory impediments;  the long range plan is…well…maybe the Matrix?  YouTube video of Musk’s presentation here.

–In a somewhat related sphere, Intel reports that its most advanced neuromorphic system now consists of 8 million neurons, and will reach 100 million by 2020.  (Compare that, though, to the 100 billion neurons in a human brain).

Space/Moon/Apollo 11–As the U.S. celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a Gallup poll shows that for the first time public opinion swings in favor of a manned mission to Mars.  In the mean time, Fast Company reminds us that the Apollo program was unpopular enough, at the time, for Eisenhower to call JFK “nuts.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that India’s population is “pumped” in anticipation of its first unmanned lunar launch, which was scheduled for this week.   Unfortunately, technical glitches have delayed the mission until at least late July.

–In the mean time, Engadget reports that France is creating a “Space Command” to defent its satellites.  The venture will be part of the country’s air force.

Ready for prime tme? Image: Boston Dynamics

Robotics–Boston Dynamics’ robots are getting ready to leave the lab.  The Verge asks whether the world is ready.

 

Longevity Extension–While telomeres and telomerase may not turn out to be the holy grail of aging, they certainly have their role in the diseases of aging.  Dr. Maria Blasco, one of the presenters at the second annual Ending Age-Related Diseases conference held July 11 and 12 in New York, is seen below in an impromptu news conference, talking about some of her work.

(Video credit: Mark Sackler for Seeking Delphi™)

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, Matt Ward on disruptors.

 

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

Podcast #31: Ethically Aligned Design in Autonomous Systems with John C. Havens

“With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”–Elon Musk

 

Our thoughts–or theirs?

One might easily say about the notion of the ethics of disruptive technology–much like Mark Twain’s misattributed missive about the weather–that “everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything.”  But IEEE, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, is doing something.   Freshly minted from their Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems,  is the 290-page first edition of Ethically Aligned Design: A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-Being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems.  If that title sounds like a mouthful, it ought to.  The issues that need to be addressed, to prevent the summoning of the demon that Elon Musk warns of,  are complex.

In Seeking Delphi podcast #31, host Mark Sackler talks at length with John C. Havens,  executive director of the initiative, about the massive effort, with hundreds of volunteers, that went into this volume.  Havens previously was a guest on  Seeking Delphi™ episode #17, to discuss the challenges of ethics in A.I. design and implementation.  He is also the author of Heartificial Intelligence on Emotion A.I.

You can download Ethically Aligned Design from the link below.

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 #31 Ethically Aligned Design with John C. Havens

YouTube slide show of episode #31

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Podcast #30: Ambient Science and Digital Twins with Katalin Bártfai-Walcott

“Constant togetherness is fine–but only for Siamese twins.”–Victoria Billings

 

As the internet of things, edge computing, and 5G connectivity all converge, we move relentlessly toward a world of ambient computing.   It will be always on, ever around us and responding to us, whether we realize it or not.  How do ambient computing and digital twins combine in the realm of ambient science?  Intel’s Katalin Bártfai-Walcott joins me on the newest Seeking Delphi™ podcast to discuss exactly what this is and what its implications might be.

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Is your digital twin coming soon?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode #30–Ambient Science and Digital Twins with Katalin Bártfai-Walcott

YouTube slide show Episode #30

 

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