News of The Future This Week: September 26, 2019

“The promise of autonomous vehicles is great.”–Dan Lipinski

Ah, the promise may indeed be great,  but the inevitable unintended consequences, as is depicted in the cartoon to the left, will continue to perplex.   Personally, I don’t have to worry about my wife running off with a driverless car.  She’d be perfectly happy to run off with her horse.

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.

Autonomous Vehicles–Everybody is getting into the act.  Now Hyundai says it will team with Aptiv to market a self-driving car by 2022.  The big question, though, is whether all these players will set a standard to communicate with each other.  That subject was addressed as part of an APF award-nominated Seeking Delphi™ podcast on future driving.

America: not so keen on this? Image: Shutterstock

–Before the automotive powers-that-be get too enthusiastic about rushing to market, they better start dealing with consumer attitudes.  A University of Washington study suggests American commuters are not too keen on the idea of self-driving cars.

–Just when you thought all the autonomous car issues had pretty much surfaced, along comes BMW with an ad on their twitter account about having sex in self-driving cars.  They quickly removed that add with no explanation for the deletion.

Orion capsule. Image: NASA

Space/NASA–NASA has taken a major step towards its goal of returning American astronauts to the moon by 2024.  They have ordered 6 Orion capsules–with an option for an additional 6–from Lockheed-Martin

–Astronauts will need more than new vehicles to return to the moon;  they will also need new spacesuits.  Current models are designed only for spacewalks, not for walking on the lunar surface.  To that aim, NASA now plans to test new spacesuits on international space station in 2023–one year in advance of the present lunar landing schedule.

–NASA hasn’t forgotten about the rest of us.  We don’t need spacesuits, but we do need to watch out for asteroids that pose a threat to Earth.  A new space telescope to watch out for them is planned for a 2025 launch.

Energy–Researchers at Duke University claim a breakthrough technology for creating new meta-materials that can be used to harvest thermal energy.  They work much like solar cells, but absorb from the infrared, rather than the visible, spectrum.

–IKEA doesn’t just make furniture.  They make energy, lots of energy.  They do it by investing heavily in solar and wind energy, and now say they will produce more than they consume by sometime next year.

Quantum computing–Does Google reign supreme in the quantum world?  That’s what they are claiming with what as they say is the solving of problem that classical computers can’t touch.  Here’s more on quantum computing: a Seeking Delphi™ podcast with Strangeworks founder and CEO whurley (William Hurley), recorded at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March of 2018.

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: 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: 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 

Podcast #28: Future Driving Part 3, Intelligent Traffic Control with Griffin Schultz

 “They say the Universe is expanding.  That should help with the traffic.”–Steven Wright

 

Autonomous vehicles? Flying cars? The concepts are exciting, but the truth is:  most of us will still be driving manually on the ground for many years to come.  And that means dealing with the motorist’s most persistent annoyance.  Congestion.  It costs time and money and tries patience.  But  advanced vehicles are not necessarily required to solve the problem.  In the final episode of the Future Driving series on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, we explore intelligent traffic control with Rapid Flow Technologies CEO, Griffin Schultz.  Advanced sensors, edge computing and artificial intelligence are helping cities to lessen the occurrence–and the frustration–of traffic congestion.

Future Driving, Part 1, Self-Driving Cars,with Alex Wyglinski here.

Future Driving, Part 2, Flying Cars, with Kaushik Rajashekara here.

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode #28, Future Driving Part 3: Intelligent Traffic Control with Griffin Schultz

YouTube slide show, episode #28

Links

Rapid Flow Technologies

Griffin Schultz

Surtrac

Pittsburgh experience

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler