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: July 8, 2018

“Artficial Intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029.”–Ray Kurzweil

“There is no reason and no way that a human mind can keep up with an artificial intelligence machine by 2035.”–Gray Scott

 

Make no mistake about it.  Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is still a pipe dream.  Nobody is exactly sure how to create  it.  But that doesn’t seem to discourage technology inventors like Ray Kurzweil and techno-philosophers like Gray Scott from their certainty that someone eventually will.  I remain agnostic on the question; my role is to report on it, not to predict it.  Who knows, maybe in a few years an A.I. will be able to predict itself.  What comes first, the chicken or the A.I.?

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 

 Artificial Intelligence–Is Ray Kurzweil’s prediction of human level A.I. by 2029 realistic?  This evaluation of the global A.I. race, by The Lifeboat Foundation, suggests it is.

source: Lifebooat Foundation

–The A.I. job apocalypse forecasts just keep on coming.  The latest to raise the red flag is hedge fund billionaire Ray Dalio.  Speaking on CNBC this week, he said that A.I., while increasing productivity, it is also exacerbating the wealth gap and has become a national emergency.

According to The Economist, A.I. poses a unique threat of fake videos so realistic, that dead celebrities may essentially become immortal.   Elvis is alive and in the virtual building.

Sayonara, Ralph Kramden. image: Baidu

Chinese conglomerate, Baidu, has announced a new artificial intelligence chip that it intends to use in a number of applications.  The first such use will be in autonomous buses to be launched in Japan next year.

Researchers from UK firm, Wayve, have created a neural network A.I. that they claim can be taught to drive a car in 15-20 minutes.  Now if they could only train your teenager to avoid dinging the family sedan at the mall.

Biometrics–London’s trial of A.I. for facial recognition has been a complete bust.  Yet a 98% false positive I.D. rate has not deterred the enthusiasm of the city’s chief of police.

–In the meantime, Australia has launched its own facial scanning scheme.  It’s a trial to replace passports with facial recognition scans at the Sydney airport.  Let’s hope the accuracy is better than London’s.

Home, sweet (3D-printed) home.

3D printed house–We’ve been hearing about 3D printed housing for some time now.  For the first time, a multi-room 3D-printed house has been occupied in France. It took 54 hours to print and its creators claim a construction cost savings of 20% versus conventional methods.

Space Exploration–Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has announced intentions to land astronauts on the moon by 2023.  It’s a first step to what they hope will be the establishment of a permanent manned base.

Next Big Future reports that SpaceX is helping NASA stay out in front of China through 2030.  The key is getting their BFR off the ground several years sooner.

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