News of The Future This Week: September 25, 2018

“If I go to hotels, they always say, ‘Welcome back’, even when I’ve never been there before.“– Geena Davis

There’s a solution to Geena Davis’s problem.  I don’t know if you’re going to like it. But I know the hotel workers of the world are scared to death of it.  Even as the World Economic Forum projects that robots will create more jobs than they kill,  hospitality workers around the world are talking unionizing to protect jobs if Alexa replaces them on the front desk.

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 

Automation/Future of Work–The New York Times reports that front desk robots and facial recognition may soon be coming to a hotel near you.   And hotel workers around the world are not pleased.

It’s not all bad news, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum.  While 80 million jobs could vanish by 2022–robots will consume them– 133 million new ones could take their place.  The question is, do the displaced workers possess the skills for the new jobs?  They might not.

Peekaboo. I hope they see you.

 —And maybe, just maybe, some technologies can help make things better for worker and customer alike.  To that end, Walmart has placed an order for 17,000 Oculus Go headsets, with an aim toward using virtual reality in worker training.

Space Technology/Space Commerce–DARPA has awarded $1.3 million to a Plymouth University to conduct a feasibility study on a new space propulsion system called quantized inertia.  It’s based on an idea to use light, rather than fuel, to create thrust.

–Meanwhile, NASA is concerned with what astronauts are going to eat on a 2 1/2 year journey to Mars and back.  They can’t carry that much food with them, so they are going to have to be able to grow it.

Mars Base Alpha. 2028 or 2048–or never?

Elon Musk continues to pursue an aggressive timeline for his SpaceX venture to colonize Mars.  He now sets 2028 as the goal for establishing Mars Base Alpha.  I’m not betting on it just yet…

Less ambitious–and a safer bet for 2028–is the Chinese plan for that year.  They propose to launch there gargantuan Long March 9 into low earth orbit that year, carrying as much as 140 tons of cargo.

–NASA…SpaceX…China…Russia…well, Japan beat them all.  This week their space agency became the first to land rovers on an asteroid.  They project to bring samples back by 2020.

Future Internet–Speaking at a private event earlier this week, former Google CEO warned that the internet may split completely in two by 2028.  The issue is China, as they pursue their own agenda to censor much of the world’s content from their populace and create their own.

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: June 17, 2018

 “We are losing privacy at an alarming rate – we have none left.”–John McAfee

 

Is privacy dead?  Speaking on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast back in April, futurist Gray Scott said that privacy is not so much dead, as it seems to have become irrelevant.  Our desire for free online content has motivated us to give it up for good.  But this week’s lead stories, on surveillance levels in China and an A.I. that seemingly knows  your behavior before you do, take the issue to whole new levels.

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 

Privacy/Surveillance–Already using facial scanning technology to make sure students are paying attention in class, and brain wave sensors to determine workers’ emotional states, China has taken its Big Brother approach to controlling a step farther.  Starting next year it will require RFID tracking chips installed on all newly registered cars.

–If tracking your every move isn’t creepy enough, computer scientists at the University of Bonn have created a software program that can predict your actions five minutes into the future.  It might sound like a great thing to have at the race track (assuming it also would work on horses). But one has to wonder if it could ultimately lead to a Minority Report scenario.

Retail/Consumer futures–Do malls have a future in age of e-commerce?  According to Westfield Corporation, a major mall operator, they do–though by 2028 they might look quite different.

Westfield 2028

Transportation/Electric Vehicles/Self-Driving Cars–According to a report by Washington-based think tank Securing America’s Future Energy, self-driving cars aren’t likely to steal your job until 2040 or so.  They also project that autonomous vehicles will boost the US economy by $800 billion by 2050.

Artist’s conception of high-speed electric O’Hare shuttle.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company won a bid to provide underground transportation from downtown Chicago to O’Hare international airport.  According to Musk, the high-speed electric vehicle system should be completed within 3 years.

Space Launch Systems–California-based SpinLaunch Systems has raised $40 million to develop a space catapult launch system by 2022.   The aim is provide orbital launch capabilities for materials and supplies for under $500,000 per mission.  The system will not be able to support manned missions–the G forces generated will be too great for human tolerances.

An estimated half million bits of space junk–leftover pieces of old satellites and space craft–orbit the earth and pose a collision threat to future missions.  Russia, among others, wants to develop a laser system to blast the annoyances out of orbit.


Robotics/Coming Attractions–
The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Joanne Pransky, who bills herself as The Worlds First Robotic Psychiatrist.®

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 

News of The Future This Week: April 19, 2018

“Space in general gave us GPS – that’s not specifically NASA, but its investments in space.”–
Neil DeGrasse Tyson

No more Lost In Space? image credit: http://www.andertoons.com

Maybe NDT is right–NASA didn’t directly give us GPS as in Global Positioning System.  But they are going to directly give us–or at least their astronauts–GPS as in Galactic Positioning System.  What that portends for the ratings for Lost in Space  is beyond the foresight of this blog.  But hey, the plausibility of that series was already next to zero.

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 

Danger Will Robinson, ratings in jeopardy.

NASA/Space–Lost In Space  may now be an obsolete concept.  NASA has unveiled plans for a galactic positioning system that uses x-rays emitted from pulsars.

–The exo-planet exploration baton has been passed from Kepler to TESS.  The newest planet-finding telescope was successfully launched on the back of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

–As a reminder that technologies, as well as people, are increasingly interconnected, NASA will employ 3D printing to produce over 100 parts of its next generation Orion Space Capsule.  The first manned launch of the vehicle is slated for sometime in the early 2020’s.

Automotive Future–The Verge reports that self-driving vehicles are poised to creat an $800 billion market by 2030 and a staggering $7 trillion by 2050.  Handling the data is key, and Telsa and Waymo are leading the pack.

–Almost on cue with the above, Toyota announced plans to deploy chips, by 2021, that will enable cars to communicate with each other.  The technology has implications for safety in conventional vehicles, and is a flat out necessity for massive autonomous vehicle rollout.

–Even as Uber is still reeling from its first self-driving car fatality in Arizona, competition is heating up on the other side of the globe.  Ola, a major Uber rival in Asia, announced plans to deploy 10,000 electric vehicles within the next year.-

CRISPR/genetic editing–To date, 86 human patients in China have been treated with CRISPR/Cas9 edited cells to help fight cancer and HIV.

–Even as lower regulatory hurdles have been a boon to rapid deployment of human tests in China, Europe has approved its first CRISPR trial for patients with a devastating blood disorder.

Here’s a very brief video with a very basic explanation of what CRISPR does.

Coming Attractions:  The next Seeking Delphi podcast features Roberto Saracco on Social Robotics and the IEEE Initiative On Symbiotic Autonomous Systems.

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 

News of The Future, This Week: December 19, 2017

Blockchain is the tech. Bitcoin is merely the first mainstream manifestation of its potential.”–Marc Kenigsberg, founder, Bitcoin Chaser

The price of a single Bitcoin, as of this writing, sits at just north of US$18,300.  At that level, I don’t think that guy to the left is going to be finding too many of them in his virtual hat.  But as this week’s lead story suggests, some workers in Japan will soon need Bitcoin wallets.***

 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 

 Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency/Digital Payments–A Japanese company will start paying part of it’s employees salaries in Bitcoin.  Participation is voluntary; that’s probably a good thing.  When the bubble caves in, those employees might wind up looking like the bum in the cartoon.

Wired Magazine reports that a serious unintended side effect of Bitcoin is environmental damage.  The mining of Bitcoin, according to a source they cite, is burning more energy than the entire nation of Serbia.

–Despite strong growth of digital payments and cryptocurrencies, it appears cash won’t be going away any time soon.  According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, digital payments will account for about 30-35% of all non-credit transactions by 2025.

The Future of China–Next Big Future reports that China has embarked on a three year plan for a massive roll-out of artificial intelligence systems centered mainly in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, and energy efficiency management.

The Chinese won’t make it easy for foreign firms entering the self-driving car market, though.  They won’t be allowed to map roads in China, and will have to partner with Chinese firms to do so if they want to sell, build or operate autonomous vehicles there.

According to a new report Global Cities report by Oxford Economics,  Asian cities (mostly Chinese) will outstrip European and North American cities in total economic activity by 2035, and will account for nearly half of global GDP.

Advanced Transport–Virgin Hyperloop One set a new speed record for the vacuum tube transport system.   The system reached  240 mph (387 kph) on December 18, surpassing the record of 220 mph (355 kph) set this past summer by Elon Musk’s hyperloop.

Coming Attractions–2017, Future Stories, year in review, coming next week.

***By the time I hit the “publish” button on this post, the Price of Bitcoin had fallen, in just a few hours, to under $17,000.  That represented a drop of 15% from its high over $19,000 earlier in the day.

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 31, 2017

“Aging is mostly the failure to repair”– Gregory Benford

“Age is inevitable; aging isn’t”–Marv Levy

Even as lifestyle issues like smoking, obesity, distracted driving and drug overdoses have of late limited life expectancy gains in the west, there continue to be breakthroughs in anti-aging research at breathtaking pace.  At some point–maybe soon–we may experience a period of anti-aging therapy deployment such that average life expectancy increases by one or more years every year. How long will we live, then?  And the bigger question is: what will be the implications for civilization and the earth as a whole?

 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 

Anti-aging/Longevity research–Virtual biotech company, Youthereum, believes they can extend healthy human lifespan by 30% using epigenetics.  The idea of such an approach as  has been around for decades; they believe they are in striking range of achieving it.  The unconventional part of the plan is not the science, it’s financing the research, which they hope to accomplish through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) of a new cryptocurrency.

Two University of Arizona scientists have published a paper on the mathematics of aging, purporting to prove that immortality is impossible.  That sounds suspiciously like the scientist who published a paper supposedly proving that space travel was impossible, just a few months before the launch of the first Sputnik.

Food– Food distribution giant, Cargill, Inc., has joined the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson with investments in Memphis Meats.  The San Francisco-based (not Tennessee) company says its products–lab grown beef, chicken and duck–will be in stores by 2021 and will eventually cost as little as $1 a pound.  The products use real animal cells, but obviate the need to raise and kill live animals.

Space Launch and Propulsion–Positron Dynamics is projecting the potential launch of an anti-matter propelled cubesat by as early as sometime next year.  It further forecasts that a Mars-bound anti-matter powered rocket could be launched by the 2030’s.

–Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to make progress towards lowering the cost of space launches.  This past week, it conducted its fifteenth consecutive successful launch and first stage landing of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

China/Economic Development–The New York Times reports that Chinese president Xi Jinping wants to fully eliminate poverty in his country by 2020.   It’s all part of the larger Xi plan which outlines many of the country’s goals, including those in healthcare, AI, and the sharing economy, through 2050.

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: July 10, 2017

“Tesla is becoming a real car company.”–Elon Musk

The stock market has considered Tesla almost more than a car company for some time now.  If you are concerned about its valuation, take a look back at Seeking Delphi™ podcast #4 on Technology Investing for The Future, and the Gartner Hype Cycle.  Whatever happens–and whatever you believe–Tesla made the first major step towards becoming a real car company this past week.  The public will vote with their wallets.  Stay tuned.

Electric Cars–Elon Musk tweeted photos of the new mass market Tesla Model 3.  Production has begun and is targeted to ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per month by the end of the year.

Tesla Model 3

Volvo announced plans to become the first premium auto make to abandon all-gasoline cars.  By 2019, all of its vehicles will be either hybrids or all-electric.

Artificial Intelligence–Wired Magazine reports that banks are increasingly resorting to artificial intelligence to detect currency transfers by terrorist organizations.  In the past, simple logic algorithms had been used to detect suspicious transactions.  But the increasing use of micro-transfers by ISIS and other groups has fueled the need for more powerful tools.

Virtual Reality–Swedish company Starbreeze is pursuing an ambitious plan to launch arcade-style virtual reality parlors.   Starbreeze is pushing ahead despite many previous retail VR disappointments by other companies.  The current venture, in partnership with Acer, will place these entertainment centers in IMAX theaters.

Global Economy–The IMF’s latest projections say China’s purchasing power parity GDP will surpass that of the US, Germany and Japan combined by 2022.  Their per capita purchasing power parity GDP will still be far down the list of countries, and GDP in total nominal dollars will still trail the U.S.

Robotics/Automation– An Australian firm Fastbricks Robotics has announced that it is being backed by Caterpillar to develop a home-building robot.  Its Hadrain X can lay down 1,000 bricks and hour a construct an entire home in two days.

Science fiction author Will Mitchell discussed the prospects for deployment self-replicating machines, to aid in the exploitation of space, on Seeking Delphi™ podcast #14.

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunesPlayerFM and , and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Future This Week, April 2, 2017: Robot Job Apocalypse?

“The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots.”–Erich Fromm

You’re fired!

Today’s lead story brings to mind a classic gag from Woody Allen’s early stand-up comic days.  He told the story of how his father came home from work one day to report that he had been laid off from his factory job; he was replaced by a 50-dollar part on the assembly line.  The sad thing was, his mother immediately ran out and bought one of those parts.

The notion that a manufacturing plant  could be comprised of 3D printers run and maintained by robots is mind boggling.  So who maintains the maintenance robots?  Maintenance maintenance robots?  And who maintains the maintenance maintenance robots….?

3D Printing/Automation–

Yes, Voodoo manufacturing has created the world’s first robot-run 3D printing plant.   It allows the humans to concentrate on the creative work while the robots do the menial work, 24/7.  So what happens when A.I. starts doing the creative work?

Writing in the futures blog on Futurizon,  Ian Pearson, Ph.D., takes the position that A.I. will actually create jobs, not take them.  Dr. Pearson will be my guest on the Seeking Delphi podcast, the week of April 10.

 

Miranda. Maybe this is where all those lost socks went?

Space/NASA–NASA astronauts made a big booboo when they lost an important part of the International Space Station during a spacewalk earlier this week.   One of four pieces of cloth shielding designed to protect the station from impacts by small bits of orbiting  space junk, broke free and floated away.  The astronauts were able to make the other three pieces make do.  That’s a good thing.  For all we know, the interplanetary lost and found could be on Miranda.

Next Big Future reports that there is a push within the Chinese government to triple spending on space science over the next several years.  It’s still far less than NASA spends, though. Projections through the year 2030 are provided.

Digital Media–Business Insider issued a report, along with a free slide presentation, on the future of TV and the digital media that is rapidly replacing it.  Most notable is a forecast that fully 75% of all mobile data will be video by 2022.  My guest next week will be filmmaker and author Steven Katz  to discuss the future of  cinema and the digital video entertainment it is competing with.

Cargo drone or killer whale?

Aviation/Drones– An automated  amphibious cargo drones the size of a Boeing 777 could take to the skies by 2020.  Daily Mail reports that the California company building them is about 70% complete on the first test model.  The final production model will have a carrying capacity of 200,000 pounds.

Biotech/Anti-Aging–PureTech Health has licensed a possible anti-aging compound from NovartisMIT Technology Review reported that Boston-based startup company .  The drug, everolimus has been shown in clinical trials to increase effectiveness of flu vaccines in elderly patients, suggesting that it effectively makes immune systems younger.  The substance is related to rapamycin, which has previously been shown to increase average life span in mice by as much as 25%.

A reminder that the Seeking Delphi™ podcast is available on iTunes, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.