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: 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.