News of The Future This Week: April 24, 2019

“My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk, 2013

“We’ll have a fleet of robo taxis by the end of next year.”–(paraphrased), Elon Musk, this week

Ah, you have to love Elon Musk. Or maybe not.  If he were a politician, the election opponents would be all over him for flip-flopping.  Ok, so we’ll allow him to change his mind in light of further technological developments.  The problem is, some pretty big names in field of autonomous vehicles don’t agree with him.  And as for his track record on Tesla promises…well, you know the drill.

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.

Autonomous Vehicles–Barely two weeks after Ford CEO Jim Hackett admitted that “the industry overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Elon Musk shot back with a much rosier, prediction. He’s forecasting that Tesla will roll out a fleet of self-driving taxis by the end of next year, even as many other automotive executives are suggesting that 10 years is a far more realistic timeframe than one year.

–Tesla posted this video of an autonomous road trip (below)

Elon unveilled a Boring Company hyperloop test tunnel in California last year

Hyperloop/Boring Company–On another Elon Musk front, his The Boring Company made a major step towards a formal government approval of its first subterranean hyperloop transport system.  It filed a 505-page environmental assessment study on the impact of its proposed NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC underground transit loop.  Musk says an initial 16 tunnels for the route between Baltimore and D.C. could be completed in 15-23 months.  Judging by the number of state, local and federal agencies that have to sign off on the proposal, it’s likely to take a lot longer than that to get the needed approvals.

CRISPR/gene editing–One of the inventors of the gene editing process, CRISPR, has a strong message for us.  Jennifer Doudna says we’ll be eating CRISPR-edited foods within 5 years.

–On the other hand, Nature News reports that working with CRISPR-edited lab animals is proving to be a challenge. Key among those challenges is keeping them alive.

Space–China continues to ramp up its space efforts.  They plan to launch an asteroid-comet mission in 2022.  On a more disturbing front,  they are apparently using U.S. satellite technology to ramp up their global surveillance efforts.

Meanwhile, a more restrained NASA has assembled and tested it Mars 2020 rover.

Gig economy–According to this opinion piece in OneZero, the gig economy may be broadening the rich/poor gap.

Surveillance/Existential Risk.–Techno-philospher Nick Bostrom may be best known as a dyed-in-the wool transhumanist, and the man who first proffered the suggestion that all of us may living in an simulation.   Now–going one step farther than Stephen Hawking’s suggestion that we might need a global government to keep tabs on the existential risks of technology–Bostrom has suggested that global surveillance of every single human might be the only thing that can save us.

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Alligned Design, laying out their proposed framework for the safe and beneficial development of A.I. and other automated systems.

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 #6, Technology: The Good, The Bad and The Existential.

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.”–Carl Sagan

Here Be Dragons, Science Technology and The Future of Humanity
by Olle Häggström

Technology.  We certainly do depend on it.   It does great things for us, but it also can annoy us and, indeed, has the potential to do us outright harm.  In this episode of Seeking Delphi, I talk to author Olle Häggström about some of the existential risks that technology may pose to humanity.  His book, Here Be Dragons, is a thorough examination of a wide ranging inventory of potential dangers, from the ones we currently know and worry about (climate change, nuclear war), to the ones that yet might be (bio terrorism, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence) ,and the ones Hollywood fantasizes about (alien invasion).  Olle is a professor of mathematics at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden.  I called him there to conduct the interview for this episode.

Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

Episode #6, Technology: The Good, The Bad, and The Existential  25:41

(YouTube slideshow)

Bigelow Aerospace plans to orbit lunar space station by 2020.

Blue Origin planning a lunar delivery service, a la Amazon.

Lawrence Berkeley lab doubles the number of materials potentially useful for solar fuels

Volkswagon unveils Sedric, its entry into the self-driving vehicle market.  (It looks like a breadbox on wheels.)

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