Podcast #7, The 3D Printing Explosion: Cars, Homes, Even Human Bodies!

“Whatever good things we build end up building us.”– Jim Rohn

I can’t say for sure if the quote above was intended literally, but it is now becoming literally true.  The applications of additive manufacturing–better known as 3D printing–are expanding to include food, body parts, cars, and even entire buildings.  In this episode of the Seeking Delphi™  podcast, I talk with one of the gurus of this technology, Dr. Paul Tinari, of JOOM3D.com .  He’s working on a project the scope of which would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

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 #7, Additive Manufacturing: We Are What We Print 21:07

 

(YouTube slideshow)

 

Paul Tinari Bio

Russian space agency recruiting cosmonauts for 2031 lunar landing mission

Ray Kurzweil revises his singularity forecast to 2029

The U.S. military seeks to “understand” its autonomous machines

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Short Fiction: A Life Pod at Riverton

Here is a fascinating question for those who fear the apocalypse. Can there be a post-collapse world that might not be so bad? In this short piece of fiction, my University of Houston foresight colleague, Eric Kingsbury, suggests a future transformation that might not be so bad. It’s re-blogged from his site, http://www.kiteba.com

Kiteba: A Futurist Blog and Resource

Speculative fiction has always been a great way to imagine the future. The following is a short climate-related piece I wrote.

A Life Pod at Riverton

“When we look at biological analogues,” Jane began, lifting the cover off the evap system and dropping to one knee, “we see the many ways in which large organisms are vulnerable when climate push comes to climate shove.”

The sun hovered in an infinite sky, bright, blanching out any atmospheric color. It was spring, and the air was warming, with a sweet sugar breeze.

Jane lifted a hand to shadow her eyes.

“Elephants, lions, cows, all the big mammals,” she said, then gestured in the direction of several grassy mounds that rose from the prairie. “Too big, too slow, too pack-oriented. Vulnerable.”

Then, she reached into the evap unit and pulled out a length of rotten rubber hose.

“So too all the networks dependent on…

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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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Podcast #5: Teaching and Learning the Future

“Tell me and I will forget, teach me and I will remember, involve me and I will learn.”–Benjamin Franklin

“Those who can’t do, teach.  Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”–Woody Allen

teach-the-future-logoMy apologies to all you educators out there.  I just had to get that Woody Allen line in.  It makes sense, though, that teaching something as fluid, changing and uncertain as the future requires creative tools to involve the student and develop the appropriate mindset.  In episode #5 I talk with two individuals who are taking different approaches to the task.

Peter Bishop

Peter Bishop

The first interview is with career futurist educator, Peter Bishop, founder of Teach the Future.™  His aim is nothing less than to make future-think modules a standard in education.  I then talk with game developer Robert Mattox about his old school approach to involvement–a board game.  Appropriate links to all the subjects in this program can be found below the audio and YouTube files that follow.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

 

Robert Mattox

Robert Mattox

Podcast #5: Teaching And Learning The Future, 26:50

Hope City

Hope City

 

 

 

 

Teach The Future

Hope City

Smart robots will outnumber people by 2050

McDonald’s to kill the drive-through with mobile ordering and curbside delivery.

SpaceX plans lunar tourism next year.

 

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Coming Soon: Seeking Delphi, The Podcast.

“I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”–Thomas Jefferson

www.cartoonstock.com Used with permission

http://www.cartoonstock.com
Used with permission

It’s not likely that Thomas Jefferson meant to disparage study of the past, it’s just, like Albert Einstein’s missive that imagination is more important than knowledge, he meant that it is our dreams of the future that enable us to build a better world.

I’ve been dreaming about the future since I was a kid.  Daydreaming, my parents would have said, and my wife certainly would say.  But that’s OK.  Somebody has to do it.  If humankind is going to survive the the challenges that lie ahead, somebody needs to be thinking further ahead than the next pay check, the next quarter’s profit, and the next election.   Let’s do it together.

On Seeking Delphi, the podcast, I’ll address many of the myriad uncertainties that lie ahead, some of them with existential consequences.  Some of them just for fun. But all of them the stuff that imagination–and dreams–are made of.

Premiere date:  January 25, 2017.

 

 

 

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R.I.P.–Alvin Toffler

“The future always comes too fast and in the wrong order.”–Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

Alvin Toffler

The world lost its foremost futurist in the past week,  a man who was one of my heroes.   Alvin Toffler taught the world how to think about the future some 45 years ago.  It’s a lesson the world should relearn.   I read Future Shock way back in 1973–and have been thinking about it–and the future–ever since.

The quote above describes the cause of the disease–the human psychological malady–he calls future shock.  He made me think about the implications of a future that comes too fast and too hard for most people to comprehend or tolerate.  It made me think about the dangers of thinking improperly about the future–or avoiding the thought of it at all.  I’ll go into detail on these issues–and the potential remedies thereof–in future posts.  In the meantime, I take off my virtual digital hat to the man who just may have been the foremost futurist of all time.

Writing in the New York Times on July 6, Farhad Manjoo lays out clearly and concisely why Toffler’s ideas are so relevant today.  I highly urge you to read this piece, and to read Future Shock if you’ve never done so.  I intend to reread it now.  We have never needed foresight more than we do today.

For (mostly) lighter fare,  visit my other blog,  The Millennium Conjectures.

 

The Bleeding Edge

“Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.”–R. Buckminster Fuller

“Engage your mind before you shift your mouth into gear.”–Unknown

My father used to warn me about talking before thinking.   This definitely applies to blogging as well.  One should cogitate before pushing the “publish” button.

I said in a previous post that I would present two major types of articles herein,  but I didn’t think before pushing that button.  As it turns out, there will be three.  As previously promised, the first category of posts in the How to Think About The Future category will summarize basic methods, philosophies and general assumptions about foresight.

The second, category, The Future of…, will tackle the future of various domains of human endeavor, such as education, politics, environment, economy, healthcare and various subsets thereof.

The third category, the one I left out originally, is The Bleeding Edge, which will delve into critical emerging technologies that may potentially upend the established course of human activities, for better or for worse, or probably both.   Here are some of the hot topics to look forward to,  hopefully in the not-to-distant future.

Gene Editing–Last November, a New York Times Magazine article,  aptly titled The CRISPR Quandary, was even more aptly subtitled A new gene editing tool might create an ethical morass–or it might make revising nature seem natural.  As this ground-breaking technology is advancing far faster than the ethical and regulatory guidelines to control it, it is well on its way to doing both.

Artificial Intelligence/The Singularity–While CRISPR has so far escaped broad public scrutiny,  Artificial Intelligence certainly has not.  With warnings of the potential dangers of strong AI from the likes of Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk getting big play in the media,  even while Ray Kurzweil waxes almost poetic on the virtues of an A.I. singularity.  The controversies continues to grow.

Robotics–The combination of robotics and A.I. is rapidly accelerating, offering the potential for great convenience and efficiency, but also wholesale upheavals in the world of work.  Some pundits project that automation of various forms may obsolete up to 50% of all jobs in the near future.

3D Printing–No field of work is more susceptible to job loss due to automation than is manufacturing.   And while the progress of 3D printing has been much slower than some other technologies, it still holds out the promise of an eventual sea change in the world of fabrication–potentially breaking up major national and regional manufacturing plants into hundred of thousands of small local sites.  The skills to design and run 3D printing applications are specialized and very different from those of traditional manufacturing.

Nanotechnology–If ever there was a double-edged sword in technology, this is it.  While the most optimistic prognostications outlined by Eric Drexler in his landmark 1986 book, Engines of Creation, are still a distant pipe dream,  progress is being made.   And while those optimistic dreams envision a world of unlimited abundance on demand, the most pessimistic counter views see the potential for catastrophic human harm, either inadvertently or by intentional malice.  Kurt Vonnegut warned of these dangers as long ago as 1963 in his sci-fi classic Cat’s Cradle.

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality–Poised to become a hot new consumer electronics category, Virtual Reality devices offer a wide range of very useful applications, from education, to training and entertainment.  But there are downsides, too.  Will some people get so addicted to it that they lose contact with actual reality?  And at least one futurist has forecast a huge market for virtual reality porn.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of teledildonics, well, you might be in for a shock.

Blockchain–The shared public ledger technology that enables Bitcoin cryptocurrency is rapidly being advocated and to some extent deployed in a variety other domains including education, law and banking. It is massively distributed, open, and indelible.  But even this might have some downside.

The hope here is to cover these and many other emerging technology issues in the coming weeks and months.  Keep an eye out for an accompanying podcast as well, assuming I can get my technical act together.