News of The Future This Week, February 14, 2018

“I don’t believe in a conspiracy to hide the existence of extraterrestrial life.”–David Duchovney

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

If David Duchovney is right–and I for one agree with him–then Fermi and his paradox certainly become relevent.  But it hardly proves that extraterrestrials don’t exist.  It just proves we haven’t been able to confirm any signals or communication.  What hampers us from doing so?  The vastness of the universe? Our relatively inferior technology?  Maybe they are hiding, as in Cixin Liu’s chilling novel The Dark Forrest?  These are all possiblities, true.  But in a strange ocurrance of the law of unintended consequences, the biggest current hindernece to finding E.T. could be bitcoin mining.

 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 

 SETI/Cryptocurrencies–This heading might look like an oxymoron.  But in a bizarre turn of events, the cornering of the GPU market by Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency mining has created a shortage that is hitting the video game market, and even the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

NASA/Space–In another unusual turn of events, NASA will be sending a Martian meteorite back to its home planet on a rover scheduled for launch in 2020.  The purpose is best described as “target practice” for precision lasers designed to pick targets for sample collection that a future mission might return to earth.

How about these for target practice?

The FCC is looking closely at SpaceX’s plan to provide sattelite delivered  internet.  The head of the agency views it favorably, so don’t bet against it.

The Trump administration’s latest NASA plans call for a return to the moon.  They call for it; but they don’t budget it.  It likely won’t happend until after The Donald leaves office, even if he gets re-elected.

Autonomous Vehicles —The U.S. Transportation Agency has called a summit on autonomous vehicles for March 1 of this year.  One can only hope that the government might become as concerned with artificial intelligence as it is with this one application.

Matt Chappell has been effectively cured of HIV

Genetic Editing/HIV–As gene editing techniques continue their rapid advance, efforts are accelerating to control, and possibly cure, HIV.  The template may be one patient who has been off medications for over two years with no recurrence.

Artificial Intelligence/Singularity–In an interview with Futurism.com, the father of artificial intelligence says that the singularity is 30 years away.

Nanotechnology–Reasearchers at Arizona State University, working with a team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have created nanorobots designed to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply.

“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: December 12, 2017

“The pace of progress on Mars depends upon the pace of progress of SpaceX.”–Elon Musk

Who will get there first?

Oh really, Elon?  It seems that Boeing may have something to say about that.  We got to the moon because of a frantic race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, propelled by the cold war. If an when we get to Mars, it just might be because of a frantic race between commercial ventures, fueled by the almighty dollar.

 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 

Mars/Space Exploration–Speaking on CNBC recently, Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenberg said, “I firmly believe the first person to set foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket.”  There was no immediate comment from Elon Musk, whose SpaceX aims to be there first.  Whoever gets there first, maybe they can getaround on the Tesla that Elon intends to launch into Mars orbit next year.

President Trump announced that the Moon will be the next destination for U.S. astronauts.  Whether he intends to put the treasury’s money where his mouth is remains to be seen.

Physics.org reports that a new space suit design will have a “take me home” button for astronauts who get separated from their craft and disoriented on space walks. Danger, Will Robinson!

Artificial Intelligence–The IEEE released the second edition of its global treatise on ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems, today.  The report can be requested for download here.   The report was mentioned in Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #17, featuring an interview with the initiative’s executive director, John C. Havens.  (YouTube video  link below).

Researchers from the University of Texas and the city of Austin are employing deep learning and big data to try to alleviate traffic jams.  They will present their findings at an IEEE conference on big data later this month.

Using A.I. to alleviate traffic? Good!  Using A.I. to create fake porn of anybody?  Er–not so much.  The Verge reports that just a few photographs and some open source A.I. software is all that it takes to graft anybody’s face onto any picture in a convincing manner. As they put it, seeing may no longer be believing.

Biotech–Researchers at the Salk Institute say they have been able to use CRISPR gene editing to reverse disease in mice.  They used a new procedure that does not actually cut the genes, but affects the expression–or epigenetics–of genes. It turns them on or off.

Researchers at the University of Rochester say they have successfully been able to insert new information directly in the the pre-motor cortex of the brains of two monkeys.   Anyone for trying this on politicians?

Material Science/Athletics–British sportswear brand inov-8 is partnering with the University of Manchester to introduce graphene-infused athletic footwear in 2018.  Laboratory tests have shown the shoes to be stretchier, stronger and more wear resistant than conventional rubber-soled sneakers.

 

Aubry de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in soon.

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: December 5, 2017

“The autonomous car is definitely coming…”–Masayoshi Son

Cars, cars, cars.  In America, we love our cars.  And, whether gas, electric, or hybrid, we love to drive them.  So what happens when they drive themselves?  And an even better question: when they get built in emotion A.I., will our cars love us?  OK, that last one is not a real issue–yet.  But every major car company is working on self-driving, all-electric cars.  The news this week is just full of cars, cars, cars.

 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 

 Self Driving Cars/Autonomous Vehicles–General Motors has announced plans to launch a self-driving, ride-sharing car service in major U.S. cities by 2019.  The aim is to compete directly with Uber and Lyft.

Uber is not standing idly by.  Volvo says they expect to sell them tens of thousands of self driving cars between 2019 and 2021.

Next Big Future reports that every major car company is working on all-electric, self-driving vehicles.   Ford, for one, also plans a self-driving, ride-sharing service by 2021.

What will Elon think of next?

Electric Vehicles–You can’t make this up, but apparently Elon Musk can.  He’s on record, and apparently serious, about launching a Tesla into orbit around Mars early next year.  The good news is, as long as it stays in orbit, it won’t need a charging station.

Ford’s chairman says they will introduce several electric car models in China over the next few years. He added that he expects China to be the leader in EV proliferation.

–According to recent reports, though, the Canadian province of Ontario will likely not reach its 2020 target for electric vehicle deployment.

Flying Cars/Taxis–Yeah, sure. Why should all the traffic jams be on the ground?  Volocopter says its flying taxis will be up (literally) and running in two to three years.

Space/Lunar Exploration–China has announced big plans for the moon.  A robotic lunar station, and a dark side radio telescope are targeted for 2019.

Brexit scenarios to 2030–The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features SAMI Consulting’s Jonathan Blanchard Smith discussing four post-Brexit scenarios for the UK.  (YouTube slide show link below)

Aubrey de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in a few days.

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: November 28, 2017

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”–Alfred Hitchcock

It seems movie theater owners are taking Hitchcock quite literally.  At our first break from home binge watching in almost a year, my wife and I went to a local cinema. We arrived right on the dot at the advertised starting time of the movie, and immediately suffered through 20 minutes of commercials–exactly what we get away from by watching Amazon and Netflix and premium cable channels.  I just love paying to binge watch commercials.

 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 

Digital entertainmentAmazon, Apple, and Netflix  are expected to be spending nearly $20 Billion, combined, on digital content by 2022.  Take that, Bollywood.

The Venture Reality Fund reports that Hollywood’s investment in AR and VR is booming.  Overall, AR/VR investment in the second half of this year is seen as rising by $2.3 billion, or 79 per cent, over the same period a year ago.  Oh boy, even those insufferable commercials will be enhanced.

The worm turns–on mars.

Space Travel/Colonization–What’s better than pigs in space?  How about worms on Mars?  A recent study by researchers at Wageningen University found that earth worms can grow and reproduce in Martian-like soil. It’s part of a study to see if food plants can grow in the same compound, to support potential colonization.

–Woody Allen once said, “man can’t live on bread alone; often there must be a beverage.”  Anheiser-Busch is taking that literally by sending beer into space.  A Dec. 4 SpaceX launch will send beer making ingredients to the international space station, a very early step toward sending it to Mars with the first colonists.  Talk about opening new markets.

Future Life/2030 Forecasts–A new report from The World Economic Forum paints a heady picture of life in the year 2030.  Genetically engineered pets…smart toilets…internet connected clothes…wow, I can hardly wait.

 

A similar study, reported in Forbes, focuses more on how we will change as humans by 2030. It’s not about augmented reality, it’s about augmented us.

Transportation/Sustainable Energy–Hydrogen powered trains will be coming to Germany by 2021.  The technology is being built by French concern, Alstom.

Robotics/AI–China announced plans to open a fully automated police station, sans humans.  The facility will deal primarily with driving -related issues, making it more like a western motor vehicle department facility.  It’s all in line with China’s stated goal of being world leader in artificial intelligence by 203o.

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 2, 2017

“Mars is there, waiting to be reached.”–Buzz Aldrin

“I want to die on Mars.  Just not on impact.”–Elon Musk

Ah, Mars.  Indeed it does seem to be just sitting there for the taking.  And while I do appreciate Elon Musk’s desire not to die there on impact, I’m not so sure he cares whether you die there on impact.  Or here on Earth, either, for that matter.  His Mars ambitions are all over the news this week. As is usual for ‘ol Elon, they seem, well, over ambitious.

 While you’re reading about all this week’s out of this world news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Facebook.

Mars/rocketry–The latest SpaceX pronouncement from Elon Musk, is that he aims to put humans on Mars by 2024.  To attain that ambitious goal, he’s planning a new rocket design. It replaces the previous ITS (Interplanetary Transport System) design, with a new one called BFR.  What does BFR mean?  Well, its a BFD.

–Apparently Mars isn’t the only place Elon Musk wants to send you via his new BFR.   He also wants to use it for very fast air transport on Earth.   He might think it’s a good idea, but others not so much–as this article in The Verge suggests.

–Will we ever find Martians?  NASA’s Mars 2020 rover aims to look for them. Or rather, for the carbon signatures of past Martian microbes, using a super hot laser technology.

–Speaking of colonizing Mars, the United Arab Emirates has stated a goal of building a major metropolis on Mars within 100 years.  They plan to build a prototype right hear on Earth to test out the needed survival technologies. 

Home sweet Home–Mars habitat

Electric/next generation vehicles–Even as Elon Musk goes over the top with his rocketry ambitions, the bottom has, in a way, fallen out of his electric vehicle ambitions.   It turns out that only 260 new Model 3 Teslas were produced in third quarter, versus an original projection of at least 1,500.

–Elon isn’t the only one with an aggressive agenda for electric vehicles.  GM has announced they plan to introduce some 20 new all-electric models by 2023.

BMW says they will add Amazon’s Alexa to their 2018 models.  Great, it’s bad enough when that GPS voice gets all snarky on you; now there will be two of them.

Blockchain–Move over cryptocurrencies and other financial applications powered by blockchain.  The CDC wants to use the technology to track disease outbreaks for the betterment of public health.

–Speaking of cryptocurrency, South Korea has joined China in banning new ICO’s.  Initial Coin Offerings are the cryptocurrency equivalent of stock IPO’s.

Coming Attractions–On the next Seeking Delphi™ podcast, I’ll be speaking with Linda Groff, PhD, on her new book exploring options for future human evolution.  Yes, for perhaps the first time in history, there are options.

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 17, 2017

“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”–Carl Sandburg

I don’t know about the moon, but when it comes to Mars, it does not appear that NASA will be doing much more than saying hello in the foreseeable future.  It seems there’s this little problem of money.  On the other hand, it’s full speed ahead to the lunar surface for at least one private enterprise.

Space Exploration and Technology–NASA has finally admitted what experts have been saying for some time.  It does not have enough money to land astronauts on Mars.  They could get astronauts there and orbit, but not land.  So I suppose they could say hello.

Moon Express is full speed ahead on its own ambitious space project.  They recently announced plans to launch a series of robotic lunar mining missions, the third of which will bring back samples from the surface in 2020.  The company is racing four other enterprises as finalists for the Lunar X Prize of $20 milllion, which will be awarded to the first private venture to land a rover on the moon and send back high definition pictures.

eCommerce/Retailing– According to retail guru Brittain Ladd,  Amazon could become the largest U.S. grocery retailer by 2030, if their proposed takeover of Whole Foods goes through.   Ladd predicts Amazon will pass U. S. #2 retailer Kroger by 2025 and take over the top spot from Walmart sometime between 2027 and 2030.

Electric Cars–The greatest roadblock to massive roll out of electric cars may not be infrastructure, but batteries.  Volkswagon, says that as many as 40 new giga-factories may be needed to meet global demand by 2025.

Transhumanism/Brain interface–DARPA has awarded a contract to six organizations, to be led by the University of California, Berkeley, to develop implantable interfaces that could transmit images and sound directly into the brain.  The aim is to compensate for natural visual or hearing loss.  (Reference back: in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #10, on the future of cinema and digital entertainment, film maker Steven Katz discussed this possibility.)

CRISPR/genetic editing–A team of researchers from Harvard and MIT are casting doubt on an earlier study that found that CRISPR/Cas9 gene edits could introduce unexpected mutations.  The original study was done by Columbia University.  It should be noted, however,  that the Broad Institute, a joint venture of Harvard and MIT, is in a pitched patent battle with the University of California, Berkeley, for rights to various uses of the technology.   CRISPR gene editing has the potential to change the face of human health, and perhaps even enter the domain of trans-humanism.  See video embedded below.

In the meantime, researchers at UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley (no surprise there) say they have synthesized a protein they call anti-CRISPR which shut of mutations in CRISPR altered genes.

 

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–It seems that a security robot has committed suicide in Washington, DC.  After sounding a security all-clear, it threw itself into a pool.

 

Coming Attractions:  I’ll be attending the annual meeting of the Association of Professional Futurists July 27-29 in Seattle.  More to come on that.

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

The Future This Week: July 3, 2017

“If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button.”–Sam Levenson

On more than one occasion, I have traveled in an elevator that could move horizontally as well as vertically.  How did I manage that?  It turns out I was dreaming–and I must admit I experienced a bit of a disappointment when I woke up.  Honestly, the feeling of moving sideways in an elevator was just, well, cool.  Now, though, a new technology might actually make that feeling possible.

Elevator Technology–Thyssenkrupp Elevator Technology, of Berlin, Connecticut, USA, has developed and, in fact, installed the world’s first cable-free horizontal-vertical elevator in a  test tower in Rotweill, Germany.  (See YouTube video embedded at the bottom of the page).

Space Exploration and Technology–In what appears to be an Asian reboot of the U.S.-Soviet 1960’s space race, Japan has announced plans to put a man on the moon by 2030–and beat China to the punch.  JAXA,  the Japanese space agency, recently announced the plan, thus throwing themselves into a multi-national Asian sprint to the lunar surface.

NASA announced plans to revive a dormant plan for developing nuclear power for space colonies.   Originally envisioned some 50 years ago, it aims at building a mini-fusion plant to provide electric power for bases on the moon and Mars.

Internet of Things–According to a report in Business Insider there will be 24 billion devices, globally, connected to the Internet of Things by 2020.  I feel like there are nearly a billion in my house, alone.

Computer Technology–As silicon technology nears the limits of Moore’s Law, IBM scientists say they have created carbon nano-tube transistors that are smaller and faster than silicon.  No timetable has been set for scaling up to the level of practical, useful devices.

How real is it?

Virtual Reality–The Japanese firm, Futureleap, claims to have invented the virtual girlfriend. Apparently, one can not just view, but actually feel sensations of an imaginary friend breathing down your neck.  Not tonight dear, I have some corrupt code.

 

 

 Be sure to stay tuned for the next Seeking Delphi podcast, on self-replicating machines, with science fiction author Will Mitchell.

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.