News of The Future This Week: September 7, 2019

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

“Where are they?”–Enrico Fermi

This week’s stories include some plausible explanations for Fermi’s paradox. Conspiracies–or an indifferent kid with a cell phone–are not among them.  There is one chilling theory that the story leaves out, though, and a link to that is also provided.

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, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, 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.

The truth is out there…or not.

E.T./Fermi Paradox–Enrico Fermis asked “where are they?”  Singularity Hub provides a brief podcast with some explanations,  But they left out the chilling dark forest theory–best described in Cixin Lui’s novel, The Dark Forest. It’s explained here.

Space/Moon/Mars–Too difficult to launch rockets to the moon on a regular basis?  No problem–build an elevator there.  A new approach just might be feasible.

–Never mind the Moon.  Elon Musk continues to focus on Mars.  There are a myriad of engineering and biological problems he’ll need to solve before he can send humans there–but with help from NASA, his SpaceX is already looking for the ideal landing site.

–Speaking of SpaceX, they have some issues much closer to Earth.  Fast Company reports that they are playing what amounts ot a game of chicken with their StarLink satellites. And they made the European Space Agency blink first.

–Starlink, of course, intends to provide wireless global internet access from space.  But there’s plenty of competition.  And now, aerospace startup OneWeb claims it will be able to reach virtually the whole planet–even the artic–with an array of 650 satellites and a few ground stations, by sometime next year.

Reuse Beer. Ewwwww.

Sustainability–Recycling? Sustainable energy, food production, and waste processing?  They sound like great ideas.  But beer made from recycled toilet water? Ewww.

Artificial intelligence–A Seattle-based research lab has reached a milestone by creating an A.I. that can pass an 8th grade science test.  Great.  Now all we need to do is invent an 8th grader that can pass it.

–On a more practical note, Alex Zhavornkov, and his InSilico Medicine have developed an A.I. program that has shown promise in designing drug molecules.  In partnership with the University of Toronto, their program created  compounds that have  shown promise in the lab.

Self-Driving Technology–Cars….trucks….busses…boats…flying taxis.  Just about any kind of autonomous vehicle imaginable is being developed somewhere by somebody.  But a self-driving golf ball?  Why would anyone do that?   Nissan did it–apparently because….they can!

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on Apple Podcasts,, PlayerFM, MyTuner,  Listen Notes, 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: July 26, 2019

“Shoot for the moon.  You might get there.”–Buzz Aldrin

“Shoot for the moon.  If you miss you’ll end up in the stars.”–Artie Shaw

Questions of the day: 1. Is a manned return to the moon possible by 2024?  Is a fusion-generated power plant possible by 2025?  Will cyborgs rule the world in 2100?  Answers1. Maybe. 2. Maybe 3. Most of us are already cyborgs.    Read on for details.

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.

Moon/NASA/SpaceX–Can NASA make it back to a manned landing on the moon by their target date of 2024?  Elon Musk  wants to do them one better, claiming his SpaceX may make a cargo landing on the lunar surface by 2021 and follow that up with a manned mission in 2022.  Take that with a grain of salt,  along with all of Elon’s other projections.

–One thing NASA will likely need, if American astronauts will make it back to the moon by 2024, is an updated space suit.  The current model dates to 1977.

Sustainable energy/fusion–The world’s first fusion powered reactor cleared a key hurdle on the road to projected commercial fusion energy by 2025.  It seems as if Fusion power has been 10-20 years away for the last 40 years. We’ll see…

Image: Shutterstock

Transhumanism–British scientist James Lovelock is predicting that the world will be ruled by cyborgs in the year 2100.  Really?  The definition of cyborg, according to Dictionary.com, is a person whose physiological functioning is aided by or dependent on a mechanical or electronic device.  Based on the way most of us are welded to our smart phones, I’d say this has already happened.

Transport--Sorry Back to The Future fans, the hoverboard is still a work in progress.  Frenchman Franky Zapata failed in his attempt to fly a hoverboard of his own invention across the English Channle.  OK, who ever heard of a Frenchman named Franky? (video below)

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Artificial Intelligence–A new study commissioned by the Association for Psychological Science has some bad news for companies, big and small, that are selling A.I. that detects human intelligence.  They say it can’t be trusted.

Aging/Longevity–Nucleotide synthesis–or lack thereof–has been identified as a key factor in cellular senescence.   A study by researchers at the University of South Carolina suggest that preventing cells from losing nucleotide synthesi–which creates the building blocks of DNA–could slow the aging process.

Computing/chip technology–IEEE has issued a new roadmap for device design and manufacturing.  A varitey of technologies are discussed in the document which lays out a path to one nanometer devices by 2033.

The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features a conversation with Matt Ward, host of The Disruptors.

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: May 24, 2019

“Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile.”– Masayoshi Son

What–he worry?  Ford’s delivery robot.

Will that thing to the left make you smile?  I have my doubts about that.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of the uncanny valley, you will be soon.  Welcome to the creepy future!

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.

Robotics–Just a few weeks after the CEO of Ford admitted they had underestimated the difficulty in deploying self driving cars,  IEEE Spectrum reported  on Ford’s self-driving vans, with door-to-door delivery robots.  Can the bots be considered unemployed before they are formally employed?

Future Business–Fast Company projects that the companies of the future will be sustainable and employee owned.   This mirrors the triple-bottom line approach espoused by John C. Havens in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #17.

NASA’s lunar gateway. Image: Maxar Technologies

Space/NASA–Up until now, NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon have been rather vague.  No longer.  A $1.6 billion infusion for its Artemis Lunar project has resulted in a firm target of 2024.  The plan includes an orbiting lunar space station.  Can they do it by 2024?  The New York Times reports that it’s unlikely.

–The Artemis 1 mission, won’t carry astronauts.  But it will carry yeast into orbit around the sun.  The mission will launch 13 cubesats next year, one of which will carry two varieties of yeast to test their survivability and growth in the radiation of deep space.   E.T. make bread?

–A team of USC students have accomplished a rocketry first.  They are the first students to design and build a rocket that reached the 100Km (62 mile) altitude that is defined by international law as the boundary of space.  The school’s report says it used a parachute to land safely after reaching it’s targeted height–but it doesn’t say where.  Oh well, to quote that old  Tom Lehrer song, “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department says Wernher von Braun.”  [See Video below]

Elon Musk–Tesla might be in all sorts of financial troubles,  but Elon Musk has landed some funding for his The Boring Company.  His tunnel-digging enterprise has just landed its first paying customer, The Las Vegas Convention Center.  The center’s board of directors, as part of a $1.4 billion expansion plan, has allocated $46 million for two tunnels beneath the 200-acre site.  They will be cut to provide passage for electric vehicles and pedestrians.

Anti-Aging–George Church and his Rejuvenate Bio team have been relatively secretive about their efforts, to date, to reverse the effects of aging in dogs and mice.  But maybe we will learn more this summer, as Church has been confirmed as a speaker at LEAF’s Ending Age-Related Diseases conference in New York,  July 11-12.

–LEAF (Life Extension Advocacy Foundation) released the first installment of its LifeXten Show.  YouTube link below.

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: May 14, 2019

“I would love to have a robot butler.”–Brett Ratner

“I think I’d take a human butler over a robot one.”–Tom Felton

Want one of these?

Are you disappointed that we still don’t have flying cars?  Well then, you might also be bummed out that we don’t have robot butlers, either.  And while one company is trying to provide those robot butlers by an odd hybrid operated by human remote-control, I’m thinking it’s still a bit premature.  I won’t be letting a robot handle a bottle of ’83 Lafite Rothschild any time soon.

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.

Robotics–If Alexa, Siri, or even a Roomba, is not enough for you, the Japanese firm MIRA may have just the answer.  They plan to launch the world’s first robot butler service. But there’s a rather odd catch, and it’s maybe a bit creepy.  The robots won’t operate autonomously. They will be operated by remote control by employees of MIRA.

–Robots in the home might have a ways to go.  But robots in the hospital?  Those are here now. (see below)

5G/mobile technology–Even as the U.S. and China square off in a battle dominate the emerging 5G segment of cellphone technology,  Russia is making a desperate play to make up for it’s own lagging effort.  They want to scare US consumers into thinking it’s dangerous. Will anti-5Gers become the kindred spirits of anti-vaxxers?

Future Thinking–Ever notice that experts are often spectacularly wrong in forecasting the future of their fields?   According to the Atlantic magazine,  that’s because they view things too narrowly, and they cite a study to prove that broad thinking generalists often make better forecasters.

Fast Company says China’s propensity to take the long view will win in the end, economically.  They aim to be the global center of trade and commerce, and a divided, short-term oriented U.S. government may be no match for them.

Uber–Also for the Atlantic,  a word of caution on Uber.  Their tepid IPO might just be a reponse to their risky view of the future.

Lunar Exploration–The Trump administration wants the U.S. to return astronauts to moon by 2024.  They even have shifted some money to NASA for the project.  But the ultimate cost of said missions is still not been made public.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have unveiled the desgin for their Blue Moon  lunar lander, which they also target for a 2024 touchdow.  It’s an impressive looking structure, but methinks the name Blue Moon might have some I.P. issues.

This is what Blue Moon conjures up for me.

 

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Aligned 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 

News of The Future This Week: October 29, 2018

“It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it’s a painting, and if you can walk around it it’s a sculpture.”–Tom Stoppard

The future tech news continues to be dominated by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and space commerce.   Some of it is exciting, some of it is disturbing and some of it–well, I’m not sure what to think.  When you read about an A.I. generated paiting fetching big bucks at auction, you just have to scratch your head.

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.

Portrait of Edmund Bellamy, produced by A.I.

Artficial Intelligence–An A.I. generated painting has sold for $432,000 at auction.  Is this why A.I. developers get paid so much?  Christie’s had estimated a value of between $7,000 and $10,000–which on the surface of it seems excessive in itself.   Apparently, some people have more money than they know what to do with.

Automation/Robotics–A Swiss firm will build a factory in China that will use robots to build more robots.  You’d think there would be enough surplus labor available in China that it would be the last place to need such.

Automomous vehicles–Will self-driving cars be the solution to urban congestion?  The New York Times reports that a major urban planning guru is suggesting the opposite–it will make it worse.

–For better or for worse, Tesla continues to go full speed ahead toward self-driving vehicles.  A new software update will add several new capabilities to its autopilot feature.

Autonomous or not,  Tesla is finally ramping up to a level of mass production.  Next Big Future reports that they will pump out roughly 450,000 vehicles in 2019, and approach one million per year by 2022.

Musk’s moon base. When will the condos go on sale?

Space Commerce–It wouldn’t be News of The Future This Week without at least two  Elon Musk companies making headlines.  Musk tweeted over the weekend that SpaceX will have a moon base operational by 2025.

—  What would you do with a fiber so strong that a cubic centimeter of it could haul 160 elephants?  Maybe build a space elevator.   The Chinese team of researchers who developed such a material are thinking just that.

–Robots building robots may seem a bit odd in China,  but in space it makes sense.  Relativity Space, a company backed by Mark Cuban, is developing a 3-D printer that will spit out robots–and other needed devices–for space colonies on the moon, Mars or  asteroids.  They don’t expect an actual market until sometime in the 2020’s at the earliest.

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: October 4, 2018

“To me–old age is always ten years older than I am.”–Bernard Baruch

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.”–Mark Twain

Ah, yes.  I have attained the age at which I truly appreciate the comments of monsiuers Baruch and Twain.  And I really appreciate the efforts of those who aim to keep senescence–and dentures–indefinitely in the future.

  • 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.

Anti-aging/rejuvenation–Researchers at the University of Minnesota claim to have discovered a compound that slows aging.  Well, at least in mice it does.

Several new videos have been posted from last month’s Translating Aging Research conference sponsored by the Life Extension Advocacy Foundation.  Aubrey de Grey (Seeking Delphi™ podcast #19) was one of the speakers.  His talk is linked below.

Artists conception: Lockheed lunar lander

Space/space commerce/NASA–Lockheed Martin has unveiled it’s proposed design for NASA’s next lunar lander.  It is huge–truly the Hummer of space vehicles.

–Any chance we’ll see a space elevator in the future?  Next Big Future says no time soon–if ever.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says his Blue Origin space venture is the most important work he is doing.  The reason?  We need to l lower the cost of launches to mine resources in space, and to lower the barrier of entry for space commerce entrepreneurship.

Future TransportHyperloop Transportation Technologies has unveiled the proposed design for its first passenger capsule.  They hope to have it ready by sometime next year, and eventually to transport passengers at up to 750mph.

Ford issued an industry-wide call to all those enterprises now developing self-driving automotive technology: the vehicles need to talk to each other.  To that end, they advocate an developing a standard communication language to share intent.

The future of construction?

Robotics–Are drywall installers the next workers to be replaced by automation?  If this video is to be believed, the answer is yes.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook