News of The Future This Week: August 26, 2018

“Teenagers who are never required to vacuum are living in one.”–Fred G. Gosman

 

Ah.  Parenting author Fred Gosman has a good point.  Maybe.  But what would he do with a teenager who wants to live in a vacuum?  This week’s lead story profiles the 17-year-old American girl who aims to literally do that–at least for the several months it would take her to get to Mars.

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 

 Space–In a profile from Inverse, learn about 17-year-old Alyssa Carson, who wants to be the first human to travel to Mars.  And you think your kid has big ambitions?

–Getting to Mars is hard enough.  What happens if astronauts experience a medical emergency en route?  The Verge reports that NASA is preparing for just that happenstance, in partnership with a Boston hospital.

  

Deep space medical simulation. Image credit: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

–Before going to Mars, NASA thinks it’s a good idea to go back to the moon–and for extended periods.  They unveiled plans to the media this week for a permanent orbiting manned gateway platform that could be used as a jumping off spot for extended excursions to the lunar surface. The project is targeted for completion by 2024.

–If plans go well, 2022 will mark the entry of a forth nation into the business of manned space flights.  India hopes to join the US, Russia and China as the only countries to launch human spacecraft.

Will the test pilot be named Jetson-san?

Future Cars, Flying and Self-Driving–Japan has embarked on a major push to develop flying cars.  A 21 organization consortium, including Boeing and Uber, has been enlisted to accomplish the goal of making those Jetson dreams a reality.

–Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Uber’s path to self-driving cars has dimmed since the recent fatal crash in Arizona.

Artificial Intelligence–MIT Technology Review reports that weaponized AI is on the rise.   It may threaten the future of democracy.

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: August 19, 2018

“Those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” – John F Kennedy

 

What is a futurist? I get asked that all the time.  No, we don’t have crystal balls.  It’s not so much about predicting the future as it is about helping steer humanity to a better future.  This week’s news of the future kicks off with a new video by British futurist Ray Hammond that provides a succinct historical perspective on the study of 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 

 Future Thinking–From Roger Bacon to Alvin Toffler and Ray Kurzweill,  Ray Hammond’s new video on The History of Futurists and Futurology provides a thoughtful perspective on thinking about things to come.

–And from last year’s annual meeting of The Association of Professional Futurists, my Seeking Delphi podcast, redux, asking the practitioners themselves, What is a Futurist?

 

Tesla semi (artist’s conception)

Future transportation–Elon Musk continues to lead the way when it comes to inventing the future of transportation.  His Boring Company aims to create a 3 mile long tunnel to Dodger Stadium to help ease Los Angeles traffic, to be operative by late next year.  And Tesla looks to roll out its first electric semi- truck, also in 2019.

Space Exploration/Commerce–Want to mine the asteroids?  Now it’s possible to get a master’s degree, or even a Ph.D., dedicated to exactly that.  The Colorado School of Mines offers the program to study the “exploration, extraction, and use of [space] resources.”

Meanwhile, China’s  announced plans to send two robots to explore the far side of the moon now has a launch target of this December. 

Graphene Jacket (image credit: Vollebak)

Material Science–A company called Vollebak has introduced the world’s first graphene jacket.  Light weight, water proof, and durable, it will only set you back $695.

Military Technology–Damn the cyber torpedoes, it’s full speed ahead for the US to build a megawatt laser weapon by 2023.  The aim is to intercept ICBM’s and hypersonic weapons.

The Human Condition–Millennium Project CEO and State of The Future lead author, Jerome Glenn, says that we have done better than most people expected.  He goes so far as to say, in the latest Seeking Delphi™ interview linked below, that “we are winning as a species.”  He does acknowledge critical issues that could derail the trajectory of progress, however.

Episode #24: The State of The Future, with Jerome Glenn

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

The Future This Week: November 20, 2017

 “There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” –George Carlin

Ah, the moon; so close, and yet so far away.  Has it really been almost fifty years since Neil Armstrong took his one small step for man?  Now, finally, the race is on to go back to our nearby celestial neighbor.  But in 1969, the only motivation was to win a race that was instigated by the cold war.  Now there is different driver in play.  It’s money;  many of the new players, in what is now a multi-way competition, are commercial ventures.

 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 

Space/Lunar explorationMoon Express has unveiled its lunar rover that’s due for a 2019 launch.  Described as an R2D2 lookalike, it would be the first commercial launch beyond earth orbit. The $20 million lunar X-Prize is hanging in the balance.

Yoda would be proud

China has announced plans to catch up to the US in space rocketry by the early 2020’s,  and a longer term goal of developing nuclear powered space vehicles by 2045.

Next big future reports on the possible development of what’s being called an interlunar photonic railway.  It’s based on the the laser powered space sails being planned by Breakthrough Starshot.

Electric Vehicles–Tesla unveiled two new ambitious vehicles, slated to begin production in 2019.  Its big-rig truck has a projected single-charge range of 500 miles and acceleration capabilities far better than diesel powered semis.  The roadster will boast a 620-mile range and a 260 mph top speed.  The price for these indulgences?  I’m not asking; i know I can’t afford either one.

Zoom Zoom

–Elon Musk may be the pioneer in all-electric vehicles, but he’s certainly not alone.  Volkswagon plans to invest an immodest $40 Billion on electric car technology through 2022,  and Toyota is targeting 2020 for its launch of an EV in China.

Senescence/Anti-aging research–Harvard professor and serial biotech entrepreneur Dr. George Church is moving headlong towards enabling human aging reversal.  His Rejuvenate Bio firm plans to test an age reversal therapy in dogs in 2019, and if successful, followed by human trials in 2022.

Scientists at Northwestern University say they have found what may be the first anti-aging genetic mutation.  The genetic anomaly was found in a small Amish community in Indiana.  Individuals who possess the mutation experience longer than average lifespans.

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 23, 2017

 “I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.”–Elon Musk

Nothing accelerates technological development like competition. It was the competition between the US and the Soviet Union that put a man on the moon in 1969, decades sooner than it would otherwise have occurred.  The finish line of that race ended the competition, and we haven’t gone back since.  But a new competition, multi-faceted and far more diverse, has begun.  The commercial development of space figures to re-accelerate our push into the final frontier. If you’re a fan of space exploration and exploitation, stay tuned, the next few years are going to be exciting.

 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 

Fly me to the moon…in 2022

Space exploration/exploitation/tourismUnited Launch  Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace have announced a joint venture to place a habitat in lunar orbit by 2022.  While they describe fully how they intend to get it there, they don’t yet say who will inhabit it or what it might be used for.  Anyone want to rent a lunar-orbiting apartment?

Richard Branson says his Virgin Galactic commercial space venture will launch its first astronauts into space in about 4 months.  He also says his program will do more for humanity than Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX plans to colonize Mars.  Branson vs. Musk is not exactly USA vs. USSR; in fact,  it might actually be more sustainable.

–Branson and Musk aren’t the only billionaire-sized egos in space.  Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin announced  a breakthrough that brings it one step closer to launching sub-orbital space tourism flights by 2019. They successfully test fired their new BE-4 rocket engine.

While NASA progresses at a snails pace in returning US astronauts to the moon, it’s ramping up the effort to detect nearby, habitable earth-like planets.  How they will ever get us there is another question, altogether.

Artificial Intelligence–Elon Musk says that the AI in a Tesla will soon be able to predict your destination and bring you there without asking. That’s good; half the time I have no idea where I’m going.  Seriously, though, that’s amazing–and kind of creepy at the same time.

The New York Times reports that tech giants are paying big bucks for the services of Artificial Intelligence experts.  The deals they offer them often include signing bonuses and multi-year contracts, sometimes resembling those offered to professional athletes.

–Dubai and India are both jumping on the A.I. bandwagon, as far as government monitoring and regulation is concerned.  Dubai is appointing a minister of artificial intelligence, while India is establishing an expert panel to advise government on policy.

Biotechnology–An Italian neurosurgeon says he will conduct the world’s first full head transplant in December of this year.  And you were skeptical of self-driving cars.

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: September 4, 2017

“Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?” —Steve Polyak

Is this our fate?

There is an ominous feeling in the air about artificial intelligence this week.  It seems to be everywhere, as in “all over the news.”  Elon Musk? We hear from him on the subject every week.  But now one Vladimir Putin has even weighed in.  Both Musk and Putin have dark warnings.  And Putin’s feels a lot like Littlefinger telling Ned Stark not to trust him. Oh, and don’t forget the Chinese, as they weigh in with a massive A.I. investment.  All this as Intel announces a staggering advance in A.I. hardware.

Artificial Intelligence– Elon Musk’s warning du jour on A.I. is that it will be the most likely cause of World War Three.  He’s not worried about North Korea; he thinks that’s just bluster.  The truly hair raising part of it is that he doesn’t so much think it will be a war over A.I. as it will be a war started  by A.I. that has been empowered to make that decision itself.  These conjectures came closely on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s assertion that whomever gains a dominant position in A.I. could rule the world.   He warned that it would be extremely dangerous for any one entity to gain a monopoly.

Cue the Chinese.  They have stated a desire to take a world-leading position in A.I.  by around 2030.  To that end, Chinese internet giant Baidu has teamed up with China Life, a state-owned financial company, to create a 7 Billion Yaun (~$1 Billion US) A.I. investment fund.  The aim is to invest in small private ventures with innovative technologies.

Back in the USA, Intel has announced a new A.I. accelerator that can process 1 Trillion Operations Per Second (TOP) per Watt.  Just what China and Russia are looking for?

Autonomous Vehicles–Ford and Dominoes Pizza have announced a joint venture to test an autonomous pizza delivery vehicle. (Image left).  As 55%of respondents in a recent Gartner survey found said they wouldn’t ride in a self-driving car, I’m wondering if they’d be OK with their pizza riding in one.

 

Please don’t deliver!

How about trusting your garbage to an autonomous vehicle?  Volvo is developing a self-driving garbage truck.  I hope delivery and pickup don’t get confused.

Cryptocurrency/blockchain–Major cryptocurrencies crashed by 20% over the past two trading days of last week.   Apparently China outlawing ICO’s and the SEC questioning their legality did not help things.  I still think they are basically digital tulip bulbs.

 Undaunted by this, six multi-national banks are joining an existing project, headed by UBS to launch their own cryptocurrency, designed for securely clearing large online transactions.  They are currently in talks with regulators on a projected late 2018 launch.

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: August 28, 2017

 “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.”–Susan Ertz

Like it or not, anti-aging reasearch–the quest to slow, stop, or even reverse the aging process, has gone mainstream.  Several serious projects have been funded, animal and even human trials of age retarding pharmaceuticals have begun.  It isn’t just on the fringe, anymore.

Aging/rejuvenation therapy research– The Longevity Fund just completed its second round of capital raising, to the tune of $22 million US dollars.  It aims to invest in all manner of enterprises looking to boost human lifespan.  And it was founded by 23-year-old Laura Deming–she is certainly thinking ahead.

Electric Vehicles-The latest report on Tesla’s proposed new all-electric semi-truck, is that it will have a range of 200-300 miles.  They also assert that use of it’s auto-pilot feature could reduce crashes by up to 40%, though with the limited range it is not likely to make a significant dent (pardon the expression) in that rate any time soon.  The truck has been promised to be available as soon as next month.

Airline Travel–Qantas has set in motion a very tentative plan to launch the world’s longest regularly scheduled airline route.  They hope to begin service between Sydney and London by 2022.  There’s just one problem.  The key word is tentative–there is no current model airliner capable of a flying that far without refueling.  Qantas has thrown down the challenge to Boeing, Airbus, and others: develop one.

Flying Taxis–Speaking of aircraft manufacturer’s, Airbus intends to launch an urban, autonomous flying taxi service, and do it soon.  Worry no more about traffic jams on the ground–and let the FAA and other air transportation regulators worry about traffic jams in the sky.  Boeing says they will be flying by the end of this year.

Machine-brain Interface–The journal Science reports that engineers at Northeaster University have published a breakthrough study on miniaturized antennas.  The devices are 100-times smaller than any previously possible, and may be used to enable  implants in the brain and micro–medical devices, not to mention tiny consumer electronics.

Creative Artificial Intelligence–The world’s first music album,  composed and arranged by AI in collaboration with a human artist has been released by Amper Music.  The A.I. does almost everything except perform. That is left to popular internet artist Taryn Southern, backed by professional studio musicians. Southern wrote the lyrics and the vocal melody. See the YouTube video below.

Coming Attractions–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Bloomlife CEO and co-founder Eric Dy.  The company’s health monitoring device that keeps tabs, simultaneously, on pregnant women and their unborn babies,  recently won an impressive innovation contest.

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: August 14, 2017

“Life isn’t a tiptoe through the tulips.”–Shannon Hoon

“When tulip mania dies down, all that remains are pretty flowers.”–Adam Cohen

I understand the value of cryptocurrency–I think.  But the valuation? Forget it.  Investors’ lives certainly won’t be a tiptoe through the tulips when and if the Bitcoin bubble bursts.  But I’ll still love hearing Tiny Tim sing about it.  And yes, tulips are still pretty flowers.

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency–The price of a single Bitcoin topped $4,000 for the first time.  Is cryptocurrency the future of our economy?  I have my doubts.   And if you are looking for a way to short it, that makes two of us.

Semi-conductors/material science--With transistor miniaturization in silicon-based microchips rapidly reaching its physical limit,  Moore’s law could also be coming to an end.  But researchers at Stanford University have identified two semi-conductors that could extend the limits of silicon-based miniaturization by augmenting its properties.

Does “too cute to eat” also mean, “too cute to accept an organ transplant from?’

Biotech/gene editing–A group led by Dr. George Church, of Harvard University, has succeeded in using gene-editing to make piglets more suitable for growing replacement human organs.   Dr. Church believes that the first pig-to-human organ transplants may be as close as two years away.

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–The premiere issue of Age of Robots has hit the digital newsstands.  My article, Self Replicating MachinesScience Fiction vs. Science Fact, appears, along with stories on artificial intelligence, medical robots,  machine consciousness, and more.

   Quantum Reality–A future after death? The notion of life after death has always been the exclusive realm of the spiritual/religious world–until now, that is.  Physicist and author Roger Penrose,  along with some others with impressive scientific credentials, now believe that information stored in our brains in a quantum state may live on, along with our consciousness, after we die.  This report, on the Galaxy Today web page, hints at any number of ideas which I have expounded on in my other blog,  The Millennium Conjectures.

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.