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: July 17, 2019

Returning after an extended summer break.

“I poured spot remover on my dog.  Now he’s gone.”–Steven Wright

Is your dog gone? Not to worry, it seems that similar technology to human facial recognition might help you find it.

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.

Artificial Intelligence/Dogs–If you think being tracked by facial recognition is creepy, how do you think your dog will react to being tracked by its nose prints? A Chinese A.I. company is doing just that–for the expressed purpose of identifying lost dogs.

–If that sounds odd, a group of cognitive biologists and computer scientists wants to grant internet access to higher intelligence members of the animal kingdom like apes, elephants and dolphins.  And you thought human tweet storms were crazy?

 Transhumanism/Neuroscience–Elon Musk unveiled details of his Neurolink venture, and its plans to interlace the brain with a chip or sensors connected by hundreds of microwires.  The initial plan is to help individuals with neurological or sensory impediments;  the long range plan is…well…maybe the Matrix?  YouTube video of Musk’s presentation here.

–In a somewhat related sphere, Intel reports that its most advanced neuromorphic system now consists of 8 million neurons, and will reach 100 million by 2020.  (Compare that, though, to the 100 billion neurons in a human brain).

Space/Moon/Apollo 11–As the U.S. celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a Gallup poll shows that for the first time public opinion swings in favor of a manned mission to Mars.  In the mean time, Fast Company reminds us that the Apollo program was unpopular enough, at the time, for Eisenhower to call JFK “nuts.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that India’s population is “pumped” in anticipation of its first unmanned lunar launch, which was scheduled for this week.   Unfortunately, technical glitches have delayed the mission until at least late July.

–In the mean time, Engadget reports that France is creating a “Space Command” to defent its satellites.  The venture will be part of the country’s air force.

Ready for prime tme? Image: Boston Dynamics

Robotics–Boston Dynamics’ robots are getting ready to leave the lab.  The Verge asks whether the world is ready.

 

Longevity Extension–While telomeres and telomerase may not turn out to be the holy grail of aging, they certainly have their role in the diseases of aging.  Dr. Maria Blasco, one of the presenters at the second annual Ending Age-Related Diseases conference held July 11 and 12 in New York, is seen below in an impromptu news conference, talking about some of her work.

(Video credit: Mark Sackler for Seeking Delphi™)

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, Matt Ward on 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: June 4, 2019

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

“President Bush announced that we were landing on Mars today … which means he’s given up on Earth.”–Jon Stewart

Will we find microbes on Mars?  Can we make breathable Oxygen on Mars? I guess we’ll find out sometime between now and when we get there.  I’m not betting on Elon Musk’s aggressive timetable, and I’m certainly not expecting to go there myself.  But I do have a ticket to send my name there.

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.

Mars/Moon/SpaceA team of researchers from Caltech has come up with a process by which breathable Oxygen might be generated from Carbon Dioxide for the benefit of future Mars explorers.  This is probably preferable to having it shipped there by Amazon.

–If you’re looking for life on Mars, you might want to look for pasta-shaped rock formations.  According to a University of Illinois scientist, a microbe that forms such growths lives in extremely harsh, low oxygen environments on Earth, and might be able to thrive on Mars.

–Neither you nor I are likely to be going to Mars anytime soon–if ever.  But you can send your name there.  NASA is inviting individuals to submit their names to be etched in a microchip headed there on the 2020 rover.  (Thanks to Eric Klein of the Lifeboat Foundation for providing me with the ticket below).

Future Transport–Back on Earth, Elon Musk’s latest promised gimmick will be to  produce a Tesla roadster powered by SpaceX rocket thruster technology–by next year.  Warning: do not exceed the sound barrier.

–The Canadian province of British Columbia is not taking climate change lying down.  They will phase out gas-powered vehicles, requiring 10% to be emission free by 2025 and banning gas-powered vehicles entirely by 2040.

–Wanna buy a flying car?  Listen to Seeking Delphi™ podcast #27.  Want an emission free vertical take-off-and-landing vehicle (VOTL)?  See the video below.

 

Sustainable Energy–If you’re seeking the holy grail of renewable, clean energy, there’s bad news.   Cold fusion, once and for all, is not it.  Google has blown more than a few bucks chasing that unicorn the last four years.

Biotechnology–Therapy delivering nanobots have moved one step closer to becoming reality.  IEEE Spectrum reports that South Korean scientists have propelled stem-cell carrying magnetic nanobots through a live mouse.

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, 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 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.