News of The Future This Week: April 19, 2018

“Space in general gave us GPS – that’s not specifically NASA, but it’s investments in space.”–
Neil DeGrasse Tyson

No more Lost In Space? image credit: http://www.andertoons.com

Maybe NDT is right–NASA didn’t directly give us GPS as in Global Positioning System.  But they are going to directly give us–or at least their astronauts–GPS as in Galactic Positioning System.  What that portends for the ratings for Lost in Space  is beyond the foresight of this blog.  But hey, the plausibility of that series was already next to zero.

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 

Danger Will Robinson, ratings in jeopardy.

NASA/Space–Lost In Space  may now be an obsolete concept.  NASA has unveiled plans for a galactic positioning system that uses x-rays emitted from pulsars.

–The exo-planet exploration baton has been passed from Kepler to TESS.  The newest planet-finding telescope was successfully launched on the back of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

–As a reminder that technologies, as well as people, are increasingly interconnected, NASA will employ 3D printing to produce over 100 parts of its next generation Orion Space Capsule.  The first manned launch of the vehicle is slated for sometime in the early 2020’s.

Automotive Future–The Verge reports that self-driving vehicles are poised to creat an $800 billion market by 2030 and a staggering $7 trillion by 2050.  Handling the data is key, and Telsa and Waymo are leading the pack.

–Almost on cue with the above, Toyota announced plans to deploy chips, by 2021, that will enable cars to communicate with each other.  The technology has implications for safety in conventional vehicles, and is a flat out necessity for massive autonomous vehicle rollout.

–Even as Uber is still reeling from its first self-driving car fatality in Arizona, competition is heating up on the other side of the globe.  Ola, a major Uber rival in Asia, announced plans to deploy 10,000 electric vehicles within the next year.-

CRISPR/genetic editing–To date, 86 human patients in China have been treated with CRISPR/Cas9 edited cells to help fight cancer and HIV.

–Even as lower regulatory hurdles have been a boon to rapid deployment of human tests in China, Europe has approved its first CRISPR trial for patients with a devastating blood disorder.

Here’s a very brief video with a very basic explanation of what CRISPR does.

Coming Attractions:  The next Seeking Delphi podcast features Roberto Saracco on Social Robotics and the IEEE Initiative On Symbiotic Autonomous Systems.

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 

News of The Future This Week: April 6, 2018

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”–Neil DeGrasse Tyson

“This is the way the world ends.  With a whimper, not a bang.”–TS Eliot

 

NDT is absolutley correct, but TS Eliot?  Maybe not so much. The latest theory of how the universe will end is most decidedly with a bang: a second big bang, to be precise.  But it’s probably a few trillion years in the future–assuming the math is correct.

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 

Cosmology–According to a new Harvard study,  the universe might end with a second big bang, caused by changes to the Higgs Boson.  While the process may have already begun in some distant galaxy, it’s  most likely to occur trillions of years in the future.    So return those overdue library books now.

–While the universe is still here, a team based at Plymouth University in the UK has published a study suggesting artificial intelligence can be use to predict the likelihood of life on other planets. 

Credit: USC

Transhumanism–A DARPA-funded prosthetic memory system has shown significant efficacy.  Researchers at Wake Forrest and USC report a  35%+ imrovement in memory by writing codes directly into the hippocampus of subjects.

Future of Work–A new OECD report projects that job losses from automation and robotics in coming years may not be a severe as some are projecting.  Just 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation in OECD countries, they say, versus the 47% risk cited in an Oxford University study.

Quantum Computing–IBM announced a new initiative to work with several startup companies to further develop applications for quantum computing.  One of the companies is Strangeworks, started by whurley, and briefly discussed in the Seeking Delphi™ podcast, with You Tube link below.

whurley on Quantum Computing and Strangeworks

Aerospace–NASA awarded a contract to Lockheed-Martin to build its first  supersonic X-plane slated for test flights by 2021.  The craft is designed to break the sound barrier over land, without blasting the ground with sonic booms.

3D printed bridge or robot pasta?

3D Printing–Dutch company MX3D is creating a fully funcional 3D printed stainless steel bridge to cross one of Amsterdam’s canals.  It looks eerie, to say the least.

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 

News of the Future This Week, March 21, 2018

“It’s not going to do any good to land on Mars if we’re stupid.”–Ray Bradbury

“You cannot be serious.”–John McEnroe

Is Vladimir Putin serious?  He’s really going to put Russians on the moon by next year?  Live Russians? Human Russians?  Russian manikins, maybe.  Or how about those nested Russian dolls?  I have my hunches about his obvious hyperbole.  Like maybe he’s goading a certain Western leader I won’t name to take it seriously and go broke trying to compete with him. All the while what he’s really doing is focusing his resources on hacking democracy and wreaking havoc.

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 

Matryoshka dolls. Send these to Mars?

Space Exploration– Yes, according to Futurism.com, Vladimir Putin did say that he intends to send both manned and unmanned missions to Mars, possibly as soon as next year.  This timetable is a full 5 years ahead of SpaceX’s most optimistic scenario. He might have his work cut out for him.  The Russian space agency has not attempted to reach beyond earth’s gravity well since a 2011 launch failed and fell out of orbit.

–Next Big Future reports on the progress–and relative merits–of AD-Astra’s  VX200SSTM VASIMR® prototype  space propulsion engine.  Recent test firings have brought them one step closer to enabling earth to mars transit in as little as 4 to 6 weeks.  SpaceX, with its BFR, has aims at making the transit at similar speeds.

Quantum Computing–IBM released it’s 5 in 5 list–five inovations that will change our lives in five years.  Most notably they, predicted that quantum computing will be mainstream within five years.  If you listened to my podcast with whurley from SXSW 2018, you’d know that enabling broad use of quantum computing is exactly what he’s aiming for with his new company, Strangeworks (YouTube link below).

Quantum Computing featuring whurley, recorded March 12, 2018 at SXSW, Austin, TX

Age of Robots reported on the marriage of quantum computing with biological data.  Specifically, researchers at USC have demonstrated how a quantum processor could effectively predict certain processes in the human genome.

3D printing-A vehicle its maker says will be the first mass-produced, 3D-printed car, is slated for availability in 2019.   With a price tag of less than $10,000, but with a single-charge range of only 90 miles at a maximum speed of 45mph, it might seem more like a golf cart on steroids than a real car.  Dr. Paul Tinari talked about 3D-printed cars in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #7 in March of 2017.

Dr. Paul Tinari on 3D printing cars, homes and–good grief–even human beings. Seeking Delphi™ podcast #7, from March 2017

Self-Driving Cars–In the wake of the Tempe, Arizona pedestrian fatality involving an Uber self-driving car, the New York Times published this guide to how self-driving cars sense the world.

Google-modified Lexus. Source: Google

 

Up next:  one final special edition mini-cast out of SXSW.  Exteme Bionics: The Future of Human Ability.

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

SXSW 2018 Mini-cast #2: March 11, 2018; Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine?

 

“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”–Albert Einstein

For anyone who has watched the HBO series Westworld,  the questions about creating machine consciousness run much deeper than “can we.”  These include,  should we?  How will we treat it?  How will it feel about its station as artificial life?  Will we be able to control it, and is that ethical?  And most profoundly,  how will that change what it means to be human?  The questions go beyond ethical to existential, and they were all addressed in the SXSW Intelligent Future track in a panel titled Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine? Not surprisingly, there were two techno-philosophers on the panel to explore these issues.  They are David Chalmers, with NYU’s Center for Brain an Mind Consciousness, and Susan Schneider, with the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Connecticut.

In this Seeking Delphi™ minicast,  I speak with both of them about some of these issues.   The third panelist mentioned in the podcast is Allen Institute physicist, Kristoff Koch.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

David Chalmers

Susan Schneider

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Edition SXSW 2018 mini-cast #2.

YouTube slide show of  Seeking Delphi™ SXSW 2018 minicast #2

The experts on the panel agreed…classical digital computers can’t create consciousness.  Neural networks? Neuromorphic chips?  And what about quantum computing?  My interview with whurley on quantum computing, immediately following his SXSW keynote on the subject, is below.

SXSW minicast #3: whurley on quantum computing

 

In case you missed it, the YouTube slide show link for SXSW 2018 minicast #1, on covering sessions on quantum computing and self-driving car safety, is below.

A reminder that this and all Seeking Delphi ™podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

SXSW 2018 Mini-cast #1: March 10, 2018

 As introduction to the podcast, some of this material is reprinted from a post earlier today.  Scroll down for the audio file or links to access it on iTunes or PlayerFM.

“The promise of autonomous vehicles is great.”–Dan Lipinski

“My opinion is that it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk

Wait–what?  The man who thinks he can send humans on a one way trip to colonize Mars within 10 years, thinks fully autonomous vehicles are out of our reach?  The  Elon Musk quote above is from 2013.  I would be surprised if he still feels that way–but who knows?

Segue to this morning, at the Intelligent Future interactive track at SXSW 2018 in Austin, TX.  Nobody on the panel entitled “Who takes the wheel on self-driving car safety” suggested we won’t get there.  But there was plenty of caution  on how, how fast, and how far we go in doing so.

Most notable were comments by Andrew Reimer of MIT.  He foresaw a gap of 50-100 years before fully autonomous cars–no human intervention–take over the lion’s share of driving, globally.  His issues were not just technical; they included trust, complexity, infrastructure and good old fashioned habit.  He was certain that manual driving would probably never  completely go away.  He sighted the example of a high end sports car owners wanting the enjoyment of driving.

“It might just be hobbyists,” he said, but made it clear that in some shape or form, the human factor is likely to survive for a very long time.

 

Quantum Computing

A session on “Quantum Computing: Science Fiction to Science Fact,” was somewhat misnamed.  While the history of its theoretical origins were recounted by D-Wave’s Bo Ewald, the session really focused on the current trends and developments leading toward a 10-year or so future horizon.

Bo Ewald talks about meeting Richard Feynman

Ewald recounted how iconic physicist Richard Feynman first imagined quantum computing in 1981, published the first paper on it in 1982,  and gave a talk on it at Los Alamos in 1983.  Ewald was head of computing at Los Alamos in 1983 and met Feynman at that talk.  Sheldon Cooper, eat your heart out.

Humanizing Autonomy

A sessiojn autonomous systems covered much of the same ground that was addressed in Seeking Delphi podcasts with Richard Yonck (#12) and John C. Havens (#17).   last year.  But one of the presenters, Liesl Yearsly of Akin, had an interesting means of illustrating how the material will affect us.

SXSW Minicast #1, March 10, 2018

YouTube slide show of SXSW 2018 Mini-cast #1

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.

 

 

 

SXSW 2018–Saturday Morning, March 10

“The promise of autonomous vehicles is great.”–Dan Lipinski

“My opinion is that it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk

Wait–what?  The man who thinks he can send humans on a one way trip to colonize Mars within 10 years, thinks fully autonomous vehicles are out of our reach?  The  Elon Musk quote above is from 2013.  I would be surprised if he still feels that way–but who knows?

Bryan Reimer of MIT, speaking at panel “Who takes the wheel on self-driving car safety.” SXSW 2018

Segue to this morning, at the Intelligent Future interactive track at SXSW 2018 in Austin, TX.  Nobody on the panel entitled “Who takes the wheel on self-driving car safety” suggested we won’t get there.  But there was plenty of caution  on how, how fast, and how far we go in doing so.

Most notable were comments by Andrew Reimer of MIT.  He foresaw a gap of 50-100 years before fully autonomous cars–no human intervention–take over the lion’s share of driving, globally.  His issues were not just technical; they included trust, complexity, infrastructure and good old fashioned habit.  He was certain that manual driving would probably never  completely go away.  He sighted the example of a high end sports car owners wanting the enjoyment of driving.

“It might just be hobbyists,” he said, but made it clear that in some shape or form, the human factor is likely to survive for a very long time.

As for the issue of safety,  Cathy Chase of  Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety cited three critical areas of consideration to make self-driving car safety standard.  The first is a morass of no fewer than 400 different laws that could be enacted–now–to make all driving safer.  As an example, she  mentioned automatic emergency breaking.  Today it’s mostly only found as a feature in semi-autonomous luxury vehicles. To make it as standard as seat belts would require federal regulation.  Second is the need for a shift in public attitudes; there needs to be reassurance.  A majority of the public–at least in the US–does not yet trust self-driving cars.**  The third is to avoid issue amnesia.  In a rush to mainstream autonomous driving, congress could pass enabling laws prematurely, before all technical and regulatory issue are resolved.

**My two cents on the issue of trust.  To better understand why there is mistrust, consider the cognitive bias that Nobel economics laureate Daniel Kahneman calls “what you see is all there is.” or WYSIATI.  When one Tesla on auto-pilot is involved in a fatal crash, it makes major national headlines.  It’s right in front of us.  Yet, over 100 in the US die every day in auto accidents caused by human error.  Unless a celebrity is involved, none of them make news beyond their local area.  Nobody pays attention unless they are directly affected.  Statistically, at some point, self-driving vehicles are likely to be far safer than human-driven.  But as long as the autonomous accidents make the big news,  the public may not perceive them as safe.

Quantum Computing

A session on “Quantum Computing: Science Fiction to Science Fact,” was somewhat misnamed.  While the history of its theoretical origins were recounted by D-Wave’s Bo Ewald, the session really focused on the current trends and developments leading toward a 10-year or so future horizon.

Bo Ewald talks about meeting Richard Feynman

Ewald recounted how iconic physicist Richard Feynman first imagined quantum computing in 1981, published the first paper on it in 1982,  and gave a talk on it at Los Alamos in 1983.  Ewald was head of computing at Los Alamos in 1983 and met Feynman at that talk.  Sheldon Cooper, eat your heart out.

Ewald repeated this story for me in a brief interview which should be available as part of a Seeking Delphi™ minicast later this evening.  I also asked him about the notion that we really don’t know for sure everything that quantum computing will be able to do.  He agreed.

“For the past ten years, most of the discussion has been about quantum cryptography, ” had said. “this has nothing to do with what Feinman was talking about.   He was interested in modeling nature.”  He cited material sciences and system optimizations as areas of great promise for the future.

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: June 26, 2017

“We wanted flying cars.  Instead we got 140 characters.”–Peter Thiel

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.”–Douglas Adams

 

The PAL-V flying car prototype

It appears that Peter Thiel might get his flying car by this time next year.  Oh, there’s just one problem though.  If you want one, you’ll have to be as rich as Peter Thiel, as they won’t exactly be cheap.  In fact  you can buy a single engine Cessna for much less.  In any case, let’s hope the drivers miss when they throw themselves at the ground.

No, they won’t look like this

Flying Cars–Dutch firm PAL-V has announced it tends to bring its 3-wheeled, 2-passenger gyro-copter to market by sometime next year. The vehicle is certified for both the air and the road, making it a true flying car.  You’d better start saving your pennies, though, as the first model will list for about $600,000.   But don’t worry, the firm will follow the launch up with a second model–a sport vehicle–targeted to sell for a mere $350,000.

Aerospace–The European Space Agency,  while still three years away from the first test flights for its planned space plane, says it hopes to privatize the vehicle by 2025.  They foresee Space Rideras it is called, offering commercial launches into low earth orbit for about $4,200.00 per pound.

Neural Networks/Quantum Computing–The US Air Force and IBM are collaborating on a venture to build the world’s first supercomputer to be based on human brain architecture.  The device, employing IBM’s True North neurosynaptic technology, will have the equivalent of five million neurons and 16 billion synapses.  In case you’re worried about being replaced, the human brain has about 100 billion neurons and one quadrillion ( 1015 ) synapses.

The University of Southern California (USC) will head a consortium of universities and private contractors to develop a quantum computer that will be 10,000 times faster than classical computers.  The Quantum Annelear will feature 100 qubit architecture and is targeted for operation by 2023.

Meanwhile, Google remains out front in quantum computing race.  It currently is testing a 20-qubit device, and hopes to have a 49-qubit processor operational before the end of 2017.

Design Innovation–A student from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas has won the Radical Innovation Award for 2017, for his concept of a Hyperloop Hotel.  The idea would  employ modular container suites would detach and serve as luxury hotel rooms at each city stop.

All that’s needed is…a hyperloop.

 

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.