News of The Future This Week: September 26, 2019

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

Ah, the promise may indeed be great,  but the inevitable unintended consequences, as is depicted in the cartoon to the left, will continue to perplex.   Personally, I don’t have to worry about my wife running off with a driverless car.  She’d be perfectly happy to run off with her horse.

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.

Autonomous Vehicles–Everybody is getting into the act.  Now Hyundai says it will team with Aptiv to market a self-driving car by 2022.  The big question, though, is whether all these players will set a standard to communicate with each other.  That subject was addressed as part of an APF award-nominated Seeking Delphi™ podcast on future driving.

America: not so keen on this? Image: Shutterstock

–Before the automotive powers-that-be get too enthusiastic about rushing to market, they better start dealing with consumer attitudes.  A University of Washington study suggests American commuters are not too keen on the idea of self-driving cars.

–Just when you thought all the autonomous car issues had pretty much surfaced, along comes BMW with an ad on their twitter account about having sex in self-driving cars.  They quickly removed that add with no explanation for the deletion.

Orion capsule. Image: NASA

Space/NASA–NASA has taken a major step towards its goal of returning American astronauts to the moon by 2024.  They have ordered 6 Orion capsules–with an option for an additional 6–from Lockheed-Martin

–Astronauts will need more than new vehicles to return to the moon;  they will also need new spacesuits.  Current models are designed only for spacewalks, not for walking on the lunar surface.  To that aim, NASA now plans to test new spacesuits on international space station in 2023–one year in advance of the present lunar landing schedule.

–NASA hasn’t forgotten about the rest of us.  We don’t need spacesuits, but we do need to watch out for asteroids that pose a threat to Earth.  A new space telescope to watch out for them is planned for a 2025 launch.

Energy–Researchers at Duke University claim a breakthrough technology for creating new meta-materials that can be used to harvest thermal energy.  They work much like solar cells, but absorb from the infrared, rather than the visible, spectrum.

–IKEA doesn’t just make furniture.  They make energy, lots of energy.  They do it by investing heavily in solar and wind energy, and now say they will produce more than they consume by sometime next year.

Quantum computing–Does Google reign supreme in the quantum world?  That’s what they are claiming with what as they say is the solving of problem that classical computers can’t touch.  Here’s more on quantum computing: a Seeking Delphi™ podcast with Strangeworks founder and CEO whurley (William Hurley), recorded at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March of 2018.

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: July 1, 2018

“I would love to have a robot at home.”–Hugh Jackman

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

 

Robot butler? Maybe.  Robot sommelier? No thanks.

But right on cue with last weeks podcast #23, with robot psychiatrist Joanne Pransky, this week’s news is full up with robots.  (See a YouTube link to the Pransky interview at the bottom of this page).

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 

Robots/Voice Assistants–A new survey by the Brookings institute finds that even while many Americans are OK with Alexa and Siri, 61% are uncomfortable with robots in the home.  The afore-mentioned Joanne Pransky takes issue with the survey’s methodology, even while she attempts to explain the problem.

An AI-equipped robot named CIMON has been launched to join the international space station aboard the SpaceX Dragon Cargo Capsule.   It’s the first Ai-equipped machine ever to be launched into space.

Bye bye ASIMO

Honda has announced the retirement of their famed robot, ASIMO.  They’re shutting him (her? it?) down to focus their robotic technology on more practical uses such as elder care and disaster relief.

CybersecurityThe future of security in the digital world might lie in the realm of a quantum random number generator.   According to IEEE Spectrum, it may be the only was to generate truly random numbers.

Energy– UK-based Tokamak Energy has heated plasma in a  to a record 15 million degrees Celsius (27 million Farenheit).  They say this could lead to commercial nuclear fusion by 2030.  Let me know if you see Bigfoot or a unicorn first.

Space/NASA–NASA has again delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, now scheduling the launch for 2021.  Cost overruns–bringing the total expenditure estimate to $9.7 billion–may threaten the continuation of the project.

Bioprinting/Biotechnology–3D printed implantable organs may be getting closer to reality. Tech crunch reports that a startup company in a San Francisco biotech incubator is leading the way.

Seeking Delphi Podcast #23–A Conversation with Joanne Pransky, The World’s First Robotic Psychiatrist®

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: June 8, 2018

“The environment is everything that isn’t me.”–Albert Einstein

 

Back in the ancient days of 2014, Bill Gates predicted there will be no poor countries by 2035. Is this likely?  Who knows?  But it’s hard not to see that renewable energy and materials will become increasingly critical if the world is to maintain current population and economic growth rates.

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 

Environment–Technologies to remove and recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere have long been dismissed as too expensive.   But a paper published this week in the journal Joule suggests that existing technology might bring the price down to as low as $94 a ton, vs. previous estimates of $1000.

Renewable Swedish meatballs?

–Energy isn’t the only renewable imperative.  Swedish furniture retail giant Ikea says it will use 100% renewable or recycled materials in all its products by 2030.  That would be up from the present level of 70%.

A new project aims to map the entire global ocean floor by 2030.  Only about 10% of the sea bottom is currently charted.

3D Printing–Renewable materials aren’t the only critical need for a growing world population.  Housing is vital, too.  And while there have been several stories in the last year about 3D printed homes in prototype stage, a Dutch company claims it now can create the first habitable printed home that can pass building inspection.  They look a little like above ground hobbit holes.

3D printed Dutch homes

CRISPR/gene editing–The US Food and Drug Administration has put the brakes on what aims to be the first human trial of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing to treat Sickle Cell Disease.  In a press release issued by by the therapy’s developer, CRISPR Therapeutics, the agency cited “certain questions” that need to be resolved before proceeding.

Blockchain–Former Olympic gold medalist Apolo Ohno,  writing for Hackernoon.com, says Asia will use blockchain to take over the world economy.  Among the reasons he sites, is the simple fact that they are already in the technological lead.

–Taking over the economy is one thing.  But former Augur CEO Matt Liston, wants it to take over religion, as well.

Hypersonic warfare–Russia is building a new submarine capable of firing hypersonic missiles. It’s projected to be finished by 2027.  In the meantime, the US Air Force has awarded Lockheed Martin a $928 million contract to build hypersonic missiles, with a prototype to be ready by 2022.

Robotics/Coming Attractions–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Joanne Pransky, who bills herself as The Worlds First Robotic Psychiatrist.®

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 

The Future This Week: August 7, 2017

“Your genetics is not your destiny.”–Dr. George Church

I’d like to ask Dr. George Church a question about the above quote.  Does he mean that nurture can overcome nature?  Or does he mean your genetics can be changed?  Considering he’s one of the leading geneticists in the world, and is closely involved in one or more enterprises involved in gene editing, I’m guessing it would be the latter.  Either way, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing was prominent in news this past week.

CRISPR/Cas9 genetic editing–A multinational team of American, Korean, and Chinese researcher succeeded in correcting a serious genetic disease in human embryos.  The paper appeared online in the journal Nature and was widely reported by various news sources.  While creating excitement for the technique’s potential, it also raised concerns for the potential advent of genetically modified “designer” babies.

UC, Berkeley researcher, and CRISPR co-developer, Dr. Jennifer Doudna, weighed in on the Nature paper, along with views on a variety of potential uses and abuses of the technology.  In a wide ranging interview with Newsweek, she mentioned cancer, diabetes and bio-terrorism as potential targets the technology could be used to fight.

Researchers at the University of Chicago reported success with CRISPR created skin grafts in treating diabetes in mice.  While not technically a cure, it could provide an effective long term treatment alternative to insulin shots.  The researchers also asserted that the technique could be useful in treating a variety of other diseases.

A brief explanation of CRISPR gene editing

 

3D Bio-printing–Doctors at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson medical school successfully inserted a 3D printed bone replacement implant in a patient who had suffered irreparable damage to a portion his skull.  Such a procedure was unthinkable just a few years ago and may be an indicator that bio-printing is on the verge of becoming a major health industry.

Robotics/Automation–Zume Pizza, of Mountain View, CA, has taken a Silicon Valley approach to making their pies.  They use robots.  While humans have not been completely automated out of the process, the robots do the repetitive parts of the process.

 Politics–According to WIRED, there is a good reason why people can’t stop talking about Mark Zuckerberg as a 2020 presidential candidate.  That reason is Mark Zuckerberg; his actions speak louder than his words.

Renewable Energy–Fresh on the heels of Atlanta’s goal to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2035, California is poised to set a statewide goal to do the same by 2045.  A bill mandating just that has passed a  committee in the state senate.  Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign it if it becomes law.

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: May 29, 2017

The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as  “Your Plastic Pal Who’s Fun to Be With.”  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”–Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy

Danger, Will Robinson!

The early images of robots were crude.  There was Robby the Robot in the 1956 scifi classic Forbidden Planet. His cousin, Robot B-9, on the campy mid 1960’s TV series Lost In Space, made famous the the catchphrase “danger Will Robinson.”   They look like cartoons to us today, compared, for example, to the chillingly lifelike Ava from 2015’s Ex Machinaor the robots so real in HBO’s Westworldit’s hard to tell who’s a human and who’s an android.  But how close are we to an invasion of robots of all kinds?  Some of this week’s stories would have one believe we are on the cusp.

Robby the Robot in Forbidden Planet

Robotics–The emirate of Dubai announced the roll out of the world’s first robotic policeman.   With it, they stated a goal of having these devices make up 25% of their security forces by 2030.  The robocop uses an array of cameras and sensors, along with sophisticated artificial intelligence, to go about its business.

Renewable Energy–The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) issued a report stating that solar energy jobs in the U.S. grew at a rate 17 times faster than the economy a whole in 2016.  The report also mentioned strong growth in wind industry jobs, and projected employment in that sector to grow by about 40% from 2016 to 2020, while jobs related to fossil fuels will continue to decline.

Aerospace–Boeing has been awarded the contract to build the experimental XS-1, or Phantom Express, for DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency).  The vehicle is designed as an autonomous rapid satellite launcher,  capable of being recycled and relaunched up to 10 times in 10 days.   It is slated for full operation by 2022.

Artificial Intelligence–A research team at NEMEC in Belgium has created a neuromorphic chip that mimics the activity of human neurons to compose music.  It does so by being exposed to various compositions and then copies the style.  It’s more practical future uses lie in medical sensors and personal electronics that learn the health and behavior of its users.

Urban Futures–Architect and urban futurist Cindy Frewen joined me for Seeking Delphi™ podcast #13 in a discussion of the urban landscape of the future. Watch and listen to the YouTube slide show or subscribe via any of the links below it.

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.

The Future This Week, March 12, 2017

“You affect the world by what you browse.”–Tim Berners-Lee

Ah, our automated future. http://www.savagechickens.com

The Tim Berners-Lee quote above is a sort of digital version of “you are what you eat.”  Perhaps, today, we are what we browse.  But what we browse is of deep concern.  Can we keep it private? Can others, particularly government, abuse our rights and destroy our privacy with what they know about our lives online?  That’s just one of the technology issues in The Future This Week.

Digital Technology–World Wide Web inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had some chilling words about his digital offspring on its 28th birthday.  Speaking at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas, he warned the web is in peril due to three troublesome trends.  Privacy of personal data, in the wake of the Wikileaks revelation of massive CIA cyber-spying, fake news that spreads like wildfire, and unregulated political advertising.  I welcome a discussion on these issues in the comments section below.

Speaking at Google’s Cloud Next conference, Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt predicted that big data will become so important that nations will fight over it. “He who has the data can do the analytics and algorithms,” he said.  You can see his full speech on the Business Insider link here.

Digital Entertainment–Several sources reported that Netflix is delving into interactive story telling that enables the viewer to chose from diverging story lines.  This would represent a kind of digital video version of the Chose-Your-Own-Adventure kid-lit novels that were popular in the 1980’s. Actors would film multiple variations of story lines and viewers would be allowed to chose the direction of the story at various points.  The first series may roll out later this year.

Renewable Energy–Those hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles discussed in episode #3 of the Seeking Delphi podcast may be one step closer to reality.  New work revealed this week by the energy department’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.  A big challenge is the extrication of  hydrogen from water., which, in itself, is an energy intensive undertaking.  The process Berkeley lab has been working on involves using special catalyst materials called photo-anodes to drive distillation of Hydrogen from water using sunlight.   Their scientists have identified 12 newphoto-anode substances in the past two years, more than doubling the previously known count.

Biotechnology–CRISPR gene editing pioneer, Jennifer Doudna, laid out her vision for the technology.  Speaking at the same South by Southwest conference that hosted Tim Berners-Lee, she focused primarily on the potential for eradicating genetic diseases.  Meanwhile, a Chinese team released results of the first CRISPR trials in healthy, viable embryos, reporting that they were able to correct genetic mutations in some of them.

Global Economy–A new report issued by The Brookings Institute projects a global increase in the middle class of 2.2 billion people by 2030.  The report also sees 88 per cent of this growth coming from Asia.

Hawking

Existential Technology Risks–Almost on cue for the most recent Seeking Delphi  episode,  physicist Stephen Hawking warned that establishment of a global government may be the only way to keep our technologies from destroying us.  He acknowledged that a world government could become a problem in itself–particularly a tyrannical one–but stated strongly that we need a means to identify threats, and act quickly to counter them in a unified manner.

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

The Future This Week, March 5, 2017

“If you want a nation to have space exploration ambitions, you’ve got to send humans.”-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil might have added, “or have profit motives.”  The news about commercial space exploration is almost nonstop these days.  Here’s what’s been happening in the past week.

Commercial space ventures–

In more down-to-earth news: