News of The Future This Week: April 15, 2019

“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe”–Ray Bradbury

If you’re fed up with all the doings on our messed up planet,  this is the perfect week to be reading about news of the future.  Most of it takes place off of terra firma.

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 Commerce–Even before the dust settled on the failed Israeli moon lander,  the enterprise behind it announced they will try again.

–At least three companies are set to test new rockets  by 2021, in a quest to win one of two Air Force contracts to launch up to 25 satellites between 2022 and 2026.  But Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin will have to compete with SpaceX’s already proven Falcon 9.

Image: Stratolaunch Systems

Taking a different approach to rocketry,  Stratolaunch completed the first test flight of the world’s largest aircraft.  The 385-foot wing span behemoth is designed to carry rockets to a height of 35,000 feet for orbital launch.

 Aerospace–The European Space Agency and Oxford-based Reaction Engines report that the design for a hypersonic space plane engine has passed a prelimiarny test.   At a projected top speed of 25 times the speed of sound, the vehicle could cut transit times from London to New York to under 60 minutes.

Astronomy–Even as the first image of a black hole was released, Next Big Future reported on a new telescope technology that will probe even deeper into the secrets of the cosmos.  A space based gravitation-wave array will team up with ground based telescopes by around 2030.

Despite the release of the first direct image of a black hole, New Scientist says there is still much about them we don’t know.

–Want to help name a dwarf planet?  You have until May 10 vote for the name of the largest unnamed object in solar system.

Image credit: Uber

Self-Driving Cars–Uber told investors that self-driving cars are critical to its future success.  It also warned that there is a lot that can go wrong.  You think?

–While Uber aims to dodge metaphorical potholes,  Tesla says it’s autopilot will soon be able to dodge literal ones.

Robotics–A new study of Major League Baseball pitch calls makes a strong case for robot umpires.

Undong Aging 2019–In case you missed it, here is the link to the Seeking Delphi™ Undoing  Aging 2019 highlight podcast.  YouTube slide show version below.

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  Intel’s Katalin Bártfai-Walcott joins host Mark Sackler to discuss the future of ambient computing and digital twins.

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: March 19, 2019

“If you build a better mousetrap, you will catch better mice.”–George Gobel

And…exactly what happens if you build better mice?   Genetic editing seems to be making many strides in that direction.  The only question left is, will it ultimately make better people?

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.

 Genetic Editing–Researchers at UC, Berkeley, claim to have restored sight of blind mice by using a killed virus to insert a gene with green-light receptors into their eyes.  They hope human trials might begin within 3 years.

Longevity/Anti-Aging–Have you considered the potential impact that superlongevity could have on retirement and social security?  I have.  So has next big future in this think piece. I’ll be attending the 2019 Undoing Aging conference in Berlin later this month, and I intend to put the question to several of the key people there.

Future Cities/Autonomous Vehicles–What will the smart cities of 2050 look like? Peter Diamandis thinks autonomous vehicles will be a major part of it.

–Speaking of smart cities and autonomous vehicles, Hacker Noon, thinks the IoT can converge with vehicles to ease congestion. That’s something Rapid Flow Technologies is already doing (see YouTube podcast slide show link below).

–While we’re talking about autonomous vehicles, here’s another video demonstrating autonomous valet car parking at one of France’s busiest airports.

 

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–Seeking Delphi first explored the concept of the robotic uncanny valley in a 2017 podcast interview with Heart of The Machine author, Richard Yonck.  Wired says eerie robot voices make them even more uncanny, and that nobody is talking about it. (Richard Yonck would probably disagree–he talked about it in his book).

–It seems that A.I. might not only replace many existing professions, it might be used to revive new ones as well.   A Chinese University is using A.I. as a sort of autonomous truant officer to monitor class attendance rates and reduce absenteeism.

Space/Space Commerce–25 nations are meeting this week to discuss treaties to prevent the militarization of space.  But a U.S. challenge to Russia and China over development of anti-satellite weapons could disrupt the whole process.

Maybe a SpaceX logo on the next space suit?

–NASA plans for a return to the moon may include commercial rockets.  The Verge reports that this may signal a paradigm shift in deep space exploration.

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions: In the weeks ahead. look for David Wood on his newest book, Sustainable superabundance, Verne Wheelright on personal futures, and highlights from the 2019 Undoing Aging Conference (Berlin, Germany, March 28-30).

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: March 12, 2019

“I never questioned the integrity of an umpire. Their eyesight, yes.”–Leo Durocher

Is nothing sacred?  A year after World Team Tennis went to all-automated line calls, Major League Baseball is upping the robotic ante with a potential move to eliminate the human factor in calling balls and strikes.  The human factor of a Billy Martin or Leo Durocher kicking dirt on an umpire was largely eliminated with the advent of replay reviews.  Who knows where this will lead?

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.

Argue this!

Robotics/automation–The independent Atlantic League will serve as MLB’s testing ground for robotic umpires.  We’ll leave the other proposed rule changes they are testing to the sports blogs.

–If accurate ball and strike calls is a sublime use of automation, an opera singing robot might just be ridiculous. (see YouTube video below.)

–If a singing robot doesn’t make you scratch your head, how about a holographic virtual singer–who just happened to pack them in at a concert hall in China

–Cancer patients have been getting robotic surgery.  The New York Times reports the results may be less than stellar.

–Artificial intelligence may be better at diagnosis, though.  Science Daily reports that robots can detect breast cancer as well as radiologists. But I bet the robots get paid less.

Climate change–There’s something refreshing about a politician who actually has a long-term view of our future–one that goes well beyond the next election.  You and I may not agree with everything that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez advocates, but as  futurist, I have to admire her use of scenarios to envision a better, more sustainable world in 2050.

Space Commerce–Elon Musk continues to push for a permanently manned moon base.  But Discover says we need to learn how to mine there, first.

Electric Vehicles–For electric cars to become pervasive, they are going to have to become profitable for manufacturers.  A new McKinsey report suggests a path to that end.

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions: In the weeks ahead. look for David Wood on his newest book, Sustainable superabundance, Verne Wheelright on personal futures, and highlights from the 2019 Undoing Aging Conference (Berlin, Germany, March 28-30).

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: January 31, 2019

” I don’t know which is more discouraging, literature or chickens.”–E.B. White

I don’t know how E.B. White would have felt about the chickens in this week’s future news; but I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have changed his view of literature.  The chicken and egg thing is still ambiguous, though.

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.

Genetic Editing–What came first, the chicken or the egg?  That age old question might take on new significance, as researchers at the University of Edinburgh have modified the cluckers to lay eggs containing anti-cancer drugs.  

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have reported a breakthrough with gene drive.  This is the technology that makes genetic changes that are passed on to offspring.  They have succeeded–with some limitations–in executing the current technology in female mice, the first such demonstration in a mammal.

Image: The Dali Museum

Artificial Intelligence–The so-called Uncanny Valley just got deeper and creepier.  An artificial intelligence-created clone of Salvador Dali now greets visitors to his museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

–From the ridiculous to the sublime.  Centauri Dreams says A.I. might hold the key to succesful exploration of interstellar space.  Particularly in deep space, where communication with home base may take years to complete, unmanned probes will need to make intelligent decisions on their own.

–When it comes to assessing the current state of A.I., just how much is real and how much is hype?  The Verge gives its view of exactly where we are today and where it may be going.

The regulation conundrum: Pedestrian? Vehicle? Robochicken crossing the road?

Automation/Robotics–Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it R2-D2?  Futurism.com reports that regulators are clueless when it come to regulating Amazon’s delivery robots. Anybody surprised?

Flying Cars–Houston, we have a problem. Just when we though the age of the Jetsons was finally upon us, Wired reports a major obsticle.  the cost and complexity of carbon fibers may keep the aeiral vehicle population from attaining mass proportions.

In case you missed it, here is the Seeking Delphi™ podcast on flying cars, from November of last year.

 

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright.

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: November 6, 2018

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride”–John F. Kennedy.

I wonder how JFK would have felt about an electric bike ride.  Yes, an eBike.  They are coming, as everything, but everything, seems to be adding technology.

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 Transport–Cars, buses and trucks are going electric.  So why not bicycles? General Motors has revealed two models of electric bike it plans to market beginning next yearAnd they are conducting a contest to name them.

Borrrringgg

–While electric and self-driving cars are getting all the attention on the ground, and flying cars above the ground, Elon Musk keeps digging underground.  He announced that The Boring Company will preview its nearly completed transit tunnel in the L.A. suburb of Hawthorne on December 10, and plan to open for public rides soon thereafter.

Chinese tech giant Baidu is the latest company to announce entry into self-driving car development.  They plan to partner with Volvo and Chinese state automaker FAW.

–Is it a robot? Is it a transport? Is it supercart?  Electronics giant LG is developing a “smart” self-driving shopping cart it hopes to launch in Korea.  It will follow shoppers around and also help them to track their purchases.

Robotics/Automation–The good news?  Amazon will be hiring 100,000 seasonal employees for the holiday rush.  The bad news? That’s down from the 120,000 they hired last year.  Expanded use of automation and robotics appears to be the reason for the decline.

–Even as Amazon expands automation in its holiday fulfilment services, it’s about to get some serious competition for its automated Amazon Go stores.   Retail giant 7-Eleven has announced its intention to launch a cashier-less checkout system for its convenience stores.

_A Chinese startup company, Makeblock, has an interesting take on teaching students about robotics.  They produce LEGO-like do-it-yourself robot kits.

SpaceX floating helipad. Image: NASA

Space Commerce–Elon Musk can’t be in the news for only one technology.  His SpaceX company unveiled it’s floating helipad for space capsule recovery this week.

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has been acquired by blockchain company, ConsenSys.  Planetary Resources CEO, Chris Lewicki, who will join the new company, was interviewed on Seeking Delphi 2017 APF minicast #3 last year. (below)

 

Coming soon–a three-part Seeking Delphi™ podcast series on future driving–including episodes on self-driving cars and flying cars.

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 

Podcast #25: Women and The Future of A.I. with Alexandra Whittington

 “A woman is like a tea bag–you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”–Eleanor Roosevelt

 

Artificial Intelligence–it seems there is no hotter topic in the tech world these days.  Economists try to calculate its potential effects on jobs, car companies aim to tame it for autonomous driving, and big thinkers ala Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking espouse existential worries.  But the effects potentially dig down deeper, broader, and perhaps with more subtlety in many other areas of human experience.  One sometimes overlooked area of artificial intelligence influence is the effects it may have specifically on women’s issues–both in the workplace and in the home.  Alexandra Whittington, of Fast Future Publishing, joins host Mark Sackler for a discussion of these issues on episode #25 of Seeking Delphi.™

All Seeking Delphi™  podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and  YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook and on twitter @MarkSackler

 

Alexandra Whittington is a futurist, writer, foresight director of Fast Future, and faculty member on the Futures program at the University of Houston. She has a particular expertise in future visioning and scenario planning. Alexandra is a contributor to The Future of Business, Beyond Genuine Stupidity—Ensuring AI Serves Humanity, and The Future Reinvented—Reimagining Life, Society, and Business, and a co-editor for forthcoming books Unleashing Human Potential—The Future of AI in Business and 50:50—Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.

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Episode #25: Women and The Future of A.I. with Alexandra Whittington

YouTube slide show: Episode #25

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