News of The Future This Week: May 24, 2019

“Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile.”– Masayoshi Son

What–he worry?  Ford’s delivery robot.

Will that thing to the left make you smile?  I have my doubts about that.  If you’re not familiar with the concept of the uncanny valley, you will be soon.  Welcome to the creepy 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.

Robotics–Just a few weeks after the CEO of Ford admitted they had underestimated the difficulty in deploying self driving cars,  IEEE Spectrum reported  on Ford’s self-driving vans, with door-to-door delivery robots.  Can the bots be considered unemployed before they are formally employed?

Future Business–Fast Company projects that the companies of the future will be sustainable and employee owned.   This mirrors the triple-bottom line approach espoused by John C. Havens in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #17.

NASA’s lunar gateway. Image: Maxar Technologies

Space/NASA–Up until now, NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon have been rather vague.  No longer.  A $1.6 billion infusion for its Artemis Lunar project has resulted in a firm target of 2024.  The plan includes an orbiting lunar space station.  Can they do it by 2024?  The New York Times reports that it’s unlikely.

–The Artemis 1 mission, won’t carry astronauts.  But it will carry yeast into orbit around the sun.  The mission will launch 13 cubesats next year, one of which will carry two varieties of yeast to test their survivability and growth in the radiation of deep space.   E.T. make bread?

–A team of USC students have accomplished a rocketry first.  They are the first students to design and build a rocket that reached the 100Km (62 mile) altitude that is defined by international law as the boundary of space.  The school’s report says it used a parachute to land safely after reaching it’s targeted height–but it doesn’t say where.  Oh well, to quote that old  Tom Lehrer song, “Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department says Wernher von Braun.”  [See Video below]

Elon Musk–Tesla might be in all sorts of financial troubles,  but Elon Musk has landed some funding for his The Boring Company.  His tunnel-digging enterprise has just landed its first paying customer, The Las Vegas Convention Center.  The center’s board of directors, as part of a $1.4 billion expansion plan, has allocated $46 million for two tunnels beneath the 200-acre site.  They will be cut to provide passage for electric vehicles and pedestrians.

Anti-Aging–George Church and his Rejuvenate Bio team have been relatively secretive about their efforts, to date, to reverse the effects of aging in dogs and mice.  But maybe we will learn more this summer, as Church has been confirmed as a speaker at LEAF’s Ending Age-Related Diseases conference in New York,  July 11-12.

–LEAF (Life Extension Advocacy Foundation) released the first installment of its LifeXten Show.  YouTube link below.

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: May 14, 2019

“I would love to have a robot butler.”–Brett Ratner

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

Want one of these?

Are you disappointed that we still don’t have flying cars?  Well then, you might also be bummed out that we don’t have robot butlers, either.  And while one company is trying to provide those robot butlers by an odd hybrid operated by human remote-control, I’m thinking it’s still a bit premature.  I won’t be letting a robot handle a bottle of ’83 Lafite Rothschild any time soon.

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.

Robotics–If Alexa, Siri, or even a Roomba, is not enough for you, the Japanese firm MIRA may have just the answer.  They plan to launch the world’s first robot butler service. But there’s a rather odd catch, and it’s maybe a bit creepy.  The robots won’t operate autonomously. They will be operated by remote control by employees of MIRA.

–Robots in the home might have a ways to go.  But robots in the hospital?  Those are here now. (see below)

5G/mobile technology–Even as the U.S. and China square off in a battle dominate the emerging 5G segment of cellphone technology,  Russia is making a desperate play to make up for it’s own lagging effort.  They want to scare US consumers into thinking it’s dangerous. Will anti-5Gers become the kindred spirits of anti-vaxxers?

Future Thinking–Ever notice that experts are often spectacularly wrong in forecasting the future of their fields?   According to the Atlantic magazine,  that’s because they view things too narrowly, and they cite a study to prove that broad thinking generalists often make better forecasters.

Fast Company says China’s propensity to take the long view will win in the end, economically.  They aim to be the global center of trade and commerce, and a divided, short-term oriented U.S. government may be no match for them.

Uber–Also for the Atlantic,  a word of caution on Uber.  Their tepid IPO might just be a reponse to their risky view of the future.

Lunar Exploration–The Trump administration wants the U.S. to return astronauts to moon by 2024.  They even have shifted some money to NASA for the project.  But the ultimate cost of said missions is still not been made public.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have unveiled the desgin for their Blue Moon  lunar lander, which they also target for a 2024 touchdow.  It’s an impressive looking structure, but methinks the name Blue Moon might have some I.P. issues.

This is what Blue Moon conjures up for me.

 

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Aligned Design, laying out their proposed framework for the safe and beneficial development of A.I. and other automated systems.

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: April 24, 2019

“My opinion is it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk, 2013

“We’ll have a fleet of robo taxis by the end of next year.”–(paraphrased), Elon Musk, this week

Ah, you have to love Elon Musk. Or maybe not.  If he were a politician, the election opponents would be all over him for flip-flopping.  Ok, so we’ll allow him to change his mind in light of further technological developments.  The problem is, some pretty big names in field of autonomous vehicles don’t agree with him.  And as for his track record on Tesla promises…well, you know the drill.

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.

Autonomous Vehicles–Barely two weeks after Ford CEO Jim Hackett admitted that “the industry overestimated the arrival of autonomous vehicles,” Elon Musk shot back with a much rosier, prediction. He’s forecasting that Tesla will roll out a fleet of self-driving taxis by the end of next year, even as many other automotive executives are suggesting that 10 years is a far more realistic timeframe than one year.

–Tesla posted this video of an autonomous road trip (below)

Elon unveilled a Boring Company hyperloop test tunnel in California last year

Hyperloop/Boring Company–On another Elon Musk front, his The Boring Company made a major step towards a formal government approval of its first subterranean hyperloop transport system.  It filed a 505-page environmental assessment study on the impact of its proposed NY-Philly-Baltimore-DC underground transit loop.  Musk says an initial 16 tunnels for the route between Baltimore and D.C. could be completed in 15-23 months.  Judging by the number of state, local and federal agencies that have to sign off on the proposal, it’s likely to take a lot longer than that to get the needed approvals.

CRISPR/gene editing–One of the inventors of the gene editing process, CRISPR, has a strong message for us.  Jennifer Doudna says we’ll be eating CRISPR-edited foods within 5 years.

–On the other hand, Nature News reports that working with CRISPR-edited lab animals is proving to be a challenge. Key among those challenges is keeping them alive.

Space–China continues to ramp up its space efforts.  They plan to launch an asteroid-comet mission in 2022.  On a more disturbing front,  they are apparently using U.S. satellite technology to ramp up their global surveillance efforts.

Meanwhile, a more restrained NASA has assembled and tested it Mars 2020 rover.

Gig economy–According to this opinion piece in OneZero, the gig economy may be broadening the rich/poor gap.

Surveillance/Existential Risk.–Techno-philospher Nick Bostrom may be best known as a dyed-in-the wool transhumanist, and the man who first proffered the suggestion that all of us may living in an simulation.   Now–going one step farther than Stephen Hawking’s suggestion that we might need a global government to keep tabs on the existential risks of technology–Bostrom has suggested that global surveillance of every single human might be the only thing that can save us.

Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Alligned Design, laying out their proposed framework for the safe and beneficial development of A.I. and other automated systems.

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: 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: February 24, 2019

“I had to stop driving my car for a while… the tires got dizzy.”–Steven Wright

Elon Musk is at it again.  And if you believe him, there will be another excuse for bad driving available by the end of next year.  He says Tesla auto-pilot could be reliable enough for drivers to safely sleep behind the wheel.   Will Tesla really be ready?  Will the public be ready?  If not, it could end very badly.

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.

Self-Driving Cars–Elon Musk is promising Tesla drivers they will be able to nap behind the wheel by the end of next year. There are a lot of skeptics regarding that timeline–including myself.  And there are already a lot of drivers out there who seem to be sleeping.

Space/Space Commerce–Musk is also taking criticism in other areas as well.  In a widely publicized talk in New York this past week, Amazon CEO and Musk space commerce rival Jeff Bezos laid into the SpaceX goal of colonizing Mars.  He also had uncomplimentary words for Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space tourism venture.  There’s nothing like commercial competition…

Regardless of what  Jeff Bezos thinks of Virgin Galactic, its spaceplane reached the boundary of space for the second time this past week.  And for the first time, it carried a passenger along with the astronaut crew.

–It’s a far cry from Mars,  but SpaceX did launch the first private lunar lander with its Falcon 9 rocket.  The lander was designed and built by Israeli firm SpaceIL.

–While  private ventures continue to gain the lion’s share of news headlines regarding manned flight and Mars exploration, NASA remains focused on exo-planets.  Universe Today reports on it’s proposed WFIRST space telescope, planned for a launch in the mid 2020-s.  They suggest it will be up to 100 times more powerful than Hubble and capable of detecting perhaps a million exo-planets.

Artists conceptioon: robot museum built by robots.

Robotics/Automation–What’s more au courant than a robot museum?  How about a robot museum that is itself built by robots?  That’s apparently what South Korea is planning to do.

5G/Mobil Technology–Even as Verizen unveiled plans for rolling out 5G technology to 30 cities later this year, Donald Trump called for 6G–which doesn’t even exist.

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright, a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey, and a discussion with David Wood on his latest book, Sustainable Superabundance: A Universal Transhumanist Invitation.

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: February 16, 2019

“Diagnosis is not the end, but the beginning of practice.”–Martin H. Fischer

What will it take for artificial intelligence to replace doctors?  Probably a lot more than you think.  It is getting better and better–often superior to M.D.’s–at diagnosing illness.  But heed the quote above.  Diagnosing an illness is not treating it.  To do everything that a physician does will probably require AGI (artificial general intelligence) which, as of now, is nowhere in sight.

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.

AI/Medical Diagnosis–This from a study by a UC San Diego physician using data from a major Chinese medical center:  artificial intelligence can now diagnose some childhood diseases better than many doctors.

Cardiovascular disease is another area ripe for A.I. diagnosis.  IBM has entered into a partnership with the Broad Institute to develop such a system.

In other A.I. news,  Fast Company finds seven flaws in Donald Trump’s proposed initiative.

–Some AI applications are sublime, some are ridiculous.  In which category would you place a “smart” cat shelter that lets in felines, but keeps out canines?

Mars One–not as good an idea as some thought.

Space News–Mars One is dead.  Unless, just maybe, a mystery investor comes forward to save it.

Material Science-The Verge reports gallium nitride might be chip material of the future.  It could make them smaller and more energy efficient than those made with Silicon.

Heidi Toffler–The wife of iconic futurist Alvin Toffler has died at age 89.  She finally shares the credit with her late husband of Future Shock fame.

Self-Driving Cars–Science Daily reports that the University of Michigan is working on teaching self-driving cars to anticipate pedestrian movement.  It’s an important step towards making autonomous vehicles safe for prime time.

Easier walking directions?

Augmented Reality–Google is working on an augmented reality upgrade to its map app.  It’s specifically designed to be used with walking directions.

Coming soon to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright and a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey.

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: February 8, 2019

“A finite world can support only a finite population; therefore, population growth must eventually equal zero.”– Garrett Hardin

 

We’ve been there before.   Gloom and doom predictions of explosive population growth.  And while estimates have been greatly toned down from those from the 1960’s and 1970’s, there are still dire warnings out there.  But what if there is an extreme alternative veiw to Garrett Hardin’s tragedy of the commons?  A radical new proposal is out, and depending on your point of view, the reason for it may or may not surprise you.

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 Demographics–A new book takes issue with UN projections of massive population growth in the coming decades.  According to Canadian journalist John Ibbitson and political scientist Darrell Bricker  in their new book, Empty Planet, world population will stabilize and start to decline in 30 years.  They also say that once the decline starts, it won’t stop.  Seems to me they are substituting one linear scenario for another, though.  If things shift once, they can shift again.

Future Driving/Autonomous Vehicles–With all the hype, you’d think our streets will be bustling with self-driving cars within the next couple of years–if not a few months.  Not so fast, says Tom Krisher, writing for the Associated Press.   He cites five sticking points, not the least of which is consumer acceptance.

–If the above isn’t discouraging enough, a University of California professor has a warning.  Self-driving cars might actually make traffic worse, rather than better, if they are not managed properly.

Artists conception of a generation starship next to a Saturn V rocket. Credit: Adrian Mann

Space exploration/colonization–How big would a generation starship need to be to support human survival for hundreds or even thousands of years?   Hint:  according to a new study reported on by Universe Today, it would make the Saturn V that launched astronauts to the moon look like a Mini Cooper.

–Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk keep up their relentless charge toward the final frontier.  Musk’s ambitious plan to send space tourists around the moon by 2023 was also reported on by Universe Today,  while Space.Com focused on Bezos’s vision for reusable spacecraft.

Biotechnology–CRISPR genetic editing may have come a step closer to becoming the reliable “DNA word processor” it has been hyped to be.  Researchers at  UC Berkeley–one of the pioneering institutions in CRISPR–have identified a new protein that may render the technique safe enough for human experimentation.

–While not initially focused on radical rejuvenation therapy, a $100 million Longevity Vision Fund has been launched to spur aging research.  The enterprise is the brainchild of Sergey Young, who in turn cites the inspiration of Peter Diamandis.  Look for more on the related subject from next month’s Undoing Aging conference in Berlin, Germany.

Coming next to the Seeking Delphi™ podcast–Your Personal Future, with Verne Wheelright and a preview of the 2019 Undoing Aging conference with Aubrey de Grey.

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