The Future This Week: December 5, 2017

“The autonomous car is definitely coming…”–Masayoshi Son

Cars, cars, cars.  In America, we love our cars.  And, whether gas, electric, or hybrid, we love to drive them.  So what happens when they drive themselves?  And an even better question: when they get built in emotion A.I., will our cars love us?  OK, that last one is not a real issue–yet.  But every major car company is working on self-driving, all-electric cars.  The news this week is just full of cars, cars, cars.

 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 or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

 Self Driving Cars/Autonomous Vehicles–General Motors has announced plans to launch a self-driving, ride-sharing car service in major U.S. cities by 2019.  The aim is to compete directly with Uber and Lyft.

Uber is not standing idly by.  Volvo says they expect to sell them tens of thousands of self driving cars between 2019 and 2021.

Next Big Future reports that every major car company is working on all-electric, self-driving vehicles.   Ford, for one, also plans a self-driving, ride-sharing service by 2021.

What will Elon think of next?

Electric Vehicles–You can’t make this up, but apparently Elon Musk can.  He’s on record, and apparently serious, about launching a Tesla into orbit around Mars early next year.  The good news is, as long as it stays in orbit, it won’t need a charging station.

Ford’s chairman says they will introduce several electric car models in China over the next few years. He added that he expects China to be the leader in EV proliferation.

–According to recent reports, though, the Canadian province of Ontario will likely not reach its 2020 target for electric vehicle deployment.

Flying Cars/Taxis–Yeah, sure. Why should all the traffic jams be on the ground?  Volocopter says its flying taxis will be up (literally) and running in two to three years.

Space/Lunar Exploration–China has announced big plans for the moon.  A robotic lunar station, and a dark side radio telescope are targeted for 2019.

Brexit scenarios to 2030–The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features SAMI Consulting’s Jonathan Blanchard Smith discussing four post-Brexit scenarios for the UK.  (YouTube slide show link below)

Aubrey de Grey

Coming Attractions–SENS foundation co-founder and chief science officer, Aubrey de Grey, will join me for the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview of 2017.  Look for it in a few days.

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: November 7, 2017

“We’re going to become caretakers for the robots. That’s what the next generation of work is going to be.”–Gray Scott

Hmmm.  Will we be caretakers for them, or them for us?  Will there even be a next generation of work? Hot on the heels of my Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, with John C. Havens, on ethical considerations in artificial intelligence, comes a flurry of additional A.I.-related stories.

 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 or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Robotics/Artificial Intelligence–In a Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, author and IEEE consultant John C. Havens, argues that businesses must adhere to triple bottom line standards if A.I. is going to serve humanity in a beneficial way.  That means environmental and employee/customer well-being outcomes as well as profits.

Financial giant, J.P. Morgan Chase, says that A.I. and big data could trigger the next market correction.  This is nothing new, as autonomous computer algorithm trading was a significant driver in  the volatility that led to the 1987 market crash.

The New York Times reports that major tech companies are struggling with a shortage of artificial intelligence programmers.  Their solution?  Automate the process, of course.   In other words build A.I., itself, to build more A.I.

MIT students have tricked an artificial intelligence program into misidentifying a turtle as a gun.  That sounds more like the title of an Oliver Sacks story than a purposeful scientific endeavor.  But the idea was to see if it could be fooled, as a test of the reliability its image recognition capabilities.  Apparently, the students won and the A.I. lost.

Sofia, the new Saudi citizen

–At this point, it seems more like a cheap publicity stunt, but Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a humanoid robot named Sofia (see YouTube video at the bottom of this post.)  And no less ridiculous–at this early juncture–was Tokyo’s decision to grant residency (whatever that means) to an artificial intelligence logarithm.

Self-Driving Cars–Software bugs are not usually lethal,  but in autonomous vehicles they certainly could be.  IEEE Spectrum reports on a new method for finding and weeding out such bugs before disaster strikes.

Space Exploration/Colonization–Amazon and Blue Origin CEO Jeff Bezos says we have to explore and colonize space in order to save the Earth.— On the other hand, maybe he’s just looking for new markets to monopolize.

Internet of Things–According to analysts at market research group, Reportsnreports, the Internet of Things market will grow more than tenfold to top $185 billion by 2023.  They estimate that the 2016 value was just over $16 Billion.

 

 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: October 23, 2017

 “I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.”–Elon Musk

Nothing accelerates technological development like competition. It was the competition between the US and the Soviet Union that put a man on the moon in 1969, decades sooner than it would otherwise have occurred.  The finish line of that race ended the competition, and we haven’t gone back since.  But a new competition, multi-faceted and far more diverse, has begun.  The commercial development of space figures to re-accelerate our push into the final frontier. If you’re a fan of space exploration and exploitation, stay tuned, the next few years are going to be exciting.

 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 or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

Fly me to the moon…in 2022

Space exploration/exploitation/tourismUnited Launch  Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace have announced a joint venture to place a habitat in lunar orbit by 2022.  While they describe fully how they intend to get it there, they don’t yet say who will inhabit it or what it might be used for.  Anyone want to rent a lunar-orbiting apartment?

Richard Branson says his Virgin Galactic commercial space venture will launch its first astronauts into space in about 4 months.  He also says his program will do more for humanity than Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX plans to colonize Mars.  Branson vs. Musk is not exactly USA vs. USSR; in fact,  it might actually be more sustainable.

–Branson and Musk aren’t the only billionaire-sized egos in space.  Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin announced  a breakthrough that brings it one step closer to launching sub-orbital space tourism flights by 2019. They successfully test fired their new BE-4 rocket engine.

While NASA progresses at a snails pace in returning US astronauts to the moon, it’s ramping up the effort to detect nearby, habitable earth-like planets.  How they will ever get us there is another question, altogether.

Artificial Intelligence–Elon Musk says that the AI in a Tesla will soon be able to predict your destination and bring you there without asking. That’s good; half the time I have no idea where I’m going.  Seriously, though, that’s amazing–and kind of creepy at the same time.

The New York Times reports that tech giants are paying big bucks for the services of Artificial Intelligence experts.  The deals they offer them often include signing bonuses and multi-year contracts, sometimes resembling those offered to professional athletes.

–Dubai and India are both jumping on the A.I. bandwagon, as far as government monitoring and regulation is concerned.  Dubai is appointing a minister of artificial intelligence, while India is establishing an expert panel to advise government on policy.

Biotechnology–An Italian neurosurgeon says he will conduct the world’s first full head transplant in December of this year.  And you were skeptical of self-driving cars.

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: October 9, 2017

“My vision of the future is pretty much standard fare. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and there are flying cars.”– Joss Whedon

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

These flying car stories just won’t go away.  Now hover cars are in the mix as well–though merely hovering might have no great added value other than saving on tires.  I still think Douglas Adams has the best idea, as long as he’s not talking about cars.

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 or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Facebook.

Flying/Hovering/Self-Driving Cars–Boeing has jumped into the fray with flying cars.  They’ve purchased Aurora Flight Sciences, a Virginia-based concerned that has been helping Uber develop flying taxis.

–Yuchen Chai,  a student at UK art and design school Central Saint Martin, won a design contest for a hover car.   The contest was co-sponsored by Renault.  Based on the video at this link, it appears to travel just a few inches over the ground.  I don’t know about you, I would rather travel over the traffic then over the road.

Chevy Cruise Car, touted as first mass-producible self-driving car

Meanwhile, back on the ground, GM has purchased LIDAR sensor company Strobe, Inc.   The purchase will help then accelerate their race with Tesla, Alphabet, Uber, and who knows how man other enterprises, to rush self-driving cars to market.

At least one technology expert says humans should not be trusted to drive.  Omar Rohim, CTO of UK concern Energi Mine,  says our emotions get in the way of safe driving, and predicts that in 25 years we will be banned from driving ourselves–AI will take over everything.  This story comes on the heels of a US Senate subcommittee unanimously passing a measure to enable and encourage self-driving cars by standardizing regulations.  The measure  was previously passed by the house or representatives.

Artificial Intelligence–How fast and how far is it progressing?   This Motley Fool article provides some rather stunning projections.

Two new scaremongering report on A.I. and jobs project that up to 60% of businesses could be affected by 2022, with jobs replaced in the process.  This comes even as New Scientist says scaremongering has us asking the wrong questions about A.I.

Augmented Reality–The world’s first multi-user hologram table is slated to go on sale sometime next year (see image below).  It’s made by Australian company Eurclideon and is expected to be used, initially, for city planning  and related uses.  Down the road? Looks like it would make for a cool game of Monopoly.  You’ll need some monopolies to afford; the initial price is pegged at US $47,000.

Multi-user hologram table

 

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: September 4, 2017

“Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?” —Steve Polyak

Is this our fate?

There is an ominous feeling in the air about artificial intelligence this week.  It seems to be everywhere, as in “all over the news.”  Elon Musk? We hear from him on the subject every week.  But now one Vladimir Putin has even weighed in.  Both Musk and Putin have dark warnings.  And Putin’s feels a lot like Littlefinger telling Ned Stark not to trust him. Oh, and don’t forget the Chinese, as they weigh in with a massive A.I. investment.  All this as Intel announces a staggering advance in A.I. hardware.

Artificial Intelligence– Elon Musk’s warning du jour on A.I. is that it will be the most likely cause of World War Three.  He’s not worried about North Korea; he thinks that’s just bluster.  The truly hair raising part of it is that he doesn’t so much think it will be a war over A.I. as it will be a war started  by A.I. that has been empowered to make that decision itself.  These conjectures came closely on the heels of Vladimir Putin’s assertion that whomever gains a dominant position in A.I. could rule the world.   He warned that it would be extremely dangerous for any one entity to gain a monopoly.

Cue the Chinese.  They have stated a desire to take a world-leading position in A.I.  by around 2030.  To that end, Chinese internet giant Baidu has teamed up with China Life, a state-owned financial company, to create a 7 Billion Yaun (~$1 Billion US) A.I. investment fund.  The aim is to invest in small private ventures with innovative technologies.

Back in the USA, Intel has announced a new A.I. accelerator that can process 1 Trillion Operations Per Second (TOP) per Watt.  Just what China and Russia are looking for?

Autonomous Vehicles–Ford and Dominoes Pizza have announced a joint venture to test an autonomous pizza delivery vehicle. (Image left).  As 55%of respondents in a recent Gartner survey found said they wouldn’t ride in a self-driving car, I’m wondering if they’d be OK with their pizza riding in one.

 

Please don’t deliver!

How about trusting your garbage to an autonomous vehicle?  Volvo is developing a self-driving garbage truck.  I hope delivery and pickup don’t get confused.

Cryptocurrency/blockchain–Major cryptocurrencies crashed by 20% over the past two trading days of last week.   Apparently China outlawing ICO’s and the SEC questioning their legality did not help things.  I still think they are basically digital tulip bulbs.

 Undaunted by this, six multi-national banks are joining an existing project, headed by UBS to launch their own cryptocurrency, designed for securely clearing large online transactions.  They are currently in talks with regulators on a projected late 2018 launch.

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: July 24, 2017

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”–Elon Musk

“I want to die on Mars; just not on impact.”

I see a major quandary going forward with this feature.  Elon Musk quotes may run out before Elon Musk stories run out.  And Elon Musk stories will run out, like, never.  Though this week, a couple of the stories could easily be categorized as anti-Musk.

HyperloopElon Musk says The Boring Company has received verbal government go ahead to tunnel from New York to Washington, DC.  The hyperloop that would run within it could make the run in 29 minutes, vs. the 3+ hours by Amtrak, and could begin construction in as little than 4-6 months, he asserts.

More than one observer thinks Musk is blowing smoke on the rapid startup envisioned for the NY-DC loop.  Government approval for large scale infrastructure projects don’t get done in months; they take years or even decades.

Artists conception of an underground Hyperloop station

Robotics–The L. A. Times reports that a critical shortage of migrant farm workers in California is being met by a move to robotic crop pickers.  It still has a way to go, but after years of crackdown on illegal immigration, there appears to be no other way to go.

Artificial Intelligence–China wants to be the world leader in A.I. by 2030, reports the N.Y. Times. They project a domestic industry worth $150 billion yearly.  That’s a lot of yuan.

It’s not just government project proposals that Elon Musk doesn’t understand.  According to Rodney Brooks, the founding director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, Elon doesn’t know much about artificial intelligence, either.  Speaking in an interview with Tech Crunch, Brooks said that the one thing that Elon, and all of the other naysayers who warn of existential risks in A.I.,  have in common, is that none of them work in A.I.

Autonomous Vehicles–The Verge reports that buyers of autonomous vehicles could effectively face planned obsolescence as technical capabilities advance rapidly.  The last time I heard that phrase in regards to cars, it referred to the size and shape of tail fins, circa 1960.

1959 Chevy Impala tail fins. They got smaller in 1960 and again in 1961, and disappeared altogether in 1962. Planned obsolescence.

 

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: June 12, 2017

“Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn’t block traffic.” ― Dan Rather

Cars.  Self-driving cars. Electric cars.  Giga-factories to build electric cars.  There’s a traffic jam of car stories in The Future This Week.  Add a self-assembling moon base and loads of al energy projects and we’re good to go.

Electric Cars/Battery Technology–Two researchers from Purdue University have developed a battery technology that can refuel at a pump, in the same way cars currently refuel with gasoline.  The battery is recharged by replacing electrolytes, and thus could be serviced by technology similar to that used in current gas stations.

For those who prefer a more scifi approach to recharging electric vehicles, consider the patent that has been filed for to create a mobile electric car-recharging infrastructure using drones summoned by smart phone.  A patent does not mean it will actually happen though; I would not bet on it.

Almost on cue for the stories above, Tesla announced a wide range of ambitious expansion plans at its annual shareholder meeting.  Chief among these was a stated goal to eventually build 10-20 gigafactories, with a production capacity of between 12 and 24 million vehicles annually.  They’ll need some ambitious charging schemes like the ones mentioned above to make those number viable.   Actually, they might first want to concentrate on figuring out how the hell they can sell that many vehicles.

Self-Driving Cars–Honda announced a target date of 2025 for bringing fully self-driving cars to the marketplace.  They’ve set a date of 2020 for rolling out vehicles with an autonomous freeway driving option, as an interim step.

3D Printing/Lunar Base–Researchers at Carleton University, in Canada are developing a 3D printer that can replicate itself.  The device could ultimately be used to build a moon base in situ with a single seeding device using lunar materials to reproduce itself many-fold and then build structures.

Internet of Things–DARPA  is making progress toward the development of a near zero-power RF and sensor technology.  Their stated goal is to reduce Internet of Things power requirements by 1000-fold.

Aerospace–Lockheed-Martin says it is on pace to develop a hyper-sonic spy drone for deployment by sometime next year.  Powered by its SR-72 propulsion system, the device could attain speeds of up to 4600 MPH, for less than $1 Billion.  Such a bargain.

A reminder that Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on iTunesPlayerFM, and have a slide show channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.