News of The Future This Week: August 21, 2019

“I say something, and then it usually happens.  Maybe not on schedule, but it usually happens.”–Elon Musk

Who knew?  Elon Musk is actually capable of being realistic about his unrealistic timelines.  My projections for the two Elon pronouncements of the week?  Maybe sometime in the next 200 years for the first one.  Definitely sometime in the next 200 million years for the second one.

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, 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.

Elon is serious!

Elon Musk–‘Ol Elon is up to his old tricks.  He’s again advocating we teraform Mars by nuking its dry ice polar caps.  He must be serious because he even has a tee shirt to promote it.

While he’s advocating we ravish Mars, Elon is also warning that an asteroid will eventually get us here on Earth.  Really? That can’t happen, can it? Just ask a dinaso–oh, wait.

NASA/Space Exploration–NASA’s on-again, off-again mission to Jupiter’s icy moon, Europa, appears to be back on.  The agency has confirmed a mission to launch a probe there sometime between 2023 and 2025.

AI/BCI–As demand for AI software and chips continues to escalate, it isn’t all a bed of roses.  IEEE says there is both opportunity and peril for makers of specialized A.I. chips.

–Elon Musk’s Neuralink–among others–is proposing to implant computer chips in the brain, initially to control neurological disorders.  But Susan Schneider, a prominent University of Connecticut cognitive scientist and techno-philosopher, is warning that adding artificial intelligence to BCI (brain-computer interface) may not be such a good idea.  You can hear Dr. Schneider, speaking on conscious machines at last years South by Southwest conference,  in the Seeking Delphi episode linked HERE.

Hold the anchovies, please

Robotics/autonomous vehicles–Unemployment is about to strike the ranks of pizza delivery drivers on U.S. college campuses. Starship technologies has raised $40 million to fuel the nationwide rollout of its army of autonomous delivery robots, starting with George Mason University and Northern Arizona University.

China is accelerating its push to challenge U.S. technology in self-driving cars, and has dediated an isolated mountain highway for testing of the vehicles.  They hope to have at least 50% of all new car sales to include smart technology as soon as next year.

–Ever one of the most forward looking states on the planet, Singapore will begin testing driverless busses next week.  And of course, rides can be booked via an app.

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

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