The Future This Week: October 17, 2017

“Leadership is not about the next election.  It’s about the next generation”– Simon Sinek

“Millennials on steroids.”–description of generation Z on a Wharton Business School blog

Wow.  Millennials have barely come of age, and already we are talking about generation Z? Well, I guess they represent the post-post-generation X world.   Maybe we’ll call their kids generation  X3.

 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 

Social DemographicsThe headline of a 2015 article on the Wharton Business School blog proclaimed generation Z to be “Millennials On Steroids.”  But as this article  from factsandtrends.net points out, an analysis of generation Z characteristics show they are more like…um…er…Millennials on steroids!

Dubai police hoverbike

Transportation technology–Dubai, ever the leader in bleeding edge technology for security and law enforcement, has yet another first.  Their police force will soon begin using hoverbikes for rapid emergency response.

Elon Musk says the new Raptor engine for space launch vehicles may also be used to provide point-to-point transportation anywhere on earth within 30 minutes.  He also insists it will be at least as safe as airline travel.  What he doesn’t say is whether anyone will be able to afford it.

UK based consultancy, Wood MacKenzie released a forecast that the oil industry is sure not to like.  It projects that world demand for gasoline will peak by 2030, due to a combination of increased vehicle efficiency and proliferation of electric-powered vehicles.

Artificial Intelligence/Transhumanism-In a forecast Ray Kurzweil is sure to love,  a senior IBM scientist in the UK is projecting all sorts of technology implants in the body and the brain. These may include cognitive enhancements and cell repairing micro-bots.

Near Earth astronomy–You might not want to sign any leases longer than 50 years.  The European Space Agency says that a house-sized asteroid, that came within 30,000 miles of us this past week, might strike  the Earth in 2079.  The odds are pegged at 1 in 750–no sure bet,  but not impossible, either.

3D Printing–A Ukrainian company, PassivDom, has unveiled a 3D printed home that can be built in 8 hours, for a price tag starting at around US $32,000.00.  Compared to the 100-square foot 3D printed cement huts recently showcased by other concerns, they look like palaces.

$32,000

$10,000

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Podcast #13: The Urban Landscape Of The Future

“All cities are mad, but the madness is gallant. All cities are beautiful, but the beauty is grim.”–Christopher Morley

A Jetsons future?

Where will you live in 2050? What will the cities of the future look like?  Tomorrowland? The Jetsons? Waterworld?  Maybe they will look pretty much the same, but feel very much different.  To sort out some of the possible scenarios, I sought out an expert on the urban landscape of the future.  Cindy Frewen, Ph. D., is an architect and an adjunct professor in the University of Houston’s graduate foresight program.  She designs near-term urban futures, and constructs scenarios for possible longer term futures.

Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below.  A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes and PlayerFM, and has a channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

 

Cindy Frewen 
Image credit: Kansas City Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcast #13: The Urban Landscape Of The Future

You Tube Slide Show of Episode #13

Cindy Frewen bio on Futurist.com

News items:

DARPA XS-1 space plane

Attacking Cancer with CRISPR gene editing

Music-making neuromorphic chip

World’s first robotic cop deployed in Dubai

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The Future This Week, March 26, 2017–Live Forever, or Just Live Better?

“I think science has begun to demonstrate that aging is a disease. If it is, it can be cured.”–Tom Robbins
“I’m not afraid of death.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”–Woody Allen

Our time is limited. Or is it?

It seems as if many of the biggest players in science and digital industry are obsessed with slowing, stopping, or even reversing aging.  New stories appear every day, it seems.  And of course, David Wood’s comprehensive study of the issue, The Abolition of Aging, was the subject of the first two episodes of Seeking Delphi.  But an editorial in Wired Magazine suggests that the moguls of silicon valley are trying to solve the wrong problem. It asserts that they should be working to improve the quality of life, not the quantity.  There are good arguments both ways–reversing aging could greatly improve human health and cut costs drastically–the lions share of healthcare spending treats the diseases of aging.  What do you think?   The big stories this week:

Biotechnology/Aging Research–

  • A pair of breakthroughs, one from The University Ulm in Germany, the other from the University of Ulster in the UK, suggest means of using young blood cells to provide anti-aging properties.  The two studies are summarized in this article by Next Big Future.

 

 

  • Writing in Wired Magazine, Emily Dreyfus argued that huge investments in anti-aging  research by major silicon valley entrepreneurs is barking up the wrong biological tree.  She thinks they should be investing in better quality of life rather than increased quantity.

Autonomous Vehicles–

Social Robotics–

  • The world’s first social media robodog has been created by Jason Buzi.  Now we just need a robot veterinarian to take care of it. (See below).

 

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