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: September 25, 2018

“If I go to hotels, they always say, ‘Welcome back’, even when I’ve never been there before.“– Geena Davis

There’s a solution to Geena Davis’s problem.  I don’t know if you’re going to like it. But I know the hotel workers of the world are scared to death of it.  Even as the World Economic Forum projects that robots will create more jobs than they kill,  hospitality workers around the world are talking unionizing to protect jobs if Alexa replaces them on the front desk.

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 

Automation/Future of Work–The New York Times reports that front desk robots and facial recognition may soon be coming to a hotel near you.   And hotel workers around the world are not pleased.

It’s not all bad news, according to a new report by the World Economic Forum.  While 80 million jobs could vanish by 2022–robots will consume them– 133 million new ones could take their place.  The question is, do the displaced workers possess the skills for the new jobs?  They might not.

Peekaboo. I hope they see you.

 —And maybe, just maybe, some technologies can help make things better for worker and customer alike.  To that end, Walmart has placed an order for 17,000 Oculus Go headsets, with an aim toward using virtual reality in worker training.

Space Technology/Space Commerce–DARPA has awarded $1.3 million to a Plymouth University to conduct a feasibility study on a new space propulsion system called quantized inertia.  It’s based on an idea to use light, rather than fuel, to create thrust.

–Meanwhile, NASA is concerned with what astronauts are going to eat on a 2 1/2 year journey to Mars and back.  They can’t carry that much food with them, so they are going to have to be able to grow it.

Mars Base Alpha. 2028 or 2048–or never?

Elon Musk continues to pursue an aggressive timeline for his SpaceX venture to colonize Mars.  He now sets 2028 as the goal for establishing Mars Base Alpha.  I’m not betting on it just yet…

Less ambitious–and a safer bet for 2028–is the Chinese plan for that year.  They propose to launch there gargantuan Long March 9 into low earth orbit that year, carrying as much as 140 tons of cargo.

–NASA…SpaceX…China…Russia…well, Japan beat them all.  This week their space agency became the first to land rovers on an asteroid.  They project to bring samples back by 2020.

Future Internet–Speaking at a private event earlier this week, former Google CEO warned that the internet may split completely in two by 2028.  The issue is China, as they pursue their own agenda to censor much of the world’s content from their populace and create their own.

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 28, 2018

 “A space station is a rangy monstrosity, a giant erector set built by a madman.”–Mary Roach

Oh, how jaded we’ve become.  Remember Skylab?  When it became the first orbiting space station to crash back to earth, away back in 1979, it provoked a wide range of bizarre cultural outcroppings, from Skylab crash parties to insurance against it landing on your head.  This time?  Not so much.  If the cable news channels can’t politicize it, they won’t give it much mention.

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 

Chinese Space Station: look out below!

Space–The Chinese space station will hurtle back to earth this weekend.  Time Magazine reports that you don’t have to worry–much–about it landing on you.

According to a paper by Gregory Matloff, published in Centauri Dreams, the combination of the SpaceX Falcom Heavy rocket, a Bigelow inflatable habitat, and huge solar sail, would be the perfect combination for manned expeditions to near earth objects in the 2020’s.

–NASA’s next Mars rover isn’t scheduled for launch until 2020.  In advance of that,  today they’re testing the parachute designed to deploy at supersonic speeds and drop it gently to the Martian surface.

James Webb telescope or Klingon battleship? Image Credit: NASA

Speaking of NASA, they’ve delayed the launch of the James Webb Space Telescopte–again.  The successor to Hubble is now scheduled for launch in May of 2020.   Anyone taking bets?

Electric Vehicles–Speaking of betting on late deployment, FedEx has apparently ordered 20 of Tesla’s new electric semi-trucks.  The scheduled roll out for these is 2019.  Based on Mr. Musk’s timetable track record, I’d set an over-under on actual delivery to Fedex at January 2021.

Artificial IntelligenceAccording to Mashable, NVIDIA’s new supercomputer will create A.I. that’s “terrifyingly smart.”  Well, maybe not–most experts believe we won’t AGI–artifiicial general intelligence–for least 15-30 years, if ever.  But even they don’t agree.

Automation/Future of Work–Hardly a week goes by without some new forecast of an automation driven job-killing apocolypse.  The latest one, from Bain Consulting, foresees 50% of current jobs eventually going away, and specifically forecasts that U.S. employers will need 20-25% fewer workers by 2030.

Extreme Bionics–In case you missed it, here’s the link to the final Seeking Delphi™ podcast from SXSW 2018, on Extreme Bionics: The Future of Human Ability.  It feature two bilateral amputees,  paralympian and actrees Aimee Mullins (Stranger Things, Unsane) and MIT Media lab associate professor, Hugh Herr.  (YouTube slide show link below).

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 

News of the Future This Week, March 21, 2018

“It’s not going to do any good to land on Mars if we’re stupid.”–Ray Bradbury

“You cannot be serious.”–John McEnroe

Is Vladimir Putin serious?  He’s really going to put Russians on the moon by next year?  Live Russians? Human Russians?  Russian manikins, maybe.  Or how about those nested Russian dolls?  I have my hunches about his obvious hyperbole.  Like maybe he’s goading a certain Western leader I won’t name to take it seriously and go broke trying to compete with him. All the while what he’s really doing is focusing his resources on hacking democracy and wreaking havoc.

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 

Matryoshka dolls. Send these to Mars?

Space Exploration– Yes, according to Futurism.com, Vladimir Putin did say that he intends to send both manned and unmanned missions to Mars, possibly as soon as next year.  This timetable is a full 5 years ahead of SpaceX’s most optimistic scenario. He might have his work cut out for him.  The Russian space agency has not attempted to reach beyond earth’s gravity well since a 2011 launch failed and fell out of orbit.

–Next Big Future reports on the progress–and relative merits–of AD-Astra’s  VX200SSTM VASIMR® prototype  space propulsion engine.  Recent test firings have brought them one step closer to enabling earth to mars transit in as little as 4 to 6 weeks.  SpaceX, with its BFR, has aims at making the transit at similar speeds.

Quantum Computing–IBM released it’s 5 in 5 list–five inovations that will change our lives in five years.  Most notably they, predicted that quantum computing will be mainstream within five years.  If you listened to my podcast with whurley from SXSW 2018, you’d know that enabling broad use of quantum computing is exactly what he’s aiming for with his new company, Strangeworks (YouTube link below).

Quantum Computing featuring whurley, recorded March 12, 2018 at SXSW, Austin, TX

Age of Robots reported on the marriage of quantum computing with biological data.  Specifically, researchers at USC have demonstrated how a quantum processor could effectively predict certain processes in the human genome.

3D printing-A vehicle its maker says will be the first mass-produced, 3D-printed car, is slated for availability in 2019.   With a price tag of less than $10,000, but with a single-charge range of only 90 miles at a maximum speed of 45mph, it might seem more like a golf cart on steroids than a real car.  Dr. Paul Tinari talked about 3D-printed cars in Seeking Delphi™ podcast #7 in March of 2017.

Dr. Paul Tinari on 3D printing cars, homes and–good grief–even human beings. Seeking Delphi™ podcast #7, from March 2017

Self-Driving Cars–In the wake of the Tempe, Arizona pedestrian fatality involving an Uber self-driving car, the New York Times published this guide to how self-driving cars sense the world.

Google-modified Lexus. Source: Google

 

Up next:  one final special edition mini-cast out of SXSW.  Exteme Bionics: The Future of Human Ability.

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

News of the Future This Week, March 1, 2018

“The killer app is making calls.”–Steve Jobs

“For three days after death hair and finger nails continue to grow, but phone calls taper off.”–Johnny Carson.

Phone calls?  Who makes phone calls?  Texts, chats, messages…yes.  The only way I can get my daughter on the phone is to text her with a message to call me.  And  it helps to make it read like somebody died.  Anyway, the Mobile World Congress was this week.  I’d love to see the stats on calls vs. texts and miscellaneous messaging and chat apps among the attendees at the conference.

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 

Earth man phone home?

Mobile Telephony–If you think your cell service is bad at home, just imagine what it might be on the moon.  Vodaphone and Nokia have announced their intent to build a lunar mobile service initially intended to enable communication between robotic probes and their base station.

According to one pundit presenting at the MWC, mobile service providers are way behind the AI curve.  They could be using artificial intelligence to improve service, but so far have not done much.

–Looking for MWC highlights?  The Verge gives its take on the good, the bad, and the ugly at this year’s conference.

Impressive, even if they don’t fly

Autonomous Vehicles/Advanced Transport–Wherever humanity is going, Dubai seems determined to get there first.   And they are determined that their workers get there first, by commuting via proposed autonomous transport pods.

Tests of fully driverless cars may be hitting California highways as soon as next month.   Well, sort of–there will be no driver in the cars, but they will be linked to humans by remote control.

–If autonomous cars bomb out as a concept, it won’t be for lack of trying–or funding.  Toyota has announced a nearly $3 billion investment in the technology, which will employ 1,000 workers.

Artificial Intelligence–A new study says artificial intelligence can best lawyers in searching legal documents.   Other than lawyers themselves, this does not break anyone’s heart.

–Two top Microsoft executives make a stunning assertion in a new book.  In the future, they say, we will all have artificially intelligent, alter ego digital assistants.  Just what the world needs: a mechanical me.

Coming Soon–I’ll be representing Seeking Delphi™ and Age of Robots, covering the Intelligent Future track at SXSW in Austin, Texas, March 9-14.  Stay tuned for multiple podcasts and reports.

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

News of the Future This Week, February 21, 2018

“While technology is important, it’s what we do with it that truly matters.”–Muhammad Yunus

So what’s more important–technological breakthroughs or how we apply them?  The cloud is a technology;  blockchain is an application.

So where do the 10 breakthrough technologies that make up MIT Technology Review’s annual list for 2018 stand?  All over the place.  Many, if not all of them, might be described as either incremental improvements or advanced applications built on existing technologies.   Where is the line?  Tell me if you know.

Technology Breakthroughs–MIT Technology Review published its annual list of breakthrough technologies for 2018.  Not surprisingly, it’s chock full of digital and bio technologies.  Good list?  Somehow I feel there is more out there.

EM Drive. A propulsion system without propellant? Image credit: nasaspaceflight.com

Space/propulsion systems–Talk about your breakthrough technology: China claims to have perfected the EM drive.  You might not see it on that MIT list anytime soon, though.  It will take more than talk to convince the mainstream scientific community, which views the concept as an impossible violation of one of Newton’s third law of motion.  It claims to create thrust without a propellant.

–NASA isn’t sold on the EM drive, at least not yet.  But they are considering reviving a decades old plan to use nuclear powered rockets in an effort to send manned craft to Mars by the 2030’s.

Energy/Transportation–BP is forecasting a peak in oil and gas demand by 2040. It sees the mass emergence of self-driving electric vehicles as the main cause.  Considering their vested interest, they may be ignoring the possibility of a more rapid drop off.

Bored in Space?

Space Commerce/Tourism–Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, also  CEO of Bigelow Aerospace, has now formed a new enterprise, Bigelow Space.  One of his proposed projects is to launch an inflatable orbiting space hotel by 2021.  I’m just wondering what one would do up there, other than float around in microgravity.  Maybe binge watch episodes of the Lost In Space reboot?

Aerospace/Advanced Transportation–A Chinese team has announced the design of a hypersonic jet that could make the trip from Beijing to New York in as little as two hours.  If feasible, it could upstage the planned 2020 test flight of a new Lockheed jet which aims to make the trip in 7 hours.  There is no announced timetable for building and testing the Chinese craft.

Electric Vehicles–It might not be as sexy as a 6,000kph jet;  but Volkswagon has provided a teaser preview of its proposed 112mph, 400+ mile range electric vehicle.

Coming Attractions–Seeking Delphi,™ the podcast, will return in March, featuring interviews with Roberto Sacarro on social robotics, and Jerome Glenn, on The Millennium Project’s 19th State of the Future publication.  We’ll also feature some on the spot interviews from the Intelligen Future tracks at the 2018 SXSW conference from Austin, Texas.

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 

 

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.