News of The Future This Week: November 6, 2018

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of a bike ride”–John F. Kennedy.

I wonder how JFK would have felt about an electric bike ride.  Yes, an eBike.  They are coming, as everything, but everything, seems to be adding technology.

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 Transport–Cars, buses and trucks are going electric.  So why not bicycles? General Motors has revealed two models of electric bike it plans to market beginning next yearAnd they are conducting a contest to name them.

Borrrringgg

–While electric and self-driving cars are getting all the attention on the ground, and flying cars above the ground, Elon Musk keeps digging underground.  He announced that The Boring Company will preview its nearly completed transit tunnel in the L.A. suburb of Hawthorne on December 10, and plan to open for public rides soon thereafter.

Chinese tech giant Baidu is the latest company to announce entry into self-driving car development.  They plan to partner with Volvo and Chinese state automaker FAW.

–Is it a robot? Is it a transport? Is it supercart?  Electronics giant LG is developing a “smart” self-driving shopping cart it hopes to launch in Korea.  It will follow shoppers around and also help them to track their purchases.

Robotics/Automation–The good news?  Amazon will be hiring 100,000 seasonal employees for the holiday rush.  The bad news? That’s down from the 120,000 they hired last year.  Expanded use of automation and robotics appears to be the reason for the decline.

–Even as Amazon expands automation in its holiday fulfilment services, it’s about to get some serious competition for its automated Amazon Go stores.   Retail giant 7-Eleven has announced its intention to launch a cashier-less checkout system for its convenience stores.

_A Chinese startup company, Makeblock, has an interesting take on teaching students about robotics.  They produce LEGO-like do-it-yourself robot kits.

SpaceX floating helipad. Image: NASA

Space Commerce–Elon Musk can’t be in the news for only one technology.  His SpaceX company unveiled it’s floating helipad for space capsule recovery this week.

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has been acquired by blockchain company, ConsenSys.  Planetary Resources CEO, Chris Lewicki, who will join the new company, was interviewed on Seeking Delphi 2017 APF minicast #3 last year. (below)

 

Coming soon–a three-part Seeking Delphi™ podcast series on future driving–including episodes on self-driving cars and flying cars.

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News of The Future This Week: October 29, 2018

“It is not hard to understand modern art. If it hangs on a wall it’s a painting, and if you can walk around it it’s a sculpture.”–Tom Stoppard

The future tech news continues to be dominated by artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, and space commerce.   Some of it is exciting, some of it is disturbing and some of it–well, I’m not sure what to think.  When you read about an A.I. generated paiting fetching big bucks at auction, you just have to scratch your head.

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.

Portrait of Edmund Bellamy, produced by A.I.

Artficial Intelligence–An A.I. generated painting has sold for $432,000 at auction.  Is this why A.I. developers get paid so much?  Christie’s had estimated a value of between $7,000 and $10,000–which on the surface of it seems excessive in itself.   Apparently, some people have more money than they know what to do with.

Automation/Robotics–A Swiss firm will build a factory in China that will use robots to build more robots.  You’d think there would be enough surplus labor available in China that it would be the last place to need such.

Automomous vehicles–Will self-driving cars be the solution to urban congestion?  The New York Times reports that a major urban planning guru is suggesting the opposite–it will make it worse.

–For better or for worse, Tesla continues to go full speed ahead toward self-driving vehicles.  A new software update will add several new capabilities to its autopilot feature.

Autonomous or not,  Tesla is finally ramping up to a level of mass production.  Next Big Future reports that they will pump out roughly 450,000 vehicles in 2019, and approach one million per year by 2022.

Musk’s moon base. When will the condos go on sale?

Space Commerce–It wouldn’t be News of The Future This Week without at least two  Elon Musk companies making headlines.  Musk tweeted over the weekend that SpaceX will have a moon base operational by 2025.

—  What would you do with a fiber so strong that a cubic centimeter of it could haul 160 elephants?  Maybe build a space elevator.   The Chinese team of researchers who developed such a material are thinking just that.

–Robots building robots may seem a bit odd in China,  but in space it makes sense.  Relativity Space, a company backed by Mark Cuban, is developing a 3-D printer that will spit out robots–and other needed devices–for space colonies on the moon, Mars or  asteroids.  They don’t expect an actual market until sometime in the 2020’s at the earliest.

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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.

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News of The Future This Week: September 17, 2018

This weeks’s post was delayed pending the revelation of the identity of SpaceX’s first lunar orbit space tourist.  See below.

“”The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.”–Carl Sandberg

 

If you circled the moon–alone–you’d probably wind up talking to it. And tonight we found out who Elon Musk plans to send around the moon as the first SpaceX lunar tourist.  Undoubtedly, everbody will want a piece of him.

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 

Artisit’s conception; spaceX BFR lunar vehicle

 Space–Elon Musk’s SpaceX made the big annoucement tonight.  In a live streamed event he revealed the identity of the first space tourist to orbit the moon, launched by its BFR rocket.   He is Japanese billionaire Yasaku Maezawa.  Launch is projected for 2023.

India revealed its first design for space suits.  They may not win any visual design awards, but hopefully they’ll keep their astronauts safe, starting in 2022.

Not exactly for a stroll in the park

Neural Networks/future of computing–An interdiscipinary group of researchers including biologists and computer scientists at Lehigh University have obtained a grant from the National Science Foundation to grow a computer made out of living cells.  Your next CPU could, quite literally, be grown in a Petri dish.

Anti-aging/rejuvenation–In Seeking Delphi™ podcast epidose #19,  Aubrey de Grey lamented that no significant progress had been made toward achieving what he calls “robust mouse rejuvenation.”  That would be the ability to significantly extend, perhaps to double or more, the life expectancy of a mouse, starting interventions well into it’s lifetime  That was back in December of last year.   Now, 9 months later, Harvard scientist George Church says he has done it–his Rejuvenate Bio has doubled the lifespan of a mouse.

Don’t ask what it will cost. He’s not saying, yet.

Hyperloop/The Boring Company–Elon Musk wants to marry the services of two of  his compnies for the benefit of your immediate transportation convenience.  He wants to dig a tunnel directly from a  garage to provide hyperloop access.

Mobile Communication–Call management and protection company First Orion says that by next year nearly half of all U.S. cellphone calls will be scams.  You could have fooled me; I thought we’d already passed that.

Health trackers–MIT has developed a health sensor system that can track you around the house, even through walls.  The device resembles a wi-fi router and uses radio signals and machine learning.

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News of The Future This Week: August 12, 2018

“I could have gone on flying in space forever”–Yuri Gagarin

 

Move over, Buck Rogers.  The U.S. administration wants to build a space force. With budget deficits approaching 10 figures, it could just be posturing–or wishful thinking.   Elon Musk inisists he isn’t posturing on getting to Mars, though.  He’s all over the space news this week–for a change.

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–U.S. vice president addressed the Pentagon with details of a proposed Space Force to be implemented by 2020.  With a trillion dollar deficit looming, and a congressional majority composed of Republicans who (supposedly) espouse smaller government, it will be interesting to see where the funding will come from.

–The space force may be in doubt, but it’s full speed ahead to Mars, as far as Elon Musk is concerned.  He convened a secret Mars workshop, attended by prominant scientists and engineers, to address colonization of the Red Planet.

Meanwhile, Russia intends to compete with Elon and his SpaceX for heavy payload launch capability–eventually.  Their rocket with 70 ton launch capacity is targeted for a rollout in 2028.  Don’t look now, Vladimir, but with ten years lead time, Elon is bound to build something bigger.

TESS, image credit: NASA

–For you exo-planet fans, new estimates from NASA suggest it’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite could identify up to 10,000 new alien worlds over the next two years.  As many as 3500 of them could be smaller than Neptune, down to and including Earth-sized planets.

Automation/future of work–  Back on the ground, Elon Musk has other issues to deal with.  His plans to fully automate a Tesla plant haven’t gone so smoothly.

Alternative energy/Environment–Elon has competiton in the alternative-energy trucking space as well.  The ironically named Nikola has reportedly raised $100 million dollars for the launch its hyrdrogen-powered trucking venture.  

The Human Condition–Millennium Project CEO and State of The Future lead author, Jerome Glenn, says that we have done better than most people expected.  He goes so far as to say, in this Seeking Delphi™ interview linked below, that “we are winning as a species.”  He does acknowledge critical issues that could derail the trajectory of progress, however.

Episode #24: The State of The Future, with Jerome Glenn

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: August 5, 2018

“Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?”–Edgar Bergen

 

The future of work is a very “now” debate.  While many see an A.I. job-killing armageddon over the next 10-20 years, others are more sanguine.  This week’s stories include some new published points of view that lean to the more optimistic side.

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–Worried about losing your job to A.I, robotics, or some such form of automation?  According to this report in Next Big Future, the 2020’s AND 2030’S could see a tech-driven economic boom.   Maybe it won’t be so bad.

–Boom or no, technology is bound to kill at least some jobs.  Two technology authors, reporting in Forbes, discuss the job opportunities in the era of man/machine interface.

To the above end, a Stanford scholar says that artificial intelligence will both disrupt and benefit workplace.

Image Credit: Tech Insider

Artificial Intelligence–Read any good novels lately?  According to one computer scientist, artificial intelligence may be writing them within ten years.  

Hackernoon explains the how and why of using A.I. to make better predictions.  Uh oh, I hope futurists won’t be rendered obsolete!

DARPA aims to help keep the current U.S. lead in development of A.I.  They’ve initiated an excelerated program to award $1-million breakthrough development grants within three months of proposal submission, with an aim towards providing results within 18 months of award.

A report from QY Research forecasts exponential growth in the market for A.I. software over the next few years.  They project the annual global market value to grow to $78 billion by 2025,  up from $2.65 billion in 2017.

Future Energy–A recent technology breakthrough could triple the output of solar cells.  Researchs in the UK have come up with a method to increase capture efficiency from 20% to 60%.

Award-winning Mars habitat design by Team Zopherus of RRogers, Arkansas

Space Exploration–Speaking of government research grants, NASA is in the game, too.  They’ve awarded $100,000 to five private enterprises competing to design a Mars habitat.

NASA has named a class of 9 astronauts to fly the first commercially built manned spacecrafts. Their partnerships with Boeing and SpaceX hope to yeild the first mission before the end of next year.

A new NASA report suggests it is impossible to terraform Mars.  Well, at least impossible using today’s technology.  Elon Musk isn’t buying it, and neither am I.  What about tomorrow’s technology?  What a bout Clarke’s first law?  “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.”

Coming Soon–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature and interview with Jerome Glenn, co-founder and executive director of The Millennium Project, on their most recent edition of The State of The Future.

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News of The Future This Week: July 15, 2018

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

 

Yeah, well, ol’ Elon would say that.  His SpaceX venture is heavily invested and involved, both with NASA and other space faring concerns, and is somewhere between trying to colonize Mars long term and actually turning a profit, near term.  But in the final analysis, what they seem to be locked into is a race with Boeing to launch the first commercial manned space vehicle, and thus  get back to where NASA was over 50 years ago.

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–Despite all the bravado, Elon Musk may not be winning the race for the first commercial manned space launch.  A new internal NASA document suggests they believe that Boeing may beat them to the punch.

Oh SpaceX, were art thou?

–According to that same government audit report, neither company is likely to be ready to launch crews to the ISS in 2019.  It states that neither company is likely to be able to do so before Augist of 2020.

–While Boeing and SpaceX race to send crews into space, another concern has a loftier goal.  Israeli firm SpaceIL plans to launch the first privately-funded, unmanned lunar lander, in February of next year.  They’ll use a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in an attempt to claim the Google X prize.

Hail! Halil, Asgardia, land of the free and brave!

–Manned space commerce may still be a ways away, and space colonization even farther out.  But that hasn’t stopped Russian computer scientist Igor Ashurbeyli and the 200,000 denizens of self-acclaimed space nation Asgardia from naming him the first leader of the (as of now) virtual nation, as Futurism.com reports.

 Hail, Hail Asgardi…er…Freedonia…land of the free and brave!

Longevity/Anti-aging research–One of the leading figures in the radical human longevity field has tempered his former optimism.  In silico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov now thinks the 150+ year human lifespan he has long dreamed of won’t become reality any time soon.

On the other hand, researchers at Stowers Institute for Medical Research have made a stem cell breakthrough that could lead to antiaging therapy.  They’ve discovered the one cell in flatworms capable of regenerating an entire organism.

Future transportation–Do  you think self-driving cars are a bit out there?  Flying cars?   Now a French firm is proposing what amounts to a flying train. (Video below).

French flying train proposal.  Maybe they’re just giddy about the World Cup?

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