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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News of The Future This Week: June 1, 2018

“For the wise man looks into space and knows there is no limited dimensions.”–Lao Tzu

 

After decades of glacial progress, the space age is about to re-accelerate.  And the big players are not just NASA and the Russian space agency.   Space Commerce–private enterprise–is set to lead the way.

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/exploration/colonization–According to Next Big Future, we are on the dawn of the true space age.  And Elon Musk and his BFR are leading the vision.

–Planning on going to Mars?   Very challenging.   Plan on maintaining a colony on Mars?  Almost beyond challenging–especially when it comes to procreation.

China has invited scientists from all over the world to apply to visit their planned space station, scheduled for launch in late 2022.  No word yet on whether they’ll place limits on U.S. STEM students.

Jeff Bezos says he plans to build a moon base by partnering with NASA and the European Space Agency.  Plans is the operative word–there is no commitment at this time from either of the aforementioned agencies.

–Genetic editing isn’t just for Terra Firma.  Singularity Hub reports that NASA is engineering microbes for use off-planet.   The hope is that they can be used to produce nutrients and building materials.

Artificial Intelligence–Just hours after it was revealed that a major employee backlash had hit Google,  they announced they will discontinue developing A.I. for military applications after it’s current Department of Defense contract expires next year.  A wave of resignations and petition signings turned the tide.

In a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology artificial intelligence equaled human experts in facial recognition.  Furthermore, the collaboration of A.I. and human experts acheved near perfect results.

Robotics/Coming Attractions–The next Seeking Delphi™ podcast will feature an interview with Joanne Pransky, who bills herself as The Worlds First Robotic Psychiatrist.®

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News of The Future This Week: May 25, 2018

“Amazon is definitely serious about delivering its goods by an autonomous air force.”–Steven Levy

 

Autonomous cars.  Self-navigating boats.  Self-flying drones. Ah, if only there was a self-writing blog; I would sleep in more often.  The vehicles of the future are all over the news this week.  Let’s catch up.

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 (autonomous, electric, etc.)–According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 80% of the world’s urban buses will be electric by 2040.  They also see 28% of all new car sales as electric by 2030.

Soon to be numbered?

–In December 2015, the FAA announced rules to require all flying drones over a certain size to be registered.  Now a new report, also from Bloomberg, suggests that they want to take the regulations a step further, and require license plates.

MIT, ever in the forefront of just about everything and anything autonomous and robotic, has a new invention.  It’s a 3-D printed autonomous boat.  The hope is it might help clear up urban road congestion.  No mention yet of urban waterway congestion, though.

 

–While we’re talking about MIT, they have a new technology for drones, too.  Its a virtual reality environment to train drones to maneuver through obstacles without putting the real world at risk.

–Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk don’t see eye-to-eye on the existential threats of artificial intelligence.  But they do agree on the life-saving potential of A.I. when used to power self-driving cars.

Falcon Heavy launch. Image credit: SpaceX

Space Commerce–Elon Musk aims big; even too big, at times.  But when it comes to space commerce, his SpaceX company is apparently achieving  big.   An analysis by Next Big Future finds that his Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets may be as much as 15 years ahead of other competitors is the commercial space race, and as much as 10 years ahead of China’s space agency.

Privacy–Facebook is apparently playing a proverbial “both sides against the middle” when it comes to talking privacy with the government.  On the one hand, Mark Zuckerberg promises congress and the EU parliament better safeguards of user data privacy.  On the otherhand, he’s selling facial recognition technology to law enforcement agencies

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News of The Future This Week: May 18, 2018

“Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.”–Albert Schweitzer

 

Ah memory.  How fleeting and ephemeral–as well as inaccurate–it can be.  Apparently, now, it can be transferred or even implanted falsely.  Westworld may be closer than we think.

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 

Neuroscience/Memory–A team of UCLA scientists claims to have successfully transplanted memory from one snail to another.  I’m not exactly sure what the point is, but I hope the little buggers protected their ATM PIN numbers.

If fake news isn’t bad enough, it appears that UC Berkeley scientists have figured out how to implant fake memories in the human mind using holographic images.   While this could have constructive uses in physical therapy and psychotherapy, it’s also ripe for abuse.

Getting there? Hard. Staying there? Brutal.

Space Colonization–Getting there is less than half the battle.  Maintaining a colony on Mars is replete with challenges, and a new study says having babies maybe one of the biggest ones.

Artificial Intelligence–Demand for artificial intelligence engineers continues to outstrip supply.  In response, Carnegie Mellon has created the first undergraduate program specializing in such.

INTEL has it’s own A.I. plans, at least in the hardware department.  It’s Lohi chip, planned for release next year, will have the equivalent of 100 billion synapses–about the number in the brain of a mouse.

On the road to strong A.I.–machines that can learn anything.

DARPA may be a step closer to the quantum leap that will enable artificial general intelligence.  As advanced as we may think today’s A.I. is, it still only does tasks it is initially designed for.  But DARPA’s L2M initiative is making strides toward developing a system that can adapt to new situations outside their initial programming–a major step towards achieving strong A.I.

SpaceX/Elon Musk–Elon continues to work overtime on ambitious transport projects of all kinds.  The latest is a scheme, combining the joint efforts of SpaceX and Hyperloop, to create a transport system that will enable 1-hour travel time to almost anywhere on earth.

On the road to an ambitious future like the one described above, Musk plans 24 hour turnaround and relaunch of his reusable Falcon 9 rocket, starting in 2019.

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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).

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The Future Last Year: 2017 In Review

“My mentality is that of a samurai. I would rather commit seppuku than fail.”–Elon Musk

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”–Alan Kay

Technology was everywhere in 2017.  And everywhere technology went, Elon Musk was sure to lead.  Perhaps we should paraphrase Alan Kay.  The best way to predict the future, is to watch Elon. If anybody is inventing it, it’s him. Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX, Neuralink, Hyperloop.  If it involved renewable energy, autonomous vehicles, space commerce, transhumanism, or warnings about artificial intelligence (lot’s of warnings), it probably involved Elon.

With that, I name Elon Musk, in total, our first Future Story of The Year, for 2017.  Here’s a very brief history of his year, along with some of the other top stories from 2017.

While you’re reading about it all, 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 

Elon Musk

Tesla– Even as the lower priced ($35,000) model 3 production lagged way behind predictions, Elon revealed the new Tesla semi.  It’s great that he aims high, but in 2018 he will need to deliver, not just promise.

SpaceXAs of this writing, the Falcon Heavy rocket sits on pad 39A at Cape Canaveral.  It’s the precursor of even heavier launch vehicles that Elon hopes will send humans to Mars by 2030. 

HyperloopMusk may have invented it, but Richard Branson’s Virgin Hyperloop One is making the bulk of the headlines these days.  Kudos to Elon, though, for open sourcing the concept and allowing competition to rapidly develop it.

The Boring CompanyWhile aiming to odominate the transportation on the surface of the earth (Tesla) and space above it (SpaceX) , Elon also created The Boring Company to drill tunnels below it. give him credit for a sense of humor with this company’s name.

Neuralink–When it comes to A.I., Elon’s motto seems to be “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” He created Neuralink to accelerate the merger of mind and machine.

So…how many new technology ventures will he create in 2018, as he continues to invent the future?  I’d put the over/under at 2 1/2.

Other top stories of the Year.

Artificial intelligence, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, self-driving cars, Bitcoin and blockchain, reversing aging and the future of work, were all frequently in the news in 2017.   Somewhat less visible were stories about laboratory grown meat, reversing aging, hypersonic weapons, 3D printing and advanced drone technology.  Here are few top story lists from other sources.

Futureseek Daily Link Digest

Wired Magazine’s top stories of 2017

Favorite 2017 Science Stories, The Verge

Science Fiction vs. Science Fact: Replicating Machines (my article from the first issue of Age of Robots)

IEEE Spectrum best stories of 2017

2017 in 3D printing

Dave Barry’s less than reassuring look back at 2017

Seeking Delphi™ finished the year with a podcast interview with SENS foundation,s chief science officer,  Aubrey de Grey, on ending aging.

 

Happy New Year, all.  2018 figures to be quite a ride.

Coming Attractions–2018 will kick off with an interview with Bioviva CEO Elizabeth Parrish, the first person to edit parts of her own genome to reverse aging.

 

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: December 12, 2017

“The pace of progress on Mars depends upon the pace of progress of SpaceX.”–Elon Musk

Who will get there first?

Oh really, Elon?  It seems that Boeing may have something to say about that.  We got to the moon because of a frantic race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, propelled by the cold war. If an when we get to Mars, it just might be because of a frantic race between commercial ventures, fueled by the almighty dollar.

 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 

Mars/Space Exploration–Speaking on CNBC recently, Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenberg said, “I firmly believe the first person to set foot on Mars will get there on a Boeing rocket.”  There was no immediate comment from Elon Musk, whose SpaceX aims to be there first.  Whoever gets there first, maybe they can getaround on the Tesla that Elon intends to launch into Mars orbit next year.

President Trump announced that the Moon will be the next destination for U.S. astronauts.  Whether he intends to put the treasury’s money where his mouth is remains to be seen.

Physics.org reports that a new space suit design will have a “take me home” button for astronauts who get separated from their craft and disoriented on space walks. Danger, Will Robinson!

Artificial Intelligence–The IEEE released the second edition of its global treatise on ethics of autonomous and intelligent systems, today.  The report can be requested for download here.   The report was mentioned in Seeking Delphi™ podcast episode #17, featuring an interview with the initiative’s executive director, John C. Havens.  (YouTube video  link below).

Researchers from the University of Texas and the city of Austin are employing deep learning and big data to try to alleviate traffic jams.  They will present their findings at an IEEE conference on big data later this month.

Using A.I. to alleviate traffic? Good!  Using A.I. to create fake porn of anybody?  Er–not so much.  The Verge reports that just a few photographs and some open source A.I. software is all that it takes to graft anybody’s face onto any picture in a convincing manner. As they put it, seeing may no longer be believing.

Biotech–Researchers at the Salk Institute say they have been able to use CRISPR gene editing to reverse disease in mice.  They used a new procedure that does not actually cut the genes, but affects the expression–or epigenetics–of genes. It turns them on or off.

Researchers at the University of Rochester say they have successfully been able to insert new information directly in the the pre-motor cortex of the brains of two monkeys.   Anyone for trying this on politicians?

Material Science/Athletics–British sportswear brand inov-8 is partnering with the University of Manchester to introduce graphene-infused athletic footwear in 2018.  Laboratory tests have shown the shoes to be stretchier, stronger and more wear resistant than conventional rubber-soled sneakers.

 

Aubry 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 soon.

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.