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.

The Future This Week: December 5, 2017

“The autonomous car is definitely coming…”–Masayoshi Son

Cars, cars, cars.  In America, we love our cars.  And, whether gas, electric, or hybrid, we love to drive them.  So what happens when they drive themselves?  And an even better question: when they get built in emotion A.I., will our cars love us?  OK, that last one is not a real issue–yet.  But every major car company is working on self-driving, all-electric cars.  The news this week is just full of cars, cars, 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 Twitter and Facebook 

 Self Driving Cars/Autonomous Vehicles–General Motors has announced plans to launch a self-driving, ride-sharing car service in major U.S. cities by 2019.  The aim is to compete directly with Uber and Lyft.

Uber is not standing idly by.  Volvo says they expect to sell them tens of thousands of self driving cars between 2019 and 2021.

Next Big Future reports that every major car company is working on all-electric, self-driving vehicles.   Ford, for one, also plans a self-driving, ride-sharing service by 2021.

What will Elon think of next?

Electric Vehicles–You can’t make this up, but apparently Elon Musk can.  He’s on record, and apparently serious, about launching a Tesla into orbit around Mars early next year.  The good news is, as long as it stays in orbit, it won’t need a charging station.

Ford’s chairman says they will introduce several electric car models in China over the next few years. He added that he expects China to be the leader in EV proliferation.

–According to recent reports, though, the Canadian province of Ontario will likely not reach its 2020 target for electric vehicle deployment.

Flying Cars/Taxis–Yeah, sure. Why should all the traffic jams be on the ground?  Volocopter says its flying taxis will be up (literally) and running in two to three years.

Space/Lunar Exploration–China has announced big plans for the moon.  A robotic lunar station, and a dark side radio telescope are targeted for 2019.

Brexit scenarios to 2030–The latest Seeking Delphi™ podcast features SAMI Consulting’s Jonathan Blanchard Smith discussing four post-Brexit scenarios for the UK.  (YouTube slide show link below)

Aubrey 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 a few days.

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: November 28, 2017

“Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.”–Alfred Hitchcock

It seems movie theater owners are taking Hitchcock quite literally.  At our first break from home binge watching in almost a year, my wife and I went to a local cinema. We arrived right on the dot at the advertised starting time of the movie, and immediately suffered through 20 minutes of commercials–exactly what we get away from by watching Amazon and Netflix and premium cable channels.  I just love paying to binge watch commercials.

 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 

Digital entertainmentAmazon, Apple, and Netflix  are expected to be spending nearly $20 Billion, combined, on digital content by 2022.  Take that, Bollywood.

The Venture Reality Fund reports that Hollywood’s investment in AR and VR is booming.  Overall, AR/VR investment in the second half of this year is seen as rising by $2.3 billion, or 79 per cent, over the same period a year ago.  Oh boy, even those insufferable commercials will be enhanced.

The worm turns–on mars.

Space Travel/Colonization–What’s better than pigs in space?  How about worms on Mars?  A recent study by researchers at Wageningen University found that earth worms can grow and reproduce in Martian-like soil. It’s part of a study to see if food plants can grow in the same compound, to support potential colonization.

–Woody Allen once said, “man can’t live on bread alone; often there must be a beverage.”  Anheiser-Busch is taking that literally by sending beer into space.  A Dec. 4 SpaceX launch will send beer making ingredients to the international space station, a very early step toward sending it to Mars with the first colonists.  Talk about opening new markets.

Future Life/2030 Forecasts–A new report from The World Economic Forum paints a heady picture of life in the year 2030.  Genetically engineered pets…smart toilets…internet connected clothes…wow, I can hardly wait.

 

A similar study, reported in Forbes, focuses more on how we will change as humans by 2030. It’s not about augmented reality, it’s about augmented us.

Transportation/Sustainable Energy–Hydrogen powered trains will be coming to Germany by 2021.  The technology is being built by French concern, Alstom.

Robotics/AI–China announced plans to open a fully automated police station, sans humans.  The facility will deal primarily with driving -related issues, making it more like a western motor vehicle department facility.  It’s all in line with China’s stated goal of being world leader in artificial intelligence by 203o.

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: October 31, 2017

“Aging is mostly the failure to repair”– Gregory Benford

“Age is inevitable; aging isn’t”–Marv Levy

Even as lifestyle issues like smoking, obesity, distracted driving and drug overdoses have of late limited life expectancy gains in the west, there continue to be breakthroughs in anti-aging research at breathtaking pace.  At some point–maybe soon–we may experience a period of anti-aging therapy deployment such that average life expectancy increases by one or more years every year. How long will we live, then?  And the bigger question is: what will be the implications for civilization and the earth as a whole?

 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 

Anti-aging/Longevity research–Virtual biotech company, Youthereum, believes they can extend healthy human lifespan by 30% using epigenetics.  The idea of such an approach as  has been around for decades; they believe they are in striking range of achieving it.  The unconventional part of the plan is not the science, it’s financing the research, which they hope to accomplish through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) of a new cryptocurrency.

Two University of Arizona scientists have published a paper on the mathematics of aging, purporting to prove that immortality is impossible.  That sounds suspiciously like the scientist who published a paper supposedly proving that space travel was impossible, just a few months before the launch of the first Sputnik.

Food– Food distribution giant, Cargill, Inc., has joined the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson with investments in Memphis Meats.  The San Francisco-based (not Tennessee) company says its products–lab grown beef, chicken and duck–will be in stores by 2021 and will eventually cost as little as $1 a pound.  The products use real animal cells, but obviate the need to raise and kill live animals.

Space Launch and Propulsion–Positron Dynamics is projecting the potential launch of an anti-matter propelled cubesat by as early as sometime next year.  It further forecasts that a Mars-bound anti-matter powered rocket could be launched by the 2030’s.

–Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s SpaceX continues to make progress towards lowering the cost of space launches.  This past week, it conducted its fifteenth consecutive successful launch and first stage landing of the reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

China/Economic Development–The New York Times reports that Chinese president Xi Jinping wants to fully eliminate poverty in his country by 2020.   It’s all part of the larger Xi plan which outlines many of the country’s goals, including those in healthcare, AI, and the sharing economy, through 2050.

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: October 23, 2017

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

Nothing accelerates technological development like competition. It was the competition between the US and the Soviet Union that put a man on the moon in 1969, decades sooner than it would otherwise have occurred.  The finish line of that race ended the competition, and we haven’t gone back since.  But a new competition, multi-faceted and far more diverse, has begun.  The commercial development of space figures to re-accelerate our push into the final frontier. If you’re a fan of space exploration and exploitation, stay tuned, the next few years are going to be exciting.

 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 

Fly me to the moon…in 2022

Space exploration/exploitation/tourismUnited Launch  Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace have announced a joint venture to place a habitat in lunar orbit by 2022.  While they describe fully how they intend to get it there, they don’t yet say who will inhabit it or what it might be used for.  Anyone want to rent a lunar-orbiting apartment?

Richard Branson says his Virgin Galactic commercial space venture will launch its first astronauts into space in about 4 months.  He also says his program will do more for humanity than Elon Musk’s ambitious SpaceX plans to colonize Mars.  Branson vs. Musk is not exactly USA vs. USSR; in fact,  it might actually be more sustainable.

–Branson and Musk aren’t the only billionaire-sized egos in space.  Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin announced  a breakthrough that brings it one step closer to launching sub-orbital space tourism flights by 2019. They successfully test fired their new BE-4 rocket engine.

While NASA progresses at a snails pace in returning US astronauts to the moon, it’s ramping up the effort to detect nearby, habitable earth-like planets.  How they will ever get us there is another question, altogether.

Artificial Intelligence–Elon Musk says that the AI in a Tesla will soon be able to predict your destination and bring you there without asking. That’s good; half the time I have no idea where I’m going.  Seriously, though, that’s amazing–and kind of creepy at the same time.

The New York Times reports that tech giants are paying big bucks for the services of Artificial Intelligence experts.  The deals they offer them often include signing bonuses and multi-year contracts, sometimes resembling those offered to professional athletes.

–Dubai and India are both jumping on the A.I. bandwagon, as far as government monitoring and regulation is concerned.  Dubai is appointing a minister of artificial intelligence, while India is establishing an expert panel to advise government on policy.

Biotechnology–An Italian neurosurgeon says he will conduct the world’s first full head transplant in December of this year.  And you were skeptical of self-driving cars.

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: October 2, 2017

“Mars is there, waiting to be reached.”–Buzz Aldrin

“I want to die on Mars.  Just not on impact.”–Elon Musk

Ah, Mars.  Indeed it does seem to be just sitting there for the taking.  And while I do appreciate Elon Musk’s desire not to die there on impact, I’m not so sure he cares whether you die there on impact.  Or here on Earth, either, for that matter.  His Mars ambitions are all over the news this week. As is usual for ‘ol Elon, they seem, well, over ambitious.

 While you’re reading about all this week’s out of this world news, don’t forget that you can subscribe to Seeking Delphi™ podcasts on iTunes or PlayerFM, and you can also follow us on Facebook.

Mars/rocketry–The latest SpaceX pronouncement from Elon Musk, is that he aims to put humans on Mars by 2024.  To attain that ambitious goal, he’s planning a new rocket design. It replaces the previous ITS (Interplanetary Transport System) design, with a new one called BFR.  What does BFR mean?  Well, its a BFD.

–Apparently Mars isn’t the only place Elon Musk wants to send you via his new BFR.   He also wants to use it for very fast air transport on Earth.   He might think it’s a good idea, but others not so much–as this article in The Verge suggests.

–Will we ever find Martians?  NASA’s Mars 2020 rover aims to look for them. Or rather, for the carbon signatures of past Martian microbes, using a super hot laser technology.

–Speaking of colonizing Mars, the United Arab Emirates has stated a goal of building a major metropolis on Mars within 100 years.  They plan to build a prototype right hear on Earth to test out the needed survival technologies. 

Home sweet Home–Mars habitat

Electric/next generation vehicles–Even as Elon Musk goes over the top with his rocketry ambitions, the bottom has, in a way, fallen out of his electric vehicle ambitions.   It turns out that only 260 new Model 3 Teslas were produced in third quarter, versus an original projection of at least 1,500.

–Elon isn’t the only one with an aggressive agenda for electric vehicles.  GM has announced they plan to introduce some 20 new all-electric models by 2023.

BMW says they will add Amazon’s Alexa to their 2018 models.  Great, it’s bad enough when that GPS voice gets all snarky on you; now there will be two of them.

Blockchain–Move over cryptocurrencies and other financial applications powered by blockchain.  The CDC wants to use the technology to track disease outbreaks for the betterment of public health.

–Speaking of cryptocurrency, South Korea has joined China in banning new ICO’s.  Initial Coin Offerings are the cryptocurrency equivalent of stock IPO’s.

Coming Attractions–On the next Seeking Delphi™ podcast, I’ll be speaking with Linda Groff, PhD, on her new book exploring options for future human evolution.  Yes, for perhaps the first time in history, there are options.

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, March 5, 2017

“If you want a nation to have space exploration ambitions, you’ve got to send humans.”-Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil might have added, “or have profit motives.”  The news about commercial space exploration is almost nonstop these days.  Here’s what’s been happening in the past week.

Commercial space ventures–

In more down-to-earth news: