The Future This Week: November 20, 2017

 “There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” –George Carlin

Ah, the moon; so close, and yet so far away.  Has it really been almost fifty years since Neil Armstrong took his one small step for man?  Now, finally, the race is on to go back to our nearby celestial neighbor.  But in 1969, the only motivation was to win a race that was instigated by the cold war.  Now there is different driver in play.  It’s money;  many of the new players, in what is now a multi-way competition, are commercial ventures.

 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 

Space/Lunar explorationMoon Express has unveiled its lunar rover that’s due for a 2019 launch.  Described as an R2D2 lookalike, it would be the first commercial launch beyond earth orbit. The $20 million lunar X-Prize is hanging in the balance.

Yoda would be proud

China has announced plans to catch up to the US in space rocketry by the early 2020’s,  and a longer term goal of developing nuclear powered space vehicles by 2045.

Next big future reports on the possible development of what’s being called an interlunar photonic railway.  It’s based on the the laser powered space sails being planned by Breakthrough Starshot.

Electric Vehicles–Tesla unveiled two new ambitious vehicles, slated to begin production in 2019.  Its big-rig truck has a projected single-charge range of 500 miles and acceleration capabilities far better than diesel powered semis.  The roadster will boast a 620-mile range and a 260 mph top speed.  The price for these indulgences?  I’m not asking; i know I can’t afford either one.

Zoom Zoom

–Elon Musk may be the pioneer in all-electric vehicles, but he’s certainly not alone.  Volkswagon plans to invest an immodest $40 Billion on electric car technology through 2022,  and Toyota is targeting 2020 for its launch of an EV in China.

Senescence/Anti-aging research–Harvard professor and serial biotech entrepreneur Dr. George Church is moving headlong towards enabling human aging reversal.  His Rejuvenate Bio firm plans to test an age reversal therapy in dogs in 2019, and if successful, followed by human trials in 2022.

Scientists at Northwestern University say they have found what may be the first anti-aging genetic mutation.  The genetic anomaly was found in a small Amish community in Indiana.  Individuals who possess the mutation experience longer than average lifespans.

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 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

 

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: July 10, 2017

“Tesla is becoming a real car company.”–Elon Musk

The stock market has considered Tesla almost more than a car company for some time now.  If you are concerned about its valuation, take a look back at Seeking Delphi™ podcast #4 on Technology Investing for The Future, and the Gartner Hype Cycle.  Whatever happens–and whatever you believe–Tesla made the first major step towards becoming a real car company this past week.  The public will vote with their wallets.  Stay tuned.

Electric Cars–Elon Musk tweeted photos of the new mass market Tesla Model 3.  Production has begun and is targeted to ramp up to 20,000 vehicles per month by the end of the year.

Tesla Model 3

Volvo announced plans to become the first premium auto make to abandon all-gasoline cars.  By 2019, all of its vehicles will be either hybrids or all-electric.

Artificial Intelligence–Wired Magazine reports that banks are increasingly resorting to artificial intelligence to detect currency transfers by terrorist organizations.  In the past, simple logic algorithms had been used to detect suspicious transactions.  But the increasing use of micro-transfers by ISIS and other groups has fueled the need for more powerful tools.

Virtual Reality–Swedish company Starbreeze is pursuing an ambitious plan to launch arcade-style virtual reality parlors.   Starbreeze is pushing ahead despite many previous retail VR disappointments by other companies.  The current venture, in partnership with Acer, will place these entertainment centers in IMAX theaters.

Global Economy–The IMF’s latest projections say China’s purchasing power parity GDP will surpass that of the US, Germany and Japan combined by 2022.  Their per capita purchasing power parity GDP will still be far down the list of countries, and GDP in total nominal dollars will still trail the U.S.

Robotics/Automation– An Australian firm Fastbricks Robotics has announced that it is being backed by Caterpillar to develop a home-building robot.  Its Hadrain X can lay down 1,000 bricks and hour a construct an entire home in two days.

Science fiction author Will Mitchell discussed the prospects for deployment self-replicating machines, to aid in the exploitation of space, on Seeking Delphi™ podcast #14.

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

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.

A reminder that Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on iTunesPlayerFM, and have a slide show channel on YouTube.  You can also follow us on Facebook.

The Future This Week: April 30, 2017

“If the government regulates against use of drones or stem cells or artificial intelligence, all that means is that the work and the research leave the borders of that country and go someplace else.”–Peter Diamandis

 

Automation and artificial intelligence continue to be hot topics–and getting hotter.  I’ve heard more than one call to limit or ban them in the last week.  That won’t work, for the very reason Peter Diamandis states in the quote above.  There are over 200 countries in the world;  there is no global governance that can impose the same restrictions on all of them.  We have no choice but to proceed.  Proceed with caution, of course.  Proceed with our eyes open and with a close monitoring of the consequences.  But proceed we must.

Automation/artificial intelligence–Swedish company Wheelys announced the opening in Shanghai of an automated, app-controlled, convenience store  that will operate virtually staff-free.  After a successful mini-test in a small Swedish town, the new store will attempt proof-of-concept in a busy urban environment.

Google’s director of research,  Peter Norvig, said that he does not buy the doomsday scenarios of rampant, runaway artificial intelligence destroying mankind.  Speaking in an interview with CNBC, though, he did warn that massive workplace disruption is coming. “The pace may be so rapid as to create disruptions. We need to find ways to mitigate that,” he said.

Wired co-founder Kevin Kelly, writing in the online forum Backchannel, said that he thinks the advent of superhuman AI is a myth.

Elon Musk–It wouldn’t be The Future This Week without something from Elon.  He graced the annual TED talk conference and sat down to be interviewed by TED curator Chris Anderson to discuss his ambitious plans for Tesla, SpaceX, hyperloops and his new effort to build a network of highways under Los Angeles.

Musk, speaking in the same interview, said that one of his Tesla vehicles will make an autonomous trip from Los Angeles to New York by the end of this year.  The promise is that after the initial programming in of the destination, there will be no human intervention.

Mars/NASA–the space agency unveiled a multi-step plan to land astronauts on the red planet by 2033.Human spaceflight to Mars has been in NASA’s sites for years now–but until now there was no concrete plan.  That changed this past week when

 

The view from 2033

 

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