News of The Future This Week: August 19, 2018

“Those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” – John F Kennedy

 

What is a futurist? I get asked that all the time.  No, we don’t have crystal balls.  It’s not so much about predicting the future as it is about helping steer humanity to a better future.  This week’s news of the future kicks off with a new video by British futurist Ray Hammond that provides a succinct historical perspective on the study of the future.

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 Thinking–From Roger Bacon to Alvin Toffler and Ray Kurzweill,  Ray Hammond’s new video on The History of Futurists and Futurology provides a thoughtful perspective on thinking about things to come.

–And from last year’s annual meeting of The Association of Professional Futurists, my Seeking Delphi podcast, redux, asking the practitioners themselves, What is a Futurist?

 

Tesla semi (artist’s conception)

Future transportation–Elon Musk continues to lead the way when it comes to inventing the future of transportation.  His Boring Company aims to create a 3 mile long tunnel to Dodger Stadium to help ease Los Angeles traffic, to be operative by late next year.  And Tesla looks to roll out its first electric semi- truck, also in 2019.

Space Exploration/Commerce–Want to mine the asteroids?  Now it’s possible to get a master’s degree, or even a Ph.D., dedicated to exactly that.  The Colorado School of Mines offers the program to study the “exploration, extraction, and use of [space] resources.”

Meanwhile, China’s  announced plans to send two robots to explore the far side of the moon now has a launch target of this December. 

Graphene Jacket (image credit: Vollebak)

Material Science–A company called Vollebak has introduced the world’s first graphene jacket.  Light weight, water proof, and durable, it will only set you back $695.

Military Technology–Damn the cyber torpedoes, it’s full speed ahead for the US to build a megawatt laser weapon by 2023.  The aim is to intercept ICBM’s and hypersonic weapons.

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 the latest 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 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, 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 8, 2018

“Life is a DNA software system.”–Craig Ventner

You’ve heard it all, and lately you’re hearing it more.  The singularity is near.  Robots are going to take our jobs.  Robots are going to take over altogether.  Robots are even going to take over our sex lives.  Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying it won’t happen;  I just think it’s farther away than the impression most people are getting from all the news.  What’s here right now is genetic editing, and with it, the possibility of directing human evolution. The very real and very near possibility of changing what it means to be human.  Read all the artificial intelligence and future of work articles–yes.  But keep your eye on the gene editing ball–it’s here right now.

Seeking Delphi™ will be at SXSW 2018 in Austin, TX through Wednesday of next week.  Stay tuned for updates on the Intelligent Future track.

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 

Gene editing/synthetic biology–A Japanese team has created a new genetic editing process so precise it can edit a single letter of DNA.  Called MhAX, it works by combining the gene editing tool CRISPR with a DNA repair technique.

–If you thought IBM was only about information technology and business processes, think again.  Researchers at the compnay  are making headway in the development of synthetic molecules that might be able to replace antibiotics in the fight against drug resistant infectious organisms.

The Future of Work–Speaking of artificial intelligence, maybe it is coming to take jobs.  But a new Gallup survey suggests that most Americans think it will take somebody else’s job–not theirs.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Autonomous Vehicles/Advanced Transportation–If job disruptive technology is at hand, can Luddism be far behind?  Apparently not, as recent attacks on self-driving vehicles in San Franscisco demonstrate.

–If cars are ever going to be fully autonomous, every aspect of the operation needs to be designed to be human-free.  Even headlights.  Engineers at Mercedes Benz have now done just that, they’ve designed smart, autonomous headlights.

Energy–Elon Musk has been rather quiet lately–for him–as far as these weekly reports go.  Not to worry; his latest idea is to equip 50,000 Australian homes with his Tesla solar roofing tiles and lithium ion batteries, to create a virtual power plant.

Tesla solar roofing tiles look like…well…roofing tiles.

Chinese Space Station–China’s failing space station is due to come crashing back into the atmosphere within the next few weeks.  Fear not, though.  Your own future probably doesn’t include getting conked on the head by the falling debris.  Experts have calculated your chances of being hit as a million times more remote than winning Powerball.   That equates to about one in three hundered trillion.

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.

News of the Future This Week, January 31, 2018

“The main thing in life is not to be afraid of being human.”–Aaron Carter

You’ve heard it all, and lately you’re hearing it more.  The singularity is near.  Robots are going to take our jobs.  Robots are going to take over altogether.  Robots are even going to take over our sex lives.  Yadda yadda yadda.

I’m not saying it won’t happen;  I just think it’s farther away than the impression most people are getting from all the news.  What’s here right now is genetic editing, and with it, the possibility of directing human evolution. The very real and very near possibility of changing what it means to be human.  Read all the artificial intelligence and future of work articles–yes.  But listen to what  Elizabeth Parrish has to say about modifying the human genome to reverse aging and to keep up–cognitively and physically–with robots.

Seeking Delphi™ will be on vacation next week.  Enjoy the peace and quiet.

Singularity/Being Human/Artificial Intelligence–Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos,  Yuval Harari speculated on whether are future will indeed still be human.

A quasi-human future? Image credt: Kai Stachowiak

–Ray Kurzweill isn’t the only one talking about a technology singularity.  Futurism.com, with an eye toward separating fact from hype, polled several other technology experts for their take on liklihood and timing. 

–I remember when the Cold War simply meant fears of nuclear anhilation.  Physics.org says we should watch out for artificial intelligence as well.

–A big part of being human is IQ (intellectdual quotiant) and EQ (emotional quotiant). But the future of success in the workplace, according to Fast Company, might be AQ (adaptability quotient).

Here’s the latest take on the robot job apocalypse.     A new report suggests the UK will lose one in 12 jobs to robots and automation by 2030. That’s less then some forecasts, but still enough to be a bother.

In this weeks Seeking Delphi™ podcast interview, Ending Aging, Part 2, with Elizabeth Parrish,  the CEO of Bioviva, says we need to alter the human genome in two ways.  The first is to reverse aging, which her company is working on.  The second is to enhance humans cognitively and physically to keep up with robots and artificial intelligence.

Laser imaging–Do you like how those 3-D images appear out of thin air in the Star Wars world?  Now a team of BYU physicists have actually created this effect with lasers.

Space Commerce–It seems like everyone and his brother is getting into the business of private space launches.  That’s bound to create the need for support services, and UK company, Effective Space, hope to launch a  satellite repair service by 2020.

Self-Driving vehicles–Have we been hearing altogether too much about autonomous vehicle development, lately.  Satirical web site, The Onion, seems to think so.  The released the image below with headline Tesla Debuts Carless Driver.

Image Credit: The Onion

 

Thanks for visiting and reading.  See you in two weeks.

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.

News of the Future This Week, January 17, 2018

“Consumers want a better world, not just better widgets.”–Simon Mainwaring

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2018) recently concluded.  Some of the news coming out of it suggests there are still product marketers who think consumers do just want better widgets.  Let’s hope that doesn’t lead to major investment in The Internet of Stuff.

 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 

 CES 2018–IEEE Spectrum notes 5 important takeaways on the future of 5G wireless technology from CES 2018.  Most notably, it may gear up sooner than some think.

 —Nissan shared its vision for autonomous electrical vehicles at the show.  They suggested doing the other automakers one better, by adding a machine/brain interface.  Methinks Elon Musk, via Tesla and Neuralink might already be looking into that.

As for those crazy widgets,  Futurism.com reported on the most ridiculous ideas to come out of CES 2018.  These include robot strippers and a $6,000 smart toilet.  What will they waste their time thinking of next?

But we can have robodogs…this one will set you back $1,700.00

Don’t expect a personal robot butler anytime soon.  Based on Popular Science’s assessment of robotics and automation at the show, the robots won’t serve us, or take us over, any time soon.

 —Business insider reports that voice assistant integration was the top smart-home trend at CES.     Q. Hey Google, can you verify that?    A. Ask Alexa.

Space travel/exploration–China has unveiled a plan to zap space junk with orbiting lasers.  Now if only somebody could figure out how to zap robocalls.

Smart Cars–Elon Musk says that Tesla model 3 owners will be able to do just about anything with voice control.  He still needs to figure out how to build them fast enough to supply order backlog before the technology becomes obsolete.

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrencies–Bitcoin price dropped sharply this week, amid reports that the EU may place restrictions on cryptocurrencies.  This chart published by Mother Jones makes many historic investment bubbles look cheap by comparison to Bitcoin–even those infamous tulip bulbs.

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 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.