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.

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: 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.

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 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: June 17, 2018

 “We are losing privacy at an alarming rate – we have none left.”–John McAfee

 

Is privacy dead?  Speaking on the Seeking Delphi™ podcast back in April, futurist Gray Scott said that privacy is not so much dead, as it seems to have become irrelevant.  Our desire for free online content has motivated us to give it up for good.  But this week’s lead stories, on surveillance levels in China and an A.I. that seemingly knows  your behavior before you do, take the issue to whole new levels.

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 

Privacy/Surveillance–Already using facial scanning technology to make sure students are paying attention in class, and brain wave sensors to determine workers’ emotional states, China has taken its Big Brother approach to controlling a step farther.  Starting next year it will require RFID tracking chips installed on all newly registered cars.

–If tracking your every move isn’t creepy enough, computer scientists at the University of Bonn have created a software program that can predict your actions five minutes into the future.  It might sound like a great thing to have at the race track (assuming it also would work on horses). But one has to wonder if it could ultimately lead to a Minority Report scenario.

Retail/Consumer futures–Do malls have a future in age of e-commerce?  According to Westfield Corporation, a major mall operator, they do–though by 2028 they might look quite different.

Westfield 2028

Transportation/Electric Vehicles/Self-Driving Cars–According to a report by Washington-based think tank Securing America’s Future Energy, self-driving cars aren’t likely to steal your job until 2040 or so.  They also project that autonomous vehicles will boost the US economy by $800 billion by 2050.

Artist’s conception of high-speed electric O’Hare shuttle.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Company won a bid to provide underground transportation from downtown Chicago to O’Hare international airport.  According to Musk, the high-speed electric vehicle system should be completed within 3 years.

Space Launch Systems–California-based SpinLaunch Systems has raised $40 million to develop a space catapult launch system by 2022.   The aim is provide orbital launch capabilities for materials and supplies for under $500,000 per mission.  The system will not be able to support manned missions–the G forces generated will be too great for human tolerances.

An estimated half million bits of space junk–leftover pieces of old satellites and space craft–orbit the earth and pose a collision threat to future missions.  Russia, among others, wants to develop a laser system to blast the annoyances out of orbit.


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

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 

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.

 

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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.