News of The Future This Week: May 14, 2019

“I would love to have a robot butler.”–Brett Ratner

“I think I’d take a human butler over a robot one.”–Tom Felton

Want one of these?

Are you disappointed that we still don’t have flying cars?  Well then, you might also be bummed out that we don’t have robot butlers, either.  And while one company is trying to provide those robot butlers by an odd hybrid operated by human remote-control, I’m thinking it’s still a bit premature.  I won’t be letting a robot handle a bottle of ’83 Lafite Rothschild any time soon.

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.

Robotics–If Alexa, Siri, or even a Roomba, is not enough for you, the Japanese firm MIRA may have just the answer.  They plan to launch the world’s first robot butler service. But there’s a rather odd catch, and it’s maybe a bit creepy.  The robots won’t operate autonomously. They will be operated by remote control by employees of MIRA.

–Robots in the home might have a ways to go.  But robots in the hospital?  Those are here now. (see below)

5G/mobile technology–Even as the U.S. and China square off in a battle dominate the emerging 5G segment of cellphone technology,  Russia is making a desperate play to make up for it’s own lagging effort.  They want to scare US consumers into thinking it’s dangerous. Will anti-5Gers become the kindred spirits of anti-vaxxers?

Future Thinking–Ever notice that experts are often spectacularly wrong in forecasting the future of their fields?   According to the Atlantic magazine,  that’s because they view things too narrowly, and they cite a study to prove that broad thinking generalists often make better forecasters.

Fast Company says China’s propensity to take the long view will win in the end, economically.  They aim to be the global center of trade and commerce, and a divided, short-term oriented U.S. government may be no match for them.

Uber–Also for the Atlantic,  a word of caution on Uber.  Their tepid IPO might just be a reponse to their risky view of the future.

Lunar Exploration–The Trump administration wants the U.S. to return astronauts to moon by 2024.  They even have shifted some money to NASA for the project.  But the ultimate cost of said missions is still not been made public.

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin have unveiled the desgin for their Blue Moon  lunar lander, which they also target for a 2024 touchdow.  It’s an impressive looking structure, but methinks the name Blue Moon might have some I.P. issues.

This is what Blue Moon conjures up for me.


Seeking Delphi™ podcast/coming attractions:  John C. Havens on IEEE’s new volume, Ethically Aligned Design, laying out their proposed framework for the safe and beneficial development of A.I. and other automated systems.

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 26, 2018

“Teenagers who are never required to vacuum are living in one.”–Fred G. Gosman


Ah.  Parenting author Fred Gosman has a good point.  Maybe.  But what would he do with a teenager who wants to live in a vacuum?  This week’s lead story profiles the 17-year-old American girl who aims to literally do that–at least for the several months it would take her to get to Mars.

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–In a profile from Inverse, learn about 17-year-old Alyssa Carson, who wants to be the first human to travel to Mars.  And you think your kid has big ambitions?

–Getting to Mars is hard enough.  What happens if astronauts experience a medical emergency en route?  The Verge reports that NASA is preparing for just that happenstance, in partnership with a Boston hospital.


Deep space medical simulation. Image credit: Brigham and Women’s Hospital

–Before going to Mars, NASA thinks it’s a good idea to go back to the moon–and for extended periods.  They unveiled plans to the media this week for a permanent orbiting manned gateway platform that could be used as a jumping off spot for extended excursions to the lunar surface. The project is targeted for completion by 2024.

–If plans go well, 2022 will mark the entry of a forth nation into the business of manned space flights.  India hopes to join the US, Russia and China as the only countries to launch human spacecraft.

Will the test pilot be named Jetson-san?

Future Cars, Flying and Self-Driving–Japan has embarked on a major push to develop flying cars.  A 21 organization consortium, including Boeing and Uber, has been enlisted to accomplish the goal of making those Jetson dreams a reality.

–Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Uber’s path to self-driving cars has dimmed since the recent fatal crash in Arizona.

Artificial Intelligence–MIT Technology Review reports that weaponized AI is on the rise.   It may threaten the future of democracy.

Seeking Delphi™ podcasts are available on iTunes, PlayerFM, or YouTube (audio with slide show) and you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook 

The Future This Week: September 11, 2017

“Automation is going to cause unemployment, and we need to prepare for it.”–Mark Cuban

Back in his early stand up days, Woody Allen had a joke that went something like this. My father came home from work one day and told us he had been laid off from his factory job.  He had been replaced on the assembly line by a $50 part.  The real tragedy of the situation was that my mother immediately went out and bought one of those parts.

Funny, yes.  But the disruption being caused in the workplace by automation and artificial intelligence is not so funny, particularly for the people on the losing end.

Automation/AI induced job loss or disruption–A report in London’s Daily Mail, suggests that we are nearing a tipping point for massive job disruption and loss caused by artificial intelligence and various other forms of automation.   While some critics of the employment doomsday scenarios suggest new jobs will be created to replace those lost, the report suggests, at best, there will be a period of painful adjustment.

Almost on cue, reported that another major Silicon Valley executive has come out in favor of Universal Basic Income.  Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, joined the ranks of other major tech leaders, including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk, in supporting the concept of providing everyone in society with an unconditional guaranteed income as insulation from tech-induced unemployment.  If you’re wondering how it could be funded, here are some suggestions.

Sharing economy– Services like Uber and Lyft are not exactly automation, but they are empowered by the technologies of the internet and smart phones.  Apropos to the two stories above, today’s New York Times reports on economic hardships inflicted on traditional cab drivers by the ride sharing apps.

China’s answer to Hyperloop

High speed transport--Move over Elon Musk, China has its own answer to his Hyperloop transport system.  China Aerospace Science and Industry announced the planned development of system using maglev technology and vacuum tubes to transport passengers at an astounding 2500 mph.

Meanwhile, India has jumped onto the Hyperloop bandwagon. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies announced it has signed a deal to explore building a system linking the cities of Vijaywada and Amaravati in southeast India. The U.S.-based company already has deals to explore building systems in South Korea, Slovakia and Abu Dhabi.

Autonomous Vehicles– Who says congress is always behind the technology curve.  This past week they passed a bill to help facilitate the development and dissemination of self-driving cars. Now if only they’d do something about high school biology students using $50 CRISPR gene editing kits.   Pardon the expression, but I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Coming Attractions–I’ll be attending the Emotional AI summit, hosted by Affectiva at the MIT Media Lab this week.  Look for reports and a podcast soon thereafter.

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.