You can still see the NIAC reports from that era on the older site (go to NIAC Funded Studies). The current NIAC site makes the point that the program looks for “non-traditional sources of innovation that study technically credible, advanced concepts that could one day ‘change the possible’ in aerospace.” And it’s here that we get the 2017 Phase 1 proposals, a $125,000 award for a nine month period that can result in a two-year Phase II follow-up.
Future Trends – VR’s Existential Hangover
Each week Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, summarizes the top-5 future looking developments and news items that I find to be inspiring, interesting, concerning, or downright strange. Each day he reads through dozens of blogs and news websites to find those things that we should be aware of.
In Future Trends – VR’s Existential Hangover we look at the effects of coming back into the real world from VR, the challenges of globalism, self-driving cars in 3 years, plummeting solar and wind power, and interstellar implications.
Virtual Reality Can Leave You With an Existential Hangover
When Tobias van Schneider slips on a virtual reality headset to play Google’s Tilt Brush, he becomes a god. His fingertips become a fiery paintbrush in the sky. A flick of the wrist rotates the clouds. He can jump effortlessly from one world that he created to another.
When the headset comes off, though, it’s back to a dreary reality. And lately van Schneider has been noticing some unsettling lingering effects. “What stays is a strange feeling of sadness and disappointment when participating in the real world, usually on the same day,” he wrote on the blogging platform Medium last month. “The sky seems less colorful and it just feels like I’m missing the ‘magic’ (for the lack of a better word). … I feel deeply disturbed and often end up just sitting there, staring at a wall.”
Read more at The Atlantic
The Challenges of Globalism
Mercedes Promises Self-Driving Taxis in Just Three Years
THE ALREADY CROWDED race to put fully self-driving cars on the road just got a bit more congested. Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, plans to launch a customer-serving, driver-free taxi service in as little as three years, it announced today.
The German giant is just the latest to make this kind of pledge. Ford and BMW aim to do the same thing by 2021. General Motors and Google’s Waymo are eyeing a similar timeframe without committing to a specific date. Meanwhile, Uber has been shuttling passengers around Pittsburgh in self-driving cars since September (with humans up front to monitor the system).
All these companies see driverless vehicles as a route into the nascent but lucrative ride-hailing business. Uber—which bleeds cash but dominates the ride-hailing market—is valued at nearly $70 billion. Drop the human drivers who demand things like money, and the prize looks extra shiny. That’s a big part of the reason the market for partly and fully self-driving vehicles could be worth $42 billion in just seven years and $77 billion by 2035, according to Boston Consulting Group. “It’s an arms race to provide the mobility on demand,” Delphi CTO Jeff Owens told WIRED in December.
Read more at WIRED
Stunning drops in solar and wind costs turn global power market upside down
Stunning drops in the cost of wind and solar energy have turned the global power market upside down.
For years, opponents of renewable power, like President Donald Trump, have argued they simply aren’t affordable. The reality is quite different.
Unsubsidized renewables have become the cheapest source of new power — by far — in more and more countries, according to a new report from the United Nations and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
Read more at ThinkProgress
NIAC 2017: Interstellar Implications
Read more at Centauri-Dreams