Top-5 Futures for December 18th: Laser weapons on planes by 2020

Posted By on December 18, 2015

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 I read through dozens of blogs and news websites to find those things that we should be aware of.

Top-5 Futures for December 18th: Laser weapons on planes by 2020 features how the USAF are fitting lasers to their planes, how Google is using Quantum computing, a history of us recording ourselves, policing drones in Tokyo, and cleaning the blood of cancer using biochips.

US Air Force will have laser weapons on planes by 2020

Directed-energy weapons pods could be affixed to aircraft to destroy or disable incoming missiles, drones, and even enemy aircraft at a much lower ‘cost per shot’ than missiles or even guns, Carlisle suggested.

The front runner for the Air Force system is believed to be called the High-Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS), and will create a laser small enough to be mounted on a plane, and is expected to be ready for use by 2020.

General Atomics, the firm making, it, has revealed a full scale system is already under construction following tests.

The AFRL is also working on a defensive laser shield – a 360-degree laser ‘bubble’ would surround a U.S. warplane.

Via CNN and Daily Mail

Google’s Quantum Dream Machine

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 8.38.16 AM

As recently as last week the prospect of a quantum computer doing anything useful within a few years seemed remote. Researchers in government, academic, and corporate labs were far from combining enough qubits to make even a simple proof-of-principle machine. A well-funded Canadian startup called D-Wave Systems sold a few of what it called “the world’s first commercial quantum computers” but spent years failing to convince experts that the machines actually were doing what a quantum computer should (see “The CIA and Jeff Bezos Bet on Quantum Computing”).

Then NASA summoned journalists to building N-258 at its Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, which since 2013 has hosted a D-Wave computer bought by Google. There Hartmut Neven, who leads the Quantum Artificial Intelligence lab Google established to experiment with the D-Wave machine, unveiled the first real evidence that it can offer the power proponents of quantum computing have promised. In a carefully designed test, the superconducting chip inside D-Wave’s computer—known as a quantum annealer—had performed 100 million times faster than a conventional processor.

Fascinating and extensive article – I encourage you to read more here –


A Brief History Of Recording Ourselves

A brief history of humanity’s efforts to record itself, delivered to a generation that records everything, and whose recordings might live forever.

Via VSauce2

Tokyo’s solution to rogue drones? Drones with nets.

Law enforcement agencies the world over are worried about the power of drones, and how nefarious types could use them for evil. Tokyo has decided that there’s only one thing to be done about the problem, which is to form an anti-drone squad that’ll apprehend rogue fliers in the air. Rather than using a dragnet on the ground, the anti-drone drone will use an actual net* to scoop up suspects and carry them away to safety. That may sound like it’s being done for the LOLs, but it’s deadly serious — officers found a drone carrying radioactive material on the roof of the country’s prime minister back in April.

Via Engadget and CBS

Biochip identifies cancerous cells, ‘washes’ blood clean of cancer in dialysis-style treatment


A new system that dramatically lowers the cost of cancer treatment has been developed by a team at the University of New South Wales.

The biochip filters the blood to identify and then remove cancer cells, in a system the team calls “dialysis for cancer”. Initially the NSW University team was looking for a cheaper and less painful way to diagnose cancer. At the moment, the way a tumour is identified in a body is with a scan and then a biopsy.

But solid cancers, which make up about 99 per cent of human cancers, also shed what are called circulating tumour cells into the bloodstream, which is how the cancer metastasizes, or spreads through the body.

Dr Majid Warkiani and his team at NSW University created a biochip that is able to separate the cancerous cells, which are larger and more flexible than healthy cells, and identify them.


See the last 4 week’s Top-5 Futures here:


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.




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