Insights June 14th, 2021

Each week Nikolas Badminton curates a weekly list of insights and learnings for progressive executives, world leaders and foresight practitioners – CEO Futures Briefing: Life on a hotter Earth and Xenobits 2.0.

This week we look at Depression, drought & decolonising mental health on the Earth as it gets hotter, a robot that taught itself to walk, new spacesuits for the next lunar mission in 2024, all of the recordings of Richard Feynman’s 1961-64 Caltech Introductory Physics lectures, new energy considerations and Xenobot 2.0.

Also featured is an insightful interview on the Exponential Minds Podcast with Cathy Hackl who talks with Nikolas about mixed reality, democracy and our digital legacies.

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If you have questions about these things we’re sharing, or a challenge with seeing the futures for you and your organization? Reach out to speak with Nikolas today to arrange a time to talk.

Three articles to read to watch

Life on a hotter earth: Depression, drought & decolonising mental health 

In 2018, a study from the University of Newcastle in NSW and published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that farmers in rural parts of the state experienced “significant stress about the effects of drought on themselves, their families and their communities”. Other research suggests that income insecurity related to drought increases the risk of suicide among farmers.

Read more at Bhekisisa

Forget Boston Dynamics. This robot taught itself to walk

A pair of robot legs called Cassie has been taught to walk using reinforcement learning, the training technique that teaches AIs complex behavior via trial and error. The two-legged robot learned a range of movements from scratch, including walking in a crouch and while carrying an unexpected load.

Read more at MIT Technology Review

NASA designs new spacesuits for next lunar mission in 2024

When astronauts explore the vast expanse of outer space, they need to wear high-tech spacesuits to protect them from the frigid conditions of the cosmos.

Hollywood movies have glamorized the iconic suit, its design leading the masses to believe it’s an outfit that can be slipped on within minutes.

In fact, the spacesuit is its own fully functioning spacecraft that takes hours to put on and requires help from one’s colleagues, said Cathleen Lewis, curator of international space programs and spacesuits at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

“The purpose of the spacesuit is to essentially exist as a human-shaped spacecraft that allows the human being to autonomously explore and do meaningful work outside the comfort of the spacecraft or space station,” Lewis said.

Read more at CNN Style

The Feynman Lectures on Physics Audio Collection

These are the tape recordings of Richard Feynman’s 1961-64 Caltech Introductory Physics lectures, which form the basis of the book The Feynman Lectures on Physics. The original recordings were made on 1/4″ reel-to-reel tapes, now preserved in Caltech’s Archive. In 2010 the entire collection was digitized by media preservationist George Blood, at a sampling rate of 96 kHz with 24-bit samples, PCM-encoded in tiff files about 2 GB each in size. For this online publication we are serving more compact versions, downsampled to 48 kHz with 16-bit samples, reencoded as AAC-HE (mp4) and Opus (ogg) at a data rate of 48 kbps.

We present entire lecture tapes without any editing or enhancement, including the tape leader. Parts of some lectures edited out of the commercial versions of these recordings are preserved here intact. Recorded material outside the lectures, including discussions between Feynman and his students and/or colleagues, never previously published, can be found in this publication. Three entire lecture recordings never heard before outside Caltech, including two lectures on Quantum Mechanics Feynman gave in 1964, are also included in this publication

Tap into the extensive recordings at CalTech.

Three videos to watch

How Soil Could Be An Untapped Source Of Electricity

Bioo is generating electricity from the organic matter in soil and creating biological batteries to power agricultural sensors, a growing $1.36 billion global market. Eventually, Bioo envisions a future where biology could help to power our largest cities.

Finland Might Have Solved Nuclear Power’s Biggest Problem

Finland is building the largest and most powerful nuclear reactor in Europe – and may have worked out what to do with spent nuclear fuel once and for all.

The World’s First “Living” Robots Just Got an Upgrade, Meet Xenobot 2.0

In 2020, the world saw its first glimpse of a living robot that could move, self-heal, and work with other bots to meet a common goal. But all these features have gotten a massive upgrade including…memory—meet Xenobot 2.0.

In 2020, the world saw its first glimpse of a living robot. Known as the Xenobot, this microscale organism could move, self-heal, and work with other bots to meet a common goal. 

But all these features have gotten a massive upgrade including…memory. The original Xenobots were developed by a team of biologists and computer engineers at Tufts University and the University of Vermont. 

These micromachines measured less than a millimeter wide and could work together to push payloads. The original Xenobots could self-repair, but biologists have really dialed things up with the next generation.

A conversation that counts

Each week we dig into the archives of all of the interviews Nikolas has undertaken with the insightful and entertaining Exponential Minds Podcast. This week we feature Cathy Hackl who talks with Nikolas about mixed reality, democracy and our digital legacies.

The last word…

Specifically, solastalgia is the feeling of distress associated with environmental change close to your home. The concept can be found in clinical psychology and health policy in Australia, as well as being used by researchers in the US looking into the effects of wildfires in California. Solastalgia can be thought of as a lack of ease (‘dis-ease’) in a hostile environment where you feel powerless.

Georgina Kenyon

About Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist at and a world-renowned futurist speakerconsultant, researcher, and media producer. He helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and the media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.

Nikolas advised Robert Downey Jr.’s team for the ‘Age of A.I.’ documentary series, starred in ‘SMART DRUGS – a Futurist’s journey into biohacking’, and features on CTV, Global News, Sirius XM regularly. His mind-expanding research and opinion can be found on BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Techcrunch, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Forbes, Sputnik and Venturebeat. 

Nikolas provides the opening chapter – ‘Start with Dystopia’ in a new book – ‘The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society’ for Bloomsbury. He is currently researching and writing a new book that equips executives and world leaders with insights and foresight tools to imagine disruption, strengthen strategic planning, and see unforeseen risks.

Nikolas is a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – The RSA. The organization has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years with notable past fellows including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Tim Berners-Lee. 

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Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas