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 Exponential Minds’ Future Trends – Bitcoin Nabs Sex Traffickers we look at using AI and the bitcoin trail to find and help sex-trafficking victims, an update on Quantum Computing, MIT’s nuclear fusion breakthrough, SoftBank’s investing strategy, and pig organ transplants.
AI uses bitcoin trail to find and help sex-trafficking victims
After Kubiiki Pride’s 13-year-old daughter disappeared, it took 270 days for her mother to find her. When she did, it was as an escort available to be rented out on an online classified web site. Her daughter had been drugged and beaten into compliance by a sex trafficker.
To find her, Pride had to trawl through hundreds of advertisements on Backpage.com, a site that in 2012, the last date for which stats are available, was hosting more than 70 per cent of the US market for online sex ads. When it comes to identifying signs of human trafficking in online sex adverts, the task for police is often no easier. Thousands of sex-related classifieds are posted every week. Some are legal posts. Other people, like Pride’s daughter, are forced to do it. Working out which ads involve foul play is a laborious task.
Read more at New Scientist
Quantum Computing 2017 Update
MIT Achieves Breakthrough in Nuclear Fusion
Researchers operating fusion reactor experiments at MIT, along with partnered scientists in Brussels and the U.K., have developed a new type of nuclear fusion fuel that produces ten times as much energy from energized ions as previously achieved. The experiments with the new fusion fuel, which contains three types of ions—particles with an electric charge due to the loss or gain of an electron—were conducted in MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak, a magnetic confinement reactor that holds the records for highest magnetic field strength and highest plasma pressure in a fusion experiment.
Read more at Popular Mechanics
Japan’s SoftBank Is Investing Billions in the Technological Future
Remember the 1980s movie Brewster’s Millions, in which a minor league baseball pitcher (played by Richard Pryor) must spend $30 million in 30 days to inherit $300 million? Pryor goes on an epic spending spree for a bigger payoff down the road.
One of the world’s biggest public companies is making that film look like a weekend in the Hamptons. Japan’s SoftBank Group, led by its indefatigable CEO Masayoshi Son, is shooting to invest $100 billion over the next five years toward what the company calls the information revolution.
The newly-created SoftBank Vision Fund, with a handful of key investors, appears ready to almost single-handedly hack the technology revolution. Announced only last year, the fund had its first major close in May with $93 billion in committed capital. The rest of the money is expected to be raised this year.
The fund is unprecedented. Data firm CB Insights notes that the SoftBank Vision Fund, if and when it hits the $100 billion mark, will equal the total amount that VC-backed companies received in all of 2016—$100.8 billion across 8,372 deals globally.
Read more at Singularity Hub
Chinese scientists say pig organ transplants may be 2 years away
If the government allows the trials to go ahead, pig organ transplants will be added to a growing list of new surgeries pioneered in China. This year, a man received an ear transplant from a ear grown on his arm. And in April, Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero said the first human head transplant could be less than a year away.
The proposed trials are part of a national xenotransplantation project funded by the central government and participated by more than 10 research institutes. A successful test could be big news for China, where health authorities quoted by SCMP say more than 1.5 million people require a transplant every year (Chinese media says there are more than 300,000 patients) but fewer than 10,000 organs are donated. The country is also home to the world’s biggest pig-cloning farm, BGI, which could eventually provide pigs bred for organs for transplants.
Read more at CNET