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 – Printing Bricks from Moondust we look at printing bricks on the Moon, DARPA hacking the human brain, the changes in the job market, self-driving cars affecting pig production, and how electric vehicles ill mean fewer cars on the road.
Printing bricks from moondust using the sun’s heat
Bricks have been 3-D printed out of simulated moondust using concentrated sunlight – proving in principle that future lunar colonists could one day use the same approach to build settlements on the moon.
“We took simulated lunar material and cooked it in a solar furnace,” explains materials engineer Advenit Makaya, overseeing the project for ESA.
“This was done on a 3-D printer table, to bake successive 0.1 mm layers of moondust at 1000°C. We can complete a 20 x 10 x 3 cm brick for building in around five hours.”
As raw material, the test used commercially available simulated lunar soil based on terrestrial volcanic material, processed to mimic the composition and grain sizes of genuine moondust.
The solar furnace at the DLR German Aerospace Center facility in Cologne has two working setups. As a baseline, 147 curved mirrors focus sunlight into a high-temperature beam to melt the soil grains together. But the weather in northern Europe does not always cooperate, so the sun is sometimes simulated by an array of xenon lamps more typically found in cinema projectors.
The resulting bricks have the equivalent strength of gypsum, and are set to undergo detailed mechanical testing.
Read more at Phys.org
DARPA Is Planning to Hack the Human Brain to Let Us “Upload” Skills
In March 2016, DARPA — the U.S. military’s “mad science” branch — announced their Targeted Neuroplasticity Training (TNT) program. The TNT program aims to explore various safe neurostimulation methods for activating synaptic plasticity, which is the brain’s ability to alter the connecting points between neurons — a requirement for learning. DARPA hopes that building up that ability by subjecting the nervous system to a kind of workout regimen will enable the brain to learn more quickly.
Read more at Futurism
Theme 5: Jobs? What jobs? Technological forces will fundamentally change work and the economic landscape
“The combination of nanotechnology and AI will actually reduce the number and type of jobs (as we currently understand the term). I foresee significant economic, social, cultural turmoil over the coming 10 to 20 years, with millions of people thrown out of work – with little to no ‘official’ jobs available for them.
“Instead, the notions of a base living wage will continue to churn as a topic until eventually implemented. Automated vehicles yield the elimination of school bus drivers, truck drivers, taxi cab drivers, the purchase of cars themselves (as opposed to Uber-style access and ‘pay for time used’). This, in turn, impacts police forces (no speeding or parking tickets) as their revenue streams diminish, fewer ER doctors and nurses (as the number of accidents decline), massive change in the auto insurance companies and mechanisms. 3-D printing of structures (houses, apartments, boats, cars, etc.) yields massive layoffs in the construction and manufacturing industries. 3-D printing itself dramatically reduces the need for factories in China, Korea, etc., which in turn reduces the need for freighters plying the oceans (and the ones that are left will be autonomous with little to no crew). Nano-drones and robotic support for farming will dramatically modify (reduce) the number of people employed in the agriculture sector. The list goes on and on.
“So 60 to 80 million Americans alone will be thrown out of work in the next two decades. There is nothing the vast majority of these people can be trained on that will replace the income/work they do today. This just scratches the surface on the types of massive change coming.”
Read more at Pew Internet
Self-driving cars could affect pig production: futurist
With the growth in vegetarianism and the rise of laboratory-engineered meat substitutes, the future of hog production may lie as much in medical research as it does on the dinner plate, says a Canadian futurist.
Self-driving cars may become the catalyst for using pigs to create human organs, Nikolas Badminton told a packed house at Ontario’s London Swine Conference earlier this year.
Ninety people in the United States die each day in car accidents, and those deaths produce a significant number of the organs used in transplants.
Badminton said self-driving cars will eliminate this statistic and create a shortage of organs available for transplants.
To respond, researchers could turn to gene-editing technology already used by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, to create pigs resistant to PRRS (porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome) to alter pigs so they can grow human organs.
Controversy over the ethics could become a problem, but Badminton said that an organ availability crisis combined with acceptance of other technological advances, such as cloning, could change attitudes.
Read more at Western Producer
Self-Driving EVs Will Mean 200 Million Fewer Cars in U.S. by 2030, Study Claims
The next time you’re stuck in traffic, be sure to take a good look around you—because America’s roadways might look very different before you know it. A new study suggests that the advent of self-driving electric cars could initiate a massive change in the way transportation in the United States—and around the world—operates. Assuming regulators give autonomous vehicles the green light, that is.
The new report, conducted by independent research group RethinkX and released Thursday, suggests that within a decade of the governmental approval of self-driving road vehicles—or around the year 2030, by the group’s best guesstimate—95 percent of passenger miles traveled in the U.S. will be conducted in autonomous electric cars that can be summoned on demand, a laCruise Automation’s San Francisco Chevy Bolt. Those cars, the study says, will make up 60 percent of the vehicles on the road in America by that point. And since each of those shared self-driving EVs can replace multiple privately-owned cars, the study predicts the number of passenger vehicles on the road will fall precipitously—from about 247 million vehicles in 2017 to just 44 million.
Read more at The Drive