Elon Musk’s vision on getting to live on Mars.
It’s all going to go rather quickly from here. We list our predictions for 2017 and beyond as crisis presents both opportunity and danger.
Political confidence and will eroding in the USA and other liberal democratic countries. In the US, economic confidence will start to fail as the new Trump administration starts rolling out its agenda. That could happen as early as March 2017 but most likely will not be felt until later in 2017. When political confidence fails, economic confidence falls soon after.
2017-18 is all about the coming shocks. Building on Brexit and the US presidential elections in 2016, markets are setting up for surprises. So called ‘black swan events’ always have tell-tale warning signs before they actually happen. A combination of factors are coming together to create the so called ‘perfect storm’. At the heart is the implosion of global markets that has started and cannot be stopped. While this may be slow at first, it will pick up speed over the next few years.
We see inflationary forces gathering in the US and the potential for this to get out of hand quickly is real. We believe inflation in the US will jump quickly above 4% and has the potential to run up as high as 10%. So in 2017 we have the bursting of this massive interest rate bubble that is the result of a decade of unfettered easy monetary policy. The immediate effects of this should quickly be felt in stock markets, commodities and real estate and in the longer term, the broader economy itself. In effect, with its own particular flavours, our current situation is identical to the ‘Roaring 20’s’. The set up for a last gasp spike in stocks exists before the plunge. If however, the weight of uncertainty continues to build, then that spike could be nipped in the bud leading to the next big downturn.
The US Federal Reserve is always playing catch up to the market. It will not be able to respond quickly enough to the sudden jump in official inflation rates. This will have a disastrous effect on US and global interest rate markets. The Fed will be unable to reign in money supply quickly enough to correct the torrent of money that has flooded the system over the last decade.
The effect is like holding a big ball underwater then letting go. The decade of artificially low interest rates will ‘normalise’; i.e., move toward market value and this has the potential to cause major eruptions in every other asset class.
And then there are the political shocks. The wave of reaction that was Brexit and Trump will continue into 2017 with French and German elections. Rising nationalism and disgust with the political elites will see Merkel gone and the right brought to government in France. The EU will continue to blunder from crisis to crisis and we can expect with certainty other nations to begin their exit process.
In the US, Trump is busy getting his agenda off the ground. Some of his ideas have merit such as deregulation (always a good thing), downsizing US federal government and lowering corporate taxes. Many of his ideas however threaten future economic viability. In particular, the threat of trade sanctions against China, Mexico and Germany risks a global collapse in trade. Bastiat, the 18th century French economist summed it up nicely by saying when ‘goods stop crossing borders, boots start marching’.
Trump and Russia is another political flash point. We anticipate that Trump will use that relationship to build trade, especially around oil while strengthening domestic oil production and weakening reliance on middle eastern oil.
Fortunately we don’t have to worry too much about major wars in the immediate future. War risk will only emerge after a prolonged economic downturn (at least 13-50 years away). The risk over the next 10-15 years in the US is civil disruption and violence. Trump’s presidency will have finished long before but the consequences will still be being played out a generation or two later.
One fact worth observing is that most liberal democratic governments are broke. Politicians have squandered the seed capital of their nations. We will see two things occurring. Firstly, the grab for cash by governments will continue to escalate. And the erasure of cash as a payment medium will accelerate. Secondly, governments will move to sell off any available assets to maintain the status quo. If the economy holds on for another year or two, watch the asset sales.
For now, the status quo will remain unchanged even though a new era of uncertainty and political chaos lies before us. Real, lasting meaningful change will not happen until after 2028 or 2032. Around then an important political 50 year cycle low will occur and then the US will emerge with a new destiny and a renewed sense of self.
In 2017 however, liberal democratic nations will see increasing segmentation of the left – right spectrum into smaller segments and more diverse viewpoints. The polarization occurring in liberal democratic countries will continue to deepen in 2017 before any easing occurs. In the US, Trump serves as the perfect focal point for this polarization and civil unrest and disturbances may very well break out this year. In the US we see the accumulation of decades of bad policy and a deteriorating social mood is threatening the very fabric of the US. For 2017 we do not see individual states seceding but civil disturbances that turn violent and later we will see risk civil war.
Since the 1930’s we have witnessed the growth of US Presidential Executive Orders. Since Ronald Regan Executive Orders have been used more extensively. Anticipate Trump to exceed that of Obama (275 orders) by heavily relying on Executive Orders over the life of his presidency. This is important as it further breaks down the separation of powers of government and moves government towards an imperial style of governance by Trump who is already isolated, like an emperor.
Along with the demise of cash as one of the last privacy barriers to fall, liberal democratic principles continue to crumble. Another aspect of liberal democratic government being eroded slowly and surely is the separation of powers of government. Politicians’ need to be seen to be doing something, namely creating legislation. The separation of powers between the executive, legislature and judiciary has become increasingly imbalanced against the judiciary. Soon that imbalance will extend to the legislature as the role of executive order escalates.
Depth of prevailing social mood is already at cross purposes. A soaring stock market in 2017 along with a surging economy and disenfranchised people on both sides of the political spectrum is a perfect set up for the down phase of what we call the ‘Industrial Revolution Cycle’. This is part of the topping process of a cycle of human endeavour that began in 1783. That downward phase we expect to last some 38 to 62 years. At this stage our view is leaning more towards the 38 year time span. It will be steep and deep. This is based on technical considerations before the next cycle of growth gets underway. The key point is the setup has already been underway for a long time now and we are merely on the receiving end of this progression. Despite the hubris of politicians and bureaucrats who believe they control nations and economies, the cycles of endeavour continue to unfold bringing eternal change.
Ultimately there will need to be some sort of release of pressure before any normalization of political environments. Expect upsets is the modus operandi. If the violent moves predicted, starting in 2017-2018 occur in markets this would align well with our forecasts. Typical events that might bring about such political and economic shifts include Presidential declarations involving other countries (trade wars, trade treaties, embargoes), political assassinations, new alliances EU breakdown.
All of this takes place in an environment of failing political and then economic confidence. Behind that, the social mood of the people of great nations will turn dark and inwards. An end of an era is taking place. This will translate into stock market tops as they finish their last upward phases.
Here are some of the market predictions we make for 2017:
US Stock Markets
As early as March 2017 we will see the final tops in US stock markets. This completes a long term trend and cycle top that started in 1783. The roll over process has been underway fro some time now and could still however take months to years to complete. This is typical of major tops and is often accompanied by a lot of confusing cross current activity. We discuss this long term trend in our lead article The End of the Long Game 2009 – 2018
They are rallying on expectation that Trump will lead the economy to new levels of prosperity. Supporting this idea we see forecasts of Dow Jones at 25,000, 33,000 and even 55,000 reflecting the emerging bullish mood for US economic prospects. These kind of calls only ever occur when sentiment is skewed and it never ends well.
Small cycles driving the 8 year stock market are due to make a top in March 2017 and has had an excellent history going back over the last 50 years. Cycles have their own rhythm however and they do go out of sync from time to time. Another scenario calls for several months of consolidation (Feb – May) in US stocks before moving up in a surge not dissimilar to the 1929 stock market peak. Obviously this would extend the stock market top and evidence of inflation and Trump’s policies having a positive effect would enable this path. We rate this path with a higher probability at this time. A smart strategy might be if you saw DJIA 21000, 22000, 23000 it might be prudent to take the money off the table.
We anticipate the next 8 years starting in 2017 to be a down phase for all asset classes including shares.
Accompanying stock we will also see a top in the US dollar. At time of writing we estimate a 25% probability of the US$ having already peaked. There is often a ‘right fit’ to a market and one more major spike on the US$ would complete that ‘right fit’. If we get this spike then we could see EurUSD to 1.00 – 1.03, GbpUSD to 1.10 – 1.00, AudUSD to 0.50 – 0.60 and Yen move to 125 – 140. If however, then anticipate the EurUSD moving to1.60, Yen to 80, GBP to 1.60 and AUD to above 1.10 as the next major long term trend gets underway.
Gold is still completing a major consolidation phase. We see gold hovering between US$1180 – $1300 for several months before moving up to around the US$1500 – $1535. Following that comes a solid move down to below US$800. Typical targets include US$770 and $450 before the next long term uptrend begins.
Australian Stock Market
The ASX SP200 will begin its long slide to below 3000 this year. Note this could come as a divergent action to US stock markets as Australian economic risk to weighted more to Asia.
We will not see oil prices rise above US$140 per bbl before 2065. A new era is dawning where cheap, abundant, low polluting energy is available.
Over the next 25 years we will see people die of starvation because of crop failure caused by a cooling climate. In that same time frame we will see climate change as an issue in the minds of the public disappear.
Futurism / ET posted:
In an interview with the Washington Post, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reveals what he thinks will be the future of humanity when we eventually colonize space. He talks about a plan for colonizing our solar system with nuclear reactors in space, populations in the millions, and more.
While Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the public face of the private space industry, there are other major players trying to bring humanity closer to the stars. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has been working on its own rocket technologies, and Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has been revealing more on the work they’re doing over at Blue Origin.
The previously secretive Blue Origin has been announcing more of its milestones in its space ambitions. It successfully landed the same rocket four times in a row, with the end goal of reusable rockets that will lower space travel costs.
The company has unveiled its own rocket, the “New Glenn,” which dwarfs any of the rockets being developed today. Bezos announced that the Glenn will be ferrying astronauts by the end of the decade.
Along with the engineering developments Blue Origin has announced, Bezos has also shared his predictions on human colonization of space, in an interview with The Washington Post.
Human colonization of space
In the interview, Bezos sees humans spreading out across the Solar System. He envisions “millions of people working and living in space.” But to do this, Bezos notes that we will have to figure out how to extract and manage the resources we can get from space, since Earth alone won’t be able to provide the materials for space colonization.
Bezos also says we will have to figure out how to harness nuclear technology in space, citing it as a viable alternative to solar power that will dim out as you move farther from the Sun. In fact, moving out into space would not just be a dream, but an imperative. We will have to move heavy industry outside of Earth, in order to preserve it. He envisions the Earth being “zoned” as residential and light industrial.
But does he think we will see space colonization in our lifetime? “Not in the near term… Eventually Mars might be amazing. But that’s a long way in the future.”
How many things do we own, that are common today, that didn’t exist 10 years ago? The list is probably longer than you think.
Prior to the iPhone coming out in 2007, we didn’t have smartphones with mobile apps, decent phone cameras for photos/videos, mobile maps, mobile weather, or even mobile shopping.
None of the mobile apps we use today existed 10 years ago: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Facetime, LinkedIn, Lyft, Whatsapp, Netflix, Pandora, or Pokemon Go.
Several major companies didn’t exist a decade ago. Airbnb, Tinder, Fitbit, Spotify, Dropbox, Quora, Tumblr, Kickstarter, Hulu, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Indigogo, Udacity, or Jet.com just to name a few.
Ten years ago very few people were talking about crowdfunding, the sharing economy, social media marketing, search engine optimization, app developers, cloud storage, data mining, mobile gaming, gesture controls, chatbots, data analytics, virtual reality, 3D printers, or drone delivery.
At the same time we are seeing the decline of many of the things that were in common use 10-20 years ago. Fax machines, wired phones, taxi drivers, newspapers, desktop computers, video cameras, camera film, VCRs, DVD players, record players, typewriters, yellow pages, video rental shops, and printed maps have all seen their industry peak and are facing dwindling markets.
If we leapfrog ahead ten years and take notice of the radically different lives we will be living, we will notice how a few key technologies paved the way for massive new industries.
Here is a glimpse of a stunningly different future that will come into view over the next decade.
Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has already begun to enter our lives in major ways. In the future 3D printers will be even more common than paper printers are today.
1. 3D printed makeup for women. Just insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user.
2. 3D printed replacement teeth, printed inside the mouth.
3. Swarmbot printing systems will be used to produce large buildings and physical structures, working 24/7 until they’re completed.
4. Scan and print custom designed clothing at retail clothing stores.
5. Scan and print custom designed shoes at specialty shoe stores.
6. Expectant mothers will request 3D printed models of their unborn baby.
7. Police departments will produce 3D printed “mug shots” and “shapies” generated from a person’s DNA.
8. Trash that is sorted and cleaned and turned into material that can be 3D printed.
The VR/AR world is set to explode around us as headsets and glasses drop in price so they’re affordable for most consumers. At the same time, game designers and “experience” producers are racing to create the first “killer apps” in this emerging industry.
9. Theme park rides that mix physical rides with VR experiences.
10. Live broadcasts of major league sports games (football, soccer, hockey, and more) in Virtual Reality.
11. Full-length VR movies.
12. Physical and psychological therapy done through VR.
13. Physical drone racing done through VR headsets.
14. VR speed dating sites.
15. For education and training, we will see a growing number of modules done in both virtual and augmented reality.
16. VR and AR tours will be commonly used in the sale of future real estate.
Drones are quickly transitioning from hobbyist toys to sophisticated business tools very quickly. They will touch our lives in thousands of different ways.
17. Fireworks dropped from drones. Our ability to “ignite and drop” fireworks from the sky will dramatically change both how they’re made and the artistry used to display them.
18. Concert swarms that produce a spatial cacophony of sound coming from 1,000 speaker drones simultaneously.
19. Banner-pulling drones. Old school advertising brought closer to earth.
20. Bird frightening drones for crops like sunflowers where birds can destroy an entire field in a matter of hours.
21. Livestock monitoring drones for tracking cows, sheep, geese, and more.
22. Three-dimensional treasure hunts done with drones.
23. Prankster Drones – Send random stuff to random people and video their reactions.
24. Entertainment drones (with projectors) that fly in and perform unusual forms of live comedy and entertainment.
Driverless technology will change transportation more significantly than the invention of the automobile itself.
25. Queuing stations for driverless cars as a replacement for a dwindling number of parking lots.
26. Crash-proof cars. Volvo already says their cars will be crash-proof before 2020.
27. Driverless car hailing apps. Much like signaling Uber and Lyft, only without the drivers.
28. Large fleet ownership of driverless cars (some companies will own millions of driverless cars).
29. Electric cars will routinely win major races like the Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500.
30. In-car work and entertainment systems to keep people busy and entertained as a driverless car takes them to their destination.
31. In-car advertising. This will be a delicate balance between offsetting the cost of operation and being too annoying for the passengers.
32. Electric car charging in less than 5 minutes.
Internet of Things
The Internet of things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, and buildings embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and actuators designed to communicate with users as well as other devices. We are currently experiencing exponential growth in IoT devices as billions of new ones come online every year.
33. Smart chairs, smart beds, and smart pillows that will self-adjust to minimize pressure points and optimize comfort.
34. Sensor-laced clothing.
35. “Print and Pin” payment systems that uses a biometric mark (fingerprint) plus a pin number.
36. Smart plates, bowls and cups to keep track of what we eat and drink.
37. Smart trashcan that will signal for a trash truck when they’re full.
38. Ownership networks. As we learn to track the location of everything we own, we will also track the changing value of each item to create a complete ownership network.
39. Self-retrieving shoes where you call them by name, through your smartphone, and your shoes will come to you.
40. Smart mailboxes that let you know when mail has arrived and how important it is.
Even though healthcare is a bloated and bureaucratic industry, innovative entrepreneurs are on the verge of disrupting this entire industry.
41. Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers.
42. Ingestible data collectors, filled with sensors, to give a daily internal health scan and report.
43. Prosthetic limbs controlled by AI.
44. Real-time blood scanners.
45. Peer-to-peer health insurance.
46. Facetime-like checkups without needing a doctor’s appointment.
47. Full-body physical health scanners offering instant AI medical diagnosis, located in most pharmacies
48. Intraoral cameras for smartphones for DYI dental checkups.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Much like hot and cold running water, we will soon be able to “pipe-in” artificial intelligence to any existing digital system.
49. Best selling biographies written by artificial intelligence.
50. Legal documents written by artificial intelligence.
51. AI-menu selection, based on diet, for both restaurants and at home.
52. Full body pet scanners with instant AI medical diagnosis.
53. AI selection of movies and television shows based on moods, ratings, and personal preferences.
54. Much like the last item, AI music selection will be based on moods, ratings, and musical tastes.
55. AI sleep-optimizers will control all of the environmental factors – heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, and more.
56. AI hackers. Sooner or later someone will figure out how to use even our best AI technology for all the wrong purposes.
Future transportation will come in many forms ranging from locomotion on an individual level to ultra high-speed tube transportation on a far grander scale.
57. Unmanned aviation – personal drone transportation.
58. 360-degree video transportation monitoring cameras at most intersections in major cities throughout the world.
59. Everywhere wireless. With highflying solar powered drones, CubeSats, and Google’s Project Loon, wireless Internet connections will soon be everywhere.
60. Black boxes for drones to record information in the event of an accident.
61. Air-breathing hypersonic propulsion for commercial aircraft. Fast is never fast enough.
62. Robotic follow-behind-you luggage, to make airline travel easier.
63. Robotic dog walkers and robotic people walkers.
64. Ultra high-speed tube transportation. As we look closely at the advances over the past couple decades, it’s easy to see that we are on the precipices of a dramatic breakthrough in ultra high-speed transportation. Businesses are demanding it. People are demanding it. And the only thing lacking is a few people capable of mustering the political will to make it happen.
As I began assembling this list, a number of items didn’t fit well in other categories.
65. Bitcoin loans for houses, cars, business equipment and more.
66. Self-filling water bottles with built-in atmospheric water harvesters.
67. Reputation networks. With the proliferation of personal information on websites and in databases throughout the Internet, reputation networks will be designed to monitor, alert, and repair individual reputations.
68. Atmospheric energy harvesters. Our atmosphere is filled with both ambient and concentrated forms of energy ranging from sunlight to lightning bolts that can be both collected and stored.
69. Pet education centers, such as boarding schools for dogs and horses, to improve an animal’s IQ.
70. Robotic bricklayers. With several early prototypes already operational, these will become common over the next decade.
71. Privacy bill of rights. Privacy has become an increasingly complicated topic, but one that is foundational to our existence on planet earth.
72. Hot new buzzword, “Megaprojects.”
There’s a phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect, named after Dr. Sam Peltzman, a renowned professor of economics from the University of Chicago Business School, who studied auto accidents.
He found that when you introduce more safety features like seat belts into cars, the number of fatalities and injuries doesn’t drop. The reason is that people compensate for it. When we have a safety net in place, people will take more risks.
That probably is true with other areas as well.
As life becomes easier, we take risks with our time. As our financial worries are met, we begin thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, inventor, or artist. When life becomes too routine, we search for ways to introduce chaos.
Even though we see reports that billions of jobs will disappear over the coming decades, we will never run out of work.
As humans, we were never meant to live cushy lives of luxury. Without risk and chaos as part of our daily struggle our lives seem unfulfilled. While we work hard to eliminate it, we always manage to find new ways to bring it back.
Yes, we’re working towards a better world ahead, but only marginally better. That’s where we do our best work.
By John Battelle
One of the most intriguing public discussions to emerge over the past year is humanity’s wrestling match with the threat and promise of artificial intelligence. AI has long lurked in our collective consciousness — negatively so, if we’re to take Hollywood movie plots as our guide — but its recent andvery real advances are driving critical conversations about the future not only of our economy, but of humanity’s very existence.
In May 2014, the world received a wakeup call from famed physicist Stephen Hawking. Together with three respected AI researchers, the world’s most renowned scientist warned that the commercially-driven creation of intelligent machines could be “potentially our worst mistake in history.” Comparing the impact of AI on humanity to the arrival of “a superior alien species,” Hawking and his co-authors found humanity’s current state of preparedness deeply wanting. “Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity,” they wrote, “little serious research is devoted to these issues outside small nonprofit institutes.”
That was two years ago. So where are we now?
Insofar as the tech industry is concerned, AI is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. Which is to say, the titans of tech control most of it. Google has completely reorganized itself around AI and machine learning. IBM has done the same, declaring itself the leader in “cognitive computing.” Facebook is all in as well. The major tech players are locked in an escalating race for talent, paying as much for top AI researchers as NFL teams do for star quarterbacks.
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Let’s review. Two years ago, the world’s smartest man said that ungoverned AI could well end humanity. Since then, most of the work in the field has been limited to a handful of extremely powerful for-profit companies locked in a competitive arms race. And that call for governance? A work in progress, to put it charitably. Not exactly the early plot lines we’d want, should we care to see things work out for humanity.
When it comes to managing the birth of a technology generally understood to be the most powerful force ever invented by humanity, exactly what kind of regulatory regime should prevail?
Which begs the question: When it comes to managing the birth of a technology generally understood to be the most powerful force ever invented by humanity, exactly what kind of regulation do we need?
Predictably, last week The Economist says we shouldn’t worry too much about it, because we’ve seen this movie before, in the transition to industrial society — and despite a couple of World Wars, that turned out alright. Move along, nothing to see here. But many of us have an uneasy sense that this time is different — it’s one thing to replace manual labor with machines and move up the ladder to a service and intellectual property-based economy. But what does an economy look like that’s based on the automation of service and intellect? The Economist’s extensive review of the field is worthy reading. But it left me unsettled.
“The idea that you can pull free physical work out of the ground, that was a really good trick.” That’s Max Ventilla, the former head of personalization for Google, who left the mothership to start the mission and data-driven education startup AltSchool. In an interview for an upcoming episode of ourShift Dialogs video series, Ventilla echoed The Economist’s take on the shift from manual labor to industrialized society and the rise of the fossil fuel economy. But he feels that this time, something’s different.
“Now we’re discovering how to pull free mental work out of the ground,” he told me. “(AI) is going to be a huge trick over the next 50 years. It’s going to create even more opportunity — and much more displacement.”
Hawking’s call to action singled out “an IT arms race fueled by unprecedented investments” by the world’s richest companies. A future in which super-intelligent AI is controlled by an elite group of massive tech firms is bound to make many of us uneasy. What if the well-intentioned missions of Google (organize the world’s information!) and Facebook (let people easily share!) are co-opted by a new generation of corporate bosses with less friendly goals?
As you might expect, the Valley has an answer: OpenAI. A uniquely technological antidote to the problem, OpenAI is led by an impressive cadre of Valley entrepreneurs, including Elon Musk, Sam Altman, Reid Hoffman, and Peter Thiel. But instead of creating yet another for-profit company with a moon-shot mission (protect humanity from evil AI!), their creation takes the form of a research lab with a decidedly nonprofit purpose: To corral breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and open them up to any and everyone, for free. The lab’s stated mission is “to advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole, unconstrained by a need to generate financial return.”
OpenAI has managed to convince a small but growing roster of AI researchers to spurn offers from Facebook, Google, and elsewhere, and instead work on what might best be seen as a public commons for AI. The whole endeavor has the whiff of the Manhattan Project — but without the government (or the secrecy). And instead of racing against the Nazis, the good guys are competing with … well, the Valley itself.
One really can’t blame the big tech companies for trying to win the AI arms race. Sure, there are extraordinary profits if they do, but in the end they really have no choice in the matter. If you’re a huge, data-driven software business, you either have cutting-edge AI driving your company’s products, or you’re out of business. Once Google uses AI to make its Photos product magical, Facebook has to respond in kind.
Smart photostreams are one thing. But if we don’t want market-bound, for-profit companies determining the future of superhuman intelligence, we need to be asking ourselves: What role should government play? What about universities? In truth, we probably haven’t invented the institutions capable of containing this new form of fire. “It’s a race between the growing power of the technology, and the growing wisdom we need to manage it,” said Max Tegmark, a founder of the Future of Life Institute, one of the small AI think tanks called out in Hawking’s original op-ed. Speaking to the Washington Post, Tegmark continued: “Right now, almost all the resources tend to go into growing the power of the tech.”
Who determines what is “good”? We are just now grappling with the very real possibility that we might create a force more powerful than ourselves. Now is the time to ask ourselves — how do we get ready?
It’s not clear if OpenAI is going to spend most of its time on building new kinds of AI, or if it will become something of an open-source clearing house for the creation of AI failsafes (the lab is doing early work in both). Regardless, it’s both comforting and a bit disconcerting to realize that the very same people who drive the Valley’s culture may also be responsible for reigning it in. Over the weekend, The New York Times op-ed pages took up the issue, noting AI’s “white guy problem” (it’s worth noting the author is a ( female researcher at Microsoft). Take a look at the founding team of OpenAI: A solid supermajority of white men.
“It’s hard to imagine anything more amazing and positively impactful than successfully creating AI,” writes Greg Brockman, the founding CTO of OpenAI. But he continues with a caveat: “So long as it’s done in a good way.”
Indeed. But who determines what is good? We are just now grappling with the very real possibility that we might create a force more powerful than ourselves. Now is the time to ask ourselves — how do we get ready?
Can a small set of top-level researchers in AI provide the intellectual, moral, and ethical compass for a technology that might well destroy — or liberate — the world? Or should we engage all stakeholders in such a decision — traditionally the role of government? Regardless of whether the government is involved in framing this question, it certainly will be involved in cleaning up the mess if we fail to plan properly.
Back when AI was in early development, its single most powerful critique was its “brittle” nature: it didn’t work because it failed to be aware of all possible inputs and parameters. Now that we stand on the brink of strong AI, we’d be wise to include a diversity of opinion — in particular those who live outside the Valley, those who don’t look and think like the Valley, and those who disagree with our native techno-optimism — in the debate about how we manage its impact.
Air combat veterans proved to be no match for an artificial intelligence developed by Psibernetix. ALPHA has proven to be “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI seen to date.”
No Luck Beating ALPHA
Retired United States Air Force Colonel Gene Lee recently went up against ALPHA, an artificial intelligence developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate. The contest? A high-fidelity air combat simulator.
And the Colonel lost.
In fact, all the other AI’s that the Air Force Research Lab had in their possession also lost to ALPHA…and so did all of the other human experts who tried their skills against ALPHA’s superior algorithms.
And did we mention ALPHA achieves superiority while running on a $35 Raspberry Pi?
Saying that Lee is experienced when it comes to aerial combat is a remarkable understatement. He is an instructor who has trained with thousands of U.S. Air Force pilots. he is also an Air Battle Manager who has been fighting against AI opponents in air combat simulations since the 1980s.
Yet, he was not successful in winning against ALPHA. Not even once. Indeed, not even when the researchers deliberately handicapped ALPHA’s aircraft, impeding it in terms of speed, turning, missile capability, and sensor use.
“I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed,” Lee said.
ALPHA makes decisions using a genetic fuzzy tree system, which is a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. It can calculate strategies based on its opponent’s movements 250 times faster than a person can blink—a speed that gives it an undeniable advantage in an arena where a mix of advanced skills in aerospace physics and intuition are required.
The Future of Air Combat
The development team says ALPHA would be a valuable asset to team with a fleet of human pilots, as it can can quickly map out accurate strategies and coordinate with a team of aircraft.
UC aerospace professor Kelly Cohen said: “ALPHA could continuously determine the optimal ways to perform tasks commanded by its manned wing man, as well as provide tactical and situational advice to the rest of its flight.”
This raises some concerns, as it may be ushering in an era of autonomy in battle aircraft. Eventually, a team of completely Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs) could be deployed to accomplish missions, further eliminating the chances of human error, but also operating without any human input.
Nick Ernest, who founded the company Psibernetix to develop ALPHA, says they intend to develop ALPHA further. “ALPHA is already a deadly opponent to face in these simulated environments. The goal is to continue developing ALPHA, to push and extend its capabilities, and perform additional testing against other trained pilots. Fidelity also needs to be increased, which will come in the form of even more realistic aerodynamic and sensor models. ALPHA is fully able to accommodate these additions, and we at Psibernetix look forward to continuing development.”
By Shaun Max
James Manyika analyses the report of McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and its impact on the Labor Market.
Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores, a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), highlights the enormous gap as the leading sectors, companies, and individuals deploy technology in a way that leaves everyone else in the dust. The companies leading the charge are capturing market share, posting record profit growth, and even reshaping entire industries. Their competitors, by contrast, are struggling just to keep up. Workers with the most sophisticated digital skills are in high demand, and those in the most digitized industries enjoy wage growth that is twice the national average. But incomes have stagnated for the majority of US workers in other sectors.
There are huge opportunities ahead, but unsettling shifts could hit the labor market as digital technologies develop capabilities to automate more of the tasks humans are paid to do. MGI research found that some 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their activities automated. We estimate that automation could displace anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of US middle-skill jobs in the decade ahead.
As companies integrate these technologies, they will redefine roles and business processes. The United States will need to adapt its institutions and training pathways to help workers cope. While technology is causing this disruption, it can be part of the solution, too. Online talent platforms might be one of the keys to creating a labor market that can respond more dynamically to continually changing demand for new skills.
Companies, too, face more churn as digitization changes the dynamics in many industries. These shifts are empowering for entrepreneurs but anxiety-producing for established companies. The standard for what it means to be highly digitized today will be outdated tomorrow––and the digital leaders never stop streamlining and innovating.
For companies, this is a wake-up call. No organization can afford to sit still while industries transform around it.
This article originally ran in LinkedIn.
In order to capture the imagination and attention of younger generation, brands now a days are increasingly looking to portray themselves as ethical. David Tyrrell analyses the latest research that points to this trend particularly among Beauty Brands.
Climate change, a term that certainly generates strong opinions, is looked at closely by younger generations as their partnership with the planet will extend longer than their parents and grandparents. Similarly, younger generations increasingly seek out and support brands they perceive as ethical.
The term ethical can be defined as adhering to principles of what is “right” to do. Over half of US iGens and Millennials will purchase from ethical companies with 43% of iGens willing to spend more money on an ethical brand. Perhaps impacting the financials even more, 43% of the youngest generations actively promote ethical brands through social media in stark contrast to only 15% of Baby Boomers.
In an effort to appeal to younger, more ethically minded consumers, while showcasing initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, skincare brands are spotlighting environmentally responsible approaches to create safe, high quality products. A leader in this area since its founding, Aveda tackles sustainability on many fronts that include using renewable energy (wind power), recyclable packaging, as well as using bioplastic alternatives derived from sugarcane when it can, in lieu of synthetics.
As we just passed the 1-degree C temperature increase for the planet, companies like L’Oréal and Unilever have joined in aggressively executing a multi-tier strategy to reduce their carbon footprints. This commitment across a variety of diverse interests continues to gain momentum as evidenced by the number of attendees at the 2015 Sustainable Innovation Forum. The forum brings together cross-sector representation including business, NGO and government to find ways to expand breadth of the “green economy.”
According to Mintel research, nearly two in five Millennials believe ethical and environmentally friendly are linked, compared to three in 10 Baby Boomers. Financial cost was often omitted from the environmental impact conversation in the past. Yet, that cannot be overlooked as nearly three in five US consumers purchase green to save money, suggesting that consumers view green as good, but exceedingly better when it is financially beneficial.
As pricing for green innovations becomes more palatable, the rate of adoption, and more notably an allegiance to green will evolve. Brands can take advantage by drawing attention to their usage of more popular, available, financially reasonable, clean energy alternatives that can sway consumer trial.
Self-Driving Cars are predicted to be taking over the US highways by 2020; however, they may be facing some regulations from the government according to a story in Futurism.
At the North American International Auto Show, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will announce plans for the development of self-driving cars. Ultimately, the government aims to speed up the process of having autonomous cars on the roads as, to date, only a few states are currently allowing these self-driving cars, which include Michigan, California, and Nevada.
The goal is to ensure that there are federal laws regarding the development of the tech.
It has been reported that the regulatory framework is scheduled to be set before President Obama leaves his office at the end of 2016.
How will this impact the plans of Car Manufacturers?
The major challenge of car companies now is the varying laws being implemented by the different states. Recently, Google was disappointed with California’s requirement of having a licensed driver behind the wheel of self driving cars at all times.
The executive director of California Foundation for Independent Living Centres, Teresa Favuzzi, believes that the Department of Motor Vehicles was discriminating people with disabilities the ability to use these vehicles.
Despite all the grey areas, this announcement is definitely a gigantic step for the future of autonomous vehicles.
Portland is now powered by water pipes and flushing toilets
Portland residents can now generate green electricity simply by turning on their water taps and flushing their toilets. Fast Company reports that the Oregon city is using a state-of-the art system to capture energy from water flowing through the city’s pipelines. Small turbines installed inside the pipelines are turned by the flowing water, sending energy into a generator and off into the power grid.
“It’s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there’s no environmental impact,” Gregg Semler told Fast Company. Semler is the chief executive officer of Lucid Energy, the Portland start-up behind the new system. “But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That’s what’s exciting.”
According to Semler, water utilities tend to use large amounts of electricity, so the new power generation system can help cut the cost of providing drinking water to cities. Utilities can decide whether to use the power for their own purposes, or sell the energy as a source of revenue.
“We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler notes. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.”
As for Portland, one of its main water pipelines uses Lucid’s system to generate power, and though the system can’t make enough power for the whole city, the pipes can produce enough to run an individual building like a school or a library.
Unlike other forms of green power, like solar or wind, the Lucid system can produce power at any time of the day because the water is always flowing. The only hitch is that the turbines can only produce power where water is naturally flowing downward with gravity. Lucid’s pipes contain sensors that can monitor the quality of the water flowing through the pipes, making them more than just a power generating technology, which can be valuable just about anywhere.
V3Solar’s spinning solar cells generate 20 times more electricity than flat photovoltaics
The V3 Spin Cell was developed through collaboration with industrial design team Nectar Design. The company believes that the Spin Cell could be a game-changer in its market. On their website V3 explains that if one places a 20x solar concentration on a flat, static solar panel then “the temperature quickly reaches 260 degrees F, the solder melts within ten seconds, and the PV fails. With the same concentration on the Spin Cell, the temperature never exceeds 95 degrees F.”
The one meter-diameter cones feature a layer of hundreds of triangular photovoltaic cells positioned at an angle of 56 degrees, encased in a “static hermetically-sealed outer lens concentrator.” The photovoltaic cone spins with the assistance of a “small amount” of its own solar-generated power which feeds a Maglev system, intended to reduce the noise generated by the cones as well as any required maintenance.
While an “array” of V3′s Spin Cell’s can occupy a very small space, relative to conventional flat panels, V3 has also conceived of a “Power Pole,” to support even greater even solar power generation in a small space, the designers explain “This is a pole that holds 10 Spin Cells, or 10KWp, in a footprint of 10 SF. The spin cells are placed with mathematical precision to make sure no Spin Cell shades another. This not only creates significantly great power density, but also removes the concern of floods and mitigates the environmental impact.”
Additionally, V3 hopes that with the dramatically reduced physical footprint of the solar cones, they might be able to “dramatically reduce the [total cost of ownership of solar farms] making more projects economically viable.” See one of the Spin Cones in action here.
Images © V3Solar
Advances in nanotechnology will be a key enabler of technological advance in the next decade. The integration of information technology, biotechnology, materials sciences, and nanotechnology will generate a dramatic increase in innovation. Read this Alert to see how your personal and business life might be affected pretty soon.
- Older technologies will continue lateral ‘sidewise development’ into new markets and applications .
- Current high-visibility investments and technology breakthroughs will be needed to realize the full potential of nanotechnology.
- Technologies like nanotechnology will be used to establish a maintenance free environment (i.e. self -cleansing glass, self-repairing concrete).
- Nanotechnology will produce new goods with new properties at a smaller scale that may use far less resources.
- Future uses of genetic data, software, and nanotechnology will help detect and treat disease at the genetic or molecular level.
- Modern healthcare technologies and prevention strategies will have the potential to extend the life expectancy of people.
- Molecular ‘robots’ could be designed to enter the body and eat plaque.
- Nanotechnology will enable lives to be saved by digestible cameras and machines made from particles 50,000 times as small as a human hair.
- Smart nano-materials will facilitate the development of textiles that detect biotoxins.
- The global market for nanotechnologies will reach $1 trillion or more within 20 years.
- Progress in nanotechnology will depend heavily on R&D investments.
- Robotics, synthetic biology, nanotechnology, and molecular manufacturing really will lead to an explosion of wealth and resource availability.
- Printed electronics and electrics will be a $335 billion business in twenty years i.e. 2029
- Bioscience, information technology, and nanotechnology will be applied to meet agricultural and food challenges.
- There will be 400,000 jobs in the nanotech sector across the European Union this year.
- Nanotechnology, 3D printing, smart materials and a new generation of composites will be a $1.3trn (£805.8bn) global manufacturing battleground this year.
- In the coming future nanotechnology will certainly have a colossal effect on the ceramics, metals, polymers, and biomaterials industries.
- As personalized medicine becomes more affordable expect to see the coming of age for genomics, nanotechnology, robotics, and other innovations.
- The use of nanotechnology could herald an ‘exciting’ breakthrough for patients with heart disease.
- Nanotechnology could completely transform conventional economic activity from healthcare and renewable energy technology to food production.
- Applications that are likely to be widely diffused in 2025 will combine different technologies such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials technology and information technology.
- New applications and reinventions will trigger market take-off and shape further development of collaborative technologies for governance and policy modelling.
- Nanotechnology is expected to have a major impact on sustainability in the near future.
- Nano- technology will enable different types of electronics.
- Nanotechnology will allow chip manufacturers to continue upholding Moore’s Law.
- Nanoscale piezoelectric materials could provide the lowest possible power consumption for on/off switches in MEMS and other types of electronic computing systems.
- Relying on nano-sized robotics will eventually become commonplace.
- Advances in nanotechnology will require long time horizons and continued investments in materials, platforms, and applications across manufacturingindustries.
- Expect the greater use of new materials with an emphasis on not just boosting performance but also improving efficiency.
- Materials and nanotechnology will enable the development of new devices with unforeseen capabilities.
- Nanotechnology will replace most current wearable technology.
- Discoveries in nanotechnology will lead to unprecedented understanding and control over the fundamental building blocks of all physical things.
- Nanotechnology could be used to help reduce battery weight and lighten other products.
- The U.S. Air Force believes that nanotechnology will have a direct application for both flight and space travel.
- Nanotechnologies will pave the way for developing hybrid energy solutions.
- Nanotechnology could provide solutions for sensing.
- Nanotechnology will also spawn new technologies for manipulating DNA.
- Biotechnology and nanotechnology will provide greater potential for destruction.
To find the sources and more resources on Shaping Tomorrow about ‘The Future of Your Workplace’ some of which were used in this Trend Alert, ‘Small is beautiful – Nano futures surround you’, or ask us for a customised, in-depth GIST report on this or any other topic of interest to you. Also, click here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business.
Tesla has started selling batteries that don’t have an expensive car attached. And CEO Elon Musk—the billionaire entrepreneur often compared to a superhero or a Bond villain—described a scenario in which they could potentially power much of the world.
Tesla’s new offering is called the Powerwall, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that is designed to be mounted in a garage or on the side of a house. The device, the size of a small refrigerator, will be available in three to four months, at a price starting at $3,000 for 7 kilowatt hours (kWh). The Powerwall can store power from a home’s solar panels, or connect to the electrical grid, storing up electricity when rates are low and providing backup electricity supply in case of a blackout.
The sun is “this handy fusion reactor in the sky—you don’t have to do anything, it just works,” Musk said in a presentation. “The obvious problem with solar power is the sun does not shine at night.” (Musk, in addition to running Tesla and a rocket company, is also the chairman of Solar City, a solar panel installation business.)
Tesla is also taking aim at a bigger customers, selling 100 kWh batteries called Powerpacks to utilities and electricity-hungry companies like Amazon. Musk said Tesla is capable of “infinitely scaling” the units into a gigawatt hour-class installation, which could power a mid-sized town of about 100,000 people, or even build larger configurations.
The company’s consumer- and business-focused batteries will eventually be manufactured at the massive Gigafactory that Tesla is building in Nevada, where Tesla car batteries will also be made.
The truly grandiose scale of Musk’s ambition was revealed at the end of his presentation, when he described how many gigawatt hour class Powerpacks it would take to fulfill all of the world’s transport, electricity, and heating needs: about 2 billion.
But Musk wasn’t joking when he said this: “Our goal here is to change the way the world uses energy at an extreme scale … This is something within the power of humanity to do. We have done these things before.”
Many are dubious that Tesla’s ambitions are achievable. As Quartz has reported, many of the company’s recent announcements seem to be designed to drive up its volatile stock, and Tesla’s path to profitability—it is currently targeting 2020—is a bumpy one if it cannot raise more capital from investors.
But grandiose ambitions have always been part of the Tesla pitch, and there is the chance that Musk’s bets could pay off.
“The goal is to change the world, starting with the automotive industry and closely followed by the power sector and then energy in general,” Bernstein analysts wrote shortly before the new battery business was announced. “Is that a realistic goal? Clearly it is not. But it is useful to remember that Elon Musk’s other business involves flying to Mars.”
In no set order:
- Solar costs are set to drop with new technologies and manufacturing techniques. This will impact on the energy industry with relief of burden on coal, oil and gas sources of energy and their resultant impact on the environment. There will still be a need for electricity utilities but their role will be reduced.
- Online education is already making rapid inroads into traditional education processes .at university and school levels. For government this is extremely challenging as technology is rapidly ripping central control away and placing it firmly in the hands of the consumer. Education costs will decline and we will witness the old institutions crumble in the face of emerging competition and new delivery methods.
- Blockchain based technologies will make a huge impact on decentralizing and revolutionizing the way transactions in banking, finance and law happen. Not to mention computer programming, scientific research and communications. Blockchain technology came to public awareness with the emergence of Bitcoin. Its roots extend however from cryptography – the science of coding and decoding messages for the purposes of privacy.
- Climate change will not be a social or political issue in the minds of the public within 5 years. That’s not to say that change does not need to happen – a lot still needs to change to improve the quality of environment and human and planetary sustainability. Emerging technologies will help a lot and education of people in the way they treat their environment will result in significant environmental improvement even in the next 6 years.
- A digital healthcare revolution is commencing now where people will soon be able to monitor their own health and respond as needed. New technologies controlled from a smart phone will be able to monitor all major health aspects including ‘wet’ analysis of blood, heart, breath, urine and other sampling tests. If results warrant, your device will be able to recommend various responses including taking yourself to hospital if required or calling an ambulance in extreme cases. Once again competition and technology are making old modes of doing things irrelevant. Often these shifts are occurring where government has taken over an industry and underfunding and lack of adaption have made the industry inefficient and ineffective.
- The coming global depression lasting 8 to 13 years commencing anytime between now and 2018. The coming together of many factors including the level of indebtedness of liberal democratic countries, aging demographics, the inability of global economic growth to accelerate and the crushing level of regulation facing most societies. Cyclically we are also witnessing the peaking of a cycle that spans the massive growth of the west – the Industrial Revolution. As this cycle peaks after some 230 years of growth so we enter the down phase of the cycle in which contraction and liquidation of all the dead wood of that growth phase gets swept away. Thus the path is cleared allowing the birth of a new phase of human growth and development. These cycles occur at many different levels of human existence – at the individual, societal, ethnic and nation state levels.
Jim Epstein writes for Reason Magazine:
Here Comes Ethereum, an Information Technology Dreamed Up By a Wunderkind 19-Year-Old That Could One Day Transform Law, Finance, and Civil Society
Photo by Duncan Rawlinson, Flickr, Creative Commons License.
So what is it?
Ethereum is a programming language the lives on top of a “blockchain”—a concept invented six years ago with the launch of Bitcoin. A blockchain is essentially a database that’s jointly maintained on the personal hard drives of its users—sort of like a shared Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. But transactions recorded to a blockchain are time stamped, fully transparent, and protected from tampering by hackers and thieves through an ingenious system that utilizes cryptography and community consensus. Blockchains make it possible, for the first time in history, to participate in a complex marketplace without the need for a mediating third party. The blockchain is what allowed Bitcoin to become the first form of virtual money that can be exchanged without a bank serving as an intermediary. (Read Ron Bailey’s recent piece on the blockchain’s transformative potential.)
Ethereum is an effort to apply the blockchain to a broad range of uses, though it’s not the first such attempt. Projects like Counterparty and Colored Coins have come up with clever methods of tailoring Bitcoin to facilitiate projects like a blockchain-based stock market. But Bitcoin’s blockchain was designed to handle the exchange of money, and retrofitting it to other uses requires some programming jujitsu and has inherent technical limitations.
Ethereum tries to solve this problem by layering a powerful programming language on top of a blockchain, giving it all the versatility that Bitcoin lacks.
“If you think of Bitcoin as a decentralized version of Microsoft Excel, then Ethereum is a decentralized Excel where we’ve made the visual basic macros functional,” says Vinay Gupta, the project’s release coordinator. To expand on Gupta’s analogy: With the Bitcoin blockchain, each cell on this hypothetical Excel table holds just a number; on the Ethereum blockchain, each cell is home to an entire computer program.
So what’s the advantage of hosting computer programs on a blockchain? They become much cheaper to operate because no third-parties are required to oversee their operation, and they become essentially incorruptible because their functioning is fully transparent.
Photo by Duncan Rawlinson, Flickr, Creative Commons LicenseEthereum’s developers believe their project will lead to the proliferation of programs they call “smart contracts,” in which the terms of an agreement are written in code and enforced by software. These smart contracts could carry out the instructions of a complex algorithm based on data feed—such as a stock ticker. They could facilitate practically any financial transaction, such as holding money in escrow or dispersing micropayments among autonomous machines. They could be used to create a peer-to-peer gambling network, a peer-to-peer stock trading platform, a peer-to-peer social network, a prenuptial agreement, a will, a standard agreement to split a dinner check, or a public registry for keeping track of who owns what land in a city.Gupta predicts that these smart contracts will be so cheap and versatile that they’ll do “a lot of things that today we do informally,” and take on a lot of the “donkey work of running a society.”
There won’t be any big changes on the day—or year—after Ethereum is released, in part because many smart contracts will work best when the people using them keep their money in Bitcoin or other forms of programmable money. That’s because the fiat money world still depends on trusted third parties. For example, a will written as a smart contract can’t be fully automated if the money to be dispersed is entirely in U.S. dollars; a banker would need to cooperate. But Gupta predicts that fairly soon we’ll move to a world in which a critical mass of people maintain a wallet with at least a few hundred dollars worth of cryptocurrency, facilitating Ethereum’s rapid integration into the real economy.
Ethereum-based public databases, which don’t depend on widespread use of cryptocurrency, could have a more immediate impact, particularly in the developing world. Take land ownership. U.S. cities maintain software databases of who owns what land, and since our public institutions are relatively functional, these systems work well enough that there isn’t a pressing need for them to live on a blockchain.
But in the developing world, government’s basic functions are often hobbled by corruption and bureaucracy. So a public land database on a fully transparent and community-operated blockchain could make the real estate market functional in these cities. As with Bitcoin, the big challenge ahead for Ethereum is getting people to use it.
The blockchain is a decentralized public ledger of all the Bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. But blockchain technology is much more than Bitcoin, as the technologist and entrepreneur Melanie Swan demonstrates in her new book, Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy.
Bitcoin participants begin by creating a digital wallet that generates their Bitcoin address and their public and private keys. A person’s public key can be obtained and used by anyone to encrypt messages intended for that individual. The encrypted message can be deciphered only by using the recipient’s private key. Bitcoins are exchanged for products or services when someone encrypts a message thatessentially says, “I give the right to spend this money to the person who owns the private key corresponding to this address.” The blockchain then publicly records this activity.
The blockchain doesn’t have to be confined to tracking Bitcoin activity. Swan persuasively contends that the advent of the blockchain platform as “a universal, permanent, continuous, consensus-driven, publicly auditable, redundant, record-keeping repository” is a technological game-changer as significant as the creation of the Internet. Since it is a decentralized public ledger, the blockchain enables the trustless transfer and accurate recording of all transactions and documents.
The result is, in Swan’s words, “a new paradigm for organizing activity with less friction and more efficiency.” By cutting out the gigantic layers of government and corporate rules and bureaucracies devoted to tracking and authenticating identities, contracts, transfers of money, exchanges of tangible and intangible goods, and the ownership of property, blockchain technology can dramatically reduce the transaction costs of all sorts of activities.
Swan acknowledges that this technology is not yet mature, but her survey of some of the exciting new tools that are being explored and exploited by developers will give readers a good idea of its potential. “Smart property,” for example, refers to physical property whose ownership is registered in the blockchain and thus controlled by whoever has the private key. In other words, property rights can be cryptographically defined and self-enforced by code. The owner can sell it simply by transferring the private key to another party.
Swan also envisions that physical properties registered on the blockchain could become “smart matter” embedded with sensors, QR codes, NFC tags, iBeacons, and the like. Access to property could be implemented using smartphones to unlock doors to houses, hotel rooms, or rental cars by affirming a user’s digital identity as encoded in the blockchain.
RileyThen there are smart contracts. The startup Ripple Labs envisions contracts coded on the blockchain in which parties agree that specified transactions take place when certain inputs are received by ” smart oracles.” The oracles consist of code that can sign a cryptographic key pair if or when a contractual condition is met. Smart contracts require less trust between parties because they are autonomous, self-sufficient, and decentralized. (The science-fiction writer Daniel Suarez envisioned a set of smart contracts operating autonomously and taking over the world in his brilliant novel Daemon.)
The blockchain ledger and the archives registered on it must be able to be stored and communicated when needed. Storj is just one of several peer-to-peer encrypted storage network services that enables users to transfer and share data without relying on a third-party data provider. Storj works by paying community members to store encrypted files on their extra hard drive space. Storj estimates that it can drop of the cost of data storage by a factor of 10 to 100. Meanwhile, the Proof of Existence virtual notary service anonymously and securely stores an online distributed proof of existence for any document.
Swan goes on to explain the operation of decentralized applications (DAPPs), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized autonomous corporations (DACs), and decentralized autonomous societies (DASs). The Bitcoin blockchain is a good example of a DAPP. The ongoing development of an open-source blockchain that aims to enable the ridesharing service LaZooz is example of a DAO. It is an entity without owners and without central servers, existing on the smart phones and computers of its community of users.
A DAC might be thought of as an automated nexus of contracts that can engage in activities such as leasing assets, hiring people, and securing debt or equity to achieve the goals set out in its mission statement. Notionally, DACs operating under a set of publically available business rules would be incorruptible and more trustworthy than human-run firms. As Dan Larimer of Invictus Innovations explained in The Economist: “Although DACs can still be designed to have a robotically inviolable intention to rob you blind, to enter the open source arena they must be honest about their plans to do so.”
Blockchain technology can also empower people to make end runs around oppressive governments. As Swan notes, blockchain technology facilitates pseudonymous transactions outside the visibility, tracking, and regulatory purview of states. Anti-censorship applications are being developed. The Alexandria DAPP, for example, “preserves the integrity of the historical record. It taps into collective, on-the-ground reporting by scraping Twitter as events unfold and prevents after the fact censorship by archiving the information on a blockchain.” Namecoin is an alternative domain name system registration process that cannot be controlled by any government.
And the DAS? Swan gets a bit vague here about what she means by “the idea of putting the nation-state on the blockchain,” largely because blockchain technology has not yet been implemented by government agencies. Indeed, federal functionaries will hate some of the proposals that Swan mentions, due to their libertarian implications. Still, services now offered by governments that could be moved to the blockchain include “an ID system based on reputation, dispute resolution, voting, national income distribution, and registration of all manner of legal documents such as land deeds, wills, childcare contracts, marriage contracts, and corporate incorporations.”
Swan evidently believes that a modern world transformed by the wide application of increasingly autonomous blockchain technologies will become ever more productive without the need for human involvement. Hence her interest in “national income distribution,” in which the earnings from autonomously operating blockchain enterprises are divvied up among citizens. Blockchain government would also be a lot smaller and cheaper, since most commercial activities would be overseen, regulated, and resolved on the blockchain. Ultimately, as blockchain venture capitalist David Johnston declares, “Everything that can be decentralized, will be decentralized.”
There is much more in this slender book, including speculations about how blockchain technologies could be used to monitor public health, crowdfund projects, provide community supercomputing, upload personal mindfiles, and even birth artificial intelligences. Swan acknowledges that many of the projects she outlines may well never really get off the ground. Nevertheless, she makes a strong case that we are at the dawn of a blockchain revolution.
Paul Stamets patents “universal biopesticide” that Big Ag calls “the most disruptive technology that we have ever witnessed.”
When my boys were young, I once asked each of them what would they ask for if they could have anything in the world. Sean, eight years old, a very pragmatic soul with five planets in Taurus, responded, “a million dollars.” Aquarian Colin, on the other hand, age six, and now inventor of the Garden Tower Project, piped up, “A magic wand!”
Has Stamets patented the magic wand?
Jefferey Jaxen writing for ZenGardner.com
Humanity is facing a problem. Our immediate environment is riddled with pesticides. They are making us unhealthy faster than we can study the effects. In addition, these pesticides play large roles in the massive bee deaths and decline of soil health. The companies that profit from making these pesticides have made it clear they won’t stop. Our petitions to the EPA and FDA are mostly ignored due to revolving door leadership between pesticide makers and government regulators. Is there an answer? Yes there is!
Paul Stamets, the world’s leading mycologist, filed a patent in 2001 that was purposely given little attention. In the words of pesticide industry executives, this patent represents “The most disruptive technology that we have ever witnessed.” The biopesticides described in the patent reveals a near permanent, safe solution for over 200,000 species of insects and it all comes from a mushroom. After what is called ‘sporulation’ of a select entomopathogenic fungi (fungi that kill insects) the area becomes no longer suitable for any insect(s) the fungi are coded for. In addition, extracts of the entomopathogenic fungi can also steer insects in different directions.
This literally is a paradigm shift away from the entire idea of pesticides. Instead of having an aim to kill all problematic insect, a farmer could simply disperse a solution of pre-sporulation fungi amongst the crops. The insects would then simply live their lives around the crops paying no attention to them. This simple idea flies in the face of the current, poorly thought-out, practice of spraying ever increasing amounts of pesticides on resistant bugs. Going further, this biopesticide would also eliminate the need for round-up ready GMO seeds and BT seeds that grow the pesticides in the crop needlessly endangering us, the consumer. Perhaps the most enticing element of this biopesticide fungi is that it’s essentially free. According to the patent, it can be “cultivated on agricultural waste.” We are looking at a 100% safe, natural technology that literally can end all GMO and pesticide manufacturers overnight with a new class of SMART Pesticides.
“The matrix of pre-sporulating fungi can optionally be dried, freeze-dried, cooled and/or pelletized and packaged and reactivated for use as an effective insect attractant and/or biopesticide.” –Paul Stamets Patent for Mycoattractants and mycopesticides
Even if we stop pesticide spraying now, scores of new research is confirming that our environment, food, soil, and bodies already carry traces of the chemicals. If the chemicals are so bad for us, there would be signs by now right? These are two common rebuttals from pesticide companies and individuals that don’t care to do their research. It’s okay, there just happens to be a patent to help with those issues as well. The US patent filed in 2003, once again from Paul Stamets, describes the utilization of a fungal delivery system for the purpose of
“ecological rehabilitation and restoration, preservation and improvement of habitats, bioremediation of toxic wastes and polluted sites, filtration of agricultural, mine and urban runoff, improvement of agricultural yields and control of biological organisms.”
In addition, there are many out there currently providing solutions to remove/detox any potential pesticide chemicals from the human body. Strategies like community gardens, urban forests, and the resurgence of permaculture are springing up rapidly to pave the way towards a steadily growing number of pesticide free dinner tables and families.
Time to Make History
On a bigger scale, GMO food and pesticides are merely symptoms of an opposite consciousness that is rapidly changing. Put another way, these symptoms are the unwanted gifts from out of control corporations that, by definition, have no empathy towards the needs, health, or life of The People. As Neil Young mentioned in his Starbucks Boycott, pesticide companies like Monsanto are, for the most part, not public-facing companies. As we are witnessing now with GMO brands, a boycott can severely damage their bottom line (lifeblood) but will not eliminate their business model. Due to the fact that they spend untold millions lobbying (purchasing) our politicians and regularly operate revolving doors between public and private positions means that only a paradigm shift will eliminate the entire industry. At that moment, which is approaching, pesticide manufacturers can decide if they would like to cease being the problem and assist in the solution.
The good news is that whatever decision they choose won’t matter. A shift in consciousness around pesticide and GMO use eliminates their influence and knocks them off their fictitious monetary pedestals they believe to be sitting on.
Paul Stamet’s Patent: Pesticide & GMO Solution
Paul Stamet’s Patent: Agricultural Waste Solution
6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save The World TED Talk
Neil Young Starbucks Boycott Statement Organic Food Demand Exploding
Emerging Events article on the Rise of Modern Eugenics is now available online.
By Peter Twigg
One of the most thrilling and terrifying prospects in the 21st century is the ascendency of medical technology combined with the political ideology of progressivism multiplied by consumer demand.
Yes to the ability to control and defeat many kinds of illnesses, to extend quality of life and life itself. New emerging medical technologies including genomic technologies will allow scientists to read organism genomes faster than ever before and also write more complex changes into those genomes, creating organisms with new capabilities. And no to the merger of state driven progressive policy mating with the new sciences. Consumers will demand gene engineering so that their children may be smarter, more athletic and more beautiful as well along with the vast healing potential genomic therapies offer the sick and the aging.
It’s been tried before of course. It was called ‘Eugenics’ and was practiced in America, Germany and Sweden in the 1930’s and 40’s. The practice of eugenics was first recorded at the time of Ancient Sparta when unfit and undesirable children were killed at birth. Selective breeding, military training and excellence allowed Sparta to become the dominant military power. A simple Wikipedia definition defines Eugenics from the Greek εὐγενής eugenes, meaning “well-born” from εὖ eu, “good, well” and γένος genos, “race”). It is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population.
Sanctioned at government levels, it was the progressive attitude and justification used to promote mass sterilization, institutionalization, social segregation and infanticide. The term eugenics fell out of favour in light of the Nazi abuses. The fact is that it still plays a role in both science and government policy as it ever did. Only the names have changed.
Instead of “eugenics” and “racial hygiene,” the scientific community now promotes “social biology” and “sociobiology.” “Deficient” genes now replace the term “inferior” genes. “Family planning” now replaces “abortion” and “sterilization.” Eugenics was misapplied disastrously in the 1930s and 1940s. Eugenics programs were often race-based, as opposed to being simply based on “inferior genetics” across the board.
Juan Enriquez, a writer, investor, and managing director of Excel Venture Management speaking at Technology Review’s EmTech conference this year, says our newfound ability to write the code of life will profoundly change the world as we know it. Because we can engineer our environment and ourselves, humanity is moving beyond the constraints of Darwinian evolution. The result, he says, may be an entirely new species.
Enriquez proposes a new human species is one that begins to engineer the evolution of viruses, plants, animals, and itself. As we do that, Darwin’s rules get significantly bent, and sometimes even broken. By taking direct and deliberate control over our evolution, we are living in a world where we are modifying stuff according to our desires.
Considering the fact that Enriquez is in favour of the creation of a “new ethics,” this statement alone, if his philosophy gains any traction, is quite a concern. Although improved in terms of implementation and public perception, we have seen this system before and, unfortunately, what Juan Enriquez labels a “new ethics” is not very new at all.
In light of the increase in propaganda masquerading as science and being peddled by scientists, there is no doubt the world’s population is being prepped for a eugenics-based future. This time the system will be assisted by a much more sophisticated technological machine, and thus, a much more efficient system of eugenics. After years of non-stop television, media repetition, and “experts” who tout the benefits of merging man and machine, as well as the cost of inheriting “inferior” genes, there is little doubt that the world’s population will march into this future willingly.
What is clear is the new technology, as it emerges, will change virtually everything in society as we know it – economically, socially, morally and politically. In fact a new human species, able to engineer viruses, plants, animals and itself. A new world order indeed.
Just as it lacked an ethical and moral framework in the 30’s and 40’s, ethicists and scientists are a long way from being able to put such a framework into effect. And of course the scientists innovating this new technology will want to appoint themselves as the ‘Gene Kings’, the arbiter of the technology, prices and who should be able to receive this technology. Yet, the demands of consumers for new solutions to age old problems, the push of new technologies offering unrivaled solutions makes this a much coveted prize for humanity.
For governments it also means answers to many of the pressing social and economic issues created by burgeoning populations. Governments continue to sponsor and promote eugenics as a means of solving many of the world’s problems. Demographics, food production, healthcare provision can all be controlled from a eugenics standpoint.
Politics in the 20th and 21st centuries is a progressive affair. The illusion of left and right, capitalism, liberalism etc, has been eviscerated systematically over the last 100 years.
Progressivism is the ideology where democratic government intervention is presumed to produce a better result than a voluntary society. It is an ideology with no basis in fact or logic. Despite its growing impact on social and economic policy, progressivism is all about those in power enjoying the rewards of position and power.
Progressivism is a form of utopianism where government laws and social conditions are perfect and beyond realisation. One consequence of utopianism is ruthlessness. This explains the racial hygiene of Nazism and why many progressive politicians exhibit ruthlessness as they push to achieve a utopian state of affairs. What ‘higher ideal’ than to do away with disease and to create a ‘heaven on earth’. The utopian element of progressivism however lends itself towards totalitarianism – the total state backed by the ultimate moral sanction of solving all human problems through the power (read force) of the state.
Every generation will bring upgrades as genomic technology improves and the “problems” resolved, much like computers today receive software upgrades every month or so. The process of getting it right will necessarily bring about many failures but as explained in the fervor of consumer demand and the progressive government push towards a utopian ideal these will be mere unintended consequences and a price worth paying.
There will be political abuses in achieving the aims of the state. Racial profiling will determine who will be eligible for gene therapies and who will not. People will be licensed according to their genes whether they are eligible to breed or not. People with congenital defects will simply not be allowed to reproduce with all the social, economic, medical and legal pressure applied by government to enforce compliance.
Government may even hold up a utopian ideal of a ‘one human race’ where all differences are bred out, thus offering the prospect of eliminating racial bigotry and the cause of so much human suffering through history. At the same time a one human race species destroys human bio-diversity and the ability of the human species to adapt and survive in the face of new challenges. Ooops! Even if humanity survived such challenges, Darwinism would also be finished and control would now reside with the hubristic politicians and scientists who mastermind the great human genome re-engineering.
You can be sure that, gene therapies will create a new genre of super corporations with their attendant level of political and economic influence arising from the control of such technology. These elite corporations along with political leaders will be able to affect greater government intervention and control to execute their progressive utopian ideal.
In an extreme social scenario of totalitarianism taken to extremes the potential to develop human sub classes – drones (slaves), elites, and soldier classes become some ‘Hunger Games’ style existence.
So we can conclude by saying the technology will happen and its impact on humanity and societies will be vast and in-calculable. As part of the process, despite the best attempts to get a moral and ethical framework that is sturdy enough to curb the level of abuse, the fact remains, there will be abuse by governments and consumers. Fortunes will be made. The rewards will prove to be equally amazing as many diseases will be eliminated, life extended and human potential enhanced.
The unintended consequences of the technology will also be vast in its consequences and reach into every facet of human endeavor. But consumers will demand modern eugenics, governments will mandate and exercise force in achieving it and humanity will plunge forward headlong into incredible change and growth. The way we view the world, people and our destiny is getting ready to change.
Web article: Google: 20141025: nazi eugenics: The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796
Web article: Google: 20141025: eugenics: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/425804/emtech-get-ready-for-a-new-human-species/
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Hope for Humankind
There is no putting the genie back into the bottle!
‘’Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor’’
‘’Genetically screening our offspring to make them better people is just ‘responsible parenting’, claims an eminent Oxford academic’’
‘’By screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out’’
“If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”
“Whether we like it or not, the future of humanity is in our hands now. Rather than fearing genetics, we should embrace it. We can do better than chance.”(1)
Well, apparently, to me as a father, responsible parenting means something completely different from what it obviously means to an Oxford professor.
I’m glad I’m not a part of an academic establishment and my life does not depend on government grants. Thus, being a free thinker, I would rather say that genetically modified babies would mean the end of humanity as we know it.
I’m sure you are familiar with the term ‘’Eugenics’’, but just in case you aren’t, here is a brief overview.
What is Eugenics?
Eugenics is the bio-social movement which advocates practices to improve the genetic heritage of human species. It’s aimed to produce a more ‘’desirable’’ people thus, allegedly, improving the human race.
It began with Sir Francis Galton, a pioneer of eugenics who gave it a name in 1883. During the first decade of the 20th century, eugenics grew into a social movement and became an academic discipline. Galton was inspired by the work of his cousin Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. But even though Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest had a natural way of selection, Galton took it a step further and proposed selection by force. That has resulted in eugenics policies and programs like compulsory sterilization, birth control, marriage restrictions, racial segregation and forced abortions gone wild.
When the eugenics mindset was adapted by Hitler, who was obsessed with the idea of racial superiority and the Aryan race while inspired by the eugenics philosophy, genocide followed. His obsession resulted in the loss of millions of innocent lives. Certain ethnic groups were declared inferior and thus not worthy of living. The holocaust was one of the expressions of this sick mentality also known as racism.
Considering the historical facts, it would be nearly impossible to believe in eugenicists’ altruism. If the hijackers of science would have humanity’s best interest at heart, they would use it to improve life on Earth for everyone, not only for themselves. They would use science to tackle diseases, famine and poverty rather than targeting those who are affected by such calamities.
Deeming people unworthy of living and seen as unfit is the true face of the eugenic elite to which we the people are simply ‘’useless eaters’’ who need a gene hygiene.
Quite recently we saw a worldwide protest against Monsanto, whose genetically modified organisms, which some people call ‘’food’’, are posing a serious threat to our health and environment. (2) It would be bad enough if we would only see GM corn or soy beans on our menu. (3) But things have progressed much further. Genetically modified fish is now threatening to disrupt and distort the whole ecosystem. (4)
As the information is breaking loose and people are becoming more conscious and aware of the danger of genetically modified organisms released into the environment and causing all kinds of health problems including tumors and organ failure as the recent studies suggest (5), the corporate heads came up with ‘’solution’’. When our organs will fail due to the consumption of Frankenfood, we will be able to replace them with new ones, grown for us in pigs! Pigs, they say, are almost our relatives! (6)
Here is what they say: ‘’Next to apes, pigs are pretty good matches for humans, physiologically speaking‘’.
Well, when I look at pigs, I don’t see anything in common with humans, not physiologically, not emotionally, not mentally and most definitely not spiritually. The only thing we share in common is a desire to live – one feature seen among all living beings on Earth, which is hardly noticed by science, much less by the proponents of eugenics.
So they’ve got us covered! Like the food and pharmaceutical industries. One is damaging our health, another is selling us drugs to repair the damage, or shall we say to suppress the symptoms? But I digress. The point being is that if we think that Frankenfood is the peak of the madness, we should think about Frankensteins coming from the labs! (7)
Among other things, Dwight Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States has warned us that:
“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of scientific technological elite.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower (8)
Is it not what we are witnessing today?
How much bigger should be our outrage when we learn about scientific proposals to genetically modify our kids? And this modification is only a beginning. Human-animal hybrids are already on the way! (9)
Don’t we realize that monsters are coming and human rights would likely be claimed by these new life-forms? So far as a society we can’t even protect the rights of humans, let alone clones. It’s also important to remember that the State will be the legal parent of these creatures. Just think about the implications!
What will happen to the human race, when it begins marrying and mixing with lab made human-animal hybrids? Do we realize that this scientific nightmare will not end soon after we devour our popcorn while watching a sci-fi movie on the big screen?
How can we trust the scientists to mess with human DNA when only 3% of it is understood? The rest of it they have declared to be a ‘’DNA junk’’ – a label given to 97% of human DNA which function has not yet been identified.
Some scientists are saying that ‘’junk DNA has little specificity and conveys little or no selective advantage to the organism”. However, there are others, who went even further by claiming that non-coding (junk) DNA was “selfish” and even detrimental since it was parasitic. In other words, that which hasn’t been understood by science is dismissed as invalid, declared as void and even deemed as harmful!
And these are the folks who are playing God?
In his article, oxford Professor Julian Savulescu, has made an attempt to separate himself from the eugenics movement by saying that people would have a choice:
‘’unlike the eugenics movements, which fell out of favour when it was adopted by the Nazis, the system would be voluntary and allow parents to choose the characteristics of their children.’’
But what choice do we have now that makes us think that more of it we’ll have in the future? Gorge Carlin has put it best…
George Carlin – The Illusion of Choice
As we moving towards totalitarianism as a human society, it isn’t difficult to picture a future in which birth licenses would be issued and a mandatory embryo screening required, obligating the parents to do all necessary genetic modifications ‘’advised’’ by the medical doctors. There is already talk about whether the doctor should be able to override the parents:
‘’If the doctor feels that the parents’ decision is being made in unreasonable manner, he should be able to go to some other body with the authority to override the parents. I don’t think it should be just the doctor. A hospital ethics committee is better than a court, but a court is also a possibility’, proposes Peter Singer. (10)
So it well can be that like the one child policy in China, we soon will see a “no child policy unless genetically screened and modified”. In other words it would simply mean that no one would be allowed to have children unless approved by the government which will make it illegal to do it any other way. History is full of those examples.Among other states which implemented eugenics programs in the early 20th century, were North Carolina, which implemented it the longest, from 1929 to 1974 thousands of black and poor women were “persuaded” by the state and forced by other means to be sterilized. (11)
And as Mark Twain said: ‘’history rhymes’’ (meaning that history repeats itself), and we should be concerned about it.
In his speech the professor admits that ‘’by screening in and screening out certain genes in the embryos, it should be possible to influence how a child turns out. In the end, he said that “rational design” would help lead to a better, more intelligent and less violent society in the future.’’
But considering the fact that the ruling class is authoritarian and eugenics at heart, it’s highly unlikely that people will have any choice.
I wonder if I have to point out the likelihood of future generations being engineered as docile, obedient and apathetic at birth, guaranteeing that the status quo remains unchallenged. These clones would hardly have anything human other than human tissues. They would be artificial creatures devoid of humanness. I think the best way to understand this matter is to read Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or watch it here:
Brave New World (Full Version)
His brilliant work is the best testimony for what is coming if both mad scientists and the control freaks behind them are not stopped.
Bertrand Russell made a curious statement in ‘’The Impact of Science on Society’’ in 1951: “Diet, injections, and injunctions will combine, from a very early age, to produce the sort of character and the sort of beliefs that the authorities consider desirable, and any serious criticism of the powers that be will become psychologically impossible. Even if all are miserable, all will believe themselves happy, because the government will tell them that they are so.”
Do Russell’s words sound any different than those of the Oxford professor? The only difference I see is in the methods of achieving the same exact goal.
Why not to leave us alone and let us, parents, to decide for ourselves what’s ethical and what are our moral obligations?
Often we see how evil is done in the name of the good, like the wars in Libya, Syria and Iraq, all has been sold to us as being ‘’humanitarian’’ missions rescuing people by delivering them democracy packed in the ‘’peace’’ bombs which are then kindly dropped on their heads for the sake of their freedom. It seems to me that same exactly pattern is re-appearing here — breeding us out of existence for our own good by using medical science for political gain.
After all, we are just a commodity. (12)
George Carlin on Freedom of Choice