#Future

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Billionaires Are Dead Serious About Moving Factories to Space

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 09:49 AM PDT

To some, collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up the Earth could be the key to ensuring that we — and our planet — survive.

Space Industries

It sounds like science fiction, but the idea of moving heavy industries off Earth seems far less far-fetched ever before.

Collecting resources from other planets or asteroids instead of using up what little we have left on Earth could be the key to ensuring that human beings survive, Discover Magazine reports.

“The solar system can support a billion times greater industry than we have on Earth,” Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist at the University of Central Florida, told Discover. “When you go to vastly larger scales of civilization, beyond the scale that a planet can support, then the types of things that civilization can do are incomprehensible to us.”

Investing in Space

As Earth-based resources dwindle, the population increases — and something has to give. At least, that’s the argument behind a new school of companies that have cropped up over the last decade or so, trying to become pioneers of space resource gathering.

For instance, Planetary Resources Inc. has collected tens of millions in funding to develop asteroid mining technologies. But financial troubles meant that the company had to delay its first asteroid prospecting mission indefinitely.

Billionaire Blue Origin and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is all-in as well.

“The reason we’ve got to go to space, in my view, is to save the Earth,” Bezos said during the announcement of his space company’s lunar lander last month.

“A very fundamental long-range problem is that we will run out of energy on Earth,” Bezos said at the event. “This is just arithmetic. It will happen.”

Even NASA has recently chosen to invest millions of dollars in tech concepts that could help us explore lunar crates and mining asteroids.

Not only physical resources could become the solution for an overburdened planet. Solar power stations in space could beam near-limitless energy back to Earth — a plan that China is already working to put into action.

Greenpeace 2.0

But not everybody is of the same mind: a group of scientists came together to sign a proposal calling for more than 85 percent of the solar system to be protected from human development.

“If we don't think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now,” Martin Elvis, senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and lead author of the proposal told The Guardian. “Once you've exploited the solar system, there's nowhere left to go.”

Baby Steps

Before space manufacturing and mining become reality, there’s still a lot of work to be done as scientists have only made incremental steps towards that future so far. Just five years ago, California-based startup Made In Space became the first company to 3D print an object in zero gravity.

The same company scored a major contract with NASA in 2018 to develop a “hybrid metal manufacturing system for space exploration.” The idea is to print parts using aerospace-grade metals like titanium and aluminum.

And Japanese space agency JAXA recently managed to land its Hayabusa2 spacecraft on a tiny asteroid, even shooting a bulletand dropping a bomb — at its surface to collect samples.

These efforts however are still a far cry from a future in which asteroid mining could support human civilizations in deep space. We haven’t even figured out which nation will get to call those resources their own — an issue that’s bound to conjure up some political uneasiness.

But time is running out — climate change and rapidly-depleting resources are forcing us to look beyond our home planet. Hopefully we can make the transition before it’s too late.

READ MORE: Made in Space: Why Earth's Industries Might One Day Leave Our Planet [Discover Magazine]

More on space mining: NASA Funds $2M Study to See if We Could Live in Moon Pits

The post Billionaires Are Dead Serious About Moving Factories to Space appeared first on Futurism.

Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 09:35 AM PDT

Astronomers have detected over ten radio bursts from distant galaxies in the last week. The sudden frequency could help us figure out what's causing them.

Spam Calls

Last week, astronomers managed to trace a mysterious, fleeting radio signal back to a distant galaxy. Since then, teams from around the world have tracked down ten more.

The latest was spotted by a team at CalTech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory on Tuesday, according to CNET. Astronomers aren’t positive what’s causing these so-called “Fast Radio Bursts” — there are several plausible non-extraterrestrial-life-related explanations. But these recent signals are a sign that intergalactic radio broadcasts are far more common than scientists previously thought.

Roaming Charges

The radio burst detected at CalTech originated from a galaxy 8 billion light-years away from our own according to research published in the journal Nature — that’s twice the distance that the first radio burst detected last week traveled.

That means that whatever gave off the signal, whether it was activity within a neutron star or potentially some sort of alien life, did so billions of years before our planet even formed. But because these signals are popping up more frequently than ever, astronomers believe they could finally find the culprit.

“Astronomers have been chasing FRBs for a decade now, and we’re finally drawing a bead on them,” CalTech astronomer Vikram Ravi told CNET. “Now we have a chance of figuring out just what these exotic objects might be.”

READ MORE: Another mysterious deep space signal traced to the other side of the universe [CNET]

More on galactic signals: Astronomers Traced a Mysterious Radio Burst to a Distant Galaxy

The post Possible Alien Radio Signals Way More Common Than Believed appeared first on Futurism.

The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay?

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 09:17 AM PDT

The Pentagon wants its own dedicated space station in orbit around the Earth for both scientific research and military operations.

Reaching Out

The U.S. military is in the early stages of sending a self-supporting, autonomous space station into orbit around the Earth.

In its earliest stages, the space station will be small and (literally) inhospitable — the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) wants a dedicated orbital platform from which to conduct scientific experiments, reports Breaking Defense. But in the long run, the DIU has tentative plans to upgrade the station so it can support life, which would give the government the unsettling ability to keep militarized crews operating in space.

Building Blocks

According to the DIU’s call for contractors to design the space station, the orbital outpost needs to be entirely self-sufficient, and employ artificial intelligence to operate and steer itself in space.

But the solicitation also calls for a minimum internal volume of one cubic meter and the capability to endure zero to one atmospheres of pressure — not exactly the specs of the Death Star.

Prototype

The director of DIU’s Space Portfolio, Col. Steve Butow, told Breaking Defense that the organization is more interested in laying out the basic groundwork of a dedicated orbital platform for the Pentagon — upgrades for specific military applications can always come later.

“In short, we are casting a wide net for commercial solutions that can meet the basic needs described in the first part of the solicitation (autonomous/robotic, etc),” Butow emailed to Breaking Defense. Here’s hoping whichever contractor gets the job remembers to cover up those pesky exhaust ports.

READ MORE: Pentagon Eyes Military Space Station [Breaking Defense]

More on space warfare: India Just Announced That It’s Developing Space Weapons

The post The Pentagon Wants Its Own Orbital Space Station, Like a Death Star, But Not, Okay? appeared first on Futurism.

Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 08:59 AM PDT

A Russian sub caught fire on Monday, killing 14 sailors — and Russia won't say what kind of sub it was or what it was doing near the ocean floor.

Fire Down Below

On Monday, a Russian submarine caught fire during a mission, killing 14 sailors on board.

But the public didn’t find out about the incident until the next day, when Russia finally released a statement about the accident — though two days after the event, the nation still wouldn’t say exactly what kind of sub caught fire or whether it was nuclear-powered.

A possible reason for Russia’s caginess? Multiple sources are now claiming the sub was an AS-12 “Losharik,” a nuclear-powered submarine some speculate was designed to cut the undersea cables that deliver internet to the world.

Spy Mission

Russian media outlets RBC and Novaya Gazeta have both cited anonymous sources who claim the submarine was a Losharik, and while the sub has been in operation since 2003, Russia has never come out and declared its official purpose.

That hasn’t stopped the U.S. and other Western officials from conjecturing about it, though.

For years, they’ve warned that Russia has been surveying undersea cables, and experts have called out the Losharik by name as possibly playing a role in future missions to disrupt those cables.

Radiation Situation

Of course, there’s another possible reason for Russia’s lack of openness about Monday’s incident: if the Russian sub was a Losharik, that means a nuclear-powered craft just caught fire.

On Tuesday, Norwegian authorities reported that they hadn’t detected any abnormal radiation in the area of the fire. But the fact that Russia itself hasn’t released a similar statement is cause for serious concern, according to Russian news site The Bell.

“Nearly a day without information about the accident in a nuclear facility and the need to look out for Norwegian statements about the level of radiation should have given a shudder to those who remember the Chernobyl nuclear power station,” the site wrote about the fire, according to Reuters.

READ MORE: Russia accused of cover-up over lethal submarine fire [Reuters]

More on undersea cables: Google's Next Subsea Internet Cable to Connect Africa and Europe

The post Russian Sub That Caught Fire Possibly Sent to Cut Internet Cables appeared first on Futurism.

What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech.

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 07:50 AM PDT

Your Clouds Can (YCC) 2019 was an immersive experience unlike any conference. Its purpose? To understand how seemingly traditional businesses can utilize data and cloud based technology to reimagine themselves and grow.

On June 5th, Futurism and IBM took attendees on a journey – but, unlike traditional conferences, they brought the audience members directly to the speakers’ headquarters. They immersed the attendees into the culture, attitudes, and atmospheres of these innovative companies to give them a deeper understanding of these tools, and how they can be applied to attendees’ businesses.

Attendees and hosts alike enjoyed conversations, not presentations, and dialogues, not monologues. On-site and hands-on, attendees went behind the curtain at each stop on this innovation tour to fully investigate and discover exactly how each of these companies are leveraging data and technology for growth.

YCC attendees were guided through experiences and discussions at four NYC companies actively innovating and changing the landscape of their industries. The first stop and breakfast was at CAMP, a brand new retail venture at the cross section of toy stores and playgrounds. CAMP uses technology and data to improve the speed and accuracy of merchandising decisions, allowing them to transform their retail environment three to four times a year based on the interests of their customers and cultural trends.

Next, guests toured BuzzFeed and learned how they leverage data-driven insights generated from their millions of readers to develop brand new products and campaigns for clients. Jake Bronstein, VP of Innovation at BuzzFeed, spoke about their unique sprint process with their editorial and data teams: "We have a big preference for test and learn, there's no one model," Bronstein said. "What does our audience need? How do we make that happen?"

Afterwards guests visited LivePerson, and learned how their AI-powered conversational platform is transforming customer engagement into a source of competitive advantage. As pioneers in live chat, LivePerson gave an inside look at how companies like GEICO and The Cosmopolitan are communicating with their customers using AI to create meaningful differentiated experiences.  

Finally, the day concluded at Betaworks, a tenacious tech company running accelerators and designing communities at their new membership club in NYC's Meatpacking District.  Here a panel of start-up veterans and leaders discussed how to scale innovative ideas faster through cloud and other technologies. To close the day, Krissi Xenakis, Design Lead for the IBM Garage, explained how IBM teaches companies to iterate, experiment, build, and develop, using a design thinking approach that fosters the type of innovation seen at CAMP, BuzzFeed and LivePerson.  "What's the smallest thing we can build that tests the greatest risk of our innovation? We need to test that the assumptions about our user are accurate and meaningful." she said.

Through out the day, attendees were able to have breakout sessions in transit between locations to collectively digest and discuss what they had learned.. Make no mistake, this was not awkward attempts at networking. This was natural conversation, fun and insightful, made casual through the immersive, traveling nature of the conference itself.

The vibe of learning and discussion is palpably different when caravaning from location to location, company to company. Vlad Shenderovich, Director of Operations, LOLI Beauty agreed, saying, "it breaks the traditional format. I like that it’s interactive, focuses on the audience and not just the panelists so you’re able to see, interact, engage and ask questions.” 

That is what makes YCC unique and rewarding. Not everyone gets to enjoy lunch on BuzzFeed's terrace or tour Betaworks Studios' private membership club. It's more than just access, it's an insider's peek into the technology, ideas and culture that drive the business innovation and success. 

Visit YourCloudsCan.com to see videos of what you missed and sign up to be the first to know about future events. Will you join us for the ride at the next YCC?

Futurism fans: To create this content, a non-editorial team worked with IBM, who sponsored this post. They help us keep the lights on. This post does not reflect the views or the endorsement of the Futurism.com editorial staff.

The post What Do a Toy Store and a Tech Accelerator Have in Common? Cloud-Based Tech. appeared first on Futurism.

White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 07:34 AM PDT

Eleven companies have teamed up to create "Safety First for Automated Driving," an exhaustive guide to developing safe autonomous vehicles.

As nice as it’d be to have the option of catching up on some reading — or sleep — while an autonomous vehicle drives you to work, the real draw of self-driving cars is the idea that they’ll be safer drivers than whoever just cut you off in the exit lane with inches to spare. After all, if the vast majority of traffic accidents are caused by human error, taking humans out of the equation should save lives, right?

In theory, sure. But in practice? Only if we can build autonomous vehicles safer than, well, the average driver. And right now, the entire auto industry is approaching that same goal from countless directions, and no one even knows what the measure of success is — or should — be.

To bring some orderliness to this currently chaotic situation, a group of 11 companies, including Intel, Audi, and Volkswagen, teamed up to publish a white paper titled “Safety First for Automated Driving,” an exhaustive guide to developing safe autonomous vehicles.

The 146-page-long document’s centerpiece are twelve guiding principles detailing the various capabilities a self-driving car must have before it can be considered “safe.” Here’s a quick primer on each of them.

Safe Operation: An autonomous vehicle must be able to cope with the loss of any of its critical components.

Safety Layer: The self-driving car must know its own limits and understand when it’s safe to return control to the human driver.

Operational Design Domain (ODD): The autonomous vehicle must be prepared to assess the risks of typical driving situations.

Behavior in Traffic: The car’s behavior needs to be predictable to other drivers on the road, and it needs to act according to traffic rules.

User Responsibility: The vehicle needs to be able to recognize a driver’s state of alertness and communicate to them any tasks for which they are responsible.

Vehicle-Initiated Handover: Autonomous vehicles must be able to let drivers know when they need to takeover and make it easy for them to do so. If a takeover request is ignored, the vehicle also needs to have a way to cope with the situation while minimizing risk.

Driver-Initiated Handover: The driver needs to have a way to explicitly ask to take over operation of the self-driving car.

Effects of Automation: An autonomous vehicle must consider how automation could affect the driver even directly after the period of automated driving is over.

Safety Assessment: There needs to be a consistent way to verify and validate the autonomous vehicle’s ability to meet safety goals.

Data Recording: If the self-driving car recognizes an event or incident, it needs to be able to record relevant data in a way that doesn’t violate applicable data privacy laws.

Security: Safe autonomous vehicles will need to have some protection against security threats.

Passive Safety: The self-driving car needs to be prepared for any crash scenarios that might be unique to vehicle automation.

This all sounds well and good. Accomplishing all — let alone most, or even a majority — of these goals is going to be another matter.

Notably, a few major companies and tech players are missing from the list of people who assembled this list (i.e., Tesla, Waymo, et al). Hard not to wonder why: Maybe these companies, all of whom are seemingly behind in the race for self-driving vehicles, are looking to assemble some common ground to edge their behemoth competition out of (or maybe they simply have other ideas about safety).

Whatever the case may be, the autonomous road race won’t be won by anybody who doesn’t adhere to these concepts if they become law — in other words, consider this just another in a long series of shots in the war to earn pole position.

READ MORE: 11 companies propose guiding principles for self-driving vehicles [VentureBeat]

More on autonomous vehicles: This Guide Could Dictate How Cops Handle Autonomous Car Crashes

The post White Paper: These 12 Principles Are Shaping the Future of Autonomous Cars appeared first on Futurism.

This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space

Posted: 03 Jul 2019 07:27 AM PDT

Researchers built a device small room-sized device that spins willing participants on a giant platform to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity in space.

Weight Gain

You’ve probably seen one featured in a science fiction movie, including “2001: A Space Odyssey” — massive centrifuge-like space stations that spin around a center point to create the sensation of artificial gravity for off-world travelers.

While we have yet to build such a large system in open space, researchers from University of Colorado at Boulder have decided to miniaturize the effect instead, with a device small enough to fit inside a room that spins participants to mimic the effect of Earth-like gravity.

Spin Zone

Creating the illusion of gravity could be of great benefit to astronauts struggling with the not-yet-fully-understood effects of microgravity for months at a time.

“The point of our work is to try to get more people to think that maybe artificial gravity isn’t so crazy,” Kathrine Bretl, a graduate student involved in the project said according to a statement. “Maybe it has a place outside of science fiction.”

Vomit Comet

Unfortunately, motion sickness is still as much of a thing here on Earth as it is in space — one of the reasons why scientists have shied away from the idea in the past. The team decided to put that to the test and invite volunteers to spin on their centrifuge for 10 vomit-inducing sessions.

The results were promising: at 17 revolutions per minute, the effect became tolerable over time.

“As far as we can tell, essentially anyone can adapt to this stimulus,” aerospace engineer Torin Clark, who led the team said.

READ MORE: Artificial gravity breaks free from science fiction [University of Colorado at Boulder]

More on the effects of microgravity: Zero Gravity Causes Worrisome Changes In Astronauts’ Brains

The post This Room-Sized Device Could Create Artificial Gravity in Space appeared first on Futurism.

Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 02:17 PM PDT

Facebooks is changing how it ranks "miracle cures" and unproven medical treatments — but will it be enought to stem the medical misinformation tide?

There’s an entire spectrum of lies on social media. On one side, there’s the generally inane: Pokémon was designed for Satanists or FCC Chairman Ajit Pai tried to date a porn star.

And then there are lies that have the potential to literally kill.

Falling into this latter category are the spammy “miracle cures” for everything from cancer to autism that spread like wildfire on sites like Facebook. These “treatments” are ineffective at best and deadly at worst. Now, Facebook is finally trying to do something about them.

On Tuesday, Facebook published a blog post regarding the bogus health content that is now pervasive on the site.

“People come together on Facebook to talk about, advocate for, and connect around things like nutrition, fitness, and health issues,” Facebook Product Manager Travis Yeh wrote in the post. “But in order to help people get accurate health information and the support they need, it's imperative that we minimize health content that is sensational or misleading.”

To that end, the company updated its ranking algorithms to place two kinds of content lower in people’s News Feeds:

– Sensationalist health posts that make misleading claims or tout “miracle cures,” and

– Posts that use health-related claims to promote products or services, such as weight-loss pills.

As far as sensationalist health posts go, ones hawking bogus weight-loss pills fall on the relatively benign end of the spectrum. But Facebook’s also rife with posts encouraging people to forgo proven cancer treatments in favor of worthless home remedies. Incredibly dangerous “autism cures” advising parents to force their children to drink chlorine dioxide, which is essentially industrial bleach, are also popular with Facebook’s users.

[Yeah, you read that correctly: Drinking bleach.]

And do we really need to mention the countless anti-vaccine posts and groups that are contributing to outbreaks of diseases like measles worldwide?

Given the far-reaching implications of this shady health content, Facebook is now under increasing pressure to do something about it — meaning if its newly announced ranking changes can’t effectively stem the medical misinformation tide, it’s going to need to find something else (or someone else) that can.

READ MORE: Facebook, YouTube Overrun With Bogus Cancer-Treatment Claims [The Wall Street Journal]

More on Facebook: Congress Is Deciding Whether to Break up Facebook, Google

The post Facebook Is Finally Fighting Its Pseudoscience “Miracle Cure” Content Problem appeared first on Futurism.

This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 01:07 PM PDT

Research scientist Janelle Shane trained a naming AI to conjure up new monikers for self-aware spaceships like those in author Iain M. Banks' Culture books.

Ship Shape

Scottish author Iain M. Banks populated his sci-fi Culture book series with humanoid robots, alien races, and artificially intelligent spaceships that chose their own names.

So: Research scientist Janelle Shane thought it would be fun to use those ship names to train a real neural network to — what else? — conjure up new names for self-aware spaceships. The results? Hilarious. Puzzling. Generally? Great.

Name Game

Shane is the same scientist responsible for creating the neural network that bestowed awesome names like “Peanutbutterjiggles” and “Bones of the Master” upon shelter kittens.

This new naming AI is a variation on that one, but instead of training the base neural network, OpenAI’s GPT-2, on cat names, she used a list of 236 spaceship names from Banks' Culture series.

Ass Federation

Shane lists dozens of the names churned out by the AI on her website, so you’ll have to head there to check them all out, but some of our favorites:

– Friendly Head Crusher
– Mini Cactus Cake Fight
– Happy to Groom Any Animals You Want

But if we’re naming a self-aware spaceship, it’d be hard to pass up the opportunity to go with the complete head-scratcher that is Someone Did Save Your Best Cookie By Post-Apocalyptic Means.

READ MORE: This AI is so goddamn smart, it can name other AIs [The Next Web]

More on naming AI: This Neural Network Gives Kittens A+ Names Like “Mr Sinister”

The post This AI Gives Other AIs Names Like “Ass Federation” And “Hot Pie” Because Robots Can Be Weird Too appeared first on Futurism.

Here’s How You Can Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 11:42 AM PDT

California's Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the total solar eclipse over parts of South America.

Heads up: For approximately four minutes this afternoon, the Moon will block out the Sun over parts of South America — but you don’t need to be in Chile or Argentina to see the stunning spectacle.

California’s Exploratorium has teamed up with NASA to broadcast a livestream of the eclipse via the video linked below. The coverage will begin at 3 p.m. ET, with the eclipse expected to take place between 4:38 p.m. and 4:44 p.m. ET.

If you happen to live within the eclipse’s path, make sure you fight the urge to look directly at the Sun during it as doing so could permanently damage your eyes. Which, yes, happens to people. Quite a bit.

Instead, you’ll want to use your lunch break today to procure a pair of special eclipse glasses. But if that’s not possible, a sheet of paper with a pinhole poked through it is, of course, an acceptable DIY alternative.

READ MORE: Watch Today’s Total Solar Eclipse Right Here [Gizmodo]

More on eclipses: Watch: What Happened to Solar Power in the US During the Eclipse

The post Here's How You Can Watch Today's Total Solar Eclipse appeared first on Futurism.

World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms

Posted: 02 Jul 2019 10:08 AM PDT

Researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that's so scaled down, it can capture detailed images of individual atoms.

MRI for Ants Atoms

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines are great for creating detailed images of a person’s internal organs and tissues.

Using magnets and radio waves, the machines temporarily change how the billions of protons in the person’s body spin. Then they measure and image energy released by these protons once they return to their normal state.

Now, researchers have created a version of an MRI machine that’s so scaled down, it images individual atoms — and the device could help usher in the era of quantum computing.

Honey, I Shrunk the MRI

For their study, which was published on Monday in the journal Nature Physics, researchers from the United States and South Korea attached magnetized iron atoms to the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, a device used to image and probe individual atoms.

They then swept the microscope’s tip over iron and titanium atoms they’d placed on a magnesium oxide surface. This subjected the atoms to a magnetic field that disrupted their electrons. The team then hit the atoms with a radio wave pulse, and the system imaged the energy the electrons subsequently released.

Unprecedented View

The researchers believe this new nanoscale imaging technique could lead to the development of new materials and drugs, as well as the creation of better quantum computing systems.

“We can now see something that we couldn't see before,” researcher Christopher Lutz told The New York Times. “So our imagination can go to a whole bunch of new ideas that we can test out with this technology.”

READ MORE: World's smallest MRI performed on single atoms [Institute for Basic Science]

More on quantum computing: Russian Scientists Used a Quantum Computer to Turn Back Time

The post World’s Smallest MRI Machine Means We Can Now Scan Individual Atoms appeared first on Futurism.

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