Abundance Insider: March 2, 2018 Edition

In this week's Abundance Insider: Super-sensitive artificial skin, voice-mimicking AIs, and Internet on the Moon.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Sydney, AJ, Bri, Jarom, Jason and Einstein

P.S. Send any tips to our team by clicking here, and send your friends and family to this link to subscribe to Abundance Insider.

Self-Driving Cars with Remote Drivers Could Test on California Roads in April

What it is: The California Department of Motor Vehicles has approved testing for self-driving cars that leverage remote human operators versus behind-the-wheel fallback drivers — and we could see them on roads as soon as April. “Experts believe early adopters of the technology will include ride-hailing services seeking to maximize paying passengers while eliminating paid backups traveling with them,” reports Reuters.

Why it's important: Fallback drivers, whose sole role is to sit behind the wheel and take control in an emergency, inhibit the profitability of self-driving car technology. Remote operators could fulfill this role in a far more scalable fashion. “We think we have the ultimate backup system — which is a human,” Phantom Auto co-founder Elliot Katz says in the article.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Marissa Brassfield 

Moon Is Set to Get Its Own Mobile Phone Network

What it is: Thanks to a partnership between Vodafone Germany, Nokia, Audi and PTScientists, a 4G mobile phone network will be installed on the Moon in 2019. “This project involves a radically innovative approach to the development of mobile network infrastructure,” said Hannes Ametstreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany. SpaceX will launch the hardware from Cape Canaveral using one of its Falcon 9 rockets.

Why it's important: A proper Moonshot requires a fresh approach — a clean sheet of paper, as Astro Teller often says. Developing mobile networks for space will give us priceless insights on how to connect remote areas of Earth, bringing the entire planet online.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Marissa Brassfield 

Algorithm Can Create Movies From Text Snippets

What it is: Yitong Li and researchers from Duke University have successfully created an AI that can create short videos based on snippets of text. Using a General Adversarial Network (or GAN), one AI created a scene such as "playing golf on the grass" while a second served as the critic to effectively train the other. Testing for success, a classification algorithm was able to correctly identify the scene out of six choices 50 percent of the time.

Why it's important: While the videos are limited to 32 frames at the moment, it’s an important development that could spur application to generating training data for autonomous vehicles or enable better compression algorithms.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Stanford Researchers Develop Stretchable, Touch-Sensitive Electronics

What it is: Zhenan Bao at Stanford has just succeeded in his quest to create stretchable, electronically sensitive synthetic materials and reliably manufacture them at scale. By combining several layers of polymers, some that provide elasticity with intricately patterned electronic meshes and others to serve as insulators for the electronically sensitive material, Bao’s team has created a roughly 2-square-inch material containing 6,000 signal processing devices that effectively act like nerve endings. Think of this as synthetic skin, waterproof and stretchable while maintaining conductivity.

Why it's important: This has very clear applications to prosthetic devices, embedding electronics into clothing and display services. It’s also an important illustration of the convergence of and feedback loops between AI and materials science, leading to ever smaller and more powerful sensors and circuits.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

BrainQ Uses BCI to Cure Stroke & Spinal Cord Injuries

What it is: While Elon Musk’s Neuralink and Bryan Johnson’s Kernel are looking to embed chips into our brains, Israeli company BrainQ is tackling the BCI problem non-surgically, combining AI with an EEG device designed to gather data and improve victims of stroke and spinal cord accidents. While there is still work to do, the company has attracted the attention of Google LaunchPad, and is already seeking FDA approval for its device.

Why it's important: The BCI space is heating up, with a litany of startups looking at both surgical and non-surgical methods. What might be possible with a real-time embedded link to something as simple as your phone?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

New Baidu AI Mimics Your Voice After Listening for One Minute

What it is: Baidu has announced an artificial intelligence system, built on its Deep Voice text-to-speech system, that can reportedly mimic your voice after listening to a one-minute sample. The Baidu team explains that previous iterations of the AI needed several examples of a voice to accurately mimic it. This version only needed 10 five-second samples to trick a voice recognition system over 95 percent of the time.

Why it's important: The Baidu team believes this AI has a range of fascinating applications. For example, it could help patients who have lost their voices, or enable mothers to create audiobooks using their voices, or speech-to-speech language translation in which an English speaker could hear their voice translated into Spanish.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Marissa Brassfield 

What is Abundance Insider?

This email is a briefing of the week's most compelling, abundance-enabling tech developments, curated by Marissa Brassfield in preparation for Abundance 360. Read more about A360 below.

Want more conversations like this?

At Abundance 360, Peter's 250-person executive mastermind, we teach the metatrends, implications and unfair advantages for entrepreneurs enabled by breakthroughs like those featured above. We're looking for CEOs and entrepreneurs who want to change the world. The program is highly selective. If you'd like to be considered, apply here

Know someone who would benefit from getting Abundance Insider? Send them to this link to sign up.

JOIN 120,000+ ABUNDANCE-MINDED THINKERS