10 min read

Abundance Insider: June 20th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Jun 20, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Artificial skin for robotic surgery, a new tissue rejuvenation method, and the latest predictions of intelligent alien civilizations within our galaxy....

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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There are at least 36 intelligent alien civilizations in our galaxy, say scientists.

What it is: A group of University of Oxford researchers recently arrived at an estimation of at least 36 intelligent alien civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy, according to their “cosmic evolution”-based calculation. Our galaxy contains 100-400 billion stars, each with approximately one orbiting planet. The Oxford team’s model relies on a few core assumptions, namely that it takes about 5 billion years for intelligent life to develop but is probable, and technological civilizations will last at least 100 years. Both of these assumptions are extrapolated from our experience on Earth thus far. Other factors include star formation histories, the quantity of metal-rich stars (like the Sun), and the likelihood of Earth-like planets orbiting these stars in habitable ranges.

Why it’s important: Though the error bar in this estimate remains wide, this model offers a new framework for answering the question we have pondered for centuries: who else is out there? The team postulates that the average distance to one of these 36 civilizations is about 17,000 light years. To detect or communicate with objects at this distance is currently impossible, but the technological advancements in this direction are rapidly improving, accelerated by the entry of private entities into the space exploration sector. Discovering intelligent life would be an uplifting signal for the longevity of our own species, so let us hope our signals will soon intersect.

An artificial skin made with graphene could revolutionize robotic surgery.

What it is: Atomic Mechanics, a private company based in the UK, is developing a graphene-based electronic “skin” for sensors on robotic surgeons. The film is force-sensitive and can be attached to curved plastic. Furthermore, it has a large degree of flexibility, allowing for new design paradigms in electronic sensing. This versatility is largely afforded by graphene’s unique properties, which include high surface area, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and optical properties. A mere atom thick, graphene is remarkably 100 times stronger than steel, yet remains flexible and even stretchable.

Why it’s important: Robotic surgery is fast gaining traction, now an industry with a compound annual growth rate of 10.9 percent. While dexterity continues to advance, telesurgery has also proved consistently safer, resulting in fewer bodily traumas and faster recovery speeds. And now, Atomic Mechanics' 'skin' promises to enhance robo-surgeons even further. As CEO Christian Berger explains, "this flexible force-sensor will benefit society by opening up a new way for humans to interface with robotics. For example, a surgeon may be able to directly translate his or her hand and finger movement into a robotic surgery tool, by wearing a glove that contains the sensor film. This would allow the robotic surgery tool to have the dexterity of a surgeon with years of experience and the extreme-precision of a robotic arm with finely tuned motors."

Nuro partners with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle.

What it is: Autonomous vehicle manufacturer Nuro has partnered with CVS Pharmacy to deliver prescription drugs within three zip codes in Houston, Texas. Originally designed for last-mile delivery of local goods (whether groceries or consumer products), Nuro has now introduced its vehicles to the company's third targeted industry: pharma. As part of Nuro's pilot program, customers can place orders for both prescription and non-prescription medicines via the CVS website or the CVS app. Once customers select the autonomous delivery option, one of Nuro’s outfitted, autonomous Prius vehicles heeds the call, delivering consumer purchases in under three hours. Eventually, Nuro plans to transition to its purpose-built driverless R2.

Why it’s important: Over 76 percent of Americans live within five miles of a CVS pharmacy, and the company services over 4.5 million people every day. Particularly as physical distancing measures persist, autonomous vehicles can help reduce retail foot traffic as well as validate autonomous driving technology in the process. Enabling the transition to no-contact drug delivery, Nuro and similar counterparts could be a boon for public health, minimizing the interaction of sick patients and at-risk populations.

Study demonstrates feasibility of hologram technology in liver tumor ablation.

What it is: Researchers have now utilized Microsoft’s HoloLens technology in the novel application of visualizing liver tumor treatment. Traditionally, ultrasound and CT scans create 2D images for use by radiologists. These radiologists then apply thermal ablation and other tumor treatment methods with the guidance of these images. By using augmented reality, however, the radiologists were able to visualize a 3D model of a patient’s insides and project it onto the patient’s body. With such visual guidance, they then proceeded to use electromagnetically tracked tools to efficiently, accurately and safely deliver targeted liver cancer treatments.

Why it’s important: The primary benefit of this novel approach was a notable increase in radiologists' speed and confidence. Across the board, users noted that they localized tumors more quickly, avoided organs and critical structures, and applied optimal ablation more easily. By comparison, resulting accuracy stood at par with the gold standard of CT and ultrasound imaging. According to the senior author of the study, “This technique can be used intra-procedurally to check the accuracy and quality of the treatment, as well as pre-procedurally to engage with the patient in their own care. We can change 2-D images into holograms of a patient's distinct anatomy so that both the physician and the patient get a better understanding of the tumor and treatment.”

Diluting blood plasma rejuvenates tissue, reverses aging in mice.

What it is: By replacing half of the blood plasma in old mice with a mix of saline and albumin, a UC Berkeley research team has now observed rejuvenation effects in the brains, livers, and muscles of these mice. In 2005, the same team demonstrated that connecting the blood of young and old mice (essentially making them conjoined twins) resulted in rejuvenation. Yet the present study showed equal or greater enhancements by solely diluting the blood of the old mice, eliminating the need for young mice entirely. The dilution was relatively simple, requiring only saline and albumin, which is the most abundant blood protein and is used for tissue repair and growth. The FDA has already approved therapeutic plasma exchange for a variety of autoimmune diseases, and the UC Berkeley team is currently finalizing clinical trials to determine the effects of their technique in human age-associated illnesses.

Why it’s important: This discovery shifts our attention away from young blood and towards the importance of age-related harmful proteins in old blood. Rather than focusing on specific protein therapeutics, age reversal is more likely linked to a host of proteins that can be naturally triggered by dilution processes such as this study’s approach. The dilution acts as a molecular reset button that flushes out the bad proteins and makes way for regeneration of beneficial proteins, like those that boost vascularization. Harnessing the body’s natural restoration capacities will be the key to expanding human longevity.

Restaurants are in need of a helping hand. Miso Robotics is offering them one. Literally.

What it is: Flippy, an arm-like robotic kitchen assistant made by Miso Robotics, has already successfully flipped over 12,000 burgers for venues like the Dodger Stadium and 50 CaliBurger restaurants. Miso Robotics also makes a Robot on a Rail (ROAR) that can operate from an overhead railing to effectively fry chicken tenders and onion rings. These robots are designed to work with employees rather than replace them. While employees take care of customer relations, Flippy can perfectly time the cooking of well-done and medium burgers in the same order so that they both arrive hot. With AI capabilities, these robots learn from their surroundings over time and can perfect the mundane tasks that restaurant workers find least rewarding.

Why it’s important: The restaurant industry, with its slim margins and labor shortages, could greatly benefit from automation to boost efficiency. The Flippy robot proved to increase profit margins by 300% and reduced stress about shift management. In a post-pandemic world, automation will become even more critical. As employees spend more time enforcing safety regulations and helping customers adjust to new systems, robots like Flippy and ROAR could maintain consistent, high standards of food production in the kitchen.

Want more conversations like this?

Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop.

As part of the platform, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).


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Topics: Abundance Insider
9 min read

Abundance Insider: May 21st, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on May 21, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Nvidia’s latest AI & computing releases, Sorrento’s new coronavirus antibody, and COVID-19’s impact on the auto industry.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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Sorrento finds a coronavirus antibody that blocks viral infection 100% in preclinical lab experiments.

What it is: Sorrento Therapeutics has demonstrated complete inhibition of the virus causing COVID-19 after four days of incubation with antibody STI-1499. Standing out among billions of screened antibody candidates, STI-1499 binds to the spike proteins on the virus and prevents it from interacting with healthy human cell target receptors. In addition to developing this antibody into a treatment that can be tested in humans, the Sorrento team is also creating an antibody “cocktail” called COVID-SHIELD, consisting of multiple effective antibodies. More antibodies increase the likelihood that the virus can be defeated even as it mutates between transmissions.

Why it’s important: It remains unclear how quickly the SARS-CoV-2 virus can mutate. Many coronaviruses like the common cold can mutate rapidly, making it difficult to create sustained treatments. Sorrento’s approach of an antibody cocktail is therefore likely to be the most long-lasting treatment for this type of virus. While the treatment has yet to be tested in humans, Sorrento’s team is working to expedite development and ramp up production capacity in hopes of producing one million doses immediately following FDA approval.

Researchers release data sets to train coronavirus chatbots.

What it is: Researchers from UC Davis, UC San Diego, and Carnegie Mellon University have published a proposal of AI chatbots that can advise patients with coronavirus symptoms. Starting with Google’s Transformer architecture, OpenAI’s GPT language model, and another encoder-decoder architecture, the researchers were able to create AI bots that showed promising results for medical consultations. Models used to build prototype chatbots were trained with datasets containing English and Chinese patient-doctor conversations about the novel coronavirus.

Why it’s important: As patients and medical practitioners make the shift to telehealth consultations, many virtual providers have become overwhelmed by a rapid influx of patients (Frost and Sullivan research suggests that telehealth consultations grew by 50 percent in March). In order to alleviate the bottleneck, researchers indicate that AI chatbots can provide adequate consultations in the absence of human doctors or to supplement in-person consultation. The researchers write: “In this work, we make the first attempt to develop dialogue systems that can provide medical consultations about [the coronavirus]. Experimental results show that these trained models are promising in generating clinically meaningful and linguistically high-quality consultations.”

NVIDIA’s newest AI supercomputer joins the fight against COVID-19.

What it is: In the last week, Nvidia has announced a slew of releases, converging upon the company’s future vision, one that relies upon the tremendous power of its new computation systems. Nvidia first unveiled its Ampere GPU architecture, which boasts the single largest generational leap in performance of Nvidia’s GPU lineage. This fundamental development undergirds the tech firm’s other announcements, such as Nvidia Jarvis (a conversational AI platform) and Nvidia DRIVE (autonomous vehicle training systems). Most importantly, however, the company announced that its new AI system, the DGX A100, which uses 8 Ampere GPUs, will be used to run AI simulation models of molecular dynamics to screen for coronavirus therapies. Furthermore, the company announced Clara Guardian, an edge-AI platform for smart hospitals that delivers insights such as operating room analytics, workflow automation, and sensors to monitor the spread of infectious disease.

Why it’s important: Nvidia has staked a vision of the future wherein a growing proportion of human tasks are conducted by high-performance, cloud-based AI systems. From gaming and virtual reality, to transit and autonomous vehicles, to conversational AIs and healthcare, our lives increasingly rely on high-performance computing. Due to Nvidia’s long history of graphics chip design, the company has positioned itself as an undeniable market leader for high-performance computation. And its most recent cascade of announcements gives both consumers and developers a glimpse at our next generation of computation technology.

Once a coronavirus vaccine exists, this researcher’s mailable patch could deliver it to millions.

What it is: Administration of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine could one day be as easy as putting on a Band-Aid. Dr. Guizhi “Julian” Zhu at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Pharmacy has designed patches consisting of hundreds of polymer microneedles as thin as human hairs. Nanoparticles embedded in these needles are released into the body as the microneedles dissolve under the skin. Once a COVID-19 vaccine is approved, encapsulating correct doses in these nanoparticles could provide a painless delivery vehicle. Moreover, these microneedle patches are the size of a mere fingernail, making them easy to ship via mail — minimizing human interactions that could perpetuate the disease’s spread.

Why it’s important: In anticipation of a forthcoming vaccine, our supply networks and distribution strategies must be set up now. A delivery mechanism like the microneedle patch could offer a mass-produced, shippable, and painless solution. While the patches must undergo further testing to ensure they deliver predictable vaccine doses and do not decay under shipment conditions, Zhu and fellow researchers hope to soon reach clinical trials using viable vaccines. The race to beat COVID-19 has united research teams across multiple disciplines to engineer components of various solutions. This widespread collaboration will remain a model for accelerated medical advancements moving forward.

Volvo CEO: Pandemic will rapidly accelerate shift to electric cars.

What it is: Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson anticipates the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) will be stronger than ever post-pandemic. Speaking at a recent Financial Times global digital conference, Samuelsson emphasized that auto industry government subsidies should be channeled towards new technologies, particularly in the EV realm, instead of perpetuating fossil fuel dependency. Volvo plans to release a fully electric car each year until 2025 to meet its goal of having EVs represent 50% of global sales. In the midst of COVID-19 disruptions to showroom sales, we will experience a shift towards automotive e-commerce. Volvo is paving the road towards online vehicle orders with its XC40 Recharge, the auto manufacturer’s first mass-produced EV. With a $1,000 initial deposit, drivers can reserve the 402-horsepower EV, capable of traveling over 200 miles on a single charge.

Why it’s important: The automotive industry has been hit hard by COVID-19, with an estimated loss of $5.7 billion due to disruptions in the automotive supply chain. The pandemic has forced many manufacturing facilities — including those of Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and PSA Group — to shut down. Meanwhile, reduced foot traffic into showrooms, alongside a massive shift to remote work, has not helped the industry either. As car ownership declines, we may see a shift towards subscription services that allow for flexible semi-ownership at lower costs. In urban settings with limited vehicle storage space, this trend will only accelerate. For those who do purchase vehicles, dealership showrooms will be replaced by VR experiences and remote delivery. The auto industry is not turning back.

Want more conversations like this?

Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop. I was getting ready to share it publicly, but the current crisis has changed my plans.

Last week, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).


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Topics: Abundance Insider
11 min read

Abundance Insider: April 25th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 25, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Ghana's COVID-19 test delivery drones, Google's Cloud Healthcare API launch, and a free federally approved 3D-printed mask design.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Share Abundance Insider  on  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn | Know someone who would benefit from getting Abundance Insider? Send them to this link to sign up.

Ghana turns to drones to enable faster coronavirus testing.

What it is: U.S. drone delivery startup Zipline has now been recruited by Ghana and its national Health Service to test civilians far more quickly for the novel coronavirus. After conducting its first sample delivery test flight on April 1st, Zipline is now approved for widespread implementation. Transporting test swabs in decimated timeframes, Zipline’s drones will gather samples from over 1,000 rural medical facilities across the country and deliver them to testing labs in Accra and Kumasi (Ghana’s second-largest city). Now capable of making 300 flights to transport up to 15,000 tests every day, Zipline’s fleet turns ground transit journeys (of up to a day) into round-trip flights of under 30 minutes.

Why it’s important: According to available reports, Ghana currently has over 1,100 confirmed COVID-19 cases and has seen 10 resulting deaths. Yet up until last week, getting test samples to urban-based labs was a lengthy process, prompting some clinics to wait days for tests to accumulate before making the trip. Now, “using contactless drone delivery to transport COVID-19 test samples will allow the government to respond to the pandemic and help save lives more quickly,” explains Zipline’s CEO Keller Rinaudo. While Zipline has long delivered vital medical supplies to remote regions across Rwanda, Ghana, and Tanzania, this initiative marks the first use of autonomous drones for long-range delivery to urban centers and could set the stage for scaled-up COVID-19 testing at speed.

As 3D printing of protective gear ramps up, a free mask designed in Seattle is the first of its kind to get federal approval.

What it is: Former Microsoft executive Jonathan Roberts has created a 3D-printed respirator mask, now the first of its kind to receive certification by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dubbed the Maker Mask, it can be assembled for as little as $2-3 on a hobbyist-grade 3D printer in under 4 hours, incorporating a replaceable HEPA filter. Now approved for first responders — firefighters, rescue workers, police, and emergency personnel — the Maker Mask is easily accessible, as its website allows anyone to register, download instructions, and get assistance in finding locally available materials. As of last Friday, mask instructions had been downloaded over 35,000 times across 117 countries. To help with manufacture and distribution, the Maker Mask now runs a small assembly line operation in a Seattle church to fulfill orders. Alongside a group of college volunteers and two dozen printers, chief Maker Mask engineer Rory Larson has overseen the printing of about 100 masks daily.

Why it’s important: The past month has seen a surge of entrepreneurial activity and corporate pivoting: entrepreneurs and DIY enthusiasts have rushed to create innovative mask designs, as companies like Adidas turn to their 3D-printing shoe production engines to generate face shields. Yet many of the masks and protective devices made at home fail to meet certification criteria and requisite safety standards. As explained by Jonathan Roberts, however, federal approval of the Maker Mask “sends a signal to those people downloading it that this has gone through a vetting process[, which] should provide some comfort to those that are printing it and handing it to first responders.” Furthermore, federal approval allows for far greater scale of distribution through federal channels, such as state colleges and universities.

Google launches Cloud Healthcare API in general availability.

What it is: On Monday, Google launched its Cloud Healthcare API in general availability, which facilitates data exchange between healthcare applications and solutions built on Google Cloud. This means that organizations can use the API to analyze complex data with pre-built connectors for streaming data processing (Dataflow), scalable analytics (BigQuery), and machine learning (AI Platform). The API even allows for clinical and analytics applications that support HIPAA compliance, protecting patient privacy with encryption. The Mayo Clinic has already been relying on the Cloud Healthcare API for storage and clinical data interoperability for about a year.

Why it’s important: As our health systems become increasingly inundated with COVID-19 data, Cloud Healthcare API could help in collating this input. Microsoft has also made headway in this space with its Azure API, which allows organizations to connect and interact with any system that supports the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard. Meanwhile, Amazon Comprehend Medical (part of the AWS product suite), implements machine learning to highlight relevant medical information from any text. Analyzing medical data in mass amounts with the help of AI will accelerate our understanding of COVID-19 and potentially various other diseases moving forward.

How utilities are using AI to adapt to electricity demands.

What it is: As nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns cause massive shifts in consumer behavior, utilities are now turning to machine learning algorithms to forecast these pattern changes. Take Innowatts, for instance, developer of an automated toolkit for energy monitoring and management, with customers such as Portland General Electric and Gexa Energy. By analyzing data from over 34 million smart meters, distributed across 21 million customers in 14 regional markets, Innowatts conducts forecasts on loads and weather sensitivity, and can even compare different cost structures. Meanwhile, Autogrid works with over 50 utilities in 10 countries to deliver AI-driven power usage insights. Autogrid’s flagship platform, Flex, uses data science, machine learning and network optimization algorithms to model both physics and consumer behavior. Alongside Autogrid’s solution for end user battery and microgrid installations, Flex can thereby dynamically anticipate and adjust for supply and demand shifts.

Why it’s important: Stay-at-home orders have created turmoil for power utilities. According to Peter Fox-Penner, director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, utilities revenue will suffer tremendously. Even as we see an uptick in household electricity demand, growth in this smaller subset of the market will have a minuscule effect in offsetting reduced demand by businesses. The ability to forecast and adjust for radical shifts in consumer behavior will therefore help alleviate the worst of the pandemic. “The societal impact [of the pandemic] will continue to be felt — people may continue working remotely instead of going into the office, they may alter their commute times to avoid rush hour crowds, or may look to alternative modes of transportation. All of this will impact the daily load curve, and that is where AI and automation can help us with maintenance, performance, and diagnostics within our homes, buildings, and in the grid,” says Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Chief Innovation Officer at Schneider Electric.

First at-home COVID-19 testing kit authorized by the FDA.

What it is: The U.S. FDA has now authorized the first at-home COVID-19 test kit, produced by diagnostics company LabCorp. Composed of sample collection materials, including a nasal swab, the ‘Pixel’ at-home collection kit is the first to receive FDA authorization (under emergency use rules) for an at-home, self-administered test. While priority access will be given to healthcare workers and first responders, eligible consumers will soon be able to attain the test for $119, submitting their own nasal swabs and fluid samples by mail for analysis.

Why it’s important: 147,000 COVID-19 tests are reported in the United States each day — but experts say we need far more to get the pandemic under control. Making testing more widely available with at-home kits could eliminate the stress of visiting hospitals, where significantly higher viral loads await. More data points could also provide a better understanding of the actual mortality rate, which has been inflated as a result of insufficient testing rollout. Moreover, widespread at-home testing could save critical supplies for healthcare workers on the front lines by circumventing the need for medical protective equipment.

Researchers use live virus to identify 30 existing drugs that could treat COVID-19.

What it is: After screening over 12,000 drugs from the ReFRAME drug repurposing collection, scientists have now identified 30 existing FDA-approved drugs that halt the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. The study, placed on open-access distribution service bioRxiv, is led by Sumit Chanda, PhD, director of the Immunity and Pathogenesis Program at Sanford Burnham Prebys. The drugs are currently being screened with the live SARS-CoV-2 virus in the lab. Four of the drugs — clofazimine, acitretin, tretinoin and astemizole — have an extensive proven record of safety in humans, while most of the remaining drugs have also been safe and effective in treating other human diseases.

Why it’s important: Dr. Chanda anticipates the scientists will begin clinical trials immediately or in the next few months. As time is of the essence, these drugs could reach patients far faster than those identified, created and tested from scratch. Although previous clinical trials have taken years to complete, the technological advancements of today have allowed us to achieve medical feats at unprecedented speeds, as evidenced by this study. As you read headlines forecasting years of physical distancing, don’t forget that most projections rely on historical precedents from periods during which today’s exponential technologies did not yet exist. It’s up to us to define the coming months with the phenomenal resources we’ve built.

Want more conversations like this?

Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop. I was getting ready to share it publicly, but the current crisis has changed my plans.

Last week, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).


Share Abundance Insider  on  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn  | Know someone who would benefit from getting Abundance Insider? Send them to this link to sign up.
Topics: Abundance Insider
10 min read

Abundance Insider: April 17th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 17, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Improbable's pandemic simulation tech, computational models for understanding COVID-19 infection, and urban disinfection robots.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

Share Abundance Insider on Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Know someone who would benefit from getting Abundance Insider? Send them to this link to sign up.

Improbable’s simulation tech could help us build better pandemic models.

What it is: British unicorn Improbable, which specializes in simulation and gaming technology, has been recruited to help with the UK government’s efforts to combat COVID-19. Their SpatialOS platform, which creates simulations of entire worlds, is typically used for gaming. However, as CEO Joe Robinson states, “We combine scientific modeling, artificial intelligence, and data analytics to create, essentially, a platform orientated towards the simulation of real-world environments.” The firm’s specialty is agent-based modeling, which involves models for each individual element in an environment, whether that be a civilian, inanimate object, car, business, or power plant. Such models can assist in understanding urban mobility, vehicle traffic, or even crime patterns in specific areas.

Why it’s important: Accurate epidemic modeling simulations are critical to the UK’s policy response to COVID-19. According to Joe Robinson, “The aim [...] is to improve decision-making and increase the effectiveness of the whole of a government’s preparedness activities whilst also drastically reducing the cost.” Improbable’s agent-based models allow for additional flexibility that eludes other forms of modeling, which often break parts of the problem into distinct, siloed models. As explained by Improbable principal scientist Christoforos Anagnostopolous, “In a pandemic, you [want] to couple together a model of the outbreak itself – the infection, the epidemiological model – with a model of the economic impact on small businesses, as well as possibly a behavioral model of compliance.” By tweaking simulations to account for individual behavior under pandemic conditions, these models can help predict mass behavioral patterns and thereby inform proactive policy decisions.

NASA CO2 Conversion Challenge Competitor Helps Covid-19 Efforts.

What it is: Air Co., a Brooklyn-based startup competing in NASA’s CO2 Conversion Challenge, is using its technology to produce hand sanitizer. The technology’s original purpose was to convert carbon dioxide into simple sugars (such as glucose) that could then be used for mission-critical products like plastic, food, and medicine. Air Co.’s conversion process involves combining CO2 with water, after which the extra hydrogen (resulting from a water molecule’s division into hydrogen and oxygen) bonds with the carbon dioxide, producing the carbon-negative alcohol utilized in hand sanitizer.

Why it’s important: Now in short supply across COVID-19 hotspots worldwide, hand sanitizer is particularly crucial for healthcare workers, and in dire need of scaled up production. Now in partnership with packaging and labeling firms, Air Co. is currently working to produce up to 2,000 two-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer every week. Members of the NASA community champion Air Co.’s major pivot towards its technology’s terrestrial benefits, viewing these applications as paramount to NASA’s mission. As stated by Walt Engelund, deputy associate administrator for programs within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, “This is one example of how NASA challenges spur innovation to help life on Earth and beyond. We catalyze a culture of change makers and problem solvers, many of whom go on to apply their technology and creativity to make a difference in their own communities and around the world.”

Researchers working on computational models to design ways to treat COVID-19.

What it is: Researchers at Stony Brook University are collaborating with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory on computational models of the novel coronavirus. Of particular interest is the “spike” protein positioned on the surface of the virus. This protein is responsible for binding to human cells within the respiratory system, after which it initiates the process of infection. As a result, the “spike” protein is also the primary target of any potential treatments under development and antibodies that fight infection and provide immunity.

Why it’s important: While scientists have captured images of the spike protein (at atomic-level detail), current experimental data do not offer a full picture of how the protein changes its shape to attach and gain entry to human cells. “You may know that your car door is the way you can get in and out of a car, but if you've only seen the door in a picture and have never watched someone actually open a door, you don't really know how it works,” explains Carlos Simmerling, professor of quantitative and physical biology at Stony Brook University. By developing detailed computer models that illustrate the protein’s process, Simmerling and his team aim to better understand what small molecule drugs could be effective in blocking the spike protein’s interaction with human cell surface molecules. As posed by Simmerling, one of the most important questions for drug development involves “places on the spike away from [its] contact point [with human cells] that could act like keys, where scientists might be able to make a small molecule that would bind to it and lock it closed.”

With Hi-Tech Japanese Machines, Delhi Begins Sanitising Coronavirus Hotspots.

What it is: Under the Delhi government’s “Operation SHIELD,” 60 sanitization machines—including ten from Japan—were deployed in high-risk areas of the nation’s capital. The Japanese machines, which can adjust in length to fit in narrow lanes, spray sodium hypochlorite solution on surroundings. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this chemical can disinfect surfaces within a minute of application and should be used at a concentration of 5000 ppm. In the city’s Dilshad Garden region, which was previously declared a hotspot, no new cases have been reported in the last ten days, likely in part due to this sanitization effort.

Why it’s important: As COVID-19 cases in Delhi surpass 1,176, only 27 people have been cured and 24 have died. Rapid, widespread sanitization efforts in dense communities like Delhi could prove essential in halting the spread of the virus. These cleaning “drive-throughs” offer a low-cost solution that could aid in disease containment efforts without exposing human workers in the process.

UW-Madison researchers tracking travel, social media to help contain virus.

What it is: UW-Madison professor Song Gao is leading an effort to track human movement in hopes of understanding the effectiveness of physical distancing orders. Gao’s Geospatial Data Science Lab is collecting anonymized data pooled from hundreds of thousands of cell phones to identify how much people move, from the national to district level. The researchers have acquired this data through a partnership with SafeGraph and have now made their findings publicly available on the lab’s website. In Dane County, for instance, Gao’s lab found that half of over 6,000 cell phones sampled on a daily basis moved less than 0.1km, compared to a median distance of over 6km in early March prior to travel restrictions. The researchers plan to incorporate social media data to better understand how travel changes correlate with communication channels.

Why it’s important: Understanding how people respond to a variety of public announcements and restrictions could better inform future public health efforts to contain COVID-19. As Gao’s team attempts to quantify the effects of physical distancing orders, tech giants like Apple and Google plan to soon implement contact-tracing to curb the spread of the virus. The Apple-Google system, announced three weeks ago, aims to notify individuals potentially at risk of infection after they unknowingly contact someone with the virus. Ultimately, the goal is to limit the number of quarantined individuals and reintegrate more people into the workforce.

FDA clears N95 decontamination process that could clean up to 4 million masks per day.

What it is: N95 respirators can now be sterilized for reuse thanks to a decontamination process provided by the company Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP). ASP’s STERRAD series sterilization machines use vaporized hydrogen peroxide gas to clean medical equipment in around 6,300 hospitals across the U.S. already. Now, they will be repurposed to clean N95 masks. Given the current deployment of over 9,930 machines across the nation, ASP’s arsenal in aggregate could sterilize up to 4 million masks each day. Under the FDA’s emergency use authorization (EUA), these machines will therefore work to make N95 masks reusable, adding to similar sterilization efforts by lab management company Batelle, already implemented by the FDA.

Why it’s important: Although these sterilization efforts fall under EUA orders, their use case may be far more long-term. To prepare for future pandemics and potential resurgences of COVID-19, our health systems must be equipped to operate with reusable protective gear that requires continuous sterilization. Sanitization has already expanded beyond just the realm of medical equipment and will continue to impact our lives. From smartphone showers to metro wipe downs, rapid and autonomous disinfection systems will begin to emerge everywhere.

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Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop. I was getting ready to share it publicly, but the current crisis has changed my plans.

Last week, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

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10 min read

Abundance Insider: April 10th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 10, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Pandemic-induced decreases in seismic noise, preserving the first-hand stories of Holocaust survivors, and the search for genetic clues to varying COVID-19 impact.

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.

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Coronavirus lockdowns have changed the way Earth moves.

What it is: In the wake of mass lockdowns spurred by the Coronavirus pandemic, seismologists have observed the Earth quite literally vibrating less. Typically, all human activities (and primarily transportation, construction, industrial machinery) contribute to a background “hum” that can be measured by our most precise seismographs. While most seismographs are placed in remote locations for this exact reason — after all, their purpose is to measure earthquakes, not human activity — the measuring devices located closer to major cities have noticed a marked decrease in the background seismic noise as a result of the lockdowns. 

Why it’s important: Seismologists have a rare chance to measure extremely small quakes and other far more subtle seismic activity. While the individual effects of commercial transit and infrastructural activity are minor, they together produce sufficient background noise to reduce scientists’ ability to discern signals marked by the same frequency. According to Andy Frassetto, a seismologist at the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology in Washington DC, “You’ll get a signal with less noise on top, allowing you to squeeze a little more information out of those events.” Especially valuable will be the extra-precise measurements scientists can take of natural vibrations, such as ocean waves, as well as their fine-tuned ability to monitor volcanic activity.

Artificial intelligence is preserving our ability to converse with Holocaust survivors even after they die.

What it is: Last Sunday, 60 Minutes’ Leslie Stahl interviewed Holocaust survivor Aaron Elster, who died two years ago. Yes, you read that right. Elster was projected on an 11-foot screen and responded to Stahl’s various unscripted questions, ranging from his childhood to his belief in God, with AI-selected, pre-recorded responses. Elster is one of 22 Holocaust survivors who have been recorded by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation for the purposes of preserving the stories of Holocaust survivors, most of whom are in their 80s or 90s today. The initial participant, Pinchas Gutter, spent a week answering over 2,000 questions while being filmed in a lattice-like dome with 20 cameras— a setup fitted to capture every angle in preparation for the holograms of the future. AI programs interpret audience questions and determine the correct response to deliver. The program, led by Heather Maio, has placed Holocaust survivor projections in museums across the nation where visitors can converse with these remarkable individuals for years to come. 

Why it’s important: Preserving the memory of human lives by integrating real footage with computer programming has the power to transform historical narratives. From an educational standpoint, the novelty of such a technology and the personableness that it enables will enhance any learning experience about the past. While filmed survivors are currently only visible in the medium of 2D projections, footage from every angle could one day allow programmers to create lifelike holograms, further bringing these individuals and their stories virtually back to life. The interactive nature of asking questions and instantaneously receiving first-person responses will undoubtedly humanize our understanding of history and its key figures.

Behind the global efforts to make a privacy-first coronavirus tracking app.

What it is: Software engineers and health experts are collaborating on a 20+ page Google Doc to halt the spread and resurgence of COVID-19. Although scattered across the globe, this unlikely distributed team of experts is working to build voluntary smartphone tracking solutions, similar to apps already present in China, Singapore, and Israel. The idea is that if enough people download the app and voluntarily consent to data collection, the software could warn users of any detected recent contact with a virulent person, alerting them to their risk of infection. As a protective measure, only healthcare officials would be granted the authority to confirm if an individual tests positive, thereby avoiding abuse of the service. While privacy remains critical, the software would employ the anonymous, encrypted use of Bluetooth technology, preventing government access to user data, according to AI researcher Peter Eckersley, who is coordinating a team working towards this goal. Although there is no official launch date for a U.S.-based app, developers anticipate one could be ready within two weeks.

Why it’s important: Social media giants like Pinterest and Facebook have launched programs through which people can voluntarily enter symptoms and demographic information to track the virus, but Google Doc collaboration offers an alternate decentralized approach to slowing the pandemic. Everyday citizens are now forming bootstrapped solutions at speed, highlighting the power of mass mobilization enabled by today’s proliferating connectivity and cloud-based platforms. Despite concerns of surveillance, technologists have repeatedly asserted the goal to simultaneously protect human health and safeguard privacy. As bottom-up civilian solutions rise to the surface, we will soon see how nascent technologists and developers balance the two.

Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing.

What it is: The economic impact of COVID-19 has been felt across all sectors, and especially by the oil and gas industry. While largely influenced by geopolitical tensions, oil prices have more than halved since the Coronavirus crisis began, yet wind and solar continue to add capacity. Renewables are now on track to account for almost 21 percent of U.S. electricity demands, and analysts project that the recent downturn will even help the renewables industry, as utilities opt for the cheaper operating costs of solar and wind farms. As oil prices dwindle, new wind installations are only down 3 percent, partially given that such projects are built directly outside urban centers and many states have deemed construction an essential industry.

Why it’s important: The resilience of the renewable energy sector in the wake of our current crisis could signal a paradigm shift in the energy economy. “Renewables are on a growth trajectory today that I think isn’t going to be set back long term. [...] This will be a bump in the road,” stated Dan Reicher, founding executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University. This sentiment is echoed by Caton Fenz, chief executive of ConnectGen, a Houston-based developer of wind, solar and electricity storage. According to Fenz, “We blew through all of the projections [and are] surfing a long-term wave. [...] We just can’t get specific things done because of the pandemic, but I don’t think that affects the broader trajectory.” Indeed, solar added 13.3 Gigawatts of capacity last year alone, surpassing both wind and natural gas. As oil and gas companies struggle, the long-term surge of renewable energy sources is yet another herald of positive news in the fight against climate change, an issue gaining its own spotlight as the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a tremendous near-term reduction in GHG emissions.

COVID-19 crisis spurs triple-digit growth for refurbishing startup Back Market.

What it is: Back Market, a Paris-based startup that refurbishes and sells devices into the online secondhand market, has experienced a big boost in business due to COVID-19. As people buy laptops for remote work, the demand for refurbished devices has skyrocketed. According to CEO Hug de Larauze, while “[the company doesn’t] release the gross merchandise volume, it’s a three-digit growth rate [...] We saw an increase in demand for laptops, printers and other devices needed for working at home.” Aiding Back Market’s revenue growth is the closure of Apple and Samsung retail stores, a trend that has nudged consumers towards refurbishing and secondhand platforms. Founded in 2014, Back Market has already raised two financing rounds, totaling 48 million Euros.

Why it’s important: Beyond supplying work-from-home (WFH) consumers in a time of crisis, the firm is playing a part in “closing the loop” for our digital device economy by reducing the accumulation and disposal of e-waste. Globally, the refurbishing market is worth US$80 billion, boasting 13% year-over-year (YoY) growth. As de Larauze has stated, “They realized that it’s not only ecological, but it’s also a good business. Two hundred (new refurbishing factories) are on-boarding.” And the push for closed-loop hardware manufacturing is largely accounted for by developed Western economies. “The U.S. and Germany are pushing the growth [...] They are the main two drivers of the boom of Back Market,” says de Larauze.

Hunt Is on for Genetic Clues to Why Coronavirus Impact Varies.

What it is: The mystery behind Covid-19’s highly variable severity across patients could be a matter of genetics, and scientists across the globe are working to solve the puzzle. DNA testing company 23andMe just launched a study to analyze the genomes of patients who test positive for Covid-19. Given that 80% of the company’s 10 million customers have already opted in to sharing their data for research purposes, the project will likely move quickly. At The Rockefeller University in New York, Dr. Jean-Laurent Casanova is now recruiting 1,000-2,000 previously healthy people under the age of 50 who ended up in the ICU with Covid-19. While he claims this niche makes up just 1% of severe cases, Dr. Casanova and his team hope to better understand why some patients fare worse than others. Geneticists across the globe are also pooling their research in the Covid-19 Host Genomics Initiative, aiming to determine underlying genetic predispositions and protections against the virus.

Why it’s important: In the case of Covid-19, genetic analysis will enable researchers to better understand the virus’s mechanisms and potentially design gene therapy solutions to cure patients who lack the underlying genetic protections. To meet this goal, researchers have recognized the need to collectively aggregate data and transparently share findings at lightning speed. Moving forward, this same form of distributed collaboration could drive progress across countless vexing diseases — not only to determine causes of disease, but also to develop effective treatments.

Want more conversations like this?

Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop. I was getting ready to share it publicly, but the current crisis has changed my plans.

Last week, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).


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Topics: Abundance Insider
10 min read

Abundance Insider: March 29th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Mar 29, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: Moderna’s readiness for scaled-up vaccine production, wearables for early COVID-19 detection, and AI to combat loneliness.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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As the first Coronavirus vaccine human trials begin, manufacturer is already preparing to scale production to millions.

What it is: Last week, the first doses of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine were administered to the study’s initial volunteers. Developed by Moderna Therapeutics in a record time of 63 days, the vaccine is now being tested in three different dosages, aimed at determining what dosage triggers the strongest immune response. While Moderna has already shipped hundreds of vials to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for the vaccine’s first testing phase, the company is now preparing to scale production to millions of vials in quick succession if the vaccine proves safe and effective. This rapid scale-up is largely possible thanks to Moderna’s nontraditional use of mRNA—a genetic form of the virus’ genome—in its vaccine. As a result, when the vaccine is injected, patients’ cells process it such that immune cells recognize and target it for destruction. Whereas most traditional vaccines necessitate growing large amounts of the virus, Moderna’s process thereby eliminates this time-consuming step.

Why it’s important: While trials are not predicted to conclude for another 12-18 months, Moderna’s experimental data and other research could grant us critical information about the virus’s behavior and how the immune system can better fend off coronaviruses more broadly. Moderna’s accelerated timeline—from Chinese researchers’ initial sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 to a human trial-ready vaccine—also illustrates the combined power of advancements in computing and genetics. As our scientific and medical communities mobilize across the globe, convergences of AI, biotech, and computing will help us deliver treatments faster than ever before.

Predicting coronavirus? SF emergency workers wear state-of-the-art rings in new study.

What it is: Oura Ring—developer of sleep and activity-tracking ring technology—is now teaming up with UCSF and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital to identify the early onset of COVID-19 in users. Packed with advanced sensors (including an accelerometer, infrared LEDs, and a gyroscope), the Oura ring tracks vital signs, from body temperature to heart rate (HR), around the clock. In an effort to stem COVID-19’s spread, over 2,000 emergency medical workers and hospital staff are now wearing the rings to proactively detect early signs of the virus. By further encouraging Oura’s 150,000 existing users to share their medical data, UCSF aims to provide needed data for developing an algorithm capable of early detection before virus symptoms surface.

Why it’s important: At the source of COVID-19’s outbreak, one highly effective strategy in Wuhan, China, involved residents’ daily reporting of body temperature and the immediate isolation of anyone with even a slight fever. Enabling this approach, Oura provides a far more thorough, 24/7 analysis, which compensates for temperature fluctuations that can alter thermometer readings. In the case of Petri Hollmén (CEO of Finnish firm Lyyti Oy), for instance, the ring alerted him of a 1°C increase in his body temperature and an uptick in both his HR and breathing rate. Notified of the data, Hollmén quickly contacted a hospital, after which he tested positive for the virus. Engaging in immediate self-quarantine, the entrepreneur has since stated, “Without the ring measuring my body during the night, I would not [have] even known about the temperature rise [...] This makes this (illness easy) to spread.” As use of wearables ramps up in COVID-19 hot spots, researchers aim to use sensor data, like that generated by the Oura ring, to preemptively stem the virus’s spread among exposed medical staff and potentially unaware patients. In success, an early detection algorithm could be invaluable in the case of an autumn resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

New genetic editing powers discovered in squid.

What it is: Squid have a newly discovered superpower: they can edit their genes outside of neural nuclei, making them the first organisms known to do so. In most species, DNA is translated into messenger RNA (mRNA) in the nucleus. Once complete, mRNA then travels outside the nucleus to guide protein construction in the cell. Instead of editing DNA’s genetic code directly, however, squid can edit mRNA in the periphery of the cell. Scientists working on this research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) Woods Hole found that squid edit mRNA in the nerve cell’s axons far more frequently than in the nucleus. This allows neurons to meet localized needs far more efficiently.

Why it’s important: Many neurological disorders in humans start with the neuron’s axons, which are nerve fibers that carry electrical signals throughout the body. As squid have now demonstrated the ability to edit genetic information directly in their axons, translating this unique ability into human cells could be transformative. Currently, gene-editing technologies like CRISPR rely on shuttling new genetic code through cell membranes and nuclear membranes—not an easy feat. Now, they might not have to pass the nuclear membrane at all. By studying the mechanism in which squid directly edit mRNA outside the nucleus, scientists could one day engineer localized solutions in human axons.

A COVID-19 detective tracks disease trail with genetic clues.

What it is: Trevor Bedford, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, has now become a celebrity among public health circles thanks to his genetic analysis of the novel coronavirus. Working in collaboration with multiple colleagues from around the globe (key among them, University of Basel computational biologist Richard Neher), Bedford and the team have been tracking the virus’s RNA to understand how the coronavirus mutates over time. Principally, the researchers use a markedly innovative approach to tracing outbreak origins and predicting how and where COVID-19 will spread next. To do this, Bedford and his distributed collaborators use patient samples to analyze hundreds of virus genomes, using the virus’s mutation patterns to create phylogenies—essentially, ‘family trees’ that track COVID-19’s geographic origins and the various routes through which it has spread.

Why it’s important: The team’s technique differs considerably from traditional virus-tracing approaches, which typically focus on identifying infected patients and tracking their contacts. Riding dramatic increases in computing power and genome sequencing speeds, scientists are now able to trace and respond in near-real-time to infectious disease outbreaks and novel coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2. Combined with mass sequencing efforts by cross-border research collaborators, not to mention transparent information-sharing, these technologies will play a major role in public health efforts and future outbreak responses.

Can artificial intelligence fight elderly loneliness?

What it is: A nursing home in England is using artificial intelligence to combat loneliness among its elderly population. Engaging a group of residents at an elderly care home, the research experiment used Google Home devices to help its users cope with isolation, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. And some residents have become fast converts. According to 92-year old John Winward, for instance, “I thought at first it was a sign of insanity, speaking to a little thing like that and him talking back! I was so surprised... it was such fun!” Primarily using the device for news and weather updates, as well as audiobook and music tips, Winward even asks his Google Home to tell him jokes and offer crossword puzzle clues. “It keeps me sane, really, because it’s a very lonely life when you lose your partner after 64 years, and you spend a lot of time in your room alone.” While the adoption barrier has been more challenging for some, particularly given the elderly’s lower familiarity with voice technologies, AI-powered speaking assistants offer an immediate supplement to human company.

Why it’s important: Now a global problem, particularly given today's aging populations, loneliness is believed by scientists to be as detrimental for your health as being severely overweight or even smoking 15 cigarettes a day. According to Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind (the UK’s largest mental health charity), “We know that feeling lonely can contribute to poor mental health [...] If this is caused by a lack of social contact with others, an AI service might be helpful, particularly for those of us who are unable to make new social connections or need to stay in social isolation.” With the growth of AI companions and chatbot sophistication, use of virtual assistants may increasingly play a social role in pandemic-induced isolation. For John Windward, the AI assistant has already become indispensable: “I really love it. I couldn’t do without it now. It is certainly my friend in the corner.”

UPS partners with Wingcopter to develop new multipurpose drone delivery fleet.

What it is: UPS recently partnered with German drone startup Wingcopter to further expand its commercial drone delivery program in both the U.S. and across the world. Wingcopter’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircrafts can reach up to 150 mph, handle 45 mph winds, and travel up to 75 miles in a single flight. Moreover, the company’s tilt-rotor design allows the eVTOLs to switch from vertical flight to low-noise forward flight mode, reducing noise pollution over residential areas. Already, Wingcopter has demonstrated its drone tech’s success in delivering small packages between pharmaceutical giant Merck’s various offices in Germany. Having attained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval last October, UPS’ drone delivery unit, Flight Forward, now hopes to implement Wingcopter vehicles for package delivery in the near future.

Why it’s important: As we continue to experience social distancing and shelter-in-place measures across the nation, our delivery systems have become increasingly strained. Autonomous drones could fulfill the need for zero-contact supply chains in service of public health efforts. Having partnered with UNICEF in 2018 to deliver vaccines to children in remote areas, Wingcopter has additionally aided other relief organizations in the distribution of emergency medical equipment. On the basis of this precedent, eVTOL technology could prove vital in disseminating critical health supplies, food, and water to those areas most impacted by pandemics and natural disasters. More broadly, however, retail, hospitality, and similar industries will also benefit from diminished shipping costs, not to mention lower carbon footprints, associated with autonomous drone delivery fleets.

Want more conversations like this?

Join FutureLoop: Over the past 2 years, I’ve built a machine-learning algorithm that scrapes the world’s news, science journals and social feeds every day to understand how exponential technologies are impacting specific topics & industries. It’s called FutureLoop. I was getting ready to share it publicly, but the current crisis has changed my plans.

Last week, I launched "FutureLoop Pandemic Special Edition," a daily comprehensive update on the impact of exponential technologies (AI, Robotics, Drones, Cellular Medicine, CRISPR, Networks & Sensors) on the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you participate, FutureLoop will update you every day on the latest breakthroughs in detection, prevention & cure of the COVID-19. This product is still in Beta, but it’s powerful, high-quality info, and it's free.

Your mindset is your most important tool during this pandemic. Making sure you are consuming the right information is critical to maintaining that mindset. FutureLoop offers "Data-Driven Optimism."

You can subscribe here. It’s free, fun + fast (20 seconds).


Share Abundance Insider on Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Know someone who would benefit from getting Abundance Insider? Send them to this link to sign up.

Topics: Abundance Insider
8 min read

Abundance Insider: March 13th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Mar 13, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: 5G breakthrough for AR-enhanced tourism, DeepMind’s AI-driven Coronavirus predictions, and a new success for regenerative medicine.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. My latest book, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, is a roadmap for how converging exponential technologies will transform every industry over the next 50 years. You can pick up a copy and dive into the bestseller here.

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Telefonica and MediaPro debut 5G Augmented Tourism with AR bus windows.

What it is: A new Barcelona bus equipped with augmented reality windows now informs tourists of key attractions as they drive by. Leveraging recent 5G data and location service capabilities, Telefónica, MediaPro, and Barcelona’s metropolitan transport agency TMB teamed up to build this 5G Augmented Tourism pilot program. Rather than simply sightseeing with an audio tour guide, visitors can now identify their surroundings from information projected on the window’s translucent AR display. Users can even interact with the window through touch sensors, enabling viewers or tour guides to signal specific landmarks and access more detailed information about them. The AR visual features consist of high-contrast white outlines (that highlight specific real-world objects) and colorful splashes with edge animations (drawing the eye to AR overlays). While the display has a sunglass effect that dims real world vibrance through the window, the team aims to decrease this effect and expand coverage of its AR feature to span all windows of retrofitted buses in the future.

Why it’s important: Combining 5G connectivity, location data and AR, this product gives us a taste of the future of transportation. While most AR experiences today rely on personal headsets, expanding AR features to expansive, see-through surfaces (e.g. windows) allows for a shared experience between many users. At the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show, many vehicle manufacturers demonstrated heads-up AR displays for drivers and in-window AR entertainment. Integrated with 5G streaming and location-based tracking, these technologies will transform the way we see (and learn about) the world from our vehicles.

Google’s DeepMind just shared AI-generated predictions about the coronavirus that could help researchers stem the global outbreak.

What it is: DeepMind, an advanced AI unit under Google, has used its new deep learning system, AlphaFold, to generate and share predictions about the protein structures of the coronavirus. Typically, in cases where similar proteins’ structures have already been modeled, the system uses “template modeling”-based algorithms, which can draw from previous models to provide highly accurate predictions. Yet with AlphaFold’s newest iteration, by using a machine learning technique known as “free modeling,” the system can now predict protein structures (based on their amino acid sequence) even when no similar structures of protein are available.

Why it’s important: While AlphaFold’s structure predictions have not yet been experimentally verified, DeepMind hopes its system will serve as a hypothesis generation platform for developing therapeutics and understanding how the virus functions. And particularly in time-sensitive crises, DeepMind aims to trim months off the process of determining a virus’s protein structure. Look for AI-generated hypotheses to become increasingly useful in pandemics like that of COVID-19, where peer review timelines often become an obstacle to rapid innovation.

Scientists are storing energy using uneaten fruit.

What it is: A team of researchers from Australia is experimenting with a novel method of energy storage: discarded fruit. By first heat-treating and freeze-drying the inedible, spongy cores of jackfruit and durian, the engineers then cast metal oxides onto them. In success, this process results in the conversion of uneaten fruit to a carbon-rich aerogel (an ultralight, porous material). Fulfilling its objective, the fruit-turned-aerogel succeeded in becoming what’s known as an ultracapacitor — an extremely energy-dense storage device, capable of repeatedly (and reliably) charging and discharging electricity.

Why it’s important: As governments and industry alike attempt the transition to a more sustainable energy infrastructure, storage has emerged as a key technical challenge. An increasingly hot contender, biowaste has become a targeted avenue of research. While it is unclear how biology-based storage can scale to the needs of today’s modern power grid (particularly given the finite constraints of fruit size), building ultracapacitors from uneaten fruit could leverage today’s overwhelming excess of discarded produce while powering the communities that generate such waste — a closed-loop process with the potential to tackle two environmental ills at once.

‘Primitive’ stem cells shown to regenerate blood vessels in the eye.

What it is: In a massive feat for regenerative medicine, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine have now coaxed adult human cells to revert to a primitive state resembling that of embryonic cells only 6 days after fertilization. By first bathing fibroblast cells in a cocktail of two drugs, the team successfully derived naive stem cells (most capable of specializing into any cell type). The team then used these naive stem cells to derive vascular progenitors — a critical source of vascular cells, and by extension, new blood vessels. These were then injected into the eyes of mice with diabetic retinopathy (a condition causing damage to blood vessels in the retina). Remarkably, the naive vascular progenitors successfully migrated into the retina’s innermost tissue layer encircling the eye, took root, and survived for the duration of the four-week study. As explained by one of the study’s authors, Dr. Elias T. Zambidis, “Interestingly, the 3i ‘naive reprogramming’ cocktail appeared to erase disease-associated epigenetics in the donor cells, and brought them back to a healthy, pristine non-diabetic stem cell state.”

Why it’s important: While stem cell therapies have shown significant promise, getting conventional human induced pluripotent stem cells to differentiate without becoming cancerous has been a major challenge. Yet through the use of fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) and a novel cocktail mixture, this study’s results could prove consequential in reversing both diabetic retinopathy and a slew of other blinding eye diseases. Now the leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among American working-age adults, diabetic retinopathy is predicted to double its impact in the U.S. between 2010 and 2050. By repopulating the retina with healthy, non-diabetic stem cells, this team’s new regenerative medicine techniques could help restore vision and guide future research.

Injecting this sensor under your skin could prevent future pandemics.

What it is: Biotech company Profusa will begin a DARPA-funded study to test its implantable biosensor, capable of detecting the flu virus up to three weeks before symptoms arise. One of the greatest concerns with pandemic outbreaks is the incubation period, during which the disease can spread before a patient shows any signs of infection. Profusa’s sensor monitors oxygen levels and potentially additional biomarkers in a user’s tissue, which can indicate oncoming illness. Yet data is only collected when a probe is adhered to the skin above the sensor, sending output to a smartphone for analysis. This study will allow the team to refine its analytics algorithm, which links biological changes to valid preventative warnings.

Why it’s important: In the midst of the coronavirus epidemic, this sort of preventative technology could considerably reduce disease transmission by alerting patients of infection before they recognize their symptoms. Diagnostics lag time could also be lessened with implanted biosensors like Profusa’s. Moreover, patients could remain in the comfort of their homes to confirm medical cases rather than traveling and further spreading the disease. In the future, adding more complex detection mechanisms to the sensor could allow for widespread disease analytics, such as identifying how strains are evolving in real-time, to promote rapid treatment iterations.

Uptrust raises new money to fight mass incarceration with technology.

What it is: Uptrust has just raised $1.3 million to expand its business, involving a messaging platform that connects public defenders with their clients. Paid for by local governments, the service allows defenders to directly assist clients, reminding them to show up for court dates and avoid being jailed for missing appointments or being unable to post bail. In effect, Uptrust provides a customer relationship management (CRM) software for people interacting with America’s criminal justice system, many of whom lack institutional assistance. This new influx of capital will help Uptrust expand to 100 more jurisdictions and serve nearly 100 million defendants by the end of the year. Furthermore, the company plans to develop a new app, one which will connect users with multiple public agencies and services to learn about local opportunities, such as free or reduced transportation to court and expungement clinics.

Why it’s important: Countless Americans go to jail for missing their court dates and being unable to post bail. As stated by CEO Jacob Stills, “We look at how much money is spent on putting people in jail, pre-trial [and] we think there’s $9 billion wasted. From the county’s perspective, we’re helping people comply with their mandatory appointment, which over time saves them money. We think this business can generate several hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue by eliminating waste in the overall system. It’s really bad to continually dehumanize folks and surveil them. And here’s an opportunity for a business to be listening to the millions and millions of Americans that have been justice system-involved [...] and serving their needs.” The company has so far reduced penalties for failure to appear by 50% across the 50 jurisdictions in which it currently operates, saving about $5 billion in the process. Eventually, Uptrust plans to expand its platform to provide services for the 60 million Americans with a criminal record.

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Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
8 min read

Abundance Insider: March 7th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Mar 7, 2020

In this week’s Abundance Insider: MIT’s new sensing technology for driverless cars, a self-taught walking robot, and research breakthroughs to stymie Coronavirus.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. My latest book, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, is a roadmap for how converging exponential technologies will transform every industry over the next 50 years. You can pick up a copy and dive into the bestseller here.

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This robot taught itself to walk entirely on its own.

What it is: Researchers at Google have devised a novel way of training walking robots to learn how to navigate the world on their own. To accomplish this, the research team implemented an algorithm that learned more efficiently (requiring less trial-and-error) and chained together different moves into the same learning sequence. For example, if the four-legged robot reached the end of its bounded box while learning how to walk forward, it would immediately apply the same logic in reverse to learn walking backward. While the robot was environmentally constrained to minimize damage from repeated falling, a hard-coded algorithm was employed to help it stand back up when it inevitably lost balance. Although Google’s previous research involved reinforcement learning in simulation (think: a virtual robot in a virtual environment), their new strategy has allowed the bot to learn in physical reality from the get-go, navigating a variety of surfaces—flat ground, memory foam, and a doormat with crevices—in a matter of hours.

Why it’s important: As stated by Google-affiliated Stanford assistant professor Chelsea Finn, “Removing the person from the process is really hard. By allowing robots to learn more autonomously, robots are closer to being able to learn in the real world that we live in, rather than in a lab.” Coauthor Jie Tan (head of Google Brain’s robotics locomotion team) still notes the bot’s reliance on manual interference and a motion capture system for determining the robot’s location. Yet Google’s success marks major progress towards autonomous robot interaction with unstructured human environments.

MIT tech lets self-driving cars “see” under surface of road.

What it is: A team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has just developed a new type of sensing system for autonomous vehicles. Dubbed LGPR—Localizing Ground Penetrating Radar—the system can create a real-time map of the ground beneath the road’s surface. Currently, self-driving cars rely primarily on LIDAR to position themselves on the road, but have a difficult time when facing inclement weather (fog, snow, etc.), during which lane and other road markers often become obscured. By comparing quantified physical elements to the map it’s already created, LGPR’s system can determine where the vehicle is without need for cameras or lasers. So far, CSAIL’s team has successfully demonstrated its success on a private snow-covered road.

Why it’s important: While the researchers are now working to miniaturize their six-foot-wide prototype, CSAIL’s milestone perfectly illustrates how sensor technology’s convergence with machine learning is driving the commercial success and accelerated adoption of autonomous vehicles. As we continue to tackle edge cases in driverless navigation, engineers are now applying multiple new sensing and AI techniques in tandem to relentlessly usher in an era of fully autonomous transit.

Bern scientists claim coronavirus breakthrough.

What it is: University of Bern researchers have perfected a cloning technique to reproduce synthetic coronavirus strains more quickly. These clones allow scientists to experiment with knocking out certain genes of the COVID-19 virus and observe the effects. Once the genes associated with replication are identified, researchers can design drugs to specifically target these regions—halting further replication. The team is also working with human samples of the virus from a German patient, who contracted the newest form of the virus in early February. Meanwhile, a team at the University of Texas at Austin has now generated the first 3D atomic-scale map of the region of the COVID-19 virus that attaches to and infects human cells. Made using cryo-electron microscopy, developed by Nobel Prize-winning researcher Jacques Dubochet, this map could unlock important next steps for vaccine development. 

Why it’s important: Coronavirus has killed 3,465 people since its initial outbreak, mostly in mainland China. COVID-19’s scope now surpasses 92,000 cases globally, and infection has spread to more than 70 countries and territories. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Tuesday that the global mortality rate of the virus stands at around 3.4%. As health implications abound, Coronavirus’s economic impacts are already reverberating rapidly. Stock market volatility—in part due to uncertainty surrounding supply chain disruptions caused by sickness, travel restrictions, and quarantines—is but one reflection of the virus’s second-degree consequences. Researchers are working with urgency to delay the spread of disease, and the above COVID-19 clones could quickly supply labs internationally with essential materials to test their solutions.

How caloric restriction prevents negative effects of aging in cells.

What it is: Caloric restriction has proven to increase the human lifespan, but the cellular mechanics behind this phenomenon were not well understood— until recently. A group of U.S. and Chinese scientists have now published a study that analyzed the effects of caloric restriction on 40 cell types, ranging from fat tissue, to bone marrow, to brain tissue. The researchers tested both a control group of rats and an experimental group, the subjects of which consumed 30% fewer calories than the control rats. Remarkably, the researchers found that 57% of age-related changes in the control rats’ cells were not evident in those of the dieting rats. The cells and genes most affected by caloric restriction related to immunity, inflammation, and lipid metabolism. While immune cells in nearly every tissue dramatically increased in the control rats over time, no increase with age was observed in the dieting rats. Particularly in fat adipose tissue, calorie-restricted animals expressed many anti-inflammatory genes at the same level as young rats do. More specifically, 23 of the calorie-restricted cell types experienced a change in levels of transcription factor Ybx1, which functions as a master switch for a group of genes, giving scientists a further clue as to which genes directly control aging.   

Why it’s important: Aging is the leading risk factor for multiple diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, dementia, and metabolic syndrome. Caloric restriction has proved successful in increasing the healthy lifespan across various species, ranging from rats to primates. Yet for many, a life lived in hunger does not seem worthwhile. Instead of promoting caloric restriction as a lifestyle, research in this field can identify exactly which genes and transcription factors are associated with aging in order to eventually control them synthetically without the need for dietary regulation. This team of scientists is currently working to identify aging drug targets and thereby add healthy years to our growing lifespans.

Cloud data speeds set to soar with aid of laser mini-magnets.

What it is: Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have created a new magnetic material that could significantly boost the storage capacity, processing speed, and energy efficiency of hard drives typically found in cloud servers. Specifically, their research resulted in what is known as a single-molecule magnet, a compound whose chemical bond can be controlled by subjecting it to rapid pulses from a laser. Estimates suggest that data could be stored and accessed using pulses that last one millionth of a billionth of a second, facilitating data processing times up to 100X faster than current technologies allow. The compound could also make new hard drives much more energy-efficient by eliminating the need to run a current through a wire, which creates excess heat and thereby requires external cooling.

Why it’s important: Fundamental breakthroughs at the physics and materials science level continue to drive efficiencies in contemporary computing. Here, faster access to stored data would dramatically reduce the processing time required by machine learning and algorithmic processes, supercharging business AI applications, scientific discovery, and complex data science tasks.

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Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
9 min read

Abundance Insider: February 27th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Feb 27, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: AI’s partnership in antibiotic discovery, a tribute to Katherine Johnson, and UPS’ shift to electric vans.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. My latest book, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, is a roadmap for how converging exponential technologies will transform every industry over the next 50 years. You can pick up a copy and dive into the bestseller here.

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Researchers Use AI to Develop Powerful New Antibiotic.

What it is: MIT researchers have now used an AI algorithm to identify new antibiotics capable of defeating even some antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains. The team first trained their machine learning algorithm on a set of 2,500 compounds, correlating their structures with their effectiveness in blocking the growth of bacteria E. coli. In succession, 6,000 additional drugs currently under investigation were fed to the program, which identified a promising set of antibiotics within hours. One such drug, termed halicin, was then tested and successfully killed bacteria that cause tuberculosis, Clostridioides difficile (or C. diff), as well as several other antibiotic-resistant strains. Upon this initial success, the MIT team is now working to test a digital database of around 1.5 billion compounds.

Why it’s important: Every year, more than 2.8 million people in the U.S. contract an antibiotic-resistant infection, of which over 35,000 cases result in death. Yet one of today’s most severe drivers of antibiotic resistance is overuse in human and animal populations. Around 30 percent of antibiotics—totaling 47 million prescriptions—are prescribed unnecessarily in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms in the U.S. each year. MIT’s algorithm could not only discover new treatments for resistant microbes, but also develop more precise antibiotics to replace those general drugs fueling the antibiotic resistance problem.

In Memoriam: Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson, notable mathematician and spaceflight pioneer, passed away this week at age 101. She first joined NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), in 1953, when her role—like that of many women of the era—was a human “computer.” At the time, human computers performed the many mathematical calculations necessary for early spaceflight, calculating launch windows, trajectories, fuel consumption and the like. Johnson’s work soon became integral to the success of the U.S. spaceflight program, most notably including trajectory calculations for Alan Shepard’s inaugural flight (launching the first American into space), Apollo 11, and the safe return of Apollo 13 (which suffered a critical mid-flight systems failure). Later in her career, Johnson would go on to work on the Space Shuttle program as well as early plans for U.S. missions to Mars. 

Johnson’s work was essential to the early successes of NASA, not to mention the U.S.’s first landing of astronauts on the moon. Her legacy as a brilliant mathematician paved the way for humankind’s later successes in exploring and studying our solar system. However, equally critical was her role in breaking down racial and gender barriers. As an African-American woman in the mid-20th century, Johnson challenged institutional norms, societal expectations and systemic discrimination while making key contributions to the world’s extra-planetary pursuits. Indeed, this pivotal role earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, awarded by President Obama in 2015. Johnson has also been memorialized for her contributions to the space industry by NASA, whose new computational science facility at the Langley Center was formally dedicated as the “Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility,” opened in 2017. Johnson will be remembered not only for her contributions to spaceflight, but for her pioneering and courageous work in transcending and helping dissolve systemic barriers to human freedom and realization.

Launch startup Skyrora successfully tests 3D-printed rocket engines powered by plastic waste.

What it is: Edinburgh-based rocket-launch startup Skyrora has successfully completed its first stationary ground-firings with the company’s pioneered 3D-printed rocket engines. Instead of relying on petroleum, these engines are fueled by a kerosene derived from plastic waste, termed “Ecosene” by the company. Skyrora ultimately plans to use these engines to fuel its 22-meter launch vehicle (which stands at roughly one-third the height of SpaceX’s Falcon 9), slated to carry multiple loads for up to 500km. Through a proprietary engineering process, the company converts 2,200 pounds of plastic waste into 1,300 pounds of “Ecosene” fuel. Slashing the footprint of typical rockets, Skyrora’s fuel produces 45 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than traditional kerosene when burned. It moreover requires no cryogenic freezing and can be stored for long periods, posing another advantage for transportation to launch sites.

Why it’s important: Low-Earth orbit (delineating an altitude of 2,000 km or less) is a popular region in today’s launch industry, particularly as satellites in this orbit begin contributing to an emergence of 5G networks across the globe. As Blue Origin, SpaceX, Boeing, and various others work towards vehicle launches to this altitude, Skyrora particularly stands out given its environmentally-conscious fuel alternative. By both reducing plastic waste and contributing fewer carbon emissions to the atmosphere, Skyrora’s alternative strategy could help us exit Earth’s atmosphere without damaging it as severely.

UPS to Purchase 10,000 Electric Vans from UK-based Startup.

What it is: UPS has now announced that the parcel service will order 10,000 electric delivery vans from London-based startup Arrival. Following Hyundai’s $100 million capital investment in Arrival, UPS has now also obtained an ownership stake in the EV company. By combining ultra-lightweight composite materials and proprietary electronics and motors, Arrival has reduced its vehicle’s overall weight enough to trim aggregate operating costs by 50 percent when compared to traditional trucks. Touting a 150-mile range, the vans feature configurations ranging from 3.5 to 7.5 tons. And in the next four years, Arrival’s vans will fast permeate UPS fleets across the UK, Europe, and North America.

Why it’s important: This is the latest development showcasing UPS’s commitment to electrifying its fleet. In 2017 alone, UPS began a project to convert 1,500 of its New York City delivery trucks to battery-electric power, additionally experimenting with electric trucks from Daimler and reserving 125 Tesla semi-trucks. The following year, UPS additionally made a purchase of 950 electric delivery vans from Ohio-based Workhorse Group. As supply chain management behemoths like UPS and Amazon make sizable investments in electrifying their fleets, look for economies of scale to drive innovation and greater cost efficiencies elsewhere in the transportation sector.

Japan will launch the first-ever sample return mission from the Martian system.

What it is: Japan’s national space agency, JAXA, has now approved a mission to the Martian moons Phobos and Deimos. Titled Martian Moon eXploration, or MMX, the mission is set to launch in 2024 and spend 3 years orbiting the moons, mapping them with 11 different instruments to measure properties such as elemental composition. The most novel component of MMX, however, will be its deployment of a rover on Phobos. Marking the first planned sample return mission, this rover will attempt to scoop up 10 grams of Phobos material and deliver it back to the spacecraft. In success, JAXA’s mission should return to Earth in 2029 with samples from the Martian moon.

Why it’s important: Phobos and Deimos are highly atypical moons, both irregularly shaped and with unusual orbits. Furthermore, Phobos orbits Mars at such a close proximity that it is literally being torn apart by the force of gravity. Data from JAXA’S MMX mission could help scientists better understand the origin of these mysterious bodies, as well as make projections of their future states and interactions. By extension, MMX’s findings might also help researchers understand the disappearance of water that once punctuated Mars’s surface hundreds of millions of years ago. Lastly, Phobos and Deimos have often been proposed as appropriate stepping stones for human missions to Mars. The data from this mission could thereby help determine the validity and methods of such a proposal.

Scientists release genetically engineered moths for the first time.

What it is: As published in Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology, an international team of researchers spanning Cornell, the NY State Department of Agriculture, and UK research institutions, has just released a genetically engineered diamondback moth into the wild. Aimed at sustainably suppressing the pest population, these moths are engineered such that when modified males mate with wild females, resulting female offspring will die during the caterpillar stage. While male offspring survive, their female offspring too will die during the caterpillar stage, reducing the diamondback moth’s population over time. To combat obvious objections surrounding the unforeseen consequences of releasing genetically engineered species into the wild, researchers noted that the gene is both species-specific and self-limiting, meaning it will disappear from the environment after a few generations.

Why it’s important: A highly destructive pest, the diamondback moth generates over US$5 billion in losses each year, largely given its resistance to pesticides. As digital biology and AgTech continue to advance through techniques like CRISPR and other genetic engineering methods, academics, industry leaders and regulators alike will need to minimize unforeseen consequences while maximizing benefits across agriculture, biodiversity, the food sector, and ecosystem health.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
6 min read

Abundance Insider: February 8th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Feb 8, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: Night-time energy-producing solar panels, Lynx’s new standalone MR headset, and new moves in AI-driven drug discovery. 

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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LYNX Reveals Standalone MR Headset with Snapdragon XR2, Eye-Tracking, and Novel Optics.

What it is: Earlier this week, French startup Lynx unveiled the R-1, a standalone mixed reality headset built for pass-through AR and powered by Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon XR2 chip. The headset—aimed at enterprise users—has an occluded display (no light from the outside enters), but can achieve both VR and AR internal projections. As one of the first products to use Qualcomm’s powerful new Snapdragon XR2 chip, the headset powers six cameras for positional tracking, pass-through AR, and eye-tracking. Even in the absence of controllers, the standalone R-1 can seamlessly track hand positioning and movements. The R-1’s novel prism-like lens additionally makes it more compact than traditional XR lenses. Claiming a resolution of 1,600 × 1,600 in each eye and a 90-degree FOV, Lynx is on track to compete with Magic Leap and Microsoft Hololens, touting a $1,500 price tag and summer 2020 release date.

Why it’s important: Augmented reality (AR) is about to add a digital intelligence layer to our every surrounding, transforming retail, manufacturing, education, tourism, real estate, and almost every major industry that holds up our economy today. Just last year, the global VR/AR market hit a value of $814.7 billion, and it is only expected to continue surging at a 63% CAGR until 2025. In one of the greatest technological revolutions of this century, smartphones dematerialized cameras, stereos, video game consoles, TVs, GPS systems, calculators, paper, and even matchmaking as we knew it. AR glasses will soon perpetuate this, ultimately dematerializing the smartphone itself. We will no longer gaze into tiny, two-dimensional screens but rather see through a fully immersive, 3D interface.

 

New Research Explains How Solar Panels Could Soon Be Generating Power at Night.

What it is: Researchers from UC Davis have devised a mechanism that can allow solar panels to generate power 24 hours per day, including during nighttime conditions. Using a technique known as radiative cooling, the panels can generate up to a quarter of their daytime energy production at night, leading to an overall boost of about 12% in total energy production. According to one of the researchers, Jeremy Munday, "A regular solar cell generates power by absorbing sunlight, which causes a voltage to appear across the device and for current to flow. In these new devices, light is instead emitted and the current and voltage go in the opposite direction, but you still generate power. You have to use different materials, but the physics is the same."

Why it’s important: Thermoradiative cells are becoming more popular as a means of producing and capturing waste energy. Last year, Stanford University developed a similar system, using the heat imbalance between the Earth and the nighttime sky to generate electricity. This technology could become a key part of our energy infrastructure, as the researchers noted in their published paper: "Deep space offers an intriguing low-temperature thermal sink that has the potential to help provide electrical power at night and day through the clever use of photonics, optics, and materials science.”

AI-Formulated medicine to be tested on humans for the first time.

What it is: A drug designed by an AI algorithm is about to hit clinical trials for the first time. Known as DSP-1181, the drug was designed by AI systems (produced by biotech company Exscientia) and is intended to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder in patients. Exscientia CEO Andrew Hopkins said the trials were a "key milestone in drug discovery" and that "the beauty of the algorithm is that they are agnostic, so can be applied to any disease."

Why it’s important: AI is slowly but surely permeating the medical field. While machine learning has already seen usage in delivering diagnoses and analyzing patient data, AI’s experimental application in the field of drug discovery promises a multi-billion-dollar market. Presently, it can take nearly a decade (if not more) for a novel drug to graduate from experimental candidate to commercialized patient prescription. AI-based drug discovery systems are slated to cut this time substantially. Case in point, Exscientia's systems took only about one year to design DSP-1181, whereas previously, a drug at this stage of development would have required nearly 4 and a half years. As pharmaceutical companies continue to witness this surge in speed and efficacy at the hands of machine learning, AI-driven drug discovery may rapidly become the new norm.

Kenyan agri-tech startup Taimba gains access to $277K funding.

What it is: Taimba, a Kenyan B2B agri-tech startup, recently earned $277,000 in funding from Enviu and the DOEN Foundation. The cashless Taimba platform operates on mobile devices and connects rural small farmers with grocers, schools, restaurants, and hospitals. Currently, over 2,000 farmers use the platform to deliver fresh produce to 300 urban retailers. Taimba’s new round of equity and grant financing comes after a $100,000 Gray Matters Capital investment last year. Taimba will focus on integrating cooling machinery into its supply chain to preserve produce freshness, offering greater flexibility and stable supply for farmer resource demands. Enviu’s grant support will surely help the company achieve its expansion of product lines and markets. 

Why it’s important: The future of food will involve a zero-food waste, closed-loop value chain. Eliminating the intermediary between farmer and retailer makes the process of food supply and demand far more efficient. Moreover, strengthening the link between rural farmers and urban dwellers is essential to preserving ecological farming practices and perhaps even making them more innovative. Industrialized mass agriculture contributes significantly to growing crises, primarily global warming, antibiotic resistance, and pesticide poisoning. Scaling small farms through cashless technology platforms that help them directly track data-rich demand patterns will further inject transparency into the process, democratizing production and distribution. 

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)



Topics: Abundance Insider
9 min read

Abundance Insider: February 2nd, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Feb 1, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: An AI epidemiologist’s coronavirus foresight, new VTOL technology, and Starlink’s latest satellite launch.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Join me, Ray Kurzweil, and my co-author Steven Kotler for a special, intimate book launch event on February 7th, 2020 at Singularity University’s Silicon Valley campus. This one-day conversation will tackle how converging exponential technologies are transforming every industry on Earth. Participants will receive 100 book copies of The Future is Faster Than You Think (included in the ticket price)—50 for your own use (to be distributed across your company, and among friends and family) and 50 to be donated to students across the country. Click here to register.

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Boeing partners with Tactical Robotics to develop VTOL tech.

What it is: Israel-based Tactical Robotics has signed an exploratory partnership with Boeing, whereby the two companies will develop vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft based on Tactical’s “Fancraft” enclosed rotor technology. Unlike open rotors, Fancrafts are placed inside ducts to better direct airflow as well as provide enhanced safety. Leveraging the aviation ducted fan technology, parent company Urban AirShip recently succeeded in developing “Cormorant,” an autonomous flying vehicle (with a roughly Humvee-sized footprint) that can take off and land vertically. While Boeing’s deal with Tactical Robotics will begin by exploring production methods and deployment applications of Cormorant (such as emergency response missions), it may also involve the development of other piloted and autonomous VTOL aircraft in the long term.

Why it’s important: While still in its nascent stages, the market for VTOL, urban air mobility and flying taxi fleets is heating up. Just last month, even the FAA’s Head of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration, Jay Merkle, stated that six aircraft aimed at urban air mobility applications are “well along” in their pursuit of type certification with the FAA. As VTOL hardware becomes increasingly advanced, how might a future of flying vehicles impact our cityscapes, urban sprawl, real estate prices, or even time abundance?

Paralyzed man breaks world record for finishing a marathon in an exoskeleton suit.

What it is: After a car accident in 2005 caused him severe spinal cord injury, Adam Gorlitsky was paralyzed from the waist down. Yet just a few weeks ago, Gorlitsky completed the Charleston Marathon in 33 hours, 50 minutes, and 23 seconds, claiming a new world record for his time in finishing a marathon in an exoskeleton suit. Using the ReWalk Robotic Exoskeleton, Gorlitsky trained in earnest for about a year, having also attempted the Los Angeles Marathon last March. The first FDA-approved exoskeleton for rehabilitation and personal use in the U.S., ReWalk’s wearable technology provides powered hip and knee motion, and can even allow wearers to climb and descend stairs. Gorlitsky is now on a “One Million Steps Tour,” planning to walk one million steps in road races across the United States.

Why it’s important: Extraordinary proof of abundance, Gorlitsky’s achievement showcases the powerful combination of human resilience and enabling technologies. As both wearable exoskeleton robotics and brain-machine interfaces continue to advance, we will increasingly witness remarkable use cases in rehabilitation and enhanced mobility.

SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink satellites, sticks rocket landing at sea.

What it is: SpaceX launched its fourth set of Starlink satellites into orbit on Wednesday morning. The goal of the Starlink constellation is to provide reliable and affordable internet to all parts of the world. Used for the third time with this launch, the Falcon 9 rocket core carried 60 additional Starlink satellites into Low Earth Orbit (at an altitude of around 550 km operationally). The booster then returned gracefully to Earth, landing on the Of Course I Still Love You (Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship) in the Atlantic Ocean. This Starlink mission is the second of 24 planned to lift off in 2020, in pursuit of the company’s ultimate goal to reach 1,584 satellites in orbit by the end of this year.

Why it’s important: In ten years, we may no longer need traditional WiFi. Companies, universities, and municipalities will be able to create their own 5G cellular networks that support billions of IoT devices and connected sensors across their respective regions. Today, cellular networks cost more due to subscription fees and radio installations. Yet SpaceX Starlink satellites are slated to drive down these prices with affordable 5G connectivity. New spectrum auctions are already in the works, such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Services (CBRS) auctions planned for June in the U.S. The next step: developing roaming plans to allow devices to seamlessly connect to these local networks. Even if WiFi isn’t completely phased out, the costs of low-data-rate cellular contracts will undoubtedly decline in the coming years thanks to large-scale satellite projects like Starlink.

The Smart Cell Turning Solar Energy Into Hydrogen.

What it is: A team from Ohio State University, led by chemistry professor Claudia Torro, has developed a method for synthesizing hydrogen from sunlight. The process uses a rhodium molecule as a catalyst to store electrons and create hydrogen. “What makes it work is that the system is able to put the molecule into an excited state, where it absorbs the photon and is able to store two electrons to make hydrogen,” said Torro. “To put it simply, we are saving the energy from sunlight and storing it into chemical bonds so it can be used at a later time.”

Why it’s important: The hydrogen production industry is growing at an accelerated rate. Just last year saw a 40 percent increase in shipments, raising total energy production to 1.1GW. Particularly given lithium-ion battery limitations, alternatives in the storage realm will grow increasingly vital for our renewable energy future. In the words of Lancaster University Professor David Antonelli, who developed a technique for cheaper hydrogen fuel tanks last year, “The cost of manufacturing our material is so low, and the energy density it can store is so much higher than a lithium-ion battery, that we could see hydrogen fuel cell systems that cost five times less than lithium-ion batteries, [...] providing a much longer range — potentially enabling journeys up to around four or five times longer between fill-ups.” The ability to produce hydrogen cheaply from solar energy could change the face of energy production, driving a commercial abundance of hydrogen cells.

An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus.

What it is: Canadian health-monitoring program BlueDot alerted its customers of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a full nine days before the World Health Organization (WHO) notified the public. To achieve this foresight, BlueDot’s AI algorithm combs through foreign-language news reports, animal and plant disease networks, and official proclamations to pinpoint a potential outbreak. After epidemiologists confirm the conclusions, clients are immediately notified. Moreover, BlueDot has access to global airline data and can predict when and where the disease will spread. In the case of coronavirus, BlueDot correctly forecasted the virus would migrate from Wuhan to Bangkok, Seoul, Taipei, and Tokyo. The 40-person company, launched by Kamran Khan in 2014, has a track record of success, such as its correct prediction of the Zika outbreak location in South Florida. BlueDot’s reports are sent to public health officials in dozens of countries and major hospitals surrounding outbreak epicenters.

Why it’s important: Bill Gates has expressed his belief that pandemics are one of the largest threats to humankind, and he is not alone. More than 12,000 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in China, doubling since Wednesday. Over 259 people have died, and scientists are racing to develop a vaccine as the disease spreads to sixteen nations. If BlueDot’s alert had motivated travel restrictions sooner, these numbers may have been far more controlled. With machine learning and natural language processing, data can be organized and acted upon with the urgency that infectious diseases require. Algorithms like BlueDot and similar data-driven decision engines will be essential for preserving global population health as networks proliferate.

Hydrogen-fueled Drones Will Inspect U.S. Gas Pipeline.

What it is: UAV manufacturer Doosan Mobility Innovation and hydrogen-fuel service provider ReadyH2 have teamed up to deploy a hydrogen-powered octocopter drone for inspection of a U.S. gas pipeline. The drone is capable of flying over 50 miles for nearly 2 hours of flight time per mission. Organized by public safety drone consultancy Skyfire Consulting, the pilot project will additionally establish procedures for inspecting domestic pipelines over the course of six months.

Why it’s important: As stated by Skyfire CEO Matt Sloane, “Distances like that [of Doosan’s octocopter] are simply not possible on battery technology. We’re thrilled [...] to address a very complex problem of transporting information and items long distances both quickly and efficiently, especially during emergencies and weather issues.” The convergence of advanced drone hardware and hydrogen technology is resulting in impressive new use cases for drones capable of long flight times and extended inspection projects. One significant benefit involves these drones’ usage in emergency response. Just last year, Doosan delivered medical supplies in the U.S. Virgin Islands for over 43 miles by drone. The company’s current pipeline project will function as a simulation for real crises, allowing the group to develop effective alerting and reporting protocols for usage by pipeline companies and public safety agencies.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
7 min read

Abundance Insider: January 25th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Jan 25, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: New stem cell-grown biological bots, AI-aided recruitment and hiring, and the world’s largest 3D-printed building.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Join me, Ray Kurzweil, and my co-author Steven Kotler for a special, intimate book launch event on February 7th, 2020 at Singularity University’s Silicon Valley campus. This one-day conversation will tackle how converging exponential technologies are transforming every industry on Earth. Participants will receive 100 book copies of The Future is Faster Than You Think (included in the ticket price)—50 for your own use (to be distributed across your company, and among friends and family) and 50 to be donated to students across the country. Click here to register.

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Scientists build “first living robots” from frog stem cells.

What it is: Scientists have now built a “xenobot,” a new class of living artifact made from embryonic frog stem cells. Using a supercomputer, researchers ran an evolutionary algorithm—in this case testing thousands of 3D rudimentary life form designs within a simulation—to determine the best design for a millimeter-length robot. This virtual “evolution” yielded numerous little critters capable of propelling themselves forward, pushing pellets around, carrying objects, and even healing themselves after getting cut. “Powered” for up to ten days by living heart muscle cells, these primitive biological bots were built with the hopes of one day cleaning up microplastics in oceans or even delivering drugs within the body.

Why it’s important: In the words of research co-lead Joshua Bongard, “These are novel living machines [...] They’re neither a traditional robot nor a known species of animal. It’s a new class of artifact: a living, programmable organism.” Within the realm of targeted drug delivery, their biodegradable nature could also prove highly valuable, as they essentially turn into dead skin cells once their job is done. The power of such technology can hardly be overstated, as the ability to engineer small-scale, alternative living machines is rapidly becoming part of humanity’s toolkit. And beyond these xenobots’ utility in everything from personalized medicine to environmental cleanup, their development process is helping to steer forward the field of evolutionary algorithms.

Construction Completed on Largest 3D-Printed Building in the World.

What it is: U.S. Company Apis Cor has 3D-printed a 31-foot-tall, 6,900-square-foot building in Dubai. Using a single printer, one crane and three workers, the company was able to create the two-story structure outdoors and exposed to the elements (a harsh environment for most 3D printers) with no humidity or temperature control. The printer used a gypsum-based material to print the walls, which were then reinforced with concrete and rebar (while floors, roofing, and windows were installed by other contractors). Apis Cor’s resulting structure is now the largest 3D-printed building in the world.

Why it’s important: The UAE’s most populous city, Dubai has pledged to have 25 percent of its buildings 3D-printed by 2030. In service of this goal, Apis Cor’s development project is a remarkable demonstration of how far 3D printing construction technologies have developed. While China became home to the world’s tallest 3D-printed structure (at 5 stories) in 2015, Dubai’s new building now breaks the record of largest 3D-printed building by volume. And as materials science breakthroughs meet new modes of construction, we will begin to witness a decrease in structural constraints and construction times, not to mention far more ecological practices in real estate.

There's a new obstacle to landing a job after college: Getting approved by AI.

What it is: With a glut of applicants for new jobs and internships, companies like HireVue, Yobs and Talview now offer AI-based assessments of video interviews and are increasingly helping companies screen their candidates faster. HireVue, in particular, now interviews 1 million applicants every 90 days for over 800 customers. Answering businesses’ predetermined questions, candidates respond on camera through a laptop or smartphone, after which HireVue’s algorithms analyze details such as diction and grammar, facial expressions and voice tonality, and help determine both candidate attributes and team fit. The growth of such AI as a service (AIaaS) products, however, is prompting universities (from Duke and Purdue to UNC) to help students prep appropriately for algorithmic recruiting procedures, teaching behaviors such as specific key words and phrases, and maintaining direct eye contact with the camera.

Why it’s important: AI’s growing ability to identify top talent has induced ethical and regulatory concerns surrounding AIaaS’ injection into the hiring process. Yet the technology’s ability to screen hundreds of thousands of candidates at scale undoubtedly brings considerable efficiency to the recruitment process. Particularly as distributed workforces and remote teams cause an increase in eligible job candidates and recruitment complexity, AIaaS will be critical for optimizing team-employee fit and sourcing the best candidates for any given role or project.

Bricks Alive! Scientists Create Living Concrete.

What it is: A research team at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has created living concrete that can even reproduce. The material is formed by cyanobacteria, a common photosynthetic microbe, which uses energy from the sun and carbon dioxide to produce calcium carbonate. When the cyanobacteria are suspended in a mixture of warm water, sand, and nutrients, the calcium carbonate product cements the sand particles together to form a rigid structure. The researchers additionally found that adding gelatin to the mix resulted in faster growth and stronger structures, which could be molded into cubes, shoebox-sized blocks, and truss pieces. And after just a few days in dry conditions, these blocks reach maximum strength. While the bacteria gradually die, they can be revitalized using high temperatures and humidity even after a few weeks. The researchers also found that after cutting a block in two and submerging one half in the warm water-mineral-gelatin mixture, it regrew to form another complete block.

Why it’s important: Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, this project could have huge applications in remote construction environments, where transporting large quantities of material is neither efficient nor safe. Living building materials (“L.B.M.s”) naturally reproduce to provide abundant building materials at low upfront costs. Perhaps most notable, this living concrete absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, counteracting the significant CO2 emissions generated by traditional concrete production. Moving forward, the team hopes to make their material stronger, more resistant to dehydration, and more easily configurable. The bricks have even been predicted to one day detect toxic chemicals or structural damage, alerting humans to infrastructural risks in advance. And long-term, we may even see this miraculous concrete make it to Mars and other extraplanetary colonies.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
9 min read

Abundance Insider: January 11th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Jan 11, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: New bio-inspired soft robotics, Samsung’s lifelike digital avatars, and this week’s CES highlights!

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Join me, Ray Kurzweil, and my co-author Steven Kotler for a special, intimate book launch event on February 7th, 2020 at Singularity University’s Silicon Valley campus. This one-day conversation will tackle how converging exponential technologies are transforming every industry on Earth. Participants will receive 100 book copies of The Future is Faster Than You Think (included in the ticket price)—50 for your own use (to be distributed across your company, and among friends and family) and 50 to be donated to students across the country. Click here to register.

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Samsung’s ‘artificial human’ project definitely looks like a digital avatar.

What it is: Neon, a project emerging from Samsung Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) Labs, presented its hyper-realistic digital humans at CES on Monday. These Neon digital avatars are designed not as AI assistants connected to the cloud, but rather as chatbots that can learn, emote, and retain memories, just as living humans would. Led by computer-human interaction researcher Pranav Mistry, Neon relies on two pieces of proprietary technology: (1) Core R3 (which stands for “reality, realtime, and responsive”) consists of advanced behavioral neural networks and evolutionary generative intelligence that allow Neon to respond to queries in less than a few milliseconds; and (2) Spectra is responsible for the human-like emotions, intelligence, and memories of the chatbots, although this underlying technology is less developed. Samsung plans to beta-launch Neon bots with partners around the globe later this year.

Why it’s important: Neon humans will not be answering your questions about the weather or traffic routes. These human-like digital bots are meant to respond to your queries in the same way a human would— without limitless connection to the internet, yet with learned expertise in a particular area. This next generation of digital avatars, once fully capable of speaking and behaving similarly to humans, will transform our relationships to our screens and with one another. The company plans to license or offer Neon subscriptions that individuals can go to for expert help, from financial advice to healthcare assistance. Neon avatars will even make their way onto TV screens, from the news to the Academy Awards stage. Prepare for a future in which digital and alive may be indistinguishable.

CES 2020: Panasonic Unveils World’s First Ultra HD VR Eyeglasses.

What it is: Japanese electronics corporation Panasonic unveiled the world’s first high dynamic range (HDR) ultra high-definition VR eyeglasses this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Building upon its success with Blu-Ray Disc Players, televisions, audio systems, and digital cameras, Panasonic is now emerging as a leader in the VR space. Created in collaboration with manufacturer Kopin Corporation, the glasses are lightweight and less obstructive than ever before, making them considerably more comfortable for wearers. While many VR experiences involve the “screen door effect”—whereby pixel barriers are visible to the viewer—Panasonic’s product promises a seamless 3D visual using an Organic LED (OLED) panel. As 5G takes hold across the globe, HDR resolution will become readily available in these glasses (and their future iterations), along with top-notch audio to complete the experience.

Why it’s important: Impressive 3D visuals that require minimal hardware will unlock countless opportunities to integrate VR into daily life. Across entertainment, sports, work, healthcare, and even architecture, VR will elevate existing experiences and offer new platforms for advertisers to display content. While questions remain about the field of view (FOV), motion controllers, and power supply of Panasonic’s device, the glasses mark significant progress in decreasing both the size and bulkiness of VR headsets.

SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule returns from the Space Station loaded with science experiments.

What it is: SpaceX has just completed its 19th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The Dragon capsule, laden with about 5,700 pounds of supplies and experiments, splashed down in the Pacific Ocean early Tuesday morning. Among these experiments were the study of microgravity’s effect on living organisms (using tiny aquatic animals known as “rotifers” and mice) and the pursuit of a solution for tackling astronaut radiation exposure on long-term space missions.

Why it’s important: These commercial resupply missions (CRS) are a cornerstone of NASA’s partnership with the private launch industry. SpaceX would not be where it is today without the support and revenue generated through these CRS contracts. On NASA’s end, the agency gets continued access to microgravity environments on the space station. Yet aboard the ISS, hundreds of experiments are often conducted at any given time, paving the way for novel technology applications both on Earth and in the far reaches of space.

Arduino introduces a low-code way to design IoT hardware.

What it is: This week at CES 2020, open source microcontroller company Arduino unveiled two major developments: (1) a new low-code solution for product creators that design hardware for the IoT, and (2) a new family of chips for a variety of hardware applications. Companies wanting to innovate in IoT typically invest considerably in consultations, development, or in integration projects. As a result, numerous small companies are often shut out of the IoT market given lack of engineering expertise or budgetary constraints. Arduino’s new tool changes this, promising to enable companies and hobbyists to design, build, measure, and explore prototypes in as little as a day. Secondly, Arduino released its Portenta Family of chips. Currently available for beta customers, the Arduino Portenta H7 module is scheduled for general availability next month. Portenta features a new standard for open high-density interconnects to support advanced peripherals in industrial applications, AI edge processing, and robotics. Similar to Arduino’s low-code solution, Potenta aims to allow developers to securely and easily develop IoT prototypes and more efficiently move them into production.

Why it’s important: Made famous by the Maker movement, Arduino and Raspberry Pi have moved well beyond niche use cases and into prime time. This and similar movements within low-code solutions and templated AI models are driving us towards an interface moment in IoT design and what Kevin Kelly calls the “cognification” of things. Now that you are untethered by the need for sophisticated technical expertise, what experiments and opportunities will you run and create?

4 Highlights from CES this Week.

4 Spotlights:

(1) Sony showcased the Vision-S, a prototype electric vehicle, focusing on its interior user interface and LiDAR capabilities. Why it’s important: Sony’s prototype demonstrates the company’s prowess in device technology, and could serve as an invitation to carmakers to collaborate with Sony on its next generation of electric, autonomous vehicles.
 
(2) Hydraloop unveiled a wastewater management solution. About the size of a refrigerator, Hydraloop’s system purifies wastewater and returns it for use in washing, gardening and plumbing. Why it’s important: As clean water scarcity becomes increasingly critical in a world of nearly 8 billion people, Hydraloop’s solution could prove a vital milestone in the development of more sustainable, efficient and scalable water systems.
 
(3) Following last year’s reveal of Impossible Beef, Impossible Pork has now been released. Why it’s important: Industrial animal farming is one of today’s greatest climate nightmares, and the success of Impossible Beef and similar products has validated consumer demand for more sustainable foods. Further diversifying the meat alternatives market, Impossible Pork is yet another step towards eliminating the land use, water, and GHG emissions footprint of traditional animal agriculture.
 
(4) Toyota released its plans for Toyota Woven City—a smart city of 2,000 residents built from scratch using all modern technology—to function as a research center. Why it’s important: As urbanization sees large-scale human migrations, the Toyota Woven City is an ideal experiment in building urban centers atop converging technologies. This and similar research parks stand to identify both pitfalls and scalable solutions for today’s proliferating urban megapolises.

Robotic architecture inspired by pelican eel: Origami unfolding and skin stretching mechanisms.

What it is: Researchers at Seoul National University’s Soft Robotics Research Center in South Korea and the Rebikoff-Niggeler Foundation (FRN) in Portugal have developed a robotic architecture inspired by the pelican eel, a species of fish that lives in the deep sea. Building upon prior research on stretchable skins and origami morphing, the team sought to recreate how the pelican eel inflates its mouth, which uniquely unfolds and inflates simultaneously. Compared to other bio-inspired, single function, shape-changing mechanisms, the dual-morphing design recreated here enables extreme morphing in two distinct motions. The robotic architecture is also capable of performing several dexterity-requiring behaviors, such as gripping, crawling and underwater motion.

Why it’s important: Bio-inspired design holds promise for highly versatile, shape-morphing robotics. Think: soft robots that can be compactly shipped, deployed, refolded, and easily integrated into daily products. At the macro scale, we are also witnessing a newfound ability to build nature-inspired geometric objects and materials, leveraging a surge in 3D printing and materials science advancements. As technology progresses along these vectors, sophisticated soft robotics will become increasingly commercialized and integrated across healthcare, disaster recovery, architecture and consumer goods.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider
7 min read

Abundance Insider: January 4th, 2020

By Peter H. Diamandis on Jan 4, 2020

In this week's Abundance Insider: 2020’s top space missions, first-ever quantum teleportation, and AI’s novel applications in real estate.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Want a chance to read Peter’s upcoming book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Peter and Steven, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

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The seven most exciting space missions of 2020.

What it is: Following a year of countless rocket launches and new space targets, the decade ahead is set to witness a boom in space exploration. And 2020 is giving us a head start, from robot-manned Mars missions, to private crewed missions into orbit.

What’s in store for 2020: Among this year’s four planned Mars missions––all aiming for summer launches––are NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which will leverage new instruments to probe the possibilities of extraterrestrial life; China’s Huoxing-1, slated to study the Martian atmosphere and terrain for 90 days; the UAE’s Hope Mars Mission orbiter, which will study Mars’ atmospheric chemistry from above; and Rosalind Franklin, the European Space Agency (ESA) and Roscosmos’ joint Mars rover. In the realm of private spaceflight, both SpaceX and Boeing are amidst final preparations before launching NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon and Boeing Starliner, respectively, destined for the ISS. While both these missions are targeting Q1 launch dates, others––like that of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin––aim to launch crewed capsules later in the year. In the case of Blue Origin’s New Shepard, for instance, the vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing suborbital rocket is expected to take humans into space by year’s end. And when it comes to lunar missions, both NASA and China’s National Space Administration (CNSA) are racing ahead, NASA with a first (more limited) iteration of its Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion deep-space capsule, and CNSA with its Chang’e 5 lunar mission.

Physicists Just Achieved The First-Ever Quantum Teleportation Between Computer Chips.

What it is: For the first time ever, a research team led by physicists at the University of Bristol has now demonstrated quantum teleportation of information between two micrometer-scale silicon chips. Instead of relying on the flow of electrons for data transfer (as occurs in a typical computer), information was passed between the two computer chips using a quantum effect known as entanglement. In entanglement, the state of one particle is inextricably tied to the state of the other. Measuring one particle, in turn, immediately reveals information about the other. In this way, entanglement has now proved an effective method teleporting, or transmitting, data between devices without a physical electronic connection. And while still relegated to a controlled lab environment, the research team ultimately achieved high-fidelity quantum teleportation of 91 percent.

Why it’s important: While still a poorly understood phenomenon, quantum entanglement shows promising and highly consequential applications for the future of computing. As explained by Beijing University scientist and one of the study’s authors, Dr. Jianwei Wang, “In the future, a single silicon-chip integration of quantum photonic devices and classical electronic controls will open the door for fully chip-based CMOS-compatible quantum communication and information processing networks.” In effect, these early demonstrations of quantum entanglement’s utility will soon pave the way for a new generation of chips, processors, and networks, not to mention extraordinarily powerful computers.

New Tomato Ideal for Urban Gardens and Even Outer Space Created Through Genetic Editing.

What it is: A new batch of tomatoes, genetically engineered to thrive in urban landscapes, could redefine contemporary agriculture. These crops, grown by a team at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, were modified using CRISPR to mature at an accelerated pace and produce vines more densely packed with fruit. Ready to harvest in less than 40 days, these tomatoes can grow in tiered farming warehouses or converted storage units in urban settings. To achieve this feat, the SELF PRUNING (SP) and SP5G genes, which control reproductive growth and plant size, were altered to make the plants blossom and produce fruit sooner. The SIER gene, which controls stem length, was also modified to make the plants as compact as possible–– ideal for limited space in urban settings. In success, this careful curation of gene edits has yielded optimal crop growth characteristics while preserving the tomato's flavor.

Why it’s important: Over 500 million people live on land already degraded by deforestation, changing weather patterns, and agricultural overuse, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Decoupling food production from land will reduce the harmful environmental impacts of mass farming, including land degradation and fertilizer runoff into water sources. At the same time, these plants will provide city dwellers with far fresher, more nutritious food, while generating a fraction of the transportation footprint. And from an economic standpoint, the genetically engineered crops win out as well, capable of yielding more fruit, operating year-round in climate-controlled conditions, and thereby offering unprecedented control in the food production process. Beyond the implications of this new plant on Earth, however, even NASA has now expressed interest in the technology, allowing us to envision a future wherein urbanized tomatoes (and other crops) may soon travel not only into our cities, but also beyond our atmosphere.

How AI Is Really Going To Change Real Estate In 2020 And Beyond.

What it is: By 2030, AI is estimated to add over $15 trillion to the global GDP, according to PwC. And among industries most affected, real estate holds a plethora of AI opportunities over the next decade. While many real estate firms already use virtual reality, smart contracts, virtual assistants, and voice bots to assist customers, countless unrealized opportunities remain. Susanne Eickermann-Riepe, Head of Real Estate at PwC Germany, points to four main applications of AI in real estate: (1) automating routine tasks; (2) augmenting intelligence to help people accomplish tasks more efficiently and productively; (3) expanding business intelligence to inform better human decisions; and (4) fully autonomous AI decision-making. In the wake of surging data collection, AI algorithms will also inform more effective marketing efforts, for instance predicting when a prospect might sell or purchase a property, and at what price.

Why it’s important: As AI’s early pitfalls continue to be identified and adjusted for, the time is now for real estate (typically a late-mover industry) to take advantage of the technology. Already, numerous real estate startups are jumping on the bandwagon. Take Nobbas, for instance, which offers a Tinder-like property search interface, or PropertyNest, which matches customers with listings based on their credit scores. By reducing time spent on routine tasks and offering more information about customer behavior, AI can provide considerable assistance to real estate brokers and investors in established firms as well. Key pain points to improve upon over the next decade include data availability, data quality, and standardization, yet many of these are already lessening in importance as the data-driven revolution takes hold. A meta-trend we are beginning to witness across the board, AI tools and Software as a service (SaaS) are fast becoming the most vital collaborators to human employees and entrepreneurs, whether in real estate, retail, finance, or health.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider AI space exploration Real Estate Artificial Intellegence Private Space SpaceX future of real estate vertical farming genetic engineering
8 min read

Abundance Insider: December 21st, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 21, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: AI-induced super resolution, robotic safety inspectors, and Lamborghini’s inroads in 3D printing.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Want a chance to read Peter’s upcoming book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Peter and Steven, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

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It’s Not You. Clothing Sizes Are Broken.

What it is: Size and fit are two of the leading reasons for online returns, according to e-commerce software company Narvar Inc., translating to costs that further reduce retailers’ already slim profit margins. From 3D body-scanning apps like MTailer and My Size, to startup Shima Seiki’s machines that knit garments with less than 1% variation, a plethora of companies has recently emerged to combat the issue of inconsistent sizing. Women’s sizes in the U.S. range from 00 to 18, yet there are no standardized body metrics across these sizes. This type of variation is not represented in online sizing guides, and few explain the stretch or texture of the fabric, which may also affect fit. Solutions like those offered by True Fit Corp.—which uses a data platform and AI-driven personalized recommendation engine to help consumers find their right size and taste-tailored items—are growing in demand from major retailers. Others, like RedThread, use 3D mobile body scanning and tailoring algorithms to best determine fit.

Why it’s important: Some executives, like Levi Strauss & Co.’s CEO Chip Bergh, believe sizes will become obsolete in the next decade. Smartphone-conducted body scans will offer precise measurements that automatically populate online retail platforms. From there, fits can be matched with existing designs or tailored with programmed sewing machines. Offering an even more personalized fit, 3D-printed garments are also on the rise, changing the economics of mass manufacturing. As retail sales continue to migrate to online platforms, virtual try-on software is slated to decimate returns—now a major pain point for both the retailer and the consumer. Yet the convergence of these technologies will not only cut costs, but will also dramatically reduce the environmental toll of shipping, packaging, and textile waste.

AI super resolution lets you “zoom and enhance” in Pixelmator Pro.

What it is: For just $60, Pixelmator is making the “zoom and enhance” trope seen in movies (the ability to zoom into images and retain sharpness) a reality. Using AI algorithms, Pixelmator’s “ML Super Resolution” is a novel function that allows users to scale an image up to 3X its original resolution without pixelation or blurriness. Similar to Google’s and Nvidia’s algorithms, Pixelmator’s software is trained on a dataset containing pairs of low-resolution and high-resolution images and thereby generates rules for how the pixels change from image to image. Pixelmator, however, is about 50 times smaller (than its Google and Nvidia counterparts) at just 5MB, which is lightweight enough to run on a device and needs merely 15,000 sample images to create the tool.

Why it’s important: In just the past 12 months, we’ve seen an explosion in AI and machine learning tool sets newly democratized for accessible consumer use. Yet many have required significant computing resources for top performance. Now, however, products like Pixelmator’s “ML Super Resolution” have achieved powerful algorithms trained on significantly lighter data sets that require far less memory and power. Particularly in the art and imaging realm, the availability of such algorithms to end users will lower the barrier for artists, filmmakers, and small firms in everything from design to marketing.

Lamborghini places emphasis on additive manufacturing, extends partnership with Carbon.

What it is: 3D printing company Carbon has just expanded its partnership with Lamborghini. Famous for its Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology—which prints components using a photochemical process leveraging oxygen and light—Carbon plans to use DLS to manufacture the dashboard air vents for Lamborghini’s first hybrid production car, the Sián FKP 37. This development follows Carbon’s earlier work in partnership with the car maker, whereby it produced textured fuel caps and air duct clips for the Urus Super Vehicles. Successful in reducing Lamborghini’s production time to just 12 weeks, Carbon’s DLS can produce geometric shapes that are extraordinarily difficult to mold using traditional processes, which often include multiple iterations on the design.

Why it’s important: 3D printing is transforming the manufacturing industry (literally) from the bottom-up, whether in production of minute, customized and complex automotive parts to rocket engine parts and organ tissues. We’re rapidly entering an era of programmable production, allowing for far cheaper, more versatile, and quickly prototyped goods. As 3D printing technologies move from deceptive to disruptive, what potential uses might you experiment with in your own business?

Building robotic safety inspectors nabs Gecko Robotics $40 million.

What it is: Pittsburgh-based Gecko Robotics has just landed US$40 million in additional financing, which it will use to add an additional 40 robots to its 60-bot fleet, helping meet demand for the company’s safety and infrastructure monitoring services. Gecko’s wall-climbing robots perform non-destructive testing on industrial machinery like tanks and boilers, assessing metrics like wall thickness, cracking, and pitting. Gecko’s robots can even predictively detect other issues likely to result in downtime or more serious hazards, such as explosions and emissions leaks.

Why it’s important: While much of today’s public debate on robotics centers around the replacement of human labor, one emerging phenomenon in the industry involves preventative, automated approaches to safety and compliance use cases. In many of these cases, robotics and software services like that of Gecko are augmenting human experts’ capabilities by granting them new data, which would otherwise be extremely difficult or hazardous to collect manually. Increasingly a collaborator for human practitioners, robotics and AI are beginning to tackle industrial monitoring tasks that have never before been possible, preventing infrastructural and machinery damage before it occurs.

How artificial intelligence is making health care more human.

What it is: MIT Technology Review Insights, in association with GE Healthcare, recently released survey results of over 900 healthcare professionals, revealing the ways in which AI is already being used in healthcare. Nearly 80% of respondents are set to increase their budgets on AI applications in 2020. And today, the key areas in which AI is already being deployed include: (1) AI for patient flow optimization; (2) medical imaging and diagnostics; (3) automation of electronic health records via natural language processing tools; (4) AI for predictive analytics; and (5) patient data and risk  analytics. In terms of outcomes, 78% of medical staffers report that AI deployments have already improved workflows, reducing time spent on mundane administrative tasks and thus unlocking more time for procedures and patient interactions. Even more importantly, AI is reducing clinical errors, and 75% of AI-using medical staff agree that the technology has bettered predictions in disease treatment.

Why it’s important: AI is transforming the healthcare system as we know it, touching everything from diagnostics to drug discovery. In the wake of “smart” patient scheduling tools, even the number of patients seen by doctors per day has been maximized. And AI is even helping optimize outcomes of the appointments themselves. Medical professionals typically spend 10% of their workweek taking notes or updating electronic health records. As AI begins to systematize these repetitive tasks, doctors are freed to dedicate more time to procedures and patient relations. Applying AI algorithms to medical imaging has also already improved clinical decision-making. For reference, surveyed doctors who have yet to adopt AI report clinical error as their key challenge two-thirds of the time (more than double the figure for those who have adopted AI tools). Moving forward, doctors and healthcare workers must continue to collaborate with machines, leveraging comprehensive pools of AI-mediated data to make important medical decisions. An invaluable new collaborator, AI is helping doctors and clinicians focus on what they do best, helping humanize the healthcare industry and improve the patient experience.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider AR/VR AI machine learning Artificial Intellegence Batteries solar energy drone technology social responsibility
8 min read

Abundance Insider: December 13th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 13, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Coca-Cola’s autonomous truck pilot, a new approach to computer vision, and the mysterious ‘X17 particle.’

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Want a chance to read Peter’s upcoming book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Peter and Steven, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

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High-Tech Planes, Supercomputers and Helitankers Help Fight Wildfires.

What it is: Firefighters are increasingly adopting sophisticated technologies in the fight against blazes. Fire departments across Southern California have now partnered with Dr. llkay Altintas, head of the WIFIRE Lab and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (part of UCSD). WIFIRE combines weather data, topography, and information about the dryness of brush to model in near-real time how a wildfire might spread and at what speeds. This, in turn, helps local leaders create evacuation plans and determine where departments might deploy fire crews. Until recently, mapping fires has been a laborious, hard-drawn process that often requires as much as a day of work. Yet armed with far more accurate data, firefighters and partners such as Coulson Aviation are now using military-grade night-vision goggles to operate at night, when winds often die down and give teams an advantage over the fire. The night vision goggles allow teams to determine key geographic targets as well as hover for water refills without having to land their helitankers.

Why it’s important: As the cost of computing power plummets, converging technologies are beginning to aid in disaster relief at price tags now affordable for budget-strapped state and local governments. While AI grants fire departments far more predictive capacity and higher mapping speeds, its hardware counterparts (whether drones, sensors, or the like) are finding their way into other realms of disaster relief, and even disaster prevention.

Coca-Cola test-drives Einride’s autonomous truck in Sweden.

What it is: Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) will soon release a fleet of Einride autonomous electric transport vehicles onto the streets of Jordbro, Sweden. Founded in 2016, Einride has produced sleek “T-Pod” electric propulsion trucks that do not require a driver, though there are still remote drivers who can take control if needed. Currently, the T-Pods carry 200kWh batteries that allow for 124 miles of travel between charges. The fleet will transport goods from two warehouses, operated by CCEP and leading food retailer Axfood, just outside of Stockholm. Some will remain in fenced regions while others will interact on public roads.

Why it’s important: Road freight transport contributes about 7 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions each year. CCEP aims to use these Einride vehicles to meet its sustainability and efficiency goals. The company projects it could cut its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 90 percent with these new vehicles. After a hoped-for success of this pilot test, the fleet could even potentially scale across the nation of Sweden, throughout which CCEP distributes Coca-Cola products. Sustainable supply chains will grow increasingly important as consumers desire greater transparency in their purchasing decisions and place more emphasis on environmentally responsible goods.

Observe.ai raises $26 million for AI that monitors and coaches call center agents.

What it is: While numerous Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms are beginning to disrupt the customer service realm, some SaaS products are designed to augment human customer care workers. One example involves U.S.-Indian startup and Y Combinator alum Observe.ai, which just announced a $26 million series A funding round. Observe.ai uses natural language processing (NLP) to analyze conversations between human agents and customers. After transcribing each call, Observe’s platform runs sentiment analysis, draws correlations between the support agent’s verbal and behavioral data and the customer’s happiness level, and then ultimately determines overall customer satisfaction. This data is then used to benchmark top performers and find best practices across teams. Results can even be applied to other discrete use cases, such as monitoring compliance in the healthcare industry, where conversations involve sensitive and often legally protected information.

Why it’s important: Observe and a number of other companies—NICE, Verint, Cogito, Gong, Chorus.ai, among others—make up a growing number of companies using AI improve the connection between humans, as opposed to replacing it outright. While many fear the encroachment of AI and automation on our contemporary job market, in what areas might we flip this concern? How might we leverage AIs to help augment our social and professional skills, provide a better service, or gain common ground with our clients?

Machine vision that sees things more the way we do is easier for us to understand.

What it is: Researchers have devised a new method for training neural networks in image recognition. Rather than training their model on full images of birds, scientists from Duke University and MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory trained a network specifically on features of birds: beak shape, head shape, feather coloration and the like. When the algorithm is then presented with a new picture of a bird, it searches for specific features, generates predictions about the bird’s species, and uses the cumulative evidence to come to a final conclusion.

Why it’s important: Recently, the push to make neural networks more explainable and transparent has gained significant traction in both the private sector and academia. Especially in the case of high-stakes applications—such as medical image recognition—AIs that can demonstrate which features contributed to its decision will help to solve the longstanding “black box” problem associated with today’s algorithms. By engineering neural networks to devise predictions in a manner more akin to our own human thought processes, AI engineers will also be able to more easily diagnose problems when networks make incorrect predictions.

A nanotube material conducts heat in just one direction.

What it is: Scientists at the University of Tokyo have now developed a method of synthesizing aligned carbon nanotubes. Normally, producing nanotubes in a bulk material results in poorly aligned configurations of individual tubes. Yet in order to take advantage of the thermal properties of the tube, it is necessary to align the tubes end-to-end. To achieve this, the researchers used a technique known as controlled vacuum filtration, a procedure whereby nanotubes are mixed with a liquid solution whose properties induce a natural self-organization of the tubes. The liquid is then carefully removed with a vacuum, leaving a thin sheet of highly-aligned nanotubes. This sheet has some extraordinary properties: perhaps most importantly, it has one-way thermal conductivity. This means that the sheet can conduct heat about 1,000 times more efficiently in the direction of the alignment than perpendicular to the alignment.

Why it’s important: Heat leakage is a tremendous problem for electrical engineers and circuit designers. This one-way thermal conduction material could serve as a game-changing solution, as it mitigates the need for large cooling systems and can interact at the nanoscale (the size of modern-day transistors). Needless to say, more efficient cooling systems will open tremendous new possibilities in design for computer hardware engineers.

Mysterious ‘Particle X17’ Could Carry a Newfound Fifth Force of Nature, But Most Experts Are Skeptical.

What it is: Four fundamental forces—gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force—govern the universe as we know it. Yet the reported discovery of a particle dubbed X17 could add a fifth force to this list. Researchers at the Institute of Nuclear Research in Hungary first reported evidence of the particle in 2016, when they noticed radioactive beryllium atoms releasing pairs of electrons and their antimatter counterparts (positrons) at specific angles. Based on this evidence, the team concluded that there must be an intermediary “particle X” that the beryllium atom converts into before emitting the electron-positron pairs. With a mass of 17 megaelectronvolts, the particle earned its name X17. More recently, the team even detected a similar X17 particle of the same mass in the radioactive decay of helium. While most matter is made up of fermion particles, the X17 particle is considered a boson, meaning it carries energy and sometimes forces.

Why it’s important: Studying the X17 boson-type particle could unlock important insights into the nature of dark matter and potentially even a fifth force. Dark matter constitutes 85 percent of matter in the universe, yet is only detectable through gravity and does not react to light. The globally held Standard Model of particle physics could be revolutionized by this finding. Most research in the past fifty years has relied heavily on high-energy accelerators to collide particles at rapid speeds, but this team’s work offers a lower-cost alternative to understanding our universe. While findings have not yet been peer-reviewed, several groups are working to verify the Hungarian research institute’s work, driving progress towards a more accurate understanding of the matter that makes up our universe.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider AR/VR AI machine learning Artificial Intellegence Batteries solar energy drone technology social responsibility
8 min read

Abundance Insider: December 6th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 6, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: DeepMind’s latest AI win, a promising treatment candidate for pancreatic cancer, and 5 emerging energy technologies.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Want a chance to read Peter’s upcoming book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Peter and Steven, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

Share Abundance Insider on LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter.

Google DeepMind gamifies memory with its latest AI work.

What it is: If you’ve ever wished you could go back in time to tell your younger self a critical piece of advice, AIs may soon be able to do just that within their own networks. Google’s DeepMind unit recently announced a program that resembles the human capacity to mentally time travel by incorporating long-term consequences into machine learning. AI programs typically rely on reinforcement learning with short-term, immediate “rewards.” DeepMind’s new program, called Temporal Value Transport (TVT), transforms reinforcement learning by sending reward signals backwards from far in the future as an alternative form of neural networks. The program operates in simulated worlds, and it might “explore” a path to a certain target. If the program uses its memory of this path in a future pursuit to the same target, it is rewarded. This process, termed the “Reconstructive Memory Agent,” marks the first time memories of past events have been “encoded.”

Why it’s important: Many sociologists and economists have explored the realm of long-term human decision-making. While DeepMind’s TVT is not entirely representative of human thought, the cognitive mechanisms of the program could greatly impact human thought processes. We easily learn to avoid hot stoves after accidentally burning our hand once. Yet many of us fall into the long-term pattern of following an unfulfilling career path. Because long-term decisions lack immediate feedback, the signs pointing us in the “right direction” are difficult to detect and learn from early on. With the help of AIs that generate future pathways and then inform us of consequences in the present, humans could learn in entirely new ways. From investment decisions to government policy, wisdom from the future will undoubtedly aid our present choices.entertainment, and human interaction.

Jet-powered VTOL drone is like a quadcopter on steroids.

What it is: Texas-based FusionFlight has just invented a jet-powered drone capable of vertical take-off and landing operations. Yet rather than using propellers and electric motors like traditional drones, this drone ups the ante, using four diesel-powered microturbine jet engines and a proprietary vectoring system. Known as the H-Configuration, this latter component enables the drone to direct its engines’ thrust either vertically (for take-off and landing) or horizontally (while in flight). Reportedly capable of reaching a top speed of over 300 mph, the aircraft’s final production version includes a fuel tank sufficient for 30 minutes of hovering and 15 minutes of cruising. Down the line, FusionFlight aims to boost speed and performance with afterburners and other components.

Why it’s important: Drones are rapidly permeating our airspace. They are now used for crop monitoring, military combat, delivery services, and viral YouTube videos. FusionFlight’s newest iteration expands the range of possibilities for drones, especially in the case of time-sensitive tasks, where speed is key. Furthermore, enabled by its jets’ production of a combined 200 horsepower, the drone can carry up to 40 pounds of cargo, making it an ideal candidate for shipping and delivery applications.

Israeli scientists find a way to treat deadly pancreatic cancer in 14 days.

What it is: After just two weeks of daily injections, a new treatment reduced the number of cancerous pancreatic cells in mice by up to 90 percent. Led by Professor Malka Cohen-Armonat at Tel Aviv University, the team used a molecule called PJ34, one originally developed to treat stroke patients. After implanting human pancreatic cancer into immune-suppressed mice, the team intravenously injected the PJ34 treatment for fourteen days. During the cell replication process known as mitosis, the PJ34 molecule causes an anomaly that triggers the cell to self-destruct. In cancer cells that are duplicating uncontrollably, this type of stop signal is critical to controlling the tumor. Only 30 days after the treatment ended, an 80-90 percent reduction in cancer cells was observed, accompanied by zero negative impacts to healthy cells.

Why it’s important: Pancreatic cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to treat, and few patients survive more than five years after diagnosis. Today, most treatment options involve chemotherapy, a systemic approach aimed at halting cell division in the entire body. Yet because this form of therapy lacks discriminatory targeting, cell replication slows across the entire body, causing many patients to experience negative side effects like hair loss, inflammation of the digestive tract, and decreased blood cell production. A solution like PJ34, which specifically targets only cancer cells, could revolutionize cancer therapy and significantly enhance patient quality of life. Venturing beyond pancreatic cancer, the team even successfully tested the treatment on cell cultures of aggressive forms of breast, lung, brain and ovarian cancer. According to the team, this treatment is about two years away from human trials, potentially promising a major boost to healthy human lifespans.

5 Emerging Energy Technologies to Watch Out For in 2020.

The story: This year, technologies in solar, wind, and battery storage have achieved remarkable economies of scale and now compete almost at parity with fossil fuels. In the coming year, breakthrough after breakthrough may finally usher in a watershed moment for the energy sector, and experts recommend keeping an eye on several key areas.

What to watch: (1) Floating solar arrays have surged in popularity for use on freshwater bodies, but photovoltaic solar panels are now moving to the open ocean. (2) Static compressors, which help to maintain the constant frequency of electric power grids, are starting to see an uptick in certain countries and should help with overall incorporation of renewables into the power grid. (3) Several companies are now working to increase the power capacity of dynamic export cables. These are critical to bringing power from offshore floating wind turbines (as opposed to static turbines fixed to the seafloor) back to shore. (4) Now backed by significant funding, molten salt reactors are a new form of nuclear power that promise to emit less radiation than traditional nuclear. (5) Renewably produced hydrogen has witnessed considerable growth in at least 10 countries, with projected utility in everything from industrial heating and cooling to the integration of renewables into the grid. As plummeting renewable energy costs and improved grid storage propel us into 2020, we may soon expect dramatic shifts in the global energy economy.

SLAC scientists invent a way to see attosecond electron motions with an X-ray laser.

What it is: Researchers at Stanford University have developed a method to measure electrons at an unfathomable timescale: 280 attoseconds, to be precise. For reference, an attosecond is to a second what a second is to roughly 31.71 billion years, longer than the age of the universe. To achieve this, the researchers developed a procedure involving X-ray bursts generated by fast-moving electron bursts. To see at smaller and smaller timescales, scientists needed to create shorter and more intense bursts. These bursts, in turn, create the requisite intense and fast X-rays when they are passed through a magnet. Ultimately, the Stanford scientists were able to develop a more capable beam using a technique called XLEAP, first proposed about 14 years ago but now finally coming to fruition.

Why it’s important: This is a tremendous boost for ultrafast science. “Until now, we could precisely observe the motions of atomic nuclei, but the much faster electron motions that actually drive chemical reactions were blurred out,” explained SLAC scientist James Cryan, one of the paper’s lead authors and an investigator with the Stanford PULSE Institute (a joint institute of SLAC and Stanford University). “With this advance, we’ll be able to use an X-ray laser to see how electrons move around and how that sets the stage for the chemistry that follows. It pushes the frontiers of ultrafast science.” What does this mean? Now capable of observing at infinitesimal scales, we may soon probe some of the world’s most fundamental mysteries, particularly in photosynthesis and biochemistry.

Want more conversations like this?

Abundance 360 is a curated global community of 360 entrepreneurs, executives, and investors committed to understanding and leveraging exponential technologies to transform their businesses. A 3-day mastermind at the start of each year gives members information, insights and implementation tools to learn what technologies are going from deceptive to disruptive and are converging to create new business opportunities. To learn more and apply, visit A360.com.

Abundance Digital, a Singularity University program, is an online educational portal and community of abundance-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll find weekly video updates from Peter, a curated news feed of exponential news, and a place to share your bold ideas. Click here to learn more and sign up.

The Future is Faster Than You Think: Want a chance to read my new book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Steven and me, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

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

(*Both Abundance 360 and Abundance Digital are Singularity University programs.)

Topics: Abundance Insider AR/VR AI machine learning Artificial Intellegence Batteries solar energy drone technology social responsibility
7 min read

Abundance Insider: November 29th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 29, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: New haptic device for VR, socially aware algorithms, and NASA’s supermassive black hole finding.

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.

P.P.S. Want to learn more about exponential technologies and home in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of coursework and video archives for entrepreneurs like you. Keep up to date on exponential news and get feedback on your boldest ideas from an experienced, supportive community. Click here to learn more and sign up.

P.P.P.S. Want a chance to read Peter’s upcoming book before anyone else? Join the Future is Faster Than You Think launch team (applications close on December 6th)! Get an advanced digital copy, access to our private Facebook group, behind the scenes specials, a live Q&A with Peter and Steven, and hundreds of dollars in exclusive bonuses. Click here for details.

Share Abundance Insider on LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter.

New virtual reality interface enables “touch” across long distances.

What it is: A Northwestern University team has created a lightweight wearable patch that vibrates when activated by another user’s touch— from miles away. Using this technology, a mother was able to remotely “pat” her son on the back while video chatting him. As she touched a screen interface, this data was communicated through a haptic device on her son’s back, stimulating identical touch patterns. Most of today’s haptic feedback devices rely on batteries, requiring bulky containers that cannot fit snugly against the skin. By contrast, this new patch consists of a vibrating disk—only a few millimeters thick—that is powered by near-field communication, a wireless power transfer typically used in ID card locks. External silicone sheets protect the two inner layers of the device: one containing the near-field communication technology to power the device, and another holding miniature actuators that simulate various degrees of touch pressure. Led by physical chemist and materials scientist John A. Rogers, the team now aims to make the patch more flexible and lightweight before commercializing the device through their newly established startup.

Why it’s important: While today’s audiovisual interfaces have long captured our eyes and ears, incorporating the dimension of touch into our devices will add another layer of immersion in tomorrow’s digitally augmented world. For VR and AR devices, this haptic technology could transform virtual simulations into tactile physical environments—without any real materials. The Northwestern team’s device currently conveys only perpendicular pressure against the skin, but eventually the patch may be able to simulate even twisting motions or temperature changes. The technology will also likely expand beyond simple patches into full body suits, capable of translating touch interactions between individuals, or between game worlds and reality. The ability to see, hear, and feel in a digital simulation will drastically disrupt travel, entertainment, and human interaction.

New Amazon capabilities put machine learning in reach of more developers.

What it is: Amazon has just announced a new approach that will make machine learning models more accessible to both developers and business users. By taking advantage of tools like Amazon QuickSight, Aurora and Athena, anyone who can write in basic SQL can now make and use predictions in one’s applications without having to generate custom code. To make the process even easier, these machine learning models themselves can come pre-built from Amazon Web Services (AWS), be developed by an in-house data science team, or purchased in AWS’s ML marketplace.

Why it’s important: As explained by AWS cloud and open source executive Matt Asay, “there is often a large amount of fiddly, manual work required to take these predictions and make them part of a broader application, process or analytics dashboard.” Amazon’s initiative marks a significant step towards machine learning’s User Interface moment, removing friction and making AI’s predictive power more accessible to a large set of users. Keep on the lookout for a surge in easy-to-build applications and experiments as sophisticated Software as a Service (SaaS) products hit the marketplace.

Socially aware algorithms are ready to help.

What it is: In light of growing concern about AI’s obscure inner workings, software engineers and data scientists responsible for many of the algorithms involved in our everyday online activity have increasingly used more socially aware algorithmic structures. For instance, data scientists now use a technique known as “differential privacy” to add random “noise” to data sets, preserving the overall structure whilst obscuring individual data. This, in turn, helps to anonymize our data and thereby protect user privacy. Other techniques include the addition of fairness criteria, such that predictive models’ output—from creditworthiness to insurance-related decisions—minimize bias where possible.

Why it’s important: As machine learning algorithms are granted greater responsibility over socially consequential decisions (think: our ability to take out loans or a legal decision to grant bail), problems of privacy, bias, disinformation, filter bubbles, and transparency abound. As a result, AI engineers have begun working on algorithms’ ability to explain their decisions, overcoming their status as mysterious “black boxes.” Meanwhile, the above fairness conditions are a promising start in our pursuit to build equitable, unbiased, and evidence-based algorithms: predictive models that prove accurate without perpetuating “fake news,” racial inequalities, and a slew of other social challenges. Differential privacy, fairness conditions, and similar tweaks do result in some costs to algorithmic “utility” and error rate in the short-term. However, such initiatives will be essential for a future wherein machine learning helps safeguard equitable, systemic decision-making and privacy, while protecting against some of today’s worst institutional tendencies.

NASA finds supermassive black hole birthing stars at “furious rate.”

What it is: Scientists have now discovered a supermassive blackhole at the center of a distant galaxy cluster “furiously” birthing stars at a rate about 500 times that of the Milky Way Galaxy. Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory, the team of astronomers was able to observe the equivalent of trillions of Suns’ worth of hot gas cooling around the black hole within the Phoenix Cluster, some 5.8 billion light years away.

Why it’s important: Typically, the supermassive blackholes at the center of galaxy clusters are too active for star formation. They usually blow powerful streams of gas around the region, heating up interstellar hydrogen and preventing the gas from cooling down enough to trigger the creation of new stars. However, as this blackhole in the Phoenix Cluster is smaller than others, its jets are not as powerful, allowing for prolific star formation. From a scientific perspective, observations like this enable us to better understand and characterize the lifecycle of galaxy clusters and the role that blackholes play in both preclusion and creation of new stars.

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Topics: Abundance Insider AR/VR AI space exploration machine learning Artificial Intellegence Batteries nasa social responsibility haptic devices