6 min read

quantum supremacy.... NOW WHAT?

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 7, 2019

Imagine a computer that could crack the most sophisticated network in a mere few seconds. Perfectly model complex weather and biological systems.

Topics: google ibm quantum computing computation Google Sycamore Rigetti Computing Rigetti qubits qubit computing Sycamore Chad Rigetti quantum IBM Q53
11 min read

Abundance Insider: August 30th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Aug 31, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Stratospheric drones, a new space elevator design, and CRISPR-controlled materials for drug delivery.

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.

Cambridge scientists reverse aging process in rat brain stem cells.

What it is: A team of researchers at the University of Cambridge’s Wellcome-MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Institute has discovered a critical component of the extracellular environment’s effect on our brain’s aging process. As a result, they’ve now uncovered a potential mechanism for reversing loss of function in brain stem cells, typically due to stiffening. The researchers first studied the function of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) — a type of stem cell critical for normal brain function and myelin reformation — by placing the OPCs of older mice into the far softer brain tissue of younger animals. Surprisingly, the older cells became rejuvenated, behaving more similarly to younger counterparts. The team then took its research a step further by removing Piezo1, a protein on the cell’s surface that detects whether its environment is soft or stiff. Once Piezo1 was removed, the OPCs were essentially tricked into believing their environment was soft, subsequently resuming normal, healthy function.

Why it’s important: In the near term, this discovery holds extraordinary potential to alleviate the pain of patients with Multiple Sclerosis, who suffer loss of function in both the brain and other parts of the nervous system. More broadly, however, this study demonstrates a key link between extracellular environment and the human aging process, opening new avenues for research and therapeutic applications. A major feat for longevity research, this and similar discoveries make aging research far more relevant to the well-funded study of other diseases, helping spur new funding for our extension of the human healthspan. | Share on Facebook.

Drone Ambitions Soar to the Stratosphere.

What it is: Airbus, Boeing, and SoftBank are now developing stratospheric autonomous drones, capable of flying at (and even above) 60,000 feet. Intended to fly for months without intervention, the drones could deliver imaging and even internet services from above, generating a new market for commercial and military customers. Already, Airbus’s current iteration of its solar-powered Zephyr UAV weighs just 175 pounds yet touts a wingspan of 75 feet. Taking after this lightweight model, the stratospheric drones would be able to recharge batteries during the day to stay aloft at night. While seemingly a competitor to satellite connectivity providers like Starlink, OneWeb or TeleSat, these drones could additionally improve the link between ground and space satellites, according to the European Space Agency. This, in turn, would make upper stratospheric and space efforts far more complementary than competitive.

Why it’s important: According to research firm NSR, high-altitude aircraft (including stratospheric drones, balloons and airships) could generate $1.7 billion in revenue over the next decade. Despite the challenges of building aircraft light enough to fly above 60,000 feet, yet capable of withstanding turbulence at lower altitudes, there are already over 40 development programs currently under way. As both R&D and private sector investment continue on the rise, we will soon bring connectivity to upwards of 4 billion people currently without access to the web— no undersea cables or capital-intensive trenches needed. Last-mile connectivity costs will plunge, and anyone anywhere will be able to leverage the connected globe. | Share on Facebook.

Double’s new telepresence robot now drives you around like you’re a Sim.

What it is: In a new feat for telepresence robotics, Double has announced the third generation of its flagship telecommuting device. The company’s latest model, “Double 3” has vastly improved upon previous hardware, no longer consisting of a scooter-like mount topped with (separately purchased) iPad. Embedding a screen for remote interaction with the robot’s environment, Double 3 is additionally equipped with a suite of cameras and 3D sensors, enabling seamless self-driving and augmented reality integration. No longer needing to manually steer Double around the office, users can simply place a “pin” on their target location and the robot will automatically go there, avoiding all obstacles and people along the way. Further geared with high-resolution Pan-Tilt-Zoom cameras, the device grants remote workers anywhere the novel ability to collaborate with colleagues in a hyper-efficient, life-like way.

Why it’s important: In just the past 5 years, the number of employers that allow working from home has grown 40 percent. Yet beyond the benefits of no commute, a recent survey revealed that 86 percent of employees find they are more productive at home than in an office. Yet Double and similar telepresence robots provide teams the best of both worlds, offering the convenience of working from home, while still maintaining the efficiency of spontaneous “water cooler” conversations and in-person meetings. As investment in sensors, AI, and AR surges year-to-year, the cost of producing telepresence hardware will continue to plummet. An indication of the technology’s growing commercialization, Suitable Technologies (Double’s main competitor) was recently acquired by Blue Ocean Robotics, as the company continues deploying its Beam robot. Amplifying the experience of decentralized teams, Double’s latest iteration could permeate a range of industries, from elder care to surveillance to supply chain management. How might your business leverage telepresence robotics in a growing decentralized workforce? | Share on Facebook.

Wildfire science: computer models, drones and laser scanning help fan the flames and prevent widespread devastation.

What it is: Utah University atmospheric scientist Adam Kochanski and a team of researchers are now refining a computer model with new data to predict how fires will spread and what weather events will follow in their wake. Initiating a “prescribed fire” — a controlled fire typically intended for habitat restoration in forest regions — the team used numerous infrared camera-fitted drones, laser scanning, and sensors to collect data while Kochanski tested his predictive model’s forecasts. While generated data is still being processed, the experiment is contributing to ‘coupled fire-atmosphere models,’ which leverage data to determine how wildfires influence local weather conditions, and the interaction of the two. Yet already, Kochanski’s model proved remarkably predictive of the experimental fire’s actual behavior.

Why it’s important: As wildfires grow ever more untamable and regions like the Amazon suffer detrimental losses, high-accuracy predictive models are more vital than ever before. Just in the last 10 decade, wildfires have decimated between 16,000 and 40,000 square kilometers of land in the U.S. each year, resulting in financial losses of US$5 billion. Paired with robust networks of sensors and autonomous drone fleets, computer models that incorporate weather conditions in AI forest fire mapping could help us to stem early fires before they gain momentum, saving forests, lives, and entire habitats. |Share on Facebook.

These researchers want to run a cable from the Earth to the Moon.

What it is: Space elevators have remained a science fiction moonshot since the Space Race of the 1960s. Building them would require cable material far stronger and lighter than any material currently discovered. However, in a newly published paper, researchers from Columbia and Cambridge universities describe Spaceline, a promising cable design made from known materials that could run from the surface of the Moon to geostationary orbit (approximately 36,000 kilometers above ground). Given that the elevator would not attach to Earth’s crust, the design eliminates numerous past engineering challenges, as rockets would only need to reach Spaceline’s endpoint, dock on the elevator, and be pulled to the Lunar surface.

Why it’s important: Rocketing into space (particularly with heavy cargo) is exorbitantly expensive, costing between US$10-20 million per metric ton of weight. Finding alternative methods of exiting the Earth’s atmosphere is therefore crucial for our democratization of space travel and extraplanetary discovery. In success, Spaceline could significantly lower the cost and challenge of modern-day rocket launches, possibly even allowing future researchers to tether orbital telescopes and research institutions between the Earth and Moon. Made far more accessible given its use of existing materials, Spaceline may not only forge a faster path to private space travel, but could enable new space-based research to fundamentally shift the way we understand our universe and our species’ place within it. | Share on Facebook.

Gene Editing Transforms Gel into Shape-Shifting Smart Material.

What it is: We often think of CRISPR in the context of genetically modified organisms or treatment of genetic diseases. Yet a team of researchers led by MIT bioengineer James Collins now has a new application for the gene-editing tool: smart materials that can shape-shift on command. Working with water-filled polymers held together by DNA strands called DNA hydrogels, the team used DNA-snipping enzyme Cas12a to alter the properties of these polymers. Programmed to recognize a specific DNA sequence and cut the targeted strand, Cas12a is now being used to build a number of CRISPR-controlled hydrogels that can change shape or dissolve completely to release a payload. Having demonstrated effectiveness, the team has even designed these hydrogels to release enzymes, drugs and human cells in response to programmed stimuli.

Why it’s important: Smart sensors for targeted drug delivery within the body have long been a hot topic of discussion, poised to revolutionize medicine with personalized and preventive care. Yet this research team’s CRISPR-controlled hydrogels could soon make this vision a practical reality. As expressed by Collins, “We’re in the CRISPR age right now [...] It’s taken over biology and biotechnology. We’ve shown that it can make inroads into materials and bio-materials.” Enabling constant monitoring of internal conditions, shape-shifting hydrogels and similar CRISPR-controlled materials might one day be capable of surrounding an infection with antibiotics the minute it appears, or releasing cancer drugs as soon as tumors are detected. Fortifying our bodies with an internal line of defense, smart biomaterials are slated to vastly increase the human healthspan, revolutionizing healthcare and the way we treat disease. | Share on Facebook.

What is Abundance Insider?

This email is a briefing of the week's most compelling, abundance-enabling tech developments, curated by my team of entrepreneurs and technology scouts, including contributions from standout technology experts and innovators.

Want more conversations like this?

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

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 newsfeed 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.

Topics: Abundance Insider Space AI Artificial Intellegence IoT driverless autonomous vehicles self-driving cars physics computation
10 min read

Abundance Insider: August 23rd, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Aug 23, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Intel's new AI chip, Starship's college-based delivery bots, and a major breakthrough in determining protein structure.

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.

Researchers’ 3D map of the brain’s response to words could be vital for next-gen language decoders.

What it is: Researchers at UC Berkeley have now created a 3D map of how the brain responds to words. To achieve this, the team monitored brain activity (vis-à-vis blood flow data) of nine volunteers as they both listened to and read stories from “The Moth Radio Hour” podcast. By reading stories one word at a time and subsequently listening to the same passages, participants generated new data revealing how various words spark activity in distinct regions of the brain. These results were then fed into a computer program that used natural-language processing to map thousands of words based on their relationship to one another. Ultimately, the team found that different classes of words (e.g. social terms like “husband,” “father,” and “daughter”) do indeed correlate to disparate physical regions in the brain, regardless of whether they are read or listened to.

Why it’s important: Discoveries in neuroscience are fundamental to both augmenting and treating the human brain. In terms of augmentation, our ability to map the physical regions in which different brain activities take place will vastly facilitate development of brain-computer interface technologies (think: Elon Musk’s recently showcased Neuralink, for instance). From a treatment standpoint, research that codifies isolated brain activity — particularly in language and communication — could help us to develop unprecedented new therapies for patients with reading and speech disabilities. | Share on Facebook.

These AR swimming goggles can display multiple performance metrics while you swim.

What it is: Sports tech startup Form has just released the first-ever augmented reality (AR)-enabled swim goggles, introducing seamless fitness tracking to the pool. Developed in partnership with Olympic swimmers, the goggles can reach a depth of up to 32 feet. Attached to the side of one lens, Form’s computer sits embedded in a small black box, enabling swimmers to display performance metrics in real time, from total distance and stroke count, to total calories and split time. Using accelerometer data, the goggles’ onboard processor can even detect stroke types, additionally noting when swimmers turn around or take a break. For greater versatility, the company used machine learning to train its software on data produced by swimmers of multiple levels.

Why it’s important: Whereas some AR players have adopted a broad approach to general-purpose AR eyewear (think: Google Glass), Form’s targeting of a highly specific use case allows its technology to benefit from structured environments and an abundance of well-defined data. Just as Microsoft refined its Hololens technology through early application in industrial training and military settings, Form’s sports tech focus might soon yield AR hardware applicable in a range of industries. What other niche applications lend themselves to near-term, practical AR, while generating hardware for a fully augmented world? | Share on Facebook.

Intel launches first artificial intelligence chip Springhill.

What it is: This week, Intel released the company’s first dedicated AI processor, designed for use in large data centers. Known as Springhill, or Nervana NNP-I, the chip is based on a modified 10-nanometer Ice Lake processor, making it ideal for high workloads without significant energy use. Now a principal component of Intel’s “AI everywhere” strategy, the Springhill chip is built for an AI process called inference. Implementing trained neural network models to deduce novel insights from data, inference is essential for computer vision, speech and image recognition, as well as language processing tasks.

Why it’s important: Already in use by companies like Facebook, Intel’s chip can help offload inference workloads from countless standard processors, allowing these latter components to focus far more on general compute tasks. As explained by the general manager of Intel’s AI products group, Naveen Rao, “In order to reach a future situation of ‘AI everywhere,’ we have to deal with huge amounts of data generated and make sure organizations are equipped with what they need to make effective use of the data and process them where they are collected.” Not only will Intel’s Springhill deployment help catalyze complex AI inference processes, but similar iterations could vastly improve the energy efficiency of today’s growing data centers. | Share on Facebook.

Thousands of autonomous delivery robots are about to descend on US college campuses.

What it is: Having just raised $40 million in its Series A round, autonomous robot delivery startup Starship Technologies is now targeting U.S. college campuses. In total, Starship’s self-driving delivery bots have traveled 350,000 miles, completing over 100,000 deliveries across 20 different countries. With extensive testing under its belt, the company plans to deploy thousands of its all-electric, six-wheeled bots for college food deliveries over the next two years. Already in action at George Mason University and Northern Arizona University, the robots can carry up to 20 pounds of cargo and make deliveries within a three-to-four-mile radius.

Why it’s important: Online grocery shopping is predicted to surge up to fivefold over the next ten years, and American consumers are expected to spend upwards of $100 billion on food-at-home items by 2025. While today’s human-conducted delivery services (think: Postmates and DoorDash) are on the rise, these non-automated options remain heavily subsidized, as labor costs far exceed those of roboticized alternatives. By first targeting college campuses, companies like Starship can benefit from well-defined, easily navigable environments (not to mention an abundance of tech-savvy, young buyers) while building out an expanded business model for urban integration. | Share on Facebook.

Scientists extract hydrogen gas from oil and bitumen, giving potential pollution-free energy.

What it is: Clean energy startup Proton Technologies is now cracking the code of emission-less, pollution-free hydrogen gas. Hydrocarbons (like those in crude oil and natural gas) react with oxygen via combustion (or respiration) to produce energy plus carbon dioxide and water. Hydrogen gas, on the other hand, reacts with oxygen to produce solely energy and water. To avoid burning hydrocarbons above ground (and thereby release carbon into the atmosphere), Proton Technologies has now developed a system of converting hydrocarbons into hydrogen while still trapped in oil fields underground. By injecting oxygen into oil wells to combust the trapped hydrocarbons, Proton can generate enough heat in the process to produce hydrogen gas. This process leaves carbon sources trapped beneath the Earth’s surface in the form of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, and other gases, while removing only hydrogen gas.

Why it’s important: An extraordinary range of new technologies is allowing us to fundamentally rethink our global energy economy. New game changers, from emission-free hydrogen gas to direct air capture (DAC), hold vast potential to decimate energy costs, while providing an unprecedented abundance of clean energy. Solving one of today’s most existentially critical challenges requires a robust energy production strategy bolstered by first principles thinking. Peter’s most recent blog series heavily explores the potential of alternative energy technologies, spanning nuclear, solar, and direct air capture-derived fuels. Could the next piece of this complex energy puzzle involve hydrogen gas? | Share on Facebook.

Measuring the shape of proteins just got easier thanks to mathematics.

What it is: A research team led by Yale chemist Zhe Mei has just made significant progress in scientists’ ability to identify protein structures. In common practice, proteins have either been crystallized and analyzed via x-ray crystallography or packed in a liquid solution and analyzed using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Yet neither approach is consistently accurate for all proteins, and results differ. To understand why, Mei and her team built a database of x-ray crystallography protein structures at various temperatures. Subsequently, the team built a mathematical model of the ways in which proteins pack together, either forming solid crystals or bundles in solution for NMR. In success, the researchers not only found that packing density can explain the difference in protein structure between both measurement techniques, but were also able to study how temperature influences structure.

Why it’s important: A key building block for everything from organ tissue to hormonal regulation, proteins are responsible for much of our biological machinery, and each protein’s function is largely defined by its complex structure. Predicting and visualizing protein structure, however, has been a seemingly insurmountable challenge, prompting scientists to develop complex algorithms and even launch crowdsourcing platforms. Yet mathematical modeling can be invaluable in reconciling differences between different measurement and imaging techniques—both improving biochemistry research methods and revealing unknown relationships between our biology and external variables. | Share on Facebook.

Topics: Abundance Insider Space AI Artificial Intellegence IoT driverless autonomous vehicles self-driving cars physics computation
12 min read

Abundance Insider: August 16th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Aug 16, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: NYC's first driverless shuttle service, universe-generating supercomputers, and the new legal debate of patent-holding AIs.

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.

New York’s first-ever driverless shuttle service has now hit the road.

What it is: Just last week, autonomous vehicle (AV) startup Optimus Ride became the first public AV offering in New York City, providing shuttle rides to passengers in Brooklyn's Navy Yard. While carrying both a safety driver and software operator, and restricted to a 1.1-mile loop of private roads, the shuttle service is already expected to serve over 16,000 passengers per month. Lowering consumers' barrier to use, Optimus has even made the service free, running between a NYC Ferry stop and the Yard’s Cumberland Gate to embed itself in the daily routine of thousands of commuters.

Why it’s important: As regulatory frameworks continue to catch up with AV technology, public trust is critical. By launching its shuttle service at the Navy Yard (private property exempt from DMV regulation), Optimus can tap into an existing passenger pool with rigidly defined routes and far fewer safety concerns. This choice further reflects Optimus’s strategy of deploying its service in residential communities, corporate and university campuses, resorts, and similarly well-structured environments. Providing a lower-risk market entry route, these “enclosed network” transportation services are already predicted to exceed a combined value of $600 billion, according to Optimus’s founders. An alternative to personal vehicles’ incremental addition of adaptive cruise control, brake assist, and hands-free parallel parking, Optimus-like shuttle services may vastly accelerate AV’s broader public adoption. | Share on Facebook.
 

Google’s AI researchers built an open-sourced soccer simulator to train next-gen machine learning algorithms.

What it is: Developing what we might call an AI playground, AI engineers at Google Research’s Brain Team have now built Google Research Football Environment. A reproducible, customizable, and physics-based environment, the open-sourced soccer video game is an ideal platform for researchers anywhere to test their machine learning algorithms. While games such as Pong, Space Invaders, and Go are now easily mastered by sophisticated algorithms, complex open-world games like Starcraft remain too challenging. Virtual soccer, on the other hand, offers a sufficiently structured (rule-based) game while introducing behavioral uncertainty and diverse team strategies.

Why it’s important: As explained by Research Lead Karol Kurach, Google’s football environment “provides a challenging reinforcement learning problem as football requires a natural balance between short-term control, learned concepts such as passing, and high level strategy.” Given the learning algorithm’s capacity to play against humans and machines alike, the virtual soccer game also introduces a broad range of opponent weaknesses and human irrationality. Yet beyond the game’s utility for immersing machine learning in accurate, real-world environments, GRFE could grant us new soccer strategies that even the world’s most skilled coaches have never considered. Meanwhile, for the AI research community, Google’s new game environment perfectly combines an effective training platform, public code, appropriate complexity, and non-deterministic patterns. | Share on Facebook.

India’s Reliance Jio is launching its IoT network on New Year’s Day, with a plan to connect 1 billion devices.

What it is: Chairman of Reliance Industries, Mukesh Ambani, has now set the conglomerate’s sights on powering at least half of India’s connected devices, projected to exceed 2 billion over the next two years. Leveraging the company’s 4G network, Reliance’s telecom subsidiary, Reliance Jio, is therefore launching a Narrowband Internet of Things (or NBIoT) this coming January. Yet Jio will focus less on in-home appliances, instead targeting low-cost, seamless connectivity between industrial machines in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, and utilities. Reliance's focus on these latter industries also follows the Indian government's $1 billion investment in the construction of 100 smart cities.

Why it’s important: While India’s IoT-connected devices currently number about 60 million, Deloitte estimates a 32X surge in the nation’s online devices by 2020. Growth at this scale would drive a $9 billion domestic market, attracting countless smart device companies and new telecom players. Although we often think of technologically developed nations as best suited to IoT and smart cities, India and other emerging economies are well-positioned to leapfrog traditional network infrastructure, as IoT technology can be more easily embedded during network construction (no retrofitting needed!). As governments begin pouring funds into front-end smart city applications, IoT networks like that of Reliance are providing the backbone for everything from traffic flow optimization to government e-services. Share on Facebook.

Could this AI inventor be the first with a patent to its name?

What it is: Sparking historic legal debate, American engineer Stephen Thaler and legal experts have just filed for UK-, Europe-, and US-based patents in the name of an AI. Dubbed Dabus AI, the algorithm was originally invented by Thaler but went on to autonomously design novel consumer products. Those in the patent filing process include a fractal-based, easy-to-grasp food container and a lamp built to flicker in patterns mirroring brain activity. As might be expected, however, patent offices are showing strong resistance, citing the traditional precedent that legal rights have always gone to humans.

Why it’s important: Now that AIs are becoming inventors, the legal status of human creativity and artificial genius could fundamentally alter how we assign legal responsibility, credit, ownership, and (in the case of product malfunction) culpability. As explained by the BBC, human requirements were originally intended to protect individuals from losing their inventions to corporations. Yet the increasing use of AIs (such as generative adversarial networks, or GANs) to design everything from optimized auto parts to novel drug therapies, is about to birth a far broader debate about intellectual property and the legal definition of invention. | Share on Facebook.

This supercomputer generates millions of universes, helping researchers determine the rules that shaped our own.

What it is: Peter Behroozi and his research team at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory are now employing computer simulation to study one of humanity’s most existential questions: the formation of our universe. Foregoing costly telescopes, the team instead uses a supercomputer to generate millions of virtual universes. Each known as an “Ex Machina,” individual universes contain 12 million galaxies and start 400 million years after the Big Bang. By observing the characteristics of each universe, Behroozi and colleagues can distinguish underlying differences across simulations (relative to our own universe) to determine the viability of today's various formational theories. With a specific focus on the role of dark matter and how simulated galaxies give birth to stars, the research team can thereby infer causal relationships far more difficult to identify through traditional observation.

Why it’s important: Astronomers’ newfound ability to simulate millions of universes could soon allow us to isolate individual causal factors responsible for what we observe in the stars today. Yet supercomputers’ ability to generate massive databases with logically consistent data affects scientific discovery well beyond the origins of our universe. Soon, we might be able to “birth” millions of ecologies or even political simulations, each bound by their own set of parameters. In success, supercomputers and AI-generated simulations could thereby help researchers identify causal links, optimal conditions, and even theoretical flaws within any scientific field imaginable. | Share on Facebook.

Astronomer David Kipping’s proposed “terrascope” (a planetary telescope) would use Earth’s atmosphere as a giant lens.

What it is: Telescopes capable of observing far-off worlds usually exceed billions in cost and can span the equivalent of multiple football fields. What if we could instead use the Earth as a giant telescope lens, dramatically cutting down on cost and size? Enter Columbia University’s David Kipping, an astronomer who has now developed designs for a “Terrascope.” When light hits the Earth, it refracts through the Earth’s atmosphere. This refraction closely mimics the lensing behavior of standard telescopes and reading glasses. Kipping’s thought proposal therefore suggests that we harness the Earth itself as a giant lens, placing a space telescope at the focal point. In theory, this configuration would boast the light-gathering power of a 150-meter telescope, but cost far less than alternative astronomical observation systems.

Why it’s important: While many technical challenges remain, Kipping’s paper provides first principles engineering solutions that validate the efficacy of a conceptual Terrascope. Today, Earth-based telescopes are astronomically expensive. Kipping estimates that replicating the results of a Terrascope-scale system would require a 100 meter (as opposed to 1 meter) terrestrial lens, not to mention upwards of $35 billion. Leveraging an entire planet as our lens, however, could offer an extraordinary new method for imaging distant, space-faring objects and even earth-like planets. How else might one apply Kipping’s first principles approach to astronomy and engineering? | Share on Facebook.

What is Abundance Insider?

This email is a briefing of the week's most compelling, abundance-enabling tech developments, curated by my team of entrepreneurs and technology scouts, including contributions from standout technology experts and innovators.

Want more conversations like this?

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

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 newsfeed 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.

Topics: Abundance Insider Space AI Artificial Intellegence IoT driverless autonomous vehicles self-driving cars physics computation
12 min read

Abundance Insider: August 9th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Aug 9, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Samsung's 'smart' contact lenses, gamified tree-planting, and this week's virtual conference experiment.

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.

One chip to rule them all: It natively runs all types of AI software

What it is: A team of researchers primarily based in Beijing has developed a hybrid chip that can natively run all types of AI software. Dubbed Tianjic, the chip has been engineered to combine two distinct architectural approaches to AI (machine learning and artificial neural networks), which each require fundamentally different coding schemes. In effect, Tianjic’s processing units can shift between spiking communications and binary, allowing it to perform a broad range of calculations. To demonstrate Tianjic’s versatility, the team even built an autonomous Tianjic-operated bicycle, which could successfully detect and avoid obstacles, maintain balance, perform voice command recognition, make navigation decisions under varying road conditions, and run conventional software to boot.

Why it’s important: While sometimes conflated under the umbrella term AI, machine learning and artificial neural networks have developed along different branches and enable distinct types of calculations. For this reason, today’s field is considered one of Artificial Narrow Intelligence, as most contemporary AIs are “super-intelligent” within the constraints of highly specialized problems, like pattern recognition or strategy games. However, by combining distinct AI architectures in a single chip, Tianjic and its future successors might be the vanguards of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), birthing multi-skilled machines geared to tackle any computation problem, motor skill, or pattern analysis. | Share on Facebook.
 

How Alipay Users Planted 100M Trees In China

What it is: Alibaba’s Alipay (one of China’s two dominant mobile payment platforms) has enabled users to plant 100 million trees to date via its “Ant Forest” mini-program. Since the program’s launch in 2016, over 500 million Alipay users have joined, earning “green energy” points in exchange for eco-friendly decisions, such as walking to work, using Dingtalk to hold video conferences (instead of commuting to meetings), or recycling old possessions on Alibaba’s secondhand marketplace Idle Fish. Trackable through leaderboards, these green energy points can then be used to plant trees in China’s most arid regions. So far, Alipay’s partner NGOs have revegetated 933 square kilometers of land — the rough equivalent of 130,000 soccer fields. Alipay even allows users to track satellite images of their trees in real-time and collaborate with friends.

Why it’s important: Announced in 1978, China’s “Green Great Wall” project aims to plant 400 million hectares of new forests (spanning 42 percent of China’s landmass) by 2050. Alipay’s ‘crowd’-planted trees not only comprise a growing carbon sink, offsetting China’s high emissions, but also aid in building this 4,500-kilometer ecological barrier to combat land degradation. Over the past 20 years, China and India have contributed one-third of the planet’s increased foliage, and crowd-leveraging programs like Ant Forest are fast reducing the barrier to participation. By gamifying “green” behavior and offering real-world prizes, mobile platforms hold an extraordinary power to incentivize sustainable decision-making, reshape communal mindsets, and catalyze climate solutions. | Share on Facebook.

This Week’s Virtual Conference In VirBELA

What it is: Early this week, Peter Diamandis and the Abundance Digital team partnered with virtual coworking company VirBELA to run an immersive, virtual conference experiment. Uniting over 100 participants from around the world, the summit featured embodied avatar speakers (including a keynote by Peter and exclusive XPRIZE updates), an interactive auditorium, and social recreational activities — from boat tours to seaside group conversations. Iterating on its software for next-generation remote collaboration, VirBELA strives to dematerialize and democratize the traditional office, allowing anyone to engage in team projects regardless of geography. Currently, VirBELA’s software is home to eXp Realty, a $620 million+ real estate company with over 20,000 agents and zero staffed, physical offices.

Why it’s important: The future of work — and social interaction, for that matter — will soon make physical distance immaterial. As virtual reality hardware and low latency rendering improve dramatically in the coming years, digital and delocalized work environments will begin to decimate travel costs, company carbon footprints, and wasted time. Validated this week, people can increasingly experience all the benefits of conventional conferences from the convenience of a living room, at zero cost. Perhaps even more exciting, platforms like VirBELA are vastly enhancing the accessibility of today’s brightest minds, industry leaders, and cutting edge content. 

Researchers Say This AI Can Spot Unsafe Food On Amazon Faster Than The FDA

What it is: Researchers at Boston University School of Public Health have successfully trained an AI to spot unsafe food items potentially in need of recall. Aggregating nearly 1.3 million Amazon food product reviews, the team’s neural network found matches between a subset of these products and prior U.S. FDA-recalled items. The researchers’ deep learning AI, a Bidirectional Encoder Representation from Transformations (dubbed BERT), was then taught to identify language in online reviews that could confirm a food’s safety status and aid in risk stratification. Using crowd-sorted reviews, BERT AI consequently distinguished which food products had been officially FDA-recalled with 74 percent accuracy, and even managed to predict a similar fate for 20,000 additional products, now candidates for recall.

Why it’s important: Predicting and mitigating risk before losses are incurred is one of the most profitable business opportunities of the next decade. Leveraging e-commerce data, BERT’s ability to scour massive databases and classify products by risk serves as a prime example, unlocking countless implications. Regulatory processes (think: FDA recalls) can now become much more efficient as products are instantaneously flagged, bypassing a recall’s costly research phase. Within supply chain monitoring, AIs might continuously analyze real-time employee and user feedback to identify supply chain bottlenecks and inefficiencies. For end consumers, future iterations of BERT could even crowdsource decisions for quality control and assurance, as well as concise supplier feedback. Knowing your customer and listening to the data will never have been easier. | Share on Facebook.

Samsung's Patented ‘Smart’ Contact Lenses

What it is: Samsung has just been granted a U.S. patent to develop smart contact lenses capable of streaming text, capturing videos, and even beaming images directly into a wearer’s eyes. Given their multi-layered lens architecture, the contacts are designed to include a motion sensor (for eye movement tracking), hidden camera, and display unit. Current lens designs would even theoretically allow users to control their devices remotely, possibly administering commands by blinking or navigating a user interface with eye movements alone.

Why it’s important: While still immersed in the R&D phase, smart contact lenses are projected to comprise a $7.2 billion market by 2023. Perhaps one of the most promising candidates for a future of ubiquitous augmented reality, smart lenses are also increasingly feasible thanks to advances in sensor technology. Riding implications of Moore’s Law, smart sensors (and what some have dubbed “smart dust”) have shrunk dramatically in size, and could one day record and transmit everything from lens-wearers’ audiovisual experiences to auto-populated contextual information. Keep an eye out (no pun intended) for Google’s response as it works on its own smart lens revamp of the Google Glass. | Share on Facebook.

Tokyo Offers $1 Billion Research Grant For Human Augmentation, Cyborg Tech

What it is: The Japanese government has just set aside roughly 100 billion yen (or $921 million) to fund projects spanning cyborg technologies, industrial waste solutions, and augmentation for aging individuals. Planning to fund teams for the first 5 years of a 10-year support agreement, Tokyo will soon invite researchers and academics (both domestic and international) to submit proposals in 25 key problem areas. One source reports that portions of the research grant will be channeled towards "cyborg technology that can replace human bodily functions using robotics or living organisms by 2050." In light of a declining birth rate and a shrinking workforce to follow, Japan might rely heavily on such solutions to bolster economic productivity.

Why it’s important: Similar to the U.S. government's $2.5 billion+ SBIR/STTR grant and seed funding program, Japan’s government is issuing a powerful clarion call to private industry and academics: an invitation to not only tackle some of the nation’s most pressing challenges, but to invest in long-term, experimental technologies set for commercialization between 2025 and 2060. As OECD nations begin to witness a dwindling birth rate, resulting labor shortages will require converging advancements in AI, robotics, and additional human augmentation technologies. Whether in pursuit of longevity extension or cyborg construction, Japan’s initiative might soon birth solutions that allow us to work longer or replace certain human labor altogether. | Share on Facebook.

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Topics: Abundance Insider Future of Work AR/VR AI food Artificial Intellegence virtual reality environment capital Augmented Reality China computation future of food
12 min read

Abundance Insider: December 14th, 2018

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 14, 2018

Topics: Abundance Insider Materials Science health Deepmind google Artificial Intellegence healthcare Drones computation