5 min read

The Future of Technological (Un)Employment

By Peter H. Diamandis on Feb 23, 2020

Headline after headline tells us technological unemployment is on its way.

Topics: Future of Work Robotics Abundance Manufacturing Entrepreneurship AI Exponentials Amazon the Internet retooling automation workplace automation unemployment employment human-machine collaboration
6 min read

3D Printing & the Future of Retail

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 7, 2019

Forget costly prototypes, traditional textile manufacturing, product recalls, and the like…. 3D printing is about to turn the entire retail industry on its head.

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials retail Technology Artificial Intellegence networks connectivity connection future of retail smart tracking 2028 smart malls smart economy experience economy
6 min read

Rise of the Retail Robots & Last-Mile Delivery

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 5, 2019

The robots are coming! The robots are coming! On our sidewalks, in our skies, in our every store… Over the next decade, robots will enter the mainstream of retail.

Topics: Robotics Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials retail Technology Artificial Intellegence networks connectivity smart cities connection future of retail smart tracking 2028 Westfield smart malls smart economy experience economy
8 min read

AI & Shopping - A New Retail Era

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 24, 2019

AI and broadband are eating retail for breakfast. In the first half of 2019, we’ve seen 19 retailer bankruptcies. And the retail apocalypse is only accelerating.

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Materials Science Manufacturing Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials Technology Artificial Intellegence robots materials networks connectivity smart cities construction connection Moonshots entrepreneur convergence aid exponential technology drone technology smart tracking mobile connectivity hyperloop Martine Rothblatt organ transplant
7 min read

Pursuing Moonshots: Martine Rothblatt’s Story

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 21, 2019

You just learned your daughter’s disease gives her less than 5 years to live. How do you react? Would you strive to make her last years the most fulfilling? Or would you search every medical journal, contact every scientist, and find her a cure?

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Materials Science Manufacturing Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials Technology Artificial Intellegence robots materials networks connectivity smart cities construction connection Moonshots entrepreneur convergence aid exponential technology drone technology smart tracking mobile connectivity hyperloop Martine Rothblatt organ transplant
6 min read

transforming sick care into healthcare - part 1

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 17, 2019

The U.S. healthcare industry is in for a major disruption in the decade ahead.

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Materials Science Manufacturing Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials Technology Artificial Intellegence robots Drones Autonomous Drones materials networks connectivity smart cities nanobots construction connection entrepreneur augmented manufacturing convergence catalyzer additive manufacturing convergence disaster relief humanitarian aid humanitarian aid exponential technology drone technology smart tracking mobile connectivity hyperloop
7 min read

Hyperloop, Rocket Travel, and Avatars

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 13, 2019

What’s faster than autonomous vehicles and flying cars? 

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Materials Science Manufacturing Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials Technology Artificial Intellegence robots Drones Autonomous Drones materials networks connectivity smart cities nanobots construction connection entrepreneur augmented manufacturing convergence catalyzer additive manufacturing convergence disaster relief humanitarian aid humanitarian aid exponential technology drone technology smart tracking mobile connectivity hyperloop
11 min read

Revolutionizing Disaster Relief: A Tale of Convergence

By Peter H. Diamandis on Nov 10, 2019

Between 2005 and 2014, natural disasters have claimed the lives of over 700,000 people and resulted in total damage of more than US$1.4 trillion.

Topics: 3D Printing Robotics Materials Science Manufacturing Sensors Entrepreneurship Exponentials Technology Artificial Intellegence robots Drones Autonomous Drones materials networks connectivity trillion sensor economy smart cities nanobots construction connection entrepreneur augmented manufacturing convergence catalyzer additive manufacturing convergence disaster relief humanitarian aid humanitarian aid exponential technology drone technology nanorobots smart tracking mobile connectivity
8 min read

Abundance Insider: October 28th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Oct 28, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Google's quantum computing breakthrough, a new gene-editing technique, and NASA's collaboration with Caterpillar on Moon mining machines.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter .

New gene editing technology could correct 89% of genetic defects.

What it is: Researchers at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have now developed a new gene-editing technique called “prime editing.” Built upon the foundations of CRISPR technology, prime editing has the expected potential to correct up to 89 percent of genetic defects, including those responsible for diseases like sickle cell anemia. By combining the traditional CRISPR-Cas9 approach with a protein that can generate new DNA, prime editing can thereby both snip DNA strands and transfer edited sequences to target DNA, allowing scientists to delete and replace whole sections of DNA strands.

Why it’s important: Single point gene mutations constitute roughly two-thirds of known human genetic variants associated with disease. As a result, effective gene editing techniques—once perfected—could correct mutations and wipe out a number of debilitating conditions. As explained by one of the authors of the study, Andrew Anzalone, “The versatility of prime editing quickly became apparent as we developed this technology [...] The fact that we could directly copy new genetic information into a target site was a revelation.” Now refining the new prime editing technique, Broad Institute’s scientists hope future iterations of CRISPR could target everything from obesity to Alzheimer’s to some of today’s most vexing genetic maladies. |Share on Facebook.

NASA's collaborating with Caterpillar on Moon mining machines.

What it is: NASA has recently teamed up with autonomous construction vehicle manufacturer Caterpillar to develop machines for excavating and mining the Moon. The two have long collaborated on robotics projects, but it is the autonomous capabilities of Caterpillar’s vehicles that make the company uniquely positioned to develop technology for NASA's lunar exploration programs. According to NASA spokesperson Clare Skelly, “there are many synergies between what NASA needs to meet exploration goals and Caterpillar technologies used here on Earth.”

Why it’s important: On the heels of revived interest in lunar exploration and the goal of establishing a lunar base, NASA has been heavily pursuing methods to make tasks easier for astronauts. Given multiple hazards associated with navigating the lunar surface, semi-autonomous vehicles could minimize dangerous construction work done conducted directly by astronauts. Once validated and fully autonomous, Moon-mining machines might one day provide a continuous supply of raw materials, from dust to water, for NASA’s proposed lunar outpost. | Share on Facebook.

Tesla’s new Solar Roof costs less than a new roof plus solar panels, aims for install rate of 1K per week.

What it is: Tesla has just launched its third-generation Solar Roof for residential home use. Planning to start installations in the coming month, the company is now aiming for a production rate of up to 1,000 new roofs per week. Long a work in progress, Tesla’s Solar Roof is designed to double as both an aesthetically appealing roof tile and set of home power-generating solar panels with high surface area coverage. While the installation process remains “very non-trivial,” according to Elon Musk, Tesla hopes to gamify consumer installation learning through ‘installathons’ and is investing in R&D to lower this critical barrier.

Why it’s important: Although individual tiles’ power-gathering cells are still less energy-efficient than traditional solar cells, version three of the Solar Roof well exceeds the energy-generating capacity of similarly sized roofs retrofitted with traditional tiles, on balance. Furthermore, V3 marks a tremendous improvement over previous iterations of the Solar Roof, and Musk forecasts a total addressable market of up to 100 million households globally. As installation procedures plummet in complexity and cost, and solar continues to demonetize, self-sustaining and energy-efficient residences could fast become the norm worldwide.

Google Confirms Achieving Quantum Supremacy.

What it is: Google’s quantum computer, Sycamore, has just claimed “quantum supremacy” after completing a computation that would normally take 10,000 years on the most powerful supercomputers, in just 200 seconds. Led by experimental physicist John Martinis at UC Santa Barbara, the Google team published its feat in Nature magazine this week. Instead of traditional semiconductor computers, which store data in 1s or 0s, quantum bits (qubits) can exist in a third superposition state of both 0 and 1 simultaneously. With more degrees of bit variability, quantum computers can thereby perform exponentially more calculations per second than traditional computers. Quantum entanglement, described by Einstein as “spooky action at a distance,” then allows computers to measure entangled qbits at the same time. As Google’s Sycamore contains 54 qbits capable of storing over 10 quadrillion combinations of values, the tech giant now boasts the potential to tackle computational problems inconceivable in the past.

Why it’s important: While real-world applications of quantum computing may lie further on the horizon, Sycamore’s scientific achievement is a tremendous milestone for the many companies investing in this space already. In just the last two years, about US$400 million has been channeled towards private quantum-related firms—doubling investment figures of the past five years. Intel and IBM have demonstrated processors similar in scale to that of Sycamore, yet error-checking remains an issue for all three. Moving forward, Google aims to implement full error-checking once it can create processors with at least a million qubits. Currently, however, a second Google team is exploring how Sycamore-like computers can develop machine learning algorithms that generate realistic images. Meanwhile, competitor IBM offers quantum cloud access to partners such as drugmaker Merck. Even Airbus Ventures has invested in quantum startup IonQ, which may eventually aid in aircraft physics simulations. Spanning countless applications, the long-term vision of early investors in quantum computing will pay off sooner than you might think. |Share on Facebook.

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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 Robotics google solar solar energy autonomous vehicles Genetics CRISPR quantum computing nasa solar cells solar power solar roof extraplanetary colonies genetic engineering Caterpillar
7 min read

Abundance Insider: October 23rd, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Oct 23, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: OpenAI's robotic hand, ANA's pursuit of avatars to replace flying, and DARPA's new inroads in BCIs.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter.

First Robot to Know How to Hug Safely Thanks to Artificial Skin.

What it is: Engineers at the Technical University of Munich recently developed an artificial skin for usage on anthropomorphic robots. Taking inspiration from biology, these skins comprise a fabric of hexagonal, 2.5cm-diameter "cells," capable of measuring temperature, pressure, acceleration, and proximity. Each cell has a tiny micro-controller for both local computation and cell-to-cell communication. Yet the key breakthrough involves how the cells respond to inputs. Rather than transmitting data every second—overwhelming the robot's computer—cells only transmit data when value changes are detected. This enables the team to cut computational resources by a full 90 percent, allowing for more coverage of the robot's body.

Why it's important: Artificial skins like this one grant robots a far keener ability to navigate, sense and respond to complex environments, allowing them to balance on one leg, move on uneven surfaces, and avoid collisions, for instance. Furthermore, computation-optimized, sensor-embedded skin has useful applications for nursing care and several other robotics solutions in the service and healthcare industries. | Share on Facebook.

Google’s AI explains how image classifiers made their decisions.

What it is: Researchers at Google and Stanford have just made a major advancement towards AIs that can explain their decisions. Using a new machine learning model, the team was able to automatically extract "human-meaningful" visual concepts that informed the model's decisions. The algorithm works by taking an already trained image classifier, as well as its inputs for various classes, and identifying associations between the classes of images and the features within those images. As a result, the model was able to flag concepts as "important" with a mostly human-intuitive sense. In one instance, a law enforcement logo was deemed important for detecting police.

Why it's important: Explainability in AI has become a key issue in machine learning's development. As we cede more control over our lives to algorithms, we must ensure a grasp of why decisions are being made, and how we can guide AI to produce positive outcomes for people. Currently, most deep learning models are "black boxes:" data comes in, out comes a prediction, and no explanation is (or even can be) given. This research can help push the field towards models that are more easily explained and therefore more verifiable for human use. Share on Facebook.

The US military is trying to read minds.

What it is: A Carnegie Mellon team led by Pulkit Grover is developing a non-invasive brain-computer interface (BCI) that can detect electrical and ultrasound signals from outside the skull. This team is one of six funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of a $104 million initiative called the Next-generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology Program, or N³. The groups are working to translate a variety of signals, ranging from magnetic, to infrared, to ultrasound waves, into commands that can be used for military purposes. N³ director Al Emondi has noted that these BCIs may be used to control drone swarms “at the speed of thought rather than through mechanical devices.”

Why it’s important: Human skulls are less than a centimeter thick on average, yet this skeletal barrier presents a massive challenge for BCI developers. Invasive BCIs often involve implanted Utah arrays (half a pinkie nail size) that detect electrical neural activity in order to replicate these signals to stimulate movement in paralyzed individuals. While this approach has improved the quality of life for many individuals with quadriplegia, few healthy patients are willing to undergo the risky implantation procedure. Without any need for surgery, noninvasive BCIs could powerfully enable seamless, high-speed control with few downsides. In DARPA’s vision, these enhancements could allow troops to direct drones, communicate with each other, and receive information at record speeds—all while remaining physically alert in their environments. Considerable progress must still be made to precisely detect the electrical impulses of neurons—which can be as weak as a twentieth of a volt—from outside the skull, but DARPA’s BCI-targeted investments hold promise. | Share on Facebook.

Airline unveils robot avatars it hopes will replace flying.

What it is: Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA) hopes to reinvent travel with its “newme” robot, which consumers can use to virtually explore new places. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on a plane ticket, sitting cramped between travelers, and adding to commercial air-flight carbon emissions, individuals might one day use newme to teleport their virtual presence anywhere in the world. The colorful robots have Roomba-like wheeled bases and cameras mounted at approximate eye level, which capture the surroundings that users view through VR headsets. If the robot were stationed in your parents’ home, for example, you could cruise around the rooms and chat with your family at any time of day. After revealing the technology at Tokyo’s Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies last Monday, ANA plans to deploy 1,000 newme’s by 2020.

Why it’s important: Virtual avatars like newme will create boundless opportunities for next-generation travel. From common tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower or the pyramids of Egypt, to uninhabitable destinations like the Moon or deep sea, location, distance and cost will no longer limit our travel choices. This technology will likely transcend recreational use and assist doctors in reaching distant patients, help disabled individuals engage with the world, and allow students to explore locations firsthand that they currently learn about in the classroom. Last year, a group of individuals unable to leave their homes due to disabilities used ANA’s newme robots to work as virtual waiters in a Japanese restaurant. As we increasingly migrate from our physical world to an ever-connected digital one, ANA's newme avatars will catalyze this transition and allow us to transcend the physical constraints of modern-day travel. |Share on Facebook.

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 Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI
9 min read

Abundance Insider: October 11th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Oct 11, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Lab-grown meat in space, a brain-controlled exoskeleton, and wireless charging of IoT-connected devices.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter.

A brain-controlled exoskeleton has let a paralyzed man walk in the lab.

What it is: Using just two sensors connected to his brain, a man paralyzed from the shoulders down has now successfully walked vis-a-vis a mind-controlled exoskeleton. Once a link was made between Thibault’s cognitive patterns and the 65kg suit, these steps marked the 28-year-old patient’s first instance of autonomous movement after a 40-foot fall four years prior. Conducted as part of a study with France’s University of Grenoble Alpes, the researchers implanted sensors—each comprised of 64 electrodes—above the outer membrane of Thibault’s brain’s movement centers. By mapping the brain to determine which areas became active during Thibault’s thoughts of walking or moving his arms, the researchers then trained the system and translated neural impulses (detected by the electrodes) into control inputs for the exoskeleton. Over several months, Thibault then trained his brain using a virtual avatar until he was prepared to control the exoskeleton. The final outcome? 480 steps in 39 periods of walking, with controlled stops.

Why it’s important: Although the exoskeleton still requires suspension from a ceiling mount, this technology has the power to return fully independent, self-determined movement to paraplegics. Virtual simulations serve a crucial role in the training phases of such suits, and we will continue to witness the expansion of VR technologies across movement restoration and similar health applications. Even beyond clinical use cases, our growing understanding of how brain signals link to movement will transform brain-computer interfaces and our future interactions in the virtual world. Perhaps writing an email in 2035 may just require you to think about typing it. Goodbye carpal tunnel syndrome! | Share on Facebook.

FCC approves wireless charging tech for IoT devices, Walmart to adopt it.

What it is: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has now granted authorization for wireless power delivery to an Internet of Things (IoT) tracking device. In effect, Ossia’s “Cota” technology will soon be utilized in Walmart’s highly complex supply chain, embedded in shipping packages across a number of transit vessels. Having developed what’s known as “trickle charging” capacity, Ossia uses radio frequency (RF) to send power and data from Cota transmitters over distances greater than 15 feet. This technology allows for the charge of dozens of mobile devices within a several-meter radius, sometimes even through walls. Transmitters come in multiple form factors, including a drop ceiling tile, which would communicate with sensors embedded in shipping packages aboard trucks. The system might also be used in crowded spaces, such as coffee shops or offices, wherein two Cota ceiling tiles could be linked to power mobile devices.

Why it’s important: We are currently witnessing an unprecedented explosion in IoT-connected sensors, embedded in our devices and environments. Stanford researchers estimate that connected devices will number over 500 billion by 2030. Yet the cost and technological constraints of keeping devices continually charged has proved a major barrier to mass adoption. Regulatory approval of newly sophisticated wireless charging technology will tremendously catalyze mass integration of continuously reliable tracking devices and IoT integration across almost every industry imaginable, transforming tomorrow’s supply chains. Share on Facebook.

Astronomers spot ‘cosmic web’ that sticks the universe together.

What it is: For the first time ever, astronomers have directly observed the cosmic web. Serving as a “glue” between far-afield galaxies, the cosmic web is essentially the universe’s underlying structure at its largest scale. While only using indirect evidence, today’s leading models indicate large filaments of gas and galaxies that crisscross the universe. These filaments form threads of superclusters and clusters, thus mimicking the web of a spider. Most recently, astronomers used the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope to peer back at an ancient galaxy cluster at a distance of over 12 billion light-years. From their images, the astronomers then used specialized equipment to map out light emitted by hydrogen within the SSA22 galaxy cluster, spotting individual gas filaments linking the galaxies together.

Why it’s important: This observation provides definitive support for our current models of the universe. As Durham University astrophysicist and co-author Michele Fumagalli states, “It is very exciting to clearly see for the first time multiple and extended filaments in the early universe [...] We finally have a way to map these structures directly and to understand [...] their role in regulating the formation of supermassive black holes and galaxies.” Offering explicit visual validation, this and similar discoveries will help us make tremendous strides in understanding the evolution of our early universe. | Share on Facebook.

Astronauts just printed meat in space for the first time — and it could change the way we grow food on Earth.

What it is: Last month, astronauts on the International Space Station successfully proved that lab-grown beef can be produced even under extremely hostile conditions— in this case, microgravity. Using a magnetic printer developed by Russian firm 3D Bioprinting Solutions, the cosmonauts adapted a method designed by Israeli startup Aleph Farms to coax bovine cells into fully formed muscle tissue. After biopsy-extracted cow cells were immersed in a nutrient broth (which simulates the interior environment of a cow’s body), the bioprinter fostered their “growth” into a tiny piece of beef, even in the absence of sunlight and gravity.

Why it’s important: As cutting-edge startups like Memphis Meats and JUST continue to charge ahead with lab-grown meat in controlled Earthbound environments, developments such as space-based meat bioprinting has a two-fold impact on the food industry. Beyond its promise for food production aboard the ISS and in future space colonies, Aleph Farms and 3D Bioprinting Solutions’ success could dramatically advance alt-meat production here on Earth. As Aleph Farms CEO Didier Toubia put it, “We are proving that cultivated meat can be produced anytime, anywhere, in any condition.” Such a proof-of-concept could thereby lead to on-demand, high-protein meat production in some of Earth’s harshest environments, granting immediate access to nutrition even within remote populations. | Share on Facebook.

Toyota Research Institute teaches mobile manipulator with VR, simulation.

What it is: Scientists from the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) are now training robots to navigate and assist with domestic tasks in people's homes. Using complex simulations and virtual reality (VR), Toyota has successfully designed and trained robots that can perform multi-step assignments, such as loading a dishwasher or transferring a bottle from fridge to table. By processing robots’ audiovisual sensor data, building physical world models, and mapping visual inputs to taught behaviors, TRI’s software architecture enables robots to navigate uneven terrain, circumvent unexpected obstacles, respond to voice commands, and autonomously execute chores. Furthermore, because learning is readily transferred between robots, the lessons learned by one bot can be applied to the entire fleet, allowing for rapid, iterative progress and training en masse.

Why it’s important: Building effective home assistants is a significant prong of Toyota's future strategy. Particularly in light of an aging population and the economic challenges that accompany this demographic trend, TRI hopes that its versatile and fast-advancing robotics initiative could help people “age in place.” Yet aside from allowing elderly individuals to stay in their homes—particularly those that cannot afford to rely on scarce human aid—TRI’s initiative is a critical stepping stone en route to countless residential and commercial robotic assistants. Whether in manufacturing, pick-and-place operations, logistics or packing, fleet learning and iterative training are about to revolutionize mass market adoption of robots that can learn almost any task, on the spot. | Share on Facebook.

Microsoft wants to connect another 40 million global internet users.

What it is: In 2017, Microsoft launched its “Airband Initiative” with the goal of improving rural internet access across America. Yet just this week, the tech giant announced an expansion of the plan to connect over 40 million people to the internet by 2020, focusing on regions in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. In the U.S., Microsoft has already introduced broadband access to 3 million Americans using unutilized TV White Space (TVWS) in the 600 MHz spectrum. Internationally, the company will use this TVWS strategy, alongside technologies derived from local partnerships, to overcome stifling government regulations and work with internet service providers (ISPs) along the way. Having already linked 6 million rural Columbians to the internet through partnerships with local ISPs, Microsoft has also helped deregulate TVWS in Ghana, enabling a broadband provider to offer its service to about 800,000 people.

Why it’s important: Today, almost half the world’s population is connected to the web, a percentage that continues to surge in response to satellite-provided connectivity, 5G, and drone networks. In rural areas isolated from technology hubs, internet access offers a path to countless new opportunities— educational, economic, social, imaginative. In one instance, by connecting two schools and five farms to the internet in Columbia (using TVWS), Microsoft has unlocked a plethora of free, digitized educational resources to local youth and adults alike. While this and similar initiatives (by tech giants like Facebook and Google) are partially incentivized by an expanded consumer base and financial gain, the rapid scaling of global connectivity also plays a critical social role in equalizing access to opportunities, regardless of one’s randomly assigned place of birth. | Share on Facebook.

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 Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI
8 min read

Abundance Insider: October 4th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Oct 4, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Google's VR Versailles Tour, new artificial skin for haptic feedback, and photovoltaic-powered sensors.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter | Read on Diamandis.com.

Artificial skin could help rehabilitation and enhance virtual reality.

What it is: Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have now developed a soft artificial skin made of silicone and electrodes that simulates the perception of touch using haptic feedback. The skin conforms to a wearer’s wrist or finger, and strain sensors precisely measure skin deformation. Based on these readings, the artificial skin then sends vibrations, generating pressure to simulate touch. This haptic feedback is controlled by the membrane’s soft pneumatic actuators that can be inflated with air. In practice, vibrations are produced by rapidly inflating and deflating these actuators at adjustable frequencies up to 100 Hz. The skin, which can be stretched up to four times its original length, can even endure up to a million cycles, touting tremendous durability and flexibility in a range of real-world applications.

Why it’s important: Haptic feedback provided by artificial skin could transform the nature of virtual reality, allowing users to “touch” elements in the virtual world. The addition of a fully integrated sensory layer would redefine the nature of immersion, rendering mixed reality experiences almost indistinguishable from those within the physical world. Yet beyond VR/AR, haptic feedback through a “second skin” of sorts could have an invaluable impact in medical rehabilitation. Although EPFL’s artificial skin has only been tested on fingertips, the team plans to create a prototype for neurological studies to stimulate the body while researchers record brain activity, unlocking novel research tools in neuroscience. | Share on Facebook.

Google used photogrammetry to create a detailed VR tour of Versailles.

What it is: You can now tour 21 rooms of King Louis XIV’s Château de Versailles, inspect over 100 paintings and sculptures, and zoom in on tapestries, ceilings, and furniture— without battling any crowds. Google and the Château de Versailles recently released their joint VR project, which takes viewers through 387,500 square feet of internal castle surfaces, all from the comfort of an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset. The largest photogrammetry project ever done on this site, the experience required over 4TB of data capture, and Google’s texturing of 15 billion pixels. In success, the coveted King and Queen's State Apartments, Royal Opera House, Royal Chapel, and Hall of Mirrors are now accessible from anywhere in the world, private audio tour included. Even those without the necessary VR headsets can access a taste of the experience through the Google Arts and Culture smartphone app.

Why it’s important: With over 7.5 million annual visitors, Versailles is one of the highest-traffic tourist attractions in all of France. Yet the time and travel costs required to reach it prohibit millions more from ever getting there. Photogrammetry (the data capture method) and VR (the interface) will converge to make countless international landmarks accessible to anyone, anywhere, in life-like resolution. In doing so, every curious mind will be able to tour the wonders of the world, from the comfort of a desk, home, or classroom. HTC Vive and Oculus Rift owners can already explore the Grand Canyon, Alcatraz prison cells, and Mount Everest through various apps. Yet as photogrammetry software and autonomous data capture bots grow ever more sophisticated, VR will democratize travel in unprecedented realms, one day allowing first graders to travel to the Moon or planets even farther afield. | Share on Facebook.

SwarmTouch: A tactile interaction strategy for human-swarm communication.

What it is: Researchers at Russia’s Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) have successfully utilized recent advances in wearable displays and haptic feedback to enhance interactions between humans and robotic swarms. Dubbed SwarmTouch, the method allows a human operator to communicate with and guide nano-quadrotor drone swarm formation directly via vibrational feedback. Users can then change swarm dynamics to avoid hitting obstacles simply by moving their hands at different speeds or in different directions. In contrast to current methods of robotic swarm control—which are often hard-coded and predetermined—SwarmTouch allows operators to change swarm dynamics in real-time, unlocking potential for navigation in cluttered and complex environments, such as urban centers.

Why it’s important: As expected, researchers are now investigating alternate applications of SwarmTouch and its underlying technologies, whether in VR or leashed drone swarm iterations, whereby robots are attached directly to a user’s fingers. As we begin to enter the Spatial Web (or Web 3.0), remote control of connected devices and even partially autonomous robotic swarms will extend beyond the limitations of touch screens and keyboards. How might the use of haptic feedback, advanced sensors and immersive interfaces be applied more generally? What near-term use cases—from search and rescue operations to last-mile, high-precision delivery—might benefit most? | Share on Facebook.

Make like a leaf: Researchers developing method to convert carbon dioxide.

What it is: Scientists from the University of Sydney have developed a method of artificial photosynthesis that can capture carbon dioxide and water from the atmosphere, combine the two compounds, and convert them into usable hydrocarbon. The process works by creating a microplate of carbon layered with carbon quantum dots. These dots, in turn, include tiny pores that allow for absorption of CO2 and H2O. While the research has only been executed on a nanoscale, the team’s focus is shifting towards scalable catalyst synthesis solutions and reactor designs that might one day achieve large-scale conversion of CO2 into raw materials for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, and beyond.

Why it’s important: While global efforts are underway to curb emissions, it has become increasingly essential to extract CO2 from the atmosphere, reversing climate damage to the extent possible. Carbon capture technology has been around for a decade, yet it has historically required the costly and complex storage of carbon in deep underground chambers. By adopting nature's process of photosynthesis, we could not only remove carbon from the atmosphere but also generate feedstock for the production of everything from clothing to construction materials. As this and similar methods arise, wide-scale adoption of closed-loop carbon cycles could serve as a powerful method of both combating climate change and sustainably generating industrial quantities of materials. | Share on Facebook.

Photovoltaic-powered sensors for the 'Internet of Things.'

What it is: Researchers from MIT have developed a special type of photovoltaic cell that can be used to power sensors for the Internet of Things (IoT). Fundamentally different from traditional solar cells, these novel iterations use a special type of material known as perovskite (a light-sensitive crystal that has the potential to be more efficient, inexpensive, and versatile than all other existing solar solutions to date). The perovskite cells are mounted in the form of a thin film that integrates with tiny radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. Capable of utilizing dim indoor light as well as outdoor solar light, these cells can potentially power RFID tags for years, even boosting their transmission range. Another application of boosted sensor power is the ability of a tag reader to collect data from multiple sensors simultaneously.

Why it’s important: The Internet of Things is becoming a global phenomenon, and sensors are expected to number more than 75 billion by 2025. In order to provide maximum use, however, sensors must be capable of maintaining operational power levels for months or even years at a time without battery replacement. By leveraging perovskite—whose conversion efficiency has increased dramatically in recent years—these novel photovoltaic-powered sensors could unlock the full potential of RFID and IoT technology, particularly in the monitoring of supply chains, construction, soil health and agriculture, energy usage, and beyond. | Share on Facebook.

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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 Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI
8 min read

Abundance Insider: September 27th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Sep 27, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: New CRISPR explorations, CTRL-labs' neural monitoring armband, and a nighttime solar panel.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter | Read on Diamandis.com.

Gatwick to use facial recognition at boarding.

What it is: Following its self-boarding trial with EasyJet last year, Gatwick has become the UK's first airport to confirm it will permanently use facial-recognition cameras for flight passenger ID checks. While travelers will still need to carry passports at departure gates for the auto-boarding system to match document photos with corresponding faces, the technology’s rollout is slated to entirely eliminate the need for human checks at a range of entry points. Already, 90% of the 20,000 passengers who tested Gatwick’s new system found it “extremely easy,” and the airport reported a dramatic reduction in passenger queuing times.

Why it’s important: Although privacy advocates have raised concerns regarding informed consent, Gatwick and other airports’ piloting of facial recognition validates the speed at which computer vision is advancing, now well in the commercialization arena. Even London’s Heathrow Airport, which has now invested £50 million in the software, claims facial recognition could reduce airport travel time averages by a third. As adjacent markets emerge around the technology (from data security to AI traffic optimization), facial recognition’s gradual rollout at airports could soon spread to countless checkpoints and transit systems, automating transit security on a massive scale. | Share on Facebook.

This “Anti-Solar Panel” Could Generate Power From Darkness.

What it is: Researchers at Stanford University have just developed a solar panel capable of generating energy from the night sky. Their method works by passively cooling one side of the panel using a technique called radiative sky cooling. Central to this latter process, a surface first radiates its thermal energy towards the sky, leaving it several degrees colder than the ambient temperature. In doing so, the panel creates a thermal difference between its cooler side and ambient temperature, allowing the panel to generate electricity. While the process currently generates only 25 mW per square meter (m2), future capacities are already expected to reach 0.5 W/m2. In practice, the researchers even demonstrated their panel’s ability to light an LED light bulb.

Why it’s important: Amidst the push for green energy, one of the biggest bottlenecks in market adoption of renewable sources like solar and wind is the time-dependent nature of energy generation. Creating a solar energy grid that works both day and night would go a long way in encouraging mass adoption, not to mention buildout of comprehensive green energy infrastructure. Commercialization of Stanford’s anti-solar panel would especially benefit remote and poorly resourced regions, granting energy independence and 24/7 consistency. | Share on Facebook.

Shanghai allows self-driving cars to carry passengers.

What it is: Shanghai is now the first Chinese city to issue permits for self-driving cars, allowing licensed firms to conduct operational tests of smart and connected vehicles carrying passengers and freight. Now bolstered by Shanghai’s first dedicated road section for autonomous vehicles (covering 65 square kilometers), SAIC Group, BMW, and Didi Chuxing were each granted licenses to operate a fleet of 50 cars in the city’s Jiading district. In order to receive permits, applying firms must have over 24,000 kilometers and 1,200 hours of passenger-less testing, no collisions incurred. Furthermore, upon receiving a license, trips are not permitted to make a profit. Yet once licensed driverless fleets operates for more than six months without incident, auto companies can apply to increase their fleet size.

Why it’s important: Autonomous driving is set to revolutionize transportation, as billions are poured annually into R&D. Now, the regulated deployment of driverless transit services in an urban environment as complex as Shanghai’s speaks volumes about the technology’s maturity. While still constrained to a designated area, numerous firms’ gradual rollout of self-driving vehicles in Shanghai will accelerate passenger acceptance and invaluable data abundance (across a test library of thousands of scenarios). Yet beyond autonomous capabilities, vehicles are joining a connected ecosystem, driven by urban-embedded sensors, tailor-made smart roads, and 5G-based transit systems. | Share on Facebook.

New CRISPR class expands genetic engineering toolbox.

What it is: Biomedical engineers at Duke University—led by Charles Gersbach and Adrian Oliver—have harnessed a new set of Class 1 CRISPR systems to edit the human epigenome. Today’s most commonly used gene-editing tool, CRISPR-Cas9, is a Class 2 CRISPR system and relies on just one Cas protein to target and cleave DNA. By contrast, Class 1 systems are more complex, involving a Cascade complex that binds the DNA, then recruits a Cas3 protein to act as the molecular scissors. The Duke research team, however, found that these Class 1 systems—which make up 90% of CRISPR systems in all bacteria on Earth—boast comparable accuracy to their more well-known Class 2 counterparts. Consequently, the researchers even discovered they could bind these Class 1 complexes to specific gene activators and repressors, demonstrating the potential to control human gene expression with remarkable precision.

Why it’s important: The Duke team’s successes open up an entirely new frontier in gene editing. While the accuracy and specific application of Class 1 systems now appear comparable to those of Class 2 systems, the former may be able to address some of the challenges researchers have previously experienced with Class 2 systems in therapeutic applications, including immune response to Cas proteins. By further investigating the differences between the two, researchers could soon determine promising combinations of various gene editing techniques, honed to target complex diseases and genetic predispositions in humans. | Share on Facebook.

Facebook buys startup building neural monitoring armband.

What it is: Facebook recently acquired startup CTRL-labs, producer of a neural impulse armband, for an estimated $500 million to $1 billion. Founded in 2015, the New York-based startup has built a noninvasive wristband, using sensors to detect arm muscle movements and convert them into digital input signals. Having raised $67 million from investors like Lux Capital and Founders Fund, CTRL-labs (and its CEO Thomas Reardon) will now work under Facebook’s Reality Labs division. A tremendous feat, CTRL’s device already allows wearers to manipulate objects on a screen by moving their hands in mid-air as if they were handling a physical object— a process called digital telekinesis. Given the technology’s maturity, CTRL-labs’ acquisition marks the first step towards commercializing noninvasive control interfaces, potentially for use in Facebook’s AR devices.

Why it’s important: Converting neural impulses into digital signals will unearth a treasure trove of digital superpowers for humans. Facebook’s AR/VR Vice President Andrew Bosworth has emphasized the technology’s potential in Oculus devices, providing a more seamless alternative controller to hand tracking or gloves. As AR balloons into a competitive and highly valuable market over the next 10 to 15 years, the dematerialization of high-precision sensors and controllers will be critical for our interaction with digitally augmented environments. Welcome to a future wherein AR interfaces and seamless controls eliminate our modern-day era of screens and keyboards. | Share on Facebook.

IKEA will produce more energy than it consumes by 2020.

What it is: By the end of this year, IKEA forecasts it will generate more renewable energy than the energy consumed by all its stores on aggregate, putting the company almost a year ahead of schedule. After investing roughly $2.8 billion in wind and solar energy over the past decade, the company has also announced plans to stock its shelves with home solar panels by 2025. Having just invested in two solar farms (in Utah and Texas, respectively) earlier this month, IKEA already has 900,000 of its own panels, installed across stores and distribution centers alike.

Why it’s important: Contributing to a sweeping trend of climate-focused initiatives surrounding the UN’s Climate Action Summit, IKEA joins a number of companies in its plan to be climate-positive (reducing more emissions than it releases) by 2030. In a newly unveiled “Climate Pledge,” Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has even staked an ambitious goal of meeting the Paris climate agreement targets a full 10 years early. Agreeing to purchase 100,000 electric delivery vans for product distribution, the e-commerce giant expects to derive 80% of its energy use from renewable sources by 2024, continuing on to achieve zero emissions by 2030. As the cost of solar continues to plummet, corporate pledges to invest could be just the fuel to drive wide-scale consumer adoption of renewables. | Share on Facebook.

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 Space Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI space exploration retail Private Space healthcare deepfakes future of retail prosthetics cancer therapeutics drug delivery extraplanetary colonies space colonies palladium therapeutics
8 min read

Abundance Insider: September 20th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Sep 20, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: A new record in residential energy storage, bioreactors for carbon sequestration, and democratized AI toolkits.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter.

Home Energy Storage Capacity Breaks Records In US.

What it is: Marking a record high, U.S. residential energy storage capacity saw additions of over 30 MW in the second quarter of 2019. While a fall in front-of-the-meter storage additions could be responsible for Q2’s lower overall energy storage growth, the first half of the year saw an addition of over 200 MW in new storage capacity. And over just the next 5 years, some analysts forecast total storage capacity could surge up to tenfold in the U.S. Bolstered by progressive policies like the Massachusetts clean peak standard (which requires that a minimum percentage of peak power come from renewable sources), consumer interest will only increase residential capacity’s slice of the pie.

Why it’s important: While solar photovoltaics (PV) receives most of the press, storage is a critical enabler of (or bottleneck to) clean energy adoption, allowing us to stabilize the inherent volatility of wind and solar generation. Moreover, as solar nears price parity with coal and natural gas, mass growth of total energy storage capacity will allow us to democratize clean and constant electricity, regardless of geography. As stated by the U.S. Energy Storage Association’s chief executive Kelly Speakes-Backman, “The long-term growth trends of energy storage deployment nationwide are encouraging and consequential for stakeholders, and for all electricity users who want and deserve a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable electricity grid.” What new innovations might we unleash after returning the 4-8 percent of global GDP currently spent on energy back to the market? | Share on Facebook.

Graphene nanoribbons lay the groundwork for ultra-powerful computers.

What it is: Materials scientists have now found a way to layer graphene nanoribbons directly atop silicon wafers. For context, graphene consists of a single-atom-thick layer of carbon and is the strongest ultra-thin material known to man. Yet graphene becomes an extraordinary semiconductor when in the form of extremely thin slices (or ribbons). Possibly even outperforming silicon in thermal conductivity and transistor drive current, these nanoribbons could thereby serve as an ideal candidate for future computers. Until today, however, researchers were unable to grow graphene nanoribbons directly on silicon, stemming their wide-scale adoption for graphene-based integrated circuits. Enter the Arnold Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the team’s now published seminal paper, the researchers outlined their procedure of first growing a thin layer of germanium on top of silicon, and then depositing the graphene nanoribbons on this thin germanium interface. Ultimately, this method prevents graphene from reacting with silicon (to form an ineffective compound) while maintaining graphene nanoribbons’ semiconducting abilities.

Why it’s important: For decades, Moore’s Law has continued to hold true, as transistor count (in integrated circuits) doubles roughly every two years, while price has remained constant. Today, however, consumer computer technology is rapidly approaching the physical limitations of standard silicon transistors—the pillar material for modern computing infrastructure. For this reason, engineers are now turning to new materials, and breakthroughs like that of the Arnold Group could prove decisive in augmenting current computation technology and birthing ultra-fast, lower-power devices. | Share on Facebook.

Genetic mutation appears to protect some people from deadly MRSA.

What it is: Duke Health researchers recently identified a gene that appears to increase a patient’s ability to fight antibiotic-resistant staph infections. The study focused on persistent methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus (MRSA), a form of staph bacteria that is resistant to most antibiotic treatments and is transferred through skin-to-skin contact or invasive procedures. Of the 68 patients compared in the study, half had persistent MRSA and half had cleared the infection from their bloodstream. After running whole-exome sequencing on these patients, the researchers found that 62 percent of the MRSA-free group had a genetic mutation on the DNMT3A region of chromosome 2p. This mutation reduces the body’s anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 response, which has been observed to cause tissue damage and even death, if overactive.

Why it’s important: In 2017, over 119,000 Americans suffered from staph infections, and almost 20,000 died as a result. Yet the disease is not solely limited to older segments of the population: the rate of MRSA in children increased tenfold from 1999 to 2008, and is still rising across the board today. Understanding the genetic factors that predispose patients to MRSA could allow researchers to develop far better treatments that exclude antibiotics entirely. Given rising levels of antibiotic resistance (particularly in highly industrialized nations), alternative therapies for common bacterial infections must be developed with haste. Studying the genome has now proven helpful in the case of MRSA, and a range of emerging gene-editing tools could soon drive medical innovation in fighting this disease and many others. | Share on Facebook.

A New Bioreactor Captures as Much Carbon as an Acre of Trees

What it is: Startup Hypergiant Industries has just released its new algae-based Eos Bioreactor, capable of sucking in as much carbon dioxide as 400 trees. But rather than consuming an acre of forest land, this bioreactor measures just 63 cubic feet—smaller than a traditional telephone box. Led by CEO Ben Lamm, the company’s technology takes advantage of algae’s remarkable photosynthetic capabilities to capture approximately two tons of carbon per bioreactor. Yet in order to prompt grassroots iterations on the bioreactor, Hypergiant even plans to make its design open source, allowing businesses and individuals to build variants for easy integration in homes and offices spaces.

Why it’s important: Over the past 800,000 years, global atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations have varied between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm). In 2017, atmospheric CO2 concentrations had reached 405 ppm—a figure that could easily exceed 500 in coming decades, according to climate scientists. This sharp increase, alongside record high temperatures in just the past few decades, makes novel carbon capture methods a necessity. In the emerging realm of biological sequestration, Hypergiant’s technique not only provides a scalable solution to reducing atmospheric carbon concentrations, but does so in space-deprived metropolitan areas. Moreover, the growing algae can be harvested and used as a high-protein food source, biofuel, or textile. As numerous carbon capture and utilization (CCU) startups leap to the scene, the construction of compact, artificial carbon sinks could help us tackle one of today’s most pressing Global Grand Challenges. | Share on Facebook.

DataRobot Becomes A Unicorn By Selling AI Toolkits To Harried Data Scientists.

What it is: DataRobot—which might be dubbed an AI infrastructure company—has raised another $206 million in its latest series E round, led by Sapphire Ventures. Seeking to automate almost any traditional task within data science, DataRobot sells its software to simplify clients’ creation of machine learning models, allowing companies to deploy them in weeks (as opposed to years with an in-house team). Customers have, in turn, created over 1.3 billion models across a wide variety of use cases, from optimizing Philadelphia 76ers season-ticket renewals, to predicting which United Airlines passengers will gate-check their bags prior to flight.

Why it’s important: While almost every major corporation (and numerous SMEs) have long begun investing in AI R&D (not to mention recruitment of AI engineers and data scientists), services like that of DataRobot are actively democratizing access to sophisticated tools. We might even think about this as a possible inflection point in machine learning and AI’s user interface, now far more accessible. As a number of infrastructure startups—from Domino Data Labs to Algorithmia—pop up, ML’s use in business optimization problems is quickly becoming ubiquitous, quick, and easy. | Share on Facebook.

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 Space Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI space exploration retail Private Space healthcare deepfakes future of retail prosthetics cancer therapeutics drug delivery extraplanetary colonies space colonies palladium therapeutics
9 min read

Abundance Insider: September 14th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Sep 14, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Mixing cement in space, Facebook's initiative to battle deepfakes, and a new candidate for targeted cancer therapy.

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 LinkedIn | Share on Facebook | Share on Twitter.

A prosthetic leg that can sense touch makes it easier for amputees to walk.

What it is: Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Universities of Belgrade and Freiburg have made it easier for above-the-knee leg amputees to “feel” surfaces again, putting them on surer footing and eliminating phantom limb pain. To do so, the team embedded sensors at the knee and sole of a prosthetic leg, further implanting four intra-neural electrodes into the residual nerves of the wearer’s thighs. Next up, algorithms were used to convert prosthesis sensor data into electrical signals. With sufficient training, patients were ultimately able to translate these signals into real-time sensory data, whether of motion in the knees or feet touching the ground. After just a 3-month trial, both volunteers found the process of walking with neurofeedback far less physically and mentally demanding than with conventional prosthetics. While one of the volunteers reported an 80 percent reduction in phantom limb pain, the other found it entirely eliminated by the end of the trial.

Why it’s important: Every year, about 185,000 lower extremity amputations are conducted in the U.S. alone. Yet beyond phantom limb pain and drastically reduced agility, amputees are exposed to 2.2 times higher risk of death from cardiac events than the average population. On a technical level, this breakthrough represents the first attempt at embedding sensors in prostheses for above-the-knee amputees— a far more challenging feat than below-the-knee cases given higher motion data requirements. As connected sensors, machine learning, advances in computation, and BCI converge in remarkable new ways, the age of neurally-linked and agile prosthetics is right around the corner. | Share on Facebook.

Smart grocery cart startup Caper bags $10 million.

What it is: Charging ahead with its AI-enabled self-checkout shopping carts, grocery cart startup Caper has now secured $10 million in Series A funding. An alternative to Amazon Go, Caper leverages computer vision and sensors in a futuristic shopping cart that allows users to effortlessly scan items as they drop them in. Yet as Caper requires no retrofitting of retail stores with sensors and AI, the startup’s shopping equipment can be easily rolled out (no pun intended) at countless grocery chains given the low accompanying costs.

Why it’s important: As sensors and computing power plummet in cost, and multi-purpose AI services permeate retail equipment, it is now easier than ever before to make marketplaces smart, personalized, and highly adaptive. As a result, scanning technologies and retailer-collected consumer data will begin to save buyers both time and decision fatigue. In the process, new markets—principally, cybersecurity and IoT—will skyrocket in importance. Not only will retail spaces require data protection layers for user privacy, but IoT networks for streamlined online-merge-offline (OMO) experiences. | Share on Facebook.

Astronauts make cement in space for the first time.

What it is: Astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have now successfully mixed cement off the Earth, studying microgravity’s effect on materials construction. Examining concrete’s potential use in space colony infrastructure, the ongoing Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification is the first to determine how cement in microgravity leads to unique microstructures. Demonstrating several prominent differences from cement samples processed on Earth, the researchers’ spacefaring cement was more porous. Yet further study has yet to determine how the material’s microstructure in low-gravity environments will affect the strength of concrete.

Why it’s important: One of the best candidates for space colony infrastructure, concrete is a highly sturdy building block that could protect future Martians or Moon-trotters from extreme temperatures and radiation. Yet perhaps one of concrete’s greatest advantages involves cost and flexibility: if cement can indeed behave properly in low-gravity environments (as is being studied on the ISS), this key ingredient could be mixed with rocks and dust on Mars, or lunar regolith (i.e. moon dust). On the heels of concrete’s successful production in microgravity, we might one day source our building materials from space, constructing the first-ever extraplanetary shelters at far lower cost. | Share on Facebook.

Facebook is Challenging Researchers to Build a Deepfakes Detector.

What it is: Facebook’s AI engineers are now teaming up with researchers from Microsoft and prominent academic institutions in a “Deepfake Detection Challenge.” While current methods can identify forged media, tedious vetting is often required by human experts, and automated tools for catching deepfakes are only just appearing. In an effort to counteract these deepfakes (think: videos of forged politician speeches you’ve likely seen on the Internet), Facebook is building an extensive data set of highly realistic fake videos of its own. Featuring paid actors doing routine tasks and speaking on neutral topics, these clips are used to test deepfake detection tools that can distinguish real footage from falsified audiovisual data. By pooling expertise and granting a prize to the winning team, Facebook is maximizing the AI research community’s upper hand against deepfakes and misinformation.

Why it’s important: More convincing than ever before, deepfakes are beginning to pose severe consequences— eroding our trust in online media, or possibly even prompting disputes and counterattacks in response to misinformation. As advances in machine learning give way to far more realistic image and video manipulation, some of which target real-life individuals, our ability to automatically flag and block fakes is more vital than ever before. At a macro scale, Facebook’s creation of benchmarks could even expand far beyond deepfakes, providing every user with transparency on news quality, media truthfulness, and countless other criteria. | Share on Facebook.

Precious metal flecks could be a catalyst for better cancer therapies.

What it is: A team of researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Spain’s Universidad de Zaragoza have now developed a way to target cancer cells with fragments of palladium. A key metal ingredient in motor manufacturing, electronics and the oil industry, palladium has long been a research candidate for aiding in cancer treatment. Yet until now, researchers have had no way of delivering minute fragments of the metal to affected areas. As a result, the team turned towards exosomes: bubble-like pouches that transport proteins and genetic material between cells. By creating artificial exosomes derived from lung cancer and glioma-associated cells, the researchers built a molecular shuttle system that could deliver palladium catalysts to primary tumors and metastatic cells. Once inside the cell membrane, these palladium fragments can then activate chemotherapy drugs, destroying cancer cells from within.

Why it’s important: In a remarkable win for cancer research, the researchers’ success proves that artificial exosomes can act as biological Trojan horses, delivering aggressive cancer therapeutics without harming healthy cells. As explained by Universidad de Zaragoza Professor Jesús Santamaría, “This has the potential to be a very exciting technology. It could allow us to target the main tumour and metastatic cells, thus reducing the side effects of chemotherapy without compromising the treatment.” As new methods of targeted drug delivery enter the testing phase, our ability to treat disease without compromising patient health will be a key driver in extending the human healthspan. | Share on Facebook.

Water found on a potentially life-friendly alien planet.

What it is: A super-Earth about 111 light-years away from our planet, K2-18b has now been found to contain water vapor in its atmosphere. Falling within what’s known as its star’s habitable zone, the exoplanet exceeds 8 times the mass of Earth. While current models predict an effective temperature of -100 to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, K2-18b might even have an equilibrium temperature comparable to that of our own planet, if as reflective as Earth. To determine these stats, astronomers used years of Hubble Space Telescope data to monitor K2-18b’s transits around its sun, examining how the star’s light shines through the exoplanet’s atmosphere. Determining visible signs of water vapor, which absorbs near-infrared light at specific wavelengths, two separate teams independently confirmed the finding.

Why it’s important: As explained by University College London astronomer Angelo Tsiaris, “This is the only planet right now that we know outside the solar system that has the correct temperature to support water, it has an atmosphere, and it has water in it—making this planet the best candidate for habitability that we know right now.” If valid, the astronomy teams’ conclusions make K2-18b the first-ever confirmed exoplanet with water vapor clouds. Beyond prompting follow-up missions and research on potentially life-supporting exoplanets, discoveries like that of K2-18b fundamentally transform the way we think about our place in the universe, as well as our role in exploring its depths. | 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.

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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 Robotics Materials Science Sensors AI space exploration retail Private Space healthcare deepfakes future of retail prosthetics cancer therapeutics drug delivery extraplanetary colonies space colonies palladium therapeutics
9 min read

Abundance Insider: September 6th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Sep 6, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Agricultural drone swarms, first-ever remote heart surgery, and Insilico Medicine's 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.

A Molecule Designed by AI Exhibits 'Druglike' Qualities.

What it is: AI startup Insilico Medicine, alongside collaborators from the University of Toronto and WuXi AppTec, has now used AI to identify drug candidates that could one day prevent tissue scarring. Using a subset of AI known as generative adversarial networks (GANs), the team took a mere 3 weeks to generate 30,000 computerized designs of candidate molecules for targeting a key protein in fibrosis. After synthesizing six of these designs in the lab, the researchers ultimately refined a shortlist of four novel compounds that could inhibit DDR1 kinase, an enzyme involved in scar tissue buildup within organs. Once experimentally tested, the team’s final four yielded a single most promising molecule for testing in mice, which not only proved potent against the targeted enzyme but demonstrated clear “drug-like” qualities.

Why it’s important: Today, it costs on average US$2.6 billion and often takes more than a decade to bring a new drug to market. Even of those drug candidates that enter Phase I clinical trials, nine out of ten never reach patients. While Insilico’s use of GANs does not circumvent the need for molecules’ refinement in the lab — nor would GANs prove as effective in data-deficient drug discovery challenges — AI could vastly speed up the process. By generating numerous molecule leads for researchers to pursue, GANs and AI-driven drug discovery pipelines could decimate the time and labor required for getting a drug to clinical trials. As AI converges with massive datasets in everything from gene expression to blood tests, novel drug discovery is about to get >10X cheaper, faster, and more intelligently targeted. | Share on Facebook.

First long-distance heart surgery performed via robot.

What it is: In a new coup for telemedicine, cardiologist Dr. Tejas Patel has now performed five percutaneous coronary intervention procedures (PCIs) through a precision vascular robot. Enabling Patel to conduct the procedure a full 20 miles from his surgical patients, vascular robotics company Corindus has refined its now FDA-cleared CorPath GRX robot. Using a hardwired internet connection, the CorPath System allowed for extreme precision in vascular and coronary procedures, yet proved intuitive enough for Patel to manipulate the robot using joysticks and a video monitor. While only just published in The Lancet spin-off EClinicalMedicine, Corindus’ remote heart surgery achievement has now been replicated several times in the U.S.

Why it’s important: Riding the convergence of low-latency networks, mixed reality, high-precision robotics, and advanced sensors, telemedicine is making high-risk, life-saving procedures far more accessible. By allowing some of the world’s best doctors to operate in remote communities from afar, robotics and virtual interfaces will soon decentralize, delocalize and democratize healthcare. As explained by Corindus’ CEO Mark Toland, “The success of this study paves the way for large-scale, long-distance telerobotic platforms across the globe.” As 5G, satellite constellations, and balloons bring high-speed connectivity to today’s most inaccessible regions, distance to care could grow immaterial over the next 15 years. | Share on Facebook.

Facebook Publishes New Research on Hyper-realistic Virtual Avatars.

What it is: Facebook’s augmented and virtual reality R&D group has now built a headset capable of mapping facial expressions to virtual avatars in real-time. One of two headsets involved, the first “training” headset contains 9 cameras (3 pointed at the eyes and 6 at the lower face and mouth). Wearing this more sensor-laden device, the user is initially prompted to make a variety of facial expressions. These data points are then fed into an algorithm that maps out distinct muscles in the face. After completing this training phase, the user then wears a much leaner “tracking” headset (geared with only 3 facial cameras). By “filling in” the tracking cameras’ blind spots with training headset-collected data, Facebook’s software ultimately produces a hyper-realistic, real-time representation of a user’s face— now compatible with a range of VR hardware and software.

Why it’s important: Social VR has the potential to fundamentally change how we navigate both our personal lives and professional discourse. Yet one of the most stubborn obstacles to scaled adoption involves the stiffness and non-expressiveness of virtual avatar face renditions. By using advanced facial tracking, however, Facebook’s headset provides a remarkably lifelike virtual extension of each user, while avoiding the pitfalls of the ‘uncanny valley.’ With the advancement of both sensor precision and high-fidelity VR rendering over the next 5 years, we will soon be able to send a virtual version of ourselves anywhere in the world, transforming the way people think about human presence, distance, and time. As machine learning minimizes the number of sensors needed for facial tracking, VR will continue to plummet in price, boosting commercialized headsets and everyday use. | Share on Facebook.

China Drone Attack on Crop-Eating ‘Monster’ Shows 98% Kill Rate.

What it is: AgTech drone manufacturer XAG has now successfully deployed a pest-targeting drone swarm operation with partner Bayer Crop Science. Having spread from the Americas to Africa and Asia, the crop-devouring fall armyworm has affected 950,000 hectares of crops across 24 Chinese provinces in just the past three weeks. Yet XAG’s autonomous drones have come quick to the rescue, targeting the pests with low-toxicity insecticide on farmland in China’s Guangxi autonomous region and Yunnan province. Already stemming outbreaks in 90 percent of affected areas, the drone swarm operation has even recorded mortality rates as high as 98 percent.

Why it’s important: Mechanized agricultural tools, drones, and AgTech-oriented AI have long remained in the R&D phase. Nonetheless, many of today’s products are either incapable of navigating unstructured farm environments or are insufficiently versatile to integrate into existing workflows. As computer vision continues to advance year-on-year, however, autonomous farming solutions — think: UAV plant protection, precision spraying bots, and agricultural sensors — are beginning to decimate the need for intensive human labor. Part of a food and agriculture tech market projected to exceed US$729.5 billion in value by 2023, these autonomous farming tools will be vital in feeding our global population and maximizing crop yields, regardless of geography. | Share on Facebook.

Deloitte’s Plan for Fighting Employee Burnout: Let AI Take Over the Dreaded HR and IT Tasks.

What it is: Aiming to systematically improve the employee experience (EX) with workplace automation, Deloitte is now reaping the benefits of an AI system called ConnectMe. Designed to expedite HR-related answers to employees (whether about healthcare benefits or overseas transfer, among other topics), ConnectMe can even be customized to automate employee-specific tasks that are easily codified and repetitive. Pulling from in-house data, ConnectMe uses chatbots to eliminate lengthy email and phone tag processes often required to resolve minor issues. Yet while Deloitte introduced ConnectMe in 2016, recent studies are starting to quantify the aggregate effect of workplace combustion, now observed by nearly 96 percent of surveyed managers in their employees, according to a study by staffing company Robert Half.

Why it’s important: While automation begins to eliminate tedious tasks through improved UX design in smart devices and mobile apps, EX-aiding technologies, company workflows, and inter-department communication are still lagging behind. However, new reports suggest that up to 69 percent of job seekers turn down even high-paying positions due to poor EX reviews, and automation of workplace tedium could provide an effective fix. In response, companies like UiPath, Automation Anywhere, AIsera, and Moveworks have begun automating countless routine processes for SMEs and large corporations, democratizing AI assistants and freeing employees to engage in more thought-provoking work. Where might you employ similar automation tools in your organization to boost morale and productivity? | Share on Facebook.

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Topics: Abundance Insider Robotics AI Insilico Drones Autonomous Drones autonomous vehicles automation drone technology agtech workplace automation telemedicine telesurgery
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