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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 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.

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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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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
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 3rd, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Aug 3, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: SpaceX Starhopper's successful test hop, emotion-reading AIs, and SoftBank's second Vision Fund.

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

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

P.P.P.S. This week, in partnership with Sergey Young, my team at XPRIZE released a powerful Impact Roadmap outlining The Future of Longevity. I highly recommend taking a look. Click here to dive in.

SoftBank’s Second Vision Fund Is Set To Invest Over $108 Billion In AI Startups

What it is: SoftBank Group has just announced the launch of its $108 billion (to date) Vision Fund 2, dedicated to AI-based technology. Attracting a notable list of investors, the fund has achieved participation from limited partners Apple, Foxconn and Microsoft, among others. SoftBank itself will invest $38 billion in the fund (or approximately 35 percent of current funds). While already surpassed by its successor, SoftBank’s first Vision Fund offers a strong precedent, having yielded a 62 percent internal rate of return (IRR).

Why it’s important: Beyond an oncoming surge in capital flows to AI ventures and R&D, the Vision Fund 2 could solidify SoftBank’s position as the most influential international investor. The new fund is also slated to alter dynamics between startups, investors and corporate players like Microsoft, while decreasing SoftBank’s reliance on Saudi Arabian funds. Having invested in 24 out of 377 global unicorns, SoftBank now aims to retain its historically strong betting game and help birth a new generation of AI-driven disruptors. | Share on Facebook.
 

SpaceX Starship Prototype Takes 1st Free-Flying Test Hop

What it is: Dubbed Starhopper, SpaceX’s Starship prototype successfully completed its first untethered test flight last Thursday in Boca Chica, Texas. Resembling a large water tower with three legs wrapped in stainless steel, Starhopper ignited its single Raptor engine, conducting a straight hop to 65 feet (20 meters), then lowering itself back down in a controlled manner.

Why it’s important: Starhopper is a significant test bed for novel technologies underpinning SpaceX’s Starship and Super Heavy, which together constitute the company’s heavy-lift, fully reusable, high-capacity launch system and spacecraft. Designed to carry up to 100 people at a time, Starship could one day conduct multi-purpose trips to the Moon, Mars, and beyond, according to Musk. At the micro level, Starhopper thereby demonstrates the crucial role of rapid prototyping and iterative design in expediting (literal) moonshots. Yet at the macro level, SpaceX’s successful test — not to mention its rapid manufacturing of two full-scale ‘Mark 1’ Starships — are a testament to the booming revival of private space exploration | Share on Facebook.

In A 1st, Doctors In U.S. Use CRISPR Tool To Treat Patient With Genetic Disorder

What it is: Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics are now conducting the first-ever publicly recorded human study using CRISPR to treat a genetic disease. Striving to develop an effective therapy for patients with sickle cell disease, doctors first extract cells from patients’ bone marrow. These cells are then genetically modified with CRISPR to produce fetal hemoglobin, intended to counteract the defective proteins that result in sickle-shaped blood cells and thereby hinder oxygen transport. Patients next undergo the same chemotherapy administered as part of a standard bone marrow transplant. Yet once this process wipes out defect-carrying cells, patients receive billions of their own CRISPR-edited cells (as opposed to those contributed by a donor).

Why it’s important: This study marks significant progress on two fronts: not only is it an initial, formalized step in validating CRISPR’s use in human therapeutics, but it could pose tremendous implications for long-term treatment of sickle cell disease. As explained by Dr. Haydar Frangoul, “The hope is that [CRISPR] will provide a treatment option for all patients, including those who can’t find a matched donor.” By leveraging a patient’s own cells, this and similar CRISPR treatments could expand the field of personalized medicine and render quantifiable extensions of the human healthspan. | Share on Facebook.

Tesla’s Megapack Battery Is Big Enough To Help Grids Handle Peak Demand

What it is: Tesla’s new Megapack battery can store up to 3 megawatt hours (MWh) of energy at a time, while using only 60 percent of the space and one tenth of the components required by comparable energy storage units. If strung together, however, a sufficient number of Megapacks could theoretically provide over 1 GWh of energy storage. According to Tesla, this would be “enough to power every home in San Francisco for six hours.” Already, Tesla reports it will deliver fully-assembled Megapacks to utility firms like Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), which initially plans to deploy the batteries in Monterrey Bay, California.

Why it’s important: Today, “peaker” power plants are often responsible for providing energy when peak demand exceeds local electrical grid capacity. Yet Tesla’s highly efficient Megapacks could soon offer a more stable alternative. Particularly as Tesla’s new battery can be assembled ten times more quickly than alternative solutions, Megapacks are well-positioned for deployment at scale vis-a-vis established utility companies. Even though Tesla’s solar panel installation rate reached an all-time low in Q2 2019, the company’s focus on energy storage ventures continues to surge: both Powerwall home batteries and industrial Powerpacks reached record high deployment rates this year. As Megapacks begin populating the market, our societal shift toward renewable energy sources may soon pick up speed.| Share on Facebook.

AI Is Getting More In Touch With Your Emotions

What it is: EmoNet, a deep neural network model developed by researchers at Duke University and the University of Colorado, can now classify images into distinct emotional categories. Using parameters like color, spatial power spectra (think: one’s facial ‘layout’), and the presence of objects or stimuli, the AI can then classify an image featuring almost any facial expression into one of eleven distinct emotional categories. Developed using a database of 2,185 videos spanning 27 emotion categories, EmoNet is even capable of distinguishing expressions indicative of “craving” and “horror.”

Why it’s important: While AI may not (yet) be capable of appropriating human emotions, innovations like EmoNet indicate the technology’s increasing ability to discern and act upon human expression data. Perhaps most notably, emotion-reading AIs could play a tremendous role in clinical trial data analysis, scientific survey design, and even mental health diagnoses. Researchers who previously relied on self-reports of emotional state now have an objective and qualitatively accurate tool at their disposal. As elaborated by lead researcher Phillip Kragel, “Moving away from subjective labels such as 'anxiety' and 'depression' towards brain processes could lead to new targets for therapeutics, treatments, and interventions.”  | Share on Facebook.

Scientists Cook Up New Recipes For Taking Salt Out Of Seawater

What it is: Researchers from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a new form of “thermally responsive” ionic liquids capable of desalinating salt water. Yet instead of using electricity, these ionic liquids use thermal energy, rendering a far more cost-effective solution than traditional desalination techniques. Partnering with the Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry, the team discovered that the proximity of an ionic liquid’s organic components to its positively charged ions has a direct impact on the number of water molecules it can extract from seawater. Once tweaked accordingly, the team’s ionic liquid samples were able to separate freshwater from salt with far greater efficiency.

Why it’s important: Today, over 2 billion people rely on drinking water sources contaminated with human waste, and projections indicate that nearly half the world’s population will live in water-stressed areas by 2025. 72 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in water, yet contemporary desalination systems remain highly energy-intensive. Now, however, innovations such as the Berkeley Lab’s modified ionic liquids could give rise to low-cost, scalable desalination — converting one of our most abundant commodities (seawater) into one of our most vital resources. | 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 Energy AI Artificial Intellegence capital SpaceX biotech Genetics CRISPR rockets energy storage energy abundance water softbank
13 min read

Abundance Insider: June 1st, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Jun 1, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Self-driving USPS trucks, CRISPR in space, and multilingual robot writers.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire, Max and Nora

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital, a Singularity University Program, includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

Topics: Abundance Insider Space Robotics Transportation health Artificial Intellegence robots autonomous vehicles self-driving cars biotech
14 min read

Abundance Insider: May 24th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on May 25, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Tiny robotic bees, lung cancer-detecting AIs, and a new synthetic biology milestone.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire, Max and Nora

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

Penny-Sized Robotic Bee Is The Most Sci-Fi Thing You'll See All Week

What it is: Harvard’s RoboBee — one of the smallest flying robots ever built — has just gotten a major upgrade. Thanks to the engineering exploits of a research team at the University of Southern California (USC), a new and improved Bee Plus now weighs in at just 95 milligrams and barely straddles the diameter of a penny. Its biggest achievement, however, involves the bee’s actuators and doubled wing count. Using an actuator design called a unimorph, the USC team was able to successfully halve the weight of those actuators used in the Harvard RoboBee precursor. This in turn allowed them to install four (as opposed to two) wings, each with a span of 33 millimeters. Rendering much smoother flight, its wings now allow Bee Plus to perch, land, swim, pursue a path, and even avoid obstacles.

Why it's important: While Bee Plus and similar robo-insect prototypes are still restricted by a power-supplying tether, as on-board energy storage remains a significant engineering obstacle, USC’s team has already begun to tackle it. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team is now working on an approach that involves catalytic artificial muscles. Long-term, future descendants of the Bee Plus might one day artificially pollinate flowers, conduct search and rescue missions, or even monitor climate conditions in huge swarms. Farther afield, Professor Perez-Arancibia even imagines a future in which “our robots [fly] on Mars and Titan,” becoming “ant-inspired colonies of explorers.” What eventualities can you envision once these air-faring bots spread their wings?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Google’s Lung Cancer Detection AI Outperforms 6 Human Radiologists

What it is: In partnership with Northwestern Medicine, Google researchers created an AI system that detects lung cancer from CT scans better than well-trained humans. Engineers trained the deep learning model using 42,000 CT scans from 15,000 patients taken during a 2002 NIH study. Compared to six expert radiologists, when analyzing these CT scans, the deep learning model proved to detect cancer 5 percent more often, with an 11 percent reduction in false positives.

Why it's important: While the human eye is limited to the visible spectra and feature sizes on images, AI systems can take a pixel-by-pixel approach to data analysis. Also note Google’s deployment of old NIH data: we don't need access to advanced AI systems right now to start preparing for their arrival. What data are you generating right now that you could proactively collect to help fuel future AI initiatives?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

Scientists Created Bacteria With a Synthetic Genome. Is This Artificial Life?

What it is: In an effort to understand how genes encode proteins and fundamentally create life, a team led by Jason Chin at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Britain has rewritten the DNA of the bacteria Escherichia coli to create an synthetic genome 4x larger than anything previously created. Part of what Chin wanted to explore was how genes encode for amino acids and how genetic redundancy works: six snippets of DNA encode for serine, for example. To find out why, the team treated the genome like a text file, finding and replacing codons and reducing the total variation to just four. That new synthetic genome was inserted into a cell, and surprisingly, the synthetic version remained alive.

Why it's important: As we digitize biology, we're uncovering new truths about genomics. This may lead to organisms that produce novel medicines or other valuable molecules as living factories.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

SpaceX Launches 60 Prototypes Of Its Starlink Satellites Into Orbit

What it is: On Thursday night, SpaceX successfully deployed 60 prototype satellites for its Starlink constellation. Starlink is a large-scale development effort by SpaceX to develop a low-cost satellite and accompanying ground stations (to receive signals from the satellites), with the goal of establishing a new space-based global internet communication network. Last year, SpaceX received approval from the US FCC to fully deploy 12,000 Starlink Satellites over the next decade. The company expects development, manufacturing, and deployment to cost over $10 billion in that time span.

Why it's important: Starlink’s prototype deployment is a small step for its connectivity business, but a giant leap for humanity toward communications abundance. As Peter often says, if you want to make a billion dollars, discover a way to help a billion people. By turning our species into a hyper-connected organism, Elon Musk and SpaceX will help billions of people come online and participate in the global economy. In the process, they will generate significant revenue (estimates place Starlink revenue at over $30 billion per year once deployed) to further fund Musk’s vision for colonizing the solar system.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

Experimental Brain-Controlled Hearing Aid Decodes, Identifies Who You Want To Hear

What it is: Even in the noisiest environments, our brains can pick out an individual voice and amplify it over others. Yet some of the most advanced hearing aids still struggle to achieve this brain hack, instead amplifying all voices at once. Columbia engineers might now have a solution. Building on a previous discovery that in a two-person conversation, the speaker’s brain waves begin to resemble those of the listener, researchers first leveraged neural networks to create an algorithm that separates out individual voices (from a group). Once separated, these inputted voices are then individually compared to the listener’s brain waves (monitored via implanted electrodes). Lastly, any speaker whose voice pattern most closely resembles the listener’s brain waves is amplified over all others.

Why it's important: A remarkable win for deep learning and brain-imitating mathematical models, this system might soon render a universally decoding mechanism, no longer constrained to pretrained voices or a cacophony of many. As explained by senior author Dr. Mesgarani, “By creating a device that harnesses the power of the brain itself, we hope our work will lead to technological improvements that enable the hundreds of millions of hearing-impaired people worldwide to communicate just as easily as their friends and family do." With promising test results, the team now aims to transform their prototype into a noninvasive device and grant true versatility to hearing-impaired individuals in any environment.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Advancing AI By Teaching Robots To Learn

What it is: Facebook AI is experimenting with robotics to push the limits of what AI can accomplish. Facebook and teams from UC Berkeley and NYU are working on systems that are learning to walk on their own and to learn from touch to manipulate objects effectively. At the heart of all of these approaches is a model driven by a curiosity reward function that seeks to learn by reducing uncertainly in the immediate environment.

Why it's important: Facebook’s idea is that by developing self-supervising systems that interact with the real world -- where the data is noiser and conditions more uncertain than cleanly labeled data sets — we will be able to develop more robust robotics as well as AI systems that can generalize across modalities and learn more efficiently.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

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

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 health google Artificial Intellegence robots communication communications SpaceX satellites biotech automation
11 min read

Musk vs. Bezos: The Great Migration into Space

By Peter H. Diamandis on May 19, 2019

We are witnessing the next great space race… but this time, it is not the U.S. vs. USSR. This race is between Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Topics: Space Energy Abundance Transportation space exploration Abundance 360 a360 Blue Origin Private Space SpaceX solar energy solar cells solar power cars multiplanetary species
15 min read

Abundance Insider: May 3rd, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on May 3, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Pollution-eating artificial trees, AR contact lenses, and a "brain decoder" that turns thoughts into speech.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire, Max and Nora

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

Bulleit Brings 3D Printing Tech To Tribeca For A New Whiskey Experience

What it is: Bulleit Frontier Whiskey is displaying what it calls a ‘3D printed experience’ at the Tribeca Film Festival. The display includes robotic arms that ‘print’ cocktails. Essentially, as you can see from the accompanying GIF, the robot places patterns of beads infused with different cocktail flavoring into the whiskey.

Why it's important: Experiential marketing frequently brings out the most engaging displays of exponential technology. This project by Bulleit Frontier Works is a prime example of corporate innovation and tech experimentation within the food and beverage industry. From augmented reality e-commerce to artificial intelligence-powered customer service, how can your company leverage the technologies we feature in this digest to tap into new customer bases and drive more value?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Max Goldberg 

Electric Car Price Tag Shrinks Along With Battery Cost

What it is: Thanks to the development of large-scale manufacturing in batteries and electric drivetrains, the cost of electric vehicles continues to drop, shortening the date for when analysts project EV’s will reach cost parity with internal combustion engines. Today, BloombergNEF projects that the crossover point is 2022, sooner than its projections of 2026 (in 2017) and 2024 (in 2018).

Why it's important: Demonetization will have dramatic positive effects for the proliferation of passenger EVs, the elimination of fossil fuels, and the feasibility of large-scale batteries for use cases such as shipping, construction and aircraft. This also highlights both the importance and difficulty in forecasting exponentials. Said Greg McDougal, CEO of Harbor Air Ltd, “we don’t want to be trying to get through the regulatory process after [electric aircraft] becomes economically viable, we want to do it now.”  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Scientists Develop ‘Brain Decoder’ That Turns Brain Signals Into Speech

What it is: Termed the ‘brain decoder,’ a new UCSF-developed tool can convert brain signals into a computer simulation of the vocal tract. By first simulating the movement of a speaker’s lips, jaw, tongue and larynx on the basis of brain activity in cerebral speech centers, researchers can then generate speech through a synthesizer. As part of the study, five volunteering epilepsy patients were first set up with brain-implanted electrodes and proceeded to read aloud while researchers tracked brain activity in language production regions. A “virtual vocal tract” was then created for each participant, all feeding an algorithmic synthesizer to generate dramatically accurate audio. In the words of UCSF doctoral student Josh Chartier, “We were shocked when we first heard the results — we couldn’t believe our ears.”

Why it's important: A burgeoning example of brain-computer interfaces (BCI), this brain decoder and its soon-to-come successors pose extraordinary implications for speech-impaired individuals. Up until now, the best available speech synthesis technology has been constrained to eye-tracking devices or those that map residual facial muscle movements. Words are spelled out letter-by-letter, delivered at under one tenth the rate of natural speech. Now with the promise of a clinically viable device, anyone suffering from speech loss — whether as a result of ALS, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s — may soon gain a voice for seamless communication. What other BCI applications can you think of?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by John de Rivaz / Written by Claire Adair 

Scientists Share Results From NASA's Twins Study

What it is: NASA’s Twin Study entered into its final stages of integrative research in April, publishing a summary paper in Science explaining some of the key findings from the 10 research teams involved in the effort. The study — which compared the health of Scott and Mark Kelly during and after Scott’s yearlong stay in space — gives us a better understanding of the effects of space missions longer than six months. Unexpectedly, Scott experienced some significant changes in telomere dynamics, with more long telomeres post-flight than he had previously. Scott’s overall gene expression differed somewhat from Mark's during the flight, but reverted to baseline after returning to Earth; additionally, researchers found some indication of inflammation and thickening of the carotid arterial wall, which are suggestive of atherosclerosis that may not be reversible.

Why it's important: This research will guide NASA’s Human Research Program for years to come and give insights into the planning of longer missions on the ISS, the Moon, Mars and beyond. To the extent that telomere length is an indicator of longevity, space travel may not have the same negative impact on lifespan as one might expect. This study raises many questions about why telomeres grew longer, and whether these conditions could be replicated on Earth.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by David Ormesher / Written by Jason Goodwin and David Ormesher 

Toddler Skin Cells Spark Discovery Of 2 New Diseases

What it is: Researchers from Montreal’s Douglas Mental Health University Institute and CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center have newly identified the link between a mutation in epigenetic regulator ACTL6B and two neurological genetic diseases. Prior to their joining forces, the Douglas Institute’s Carl Ernst and his team had harvested skin cells from toddlers with inexplicable seizures and neurodevelopmental deficits. By ‘reprogramming’ the skin cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the researchers were able to make neurons from the iPSCs, compare them to healthy neurons, and thereby discover an ACTL6B mutation implicated in irregular neuronal development. As a result, iPSCs and CRISPR have now accelerated the discovery of one key culprit in the incidence of epilepsy and neurodevelopmental problems, giving way to future research.

Why it's important: Less than 10 years ago, the cost of genome sequencing was 10 times what is today. CRISPR-Cas9 had not yet been adapted for genome editing, and the reprogramming of human cells to iPSCs had only just been pioneered. Today, all three have begun to play a pivotal role in discovering the origins of disease and developmental disorders. Beyond their newfound illumination of the mechanics of cellular development, iPSCs and CRISPR genome editing allow us to identify mutations at record speeds, experiment with genetic alterations and even one day prevent mutation-resulting diseases in the first place. Welcome to an age of biological self-mastery.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

World’s First ‘BioSolar Leaf’ To Tackle Air Pollution In White City

What it is: Arborea, a startup spun out of Imperial College London, has created the world’s first “BioSolar Leaf,” a living structure capable of removing greenhouse gases and other pollutants from the air. At its core, the leaf is essentially a cultivation system for microalgae, diatoms and phytoplankton on large solar panel-like structures, which can be installed on land, buildings or other developments to improve surrounding air quality. Using the surface area of a single tree, the system can remove carbon dioxide and produce oxygen at a rate equivalent to 100 trees. The team also expects to harvest the biomass to extract additives for plant-based food products.

Why it's important: The most exciting developments in exponential technologies occur at the intersection of disciplines. As we saw last week with the creation of transparent wood, biology and materials science are converging to deliver solutions to some of our largest challenges in the areas of environmental health and food production.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

DARPA: This Smart Contact Lens Could Give Soldiers Superpowers

What it is: Researchers at French engineering school IMT Atlantique have developed the first smart contact lens that includes a standalone, flexible microbattery. In this version of the prototype, the flexible battery can power a small LED for several hours. Impressively, near-term iterations of this small-scale device will be able to receive visual information wirelessly via radio signals. In the long term, these lenses are slated to form the backbone for next-generation augmented reality eyewear.

Why it's important: Eventually, smart lenses like these will have profound implications for industry (from manufacturing to healthcare) and everyday life. DARPA and other government agencies are particularly interested in how this smart contact lens breakthrough will help them augment soldiers’ operational capabilities. What new capabilities and ‘superpowers’ are you excited to access when smart contact lenses hit the consumer mainstream?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

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

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 Materials Science health Artificial Intellegence environment healthcare Augmented Reality Stem Cells wearables Brain computer interface mHealth electric vehicles marketing nasa
6 min read

Private Lunar Lander – Reflections on SpaceIL Mission

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 14, 2019

In September 2007, I was joined on stage by Larry Page, Buzz Aldrin, and the deputy administrator of NASA to announce a $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE.

The challenge we set was for a private team to build and launch a vehicle that could fly and land on the Moon, send back photos and videos, rove half a kilometer, and send back more photos and videos.

Here is a throwback video to the announcement:

 

In late February 2019, twelve years later, SpaceIL launched its lunar-bound Beresheet spacecraft on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9.

Beresheet brought the XPRIZE logo with it into space, and snapped these two selfies, one during its translunar trajectory, and one on its way to the Moon’s surface: 

Image: (Right) A Beresheet selfie taken on its six-week journey from the Earth to the Moon. (Left) A Beresheet selfie taken a few kilometers above the Moon, just moments before the vehicle’s unplanned kinetic disassembly.

I traveled to Israel this past week to join the SpaceIL team in Beresheet mission control for this historic attempt. 

This blog is my reflection on the electrifying mission of the first private lunar spacecraft.

Why Did We Launch This Prize, and Why Did Google Fund It?

We created the Google Lunar XPRIZE to achieve two primary goals:

  • To inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and innovators to take moonshots.
  • To spur affordable access to the Moon and give space entrepreneurs a legitimate platform to develop long-term business models around lunar transportation.

Mission Accomplished

While the SpaceIL mission didn’t achieve a soft landing on the Lunar Surface, there is much to be proud of and to celebrate:

  • The Hero’s Journey of the SpaceIL Team: Imagine three young entrepreneurs who passionately and naively set out to land a mission on the Moon. No funding and no hardware experience. They would go on to raise $100 million, and to build the Beresheet spacecraft with a team of fewer than 50 engineers.
  • A Visionary Funder: We also celebrate the vision and passion of Morris Kahn, a South African-born, Israeli billionaire who was so moved by the passion of the SpaceIL Founders that he committed nearly $50 million to fund the hardware development and launch.
  • The Impact on Children & Adults: Having spent the last week in Israel, I know that team SpaceIL and the Beresheet spacecraft were known by every schoolchild and on the lips of everyone in conversation. Everywhere I’ve traveled in Israel over the past week, people young and old congratulated the XPRIZE Foundation over and over again for inspiring this mission.
  • Making History: The Beresheet spacecraft made history more than once on its exciting journey, including: (1) Being the first private company to orbit the Moon and touch the Moon’s surface; (2) Making Israel the seventh nation (behind the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, the European Space Agency, and India) to orbit the Moon, the fourth country to attempt a soft landing on the Moon, and the fourth country to touch the Moon’s surface.

Giving the $1M Moonshoot Award

MOONSHOTS ARE HARD. 

Taking moonshots is by definition difficult, and the outcome of SpaceIL’s mission goes to show that these world-changing prize competitions are far from easy to win. 

At the same time, space in particular is extremely hard… for now.

Ultimately, Anousheh Ansari (XPRIZE CEO) and I decided to give the team a $1 million 'Moonshot Award,' despite their “kinetic disassembly,” as an encouragement for them to continue the pursuit of their mission, and to launch Beresheet 2.0.

See the video announcement of our $1 Million Moonshot Award to SpaceIL!

And on the heels of my Tweet that announced the $1 million Moonshot award, the world responded with overwhelming support… 

If at first you don’t succeed… try, try again.

Space exploration and failure are intimately linked: nearly every nation and company to reach for the stars has first failed spectacularly at their direct objective.

In the 1950s, between the U.S. and Russia, it took 10 attempts before the first manmade probe (the Russian Luna 2) reached the Moon’s surface.

In recent years, SpaceX failed three times before they successfully launched their Falcon 1 rocket on their fourth attempt.

Yesterday I personally spoke to Morris Kahn, and was thrilled to hear his announcement on nationwide TV. 

“... In light of all of the support that I’ve got, from all over the world, and the wonderful messages of support and encouragement and excitement, I’ve decided that we are going to actually establish Beresheet Shtaim [Beresheet 2].

We are going to actually [build] a new spacecraft, we’re going to put it on the moon, and we’re going to complete the mission…” -- Morris Kahn

The team’s courageous persistence to the point of success is a powerful testament that will continue to inspire millions of children and innovators in Israel and across the globe.

Conclusion

Without a doubt, SpaceIL and Beresheet propelled the private space industry into a new era.

I am grateful to the SpaceIL team for their dedication and courage in pursuing the goal of the Lunar XPRIZE and connecting millions of children across the world to science, technology, engineering, and space.

I am proud that the XPRIZE Foundation is supporting Beresheet 2.0 with a $1 million award and can’t wait to see Beresheet 2.0 land on the Moon.

Join Me

(1) A360 Executive Mastermind: This is one of the key conversations I’ll be exploring at my Executive Mastermind group called Abundance 360. The program is highly selective, for 360 abundance- and exponentially minded CEOs (running $10M to $50B companies). If you’d like to be considered, apply here.

Share this with your friends, especially if they are interested in any of the areas outlined above. 

(2) Abundance-Digital Online Community: I’ve also created a Digital/Online community of bold, abundance-minded entrepreneurs called Abundance-Digital. Abundance-Digital is my ‘onramp’ for exponential entrepreneurs – those who want to get involved and play at a higher level. Click here to learn more.

Topics: Space space exploration XPRIZE Private Space SpaceX spaceflight moonshot Moonshots moon exponential technology SpaceIL
3 min read

GOOD LUCK! Private Lunar Lander -- SpaceIL XPRIZE Team

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 11, 2019

Today is a great day for innovators, entrepreneurs and dreamers.

Today, April 11th, the Israeli SpaceIL spacecraft calledBeresheet (which means ‘Genesis’) will attempt to land on the Moon’s surface in the Sea of Serenity around 9:45pm(Israel Time)… 11:45am PT / 2:45pm ET.

Only the U.S., Soviet Union and China have ever accomplished this feat.  SpaceIL will be the first private lander ever! 

Remarkably, the SpaceIL team built their lander with less than 50 engineers/entrepreneurs.  They are backed privately (principally) by Morris Kahn.

The mission has its roots in the $30MM Google Lunar XPRIZE which was announced in September 2007, attracting 26 teams from 7 nations to pursue this bold mission.  

When Google partnered with the XPRIZE Foundation, the primary purpose was to help inspire moonshots and to encourage the next generation of engineers and innovators to look towards the heavens, dream and do.

To Mr. Kahn, your philanthropy and support of SpaceIL is truly admirable.  To the SpaceIL team (Founders: Yariv Bash, Yonatan Winetraub, Kfir Damari), what you have built with such as small engineering team is unprecedented and will no doubt chart the path towards a new generation of low-cost scientific lunar landers.   Thank you all for the millions of children your efforts will inspire.

Today, while I’m at Mission Control in Tel Aviv (at IAI HQ), I, along with the world, will be watching and hoping for Beresheet’s successful landing!  

To watch the SpaceIL Landing go here:  http://www.visit.spaceil.com/

For more info on XPRIZE go here: www.xprize.org

MORE ON SPACEIL:

SpaceIL is a non-profit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the Moon. The organization was founded by three young engineers: Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub who answered the international challenge presented by Google Lunar XPRIZE: to build, launch and land an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon. SpaceIL was the only Israeli representative. In October 2015, SpaceIL reached a dramatic project milestone by becoming the first team to announce a signed launch contract, that symbolizes an actual "ticket to the Moon". In January 2017, SpaceIL became one of the competition’s five finalists. The competition officially ended with no winners in March 31, 2018, after Google ended their sponsorship. The XPRIZE Foundation has continued with a $1M “Moonshot” Award.


SpaceIL is actively working to create an Israeli "Apollo Effect.” SpaceIL is committed to inspiring the next generation in Israel and around the world to choose to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

© PHD Ventures, 800 Corporate Pointe, Culver City, California, 90230, United States
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Topics: Space space exploration XPRIZE Private Space spaceflight Moonshots moon SpaceIL
14 min read

Abundance Insider: April 5th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Apr 5, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Barista bots, ultrafast phone charging, and disposable delivery drones.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

Baristas Beware: A Robot That Makes Gourmet Cups Of Coffee Has Arrived

What it is: To bring ‘connected coffee’ to the mainstream, coffee startup Briggo engineered a robotic coffee barista called Coffee Haus. The goal of the Coffee Haus project is for customers to quickly order their ideal cup of coffee via a smartphone app, receive a notification when the cup of joe is ready, and then pick up a cup of coffee that is precision-engineered to the customer's specifications and preferences. Through a robust array of inbuilt sensors, the Briggo bot manages almost every aspect of the coffee experience, from milk temperature to the usage rate of coffee cup lids. Briggo’s complex robotics and robust sensor and IoT technology converge to output as many as 100 cups of made-to-taste coffee in an hour.

Why it's important: While the future of food is filled with impactful exponential technologies, consumers will likely directly interact with robotics first. Practically speaking, the 100 cups of coffee Briggo’s system outputs in an hour is about equal to the production rate of 3-4 baristas combined. Unlike human baristas, though, Briggo’s system does not take a salary or experience fatigue, and all of its actions are predetermined and monitored. (A larger social question emerges: When a robot prepares and delivers you a gourmet steak dinner, would you still leave a tip?)  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

McDonald’s Uses A.I. To Tempt You Into Extra Purchases At The Drive-Thru

What it is: Dynamic Yield, an Israel-based artificial intelligence startup, has partnered with McDonald's to deploy its "decision technology" within electronic menu boards at over 1,000 drive-thru locations within the next three months. The smart menu boards will dynamically change based on fators like the user's existing order, the weather, and how busy the restaurant is. McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook plans to eventually roll the technology out to all 14,000 U.S. restaurants and international locations, perhaps even with inbuilt license plate recognition to incorporate a customer's recent orders.

Why it's important: In 2018, McDonald's generated almost $6 billion of net income serving around 68 million customers per day. This represents a massive data set on which to train machine-learning algorithms. Leveraging this abundance of data to personalize and streamline the customer experience will no doubt add to the $4.2 billion in free cash flow McDonald's reported at the end of 2018. What gold lies in your company data -- and how can you use it to make better business decisions?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Marissa Brassfield 

Xiaomi’s 100W Charger Fills A 4,000mAh Battery In 17 Minutes

What it is: Xiaomi has developed a superfast 100W charger that takes a 4,000mAh battery — almost twice the capacity of an iPhone X — from zero to 100 percent in just 17 minutes. Details on the technology are still under wraps, particularly around heat dissipation, battery life, and whether it's tied to a specific manufacturer, but this represents an almost 2X improvement over the previous best.

Why it's important:  Rechargeable batteries have become ubiquitous in everyday life. Just as next-gen batteries and charging networks will eliminate "range anxiety" in electric vehicles, this 100W charger could similarly remove location barriers for cellphone users. How might a charger of this nature transform humanitarian efforts, or help researchers maintain 24/7 uptime in remote or inaccessible regions?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

These Autonomous Bots Battle Blazes Too Dangerous For Firefighters

What it is: As part of a five-year Japanese project to design responses to disasters in energy and heavy industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHi) has created a Water Cannon Bot capable of fighting blazes autonomously in hard-to-reach and otherwise dangerous locations. The Cannon Bot and its companion Hose Extension Bot are built on farm buggy frames and can deliver foam or water at 4,000 liters per minute at 1 megapascal (MPa) of pressure. The duo is part of a larger autonomous system that includes surveillance and reconnaissance technologies onboard a larger transport vehicle to help fight the blaze.

Why it's important: Autonomous robotics are rapidly improving, and we’re seeing a large number of early use cases in areas deemed too dangerous for humans. (Think failing nuclear reactors or space exploration.) Watch for these to potentially ease public concerns around automation, and generate insights for expansion into new, less-dangerous use cases. How can you use this approach in your own endeavors?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Disposable Delivery Drones Pass Test With US Marines

What it is: Under contracts with DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps, Logistic Gliders Inc. has developed a single-use, autonomous glider resupply system that can carry up to a whopping _1,800 pounds_ of supplies. Constructed from low-cost plywood, the disposable glider’s two versions (LG-2K and the smaller LG-1K) are projected to cost as little as a few hundred dollars each if cleared for mass production. Suited for long distances, the gliders are first launched from a larger aircraft and then either fly and navigate autonomously or are operated by a remote pilot. Granted new flexibility, the drones can even fly through urban environments, jungle canopies, or almost any low-altitude clearing, delivering critical supplies precisely where needed.

Why it's important: A significant achievement in the longstanding pursuit of advanced drone delivery technology, these Marines-tested gliders could soon outpace both ground-based delivery drones in speed, and air-dropped supply parachutes in cost. As explained by principal investigator Marti Sarigul-Klijn, “Gliders dropped from a cargo aircraft could greatly outdistance any ground-based unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed for cargo logistics,” particularly given the long range of glider-carrying aircrafts. With a now-multiplied range, cargo weight capacity, and ultra low cost, Logistic Gliders and similar drone technologies offer tremendous promise for everything from low-cost, high-volume humanitarian aid supply to precise commercial drone deliveries.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

Google And University Researchers Are Using Deep Learning To Discover Exoplanets

What it is: As AI joins forces with today’s leading astronomers, one convolutional neural network, AstroNet K2, has helped researchers discover two new exoplanets among a trove of NASA’s Kepler telescope data. Building upon research by Google AI’s Chris Shallue and Harvard astrophysicist Andrew Vanderburg, AstroNet K2 has helped overcome a major obstacle in analysis of Kepler’s data. Given a mechanical malfunction that rendered the telescope incapable of focusing on a single part of the sky, sporadic data collection has made it difficult for astronomers to identify the best exoplanet candidates. Now, while the neural network still returns numerous false positives, it has reportedly achieved a 98 percent accuracy rate in test data sets of images with promising characteristics.

Why it's important: While AstroNet K2 cannot yet be entrusted with detecting and identifying planet candidates entirely on its own, the neural network and its successors will likely prove decisively valuable in the pursuit of exoplanet discovery. By rapidly sifting through tomes of Kepler imaging data, AstroNet K2 massively reduces the number of signals for human astronomers to analyze, making the collaborative process much less time-consuming. Now the first-ever neural network to be successfully applied to K2 data, AstroNet K2 will be open-sourced after further refinement, enabling a broader AI community to dive in.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

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

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 AI space exploration Artificial Intellegence Drones Batteries Genetics future of food
12 min read

Abundance Insider: March 30th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Mar 30, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Record-breaking CRISPR engineering, apple-harvesting robots, and an advanced prosthetics hand.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

Toyota's Planned Moon Rover Has 18x The Range Of A Tesla Model S

What it is: Japanese automaker Toyota and JAXA, the Japanese space agency, recently announced a collaboration to further develop lunar mobility technology. The partnership commits more resources to accelerate and develop a pressurized lunar rover powered by a hydrogen fuel cell. Using Toyota’s fuel cell technology, the vehicle will have an anticipated cruising range of 6,214 miles, nearly equivalent to the entire circumference of the Moon and more than double the width of the United States. Using the ‘live off the land’ principle of in-situ resource utilization, the hydrogen fuel cells allow the rover to readily refuel from rich hydrogen and water deposits on the Moon, without the need to bring added fuel for the rocket launch.

Why it's important: This partnership demonstrates the massive terrestrial impact of space exploration. From the invention of CMOS imaging sensors to freeze-dried food, space continues to catalyze hyper-impactful innovation for use on Earth and beyond. By developing its fuel cell technology for the demanding environment of space, Toyota will also inevitably demonetize and democratize these innovations for its global consumer base.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Max Goldberg 

Doctors Wired A Prosthetic Hand Directly Into A Woman’s Nerves

What it is: For the first time ever, doctors in Sweden have successfully wired a sentient prosthetic hand directly into a patient’s nerves. With an osseo-neuromuscular implant, the recipient can now control the prosthetic’s fingers with her mind and even perceive tactile sensations. To achieve this extraordinary feat, surgeons placed titanium implants in the patient’s forearm bones and connected an array of sixteen electrodes to her nerves and muscles. This enables both extraction of signals to control the prosthetic hand and a corresponding sense of touch. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and biotech firm Integrum AB additionally built the prosthetic hand with unparalleled dexterity, now pictured tying shoelaces and even typing on a computer.

Why it's important: Coordinated by European prosthetics research program DeTOP, this breakthrough has remarkable implications. Up until now, prosthetic hands have been stifled by limited dexterity and sensory feedback, requiring users to rely on vision for everyday use. By implanting electrodes directly into a user’s nerves, however, researchers can now electrically stimulate them similar to the way in which a biological hand conveys information. Such technology not only dramatically enhances dexterity but could also drive development of robotic devices that seamlessly interface with our bodies. No longer partially connected tools, prosthetic limbs are now integrating directly into our biological architecture, revolutionizing the way we communicate with technology.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Gaz Alazraki / Written by Claire Adair 

Photos From NASA's Opportunity And Curiosity Rovers Reveal 15 Martian Objects That Resemble Mushrooms

What it is: As published in the Journal of Astrobiology and Space Science, images from NASA’s rovers Curiosity and Opportunity reveal evidence of life, specifically algae, lichens and mushrooms growing and emerging from Martian soil. According to the authors, the mushroomlike structures such as stems and stalks -- spotted by the hundreds -- aren’t something created by known geologic forces on Earth. While evidence isn’t confirmation, when coupled with additional of evidence of seasonal fluctuations in methane on Mars, this suggests there may be existing life on Mars.

Why it's important: Better data, enabled by increasingly powerful sensing technology, is giving us an unparalleled glimpse into environmental conditions around the universe. This new knowledge recalibrates researchers' understanding of the fundamentals for life, and will no doubt spur additional exploration and data-gathering activities. What long-held assumptions about the universe will we confirm or challenge in the decades ahead?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Claire Adair / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Abundant’s Apple Harvesting Robots Get Their First Commercial Deployment

What it is: This week, Abundant Robotics announced its first customer, and the first commercial use case of its apple-harvesting robots. To commercialize its technology, Abundant overcame a handful of complex technical challenges simultaneously, including image recognition of harvestable apples, picking the fruit without damaging it, and real-time autonomous navigation of different orchards. Over the three years since Abundant Robotics’ launch, partnering with orchards around the world to acquire real-world data during product development and testing was critical to accelerating the robots’ commercial viability.

Why it's important: From lab-grown meat to genetically engineered crops, digital agriculture is transforming the global food supply chain. This news from Abundant Robotics further validates the wide-ranging applications of converging exponential technologies like robotics, artificial intelligence and big data to help feed the planet.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Max Goldberg 

Genome Engineers Made More Than 13,000 CRISPR Edits In A Single Cell

What it is: Setting a groundbreaking record for large-scale genome editing, researchers at Harvard have just published a method that enables genetic alterations at thousands of loci per cell. Having developed a set of dead-Cas9 base editor (dBEs) variants, the researchers can now circumvent cutting open the DNA double helix at multiple locations, a traditional cause of cell death when too many edits are made at one. By instead using base editors to replace individual genetic letters, the scientists have successfully made 13,200 genetic alterations to a single cell without destroying it in the process.

Why it's important: Given that many genetic elements are repetitive and capable of copying themselves, large-scale, one-stop genome editing could one day eliminate all copies of a retrovirus for safe and universal organ transplants. Gene technologist George Church has even envisioned the creation of human organ and tissue supplies with revised genomes that are immune to all viruses. According to the Harvard team, this ‘recoding’ process would involve about 9,811 precise genetic modifications. With the newfound ability to target all copies of a given genetic element, imagine ‘recoding’ supplies of your own cells, now rendered universal and safe for future transplantation.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

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

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 space exploration healthcare biotech Genetics mars moon prosthetics
14 min read

Abundance Insider: March 8th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Mar 8, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Backflipping zoomorphic robots, SpaceX’s autonomous ISS mission, and a new breakthrough in HIV+ treatment.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

This AI Lets You Customize How You Sound And Effectively Create A DIY Voice Deepfake

What it is: Modulate, a startup from Cambridge, Massachusetts, is bringing the human voice into the digital age. Using a generative adversarial network, Modulate allows you to add a voice “skin” to your digital avatar. Beyond the cool factor, the team’s goal is to allow you to speak up in games, social networks, or streaming chats with a level of anonymity that removes any fear of discrimination or harassment. All processing runs on your device to eliminate latency concerns, meaning you might be able to hear your digital voice in real time. Importantly, the technology also incorporates a digital audio watermark, acknowledging the potential for misuse.

Why it's important: While Modulate’s immediate focus markets right now lie in gaming — think World of Warcraft and social chat apps — additional near-term use cases include giving brands a unique voice, providing multiple speakers a consistent voice, or customizing voice in apps like Waze or Alexa. Zooming out, this illustrates how AI and GANs “as a Service” are becoming easier to create, use, and share with the world.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Tesla To Close Retail Stores, Only Sell Cars Online

What it is: To bring its Model 3 to market at a $35,000 price point, Tesla recently announced that it would be closing all retail sales and moving to an online-only sales model. The company is estimating an approximate cost reduction of 6 percent from the move, which will be passed to customers on the Model 3, Model S and Model X. Tesla also reduced its upfront deposit to $1,000, and is now allowing customers to return their vehicles for any reason up to 1,000 miles. In related news, Volvo unveiled the Polestar 2 all-electric sedan at the Geneva Motor Show. With a base model starting at $63,000 before $7,500 in federal incentives, the Polestar 2 will also be sold exclusively online, but goes a step further by offering an all-inclusive monthly price tag that includes insurance and maintenance.

Why it's important: These data points — combined with GM’s Cadillac subscription model, which we’ve previously featured in Abundance Insider — signal a dematerialization of auto sales and demonetization of adjacent products and services that were once an annoying hassle (e.g. maintenance at the dealer/body shop, insurance through your bank/broker). As this trend continues and converges with autonomy, look for business model experimentation to accelerate. If your business is related to auto sales, how will you adapt to take advantage of this opportunity?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Peter H. Diamandis & Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

HIV Is Reported Cured In A Second Patient, A Milestone In The Global AIDS Epidemic

What it is: For the second time after 12 years, an HIV-positive patient has entered long-term remission. The reported cure, however, was not purposefully engineered but rather discovered by chance: a true eureka moment for modern medicine. Intending to treat cancer in both HIV+ patients, doctors administered bone marrow transplants from donors with mutations in cell surface protein CCR5, and — astonishingly — cured both. While HIV uses CCR5 to enter immune cells, the virus cannot latch onto a mutated version of the protein, halting its spread. After introducing this genetic variation to his immune system, the “London patient” has now become the first since Timothy Ray Brown (cured in the late 2000s) to remain virus-free for over a year after antiretroviral therapy.

Why it's important: While scientists are debating whether bone-marrow transplants are a realistic option for general HIV treatment in the future, the implications are staggering. Many have already proposed much less invasive uses of the genetic mutation in CCR5, such as gene-therapy approaches that knock out the protein on immune cells or even predecessor stem cells. Yet others are investigating viral delivery systems that could hunt and delete CCR5 receptors. And new stem cell research might even allow HIV-resistant donors to offer resistant stem cells to any patient. We are truly living in an era that defies the impossible.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Claire Adair 

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Team Nails Their First Major Milestones - Next Stop: A Crewed U.S. Space Mission

What it is: In the early hours of Saturday morning on March 2, SpaceX launched the historic Crew Demo-1 mission. With Crew Dragon, SpaceX became the first company to design, build, test, launch, and dock a spacecraft made to fly people to the International Space Station -- or anywhere in Earth’s orbit. Next, SpaceX is scheduled to launch Crew Demo-2, which will be the first manned orbital spaceflight to launch from American soil since the space shuttle last launched in 2011. It’s official: we’ve entered the next era of manned spaceflight.

Why it's important: Compounding on this historic achievement, Crew Demo-1 exemplifies the extraordinary progress and impact of the private space industry over the past two decades. And private companies like SpaceX are just getting started. It’s poignant that this extraordinary year for spaceflight falls on the 50th anniversary of humankind first landing on the Moon. What new discoveries and breakthroughs will we make in this next era of space travel?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

Goodyear’s New Aero Tire Is Built With Flying Cars In Mind

What it is: At this week’s Geneva International Motor Show, Goodyear unveiled its new concept Aero tire, designed to run on roads and double as a propulsion system for flying vehicles. With a non-pneumatic structure (not supported by air pressure), the tire would incorporate flexible new materials capable of both absorbing road shock and weathering stress during the car’s transition from horizontal to airborne. Another 2-in-1 would involve Aero’s propellor blades, built for the dual purpose of providing lift for an ascending car and supporting the weight of a moving, manned vehicle.

Why it's important: With an eye to the future of transportation, Goodyear’s Aero concept reflects a major paradigm shift towards multimodal tools and versatile structures that seamlessly transition between tasks, intelligently self-correct and meet any number of different demands. Beyond new tire technology, Goodyear has already begun to envision an Urban Aerial Mobility Ecosystem of 5G-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communication, sensor-geared tire materials and condition-monitoring AIs. Combine these visions with the future of infrastructure, roadways and smart traffic flow, and Goodyear will need good company.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

MIT’s Speedy Mini Cheetah Robot Learns To Backflip

What it is: MIT’s latest Cheetah robot weighs only 20 pounds, but it can thrust itself into a 360-degree backflip, run at 5 miles per hour, and perform agile footwork. This lightweight, high-powered design marks the first time that a four-legged robot has performed a backflip. Further, the MIT engineers behind the robot built it to be incredibly robust and rugged. In the rare case that a part of the robot does break during its impressive acrobatics, it’s easy and inexpensive to fix. MIT’s goal with this robust robotics platform is “to form a mini cheetah research consortium of engineers who can invent, swap, and even compete with new ideas.”

Why it's important: Robots are becoming less expensive and more capable everyday. Beyond Cheetah’s applications in disaster relief, this robust robotics platform enables researchers to innovate in ways that will transform how we interact with technology in the future. How might you use anthropomorphic and zoomorphic robots in your everyday life?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Max Goldberg 

 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

Join Peter Diamandis in Dubai, the City of the Future, for the inaugural Abundance 360 Dubai Summit on March 26 - 27, 2019. Hosted by the Dubai Future Foundation and the Crown Prince of Dubai, this two-day experience offers exponential leaders an immersive look into how technology will transform every industry. Read more about the program and apply here to join.

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 Transportation retail Artificial Intellegence robots healthcare Tesla SpaceX biotech deepfakes future of retail flying cars
14 min read

Abundance Insider: February 15th, 2019

By Peter H. Diamandis on Feb 15, 2019

In this week's Abundance Insider: Training AI with Pictionary, the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine, and the U.S. government’s new AI initiative.

Cheers,
Peter, Marissa, Kelley, Greg, Bri, Jarom, Joseph, Derek, Jason, Claire and Max

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 hone in on your MTP/ Moonshot? Abundance Digital includes 100+ hours of course work 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.

An AI Is Playing Pictionary To Figure Out How The World Works

What it is: One of the primary barriers to developing sophisticated voice assistants and interactive AIs is the technology’s lack of common sense, rendering most AIs far too narrow to function in unstructured environments. However, researchers at the Allen Institute for AI (Ai2) have now created an online version of the game Pictionary in an effort to engineer generalized and sophisticated reasoning into AI programs. Named Iconary, the game pairs a human player with AllenAI (an AI bot), after which both take turns drawing and guessing given phrases. After using computer vision to convert human sketches into clip-art icons, AllenAI attempts to guess the phrase using a database of words, concepts and common relationships between the two.

Why it's important: The use of Pictionary to train AI systems could have a number of extraordinary implications. First, Iconary offers a terrific example of leveraging the crowd to train and teach AI, expanding its current selection of over 75,000 phrases. Iconary even plans to create a leaderboard for human players, further gamifying the platform and accelerating AllenAI’s progress. Beyond teaching an AI to understand complex concepts, the crowd could refine AI systems’ understanding of how everyday concepts relate to one another — a task far more sophisticated than simple pattern-matching. Perhaps most exciting, however, Iconary’s outcomes could help researchers observe and refine methods for human-machine collaboration, a critical goal for the century ahead.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

A Human iPSC-Derived 3D Platform Using Primary Brain Cancer Cells To Study Drug Development And Personalized Medicine

What it is: Building on the development of BrainSpheres — essentially mini-brains created from induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSC) — researchers from the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins have used these 3D models of human tissue to test the efficacy of the anti-cancer drugs temozolomide (TMZ) and the more experimental treatment doxorubicin (DOX). By adding a few glioblastoma tumor cells to a developing mini-brain, the team was able to mass-produce BrainSpheres with a mix of tumor and healthy tissue. While this is in itself a breakthrough, the team also discovered that TMZ and DOX successfully reduced tumor size by roughly 30 percent and 80 percent, respectively, while also sparing healthy tissue.

Why it's important: Testing on animals is costly and time-intensive, and discoveries rarely translate from mice to humans; similarly, cultivating tumors from humans is of limited relevance since healthy tissue typically responds differently. As this team looks to reproduce the application of BrainSpheres to viral infections and neurodevelopment diseases, look for drug discovery and testing to accelerate in both speed and accuracy.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Physicists Uncover Quantum Structure Of Buckyballs

What it is: Analyzing real-world quantum phenomena is challenging because the quantum states of a given particle are easily disturbed by environmental magnetic fields, electric fields, thermal vibrations, and other disruptive stimuli. As the quantum system at hand grows in size, quantum phenomena become increasingly hard to detect. Standard lab-scale quantum experiments typically include only a handful of atoms. Now, JILA researchers (a partnership between NIST and the University of Colorado) achieved the most robust analysis of the largest quantum system analyzed extensively to date: buckyballs (soccer-ball like spheres of 60 carbon atoms). Buckyballs are a promising platform for building out these quantum systems, specifically because of their highly symmetric 60 carbon atoms.

Why it's important: We are in the midst of a quantum revolution. Deepening our understanding of quantum systems is fundamental to transitioning classical computation and communication to a robust network of quantum communication, information and computation. Already, quantum technology enables more accurate GPS technology, robust scientific instruments, a slew of detectors and more. With more precise control and understanding of quantum states, next-generation use cases will enable us to communicate more securely, compute faster, and control the world around us with higher resolution.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Peter H. Diamandis / Written by Max Goldberg 

 

UK Startup Shows Off World’s Largest 3D Printed Rocket Engine

What it is: U.K.-based startup Orbex just showed off what they believe is the world’s largest 3D printed rocket engine, standing at 56 feet (17 meters) tall -- roughly one-fourth the size of SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The engine is manufactured in a single piece without joints, creating a rocket that is up to 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than other small launchers and better able to withstand extreme temperature and pressure fluctuations. Set to launch in 2021, the feat is a collaborative effort: Orbex is working with engineers from NASA and the ESA, and partnered with the Swiss satellite startup Astrocast to launch 64 nanosatellites to build a global Internet of Things network.

Why it's important: The private space race continues to heat up. This news comes on the heels of Relativity Space’s signed U.S. Air Force contract to launch their own 3D-printed engine from Cape Canaveral. Look for these improvements to accelerate as competition intensifies and designs continue to digitize.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Jason Goodwin 

Smart Pills Filled With Tiny Needles Could Inject Medicine Directly Into Your Stomach

What it is: Published in Science just last week, this team of researchers just developed a new capsule device that may one day allow patients to orally ingest any number of drugs, notably including injected insulin. Inspired by the self-righting shape of the leopard tortoise, these smart pills — “self-orienting millimeter-scale applicators” (or SOMA) — can continuously attach to the gastric wall regardless of how they land. Containing tiny, spring-loaded needles, the SOMA then autonomously inject periodic payloads of medication into the top layers of a patient’s stomach tissue. In a preclinical trial evaluation involving insulin delivery, SOMA was even shown to provide equivalent drug exposure when compared to insulin injections under the skin.

Why it's important: Particularly in the case of diabetes, SOMA and similar needle-containing smart pills could transform drug delivery, eliminating the laborious daily injections required of over 415 million diabetic patients worldwide. As explained by MIT’s Robert Langer, “We are really hopeful that this new type of capsule could someday help diabetic patients and perhaps anyone who requires therapies that can now only be given by injection or infusion.” While still in the early proof-of-concept stages, such smart pills could give rise to everything from vaccines-in-a-pill to oral replacements for intravenous drips. Such a paradigm shift could prove monumental, enabling demonetized immunizations for _all_ children, low-cost emergency treatments and automated self-care on unprecedented scales.  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Marissa Brassfield / Written by Claire Adair 

President Trump’s Plan To Keep America First In AI

What it is: After first inventing artificial intelligence, the U.S. continues to lead in artificial intelligence technology. Yet, through the past decade of exponential AI growth, the U.S. government has lacked a high-level strategy to for investing in and preparing for AI. In recent years, a dozen countries, including China, have announced their plans for accelerating AI research, development and adoption. This week, President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to support AI research and commercialization. The action directs government agencies to focus on opening government agency data to better train AI systems, on prioritizing research and development, and on future workforce development.

Why it's important: From the military to infrastructure to healthcare, AI plays a massive role in modern society. Last year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote to the President expressing that the U.S. was not on pace to keep up with the ambitious AI plans of other countries, primarily China. Beyond the military and defense implications of AI, we are currently seeing a debate on how to thoughtfully regulate powerful AI applications like facial recognition. With the U.S. government’s existing plans to accelerate innovation in other vital Industry 4.0 areas like quantum computing, 5G communications and space, what technologies will next see support from the federal government?  Share on Facebook

Spotted by Max Goldberg / Written by Max Goldberg 

What is Abundance Insider?

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

Want more conversations like this?

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

Abundance Digital is Peter’s 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 3D Printing AI Artificial Intellegence healthcare biotech quantum computing regenerative medicine diabetes quantum mechanics
5 min read

Moonshots, Grit & Virgin Galactic’s Spaceflight

By Peter H. Diamandis on Dec 16, 2018

Moonshots are hard.

Topics: Space Entrepreneurship space exploration XPRIZE Private Space persistence Virgin SpaceShipTwo grit spaceflight Virgin Galactic