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APF Global Futures Festival

APF Futures Festival
APF Futures Festival
Heart of the Machine cover
Heart of the Machine cover
I’ll be speaking about Artificial Emotional Intelligence at the Global Futures Festival this Friday, Sept 16. Put on by the Association of Professional Futurists, it’s a virtual gathering that’s free to the public with registration. There will be futurists presenting from all over the world from 12:00/noon EDT till after midnight. My talk is at 6pm PDT/ 9pm EDT. Hope you can make it!

New York Times Interview

There’s something very satisfying about waking up in the morning to find you’ve been featured in a New York Times article. Writer, consultant and workplace expert, Alexandra Levit spoke with me earlier this summer about some of the ways increasingly emotionally aware technology will change our work environment.
NYT-Preoccupations
NYT-Preoccupations
Given the preponderance of vanishing job doom-and-gloom, we focused on the idea that more and more we’re going to see “co-work” situations in which AIs and robots work alongside people to help enhance capabilities and productivity. Such scenarios will only benefit from these technologies’ growing ability to be emotionally sensitive to their human co-workers. Since this inevitably contributes to the growth of machine intelligence, it’s a win-win for both our tribes.

“Heart of the Machine” coming to a store near you!

I haven’t been writing articles or posting for a good few months, because I’ve been head down completing my new book. Heart of the Machine is now complete and going through final edits with my publisher, Skyhorse Publishing, one of the fastest growing independent publishers in the country.

Heart of the Machine cover 600x900
Heart of the Machine cover 600x900

Toys that change based on children’s emotional responses. Smart homes and digital assistants that sense what kind of day you had and interact with you accordingly. Devices that can artificially generate a specific feeling for you. Perhaps even the foundations for true machine consciousness. Heart of the Machine: Our Future in a World of Artificial Emotional Intelligence explores the coming era of affective computing, social robotics and other emotionally-aware technologies. These systems are destined to transform our world and our lives over the next few decades. Already, the field is forecast to grow from a U.S. market of $9.35 billion in 2015 to $42.51 billion by 2020. That’s a heck of a growth rate for a market that virtually didn’t exist a decade ago!

Heart of the Machine is being released in March 2017 and is now available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For other outlets, ask your friendly neighborhood bookstore when they plan to get it on their shelves. To learn more about this incredible future, please visit this page.

 

The Future Era of Space Mining

Astronaut on asteroid


Astronaut on asteroid

An astronaut secures the “bag” holding a huge space rock in an illustration of NASA’s proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission
Credit: NASA

The new era of space mining is the topic of my latest article for Scientific American. The recent passage of the Space Act of 2015 by Congress will finally eliminate a lot of uncertainty for this nascent industry, assuming President Obama signs it into law. Given the enormous cost of lifting materials and supplies into orbit and beyond, the ability to draw from off-planet resources is critical for the continuing development of space exploration and colonization. As Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources stated following Congressional passage of the Act:

“Many years from now, we will view this pivotal moment in time as a major step toward humanity becoming a multi-planetary species. This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and it will foster the sustained development of space.”

Given the continuing progress being made by the developing commercial space industry, including yesterday’s first successful VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) by Blue Origin, it seems to me we may be witnessing the start of one of the great transformational periods in human history.

Cybercrime 2025 and Beyond


San Francisco was host to WorldFuture 2015 earlier this month. With around 700 attendees and professional futurists from all over the globe, it remains the world’s oldest and best known futures conference.

On Saturday, the conference’s first full day, I had the opportunity to give my session, “Cybercrime 2025 and Beyond” to a full house and it seemed very well received. I chose to take a little different tack with this talk and explored the development of cybercrime and the search for its solutions as part of the ongoing coevolution between humanity and technology. I ended with a call for building a biologically-inspired cyber-immune system that could protect not only our future digital assets, but potentially our physical infrastructure as well. While there is research being done in this area, there isn’t a focused program for bringing it to fruition. Yet.

Given the growing threat of cybercrime in recent years, it’s no surprise there were several speakers at the conference who addressed the subject. “Future Crimes” author, Marc Goodman opened the morning with an excellent talk that drew from the wide range of topics he covers in his new book. Later in the afternoon, Roey Tzezana, a nanotechnology scientist and futurist from the University of Tel Aviv spoke about his team’s cybercrime forecast model which looks at the threat profiles that are generated when different technologies are combined. Fascinating stuff.

Optocapacitance in Scientific American

Gold nanoparticles


Gold nanoparticles

Gold nanoparticles refract light
differently based on on their size
My latest Scientific American article “Optocapacitance Shines New Light on the Brain” explores an exciting new technology, tentatively named optocapacitance. While I’ve been excited about its better-known cousin, optogenetics, for years, I think this has greater potential for therapeutic application and augmentation uses in living human beings. Treatment of macular degeneration and certain other retinal diseases has been one suggested application. It could also offer an effective method for integrating robotic and neural prosthetics with our bodies. Direct connections between various devices and our nervous system could become possible, providing improved sensory feedback and control. As far as affective computing goes, I could see it one day leading to direct communication with our emotions for diagnostic, therapeutic and entertainment purposes.
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