We are living in the future. Let’s face it. So each week, I will provide you with specific examples of why I feel like we’re already living in the future – or at least what I pictured as the future during childhood and as a young adult. Perhaps these posts will provide inspiration for great sci-fi stories. (click the headlines to read the full articles)
The Orbital Assembly Corporation — a large-scale space construction firm — announced its aims to launch the next phase of human exploration in space. In short, the company of NASA veterans plans to rapidly assemble a habitable “space hotel” in low-Earth orbit that spins fast enough to generate artificial gravity for guests, scientists, astronauts, and more, according to an event called “First Assembly” — which streamed live on the company’s YouTube channel.
SQ4D has developed its own concrete 3D printer. As you can see in my first video at one of their builds, their printer is a collapsible gantry system on rails. It is very unique because of its ability to mechanically collapse itself for ease of transport and disassembly. They do not publicly disclose whether or not this printer is for sale but they have boldly become the first company to publicly list a 3D printed house for sale. They were able to do so because the permits for the building have been granted by the local municipality. The biggest accomplishment will be an Occupancy Certificate that will be granted after all of the inspections have been passed during the construction process. There are a few companies actively pursuing the first Occupancy Certificate for a 3D printed house so the race is on to see who is able to complete construction with a passing grade first.
After lots of tests, it’s now possible to hail a truly driverless robotaxi in China. AutoX has become the first in the country to offer public rides in autonomous vehicles without safety drivers. You’ll need to sign up for a pilot program in Shenzhen and use membership credits, but after that, you can hop in a modified Chrysler Pacifica to travel across town without seeing another human being. As with Waymo One, there is help if you need it. You can talk to customer support reps if you have questions or need help.
Thanks to biological parts of a mosquito’s “nose,” we’re finally closer to Smell-O-Vision for computers. And a way to diagnose early cancer. With the recent explosion in computing hardware prowess and AI, we’ve been able to somewhat adequately duplicate our core senses with machines. Computer vision and bioengineered retinas tag-teamed to bolster artificial vision. Smart prosthetics seamlessly simulate touch, pain, pressure, and other skin sensations. Hearing devices are ever more capable of isolating specific sounds from a muddy cacophony of noises.
Inductive wireless charging that works via pads and coils is still not available everywhere or on every device, but XDA points out that Xiaomi is teasing a leap to the next step: remote wireless charging. Touchless “true” wireless charging could energize devices from several meters away, and Xiaomi is touting its approach, dubbed Mi Air Charge Technology. We’ve seen remote wireless charging equipment before, including the Energous WattUp approach we gave a Best of CES award in 2015. However they haven’t come to market yet, and while Xiaomi isn’t talking about any specifics as far as to release date or compatible hardware, showing off a demo and talking about the 17 patents it has is more than we’ve seen from other phone manufacturers.
Virgin’s futuristic, vacuum-tube based Hyperloop transportation system had its first human test last year at its 500-meter test track facility in Nevada and the results were promising. This proposed mass transit technology employs electromagnetic levitation propulsion to zip passenger capsules through steel, near-vacuum tubes, ultimately at speeds nearing 745 miles-per-hour and replicating the feelings of being comfortably inside a commercial jetliner sipping an iced ginger ale.
It may not be theoretically possible to predict the actions of artificial intelligence, according to research produced by a group from the Max-Planck Institute for Humans and Machines. “A super-intelligent machine that controls the world sounds like science fiction,” said Manuel Cebrian, co-author of the study and leader of the research group. “But there are already machines that perform certain important tasks independently without programmers fully understanding how they learned it [sic].”
Somewhere in Kent, tucked anonymously into acres of warehouses and light-industrial workshops, the first full-service human-composting funeral home in the United States is operational. After nearly a decade of planning, research and fundraising — not to mention a successful campaign to change state law — Recompose is finally converting people into soil. Outside, the entrance to Recompose looks like most of its neighbors — just another unit in a tall, almost block-sized building with plain metal siding and big, roll-up warehouse doors. But inside, it feels like an environmentalist’s version of a sleek, futuristic spaceship: spare, calm, utilitarian, with silvery ductwork above, a few soil-working tools (shovels, rakes, pitchforks) on racks, bags of tightly packaged straw neatly stacked on shelves, fern-green walls, potted plants of various sizes.