A Conversation With Ameca – The Humanoid Robot

Ameca has already proven to be an impressive demonstration of state-of-the-art humanoid robots, with her uncanny ability to contort her face into extremely believable, human-like expressions, ranging from disbelief to disgust. Now, thanks to the power of GPT 3, Ameca is able to converse as well, in an impressive extension of what modern robots are capable of.

VICTOR TANGERMANN – THEY PUT GPT-3 INTO THAT ROBOT WITH CREEPILY REALISTIC FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND YIKES

I recently saw an article that once again shows the amazing advancement of humanoid robots. The article makes a point of saying that nothing in the video below is pre-scripted. Ameca uses a speech synthesizer and OpenAI’s GPT 3 to produce human-like text. In answering a question about the role of humanoid robots, Ameca said this:

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Video: The Future Of Energy

Via Tech Bang.

Energy Generation in the future world. These are the SEVEN most exciting Energy Sources of the Future. The newest developments in Renewable Cleaner Energy to Get Us Off Fossil Fuels. These energy sources are promising a greener and more sustainable approach to the way we generate energy. We consume a HUGE amount of energy resources every day and we are at a point of transformation from a world powered by FOSSIL fuels to one powered by cleaner and RENEWABLE energy sources. The future looks promising.

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Robot Shows A Wide Range Of Facial Expressions

When I first posted a video of Ameca defending her personal space, the reaction ranged from fascinating to creepy. I would expect a similar reaction to this new video released by Engineered Arts. They have been working on teaching Ameca a wider range of facial expressions, with twelve new actuators added. See for yourself.

Solving Humanities Greatest Challenges

Every so often, the knowledge base of society expands in a way that can be felt across multiple domains. When science pushed technology to new heights starting in the 1870s, it put society on a path towards transformative change. With science continuing to produce amazing breakthroughs in a synergistic relationship with technology, it feels much like that period so long ago. Take a look at the headlines from the past week:

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The New Fire

I just finished reading the latest addition to my book library. The New Fire was written by Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie. The book explores artificial intelligence (AI) through the lens of geopolitics, specifically, the prospects for democracy versus autocracy. A worrying possibility is highlighted in the book; that AI will do more for autocracy than democracy. In comparing artificial intelligence to fire, the authors make a comparison that I explored in a recent poll. Fire is very destructive, but as the authors state, it is also the basis for civilization. Humans learned to tame the destructive nature of fire, while harnessing its power. That is the precise analogy to AI that the book studies.

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Relocalization

Are there other forces lurking that could indeed lead to relocalization? Might a world where our food, energy, and products are created locally drive deglobalization? An open question with massive implications. Relocalization is a geopolitical building block – one of many that contribute to future thinking exercises.

Frank Diana – Deglobalization

That quote from my post on deglobalization highlights a possible future. That future is not the same as a possible post deglobalization future. The context surrounding deglobalization is centered on resilience and risk. To drive resilience and reduce risk, nations will diversify their supply chains and pursue reshoring strategies where appropriate. Relocalization on the other hand has massive implications to the nation-state structure and long-standing institutions. Imagine a world where our energy, food, and goods are sourced locally. What happens when a state is self-sufficient? What need does the state have of nations? What happens to logistics and transport if our needs are satisfied locally?

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Population Growth

Recent estimates for population growth are at odds with one and other. Where the United Nations sees 11 billion people on the planet by 2100, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sees growth to 9.7 billion initially and then a decline back to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. Future population sizes underpin future strategies for governments and industries around the world. This article via the World Economic Forum underscores the point. The quick video snippet in the Tweet below is fascinating.

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The Future Of Freight Transport

Our fascination with autonomous vehicles spans over ten years. Much of that time was focused on self-driving cars in our cities and highways. While that scenario has been slow to materialize, autonomous vehicles are emerging all around us in various applications. We see autonomy rolling out in agriculture, mining, and increasingly, logistics. The autonomous trucking trials happening in the southern region of the U.S. are a harbinger of things to come. The movement of freight however is not limited to our current roads. This recent article describes the future of freight transport – which may be heading underground.

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Resistance To Renewable Energy Is Similar To The Early Rejection Of Coal

Without good stories to help us envision something very different from the present, we humans are easily stuck in our conventional mental programming

Per Espen Stoknes

I was reminded of the above quote when I came across this recent article about America’s early rejection of coal. With cheap wood available and houses having wood fireplaces, not many saw the wisdom of shifting to coal. As the article states, our current societal struggle with renewable energy has a long history. Coal itself faced a similar pushback in the early 19th century when the power source promised to solve many of the country’s problems.

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Living An Extra One Hundred Years

One of the future scenarios that I have focused on for some time is healthy life extension. When I mention to an audience that the first person to live to 200 has already been born – it gets quite the reaction. That scenario is not as far-fetched as people believe. This recent article explored research in the field of senolytics – drugs that work to eliminate cells that degrade tissue function. The drugs are already showing promising results and could become available on the market within the next decade.

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Alexa Can Mimic Anyone’s Voice

The Alexa team demoed the new feature during the event by presenting a scenario in which Alexa uses the voice of a dead grandmother to read a bedtime story to a little boy

Dale John Wong – Alexa will soon be able to talk using a loved one’s voice (even if they’re dead)

That quote from a recent article builds on the digital resurrection post from June 14th. When they say anyone’s voice – they mean it. Take a look at the video below starting at the 1:01:58 mark, which is a different application of the same scenario – resurrecting a lost loved one. If you have not already responded to the poll below, please provide your thoughts.

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The Consciousness Debate

The AI and consciousness discussion was bound to emerge in the media at some point – and here we are. The debate in my mind is hindered by how we define consciousness. Nonetheless, the debate continues. Watch the video and see where you land on the question. Take the quick poll below to provide your thoughts.

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The Energy Transition

Energy transitions throughout history have ushered in times of dramatic change. These transitions represent the most impactful periods in human history. At the heart of this transition lies renewable energy.

Renewable energy technologies harness the power of the sun, wind, and heat from the Earth’s core, and then transforms it into usable forms of energy like heat, electricity, and fuel.

Govind Bhutada – What Are the Five Major Types of Renewable Energy?

That quote is from a recent Visual Capitalist article that describes the five major types of renewable energy. Given the growing focus on these sources of energy, the IEA forecasts that, by 2026, global renewable electricity capacity is set to grow by 60% from 2020 levels to over 4,800 gigawatts—equal to the current power output of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. This visual describes these five renewable energies.

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Digital Resurrection

In a post from 2020 I asked readers if they would digitally reconnect with a lost loved one. I explored advances in affective computing, a field of computer science that is dedicated to building systems that encroach on tasks that require our affective capabilities, our capacity for feelings and emotions. There are systems, for example, that can look at a person’s face and tell whether they are happy, confused, surprised, or delighted. In that post, I shared a video that brings this form of computing to life. On February 6, 2020, a Korean TV show called Meeting You, which focuses on lost family, reunited a mother with her deceased child in the virtual world. The mom was strapped in a VR headset and brought into a massive green room. She was provided touch-sensitive gloves. This allowed her to move around and even interact with her daughter.

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The Future Of Autonomous Driving And Logistics

Uber Freight and Waymo Via just announced a long-term strategic partnership to connect their technologies and deploy autonomous trucks at scale on the Uber Freight network. According to the announcement, carriers that purchase trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver in the future will be able to opt-in to Uber Freight’s marketplace to seamlessly deploy their autonomous assets on the Uber Freight network. This announcement informs two often asked about possible futures: autonomous driving and logistics.

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The Redesign Of Cities

Yesterday I wrote about endless possibilities. In thinking about the topic, I pointed to the  2022 Trends Report launched by the Future Today Institute. My post focused on a number of scenarios that represent possibilities. Here is another example of a possibility from the report – new city designs. Post-Industrial Revolution designs focused on cars and roads versus people, but that focus is likely to change. Future communities will be built around nature, not over it. As described by this article, THE LINE is an example of that change.

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An Endless Possibility Space

In times of significant change, society has followed two distinct paths that represent the Opposing Forces of Innovation. This subway diagram focuses on these two paths: one that enhances human development (green), and one that diminishes it (red). The station stops are the major impacted domains in either direction – but we could add several other stations based on the number of Building Blocks available to society. Click on the visual to expand it.

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That Point In History Where Our Standard Of Living Improved

The third period, in which we all live, is characterized by an unprecedented phenomenon: sustained economic growth. Quality of life went from improving very gradually if at all for the vast majority of human history to improving very, very quickly.

Dylan Matthews – About 200 years ago, the world started getting rich. Why?

That quote comes from a recent article that summarizes the thinking from a book titled How the World Became Rich. As readers of my Blog know, I believe this look at history helps us understand possible futures. In this case, what history tells us about our potential to further advance human development. Another recent book titled The Journey Of Humanity took a similar look at history and attempted to explain this path to standard of living improvement. The earlier book makes it clear – the world has changed considerably in the last 200 years:

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A Reimagining The Future Presentation

I have the pleasure of speaking in various forums about the future. It is a fascinating time to be focused on illuminating the path forward, as the pace, uncertainty, and complexity of our times makes it very challenging. This short three-minute video describes my reimagining the future presentation.

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Challenging The Structures Of The Current Era

With technological change comes social change and a shift in the organizing systems that oversee how our communities are governed

LYDIA KOSTOPOULOS – Emerging Domains of Conflict in the 21st Century

It has long been my belief that the structures supporting this current era have experienced diminished effectiveness and are reaching end of life. When I would share these thoughts back in 2012, I remember getting strange looks – but fast forward ten years and it’s not so strange anymore. That quote above comes from a recent article that identifies five emerging domains of conflict. Taken together with an exploding number of additional factors, it is easy to see why our organizing system is on the verge of dramatic change.

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