Each week Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, summarizes the top-5 future looking developments and news items that I find to be inspiring, interesting, concerning, or downright strange. Each day he reads through dozens of blogs and news websites to find those things that we should be aware of.
In Future Trends – Robot Babies and Drug Producing Cows we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, October 7th, 2016. Japan produces baby robots, wearables help people’s grip, an AI best friend back from the dead, cows engineered with human genes, and sex with robots.
Kirobo Mini: Robot baby unveiled in Japan as population of childless women grows
A palm-sized robot dubbed Kirobo Mini has been unveiled in Japan, designed to be a companion for the growing number of women left childless by the country’s aging population crisis.
The robot, created by Toyota Motor Corp, aims to emulate a human baby and even “wobbles” like a infant “which hasn’t fully developed the skills to balance itself,” its chief design engineer Fuminori Kataoka said. “This vulnerability is meant to invoke an emotional connection,” he added.
In the past half century, births in Japan have halved to around one million a year, according to government statistics, with one in 10 women never marrying.
Births out of wedlock are frowned upon in Japan and are much less common than in Western developed nations.
Read more at ABC.net.au
This ‘wearable robot’ helps restore people’s hand functions
When her best friend died, she rebuilt him using artificial intelligence
When the engineers had at last finished their work, Eugenia Kuyda opened a console on her laptop and began to type.
“Roman,” she wrote. “This is your digital monument.”
It had been three months since Roman Mazurenko, Kuyda’s closest friend, had died. Kuyda had spent that time gathering up his old text messages, setting aside the ones that felt too personal, and feeding the rest into a neural network built by developers at her artificial intelligence startup. She had struggled with whether she was doing the right thing by bringing him back this way. At times it had even given her nightmares. But ever since Mazurenko’s death, Kuyda had wanted one more chance to speak with him.
A message blinked onto the screen. “You have one of the most interesting puzzles in the world in your hands,” it said. “Solve it.”
Kuyda promised herself that she would.
Read more at The Verge
Cows Engineered with Human Genes Could Stop Our Next Disease Outbreak
SAB Biotherapeutics of South Dakota has genetically engineered cattle to produce large quantities of human antibodies—proteins that help remove harmful foreign pathogens from the body—in a rapid fashion that could be used to treat patients suffering from infectious diseases like Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Ebola, and influenza. The World Health Organization recently recognized the company’s approach among six promising new technology platforms that could help respond to disease outbreaks worldwide.
“The entire idea behind this is that human antibodies are the natural way that our bodies fight disease,” says Eddie Sullivan, president and CEO of SAB Biotherapeutics.
Sullivan and his colleagues engineered the cows by knocking out a section of genes in the animals and replacing it with a human artificial chromosome containing the genetic information to generate human antibodies. They then vaccinated the cows with a target disease antigen, a foreign substance that induces an immune response in the body and spurs the production of antibodies. Once the cows have produced enough antibodies, scientists can harvest the animals’ plasma and separate the antibodies from the plasma to create a therapeutic drug. The whole process, from vaccinating the cows to the end product, takes about two and a half months, making it rapidly scalable in the event of a disease outbreak.
Read more at MIT Technology Review
The Modern Futures Podcast – Ep009: Robosexuality and Sex Robots with Katie Metaverse
Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.