Futurati Podcast Ep. 56: Joel Comm on blockchain, NFTs, and cryptoassets.

By Thomas Frey and Trent Fowler


Watch on Youtube

Listen on the Futurati Podcast website


Joel tries to position his two shows as crypto news and commentary for the everyman. When he first heard about bitcoin and bitcoin mining in 2012, the concept didn’t resonate with him. The idea of mining with a computer seemed asinine, and he paid it little attention.
It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend in 2017 that he really understood the transformative potential of the blockchain, an experience which reminded him of encountering the internet in 1995.
This reminded Thomas of a technique he teaches in his “Future Like a Boss Course” called ‘attractionary futuristics’. This involves trying to identify high-probability, high-impact developments in the future and building towards them today.


(For more on how futurism is done see Futurati Podcast interviews with Woody Wade and Peter Leyden)

Thomas then asked Joel when he thinks major retailers like Amazon or Walmart will start accepting Bitcoin. Joel was surprised they haven’t done so already, especially given the fact that El Salvador now accepts it as legal tender, but he suspects we’ll be in the early stages of more widespread adoption in five or six years.
Joel takes a dim view of financial institutions like banks and thinks they’ll start accepting payments in cryptocurrencies when they have no other choice. He does think that day is coming, though, and Thomas speculated that as soon as 2030 there could be mortgages or loans being denominated in cryptoassets.


Thomas notes that much of what drove the early development of cryptocurrency technology were philosophical libertarians with a penchant for writing code. Today, many of those same people have driven the move into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse. Joel derided those who lack the vision to see the potential of these technologies as being the same people who thought Jeff Bezos was a fool for selling books out of his garage.

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Robot Factory Making Robots in Shanghai to Start Production in 2022

Robot factory that makes robots in Shanghai will start production

In the factory of Swiss technology giant ABB, which is under construction in Shanghai, “robot-making robot” will be produced. Peter Voser, Chairman of the Board of ABB, said in a statement that the robot factory in Shanghai, which has invested a total of 150 million dollars, will start production in the first quarter of 2022. The factory, built on an area of ​​67 thousand square meters, will be among the most advanced, automatic and flexible production centers of the robotics industry.

The factory will become a state-of-the-art hub where robots build robots. Production at the factory will be based on cellular automation with robots moving from station to station, providing flexibility with greater customization compared to traditional, linear manufacturing systems.

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The 10 fastest-growing science and technology jobs of the next decade

By Morgan Smith

While the coronavirus pandemic has battered some industries, others have thrived despite the ongoing crisis, including technology and science. In fact, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for jobs in math, science and technology will continue to surge over the next decade. 

Hiring in the computer and information technology fields has faster projected growth between 2020 and 2030 than all other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that demand for these workers stems from companies’ “greater emphasis on cloud computing, the collection and storage of big data, and information security.” https://36fb0f20cce80f27104950e6c539a9f4.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html?n=0

The coronavirus pandemic has expedited demand for other science and technology roles as well, including epidemiologists and information security analysts. “The prevalence of remote work has created additional need for network security and operations support,” Megan Slabinski, the district president for global talent solutions at recruitment firm Robert Half, tells CNBC Make It. Slabinski specializes in recruiting for technology positions. 

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Michigan plans to build the country’s first wireless EV charging road

By Jena Brooker

Will it work?

To help Michigan reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced last month that the state will construct the nation’s first wireless electric vehicle charging road — a one-mile stretch in the Metro Detroit area. 

“Michigan was home to the first mile of paved road, and now we’re paving the way for the roads of tomorrow,” Whitmer said in a press release, “with innovative infrastructure that will support the economy and the environment.” 

A wireless EV road works like this: As a car drives over it, the vehicle’s battery is charged by pads or coils built under the surface of the street using magnetic induction. It doesn’t give the car a full charge, but it helps add some additional mileage to a vehicle before its next complete powering up.  

The project is still in the very early stages: The Michigan Department of Transportation began accepting proposals for the project on September 28. Until one is selected, it’s unknown exactly where the road will be, what it will look like, the precise cost, or how soon it could be operational. But some are questioning whether the project is worth it. Is it the best use of funds in a state with poor transit and crumbling infrastructure? And how will it even work, particularly in a place with harsh weather extremes like the Midwest? 

“It’s just not feasible or economically viable,” said Chris Mi, chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at San Diego State University who is an expert on electric vehicle charging. A one-mile demonstration is doable, he told Grist, but at the larger scale there are several practical and economic barriers. 

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Space Perspective raises $40 million for stratospheric ballooning system

With its new $40 million Series A round, Space Perspective says it is fully funded through the start of commercial operations of its stratospheric ballooning system, currently projected to be in late 2024.

by Jeff Foust

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Space Perspective, a company developing a stratospheric ballooning system intended to give people views like those from space, has raised $40 million to fund the company through the start of commercial operations.

Space Perspective announced Oct. 14 the Series A round, led by Prime Movers Lab, a “deep technology” venture capital fund. Several existing investors joined the round, along with new investors LightShed Ventures, a consumer and media VC fund, and Explorer 1 Fund, a new commercial space VC fund.

“We firmly believe that Space Perspective is the best-positioned company to democratize space tourism,” Anton Brevde, partner at Prime Movers Lab and a member of the board of Space Perspective, said in statement. “It’s clear that there is massive consumer demand to explore this final frontier, and we believe Space Perspective will provide the most accessible way for travelers to experience space.”

Space Perspective will use the funding to complete development of its Spaceship Neptune stratospheric balloon system, featuring a capsule designed to carry eight passengers and a pilot to an altitude of 30 kilometers. The capsule will spend two hours at that altitude before slowly descending to an ocean splashdown.

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Mark Cuban-backed Alethea AI is building a metaverse of NFT avatars

Owners can bring their NFTs to Alethea’s “Noah’s Ark” metaverse to give them human-like behaviors.

Just when we were getting our heads around non-fungible tokens—crypto tokens that represent a unique digital asset—they’re now gaining sentience and moving to the metaverse.

Some of the best-known NFTs are unique avatars that people buy and sell, such as those in the CyberPunks series or Bored Ape Yacht Club. But NFTs don’t do much. Now, Alethea AI, a new company backed by entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, is wrapping avatars in AI that animates them, giving them conversation skills and knowledge. Collectively, the company calls this the avatar’s “pod” or “soul,” Alethea CEO Arif Khan tells me. Then, these intelligent NFTs, or iNFTs, become something like chatbots that can be owned, trained, or sold. Khan says his company originally used OpenAI’s GPT-3 natural language model to give the NFTs their speech and intelligence, but now uses an AI model it developed in-house.

“It’s a way of giving not only a personality to an avatar but to apply interactivity and to make it extensible,” Cuban said in an email to Fast Company. “You can take Alethea AI and let it grow into almost anything.” One of these NFTs, called “Alice,” already sold for $478,000 on Sotheby’s Natively Digital market in June.

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World’s First Liquid Hydrogen-Powered Aircraft Boasts Unmatched Range and Endurance

by Otilia Drăgan

There’s an ongoing debate about sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) versus hydrogen when it comes to the subject of sustainable aviation. Some say that SAF is the best available solution right now, while others think that liquid hydrogen is the answer for long-term green aviation.

While the U.S. Government is investing millions of dollars into SAFdevelopment-related projects, and giants such as United Airlines are signing huge purchase agreements for alternatives to conventional fuel, a small startup in the Netherlands is slowly working on the world’s first manned liquid hydrogen-powered aircraft.

AeroDelft is an impressive company not just because of its very ambitious goal but also because its team consists of 50 students from various institutions, including TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and Utrecht University, representing a total of 17 nationalities. Each of these students is bringing a unique expertise to Project Phoenix, set to become the first zero-emissions aircraft running entirely on liquid hydrogen.

The company was set up in 2018 and is currently working on both the 1:3 scale prototype and the full-scale version. The prototype (Phoenix PT) is an E-genius airplane with a wingspan of almost 20 feet (6 meters) and a maximum take-off weight of 110 lbs (50 kg). In comparison, the full-scale version (Phoenix FS) is a two-seater Sling 4 aircraft with a wingspan of almost 33 feet (10 meters) and a take-off weight of 2,000 lbs (920 kg).

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How virtual reality can be used to treat anxiety and PTSD

Patients can “confront the situations that cause them fear and anxiety, but in a safe and controlled environment.”

By Meera Navlakha 

Virtual reality may become instrumental in the workplace, could potentially be vital for reimagining crime scenes, and has even salvaged strip clubs in the midst of a pandemic. Its possibilities and applications are vast, still being discovered and toyed with. Now, new research shows that VR may be an effective treatment for anxiety. 

Published by open access digital health research publisher JMIR Publications, the study looked into virtual reality exposure therapy, or VRET. This particular form of therapy is a method in which patients are steadily exposed to a traumatic stimulus with the help of virtual environments. So not confronting the traumatic stimuli in its actual form, but gaining the benefits of overcoming or managing trauma through virtual exposure. 

The study in question was funded and conducted at Massey University Strategic Excellence Research Fund and Otago Polytechnic Auckland International Campus, New Zealand. The authors reviewed several past studies about VRET and anxiety, concluding that this type of immersive therapy is a viable and potentially revolutionising method to treat certain mental health conditions. 

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Blockchain Technology Could Act as a Communication Tool for Teams of Robots

ByAlex McFarland

New research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) demonstrates how blockchain technology could be used as a communication tool for a team of robots, providing security against deception. The research was a collaboration between MIT and the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and it was published in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

The new research could impact multi robot systems of self-driving cars, which deliver goods and transport people in certain cities. 

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Uh Oh, They Strapped a Sniper Rifle to a Robot Dog

It’s what experts have been warning about for years.

For years, we’ve been warning that it was only a matter of time — and now, the inevitable has happened.

Somebody strapped an honest-to-god sniper rifle to the back of a quadrupedal robot dog.

An image shared on Twitter by military robot maker Ghost Robotics shows the terrifying contraption in all its dystopian glory.

“Keeping our [special ops] teams armed with the latest lethality innovation,” the caption reads.

It’s a nightmare come to life, a death machine designed to kill with precision on the battlefield.

“This is sad,” one Twitter user commented. “In what world is this a good idea? I bet police is salivating at the chance to use these.”

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Watch Nissan’s awesome new ‘Intelligent Factory’ in action


Nissan has launched its most advanced production line to date as it works toward creating an emissions-free manufacturing process for its next-generation vehicles.

Using the very latest robotic technology, the Nissan Intelligent Factory started operating this week in Tochigi, Japan, about 50 miles north of Tokyo.

The automaker shared a video (below) showing off the new facility, which will manufacture vehicles such as the all-new Ariya electric crossover destined for the U.S. in 2022.

As the video shows, the Nissan Intelligent Factory not only builds the vehicle, but also performs incredibly detailed quality checks using robots programmed to search for foreign objects as small as 0.3mm.

Nissan said it built the futuristic factory to create a greener production process while also helping it to deal more effectively with Japan’s aging society and labor shortages.

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Hyundai Mobis develops a foldable steering wheel system for self-driving car

The ‘foldable steering system’ is movable to forward and back by up to 25cm.

The SBW is a high-tech control system that transmits steering power generated from the steering wheel to wheels through electronic signals.

Seoul: A foldable steering wheel system for self-driving cars has been developed by Hyundai Mobis.

Hyundai Mobis announced on Monday that it has developed the ‘foldable steering system’ that can store the steering wheel of the driver’s seat invisible by folding it.

It is a new technology that has not been globally commercialized before, and Hyundai Mobis successfully developed in around 2 years and is currently filling patents in Korea and overseas.

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