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Category Archives: Futurism

These Researchers Want You to Live In a Fungus Megastructure – Futurism

Imagine that you roll out of bed onto a living fungus floor. The walls and ceiling heck, the whole apartment building, down to the plumbing and electrical systems are made of fungus too. Wood and concrete are remnants of the distant past; this entire city, from the schools to the stores to the hospitals, is made ofliving fungus constantly growing, dying off and regenerating itself.

Thats the visionlaid out in a provocative new paper, which a team of European academics say is the first-ever exploration of living fungus potential as a raw material for futuristic, eco-friendly monolithic structures that would, in their telling, revolutionize the entire built environment and economy.

We propose to develop a structural substrate by using live fungal mycelium, reads the paper. Fungal buildings will self-grow, build, and repair themselves.

The idea is a response to the prospect of catastrophic climate change. Growing our building materials from biological materials, the theory goes, would makeconstruction less dependent on fossil fuels and environmentally-destructive mining operations.

Fungal materials can have a wide variety of mechanical properties ranging from foam-like to wood-like to polymer-like to elastomer-like, Han Wsten, a microbiologist at The Netherlands Utrecht University who co-authored the not-yet-peer-reviewed paper, told Futurism. The fact that we can make wood-like materials implies that we can use it for the building industry.

Along with other forms of living materials, fungal architecture is not a new idea other research groups have explored the idea of growing building materials out of mycelium. NASA,for instance, is currently testingwhether fungus could grow in Martian soil, potentially giving the space agency a low-cost way to grow space habitats onsite.

But those projects all involve killing the fungus after it grows, a process that makes it sturdier as a building material that the team says has already been used for load-bearing structures or boundary walls.

So far, they say, no one else has explored the possibility of building monolithic structures out of living fungus.

The selling point of our materials is that it is biodegradable, thereby helping to create a circular economy, Wsten said. At the same time, it should not degrade when actually used as a building material. We can work around this apparent paradox by coating the material. In fact, we also coat wood with paint of oils to protect it against degradation.

It may be that we will find a fungus that creates wood-like materials without the need of pressing, he said.

Even with a coating, Wsten went on to explain, the goal is to keep the fungal architecture alive so that an architect could rejuvenate it with water and trigger further growth if repairs or alternations were necessary. Those same coatings, the team says, could be used to capitalize on the fungus internal structure of networks to replace things like a buildings plumbing, electrical wiring, or other logistical needs.

Important to note: those ideas, like much of the teams research, remain fairly speculative.

Andrew Adamatzky, a computer scientist at the University of the West of England who also co-authored the paper, told Futurism that the team is working to build fungal versions of neuromorphic circuits and other electronics. He conceded that conventional wires are cheaper and easier to work with, but added that the living circuits will be self-growing, self-assembling and self-repairing, which no traditional circuitry can do.

This is really challenging, but a real opportunity to explore how buildings could grow, self-repair, adapt and disrupt conventional ways of building production by working with highly local resources and growing in-situ to minimize logistics and energy use in material production, said Phil Ayres, a co-author of the paper from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, aiming towards a circular economy for construction.

More on living materials: Scientists Create Living Concrete That Can Heal Itself

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How tech giants will dismantle healthcare industry: Amy Webb – Business Insider

DAVOS, Switzerland Tech companies are coming for the healthcare industry's lunch.

That's according to Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and professor of strategic foresight at New York University Stern School of Business. When Business Insider asked Webb for a prediction she expects to happen that most others don't think will happen, her response turned to the relationship between big tech companies and healthcare.

"Amazon, Google, and Apple completely dismantle the healthcare industry as we know it," Webb told Business Insider on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

"From diagnostics to pharmaceuticals to the physician-patient relationship, and I would argue they're already in the process of doing that," Webb said.

Read more: Tech giants like Google and Amazon are beefing up their healthcare strategies. Here's how 7 tech titans are tackling the $3.6 trillion industry.

Tech powerhouses like Google, Amazon, and Apple are increasingly focused on expanding in US healthcare. They've pursued strategies such as building out life-sciences divisions and offering hardware like fitness trackers, and even shown some signs that they'll get into the business of providing healthcare.

Tech companies have an advantage that established healthcare players don't when working to change how the healthcare industry operates.

"Part of what is on their side is the regulatory issues that traditional players have to deal with don't apply in the same way," Webb said, referring to the regulations that protect patient-data privacy within doctors' offices and other established healthcare institutions. "We could, 20 years from now, have a completely different approach with completely different providers."

Read more: Verily just presented for the first time at JPMorgan's big health conference. Here's how the CEO of Alphabet's life sciences firm laid out the unusual business to top investors.

Webb pointed in particular to the tools getting developed that collect information about our health, such as wearables like Fitbit, which Google is acquiring, and the Apple Watch and voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa.

In the future, that information and other sensors and tools could be used to get a better picture of a patient's health without a doctor's office visit. That goes beyond the initial intention of the devices.

"What's happening in a sort of transparent way because this is not the primary use case for all these technologies is our homes are being turned into clinics," Webb said.

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This Functioning Driverless Car Has No Driver’s Seat – Futurism

6 hours ago__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Advanced Transport

Self-driving company Cruise, a Honda-backed General Motors subsidiary, has unveiled an SUV-sized vehicle called Origin thats been designed from the ground up to never have a driver, The Verge reports.

We built this car around the idea of not having a driver and specifically being used in a ride-share fleet, Cruise co-founder Kyle Vogt told The Verge.

Instead of the usual setup of a drivers seat with pedals and steering wheel, the Origin is just one large cabin. Two rows of two seatseach face each other allowing for a luxurious amount of legroom in the center.

By making each component everything from the interior to the computer and sensors completely replaceable, the company is hoping to drive the cost per mile down way lower than you could ever reach if you took a regular car and tried to retrofit it, Vogt told The Verge.

READ MORE: Exclusive look at Cruises first driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals [The Verge]

More on driverless cars: Waymo Is Taking the Safety Drivers out of Its Autonomous Taxis

Up Next__Japan Is Launching Its Own Space Defense Unit >>>

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Scientists Create "Living Concrete" That Can Heal Itself – Futurism

Its Alive!

Scientists at the University of Colorado, Boulder have created whatThe New York Timescalls a living concrete, teeming with photosynthetic bacteria, that can grow itself and regenerate itself much like a living organism.

The concrete is a mixture of gelatin, sand, and cyanobacteria that cools similarly to Jell-O, the Times reports. The resulting structure was able to regenerate itself three times after researchers cut it apart, suggesting apotential breakthrough in the nascent field of self-assembling materials.

The living concrete, which the Colorado scientists made in partnership with DARPA, starts out as a sickly green color that fades as the bacteria dies off, according to research published Wednesday in the journal Matter.

It really does look like a Frankenstein material, UC Boulder engineer and project leader Will Srubar told the NYT.

Even as the color fades, the bacteria survive for several weeks and can be rejuvenated resulting in further growth under the right conditions.

DARPA is particularly interested in a self-growing material that it can use to assemble structures in remote desert areas, or potentially even in space, according to the NYT.

If the living concrete can scale up to that level, it could reduce the amount and weight of materials that space agencies will need to launch.

Theres no way were going to carry building materials to space, Srubar told the NYT. Well bring biology with us.

READ MORE: Bricks Alive! Scientists Create Living Concrete [New York Times]

More on materials: Scientists Create Material With Living Metabolism

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Scientists: Ocean Warming at the Rate of Five A-Bombs per Second – Futurism

After analyzing data from the 1950s through 2019, an international team of scientists determined that the averagetemperature of the worlds oceans in 2019 was 0.075 degrees Celsius (.135 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the 19812010 average.

That might not seem like a significant amount of warming, but given the massive volume of the oceans, an increase even that small would require a staggering influx of heat 228 sextillion Joules worth, according to the scientists study, which was published in the journalAdvances in Atmospheric Sciences on Monday.

Thats a hard number to contextualize, so one of the scientists behind the study did the math to put it into an explosive frame of reference by comparing it to the amount of energy released by the atomic bomb the United States military dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

The Hiroshima atom-bomb exploded with an energy of about 63,000,000,000,000 Joules, author Lijing Cheng from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a press release. The amount of heat we have put in the worlds oceans in the past 25 years equals to 3.6 billion Hiroshima atom-bomb explosions.

That averages out to four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy entering the oceans every second for the past 25 years. But even more troubling, the rate isnt holding steady at that alarming figure its increasing.

In 2019, ocean warming was equivalent to about five Hiroshima bombs of heat, every second, day and night, 365 days a year, study author John Abraham, from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, told Vice.

And in case atomic bombs are still too abstract of a comparative unit, the 2019 rate is equivalent to every person on Earth constantly pointing 100 hair dryers at the oceans, Abraham told Vice.

The less technical term is: Its a shit-ton of energy, he said and its already having a hugeimpacting the environment.

Ice is melting faster, causing sea levels to rise. Dolphins and other marine life are dying because they cant adapt quickly enough. Even the increase in the amount of water evaporating into the atmosphere due to the heat is negatively impacting on our planet.

It makes hurricanes and typhoons more powerful, and it makes rainfall more intense, Abraham told Vice. It puts our weather on steroids.

And remember, the rate is increasing meaning that every moment we delay taking action to slow or reverse the warming, the situation is only going to get worse.

READ MORE: 5 Hiroshima Bombs of Heat, Every Second: The Worlds Oceans Absorbed Record-Level Heat Last Year [Vice]

More on ocean warming: Scientists: Warming Oceans Will Lead to Catastrophic Future

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MIT Suspends Another Professor for Epstein Ties – Futurism

Busted

MIT has placed tenured mechanical engineering professor Seth Lloyd on administrative because of a failure to disclose ties to Jeffrey Epstein, the deceased and disgraced financier accused of sex trafficking and other crimes.

Over the years, Epstein donated $225,000 to Lloyds research and also gave him a personal gift of $60,000, according to an extensive report about Epsteins connections to MIT that the university released Friday. Lloyd hid the source of the donations by processing them through various administrators ultimately tainting his research by linking it to Epsteins disgraceful legacy.

The news about Lloyd and his subsequent suspension is just the latest in a string of grim revelations regarding MITs ties to Epstein. While Lloyd admitted to having visited Epstein in prison, Epsteins influence on the university extended far beyond one engineering professor.

Joi Ito, the since-resigned director of the MIT Media Lab also accepted and obscured the source of hundreds of thousands of dollars from Epstein and millions more that were funneled through Epsteins company. Computer scientist Richard Stallman also resigned in the wake of controversy surrounding off-color comments he made about the scandal.

As news about Epsteins contributions to MIT continued to break, university president Rafael Reif vowed to donate an amount equivalent to Epsteins donations to a charity supporting victims of sexual abuse.

So far, Reif has committed to donating $850,000. But as InsideHigher Ed reports, he hasnt yet determined what organization its going to support.

READ MORE: More Epstein Fallout at MIT [Inside Higher Ed]

More on Epstein and MIT: Bizarre MIT Meeting About Jeffrey Epstein Ends in Tears, Yelling

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