3 things direct from the future

Edition 100

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


We made it to 100! 🙂🎉🎉

For this special edition of 3 Things Direct from the Future we revisit some stories and give you an update on those that changed the world, and those that sank without a trace.

The highlights…

Racing Star Wars Mode

Back in Edition 26, we flagged the potential for a real-life Star Wars pod race with Airspeeder’s eVTOLs. Well, it happened. Sort of. We were hoping to have actual humans in the cars (and this is still planned for either late this year or early next) but in this case, the cars were remotely controlled, with some augmented reality guiding thrown in for good luck. The flying cars look like planes and are designed for high speed racing. They can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in just 2.3 seconds!

So we give them a pass mark but reserving real judgement for when we can get some humans in there.


Planet Defenders Win!

We bashed an asteroid off target with a spaceship!

Back in Edition 37, we talked about NASA’s plan to change the path of asteroid that is hurling towards earth. Their plan? Send a spaceship to give it a punch. NASA says that DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) was a success after it altered the orbit of its target moon after crashing into it.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson says:

“All of us have a responsibility to protect our home planet. After all, it’s the only one we have. This mission shows that NASA is trying to be ready for whatever the universe throws at us. NASA has proven we are serious as a defender of the planet. This is a watershed moment for planetary defense and all of humanity, demonstrating commitment from NASA’s exceptional team and partners from around the world.”

Thanks, NASA, for keeping earth safe from the fate that befell the dinosaurs.


Elon Not Completely Insane

Way back in edition 3 we talked about Falcon 9. SpaceX’s reusable rocket has been a breakthrough in space transportation. It has blazed the trail for what looks like a huge step forward in re-usable, affordable (sort of!), and larger rockets. Reusing its boosters means the cost of putting stuff up in space is lessened dramatically and has become more environmentally friendly. The Falcon 9 has had 300 total launches, 258 total landings and 232 total reflights. The next step is developing materials to enable both boosters and second-stage to be reused.


Everybody’s Favorite Chat Buddy

We hailed the unveiling of ChatGPT back in edition 77  and since then, it has exploded into everyday use. While other large language models existed before ChatGPT, it is the one you all know of. It’s been used to help with student’s assignments and projects, we use it to write code here at Frontside,  and it has even helped an author win a literature award. We’re not saying it’s all positive though. We later find out that ChatGPT was trained by underpaid workers. It even wrote this newsletter! (no it didn’t, but thank God, people have stopped this “trick” when explaining what ChatGPT is)

The lowlights…

NFTs: Scam or Not?

Back in Edition 27, we were really hoping that non-fungible tokens or NFTs could help artists make a living out of their creations. The tech is there: the blockchain is ready and waiting. However, issues like overhype, plagiarism and theft have hounded NFTs early on. From their height in 2021 with around a $1.5 billion monthly trading value this has now dropped to around 150 million. By September 2023 some reports were saying that around 95% of NFTs were worthless. But I say don’t write them off just yet!


Elon Is Completely Insane

We’re a bit torn when it comes to Neuralink. On the one hand, it’s a promise of a mind-controlled future that gets us excited. Just look at this monkey playing Ping-Pong with its mind:

Our initial excitement has been tempered by the discovery that ethical issues surround the way that Neuralink treat their monkeys. Quite badly it turns out. Now, Elon claims a human subject can control a computer mouse with just their mind. All I can think is that someone wants to keep a close eye on that guy. I used to be a big Elon fan but now he’s not coming anywhere near my brain!


Deepfakes Have Gone Deep

We first sounded the possibility of deepfakes being used for nefarious means back in edition 17. There, we talked about how a website, https://thispersondoesnotexist.com, demonstrates the frightening ability of AI to be used in deepfakes. Fast forward around 4 years, and Taylor Swift (have you heard of her she’s an up-and-coming artist 🙂 )has been the victim of deepfakes with sexually explicit fake images being shared on several platforms. Now, with the launch of text-to-video service Sora, we are moving to a new stratosphere of indistinguishable fake content.


Robotaxi Crash

Finally, remember when we sounded the alarm about a Waymo autonomous taxi acting erratically because of orange traffic cones? Back then, it was hilarious how a set of traffic cones can confuse Waymo’s AI and cause it to stop driving and block an entire lane. However, Waymo and other autonomous taxi companies have had their fair share of real crashes that endanger the lives of both their passengers and others. Waymo even had a recall for their software systems. I say wherever you go, always surround yourself with orange traffic cones!

Thank you!

It has been an absolute joy to bring you this newsletter every fortnight and I am always thrilled to hear from people that they enjoy reading it, and sometimes even learn a few things.

As Covid drifts from our memories (touch wood) and we are gathering in groups again, it seems timely to remind you that one of my favourite things is to get out there and talk to people about technology and the future. If your company/school/event needs a glimpse into the future, with a dose of how you can survive and thrive, then please reply here with some basic details. I look forward to meeting you!

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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