“Of course,” he says, “we have no idea, now, of who or what the inhabitants of our future might be. In that sense, we have no future. Not in the sense that our grandparents had a future or thought they did. Fully imagined cultural futures were the luxury of another day, one in which ‘now’ was of some greater duration. For us, of course, things can change so abruptly, so violently, so profoundly, that futures like our grandparents’ have insufficient ‘now’ to stand on. We have no future because our present is too volatile.” He smiles a version of Tom Cruise with too many teeth, and longer, but still very white. “We have only risk management. The spinning of the given moment’s scenarios. Pattern recognition.”
―William Gibson: Pattern Recognition, 2003.
Virgin Galactic to launch 2nd commercial spaceflight on Aug. 10 (Space.com)
Like any kid who grew up with Robert Heinlein’s Podkayne of Mars I’ve always hankered for a future of space tourism. It may currently be a little beyond my budget but I’m still excited for Galactic 02, the first Virgin Galactic mission to carry non-governmental commercial passengers. August 10th is the day the mission takes off. "The dynamic and multinational crew highlights the role the commercial space industry can play in removing barriers that once existed to becoming an astronaut," says Virgin, and before you point out that there remains the barrier of needing a LOT of money for a ticket, Galactic 02 will carry a mother and daughter who won their tickets in a lottery. Money will no doubt still help if you plan to join a future Galactic crew, or lack luck.
Seeing The Future: Artificial Intelligence For Age-Related Macular Degeneration (Forbes)
This one is close to home. My aunt has advanced macular degeneration, and my family has a significant history of related eye disease. Screening for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is difficult because there are not enough eye specialists to evaluate retinal imaging, and this process requires clinical expertise. However, emerging technologies like AI/ML are making it possible to develop more accurate and efficient screening methods. This article by William A. Haseltine is worth a read but for the TLDR crowd: results using AI to spot eye disease are good, but more training on real-world data sets is needed. Worth it, since 200M suffer from some form of this ailment, which is the main cause of vision loss in adults.
BMW Introduces Smartglasses for Motorcycling (Mixed Reality News)
My experience with in-car HUD (heads up display) has not been great so far, but it has admittedly been in demo environments. The last one I tried superimposed navigation instructions into the field of view, rather missing the point that these days navigation display is more of a reassurance than an essential. I glance at mine now and then. I don’t need it perpetually in my eyeliner as I drive. But where I can imagine wanting this data in view is when riding a motorbike. Simple, clean, and configurable, BMW Motorrad enables just that.
Check out the video.
UK chip start-up RED Semiconductor in talks to raise funding (Sky News)
You might already know that I provide marketing, communications, and growth services (when not collecting stories for this newsletter). The story on Sky News is the outcome of some ecosystem and PR work around the Hardware Pioneers Max show in London last week. RED is creating a processor technology that will provide the performance needed to get AI out of the cloud, and distributed around the Edge. It also enables greatly enhanced security, such as Crypto Quantique’s quantum-driven hardware IP root-of-trust that generates unique, unforgeable identities and cryptographic keys on demand.
A few notes on the culture
The culture? Is that a reference to Iain M. Banks? The Culture (capital C) is, according to Wikipedia, a utopian, post-scarcity space society of humanoid aliens, and advanced super-intelligent artificial intelligences living in artificial habitats. The culture (small c) is an informal but recognisably related set of people that align around the values of: Individual Freedom and Happiness; Growth and Education; Equality, Diversity and Tolerance; and Technological Advancement.
This newsletter is a “novelty aggregator”. Each week I’ll select a handful of things that seem to be to be ways in which technology is advancing our potential to survive, thrive and conjoin. They won’t necessarily be the biggest stories of the week; I’m presuming you saw those already. I may include a few things about my personal projects, when newsworthy. They include working as a fractional CMO (or whatever is needed) with companies in edutech, cleantech, and semiconductors, and a series of near-future spy novels (available on Amazon UK / Amazon US).