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Advance Technology

What Will NASA’s EM Drive Mean for Space Travel?

Over the last year, a number of researchers around the world have suggested that NASA’s controversial EM Drive might work after all. Tests done over the last two years at NASA’s Eagleworks Lab seem to indicate that thrust is being produced by this device without any propellant of any kind. Even the military is taking an interest.

The problem with the EM Drive is that it seems to contradict the known laws of physics – a point that has made most scientists reject the possibility that the EM Drive could actually work. According to Newtonian theory, all reactions require an equal and opposite reaction. But that doesn’t seem to be happening with the EM Drive.

But despite the skepticism of much of the scientific world, researchers from Europe to the United States and China have found small but consistent thrust being produced by this device – dare we say engine. But if the EM Drive functions as advertised, it could mean a revolution in space propulsion.

Today, space propulsion is dominated by chemical rockets that have to carry tons of fuel with them as they travel. This places a limitation on their speed and how much cargo they can carry. Without the necessity of carrying fuel along, a spacecraft equipped with an EM Drive and powered by solar panels or a nuclear reactor could travel ridiculously far and fast.

Currently, it takes anywhere from six months to two years to reach Mars from Earth. Calculations show an EM Drive equipped spacecraft – manned or unmanned – could reach Mars in 70 days or less. This is roughly equivalent to how long it took colonists on sailing ships to travel across the Atlantic to the New World. So this is literally a game changing technology – if it works.

Disney Leads in Highly Advanced Robotics

Disney has been ahead of the curve when it comes to robotics since the 1960s when they first placed animatronic attractions in their theme parks. While those older attractions might seem a bit outdated in the modern world, they were once centerpieces of the technological prowess of the family-focused Disney experience. Disney has once again proven that they are an industry leader in the field of robotics with their newest animatronic addition, which is a rendition of a Na’vi shaman from the popular Avatar franchise.

Disney opened Pandora: World of Avatar at the end of May, and it is located in the Animal Kingdom park as part of the main attractions of the location. The entire area is themed after Avatar, and while it has only been accessible by the public for a few weeks, it has already attracted a lot of attention. In particular, the Na’vi River Journey ride offers an experience unlike any other in the world of animatronics. As the ride comes to an end, riders will be greeted with an incredibly lifelike robotic Na’vi shaman that dances and chants with the realism of a living creature. There is no doubt this piece of technology represents one of the most, if not the most, advanced animatronic creations ever conceived.

A look under the artificial blue skin of the robotic figure reveals an exceptionally intricate animatronic skeleton with many, many points of motion and control. To look at the robotic skull in action is to see technology that would have seemed to be nothing more than science fiction even just ten years ago. Disney plans to incorporate more of these animatronic figures into their attractions, and there are even rumors that they are considering fully autonomous figures that could move and act independently of any robotic foundation or direct human control.

Elon Musk Develops Hyperloop Concept

Elon Musk has been one of the most innovative people in modern history. He is best known for developing Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX. While he has had a major impact on a range of industries and transportation, another one of his current ventures could prove to be the most impactful overall. Musk is currently in the development stage of the Hyperloop, which he is now referring to as the “fifth mode of transportation” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/hyperloop-will-future-transport/).

The Hyperloop is a futuristic mode of transportation that could prove to be the safest and most efficient transportation option ever. The Hyperloop will essentially be a high-speed train that will have the ability to transport people at speeds of up to 700 miles per hour. In an ideal situation, this could allow someone to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco is less than one hour.

While the Hyperloop has been in the concept stages for a long time, it appears to be gaining some traction and could soon be a more realistic goal. The train system has already been built on a much smaller scale and has shown that it will have the ability to move at the speeds quoted. While there is a lot of potential for the idea, and Musk has the ability to capitalize the project, there are a lot of challenges ahead that will need to be addressed.

One of the biggest concerns will be about the safety and comfort for the passengers. Taking off at 700 miles per hour could end up being a bit too much for some people and the seating arrangement need to be figured out to ensure customer comfort. There are also security concerns that need to be considered, which could end up adding to the overall commuting time from one city to the next.

The Tsunami of Artificial Intelligence

How smart is too smart? According to Elon Musk, artificial intelligence will become too smart too soon. He is calling for government regulations, but he isn’t exactly a Cassandra.

Musk provided an audience at the International Space Station R&D Conference with an example of technology that is too smart: DeepMind’s AlphaGo. The machine’s intelligence isn’t the concern so much as the speed at which the machine was able to learn and apply its knowledge. AlphaGo is years ahead of schedule and this lack of predictability is disturbing. It indicates that AI is unpredictable and if it goes on “learning” at rates that are faster than developers anticipate it can cause a “tidal wave” of problems.

Musk’s claims aren’t dramatic. He put his concerns in context by comparing AI to other technologies that had been revolutionary at the time – including air travel and telecommunications. Both of those technologies evolved alongside government agencies, like the FAA and the FCC, that monitored and controlled their development. Musk suggests that a similar agency needs to be developed now so that AI developers have limits to what their bots can accomplish.

The idea of tighter regulations seems to go against entrepreneurial innovation and Musk is aware of his own contradictions. As an entrepreneur and inventor he often rails against government regulations but he does see how they are necessary. He is calling for regulations now because he knows that artificial intelligence is growing more sophisticated and powerful each day. By the time the government catches up, Musk warns that artificial intelligence is, “…going to come on like a tidal wave.”

Economics the Only Obstacle to Mars Colonization

Elon Musk is making the rounds, speaking at the International Space Station R&D Conference which was on the heels of his talk at the National Governors Association. Though quite a bit of attention has been spent on Musk’s concerns regarding artificial intelligence, SpaceX’s progress on the Mars colonization front is still a high priority for many investors and other people. Though familiar obstacles, from physics and weather and technology and experimentation, have conspired to create a typical recursive process in the development of spacecraft, ultimately money might be the singular factor that prevents people from living on Mars.

First the tech. SpaceX is backing away from propulsion rockets because developers have determined the craft no longer needs a controlled descent to land on Mars. Replacement rockets are being designed and developed. Those will likely not be unveiled this year, but the highly anticipated Falcon Heavy inaugural flight is slated to occur later this year. The Falcon Heavy will likely not get far from the launch pad, despite the nine rockets strapped to the spacecraft. According to Musk, the design proved to be “way, way more difficult” than anticipated. The lift-off will provide some real world data that cannot be created in simulation. The slow-down on the design translates to a slow-down on capital.

TechCrunch reports that part of the SpaceX plan to colonize Mars is dependent on money generated from a smaller spacecraft capable of orbiting the Earth. Whether used for space tourism or government-backed missions, the earnings from the smaller spacecraft will fund the development of the larger craft and the Mars mission. It seems that even one of the world’s richest men needs to pay for his dreams.

The Possibilities Of Artificial Intelligence In The Future

The digital revolution includes a lot of changes for artificial intelligence. It is shaping business, fashions and products for the future. The web is always full of predictions for the future especially regarding new technologies. Artificial intelligence is playing a role in driving recommendations, customer service and search responses. The idea is to go back in time to when business owners knew their customers. Modern technology is improving the value received by today’s shoppers in the real world and on the internet.

Artificial Intelligence is being used for chatbots. This is a customer service tool being used by many of the popular brands for beauty and fashion. It is primarily used in the messaging space and has been successful in converting new customers. Emphasis is being placed on a style of shopping without the friction. Todays customers expect to get exactly what they want easily and quickly including when they pay for their purchases. The Internet of Things is connecting stores, fitting rooms, checkouts and more. This is the level of convenience consumers want and are beginning to expect. For even more information on the future of technology please visit https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2016/12/19/8-tech-trends-that-will-shape-the-future-of-fashion-and-luxury-retail-in-2017/#43416dfd7615.

The Internet of Things will require a voice interface. This is becoming a huge platform and Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon have already become major players. This is about so much more than having an impact of consumer goods. Fashion brands will be able to experiment and find a potentially new future for their brands. A prediction has been made by Mary Meeker of KPBC that by the year 2010 at least half of all web searches will be using either image or voice searches as opposed to text. This will be more convenient and efficient than typing and the reason why voice interfaces are creating a new world for humans interactions with computers.

The Echo Show Offers A Lot

Fans of Amazon and Alexa will be happy to read a review of the new Echo Show device that The Verge has published. Amazon customers that already own the Echo device may have found themselves interested in the new show version of the product without being able to determine if it is something worth the investment. The short answer to that question is yes, you should consider buying an Echo Show if you are already a fan of the original Echo. There are a lot of improvements that the screen will provide that would ensure your daily experience is simply better than it has been with the basic Echo. An example of this would be the ability to display lyrics when you ask the device to play music. If you listen to a considerable amount of music with the regular Echo, you would be able to see a significant improvement with the addition of lyrics on screen. Also, the speakers on the Show are much improved compared to the older Echo. Another vast difference that you are going to appreciate would be the visual representation of things such as timers and weather, this is a vastly improved way to see all of your information quickly. You can have Alexa show you things and watch videos on Youtube. Of course, you can see products on Amazon by making use of the screen for the purposes of shopping.

These improvements are the most noticeable, they rank highly amongst the reasons that you should consider purchasing this device as an upgrade. However, you are also going to find that the video calling feature is a lot of fun when trying to communicate with friends and family in the kitchen. Although the camera quality isn’t the best, it works well for chatting in this area of your home. Echo fans should pick this device up from Amazon now for an enjoyable experience.

The Hyperloop May Change the Future of Transportation

Excitement and curiosity about Elon Musk’s hyperloop, has been building. In a piece published on Reddit early Tuesday, it was reported that Musk just announced he had received “…verbal government approval…” to move ahead with the hyperloop project, connecting New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and DC. Many people were unsure about what exactly verbal approval might mean, however, Elon later clarified that there was “[s]till a lot of work needed to receive formal approval”, but he remains optimistic.

Many people are more curious to know what exactly the Hyperloop is. Elon describes the hyperloop as closed loop system of underground tubes, best suited for distances of less than 500 miles. Low pressure pods will glide at top speeds, (possibly over 700 miles per hour), over air bearings, floating in a way that is similar to a puck across an air-hockey table.

While Musk made the idea available to outside organizations in 2013, his renewed interest in the project has generated lots of excitement. At this point Elon has not stated whether he plans to work with one of these outside engineering organizations, or develop the transportation technology using his own company.

The ability to move over great distances at increased speed, is something that has already revolutionized our world several times over, and the implementation of this technology is no different. The actuality of a hyperloop could see commuters living in Philadelphia and commuting to work in NYC every day. The hyperloop could also greatly alleviate traffic in these areas. While the future of the hyperloop remains uncertain, many are excited by the possibilities this proposed transportation innovation may bring.