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July 23, 2011

Revised list of technologies for a mundane singularity

This site has looked at a Mundane Singularity before and often about getting to higher rates of economic growth and wealth.

Previously I talked about a Mundane Singularity with how much :
1. Economic abundance
2. Radical life extension
3. Physical and Cognitive enhancement
4. Blood Stream Robots
5. Supermaterials
6. Open Access to space
7. Pollution elimination
8. Computer Advancement
9. Shape changing functional devices like utility fog

Here is the new list that includes technologies or policies that have current active projects. For example, Broad Groups factory mass produced high rises replaces printed buildings using layers of additive concrete. Broad Group has more resources and appears on track to getting a lot of commercial success.

1. Pro-growth Policies
2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid
3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion
4. Additive manufacturing
5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics
6. Automated transportation (leading to robotic cars and planes)
7. Urbanization MegaCities
8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers, Tata flat packed buildings
9. Robotics
10. Hyperbroadband
11. Supermaterials
12. Improve medicine and public health
13. Space
14. Synthetic biology and recombineering
15. Sensors everywhere
16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation
17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems

1. Pro-growth Policies

McKinsey talked about policies to get the economic growth of the USA up to 3.5%-5% per year. These various policies also can be adapted and applied to other countries as well.


* adopt best practices systematically across industries (and across countries)
* adopt the next wave of innovation (life RFID for end to end supply chain)
* adopt practices for faster response to customer needs

* Drive productivity gains in public and regulated sectors (20% of the economy and 5-15% productivity gap with private sector)

* Reinvigorate innovation economy (data driven business decisions, cloud computer, application of advances in biology and life sciences.)

* Develop the talent pool to match the economy of the future and harness full capabilities of population. [This will be discussed more in transforming education and accelerating innovation]


* Build 21st century infrastructure [this is also talked about in Energy efficiency, urbanization sections and hyperbroadband]

* Enhance the competitiveness of business and regulatory environment

* Embrace the energy productivity challenge

* Harness the regional and local capabilities to boost growth and productivity




2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid, more efficient engines and generators

Generators can go from 35% thermal to electric conversion up to about 70%.
Transmission and conversion losses can go from 50% down to about 10%. (50% efficiency to 90%)
Engines can go from 30% efficient to 70% with advanced engines.
Cars and trucks and vehicles can get 5 times lighter.
Buildings and industrial processes can get a lot more efficient.
Separation and purification of chemicals can get a lot more efficient.

Superpower inc is executing on a path to get ten times the performance from superconducting wire by 2020 and increased production levels and lower costs. This could also enable MHD generators to be affordable and magnetic refrigeration could be enabled or made more commercially competitive. Engines could be three times smaller and more efficient.



Phononic Devices materials and devices are expected to more than double thermal-electric efficiency -- compared to conventional thermoelectrics -- for the interval between room temperature, which is 73F, and 248F. At wider temperature differentials they indicate they can increase from the usual 10% to 30% conversion. This is expected to result in a $/W energy savings of 75% for power generation and 60% for cooling, respectively. Phononic Devices is starting to roll out commercial devices by the end of 2012. The claims of higher efficiency would suggest a thermoelectric figure of merit of about 3 (at least higher than 2).

China is deploying ultrahigh voltage lines which are more efficient and smart grid. Other countries are working on smart grids for more efficiency.

3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion

China is well underway with their first pebble bed reactors. This could eventually get to two year manufacturing times and significant deployment beyond 2020.

Russia is targeting a 100 MW fast neutron SVBR reactor.

Korea is working on its SMART reactors South Korea's SMART (System-integrated Modular Advanced Reactor) is a 330 MWt pressurised water reactor with integral steam generators and advanced safety features.

Hyperion Power generation is working on their 25 megawatt nuclear reactors, which they hope to make by the hundreds. The first might be 2013-2018. Large scale production could kick in by 2020.

There is the highly controversial possibility of Rossi-Focardi Energy catalyzer.

Brillouin Energy is another cold fusion contender

There are new hot fusion contenders for possible pre-2020 commercial fusion. General Fusion is working on magnetized target fusion.

General Fusion has raised $50 million of about $100 million for a net energy gain device with a target date of 2013 if the second/third phase are roughly on schedule.

The goal is to build small fusion reactors that can produce around 100 megawatts of power. The company claims plants would cost around US$50 million, allowing them to generate electricity at about four cents per kilowatt hour.

Paul Allen and Venrock has put funding into Tri-Alpha Energy $60+ million

EMC2 Fusion has $8 million from the Navy and US Government

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics - various small funders about $3+ million raised. They also seem on track to develop a better X-ray source which would generate a revenue stream which could fund the development of the main fusion reactor project.

There are also possibilities for desktop pulse lasers to be developed for fusion power generation.

There has been rapid advances with the power and efficiency of lasers and applying them for particle acceleration.

4. Additive manufacturing

DARPA is working on several projects to reinvent manufacturing.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is embarking on a five-year, $1-billion effort with no less ambitious a goal than reversing the decades-long decline of US manufacturing. Regina Dugan says to do so, DARPA will attempt to replicate the successful model of the US semiconductor manufacturing sector in other industries, ranging from pharmaceuticals to micromechanical devices to gradient-index optics.

DARPA is working on instant foundries.

There was an additive manufacturing roadmap.

The development of integrated technologies for fabricating 3D electronic systems represents another significant opportunity for growth of the additive manufacturing industry. A “printable/flexible electronics” industry already exists (in the ~$10B range), and this industry has by and large emerged from the electronics fabrication industry. Both industries could benefit from cross-fertilization (especially since some industry estimates in “printable electronics” include revenues in excess of $100B and possibly up to $300B by 2025.

Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) can be far more efficient with energy and materias. Airbus is of the opinion that a fully ALM enabled aircraft will be 60% cheaper to make, and also 30% lighter, which again is saving energy in terms of what is needed to fuel it and get it off the ground

In the case of titanium, using ALM reduces the extraction requirement for Rutile by 25 times against the same component machined conventionally. Titanium extraction is highly energy intensive, CO2 emissions for the production of 1 kg of titanium in fossil fuel dominant regions is 9 tonnes. So, if that 1 kg of Titanium becomes 1 kg of component, it costs only 9 tonnes. Conventional manufacturing means you need 25 kg of titanium for 1 kg of component, which will cost about 250 tonnes of carbon.

5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics

By the end of 2012, there will likely be integrated one square neuromorphic chips with about ~10 billion synapses and ~1 million neurons. In 2015, the neuromorphic chips are targeted to have 100 times more capability. The military is developing neuromorphic chips for autonomous, unmanned, robotic systems and natural human-machine interfaces and diverse sensory and information integration applications in the defense and civilian sector

The global semiconductor industry is forecast to be about $412 billion in 2015 up from $325 billion in 2011. If neuromorphic chips become mainstream in the 2020s,they could be a $50 to 200 billion segment.

There is a commercial superconducting quantum computer ($10 million paid by Lockheed to Dwave Systems.) Over the next 5-10 years the systems will improve and get larger and become far more productive than classical computing for certain optimization and simulation problems. There is the possibility that lab work to scale entanglement, reduce decoherence and create quantum dots or lots of qubits could enable million or billion qubit systems.

There are photonics neurons and onchip photonics for faster computers.

6. Self driving robotic cars and "temporary auto pilot" functions in cars could become mainstream in the 2016-2025 timeframe. They would be a big market for more advanced sensors and neuromorphic chips.

The economic benefits of Robotic cars include supercities.

Doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission

7. Urbanization MegaCities

China is merging cities in to megacities/ megaregions They benefit from high speed rail to get a one city effect. High speed rail seems to be providing a 1.0 to 1.5% annual GDP boost to regional economies.

The area around Beijing and Tianjin, two of China's most important cities, is being ringed with a network of high-speed railways that will create a super-urban area known as the Bohai Economic Rim. China is merging Beijing/Tianjin and several other cities around the Bohai Sea into one big super-urban zone over the next several years. By 2020 there could be 260,000,000 people (3% of the world's
population) in one big super-city.

World urbanization will go from about 50% now to 90-95% urban.

8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers, Tata flat packed buildings

Broad Group is developing 30 story factory produced high rises and 200 story skyscrapers. The buildings are assembled on site at two stories per day. 15 days for a 30 story building and 120 days for 200 story building. The buildings are five times more energy efficient for operation and are about two to three time more resource efficient for construction.

Tata will sell flat packed (Ikea like) homes for $720.

9. Far more capable robots like the AVA robot will be coming next year and robots with precision arms will be coming from Willow Garage and Heartland robotics.

The new robotics could further enhance the productivity revolution.

10. Hyperbroadband

Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and broadband can have a direct and measurable impact on GDP and that a number of studies have indicated that ‘true’ broadband (that is, symmetrical bandwidth in excess of 100 Mb/s) can increase GDP by up to 5%. Other studies indicate a return ten times greater than the investment in broadband.

There are various technologies to enable tens of gigabit per second communication and even terabits per second.

11. Supermaterials

There is lighter and stronger steel and other micrograined and nanostructured metals. Improved concrete. DARPA is working on improved carbon fiber. Carbon nanotubes, graphene and other materials are still coming.

12. Improve medicine and public health

Cookers and heaters for the developing world that do not have indoor air pollution can save about 1.6 million lives per year and reduce the warming effect of black carbon (soot).

Clean water and sanitation can save millions of lives.

Universal vaccination can save millions.

Combined about 37 million of the 55 million deaths are premature and can be avoided/deferred.

There is advancement on tissue engineering, stem cells and regeneration.

There is advancement against the major diseases and towards longevity.

13. Space

Spacex will be greatly reducing costs.
Solar electric sails can provide radical new capabilities
There is interesting potential for fusion powered space propulsion far earlier than many expect.

There are several ways fusion powered space propulsion could come about. IEC fusion, high frequency pulsed laser, magnetized target fusion, dense plasma focus.


14. Synthetic biology and recombineering

Accelerated evolution and recombineering are areas where synthetic biology and genetic engineering are gaining new capabilities for faster progress and to scale

There is new technology for editing DNA on the genome scale

15. HP has the vision of trillions of inexpensive sensors.

16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation

Virtual reality and other new internet based systems could transform education.
DARPA is working to reinvent training.
There are new AI based approaches to accelerate innovation.
Robotics and additive manufacturing could accelerate innovation.
Super-labs on a chip could accelerate scientific discovery and testing.

17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems

Smartphones should have 100 times the processing by 2015. (Nvidia roadmap)
In the 2020s, we should have petaflop mobile systems.

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