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Virtual Reality Is “Reuniting” Immigrants With Their Families

Homeward Bound

Going home for the holidays or a family reunion is no big deal for many Americans.

But for millions of undocumented immigrants, returning to the place they grew up simply isn’t an option — if they leave the U.S., their immigration status could prevent them from coming back.

One workaround: a nonprofit is using VR to give immigrants an alternate way to “visit” the places and people they left behind.

Fakin’ It

Alvaro Morales and Frisly Soberanis created the Family Reunions Project to help Latinos reconnect with their roots. Using funds from grants and donations, the project has facilitated more than a dozen “reunions” in VR.

Immigrants apply to be a part of the project via its website. It’s not clear how Morales and Soveranis choose participants for their project, but once they do, the pair visits the immigrant’s hometown and records their family and loved ones using 360-degree video technology. Then they convert the footage into a format you can watch with a VR headset.

The Family Reunion Project has already helped more than a dozen families reconnect, according to a report by NBC.

Look for America

Morales and Soberanis, who hail from Peru and Guatemala respectively, have personal reasons for developing this project.

“Both of us being undocumented, we knew the pain, we knew the separation, and we knew how much our parents would really enjoy looking at home,” Soberanis told NBC.

They’re hopeful that their project could have a positive impact on the future of America by helping “humanize” the polarizing issue of immigration in the U.S., while also bringing joy to the lives of immigrants themselves. Truly a win/win.

READ MORE: Young Latinos Use Virtual Reality to Reunite Immigrant Families Separated by Borders [NBC News]

More on immigration: New Facial Recognition Tech at U.S. Borders Will Scan Your Face, Whether You Like It or Not

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Virtual Reality Is “Reuniting” Immigrants With Their Families

Reports: Crypto Is a Threat to Your Savings Account, But Not World Markets

Tales From the Crypto

Wondering if you should invest in bitcoin or ether? Or worried that under-regulated cryptocurrencies could destroy the world economy?

This week, two separate groups released new cryptocurrency reports. Depending on how you feel about blockchain tech, they’ll either put your mind at ease — or leave you regretting that decision to convert your entire savings account to Dogecoin.

Good News / Bad News

On Wednesday, the Financial Stability Board, an international body dedicated to analyzing global financial systems, published a 17-page report about the world cryptocurrency market.

The tl;dr: Crypto isn’t going to throw the world economy into chaos, mainly because the market simply isn’t large enough yet. But insufficient regulations, a lack of liquidity, and fragmented markets mean that investing is a seriously risky move on a personal level.

The same day, U.S.-based cyber security firm CipherTrace drove the latter conclusion home with a second report, which found that crypto investors have already lost nearly $1 billion to theft in 2018. That’s a 250 percent increase over 2017’s figure, and the year isn’t even over.

HODL

Taken together, these reports seem to confirm what all but the most ardent crypto supporters probably already knew: Yes, cryptocurrencies boast a number of benefits over traditional assets, but until the space is properly regulated on a global level, experts suggest you invest in crypto at your own risk.

READ MORE: Global Regulators Say Crypto Currencies Need Vigilant Monitoring [Reuters]

More on cryptocurrencies: Ten Crypto Exchanges Told Us How They Work. Looks Like They’re at Least as Sketchy as We Thought.

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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Reports: Crypto Is a Threat to Your Savings Account, But Not World Markets

Glimpse: Man’s Best Friend, Forever? We May Love Robot Dogs As Much As the Real Thing

In 2015, The New York Times debuted a short documentary called “A Robotic Dog’s Mortality.” The film profiled a woman named Michiko Sukurai. She owned an Aibo, a robotic dog sold by Sony between 1999 and 2006. Recently, though, Sukurai and many like her suffered a loss: in 2014, Sony announced would no longer repair the robo-pets.

After that, owners and were on their own. Sukurai, in particular, struggled to come to terms with the impermanence of a companion she’d grown to love — one that was never supposed to die.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the end of Aibo’s story. At a press conference held in November 2017, Sony made a surprise announcement. It would begin manufacturing the iconic dogs once again, this time with all of the bells and whistles of modern robotics: OLED eyes, built-in LTE, facial recognition. Aibo owners, it seemed, were finally getting the ‘forever friend’ they were promised.

This same connection is seen in Sparky, the fifth episode of Glimpse, a new original sci-fi series from Futurism Studios (a division of Futurism LLC) and DUST. Watch the episode below.

Michiko Sukurai’s story isn’t unique in the world of robotic pets. Scientists have long understood the psychological benefits of computerized companions. Studies have shown they can help combat loneliness among the elderly, motivate students in isolated communities, and even improve symptoms in dementia patients.

Scientists have long understood the psychological benefits of computerized companions.

Still, despite all of this research, one big question remains: are robotic pets as good as the real thing?

The robots of yesteryear clearly were not. In 2009, researchers conducted a series of studies that looked at the emotion with which children responded to Aibo robotic dogs and live dogs. They discovered that while the children did ascribe thoughts, feelings, and social value to Aibo, they also showed markedly less attention and affection toward it than they did the real dogs.

That isn’t surprising, since early Aibo units were so simplistic. Even the most advanced models were limited to 128mb of memory, barely enough to hold a copy of The Beatles’ “White Album.” Robotics has come a long way since 2006, though, and the field continues to evolve even more rapidly thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and microprocessing.

Copyright Dust/Futurism, 2018

In the future, though, it’s not going to be so obvious whether or not robotic pets are as good as the real thing. To figure it out, we need to determine what makes dogs so lovable in the first place. According to Ronald Arkin, director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Georgia Institute of Technology, it all comes down to basic biology.

“People enjoy biological pets for their behavior,” Arkin told Futurism recently. “As a roboticist, I study human psychology and try to engineer systems that will provide them with the same types of satisfaction and interaction that the best pets can offer.”

Arkin calls this area of study “behavioral simulation ethological modeling,” and he’s been doing it for a long time. He believes all aspects of animal behavior — “movement, emotion, even morality” — can be authentically simulated in robotic companions. He says he holds patents on robot “emotions” and is currently working on simulating feelings like guilt, shame, embarrassment, and empathy in robots to prove out his theories. For Arkin, though, it isn’t enough to build a robotic dog that’s as good as the real thing. He believes he can build one that’s better.

“It pays to understand how humans relate to animals, and find out what provides them with satisfaction in their interactions,” Arkin said. “Not everything does: chewing the furniture, humping a leg, and biological elimination in general are things that pet owners might like to do without.”

While Arkin’s “perfect” robotic dog may not be here for a few years, he’s pretty enthusiastic about where the field seems to be headed. He believes the next generation aibo (it wouldn’t be a reboot without a letter case facelift) is miles ahead of the competition.

Perhaps Michiko Sukurai was onto something.

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Glimpse: Man’s Best Friend, Forever? We May Love Robot Dogs As Much As the Real Thing

These Healthy Mice Pups Have Two Moms and No Dads

Business Time

We ain’t nothing but mammals. Reproduction usually requires a male and a female. Right?

A little over a decade ago, researchers figured out a way to produce mice from two females and no males. It was a huge scientific breakthrough, but the study had its issues — the resulting pups were abnormal, with some “defective features,”according to stem-cell researcher Qi Zhou.

Now, Zhou and a team of Chinese researchers have figured out another way to not only produce offspring from two mice of the same sex, but to produce normal offspring. And there’s a chance this method could one day allow two humans of the same sex to do the same thing.

Mouse Moms

In a study published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, Zhou and his colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences explain how they created their mice pups using haploid embryonic stem cells (ESCs). These stem cells are unlike most others because they contain DNA from only one parent, and have only half the normal number of chromosomes.

The researchers used CRISPR to hack an ESC so that it could be injected into the egg of another female mouse to produce an embryo. The 210 embryos produced 29 healthy mice, which lived to adulthood and could even give birth to their own offspring.

The team also produced pups from two male mice through a similar process, but those pups had issues suckling and breathing, and only lived for 48 hours after a surrogate gave birth to them.

Mice and Men

The researchers plan to expand their research to include other animals — and ultimately the work could be an important early step along the path to a day when any two people of either sex can make a baby together.

READ MORE: Mouse Pups with Same-Sex Parents Born in China Using Stem Cells and Gene Editing [Eurekalert]

More on same-sex reproduction: Pregnancy Without Men? New Research Lets Us Make Babies From Skin Cells

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These Healthy Mice Pups Have Two Moms and No Dads

Op-Ed: Lego-Like Customization Will Give Us Autonomous Vehicles We Never Imagined

If the digital age had a slogan, it would be: do it your way.

Computers have always been customizable. In the early era of personal computers, DIYers were ordering motherboards, CPUs, and other parts online, putting together their own personal computers. Gamers, engineers, and computer enthusiasts often built DIY computers because they demanded more performance from a specific component than the average user or wanted to upgrade certain components to fit their needs. The practice continues today — even the versatile computer Raspberry Pi has inspired an ever-growing community of enthusiasts to build their own simple robots, from remote-controlled cars to simple online games.

The future advantages of AI and robotics can only be ours if we act as creators, not just consumers, of this new technology, no matter whether we have an engineering degree or not. The vehicles and robots that move us through space shouldn’t be an exception.

I believe that there is a true “human” cost to the way we travel today. According to The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Americans spend a total of 30 billion hours per year driving, sitting in traffic, or looking for a parking space. Clearly, there must be more valuable ways to spend our time. But more importantly, we feel that cost most in terms of safety. Estimates from the National Safety Council estimates more than 40,000 people died in motor vehicle deaths in the US in 2017.

It’s not a secret that autonomous vehicles could do better. Human drivers crash at a rate of 4.2 accidents per million miles (PMM), while the current autonomous vehicle crash rate is 3.2 PMM. If the safety of autonomous vehicles continues to improve and the rate of autonomous vehicle crashes can drop to negligible levels, a huge number of those 40,000 lives could be saved every year — and that’s in the U.S. alone.

Realistically, we are about five to 10 years away from safe, convenient method of travel. The technology simply isn’t mature enough yet. “Today’s systems aren’t robust substitutes for human drivers, ” the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) determined in its assessment of five autonomous vehicles.

But there’s a bigger picture here. Thinking of autonomous vehicles only in terms of cars on the road points to a failure of imagination — citizens from all walks of life can have a role in building machines that truly serve their needs. A mobile grocery store that drives itself could deliver meals to underserved communities that might not have had access previously. Even IKEA’s R&D division revealed several concepts to reimagine workspaces, cafes and even healthcare.

Tech leaders have commented that building autonomous vehicles is extremely difficult. Tim Cook described the challenge of building autonomous vehicles as “the mother of all” artificial intelligence projects; Elon Musk recently tweeted that it’s “extremely difficult to achieve a general solution for self-driving that works well everywhere.”

But I disagree.

I think we should apply a Lego-like approach to building autonomous vehicles and robots.

That way, developers can use the basic modules as building blocks and create the autonomous vehicles and robots that perfectly fit their own needs — whether that’s for a vehicles that’s cheaper, more efficient, safer, faster, to serve a specific purpose or to simply fulfill a creative vision. This plug-and-play concept would encourage people to have fun building their own autonomous machines, but it can be a lot more. If the process to build an AV was simple enough to build with modularized key components, even individuals with only a basic understanding of engineering could easily integrate those five or six elements to build their own autonomous vehicle.

Image Credit: NIO

A car or robot, like a computer, is the sum of its parts. You do not need to physically build a computer chip to design your own PC. The same could be true for autonomous vehicles. The sensor components, a customizable chassis based on your specific needs for the vehicle and labor should be all that is required. I propose that modular autonomous vehicles can be broken down to six key components:

  1. A highly accurate GPS system
  2. A computer vision module for localization
  3. The same computer vision module for active perception or detecting pedestrians and cars in the environment
  4. Radar and sonar systems for passive perception or triggering the brake when objects are close to the vehicle
  5.  A planning and control module for real-time planning
  6. A chassis module to execute the motion plans

A modular approach to building one’s own autonomous vehicles or robots makes the process much simpler — developers would only need to understand and follow the specifications. Early adopters with a basic background in engineering could create an autonomous vehicle that is personalized and solves a specific need. An autonomous vending machine for college campuses, a farm to table delivery vehicle for produce or a library on wheels — all possibilities.

And this versatility can provide practical value beyond the highway-ready AV. A farmer, for instance, can use the resources and knowledge already available in textbooks and manuals to build their own autonomous machine to spray or irrigate the land.

But for this modular approach to be truly widespread, we first need to design a unified interface for different components so that we can plug in the different sensor components without redeveloping the whole system. For instance, to track the robots’ location in real time, developers can use an accurate GPS system when the vehicle is outdoors, and easily swap to a computer vision system if vehicle is indoors. As long as these two modules provide the exact same interface, the developers do not have to rewrite their codes to make the change.

A Lego-like, or modular approach, is not just about making it simpler for engineers to design and build AVs. It’s about building a community of like-minded individuals with a passion for technology and a DIY ethic who can find new applications for autonomous machines. Drone hobbyists, Linux users, and Maker Faire participants have all worked within similar enthusiastic communities and, often unintentionally, set the stage for the development of emerging new technologies. While we may not be on the highway going to work in our autonomous vehicles tomorrow, there are many more applications of autonomous machines that DIYers can start develop as a community today.

I believe we are at a unique juncture of our history. We, as individual citizens, can re-imagine how robotics can be used to address new facets of how we live, work, travel and play. We simply can’t afford to let others shape our lives with uses for robots, AI, and autonomous machines. We must learn the skills to create, the way students today are encouraged to learn to code. It’s not about becoming engineer — instead, it’s more about becoming someone who creates instead of consumes. It’s also about understanding how technology works as it becomes increasingly pervasive in our lives. That’s the approach we need to ensure that we as humans — with all of our creative energy, brilliance and capacity to care for others — are in the driver’s seat of the coming Age of Robotization.

Shaoshan Liu is the founder of Perceptin, a company that creates parts of autonomous vehicles. 

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Op-Ed: Lego-Like Customization Will Give Us Autonomous Vehicles We Never Imagined

We’ll Soon Know Exactly How Terrible the Internet Is for Our Mental Health

Dark Web

The internet can help you keep in touch with loved ones or seek out professional help when you need it.

But the web has a dark side, too — cyberbullying, internet gambling, and social media addiction are just a few of its many pitfalls.

Now, a team of European researchers plans to figure out just how much psychological harm the net can cause — and how we might be able to help the people it hurts.

Problem Users

On Monday, the scientists announced a new group called the European Problematic Use of the Internet (EU-PUI) Research Network. That’s a mouthful, but the idea is to create a hub to better understand psychological problems linked to internet usage.

“Problematic Use of the Internet is a serious issue,” said the network’s chair, Naomi Fineberg, in a press release. “Just about everyone uses the Internet, but much information on problem use is still lacking.”

Existing research is very fragmented, according to Fineberg. It focuses only on specific behaviors, geographical regions, or segments of society. This international collaboration, she hopes, will help researchers identify “big picture” takeaways about the internet and mental health.

Manifesto

The group outlined its goals in a manifesto published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.

With the document in place, researchers can begin the task of using approximately $600,000 in funding from the European Union to tackle its objectives. Those include everything from figuring out the role genetics might play in problematic internet usage to how website design might affect it.

Now that the EU-PUI Research Network is in place, researchers can use it in a number of ways. They can access resources that could help with their research, or share what they’ve learned about problem behaviors, such as gaming addiction and compulsions related to shopping and social network use

After that, the next step will be figuring out the best ways to prevent and treat these issues, which could ensure the internet is a positive force on the mental health of all — not just some — of us.

READ MORE: A Major Scientific Project Aims to Find out Exactly How the Internet Is Screwing With Your Brain [Gizmodo]

More on internet addiction: Apple Unveils Tool That Cuts You off if You Spend Too Much Time on Your iPhone

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We’ll Soon Know Exactly How Terrible the Internet Is for Our Mental Health

Amazon Built an AI to Evaluate Job Applicants. One Problem: It Seemed Sexist.

Gender Gap

In 2014, Amazon built an AI to evaluate job applicants’ résumés. By 2015, it realized the system had a major flaw: It didn’t like women.

According to five sources who spoke to Reuters, Amazon spent years developing an algorithm that used machine learning to sift through job applicants in order to identify the best candidates.

But, in a decision that reads like a metaphor for the diversity-challenged tech sector, the company abandoned the effort in 2017 after it realized it couldn’t guarantee the AI wouldn’t discriminate against female applicants.

An Amazon spokesperson provided this statement to Futurism: “This was never used by Amazon recruiters to evaluate candidates.”

Bad Data

The problem, according to the unnamed Amazon sources, was that the company’s developers trained the AI on résumés submitted to the company over a 10-year period. Though the Reuters report didn’t spell it out, it sounds like researchers were probably trying to train it to identify new résumés that were similar to those of applicants who the company had hired in the past.

But because most Amazon employees are male — as of late last year, men filled 17 out of 18 of its top executive positions — the AI seemingly decided that men were preferable.

Biased World

Training AIs with biased data — and thereby producing biased AIs — is a major problem in machine learning.

A ProPublica investigation found that an algorithm that predicts the likelihood that criminals will offend again discriminated against black people. And that’s to say nothing of the Microsoft-created Tay, an artificially intelligent Twitter chatbot that quickly learned from online pranksters to spew racist vitriol.

The tech industry now faces a huge challenge: It needs to figure out a way to create unbiased AIs when all the available training data comes from a biased world.

This story was updated with a statement from an Amazon spokesperson.

READ MORE: Amazon scraps secret AI recruiting tool that showed bias against women[Reuters]

More on biased AI: Microsoft Announces Tool To Catch Biased AI Because We Keep Making Biased AI

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Amazon Built an AI to Evaluate Job Applicants. One Problem: It Seemed Sexist.

This Week in Science: Oct 6 – Oct 12

Will we ever save the bees? Do they even have a chance once dramatic changes to the global climate or disastrous health epidemics accelerate us towards catastrophe?

It’s easy to feel downhearted about some of the news this week, we’ll admit. But on the plus side, we could finally eliminate cervical cancer in the U.S. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. Read on to find out what fascinated us this week:

Australia’s Success Shows That the US Could Eliminate Cervical Cancer If It Really Wanted To. Australia is on track to all but eliminate cervical cancer within its borders by 2066, and the U.S. could follow in its footsteps.

Pour One out for MASCOT, the Asteroid-Exploring Lander. The MASCOT lander has powered down after spending 17 hours exploring Ryugu, an asteroid 180 million miles away from Earth.

We Need a Backup Supply of the World’s Helpful Germs, Say Researchers. Researchers call for the creation of a vault containing all the beneficial germs in the human microbiota to safeguard the future of human health.

A “Vaccine” Created from Mushrooms Could Help Save the Bees. A humble mushroom extract might help with many of bees’ woes, according to new research — and even, maybe, help rebuild their world population.

Report: Unless We Make Dramatic Changes, We’re Headed for Climate Catastrophe. According to a new IPCC report, we need to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, not 2 degrees Celsius.

Oil Will Be Used Less for Fuel, More for Plastics and Fertilizers. Way more of the planet’s oil production will go toward plastics and fertilizers instead of fuel, especially as renewables keep biting into the energy market.

Read More: This Week in Science: Sept 29 – Oct 5

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This Week in Science: Oct 6 – Oct 12

This Week in Tech: Oct 6 – Oct 12

While scientists are still working on NASA’s newest space capsule, others are more concerned with the small stuff: coffee mugs with heart rates and crypto scams on Twitter. What do they have in common? You guessed it — they’re about tech. Here’s what else caught our interest:

The US Government Wants to Allow Fully Autonomous Vehicles on US Roads. The Department of Transportation just released an 80-page document outlining its plans for regulating fully autonomous vehicles.

Fake Elon Musks Clutter Twitter with Crypto Scams. Twitter scams are running amok, and the platform can’t shut them down. That’s not great news for users, for Elon Musk, or for the midterms.

This Brain-Analyzing AI Could Kill Your Dream of Being a Professional Athlete. Researchers created a machine learning system that looks at brain activity to determine a person’s skill level at a certain task.

Lockheed Engineers Are Using HoloLens to Build NASA’s New Space Capsule. Lockheed Martin engineers are using Microsoft’s HoloLens to speed up construction of NASA’s next space capsule by showing technicians the next step.

Fitness Trackers Say This Coffee Cup Has a Pulse. Wait, What? Chinese website Abacus found that a toilet paper roll had a pulse using Xiaomi’s latest fitness tracker. The reason why is not as surprising as you think.

Ford Patent Would Let You Steer Your Car by Tilting Your Phone. A new Ford patent describes a control system that would let a driver steer a car by tilting or swiping their smartphone.

Read more: This Week in Tech: Sept 29 – Oct 5

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This Week in Tech: Oct 6 – Oct 12

The Boston Dynamics Robot Atlas Is Now a Parkour Master

Running With Style

They grow up so fast.

Seems like just yesterday we were marveling at the ability of Boston Dynamics’s Atlas robot to walk on rough terrain. Then our jaws dropped as we watched the humanoid bot execute flawless backflips.

And now Boston Dynamics has upped the ante again, by showing off Atlas’s ability to parkour its way across a makeshift obstacle course.

Jump, Jump

In a short video released on Thursday, Atlas leaps over a log before scaling a tri-level platform. Not exactly enough to qualify for the World Parkour Championships, but definitely more than most bots (and more than a few humans) could accomplish on two legs.

See Atlas parkour across the course in the clip below, and start taking bets now on the next skill Boston Dynamics’s bot will show off. Our money’s on slacklining, because why the heck not?

READ MORE: Boston Dynamics Will Definitely Win the First Robot Ninja Warrior [The Verge]

More on Atlas: Boston Dynamics’ Bipedal Robot Can Now Do a Backflip

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The Boston Dynamics Robot Atlas Is Now a Parkour Master

A Robot Is Scheduled to Testify in Front of the UK Parliament

Expert Witness

On October 16, the U.K. Parliament will hear testimony from a peculiar witness.

Name: Pepper

Occupation: Robot

Please Rise

The appointment, first spotted by the U.K. publication TES, will occur during an inquiry on the “fourth industrial revolution,” a loose term technologists use to refer to technology that blends physical, biological, and digital components. Pepper is the last witness after a selection of academics, roboticists, and computer scientists.

According to the BBC, this will be the first time a robot has appeared before British lawmakers. But Robert Halfon, the chair of the committee that will hear from Pepper, struggled to explain the point of the robot testimony.

“This is not about someone bringing an electronic toy robot and doing a demonstration, it’s about showing the potential of robotics and artificial intelligence and the impact it has on skills,” he told TES. 

Pepper Spray

We’ve written previously about Pepper, a line of robots created by Japan’s SoftBank Robotics. The robot has limited conversational ability and can interpret and respond to emotions.

Brands that have dabbled with using Pepper to interact with customers include Pizza Hut and a Scottish grocery store, which eventually fired the robot.

We’ll be watching to see if the bot can do any better in Parliament.

READ MORE: MPs to Quiz Robot About Education [TES]

More on Pepper: Meet Pepper, the Cute Little Robot Knows That How You’re Feelin

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A Robot Is Scheduled to Testify in Front of the UK Parliament

Disrupting the Reaper: Tech Titans’ Quest for Immortality Rages Forward

EVERYONE DIES. ‘Just a fact. The knowledge and subsequent fear of our impending doom drives the way we go about this world: Either as methodically and cautiously as we can, playing the odds of hanging onto this mortal coil as long as we can, or, going full-YOLO:  smoking, caloric indulgences, skydiving, public restrooms, chainsaw juggling, Tinder dates — whatever it is.

But a handful of uber-successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have been trying for years to reconfigure death against its given as an immutable truth — and now, they’re pushing harder than ever before.

Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, and (but of course) Elon Musk are approaching their supposed respective demises with the same gusto the average person might a home remodeling. The members of this informal club are set on stretching the limits of the human lifespan, from about 120 to 1,000 (or more). To them, admitting that they’ll die (or die on a typical timeline) is akin to accepting defeat.

“There are all these people who say that death is natural, it’s just part of life, and I think that nothing can be further from the truth,” Paypal co-founder and investor Peter Thiel told Business Insider in 2012. To him, “death is a problem that can be solved.”

These billionaires probably won’t succeed. But even more: If they do stumble upon a technique that actually extends life, it won’t really benefit them — or anyone else.

Since the earliest days of human myth-making, there have been stories of those who work to find ways to avoid or delay death. There’s Gilgamesh, the titular king in an epic that dates back to 2,000 BCE, sought a longevity-granting plant; the Greek legend of Tithonus (who asked Zeus for eternal life but forgot eternal youth), Ponce de Leon (who ventured to new lands in search of the fountain of youth), Dorian Gray (who sold his soul for eternal youth). And so on. These are all men (real or fictional) who sought eternal life, all of whom failed.

It’s not hard to read these legends as cautionary tales. Whether they were struck down in battle, cursed to live forever with the decrepitude of old age, or simply met a swift demise, none of these quests bore the fruits of their labor. Even those hungriest for longer lives can’t deny the physical and cognitive degradation of aging. As we age and certain physiological processes don’t work as well as they once did, our bones break more easily, organs begin to fail, minds dull, locomotion is limited. Is there even a point in trying to extend the human lifespan if it means your existence is reduced to a miserable shadow of its former self?

Of course: None of these concerns will slow down the aforementioned Ponce de Leon-would-bes. Not satisfied with solving problems like how we get around and how we talk to each other, longevity research is Silicon Valley’s new pet project. In 2013, Google founded Calico, a biology company with the stated goal of “solv[ing] death” (a glimpse at the company’s web site shows that since its inception Calico researchers have been mired in what longevity scientists have been doing for decades: testing certain types of molecules on non-human species to see if they extend the organisms’ lives).

Others concern themselves with treating chronic diseases to help humans live longer, better lives. Human Longevity, Inc. uses algorithms to predict an individuals risk of cancers or a genetic condition based on a genetic test. Verily, another Google subsidiary, creates devices which improve quality of life for people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson’s.

But don’t confuse modern medicine’s efforts to extend life with the kind of long-term health many might dream of, warns Linda Waite, professor of urban psychology at the University of Chicago. If we had a choice in the matter, most of us would like to go quick, painless, or else in our sleep.

But heart disease and cancer rates are on the rise, and according to Waite, “the choices that people make often get them the kind of death they all say they don’t want.”

THE WILD THING IS that there are, in fact, a few treatments scientists are exploring which could, in fact, help people live longer, and be affordable for the masses, too. Among them:

  • Metformin, a medication doctors currently prescribe to patients with diabetes, may reduce DNA damage and help keep cells working normally.
  • Rapamycin, an immunosuppressant, has shown promise in keeping cell growth and reproduction regular in aging cells.
  • And in studies, tanespimycin, a drug used in cancer treatments, has helped clear the body of cells which no longer divide properly. It’s not yet clear which of these compounds (if any) will help humans live longer, but the results of early studies are promising.

But these Silicon Valley companies seem more interested in out-of-the-box approaches to longevity.

Most of the interventions they’re looking at aren’t approaching any “anti-aging treatment” that would actually help the average person, nor are they intended to — many of the investors pouring money into these efforts are doing so mostly to help themselves.

The lack of a scientifically proven intervention for extending life isn’t stopping the tech leaders from trying out a few themselves. Peter Thiel is definitely not but maybe kind of receiving injections of blood drawn from healthy young folks, a technique that hasn’t been shown to work in humans and is based on some very scary studies in mice.

At 32, Serge Faguet, founder of video platform TokBox and Russian booking web site Ostrovok, claims he’s spent $200,000 on “biohacking,” including hearing aids to augment his already-perfect and microdoses of MDMA, all in an effort to live his best life (what happens when he actually does get old, well, we’ll have to see).

Image Credit: Emily Cho

They do this with the knowledge that, if somehow they do find an intervention to extend the human lifespan, it will almost certainly be too expensive for the average person to afford, which would create two entirely different classes of humans — one group with money that can see 150, and another that just has to take whatever small insights trickle down from the top.

“The disparity of wealth in the United States will create a “class of immortal overlords,” former Facebook President Sean Parker said at a cancer innovation event last November. “Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better healthcare so… I’m going to be, like, 160 and I’m going to be part of this class of immortal overlords.”

To think that money and a bit of self-experimentation can solve an issue that plagued humanity and has been unsolved since humans evolved, to create two biologically separate classes of human beings — and be fine with it? 

There might be something going on there, you know, psychologically, to explain a bit of that. Are these entrepreneurs just in denial about their own deaths? Because they already changed the world so much by creating the thing that brought them to prominence, are they just bored now?

There’s some hubris in there for sure, says Waite, the psychology professor. “Aren’t they masters of the universe? They think they can have everything just because they’re rich, but it’s so not true.” Sounds a lot like the same kind of pride and arrogance shared by Gilgamesh and Tithonus and Dorian Gray.

Faith — where it’s allocated, and where it’s not — could also be playing a role. “Traditional religion in the Bay Area is being replaced with another sort of faith, a belief in the power of technology and science to save humanity,” according to an article about Christianity in Silicon Valley published by Quartz. Combine this new governing philosophy (what others have called a “religion of technology“) with leaders who are too young to find peace in the concept of death and who haven’t experienced the kinds of traumas that might inoculate them against some of that fear? You get a perfect storm of longevity obsession.

So far, there are no drugs or infusions or special herbs you can eat to live a longer, healthier life. No, the only thing proven to help you live longer is exercise and a healthy diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. No shortcuts.

If Silicon Valley entrepreneurs really wanted to “disrupt” death, they would do more of that, and blow less money on the kind of outside-the-box schemes that might soothe their egos, but won’t really help anyone along the way.

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Disrupting the Reaper: Tech Titans’ Quest for Immortality Rages Forward

This Weird Robot Has 32 Legs and Is Shaped Like a Lumpy Sphere

See Me Rollin’

We’ve seen robots that hop on one leg, saunter like bipedal humans, and mimic our quadrupedal furry friends

But a bot with 32 legs? That’s something we hadn’t seen before. Now here’s Mochibot, on the scene to do exactly that.

Botty Long Legs

The team of Tokyo-based researchers behind this spherical bot presented their creation at the 2018 International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems on October 3.

Each of Mochibot’s 32 legs can extend to a length of about 39 inches or retract until it’s just about 10 inches long. To move in one direction, the bot simply retracts the legs currently touching the ground on that side of itself while extending the legs “behind” it.

Gravity takes over, and the bot rolls in the desired direction. When it wants to stop, it flattens itself out by adjusting its “bottom” feet. Basically, you have to see it to believe it:

Function Over Form

This design might look odd, but it’s actually really clever. If one of Mochibot’s many legs breaks, NBD — it has 31 others. The bot’s center could also house any number of cameras or sensors to expand its capabilities, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Finally, because the length of each of Mochibot’s legs is adjustable, it can maintain its footing on uneven surfaces such as rubble from a collapsed building or the rocky landscape of a planet or moon.

So, while Mochibot might not look as cute as one of those canine-inspired bots we’ve seen making the rounds, it could actually prove far more useful.

READ MORE: 32-Legged Spherical Robot Moves Like an Amoeba [IEEE Spectrum]

More on robots: Glimpse: Man’s Best Friend, Forever? We May Love Robot Dogs as Much as the Real Thing

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This Weird Robot Has 32 Legs and Is Shaped Like a Lumpy Sphere

To Feed a Hungry Planet, We’re All Going to Need to Eat Less Meat

Salad Days

Earlier this week, a United Nations report predicted that climate change will likely lead to international starvation, drought, and extreme weather events by the 2040s.

On Wednesday, a team of European researchers pushed the conversation forward with a landmark report about the changes we’d need to make to the global food system to mitigate fallout from climate change and a growing population.

Their conclusion is that sidestepping the worst possible harm from climate change is possible, but it’ll require sweeping dietary changes across the globe. The biggest shift: Everybody will have to lay off meat and adopt a “flexitarian” diet made up mostly of plants.

Sweeping Change

Individuals can make dietary decisions that will offset their carbon footprints, the researchers said, but to avoid looming catastrophe, governments across the world will need to make sweeping policy changes to encourage flexitarian diets.

“I think we can do it, but we really need much more proactive governments to provide the right framework,” said lead researcher Marco Springmann, from the University of Oxford, in an interview with the Guardian. “People can make a personal difference by changing their diet, but also by knocking on the doors of their politicians and saying we need better environmental regulations.”

READ MORE: Options for Keeping the Food System Within Environmental Limits [Nature]

More on climate change: Report: Unless We Make Dramatic Changes, We’re Headed for Climate Catastrophe

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To Feed a Hungry Planet, We’re All Going to Need to Eat Less Meat

Creeps Will Soon Be Able to Find Almost Anyone on Genealogy Sites

DNA Panoptican

Earlier this year, police cracked a decades-old murder case by plugging the Golden State Killer’s DNA into a genealogy site that included his relatives’ genetic samples.

It turns out that wasn’t some statistical fluke.

It’s not clear what percentage of people have already uploaded their genetic data to genealogy sites, but right now, you could use these sites to identify a third cousin or closer relative of about 60 percent of people of European descent.

That’s according to a paper published Thursday in the journal Nature. In fact, the paper continued, if just 2 percent of people upload their data to these sites — a milestone we could hit within three years — you’ll be able to use them to find a third cousin or closer relative of virtually anyone.

GATTACA

Researcher Yaniv Erlich told Gizmodo that the Golden State Killer case motivated him to conduct this study. The ingenuity of the detective work impressed him, but he also found himself worrying about the way people could misuse the idea.

“Of course, there’s some good news,” he told Gizmodo. “If someone did something wrong out there, then [law enforcement] is going to be able to catch them. But down the road, as things continue to evolve, there could be people who use this for illegitimate reasons.”

So while genealogy sites might be a boon for police forces, the rest of us might just have to accept the fact that any creep with access to our DNA could track down our family members with relative ease.

READ MORE: Ancestry Sites Could Soon Expose Nearly Anyone’s Identity, Researchers Say [Gizmodo]

More on genealogy websites: A Genealogy Website Led to a Suspected Killer’s Arrest. Here’s What We Know.

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Creeps Will Soon Be Able to Find Almost Anyone on Genealogy Sites

The World’s Largest Collection of Rice Is Now Permanently Funded

Of Rice and Men

Roughly half the people in the world eat rice every day. Soon, we’ll be able to put aside any worries about running out of samples of this dietary staple — samples researchers can use to help us deal with the consequences of climate change and a growing population.

The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) maintains the world’s largest collection of samples of various types of rice at a gene bank in Los Banos, Philippines. On Friday, it secured $1.4 million per year in funding — enough to maintain the facility forever.

Mr. Rice Guy

Like the “doomsday” seed vault in Norway, the purpose of the IRRI gene bank is to ensure we never find ourselves in a position where our food supply isn’t secure and diverse. To that end, the IRRI gene bank houses samples of more than 135,000 varieties of rice that researchers can access for their studies.

On Friday, the Crop Trust, an organization dedicated to supporting global food security and crop diversity, agreed to permanently fund the gene bank. The organizations will sign an agreement guaranteeing this funding on the very appropriate date of October 16 — World Food Day — at the Fifth International Rice Congress in Singapore.

Arms Rice

Of course, “permanent” is pretty impossible to guarantee, and the agreement will actually start with a five-year-long phase ending in 2023. After that, the organizations will need to renew it every five years.

Still, the Crop Trust seems dedicated to providing the IRRA gene bank with the funding it’ll need to keep researchers rolling in rice for the foreseeable future.

“Providing permanent funding to the world’s most important crop collections is at the core of the Crop Trust mission,” said Marie Haga, Executive Director of the Crop Trust, in a news release. “Today’s announcement validates 20 years of work and 50 years of thinking on how the international community can safeguard crops used for food and agriculture.”

READ MORE: The World’s Rice Bowl: Protected in Perpetuity [Crop Trust]

More on food security: Norway’s “Doomsday” Seed Vault Is Getting a $13 Million Upgrade

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The World’s Largest Collection of Rice Is Now Permanently Funded

The World’s Fastest Camera Can “Freeze Time,” Show Beams of Light in Slo-Mo

High Beam

When you push the button on a laser pointer, its entire beam seems to appear instantaneously. In reality,though, the photons shoot out like water from a hose, just at a speed too fast to see.

Too fast for the human eye to see, anyways.

Researchers at Caltech and the University of Quebec have invented what is now the world’s fastest camera, and it takes a mind-boggling 10 trillion shots per second —enough to record footage of a pulse of light as it travels through space.

Spell “T-CUP”

The extraordinary camera, which the researchers describe in a paper published Monday in the journal Light: Science & Applications, builds on a technology called compressed ultrafast photography (CUP).

CUP can lock down an impressive 100 billion frames per second, but by simultaneously recording a static image and performing some tricky math, the researchers were able to reconstruct 10 trillion frames.

They call the new technique T-CUP, and while they don’t say what the “T” stands for, our money is on “trillion.”

Ludicrous Speed

The camera more than doubles the speed record set in 2015 by a camera that took 4.4 trillion shots per second. Its inventors hope it’ll be useful in biomedical and materials research.

But they’ve already turned their attention to smashing their newly set record.

“It’s an achievement in itself,” said lead author Jinyang Liang in a press release, “but we already see possibilities for increasing the speed to up to one quadrillion frames per second!”

READ MORE: World’s Fastest Camera Freezes Time at 10 Trillion Frames per Second [INRS]

More on high-speed cameras: See the World’s Fastest Cameras in Action: 4.4 Trillion Shots Each Second

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The World’s Fastest Camera Can “Freeze Time,” Show Beams of Light in Slo-Mo

Tesla Filed a Trademark Application for “Teslaquila,” Because of Course It Did

Drink and Drive

Tesla is getting into the alcohol business.

On Monday, Elon Musk’s electric car company filed a trademark application for an agave liquor it’s calling “Teslaquila.”

Musk seemed to confirm that a liquor was in the works on Friday with a tweet claiming itwas “coming soon.” He followed up with a photo of a Teslaquila bottle, which he called a “visual approximation.”

Passed Out

Friday’s tweets weren’t Musk’s first references to Teslaquila. The first time he mentioned the product, though, it seemed like a well-timed joke:

On April Fool’s Day, Musk tweeted that he had been “found passed out” near bottles of the liquor, “the tracks of dried tears still visible on his cheeks.”

Teslaquila
Image Credit: Elon Musk / Twitter

Feature Creep

Of course, a trademark application is no guarantee that a product will actually hit store shelves.

The liquor could be a clever marketing stunt or a source of short-term revenue for the troubled energy company — or, more likely, some combination of the two.

READ MORE: Elon Musk’s Tesla seeks to trademark ‘Teslaquila’ [CNBC]

More on Tesla: The Five Funniest Things about the SEC’s Lawsuit against Elon Musk

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Tesla Filed a Trademark Application for “Teslaquila,” Because of Course It Did

The Quest for Immortality Could Create Two “Classes of Humans”

Immortal Overlords

Last year, former Facebook president Sean Parker raised some eyebrows at a cancer innovation event when he suggested that the super-rich could defeat death within his lifetime.

“Because I’m a billionaire, I’m going to have access to better health care,” he said. “I’m going to be like 160 and I’m going to be part of this, like, class of immortal overlords.”

Life Eternal

The reality, according to a compelling new feature by Futurism social editor Jake Banas, is that cutting-edge medical science has yet to dream up a treatment that’s more effective than exercise and a healthy diet. Life expectancy will likely continue to creep up, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever discover a trick to unlock true immortality.

That hasn’t stopped dreamers, including Parker and other Silicon Valley luminaries, from pouring money into research intended to radically extend the human lifespan. Still, even many experts who study aging and mortality aren’t convinced that it’s possible to cheat death forever.

Treat the Rich

As Parker hinted last year, though, such treatments would be unlikely to reach the general population — if everyone had access, after all, it’d quickly create an overpopulation crisis as new babies were born while the old refused to die.

Ultimately, we’ve seen this 21st century quest to cheat death pop up before, and from Gilgamesh to Dorian Grey, it’s seldom turned out well.

READ MORE: Disrupting the Reaper: Tech Titans’ Quest for Immortality Rages Forward [Futurism]

More on eternal life: New Tech Is Giving Humanity Many Potential Paths to Immortality

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The Quest for Immortality Could Create Two “Classes of Humans”

Futurism (Christianity) – Wikipedia

Futurism is a Christian eschatological view that interprets portions of the Book of Revelation and the Book of Daniel as future events in a literal, physical, apocalyptic, and global context.[1]

By comparison, other Christian eschatological views interpret these passages as past events in a symbolic, historic context (Preterism and Historicism), or as present-day events in a non-literal and spiritual context (Idealism). Futurist beliefs usually have a close association with Premillennialism and Dispensationalism.

Some elements of the futurist interpretation of Revelation and Daniel appeared in the early centuries of the Christian Church. However, the view was not popular. Irenaeus of Lyon (died c. 202), for instance, subscribed to the view that Daniel’s 70th week awaited a future fulfillment.[2] During the Middle Ages and before the Protestant Reformation futurist interpretations were virtually non-existent.[citation needed]

Two Catholic Jesuit writers, Manuel Lacunza (1731-1801) and Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), proposed the futurist view. Lacunza wrote under the pen name “Ben-Ezra”, and his work was banned by the Catholic Church. It[clarification needed] has grown in popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries, so that today it is probably the most readily recognized.[3][not in citation given][4]

The futurist view assigns all or most of the prophecy to the future, shortly before the Second Coming; especially when interpreted in conjunction with Daniel, Isaiah 2:11-22, 1 Thessalonians 4:155:11, and other eschatological sections of the Bible.[citation needed]

Futurist interpretations generally predict a resurrection of the dead and a rapture of the living, wherein all true Christians are gathered to Christ prior to the time God’s kingdom comes on earth. They also believe a tribulation will occur – a seven-year period of time when believers will experience worldwide persecution and martyrdom. Futurists differ on when believers will be raptured, but there are three primary views: 1) before the tribulation; 2) near or at the midpoint of the tribulation; or 3) at the end of the tribulation. There is also a fourth view of multiple raptures throughout the tribulation, but this view does not have a mainstream following.[citation needed]

Pretribulationists believe that all Christians then alive will be taken up to meet Christ before the Tribulation begins. In this manner, Christians are “kept from” the Tribulation, such as Enoch was removed before God judged the antediluvian world, in contrast with Noah who was “kept through” wrath and judgement of God in the flood of Genesis.[citation needed]

Midtribulationists believe that the rapture of the faithful will occur approximately halfway through the Tribulation, after it begins but before the worst part of it occurs. Some midtribulationists, particularly those[who?] holding to a “pre-wrath rapture” of the church, believe that God’s wrath is poured out during a “Great Tribulation” that is limited to the last 3 years of the Tribulation, after believers have been caught up to Christ.[citation needed]

Post-tribulationists believe that Christians will be gathered in the clouds with Christ and join him in his return to earth. (Pretribulationist Tim LaHaye admits a post-tribulation rapture is the closest of the three views to that held by the early church.)[citation needed]

All three views hold that Christians will return with Christ at the end of the Tribulation. Proponents of all three views also generally portray Israel as unwittingly signing a seven-year peace treaty with the Antichrist, which initiates the seven-year Tribulation. Many also tend to view the Antichrist as head of a revived Roman Empire, but the geographic location of this empire is unknown. Hal Lindsey suggests that this revived Roman Empire will be centered in western Europe, with Rome as its capital. Tim LaHaye promotes the belief that Babylon will be the capital of a worldwide empire. Joel Richardson and Walid Shoebat have both recently written books proposing a revived eastern Roman Empire, which will fall with the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. (Istanbul also has seven hills, was a capital of the Roman Empire as Constantinople, known as the Byzantine Empire, and a body of water in the city is known as the Golden Horn – notable given the eschatological references to the “Little Horn”Daniel 7:8,8:9.)[citation needed]

The various views on tribulation are actually a subset of theological interpretations on the Millennium, mentioned in Revelation 20. There are three main interpretations: Premillennialism, Amillennialism, and Postmillennialism.[citation needed]

Premillennialism believes that Christ will return to the earth, bind Satan, and reign for a literal thousand years on earth with Jerusalem as his capital. Thus Christ returns before (“pre-“) the thousand years mentioned in chapter 20. There are generally two subclasses of Premillennialism: Dispensational and Historic. Some form of premillennialism is thought to be the oldest millennial view in church history.[5] Papias, believed to be a disciple of the Apostle John, was a premillennialist, according to Eusebius. Also Justin Martyr and Irenaeus expressed belief in premillennialism in their writings.

Amillennialism, the traditional view for Catholicism, believes that the thousand years mentioned are not (“a-“) a literal thousand years, but is figurative for what is now the church age, usually, the time between Christ’s ascension and second coming. This view is often associated with Augustine of Hippo. Amillennialists differ on the time frame of the millennium. Some say it started with Pentecost, others say it started with the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy regarding the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (70), and other starting points have also been proposed. Whether this eschatology is the result of caesaropapism, which may have also been the reason that premillennialism was condemned, is sharply disputed.[citation needed]

Postmillennialism believes that Christ will return after (“post-“) a literal/figurative thousand years, in which the world will have essentially become a Christendom. This view was held by Jonathan Edwards.[citation needed]

In the futurist view of Christian eschatology, the Tribulation is a relatively short period of time where anyone who chose not to follow God before the Rapture and was left behind (according to Pre-Tribulation doctrine, not Mid- or Post-Tribulation teaching) will experience worldwide hardships, disasters, famine, war, pain, and suffering, which will wipe out more than 75% of all life on the earth before the Second Coming takes place.[citation needed]

According to some Dispensationalists who hold the futurist view, the Tribulation is thought to occur before the Second Coming of Jesus and during the End Times. Another version holds that it will last seven years in all, being the last of Daniel’s prophecy of seventy weeks. This viewpoint was first made popular by John Nelson Darby in the 19th century and was recently popularized by Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Planet Earth. It is theorized that each week represents seven years, with the timetable beginning from Artaxerxes’ order to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (the Second Temple). After seven plus 62 weeks, the prophecy says that the messiah will be “cut off”, which is taken to correspond to the death of Christ. This is seen as creating a break of indeterminate length in the timeline, with one week remaining to be fulfilled.[citation needed]

This seven-year week may be further divided into two periods of 3.5 years each, from the two 3.5-year periods in Daniel’s prophecy where the last seven years are divided into two 3.5-year periods, (Daniel 9:27) The time period for these beliefs is also based on other passages: in the book of Daniel, “time, times, and half a time”, interpreted as “a year, two years, and half a year,” and the Book of Revelation, “a thousand two hundred and threescore days” and “forty and two months” (the prophetic month averaging 30 days, hence 1260/30 = 42 months or 3.5 years). The 1290 days of Daniel 12:11, (rather than the 1260 days of Revelation 11:3), is thought to be the result of either a simple intercalary leap month adjustment, or due to further calculations related to the prophecy, or due to an intermediate stage of time that is to prepare the world for the beginning of the millennial reign.[6]

Among futurists there are differing views about what will happen to Christians during the Tribulation:[citation needed]

In pretribulationism and midtribulationism, the Rapture and the Second Coming (or Greek, par[a]ousia) of Christ are separate events, while in post-tribulationism the two events are identical or simultaneous. Another feature of the pre- and mid-tribulation beliefs is the idea that after the Rapture, Christ will return for a third time (when also counting the first coming) to set up his kingdom on the earth.[citation needed]

Some, including many Roman Catholic theologians,[citation needed] do not believe in a “time of trouble” period as usually described by tribulationists, but rather that there will be a near utopian period led by the Antichrist.

According to Futurism, the 70th week of Daniel will occur at some point in the future, culminating in seven years (or 3.5 years depending on denomination) of Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.

Such a thesis is paradigmatic for Dispensational Premillennialism. In contradistinction, Historic Premillennialism may or may not posit Daniel’s 70th week as future yet retain the thesis of the future fulfillment of many of the prophecies of Major and Minor Prophets, the teachings of Christ (e.g., Matthew 24) and the book of Revelation.

Dispensationalists typically hold that a ‘hiatus’, which some refer to as a ‘biblical parenthesis’, occurred between the 69th and 70th week of the prophecy, into which the “church age” is inserted (also known as the “gap theory” of Daniel 9). The seventieth week of the prophecy is expected to commence after the rapture of the church, which will incorporate the establishment of an economic system using the number ‘666’, the reign of the beast (the Antichrist), the false religious system (the harlot), the Great Tribulation and Armageddon.[8]

Controversy exists regarding the antecedent of he in Daniel 9:27. Many within the ranks of premillennialism do not affirm the “confirmation of the covenant” is made by Jesus Christ (as do many Amillennarians) but that the antecedent of “he” in vs. 27 refers back to vs. 26 (“the prince who is to come”i.e., the Antichrist). Antichrist will make a “treaty” as the Prince of the Covenant (i.e., “the prince who is to come”) with Israel’s future leadership at the commencement of the seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy; in the midst of the week, the Antichrist will break the treaty and commence persecution against a regathered Israel.[9]All Protestant Reformers used the day year principle of prophetic interpretation. The commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince [Daniel 925] was given by King Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. making it 490 literal years [70X7] to the autumn of 31A.D.see Ezra 7:11-26]. Working back one prophetic week or seven literal years brings us to the baptism of Jesus in 27A.D. In the midst or middle of this last week of the prophecy, Jesus was cut off meaning crucified in 31 A.D.. So this cannot be a future fulfilment of prophecy, but history.The full 490 years brings us to 34 A.D. when Stephen was stoned and persecution began. Because the 70 weeks are a sealed prophecy [see Daniel 9:24], no futurist is authorised to unseal it.

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Futurism (Christianity) – Wikipedia


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