Five must-read futuristic articles from Factor’s spring digital magazine

Spring is here and it’s time for the latest issue of Factor magazine, the mammoth quarterly digital magazine on all things future. Available to read on any device for free, it’s your go-to destination for serious thought, and the occasional bout of silliness, about the world of tomorrow.

With 33 pages of content there is a huge range of topics to read and explore, and listing every single one here would be a bit silly. Instead, here’s our pick of the five must-read articles that every future fan needs to check out.

How Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Could Make the Music Industry March to a Different Choon

Blockchain seems to be finding its way into everything at the moment, and the music industry is no different. Which is why in this issue we speak to Choon, the company using the technology to transform the music industry, and pay artists better in the process. Are we entering the post-record label age? Quite possibly.

Elon Musk’s Super Fun Pyro and Apocalypse Show

In what is probably the silliest article in this issue, we ponder a reality where Elon Musk really does create a zombie apocalypse in order to sell Boring Company flamethrowers. Why would he do such a thing? How would it turn out? And how would Musk create zombie anyway? All these questions are (sort of) answered.

The Buzz Around Bee Decline: Are Super Robotic Bees the Future of Farming?

Bees are vanishing but crops still need to be pollinated, lest we see a serious impact on our global food supplies. In this serenely presented article we consider the pros and cons of supplementing bees with robotic doppelgangers. Yes, this will bring back memories of a certain Black Mirror episode.

The Life of a Future Traveller

In this animated spectacular, we take you on a trip to the future, to look at what travelling could be like in a decade. From passenger drones to driverless cars and hyperloop to supersonic planes, there will be a lot of ways to travel, some of which will have a serious impact on how we live.

The Enhanced Future Brian: Kernel’s Mission to Shape Humanity’s Cognitive Evolution

Self-improvement is one of the universal goals of humanity, so why not make our brains better? In a mind-blowing exploration of how we could advance ourselves, we hear from Kernel’s Bryan Johnson about the company’s cognitive enhancement plans.

Wanted man captured thanks to facial recognition

A Chinese man who was wanted by police for “economic crimes” – which can include anything from tax evasion to the theft of public property – was arrested at a music concert in China after facial recognition technology spotted him inside the venue.

Source: Abacus News

SpaceX president commits to city-to-city rocket travel

SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell has reiterated the company’s plans to make city-to-city travel — on Earth — using a rocket that’s designed for outer space a reality. Shotwell says the tech will be operational “within a decade, for sure.”

Source: Recode

Businessman wins battle with Google over 'right to be forgotten'

A businessman fighting for the "right to be forgotten" has won a UK High Court action against Google.. The businessman served six months’ in prison for “conspiracy to carry out surveillance”, and the judge agreed to an “appropriate delisting order".

Source: Press Gazette

UK launched cyber attack on Islamic State

The UK has conducted a "major offensive cyber campaign" against the Islamic State group, the director of the intelligence agency GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, has revealed. The operation hindered the group's ability to co-ordinate attacks and suppressed its propaganda.

Source: BBC

Goldman Sachs consider whether curing patients is bad for business

Goldman Sachs analysts have attempted to tackle the question of whether pioneering "gene therapy" treatment will be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in a report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

Source: CNBC

Four-armed robot performing surgery in the UK

A £1.5m "robotic" surgeon, controlled using a computer console, is being used to shorten the time patients spend recovering after operations. The da Vinci Xi machine is the only one in the country being used for upper gastrointestinal surgery.

Source: BBC

Virgin Galactic rocket planes go past the speed of sound

Virgin Galactic completed its first powered flight in nearly four years when Richard Branson's space company launched its Unity spacecraft, which reached supersonic speeds before safely landing. “We’ve been working towards this moment for a long time,” Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides said in an email to Quartz.

Source: Quartz

Google employees protest being in "the business of war"

Thousands of Google employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a letter protesting the company’s involvement in a Pentagon program that uses AI to interpret video imagery and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. The letter, which is circulating inside Google, has garnered more than 3,100 signatures

Source: New York Times

Computer system transcribes words users “speak silently”

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that transcribes words that the user verbalises internally but does not actually speak aloud. The wearable device picks up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalisations — saying words “in your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye.

Source: MIT News

Drones could be used to penalise bad farming

A report by a coalition of environmental campaigners is arguing squadrons of drones should be deployed to locate and penalise farmers who let soil run off their fields. Their report says drones can help to spot bad farming, which is said to cost more than £1.2bn a year by clogging rivers and contributing to floods.

Source: BBC

Californian company unveil space hotel

Orion Span, a California company, has unveiled its Aurora Station, a commercial space station that would house a luxury hotel. The idea is to put the craft in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles up, with a stay at the hotel likely to cost $9.5 million for a 12-day trip, but you can reserve a spot now with an $80,000 deposit.

UK mobile operators pay close to £1.4bn for 5G

An auction of frequencies for the next generation of mobile phone networks has raised £1.36bn, says regulator Ofcom. Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three all won the bandwidth needed for the future 5G mobile internet services, which are not expected to be launched until 2020.

Source: BBC