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Will we really wear wearables?

This week's Question: New smartwatches were showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, including devices that run on operating systems and feature pedometers, sleep trackers, and audio players. Research firm Canalys forecasts that worldwide annual smartwatch shipments will grow from 8 million in 2014 to 45 million by 2017. An early 2014 Endeavour Partners survey of 6,223 US adults, however, revealed that one in ten adult consumers owns a wearable activity tracker, such as Jawbone, Fitbit, Nike+ Fuelband, or Misfit Wearables. Yet, more than half no longer continue to use them, and a third of respondents stopped using the modern activity trackers within six months of receiving them. What do you think? Will we really wear wearables?

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Will we deliver electricity from space?

This Week's Question: Scientists are exploring the possibility of utilizing space solar power for Earth-bound purposes. The United States, China, India and Japan all have projects at various stages of development that would see robots assemble solar arrays that could provide the Earth with clean, renewable energy, delivered wirelessly via microwaves and laser beams. According to experts, space is the ideal location for a solar power station as it would have access to uninterrupted power from sunlight. The final cost of the entire system, however, could easily reach $20 billion. What do you think? Will we deliver electricity from space?

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Are you optimistic about artificial intelligence?

This week's Question: In a BBC interview last year, renowned physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence. Hawking said AI "would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate," passing the limited abilities of humans. A new study from Stanford University aims to understand the impacts that artificial intelligence will have on Earth. Leading thinkers from several institutions will begin a 100-year effort to study and anticipate how AI will influence how people work, live and play. "I'm very optimistic about the future and see great value ahead for humanity with advances in systems that can perceive, learn and reason," said Stanford alumnus and former president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Eric Horvitz, "However, it is difficult to anticipate all of the opportunities and issues, so we need to create an enduring process." What do you think? Are you optimistic about artificial intelligence?

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Will we build a floating city above Venus?

This week's Question: NASA recently proposed a mission that one day may send astronauts, via a balloon, toward Venus' upper-atmosphere to research the possibility of a "cloud city community." Although the waterless planet has an unforgiving temperature of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the clouds of Venus present an ideal spot for humans to roam from a spacecraft. The conditions at 31 miles above the surface are about the same pressure and atmosphere as Earth. The High Altitude Venus Operational Concept, or HAVOC, mission would start with a series of phased exploration sorties, followed by a robotic mission, a crewed ride, and the deployment of an uncrewed robotic airship in the atmosphere. NASA researchers say that if the phases of the mission are successful, permanent presence in Venus' atmosphere is possible. What do you think? Will we build a floating city above Venus?

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Will astronauts reach Mars by 2030?

This week's Question: Last week, NASA's 30,000-pound Orion capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean after going further than any spacecraft built for humans had reached in more than 40 years. Without astronauts aboard, Orion circled Earth for two orbits, eventually reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles so it could achieve a high re-entry speed, one similar to a beyond-Earth-orbit flight. The mission is a step toward eventually bringing astronauts to deep space. NASA says astronauts could reach Mars sometime in the 2030s. What do you think? Will astronauts reach Mars by 2030?

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Are we moving toward pilotless airliners?

This week's Question: NASA has worked with industry to help create the Synthetic Vision System (SVS), a virtual reality display system for cockpits. The SVS uses 3D to provide pilots with intuitive means of understanding their flying environment, including graphical displays of terrain and hazards. In coming months, Universal Avionics, an avionics manufacturer, will release a product called InSight, which blends larger displays, higher-resolution 3-D synthetic vision, and new icon-based command-and-control architecture. Some say that synthetic vision developments, along with other emerging aviation technologies like touch-screen steering and voice recognition, could lead to a day when airliners fly themselves. What do you think? Are we moving toward pilotless airliners?>

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Will comet missions yield valuable information about the origin of the solar system?

This week's Question: The Philae spacecraft successfully landed on a moving comet last week. Scientists hope to be able to study the material beneath the surface of the solar body, which is traveling through space at 41,000 mph, hundreds of millions of miles away from Earth. Probing the comet’s dust could help researchers determine the origins of life on Earth, and whether comets provided the water that exists in oceans today. Since the material has remained almost unchanged for 4.5 billion years, it is considered by some researchers to be a "cosmic time capsule" that may contain the building blocks of life. What do you think? Will comet missions yield valuable information about the origin of the solar system?

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