Bio & Life Sciences

How Biotech Can Help Feed the Planet

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It's going to be a big global challenge to feed our growing population without destroying the environment. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that worldwide food supply must increase by 70 percent by 2050. We don't just need calories; we need nutritious calories that reduce the risk of disease. Chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes impair quality of life and burden the global healthcare system.   More

Business

Chinese Net Giants Head Towards U.S.

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Just a day after I wrote that online gaming giant Tencent may be planning a major new drive into the U.S., we’re hearing that its top rival NetEase is also moving into the neighborhood with plans for a new California R&D center. NetEase’s move comes after search leader Baidu and Tencent both set up U.S. offices last year, though only Baidu actually announced a major new product development center. All of these moves represent the Chinese companies’ efforts to tap into the Silicon Valley ethos, which has far more of the skills they will need in their quest to enter global markets outside of China.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare Internet of Things

The IoT of Health: Big Data Can Make Us Healthier

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has a lot to offer in the medical realm, but such connectivity lags far behind what's happening with other consumer goods and electronics. A few early glimpses of possibilities in this field show there are tremendous advantages to be had if we can get past these current hurdles and establish a bio-based IoT. (A session entitled "The Internet of (Bio)things" at the upcoming Techonomy Bio conference on March 25 in Mountain View explores this question.)   More

E-Commerce Global Tech

Tencent’s WeChat Trounces Alibaba at Chinese New Year

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I remember a time not long ago when we China tech reporters used to write annual stories about the number of people who sent billions of simple Lunar New Year text greetings over their mobile phones. Those days now seem like a distant memory, and new data from Tencent’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay are showing just how small those earlier figures were, even though they seemed impressive at the time. But the real story in this new tide of “red envelope grabbing wars” is the huge victory for Tencent over Alibaba.   More

Keen On

KeenON: CEA’s Gary Shapiro on the Digital Revolution in 2015

There are few more optimistic thinkers than Gary Shapiro, the CEO and president of the Consumer Electronics Association and the author of "Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Companies." Shapiro–who is also the guy behind the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas–believes 2015 might be the year the digital revolution reaches its tipping point and truly starts to change the world. New technologies as varied as 3D printing, drones, self-driving cars, and networked clothing, Shapiro thinks, are going to solve many of our most entrenched problems.   More

Global Tech Jobs

Vietnam’s IT Workers Value Passion Over Pay

In Ho Chi Minh and elsewhere in Vietnam, some IT workers are seeking passion over profit.

As Vietnam emerges as a global hotspot for offshore IT services, the country’s tech workers have more employment opportunities than ever before. With IT talent in high demand, job seekers can be selective. Many want more than just good pay. Increasingly, they also want jobs that allow them to learn and to build products that make a difference. A new survey by ITViec, a jobs platform for Vietnam’s tech industry, suggests that Vietnam’s IT workers are driven as much by passion as by profit. Unfortunately, some outsourcing and product companies do not provide such opportunities.   More

Business Internet of Things

How to Ride the Smart Home Wave

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There’s a sizeable "smart home" wave building. The smart home and building technology market was $4.8 billion in 2012 and a report by Allied Market Research predicts it will grow to $35.3 billion by 2020. Not surprisingly, many startups, retailers, and established tech companies hope to ride the wave. Surfing is hard to do. Not everyone will get the timing right. But some strategies will make it a lot less likely that companies will wipe out.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Ubiquitous Biotech in a Time of Ignorance

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Biology has recently found solutions we didn’t imagine were possible, such as the recent discovery that plants’ chlorophyll molecules act at the quantum mechanical level to maximize energy harvested from the sun. Yet, when it comes to understanding biotechnology innovations, the general public is sadly misinformed about the science. Unfounded fears have prompted the European Union to place stringent controls on the use and growth of GMO crops, and many EU countries require permits to do basic molecular biology and genetic engineering.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Biomimicry Enters Academic Mainstream with ASU Center

Scientists and inventors have long turned to nature for inspiration.

Arizona State University will launch a new Biomimicry Center devoted to the research and development of initiatives that use nature’s own time-tested strategies to tackle our biggest sustainability challenges. A joint venture of ASU and Biomimicry 3.8, the Biomimicry Center will kick off March 3 with an interactive symposium of lectures, discussion, and hands-on activities at ASU’s Tempe campus. The center’s aim is to bring together the expertise of a wide range of disciplines—including biology, chemistry, engineering, business, material science, psychology, design, and architecture—to create a new multipronged approach to sustainability.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Opinion

Why It’s So Hard for Americans to Talk About Science

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Talking about science is a lot harder than it should be. We talk all the time about things we don’t fully understand: the polar vortex, how footballs can get underinflated during games, why the Kardashians still get so much attention. We’re not experts in these areas, but we’re happy to weigh in with theories and opinions. But when it comes to scientific topics, both scientists and lay people hide behind the excuse that the general public in this country simply doesn’t have the education to process such complex information.   More

Energy & Green Tech Global Tech

Geoengineering: Smart Science or Hail Mary?

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In a recent report, a committee appointed by the National Research Council issued a recommendation that the federal government fund research on geoengineering as a means to address global warming. Geongineering, sometimes known as “Plan B,” encompasses technologies that seek to counteract climate change. During a session at Techonomy in 2012, Harvard physicist David Keith said, “If you want to actually reduce the risks to many of the people who will suffer real climate impacts in the next decades, including some of the poorest people in the world, this is essentially the only thing you could do.”   More

Global Tech

Tesla Looks for New China Formula

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After roaring into China last year on a wave of hugely positive publicity, electric car superstar Tesla has rapidly lost momentum and now appears on the cusp of a major overhaul in a bid to jump-start its prospects. This kind of development isn’t hard to understand, as Tesla’s charismatic CEO Elon Musk set the bar incredibly high when he sold his company’s first electric vehicle (EV) in China last April.   More

Jobs Media & Marketing

LinkedIn’s Hoffman: Impact of Social Networks Will Only Grow

Entrepreneur and investor Reid Hoffman has backed or helped build over 50 ventures, including groundbreaking companies like PayPal, Facebook, Groupon, Flickr, and of course professional networking juggernaut LinkedIn, which he co-founded. So what does one of the country’s most prolific investors think about the future of social networking, a phenomenon some say is already dying? “We are in the first inning,” Hoffman says. “People are still learning what does it mean to have these networks be a fundamental part of their life.”   More

Security & Privacy

Making Data Storage Safer: The MaidSafe Network

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As our personal and business data migrates online, lack of online security is increasingly a source of worry for both businesses and individuals worldwide. Risks, including malicious hacking, vandalism, and data theft, are numerous. Today's Internet is vulnerable in part because data typically resides on networks managed and controlled entirely by individual companies. MaidSafe, a startup based in Troon, Scotland, has what it believes is a way to eliminate that kind of reliance and improve the safety of data.   More

Bio & Life Sciences Healthcare Opinion

Obama’s Not-So-Daring Precision Medicine Plan

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For all the attention that President Obama’s precision medicine initiative has garnered in the weeks since he first mentioned it in his State of the Union address, you’d think the program was the next version of the Human Genome Project. But unlike that effort, which was a wildly audacious push to revolutionize biology and medicine, the modest new initiative—and its $215 million price tag—seems downright underwhelming.   More

Government

Can Open-Source Voting Tech Fix the U.S. Elections System?

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American voting technology is trapped in the last millennium. This lifeline to democracy is kept secret—closed off from public inspection and controlled by large businesses. It is decades old to boot. Our voting methods ought to be at least as cutting edge as our selfie apps, but they’re not. Open-source technology could offer a solution that upends the entire elections technology market, dislodging incumbent voting machine companies and putting the electorate at the helm.   More

Global Tech

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé: The Internet Is a Tool for Solidarity

Where is the Internet taking us, and how do we keep it secure? There’s no shortage of people ready to offer up opinions on such questions, but few who are truly qualified to answer them. Fortunately we asked someone who is—Fadi Chehadé, CEO of ICANN, the public-benefit corporation tasked with keeping the Internet stable. Chehadé calls the Internet a “platform for human solidarity” that enables us to form networks with “people we’ve never met” to share ideas, concepts, and resources—and ultimately build consensus.   More

Global Tech Security & Privacy

Rhetoric Eases, but Troubles Remain in Alibaba Piracy Spat

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After reaching a fever pitch last week, rhetoric in the high-profile spat over piracy between e-commerce giant Alibaba and one of China’s main business regulators appears to be softening as the two sides move towards a compromise. The latest headlines say Alibaba and the State Administration For Industry And Commerce (SAIC) have joined hands to fight piracy, marking a sharp toning down of the angry rhetoric that was flying for much of last week.   More

Healthcare Internet of Things

How the Internet of Things Can Enhance Human Relationships

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Technology for capturing patient visits promises to free doctors from the burden of data entry and updating medical records, which consumes more than two hours of the average professional’s workday, according to digital health startup Augmedix. Meanwhile, information fed into a doctor's Google Glass screen could allow physicians to remain present and undistracted during limited patient face time. As digital health options proliferate, technology will free physicians from back-office burdens and reduce inefficiencies.   More

Global Tech

The Mixed Reality of Increasing Global Equity

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In late January both Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, two entities founded by the same guy, announced major new directions that have a weird and provocative parallelism. One is a new product category from Microsoft, and the other a new vision for global economic progress from the Gates Foundation. Both merit our attention, not only as organizational initiatives but as powerful visions for the world's future.   More