Bio & Life Sciences

How Shining Light in the Brain Could Control Addiction

image: B.Chen/NIDA

Imaging studies of cocaine addicts’ brains typically show low activity patterns in the region that is key to impulse control, the prefrontal cortex. The same goes for rodents that have been turned into cokeheads in the lab. Whether the use of the drug itself further compromises impulse control, leading to compulsive use in spite of life-threatening effects, still isn’t clear. But a team of neuroscientists reports in Nature this week that, at least in rats, there is a way to wipe away the addictive behavior with optogenetics.   More

Business

Is Facebook Home More Than Just a Souped-Up App?

The day after Facebook's big announcement about its new Home interface for Android phones, Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick fielded questions on Yahoo! Finance about the implications of Facebook's latest play for the mobile market. An essential component of the app, said Kirkpatrick, is that it surfaces SMS and messaging as the top layer of the user experience, demonstrating Facebook's insight into how people are communicating. Are users ready for this new level of interactivity on their mobile phones? Maybe not all American users, said Kirkpatrick, but Facebook is looking abroad to places like Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil, and India, where Facebook is "growing like crazy."   More

Security & Privacy

With Mobile the Future, How Does a Company Stay Secure?

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A PC, Mac, iPad, Android, BlackBerry, and Nexus 7 all sit on Sam Curry’s desk one afternoon while he works from home. Though not everyone has access to such a range of mobile devices, this lineup offers a glimpse at the diversity of devices people now use to work. Curry is CTO of Identity and Data Protection at RSA, a firm specializing in information security. During a phone call last week, he said that all the devices on his desk provide connectivity for his work at RSA, each with its own unique set of capabilities and limitations.   More

Business

Why Zuckerberg Beamed as He Announced Facebook Home for Android

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I've never seen Mark Zuckerberg beaming throughout an entire press announcement, as he did today at the launch of the new Facebook phone software. It shows that he believes the so-called "Facebook Home" for Android means Facebook has nailed an important piece in its evolution toward becoming central to the communications systems for all the people of the planet. That is, after all, his goal, as it has been since roughly late 2004. You can tell he has confidence that Facebook has made good decisions about what we need in a new interface for interacting with phones, and that he's certain of the quality of the engineering and design thinking behind the product.   More

Business

Kirkpatrick: Facebook Wants to Be There When You Turn Your Phone On

Techonomy CEO David Kirkpatrick appeared on Bloomberg TV yesterday to comment on Facebook's ambitions to amplify its presence in the mobile market. Kirkpatrick dispelled rumors that Facebook intends to launch a new phone, but said the company has plans to release a layer of software that will appear on the home screens of specific HTC smartphones. According to Kirkpatrick, this represents "the beginning of a whole series of Facebook initiatives in mobile that will probably lead ultimately to a lot more people having a home Facebook screen when they turn on their phone all over the world."   More

Opinion

Who Says the Internet Isn’t Making Life Better?

A standard trope these days is that we in the middle class have been slogging through a couple of decades of woe. Wages are stagnant. Our standard of living isn’t improving. The grand forces of our time—the Internet and globalization—are failing to better our lives, and may be making things worse. The numbers prove it. But here’s the problem: the traditional numbers used by the government and economists measure the wrong stuff for the twenty-first century.   More

Arts & Culture Bio & Life Sciences

Cancer Genetics Goes Indie: Decoding Annie Parker Premieres

Helen Hunt as geneticist Mary Claire King (courtesy of Dorado Media)

One thing was clear at last night’s New York premiere of Decoding Annie Parker, a movie about a woman with breast cancer: the film is a labor of love made by people who believe the dramatized true story they tell is important. No major studios were involved, and though it has a top-shelf cast (including Helen Hunt, Bradley Whitford, Rashida Jones, and Aaron Paul), the actors agreed to work for a fraction of their usual fees. When Annie Parker opens in select theaters this summer, it will be because a group of writers, donors, and cancer advocates were committed to sharing the lessons of Annie’s story.   More

Jobs Learning

Girls Who Code Aims to Bridge Tech-Sector Gender Gap

Girls Who Code is a Manhattan-based nonprofit aimed at teaching high school girls software programming, public speaking, product development, and other skills that prepare them to launch careers in the tech sector. It's one of a number of recent initiatives designed to encourage young women to set their sights on jobs in the often male-dominated world of tech. Programs like Hackbright Academy, Girl Develop It, Black Girls Code, and Girls Teaching Girls Code seek to bridge the gender gap in tech by offering hands-on computer science instruction for students on the verge of making decisions about their future studies.   More

Energy & Green Tech Jobs Manufacturing

Deloitte’s Chris Park: 3D Printing for Cleaner and Leaner U.S. Manufacturing

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Revitalizing manufacturing is essential to U.S. economic recovery, but it’s not clear yet how this new phase might look. One thing is certain: it won’t look anything thing like manufacturing did 15 or even 5 years ago. PARC CEO Stephen Hoover has spoken at Techonomy events about how innovations like 3D printing and crowdsourcing can drive a paradigm shift in manufacturing. But can a new American manufacturing approach also be eco-friendly? Techonomy spoke with Chris Park, a principal at Deloitte who helps clients with their environmental, social, and sustainability performance, about how next-generation manufacturing technology could reduce environmental impact and bring jobs back to the U.S.   More

Business Global Tech Government

Huawei, ZTE Banned From Selling to U.S. Government

The ongoing tiff between the U.S. and China over the security of Chinese telecoms equipment took a new twist last week when Washington largely forbid several government agencies from buying products from industry giants Huawei and ZTE. While Washington’s previous moves in the dispute have been controversial and often contrary to fair trade principles, this latest act looks more reasonable because it is limited to purchasing by a small number of government agencies. This ongoing clash began last October, when a Washington report said telecoms equipment from Huawei and ZTE, two of China’s most successful high-tech exporters, posed a national security risk.   More

Energy & Green Tech

Ford to Crowdsource Fuel-Efficiency App

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As part of a campaign to help drivers learn more about how to optimize their fuel usage, Ford announced its Personalized Fuel-Efficiency App Challenge at last week's New York International Auto Show. The app will address what Ford officials say is the number one concern among drivers. By creating a platform designed to share information through social media, Ford believes it can empower drivers to improve their personal fuel efficiency.   More

E-Commerce Global Tech Opinion

Alibaba Dips Toe in Developing Markets

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Finally there are some interesting news bits on e-commerce leader Alibaba that don’t involve its highly anticipated IPO, including a push into developing markets and a new tie-up with global payments giant MasterCard. Of the two bits, the former is more intriguing because it represents a major move for the company outside the Chinese-speaking world for its highly successful consumer-oriented e-commerce services. The latter tie-up is interesting because it involves a big name like MasterCard, even though actual details are scarce and probably won’t get worked out until some point in the future.   More

Security & Privacy

Seeking Consensus on Cyberdefense

The cyberattack that temporarily paralyzed the American Express website last week highlighted the escalating frequency and brazenness of strikes aimed at global financial institutions. In the past six months, similar attacks hit JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America, while another disabled computers at banks and television networks in South Korea. As predicted by Arthur W. Coviello at the Techonomy 2012 conference last November, the perpetrators of these attacks appear to be more focused on disruption than on fraud.   More

Techonomy 12 Security & Privacy Techonomy Events Video

Cyberwar: It’s a MAD MAD World

As society relies ever more on the Internet, cyberwar and its unpredictable consequences has become our 21st century bogeyman. And the country most responsible for letting this particular genie out of its bottle, as with another frightening weapon back in the 1940’s, appears to be the United States. Can there really be winners in a cyberwar?   More

Business Startup Culture

Josh Linkner on Why Entrepreneurs Should Be Street Fighters

Monument to Joe Louis in downtown Detroit (photo by Marsha Ericks)

Having built four startups from scratch and now investing full-time, you could say I’m in the business of entrepreneurship. But I don’t think that’s the right term anymore. At all. The word entrepreneur is borrowed from French and implies an aristocratic polish. It conjures up images of backroom deals with white men in three-piece suits, perhaps even wearing top hats, neatly manicured and coddled, issuing orders from afar to sweaty and tattered workers. But that just ain’t the way you win today.   More

Cities Global Tech

Shanghai Street View: Toilet Technology

Shanghai's Nanjing Road (image via Shutterstock)

China’s economic miracle has captured global headlines for much of the last 30 years, but a much quieter revolution has also taken place in that time at the nation’s toilets. As China’s leading commercial center, Shanghai has been at the edge of this quieter revolution, which has just flushed past another milestone with the announcement of a new mobile app to help people locate the nearest public toilet. The new app uses GPS technology to locate the nearest of 8,000 public toilets now operating in Shanghai for users who feel the call of nature while walking around or driving outside.   More

Business

Company Perks Are the New Lure for Startup Employees

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Pay and location will always matter when considering a job, but perks matter too. While great perks have been confined to giant companies or the most well-funded startups, now any company can offer them. It's a potent new way to attract talent. San Francisco-based AnyPerk sets out to level the perk playing field by providing smaller companies with access to benefits traditionally offered only by giants like Google. Smaller companies including Pinterest and Pandora are using AnyPerk to offer employees deals and to promote company welfare.   More

Manufacturing

Dutch Firm Plans 3D-Printed Canal Boat

(Image via Shutterstock)

In a talk last January at Learning Without Frontiers, Ray Kurzweil speculated that one day 3D printers will be able to self-replicate by printing parts to make other 3D printers. Kurzweil, now Director of Engineering at Google and a speaker at last year's Techonomy conference, thinks 3D printing could have a paradigm-shifting impact on how we manufacture all kinds of things—from automobiles to the highways that they drive on. Fueled by this vision, students at the Singularity University, which Kurzweil founded, are working on creating 3D-printable buildings. Now, the Dutch firm DUS Architects plans to use a mobile printing facility called the KamerMaker to build the first 3D-printed canal boat.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

How to Look at Your Genome: Close-Up or Wide-Angle?

(Image via Shutterstock)

There’s growing debate in the biomedical community about the most valuable view of the human genome: a wide panoramic snapshot showing the whole thing, or a zoomed-in image of just where the action is. This is not just an academic discussion: the outcome will have significant implications in how patients are treated for a range of medical conditions.   More

Business

Why Summly Matters: Software Will Become Your Research Assistant

When a company like Yahoo buys a web widget company for a few tens of millions, nobody usually pays much attention. This week, however, Yahoo’s purchase of Summly is making international headlines, but for all the wrong reasons—reasons that entirely miss why Summly is exciting. Most of the stories focus on the fact that Summly’s CEO, Nick D'Aloisio, is 17 years old, and sold the company for as much as $30 million. Other than stirring feelings of tremendous inadequacy in most of us, that story will get boring in a few days.   More