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On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 17:00

Can genome-editing technology revive the idea of genetically modified livestock?

Four years ago, Scott Fahrenkrug saw an ABC News segment about the dehorning of dairy cows, a painful procedure that makes the animals safer to handle. The shaky undercover video showed a black-and-white Holstein heifer moaning and bucking as a farmhand burned off its horns with a hot iron.

On the Horns of the GMO Dilemma

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 17:00

Can genome-editing technology revive the idea of genetically modified livestock?

Four years ago, Scott Fahrenkrug saw an ABC News segment about the dehorning of dairy cows, a painful procedure that makes the animals safer to handle. The shaky undercover video showed a black-and-white Holstein heifer moaning and bucking as a farmhand burned off its horns with a hot iron.

Hidden Obstacles for Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 00:00

Impressive progress hides major limitations of Google’s quest for automated driving.

Would you buy a self-driving car that couldn’t drive itself in 99 percent of the country? Or that knew nearly nothing about parking, couldn’t be taken out in snow or heavy rain, and would drive straight over a gaping pothole?

A Headset Meant to Make Augmented Reality Less of a Gimmick

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 00:00

A novel optical technique could overlay virtual imagery on the real world through a compact pair of glasses.

Andrew Maimone thinks augmented reality hasn’t been much more than a gimmick so far.

Insect Farming Is Taking Shape as Demand for Animal Feed Rises

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 00:00

As the world grows hungrier for animal protein, insects could be the new way to feed livestock.

Most farmers go to great lengths to keep insects at bay. For a growing cadre of livestock and fish producers though, bugs have never been so welcome.

2014 Visionaries | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

People who are reimagining how technology might solve perennial human problems.

The History Inside Us

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

Improvements in DNA analysis are helping us rewrite the past and better grasp what it means to be human.

Every day our DNA breaks a little. Special enzymes keep our genome intact while we’re alive, but after death, once the oxygen runs out, there is no more repair. Chemical damage accumulates, and decomposition brings its own kind of collapse: membranes dissolve, enzymes leak, and bacteria multiply. How long until DNA disappears altogether? Since the delicate molecule was discovered, most scientists had assumed that the DNA of the dead was rapidly and irretrievably lost. When Svante Pääbo, now the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, first considered the question more than three decades ago, he dared to wonder if it might last beyond a few days or weeks. But Pääbo and other scientists have now shown that if only a few of the trillions of cells in a body escape destruction, a genome may survive for tens of thousands of years.

2014 Entrepreneurs | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

These innovators are creating businesses that will upend markets or create new ones.

2014 Pioneers | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

The frontiers of science provide ample space to explore innovation. Meet nine of the pioneers.

Love of Labor

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

Automation makes things easier, whether it’s on the factory floor or online. Is it also eroding too many of the valuable skills that define us as people?

Messages move at light speed. maps speak directions. Groceries arrive at the door. Floors mop themselves. Automation provides irresistible conveniences.

2014 Inventors | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

These people are inventing the devices and technologies that will redefine how we live and work.

2014 Humanitarians | Innovators Under 35

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

By applying technology in novel ways, they are improving lives and expanding opportunities.

In Praise of Efficient Price Gouging

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:05

Uber’s most important innovation is the way it prices its services. But that innovation has not been unreservedly welcomed by customers. They’re wrong.

Innovators Under 35 | 2014

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 00:01

Our 14th annual celebration of people who are driving the next generation of technological breakthroughs.

Robots Rising

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 00:00

Do robots kill jobs? Not necessarily.

The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 00:00

Who cares about Satoshi Nakamoto? Someone else has made Bitcoin what it is and has the most power over its destiny.

In March, a bewildered retired man faced journalists yelling questions about virtual currency outside his suburban home in Temple City, California. Dorian Nakamoto, 64, had been identified by Newsweek as the person who masterminded Bitcoin—a story that, like previous attempts to unmask its pseudonymous inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, was soon discredited. Meanwhile, the person arguably most responsible for enabling the currency to swell in value to $7.7 billion, and with the most influence on its future, was hiding in plain sight on the other side of the country, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

The Man Who Really Built Bitcoin

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 00:00

Who cares about Satoshi Nakamoto? Someone else has made Bitcoin what it is and has the most power over its destiny.

In March, a bewildered retired man faced journalists yelling questions about virtual currency outside his suburban home in Temple City, California. Dorian Nakamoto, 64, had been identified by Newsweek as the person who masterminded Bitcoin—a story that, like previous attempts to unmask its pseudonymous inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, was soon discredited. Meanwhile, the person arguably most responsible for enabling the currency to swell in value to $7.7 billion, and with the most influence on its future, was hiding in plain sight on the other side of the country, in Amherst, Massachusetts.

A Chinese Internet Giant Starts to Dream

Thu, 08/14/2014 - 00:00

Baidu is a fixture of online life in China, but it wants to become a global power. Can one of the world’s leading artificial- intelligence researchers help it challenge Silicon Valley’s biggest companies?

Punk bands from Blondie to the Ramones once played in Broadway Studios, an age-worn 95-year-old neoclassical building surrounded by strip clubs in San Francisco’s North Beach. But early on this bright June morning, a different sort of rock star arrives. A small crowd attending a tech startup conference swarms around a tall, soft-spoken man in a blue dress shirt and navy suit who politely poses for photos. Andrew Ng, newly appointed chief scientist at Baidu, China’s dominant search company, is here to talk about his plans to advance deep learning, a powerful new approach to artificial intelligence loosely modeled on the way the brain works. It has already made computers vastly better at recognizing speech, translating languages, and identifying images—and Ng’s work at Google and Stanford University, where he was a professor of computer science, is behind some of the biggest breakthroughs. After his talk, the audience of about 200 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and tech workers sends him off with two rounds of applause.

Bendable Displays Are Finally Headed to Market

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 00:00

Flexible displays haven’t been usable as touch screens, or durable—those problems have now been solved.

By the end of this year, a startup called Kateeva will start shipping manufacturing equipment that could finally bring flexible displays to market.

Turning a Regular Smartphone Camera into a 3-D One

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 17:13

Microsoft researchers say simple hardware changes and machine learning techniques let a regular smartphone camera act as a depth sensor.

Just about everybody carries a camera nowadays by virtue of owning a cell phone, but few of these devices capture the three-dimensional contours of objects like a depth camera can.

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