These are external links and will open in a new window Close share panel Image copyright Olam Digital technology is helping to transform the lives - and profits - of farmers. From apps to the blockchain technology behind bitcoin, farmers and smallholders are discovering new ways of doing business. Take Muhammed Adams, a cocoa farmer from Sefwi Madina in the remote western region of Ghana, who has been growing cocoa in the same way for 25 years.
And printing objects with anything other than plastics—in particular, metal—has been expensive and painfully slow. If widely adopted, it could change the way we mass-produce many products. It can also provide more precise control of the microstructure of metals. It plans to begin selling larger machines, designed for manufacturing, that are times faster than older metal printing methods.
The printing of metal parts is also getting easier. How can technology help small business Metal now offers software that generates designs ready for 3-D printing.
Users tell the program the specs of the object they want to print, and the software produces a computer model suitable for printing. The company plans to begin selling the printer in Just cells plucked from another embryo. Artificial Embryos Breakthrough Without using eggs or sperm cells, researchers have made embryo-like structures from stem cells alone, providing a whole new route to creating life.
Key Players University of Cambridge; University of Michigan; Rockefeller University Availability Now The researchers placed the cells carefully in a three-dimensional scaffold and watched, fascinated, as they started communicating and lining up into the distinctive bullet shape of a mouse embryo several days old.
She wants to study how the cells of an early embryo begin taking on their specialized roles. Synthetic human embryos would be a boon to scientists, letting them tease apart events early in development. And since such embryos start with easily manipulated stem cells, labs will be able to employ a full range of tools, such as gene editing, to investigate them as they grow.
Artificial embryos, however, pose ethical questions. What if they turn out to be indistinguishable from real embryos? How long can they be grown in the lab before they feel pain?
We need to address those questions before the science races ahead much further, bioethicists say. A new project in Toronto, called Quayside, is hoping to change that pattern of failures by rethinking an urban neighborhood from the ground up and rebuilding it around the latest digital technologies.
Sensing City Breakthrough A Toronto neighborhood aims to be the first place to successfully integrate cutting-edge urban design with state-of-the-art digital technology. Why It Matters Smart cities could make urban areas more affordable, livable, and environmentally friendly.
The plan calls for all vehicles to be autonomous and shared. Robots will roam underground doing menial chores like delivering the mail. The company intends to closely monitor public infrastructure, and this has raised concerns about data governance and privacy.
But Sidewalk Labs believes it can work with the community and the local government to alleviate those worries. That humility may help Quayside avoid the pitfalls that have plagued previous smart-city initiatives.
AI for Everybody Miguel Porlan Artificial intelligence has so far been mainly the plaything of big tech companies like Amazon, Baidu, Google, and Microsoft, as well as some startups.
For many other companies and parts of the economy, AI systems are too expensive and too difficult to implement fully. Why It Matters Right now the use of AI is dominated by a relatively few companies, but as a cloud-based service, it could be widely available to many more, giving the economy a boost.
Machine-learning tools based in the cloud are bringing AI to a far broader audience.
Google is challenging that with TensorFlow, an open-source AI library that can be used to build other machine-learning software.
Microsoft, which has its own AI-powered cloud platform, Azure, is teaming up with Amazon to offer Gluon, an open-source deep-learning library. Gluon is supposed to make building neural nets—a key technology in AI that crudely mimics how the human brain learns—as easy as building a smartphone app.
It is uncertain which of these companies will become the leader in offering AI cloud services. But it is a huge business opportunity for the winners. These products will be essential if the AI revolution is going to spread more broadly through different parts of the economy.
Currently AI is used mostly in the tech industry, where it has created efficiencies and produced new products and services. But many other businesses and industries have struggled to take advantage of the advances in artificial intelligence.
Sectors such as medicine, manufacturing, and energy could also be transformed if they were able to implement the technology more fully, with a huge boost to economic productivity.
So Amazon and Google are also setting up consultancy services.
Once the cloud puts the technology within the reach of almost everyone, the real AI revolution can begin. But AI is hopeless at generating images of pedestrians by itself.
If it could do that, it would be able to create gobs of realistic but synthetic pictures depicting pedestrians in various settings, which a self-driving car could use to train itself without ever going out on the road.
Dueling Neural Networks Breakthrough Two AI systems can spar with each other to create ultra-realistic original images or sounds, something machines have never been able to do before.Our Encyclopedia of Small Business is a comprehensive and easily accessible reference source for entrepreneurs that demand practical information that can be applied to their own business.
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