IBM launches quantum computing as a cloud service
By Ron Miller
Quantum computing is still very much in the early research stage, but IBM is hoping to accelerate the progress around it by making a quantum computer available to researchers as a cloud service. It is a bold and ambitious idea, although still very much a small step in trying to understand quantum computing processing. IBM is allowing interested parties to access a 5 qubit quantum computer it’s calling IBM Quantum Experience. The actual hardware is sitting in the IBM Research Lab in New York State. IBM is providing a programming interface and the ability to run experimental programs on an actual quantum computer.
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Tesla’s “Bioweapon Defense Mode” is Ingenious
By Will Oremus
Far from being the Model X’s “most ridiculous feature,” as one tech blog dubbed it, Elon Musk’s bioweapon defense mode could end up being one of Tesla’s biggest selling points in at least one key market: China. It isn’t that drivers in China are paranoid about bioterror attacks. It’s that many of them deal on a daily basis with oppressive air pollution, a major quality-of-life issue in some of the country’s largest cities. For China’s wealthy, the Model X may offer a haven from the smog that no other vehicle can match.
Robots to Save Food Crisis
By Oliver Mitchell
Our global population is devouring food in record numbers, depleting valuable resources at alarming rates. The romantic vision of a family farm is more of a postcard of our nostalgic past. Today, agriculture is big business that relies heavily on data driven technologies and robotics to maximize yield. Today’s farmers spend their days surveying dashboards full of data gathered from the 20 or so iPhones and five iPads they’ve supplied to their employees, who report on the acreage in real time, thanks to software from a Google-funded startup called Granular. Data gathered from aircraft, self-driving tractors and other forms of automated and remote sensors—for yield, moisture and soil quality—are also essential to 21st century agriculture.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
Here's what it would take for the US to run on 100% renewable energy
By David Roberts
Not only is it possible for the United States to run the economy completely on renewable energy, it would also save trillions of dollars a year. This article details a bold plan for how to get us there by 2050. The report’s author takes the "veil of ignorance" approach. What kind of power system would you choose for society if you had no idea where you might be placed in that society? If you didn't know whether you'd be rich or poor, living in a gated suburb or right next to a power plant or waste dump? You'd probably design a system that is equitable and healthy for everyone.
The Ocean Cleanup wins the Nobel Prize of Sustainability
By Karin Kloosterman
The finalists for the Katerva Award, the Nobel Prize for Sustainability, developed businesses to tackle everything from cleaning up the oceans to wireless car charging. Some 3,500 ideas were submitted to the Katerva Award council last year and The Ocean Cleanup was selected as this year’s winner–as a force to reverse plastic pollution at sea, using a massive current-powered sieve. Making sure there is a future is always good for business.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
TTIP expected to fail after US demands leaked
By Glynn Moody
Bernd Lange, the chairman of the European Parliament's important trade committee, has indicated that he now expects the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations will probably fail, following a major leak of confidential documents from the talks. One leaked chapter indicates that the US wants all regulations, even those concerning health and safety or environmental issues, to be judged by the yardstick of their effects on trade. In practice, this means that companies will be able to challenge any new EU and US regulations that might have an adverse effect on their profits, as is often the case when new environment regulations are brought in.
US businesses sharing ownership with employees
By Marc Gunther
Best known for its Fat Tire beer, New Belgium is one of a small, but growing number of worker-owned US companies. Others include Publix Supermarkets, which operates more than 1,100 grocery stores in the southeast; CH2M Hill, a big engineering and construction firm; and WL Gore, a manufacturer of cables and medical devices best known for its Gore-Tex fabric. It’s a simple idea, but as the United States works to curb inequality, there may be few solutions that could so directly, tangibly and quickly help those hurt by the wealth gap.
Left Behind by Seattle’s Tech Boom
By Kirk Johnson
The New York Times
Look outside almost any window at the Guest Rooms homeless shelter, and the view speaks of wealth and power that the residents inside all lack. Construction cranes claw the sky. Trucks hauling steel or concrete rubble shake the streets. Amazon is building out its headquarters campus in every direction as it and other tech companies reshape the city and its work force. But as tens of thousands of newcomers and longtime residents are finding, the allure of the tech economy comes with big risks and dangers in the rapidly climbing housing and rent prices that have shocked them. The boom has brought with it a crisis of homelessness that the mayor has declared an emergency.
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
Could a Lack of Water Cause Wars?
By Pola Lem
Water scarcity is expected to increase globally as populations boom and climate change sharpens uncertainty around the resource's availability, according to a report by the World Bank. The conclusion adds to a growing body of research, and it comes days before this year's Climate Action 2016 summit in Washington, D.C. The report highlights the importance of water to human health, agriculture, and geopolitical stability. Water scarcity is expected to cost a swath of countries in regions such as sub-Saharan and northern Africa, the Middle East, and large parts of Asia roughly 6 percent of their gross domestic product, the report found. That's under a scenario in which emissions continue to be released as they are today.
Data innovation and partnerships for better cities
By Steve Hamilton and Jenny Dai
This much the development community knows to be true: the world is urbanizing and globalizing at a breakneck pace. By 2050, 2 billion new people will live in cities, largely driven by growth in small and medium-sized cities in Africa and Asia. As a result of this shift, built up areas will triple and requirements for housing and infrastructure—schools, transport, utilities and basic services—will continue to increase. Faced with this level of need, city governments around the world should act now to seek to optimize increasingly limited resources and better plan for more economically vibrant, inclusive, liveable, and resilient cities.
The world is building fences--and we should worry
By Wolfgang Lehmacher
World Economic Forum
Large parts of the world are going through a phase of increasing disintegration: the Brexit referendum, discussions about the exclusion of Greece from the Eurozone and the beginning of the construction of fences along the green borders of barrier-free Schengen. Austria has begun building an anti-migrant barrier across the Brenner Pass at the Italian border. US presidential hopeful Donald Trump wants to build a wall at the Mexican border. But what would be the impact of reestablishing barriers? Widespread disruptions to travel and labor markets, increase consumer prices, and Europe may find itself at a severe disadvantage disintegrating while Asia becomes more interconnected.
Breaking The Prison Cycle By Employing Former Inmates
By Courtney Hutchison
Though the U.S. incarcerates more of its residents than anywhere else in the world, it is arguably one of the hardest places to find employment if you have a criminal record. Of the 650,000 people released from state prisons each year, up to 75% will still be unemployed a year after their release, often despite applying to hundreds of positions. The question America needs to be asking itself is whether it's tenable to keep such a large and growing proportion of its population at the fringe.
Are Smart Guns the Answer to America's Gun Problem?
By Mike Brunker and Kristin Donnelly
The White House hopes it can finally launch smart gun technology—childproof weaponry aimed at stopping accidental shootings and increasing gun safety. The administration is, for the first time, trying to put in place the requirements needed so law enforcement could eventually use smart guns. It's using findings in a new report from the Defense, Homeland Security and Justice Departments — agencies that were directed in January to look into the matter as Obama advocated gun reforms. Gun safety advocates say the technology is promising, but needs more research to ensure it actually works.
Solitary Confinement Is Now Banned In Country’s Largest Juvenile Justice System
By Carimah Townes
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed to outlaw solitary confinement for young offenders doing time in the country’s largest juvenile justice system. That means 1,200 juveniles will be kept out of dirty and “deplorable” restrictive housing in 16 juvenile halls and camps, come September. Criminal justice advocates and scientists have long considered solitary confinement a form of psychological torture that also causes damage to the brain. Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl proposed the ban, citing atrocious conditions and research that says solitary reduces the likelihood of juveniles’ rehabilitation.