Flood-resistant rice is now spreading as fast as the waters themselves. Five years after the first field trials, 5m farmers across the world are planting more than a dozen varieties of rice with flood-resistant genes, collectively called “Sub 1”. They are proliferating even faster than new rice varieties during the heady early days of the first green revolution in the 1960s. “And Sub 1 is the first of a new generation of seeds,” says Mr Zeigler. If all goes well, over the next few years plants that tolerate drought, salinity and extreme heat will revolutionise the cultivation of mankind’s most important source of calories. But that will depend on the technology working as promised and, in particular, on public policies that support a second green revolution.
Policy Horizons Canada’s latest foresight study examines how four emerging technologies (digital technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and neuroscience technologies) could drive disruptive social and economic change over the next 10 to 15 years.
“These technologies will impact almost every sector of the economy. One of the most disruptive features of several of the technologies is they increase productivity with fewer workers. Artificial intelligence (like Apple's Siri) combined with data analytics could dramatically change the service sector with fewer workers. In a growing number of sectors, 3D printing could change the economics and location of manufacturing. Synthetic biology could change the economics and flow of raw materials in agriculture, forestry, energy and mining. Governments, business and society will have to work together to ensure there are innovative policies and institutions in place to ride the next wave of technological change. The next 10 to 15 years will be an era of transition. Almost every major piece of infrastructure will likely be under pressure to keep up in areas like skills development, health care, transportation and security. Ignoring or underestimating the rate of change could very well undermine our competitiveness, preparedness and resilience.”
“In this sedate Northamptonshire town, timetable compiler John Potter refused to let publication be derailed. After the bank refused him a personal loan, he remortgaged his house and used his severance pay from Thomas Cook to buy the rights and specialist software to create the "red book. He and a handful of colleagues produced the first European Rail Timetable.”
“ Readers are delighted. "The legendary continental will survive!" proclaims one email from a loyal reader. Another, a booking clerk on German railways from 1970-1991, thanks them for bringing back "my bible." One woman says her husband "needs his monthly fix." A grateful Swiss timetable compiler sent a large box of pralines. One Internet-meme-savvy fan sent a picture of his cat looking sad atop the August 2013 edition.”
Fortune interview with Sebastian Thrun, CEO of Udacity
“Facebook has a class internally that they used to be teaching just to internal engineers to become basic data scientists. And we digitized on this specific class so everybody in the world can become a data scientist at the level a Facebook engineer is required to be a data scientist. You might argue this is kind of giving away some of the competitive advantage, but the truth is it's really great for the world that now everybody in the world can take this class, free of charge actually, and tool themselves up, to be able to educate themselves with our help. Obviously the class doesn't contain any confidential Facebook information. It's at a level which is industrywide, and Udacity as a policy only accepts these kind of classes. We don't do proprietary classes because we are really passionate about democratizing education.”
Marchetti sought to bring the exclusive world of luxury and the highly accessible world of e-commerce together. Before his plan could succeed, he had to achieve the impossible: Convince tech-averse luxury designers to trust him with their storied brands.
You could say that he has succeeded. Today, Yoox is a $605 million business. The Italian company designs and operates online stores for 37 luxury brands, including Armani, Alexander McQueen, and Brunello Cucinelli. Yoox handles merchandising, digital production, packaging, and delivery on behalf of its clients, in essence becoming a one-stop-shop for luxury brands just now trying to understand online sales.
One of the treats during my visit to Chicago this week was a visit to the Field Museum – in particular an archive of the 1893 Worlds Fair in the town.
The world was introduced to Wrigley’s gum and the Ferris Wheel at the fair. It was also a major showpiece for electricity – Tesla’s alternating current had its moment in the sun.
Darwin’s writings about various species and the importance then of mining, forestry, whaling and other fishing were particularly prominent in the exhibits. Photo above shows minerals - amethyst, tourmaline and fluorite and below of other natural resources - Oils, resins, grains, wood chippings and fibers from the exhibit.
Later walking around the museum and seeing other exhibits about today’s protection of the Amazon forests, the impact of fracking on our prairieland and about asteroid mining and DNA analysis was poignant.
We have come so far in 120 years, and yet in some ways we are still so primitive.
There are already legendary islands off China’s southern coast where the millions travel to play games of chance. Soon an additional island (Hengqin) will host throngs of gamers turning out to watch others play Xbox, complete with a 15,000-seat arena.
The arena will be the centerpiece of a $2.8 billion gaming theme park. A Hong Kong-based developer, Lai Fung Group, has just announced plans to build the video game complex. A handful of dedicated facilities for video game competitions have begun to emerge, part of a trend that marks a sort of coming of age for “e-sports.”