Innovation Watch

By David Forrest | THE FUTURE IS HERE innovationwatch.com ...strategic foresight... ...breakthrough innovations... ...global trends...

Alibaba Affiliate Ant Financial Raises Record $4.5 Billion

Ant Financial Services Group, the financial-services affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., closed the world’s largest private fundraising round for an Internet company at $4.5 billion, giving it a roughly $60 billion valuation.<p>Ant Financial, which operates Alipay, China’s …

Asia

The Future Of Open Access: Why Has Academia Not Embraced The Internet Revolution?

More than any other technology, the web has revolutionized access to the world’s information, putting everything from recipes to encyclopedias to books to news at the fingertips of anyone with an internet connection anywhere on the planet. The web’s role in democratizing access to global …

Open Access

Facebook is bulking up satellite capacity to offer cheap internet access to Africa

Facebook is pushing ahead with plans to bring more internet access to sub-Saharan Africa by leasing bandwidth capacity on three satellites currently in orbit. It will be used for its subsidized Express Wi-Fi paid service, which is part of its Internet.org program.<p>The social media giant’s …

Facebook

Siemens is building a swarm of robot spiders to 3D-print objects together

3D printing is still in its infancy, but it’s starting to show signs that it might revolutionize the way we manufacture products. That said, current technology won’t allow us to make anything larger than the printing machines themselves. Some smart people have suggested that we should look to …

Robots

These 4 maps show how China is dominating global trade

We often use big, overarching ideas to help us understand the world and the opportunities contained within. These narratives, which can change over time, are used to create context. They give us a frame of reference for comprehending the news and events that affect our outlook on things.<p>China’s …

China

Can SpaceX really land on Mars? Absolutely, says an engineer who would know

The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket begins its reentry burn at an altitude of 70km. (credit: NASA)In September, 2014, a Falcon 9 rocket blasted …

NASA

America's Youngest Workers May Be the Least Stable Generation On Record

Millennials have the highest rates of anxiety, depression, and behavioral disorders in recent memory<p>College graduation is just around the corner, and many companies are gearing up to hire a fresh crop of future leaders in the coming months.<p>But when executives take a close look at the youngest …

Psychology

Elon Musk's $1 billion AI company launches a 'gym' where developers train their computers

OpenAI, a $1 billion (£687 million) artificial intelligence company backed by Elon Musk, has built a "gym" where developers can train their AI systems to get smarter.<p>Using OpenAI's open source toolkit, available for download now, developers can access "environments" where they can test their AI …

Elon Musk

Mapping The Disturbingly High Rates Of Food Insecurity In America

For the poor, food access is not a given—even in some of the most agriculturally rich places in the country.<p>America continues to have a lot of hungry people. Some statistics may have improved since the recession. But the nation's level of food insecurity—defined as lacking "access to enough food …

Maps

Mapping The Stunning Complexity Of The World's Shipping Routes

Researchers from the UCL Energy Institute plot 250 million data points to show the movements of the world’s commercial shipping fleet.<p>At any given moment, the world's oceans are teeming with fleets of commercial ships—carriers packed with barrels of oil, stacks of electronic equipment, or crates of …

Maps

Google Patent Application Shows Device That's Injected Directly Into Your Eyeball To Improve Vision

Google has a penchant for far-out tech that never reaches the market. The latest is a method of injecting an device into an eyeball, mostly as a means to correct poor vision. Described in a patent application dated April 28, 2016, the device is injected in fluid that then solidifies to couple the …

Google

5 charts that reveal how bad child inequality is in the rich world

Since Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book <i>Capital</i> took the world by storm in 2014, the issue of inequality – and the wide range of problems it causes – …

Social Justice

Why You Should Take Elon Musk’s 2018 Mars Shot Seriously

The hardware is shaping up for a trip to the Red Planet—and soon<p>NASA has some exciting news: a crewed landing on Mars is less than 20 years away. But NASA also has some less exciting news: a crewed landing on Mars has been less than 20 years away for the last fifty years.<p>That’s the problem when a …

NASA

A startup that just launched a few months ago thinks it's found a way to treat cancer, and it just got bought for up to $10 billion

Stemcentrx, a startup with backing from Silicon Valley investors including Artis Ventures and Founders Fund, was just acquired by AbbVie for $5.8 billion in cash and stock.<p>But the startup's investors could get up to $4 billion more if Stemcentrx hits successful milestones for clinical developments. …

Startups

Why Microsoft Just Bought 10 Million Strands of DNA

It’s all about the future of storage.<p>Microsoft msft . just bought 10 million strands of DNA from a San Francisco company called Twist Bioscience. Why? Data storage.<p>When you think about DNA and data, chances are you’re thinking about all that genetic information that can help further medical …

DNA

AstraZeneca, Venter's Human Longevity ink giant genome pact

The drive to scour the human genome for information on health and disease reached another milestone Friday,(4/22) when global drug giant AstraZeneca …

Mars landing by 2018 says SpaceX's Elon Musk

<b>Billionaire Elon Musk is planning to send his Dragon spacecraft to Mars as early as 2018.</b><p>Mr Musk has long targeted a trip to Mars and has previously said he can get humans to the red planet by 2026.<p>His company, SpaceX, is planning "Red Dragon" missions to Mars to test technology for bigger missions.<p>…

Elon Musk

The 3D Printing Technique Currently Challenging the Global Construction Industry

The construction industry has always pushed the boundaries of reality by introducing new architectural designs and construction methods that require …

Construction Industry

How Uber conquered London

Every week in London, 30,000 people download Uber to their phones and order a car for the first time. The technology company, which is worth $60bn, calls this moment “conversion”. Uber has deployed its ride-hailing platform in 400 cities around the world since its launch in San Francisco on 31 May …

Transportation

25 Geniuses Who Are Creating the Future of Business

Soon, software will know how you feel—and will use that data to sell you things. The gig economy will go global (but it’s not Uber-take-all). The …

The Future

Surprisingly, These 10 Professional Jobs Are Under Threat From Big Data

When you read or hear news stories about the imminent takeover of robots and algorithms that will eliminate jobs for human workers, many times the first examples given are blue-collar jobs like factory workers and taxi drivers. And you may have mentally congratulated yourself because your …

Employment

Are solar panels in cities like San Francisco about to change the face of urban centres?

As Ikea begins selling solar panels for the first time and as San Francisco introduces a law forcing all newly built buildings to have solar panels, we wonder what the future of solar energy means for the appearance of our urban landscapes.<p>This week San Francisco became the first major US city to …

Urban Ecology

Larry Page's dream of building a 'Google Island' could be coming true

Top executives from Google are reportedly weighing a pitch from its "smart city" spin-off Sidewalk Labs about taking over a section of a preexisting city and rebuilding it with a particular focus on technology, efficient infrastructure, and self-driving cars. According to <i>The</i> <i>Wall Street Journal</i><i>,</i> …

Google

Bossa Nova’s retail robots ensure store shelves are always stocked

Bossa Nova Robotics, a company specializing in building robotic technology for retailers, has raised $14 million to expedite the rollout of its robots in stores.<p>Founded out of Pittsburgh, with offices in San Francisco too, Bossa Nova has been developing its robot technology over the past few years, …

Robots

Can Big Data Resolve The Human Condition?

Back in the day, astronomers studied galaxies one at a time.<p>Data about each metropolis of stars had to be pieced together slowly. These individual studies were then combined so that a broader understanding of galaxies and their histories <i>as a whole</i> could slowly emerge.<p>Then, along came the Sloan …

Big Data

Insects have consciousness, a new study has found

Insects have a form of consciousness, according to a new paper that might show us how our own began.<p>Brain scans of insects appear to indicate that …

Insects

How a giant space umbrella could stop global warming

Our rapidly warming world could cause serious problems for civilisation in the decades to come. But could a giant space umbrella help cool down our planet? BBC Future investigates.<p>The race to find a solution to a rapidly warming world is one of the most pressing challenges facing our planet.<p>One …

World News

China is Building a Robot Army of Model Workers

Inside a large, windowless room in an electronics factory in south Shanghai, about 15 workers are eyeing a small robot arm with frustration. Near the …

Robots

The housing crunch is forcing the middle class out of major American cities

SAN FRANCISCO AND BOSTON — Anna Slavicek refuses to leave the Mission. As escalating housing costs drive her fellow teachers out of San Francisco, Ms. Slavicek stays put, determined to remain in the historic neighborhood where she has lived and taught for 22 years. To make rent, she shares a …

House Prices