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Archive for the ‘economics’ category: Page 4

Jul 30, 2019

America is drowning in garbage. Now robots are being put on duty to help solve the recycling crisis

Posted by in categories: economics, health, robotics/AI, sustainability

To tackle this environmental catastrophe, U.S. companies and researchers are developing AI-assisted robotic technology that can work with humans in processing plants and improve quality control. The goal is to have robots do a better job at sorting garbage and reduce the contamination and health hazards human workers face in recycling plants every day. Sorting trash is a dirty and dangerous job. Recycling workers are more than twice as likely as other workers to be injured on the job, according to a report at the University of Illinois School of Public Health. The profession also has high fatality rates.


The U.S. is facing a recycling crisis that is burying cities and towns in tens of millions of tons of garbage a day. The problem began last year when China, the world’s largest recyclable processor, stopped accepting most American scrap plastic and cardboard due to contamination problems, and a glut of plastics overwhelming its own processing facilities. Historically, China recycled the bulk of U.S. waste.

Contamination in the U.S. is high since recyclables are often dumped into one bin instead of multi-streamed or separated from the source. Now China has strict standards for recycling materials it will accept, requiring contamination levels in a plastic bale, for example, contain one-tenth of 1%.

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Jul 28, 2019

AI event in Seattle brings together Japanese companies and U.S. innovators

Posted by in categories: business, economics, ethics, governance, robotics/AI

Seventy-five people filed into a Washington State Convention Center meeting room Wednesday to hear about the latest advancements in artificial intelligence. In a pitching session reminiscent of a speed-dating event, about 10 Northwest startups hurriedly shared their accomplishments and aspirations with Japanese investors eager to stoke business relationships.

Master of ceremonies Tom Sato, co-founder of Kirkland-based investing firm Innovation Finders Capital, lightened the mood by cracking jokes as he translated the English-speaking founders’ business plans into Japanese, cautioning the attendees that he faced a challenge: “I have to understand what the hell they’re talking about.”

The A.I. Age | This 12-month series of stories explores the social and economic questions arising from the fast-spreading uses of artificial intelligence. The series is funded with the help of the Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative. Seattle Times editors and reporters operate independently of our funders and maintain editorial control over the coverage.

Jul 28, 2019

Jack Ma’s $290 Billion Loan Machine Is Changing Chinese Banking

Posted by in categories: business, economics, finance, mobile phones

The financial-technology boom that turned China into the world’s biggest market for electronic payments is now changing how banks interact with companies that drive most of the nation’s economic growth. As MYbank and its peers crunch reams of new data from payment systems, social media and other sources, they’re growing more comfortable with smaller borrowers that they previously shunned in favor of state-owned giants.


Jack Ma’s online bank is leading a quiet revolution in the way China lends to small businesses, taking aim at a credit bottleneck that has held back Asia’s largest economy for decades.

Using real-time payments data and a risk-management system that analyzes more than 3,000 variables, Ma’s four-year-old MYbank has lent 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) to nearly 16 million small companies. Borrowers apply with a few taps on a smartphone and receive cash almost instantly if they’re approved. The whole process takes three minutes and involves zero human bankers. The default rate so far: about 1%.

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Jul 23, 2019

Microsoft invests in and partners with OpenAI to support us building beneficial AGI

Posted by in categories: economics, robotics/AI, supercomputing

Microsoft is investing $1 billion in OpenAI to support us building artificial general intelligence (AGI) with widely distributed [https://openai.com/charter/]

Economic benefits. We’re partnering to develop a hardware and software platform within Microsoft Azure which will scale to AGI. We’ll jointly develop new Azure.

AI supercomputing technologies, and Microsoft will become our exclusive cloud provider—so we’ll be working hard together to further extend Microsoft Azure’s capabilities in large-s.

Jul 22, 2019

Reno Tech Boom Prompts $1B Neon Line District

Posted by in categories: economics, entertainment

A developer is betting $1 billion on the largest development ever in Reno, Nevada, as the city reduces its economic reliance on the gambling industry.

Jacobs Entertainment Corplans to transform a 20-block area on the west side of Downtown Reno into a residential and entertainment district called the Neon Line District.

Colorado-based Jacobs Entertainment, led by chairman and CEO Jeffrey Jacobs, is known locally for two gambling properties in Reno, the Gold Dust West Casino and the Sands Regency Casino. According to the company’s website, Jacobs developed a similar district in Cleveland, the Nautica Entertainment Complex, which has 2 million visitors a year.

Jul 17, 2019

A ‘repair economy’ might fix more than just stuff. It could fix us as well

Posted by in category: economics

From: environment — world economic forum


Repairing goods, rather than disposing of them, might not only have environmental and economic benefits, but social ones too.

Jul 16, 2019

What is a ‘paper wallet?’ Do I need one?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

This post is structured as a question-&-answer. That’s because it was originally an answer at Quora, a Q&A site at which I am a Bitcoin columnist.

What is a ‘Paper Wallet’

A paper wallet is the ultimate offline wallet. It simply means that the private address to your crypto wallet is printed on paper — either as a string of characters, a QR code, or a series of seed recovery words.

If you destroy any electronic copy of your original wallet (e.g. the private keys that give you access to your wealth), then hiding this piece of paper is very similar to hiding a bar of gold. The only way that someone can steal it or know the amount it represents is to get their eyes and hands on something physical. They would need to know that you tucked it into your mattress or behind a secret panel of your cellar wall.

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Jul 16, 2019

AI Drug Hunters Could Give Big Pharma a Run for Its Money

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, health, robotics/AI

But a less-noticed win for DeepMind, the artificial-intelligence arm of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., at a biennial biology conference could upend how drugmakers find and develop new medicines. It could also dial up pressure on the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies to prepare for a technological arms race. Already, a new breed of upstarts are jumping into the fray.


Alphabet’s DeepMind cracked a problem that long vexed biologists, heating up a technological arms race in health care.

Jul 15, 2019

Is Immortality Worth It?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, life extension

Any major breakthrough in extending human life would drastically alter population projections. The social effects, while obviously huge, would depend on whether the years of senility were prolonged, too; whether women’s age at menopause would increase; and how families would be structured if many generations were alive at the same time. Expensive treatments to extend human lives could also have implications for inequality; as in many other areas of technology, the wealthy would be most able to afford such services.


Almost everyone would welcome an extension of their healthy lifespan, and some scientists are looking at increasingly extreme ways to achieve that. But any major breakthrough in this area could have unwanted and far-reaching demographic, social, and economic implications.

CAMBRIDGE – Humans have long sought the elixir of youth, so it is not surprising that even non-scientists closely follow the latest research into aging. But is what most people consider simply a fact of life actually a “disease” that can be cured? Or is there some insurmountable limit to the lifespan of human bodies?

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Jul 14, 2019

About the Fuss: Is Bitcoin really important?

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics

This afternoon, an automated bot at Quora suggested that I answer a reader question. Quora is essentially an “Ask the expert” web site. It is the world’s largest, cataloged and indexed Q&A repository.

This is the question I was asked to answer:

Some pundits believe Bitcoin is a fad, while others seem to feel that it is better than sliced bread. I like sliced bread.* Is Bitcoin really that cool? —Or is it just a lot of Geeky hype?

One other columnist answered before me. Normally, I pass on an invitation, if a question has already been answered. But in this case, the individual answering the question has yet to see the light. He has wandered into the Church of the Blockchain, but he just didn’t realize that the man sweeping the floor is the prophet.

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