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Mar 7, 2021

Central banks around the world want to get into digital currencies—here’s why

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cryptocurrencies, economics, finance, food, government, surveillance

Advocates contend central bank digital currencies can make cross-border transactions easier, promote financial inclusion and provide payment system stability. There are also privacy and surveillance risks with government-issued digital currencies. And in times of economic uncertainty, people may be more likely to pull their funds from commercial banks, accelerating a bank run.


Intense interest in cryptocurrencies and the Covid-19 pandemic have sparked debate among central banks on whether they should issue digital currencies of their own.

China has been in the lead in developing its own digital currency. It’s been working on the initiative since 2014. Chinese central bank officials have already conducted massive trials in major cities including Shenzhen, Chengdu and Hangzhou.

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Feb 23, 2021

Archer Aviation aims to launch network of urban air taxis in Los Angeles by 2024

Posted by in categories: finance, government, sustainability, transportation

Archer Aviation, the electric aircraft startup that recently announced a deal to go public via a merger with a blank-check company, plans to launch a network of its urban air taxis in Los Angeles by 2024.

The announcement comes two months after the formation of the Urban Air Mobility Partnership, a one-year initiative between Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office, the Los Angeles Department of Transportation and Urban Movement Labs to develop a plan for how to integrate urban aircraft into existing transportation networks and land use policies. Urban Movement Labs, launched in November 2019, is a public-private partnership involving local government and companies to develop, test and deploy transportation technologies. Urban Movement Labs and the city of Los Angeles are working on the design and access of “vertiports,” where people can go to fly on an “urban air mobility” aircraft. Urban air mobility, or UAM, is industry-speak for a highly automated aircraft that can operate and transport passengers or cargo at lower altitudes within urban and suburban areas.

Archer Aviation’s announcement comes two weeks since it landed United Airlines as a customer and an investor in its bid to become a publicly traded company via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Archer Aviation reached an agreement in early February to merge with special purpose acquisition company Atlas Crest Investment Corp., an increasingly common financial path that allows the startup to eschew the once traditional IPO process. The combined company, which will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange with ticker symbol “ACHR,” will have an equity valuation of $3.8 billion.

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Feb 18, 2021

Recogni raises $48.9 million for AI-powered perception chips

Posted by in categories: finance, robotics/AI, transportation

Recogni, a startup developing a perception system for autonomous vehicles, has raised $48.9 million in venture capital.

Feb 17, 2021

SoftBank presses Vision Fund companies to seize IPO chance

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, finance

TOKYO — SoftBank Group has urged some of its high-profile portfolio companies to accelerate plans for stock market listings, telling them they should capitalize on strong investor appetite for the booming tech sector.

The Japanese tech investment group led by Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son hopes many of the businesses in its nearly $100 billion Vision Fund will tap the bullish sentiment for tech companies after the coronavirus pandemic, sources familiar with SoftBank’s strategy say.

Feb 15, 2021

A new framework for robotics applications that merges reservoir computing with origami

Posted by in categories: finance, robotics/AI

Reservoir computing is a highly promising computational framework based on artificial recurrent neural networks (RNNs). Over the past few years, this framework was successfully applied to a variety of tasks, ranging from time-series predictions (i.e., stock market or weather forecasting), to robotic motion planning and speech recognition.

Feb 14, 2021

In Nevada desert, a technology firm aims to be a government

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, finance, government, law enforcement

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — In the Nevada desert, a cryptocurrency magnate hopes to turn dreams of a futuristic “smart city” into reality. To do that, he’s asking the state to let companies like his form local governments on land they own, which would grant them power over everything from schools to law enforcement.

Jeffrey Berns, CEO of Nevada-based Blockchains LLC, envisions a city where people not only purchase goods and services with digital currency but also log their entire online footprint — financial statements, medical records and personal data — on blockchain. Blockchain is a digital ledger known mostly for recording cryptocurrency transactions but also has been adopted by some local governments for everything from documenting marriage licenses to facilitating elections.

The company wants to break ground by 2022 in rural Storey County, 12 miles (19 kilometers) east of Reno. It’s proposing to build 15000 homes and 33 million square feet (3 million square meters) of commercial and industrial space within 75 years. Berns, whose idea is the basis for draft legislation that some lawmakers saw behind closed doors last week, said traditional government doesn’t offer enough flexibility to create a community where people can invent new uses for this technology.

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Feb 10, 2021

Flip-Flops Made From Plants And Algae Can Help Reduce Plastic Pollution | World Wide Waste

Posted by in categories: business, finance, food, sustainability

Flip flops from plants. 😃


Researchers at the University of California San Diego have figured out how to turn algae into flip flops. They founded a startup to sell the shoe, but face a challenge in getting their invention mass produced: There aren’t enough algae farms to support the startup’s supply chain.

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Jan 30, 2021

What are hedge funds, and how did they (accidentally) cause GameStop’s massive surge?

Posted by in category: finance

What’s driving GameStop’s astronomical surge is an unusual battle between Reddit nerds and Wall Street’s billion-dollar hedge funds. But what is a “hedge fund”, you may ask? We explain it all (very simply) here.

Jan 28, 2021

This is why mental health should be a political priority

Posted by in categories: finance, neuroscience

It’s an age-old question: does money make us happier? The answer, it seems, is yes, when it comes to the links between poverty and poor mental health. The good news is that, according to a new study, targeted financial support and low-cost therapeutic interventions can help.

Jan 26, 2021

Wingcopter raises $22 million to expand to the US and launch a next-generation drone

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, drones, finance

German drone technology startup Wingcopter has raised a $22 million Series A – its first significant venture capital raise after mostly bootstrapping. The company, which focuses on drone delivery, has come a long way since its founding in 2017, having developed, built and flown its Wingcopter 178 heavy-lift cargo delivery drone using its proprietary and patented tilt-rotor propellant mechanism, which combines all the benefits of vertical take-off and landing with the advantages of fixed-wing aircraft for longer-distance horizontal flight.

This new Series A round was led by Silicon Valley VC Xplorer Capital, as well as German growth fund Futury Regio Growth. Wingcopter CEO and founder Tom Plümmer explained in an interview that the addition of an SV-based investor is particularly important to the startup, since it’s in the process of preparing its entry into the U.S., with plans for an American facility, both for flight testing to satisfy FAA requirements for operational certification, as well as eventually for U.S.-based drone production.

Wingcopter has already been operating commercially in a few different markets globally, including in Vanuatu in partnership with Unicef for vaccine delivery to remote areas, in Tanzania for two-way medical supply delivery and in Ireland where it completed the world’s first delivery of insulin by drone beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), the industry’s technical term for when a drone flies beyond the visual range of a human operator who has the ability to take control in case of emergencies.

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