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Today β€” July 17th 2019Yahoo! News Science News

Tiny Fighting Worms Make One of the Loudest Sounds in the Ocean

Tiny Fighting Worms Make One of the Loudest Sounds in the OceanTiny, feisty worms that live off the coast of Japan fight by headbutting each other -- and they aren't quiet about it. During these feuds, the worms emit one of the loudest sounds in the ocean, according to a new study.The source of the underwater hullabaloo is a nearly transparent segmented worm called the Leocratides kimuraorum, which lives inside sponges 279 to 554 feet (85 to 169 meters) deep off the coast of Japan. [The 12 Weirdest Animal Discoveries]These wigglies are just a tad more than an inch (29 millimeters) long and have lengthy tentacles and a big mouth (literally). These seemingly quiet creatures revealed their true nature under the spotlight in the lab. A group of researchers used an instrument called a hydrophone to record 15 pops that were emitted from three kimuraorums as they were fighting.In a marine feud researchers dub "mouth-fighting," the worms approached each other headfirst with their mouths open. During such encounters, the worms' pharynx muscles expand rapidly, creating a cavitation bubble that collapses and produces a loud "pop" while the worms launch into each other.The researchers found that these pops can reach 157 decibels in the water (which is a different measurement than decibels in the air). From right next to the water tank, the pops sounded like humans snapping their fingers, lead author Goto Ryutaro, an assitant professor at Kyoto University told Live Science. "Though they probably sound louder if you hear them in the water."The worms are as loud as snapping shrimps, which are one of the biggest noisemakers in the ocean, the authors wrote. What's more, they found that these worms did not make any noise when simply disturbed, they only did so when they were fighting.They "may use mouth-fighting to defend territory or living chambers from other worms," the authors wrote July 8 in the journal Current Biology. "A loud pop may be a byproduct of the rapid mouth attack, but it may also aid intraspecific communication." A loud noise could somehow determine the victor of the fight or even reveal the whereabouts of nearby worms, they wrote. * The 10 Strangest Animal Discoveries * 13 Extremely Weird Animal Feet * Strange Love: 10 Animals with Truly Weird Courtship RitualsOriginally published on Live Science.

  • July 17th 2019 at 16:20

Joshua Trees Will Be All-But-Extinct by 2070 Without Climate Action, Study Warns

Joshua Trees Will Be All-But-Extinct by 2070 Without Climate Action, Study WarnsJoshua trees -- some of the most unusual and iconic plants of the American Southwest -- have survived as a species for some 2.5 million years in the inhospitable Mojave Desert. Now, they may face imminent extinction due to climate change.In a new study published June 3 in the journal Ecosphere, researchers and volunteer scientists surveyed nearly 4,000 trees in southern California's Joshua Tree National Park to figure out where the oldest trees tended to thrive during historic periods of extreme heat and drought. (A single Joshua tree can live up to 300 years.) Then, the researchers estimated how much of these Joshua safe zones (or "refugia") would survive to the end of the century based on a range of climate change predictions. [Desert Green: Images of Joshua Tree National Park]The study authors found that, if greenhouse gas emissions are seriously curbed and summer temperatures are limited to an increase of 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius), about 19% of the park's Joshua tree habitat would survive after the year 2070.If no action is taken to reduce carbon emissions and summer temperatures rise by 9 F (5 C) or more, however, only 0.02% of the tree's habitat would survive to the end of the century -- leaving the rare tree a hair away from extinction."The fate of these unusual, amazing trees is in all of our hands," lead study author Lynn Sweet, a plant ecologist at the University of California, Riverside said in a statement. "Their numbers will decline, but how much depends on us." Survivors in the sandJoshua Tree National Park covers 1,200 square miles (3,200 square kilometers) of sandy, hilly terrain in the desert between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Arizona. The spiny-armed Joshua trees have survived millions of years of climate ups and downs by holding on to large amounts of water to carry them through the region's harshest droughts.However, the study authors wrote, young Joshua trees and seedlings aren't able to store enough water to weather these dry spells. During long droughts -- such as the epic, 376-week-long one that lasted from December 2011 to March 2019 in California -- various parts of the park became too parched to support young Joshua tree growth, preventing the species from reproducing properly.As global temperatures rise, more and longer droughts are expected to occur around the world, and that means fewer and fewer new Joshua trees surviving to adulthood. To find out which parts of the tree's desert habitat were safest and which were most at risk of drying up, a team of park researchers and volunteers counted thousands of trees in various parts of the park, noting each tree's height (which helped predict the tree's age) and the number of new sprouts in the area. They found that, in general, trees growing in higher-elevation spots, which tend to be cooler and retain more moisture, survived much better than those in lower, drier regions.The team compared these survey results with historic climate records to predict how much of the Joshua tree's habitat was likely to shrink as temperatures rise and rainfall decreases over the rest of the century. Under the best-case scenario, they found, just 1 in 5 Joshua trees will survive the next 50 years.Taking swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the only way to save the Joshua trees from extinction, the researchers found. However, even trees in the best-hydrated habitats will still face a serious threat from wildfires, which have also been occurring with greater frequency and intensity as the climate warms, they said. According to the researchers, fewer than 10% of Joshua trees survive when wildfires rush through their habitats -- thanks, in part, to car exhaust coating desert shrubs with flammable nitrogen. This, at least, is a threat that can be addressed on a local level, right now."Fires are just as much a threat to the trees as climate change, and removing grasses is a way park rangers are helping to protect the area today," Sweet said. "By protecting the trees, they're protecting a host of other native insects and animals that depend on them as well." * Spectacular Geology: Amazing Photos of the American Southwest * Of a Feather: Photos Reveal Stunning Birds of the Southwest * Desert Mistletoe: Photos of 'Tree Thieves' in the American SouthwestOriginally published on Live Science.

  • July 17th 2019 at 16:20

17 Photos People With Fibromyalgia Don’t Want You to See

17 Photos People With Fibromyalgia Don’t Want You to SeeFibromyalgia can sometimes be wrongly perceived as not a big deal, so our Mighty community shared photos to show what it's really like behind closed doors.

  • July 17th 2019 at 16:06

Scientists investigate why Alzheimer's disease affects more women than men

Scientists investigate why Alzheimer's disease affects more women than menAmerican scientists are studying the activity of a protein linked with Alzheimer's disease. According to researchers, the more rapid spread of this protein in the brains of women could explain why diagnoses of Alzheimer's occur more frequently in women than men. Alzheimer's disease, which destroys nerve cells in the brain, affects more women than men.

  • July 17th 2019 at 15:20

Merck's treatment for urinary, abdominal infections gets FDA approval

Merck's treatment for urinary, abdominal infections gets FDA approvalRecarbrio, approved for patients over 18 years of age, is a combination of a previously approved antibiotic imipenem-cilastatin and Merck's relebactam. Patients with urinary tract infections can develop complications if appropriate doses of the right antibiotics are not administered. At least 20% of complications are caused by multidrug-resistant bacteria that severely limit treatment options.

  • July 17th 2019 at 13:05

Why Brazilian farmers are using crypto coffee coins

Why Brazilian farmers are using crypto coffee coinsCrypto coffee coins could become a new standard for farmers throughout Brazil’s countryside. The coffee-pegged cryptocurrency will be used to buy not only farm products, but also food and even high-ticket items such as cars. Supplies of coffee will back the blockchain-based digital coin, and farmers willing to buy the cryptocurrency can do so against current and future production. This initiative belongs to Minasul, the largest Arabica coffee cooperative in Brazil. The challenges in coffee plantation production Currently, coffee plantation production involves around 25 million families worldwide. Farmers, together with small and large producers who cultivate and grow the beans, need sustainable tools to maintain growth and quality scaling. That’s because the demand for coffee beans is expected to exceedThe post Why Brazilian farmers are using crypto coffee coins appeared first on Coin Rivet.

  • July 17th 2019 at 10:00

Renault Dives In on Electric Car Venture in China

Renault Dives In on Electric Car Venture in China(Bloomberg) -- Renault SA will invest 128.5 million euros ($144 million) for a 50% stake in a venture with Jiangling Motors Corp. to develop electric vehicles in China, part of a push by the French company to make further inroads into the world’s biggest car market.The Chinese entity was created in 2015 and already holds certification to manufacture battery-electric passenger cars, according to a statement from Renault Wednesday. It aims to grow quickly and become a “prominent player” in the market.“This partnership in electric vehicle business with JMCG will support our growth plan in China and our EV capabilities,” Francois Provost, head of the China region at Renault, said in the statement. The venture will help Renault expand its electric capabilities beyond a production agreement with longstanding partner Nissan Motor Co. and Dongfeng Motor Corp., a spokeswoman said.Renault, which has so far had a limited presence in China, is moving forward with an electrification strategy that includes a new battery-powered car slated to go on sale in the Asian country this year. The company also plans to make hybrid versions of three existing models. Global automakers have been expanding cooperation with new-energy vehicle producers in China to meet government regulations on fuel consumption that were put in place this year.Renault’s move to expand further in China outside the Nissan-Dongfeng venture comes amid a crisis in its two-decade partnership with the Japanese company. Nissan has resisted merger overtures from Renault and withheld support for the French company’s failed plan to combine with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV.Renault also has plans to invest more than 1 billion euros to boost its production of electric cars in France -- a move that was aimed at smoothing relations with the French government, its biggest shareholder. Carmakers are spending billions of dollars to shift to battery-powered vehicles from diesel engines as the industry responds to a tightening of European emissions rules.(Updates with comments from Renault in third and fifth paragraphs.)\--With assistance from Tian Ying.To contact the reporters on this story: Tara Patel in Paris at tpatel2@bloomberg.net;Ania Nussbaum in Paris at anussbaum5@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net, Tara Patel, Christopher JasperFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 13:42

WHO reports new Ebola incident in Uganda amid fears of virus spreading

WHO reports new Ebola incident in Uganda amid fears of virus spreadingThe World Health Organization reported a new incidence of Ebola in Uganda on Wednesday, fuelling concerns that the virus may be spreading beyond Democratic Republic of Congo, as an expert panel weighs whether to sound the alarm internationally. The WHO said a Congolese fisherwoman travelled across the border to sell fish at Mpondwe market on July 11, where she had four vomiting incidents before returning to Congo and dying of Ebola. Ebola is highly infectious and spread through bodily fluids.

  • July 17th 2019 at 11:54

Big Tech Is Taking a Bipartisan Beating All Over Washington

Big Tech Is Taking a Bipartisan Beating All Over Washington(Bloomberg) -- Facebook, Google and Amazon grappled with multiple attacks across Washington from lawmakers and President Donald Trump over a range of grievances that underscored the kind of reckoning the companies could face.House Democrats on Tuesday grilled Amazon.com Inc. over perceived conflicts of interest on its platform, while senators from both parties slammed Facebook Inc. over its plan to introduce a cryptocurrency, saying the company can’t be trusted. Alphabet Inc.’s Google got broadsides from Senate Republicans who complained of anti-conservative bias and from Trump, who said he wants the Justice Department to look into its work in China.The pressure isn’t going away. Facebook Vice President David Marcus is facing another day of testimony Wednesday answering questions about its Libra cyrptocurrency project from the House Committee on Financial Services. Panel chairwoman Maxine Waters has called on the company to stop the project while Congress investigates.The technology platforms that came under fire Tuesday were darlings of official Washington in the Obama years as they grew to dominate their respective markets, from online retail to social media to digital advertising. That admiration has been swept away amid criticism from Republicans and Democrats over competition, privacy and control over content on their platform. At the root of the concerns is the view the companies have grown too big and powerful.Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio called Facebook “dangerous” while Representative David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, portrayed Amazon as a “trillion-dollar” retailing behemoth that that can crush sellers on its platform. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, suggested a Google was being evasive. “You’re managing to be less candid than Mark Zuckerberg,” he said, referring to the Facebook chairman and co-founder, who testified before Congress last year.The scrutiny by lawmakers threatens to go beyond criticism of the companies to rein in their business models. Across Capitol Hill Tuesday, lawmakers were zeroing on specific aspects of the companies’ businesses, raising the possibility of legislation aimed at toughening regulation of the industry.Cicilline, who is leading a House antitrust investigation into competition in digital markets, told reporters that his inquiry was still in the fact-gathering stage but that it should eventually lead to legislative steps. Tech companies are incapable of regulating themselves, he said.“I think it will absolutely require some action by Congress, either by way of regulation, new statutory enactments, new resources for antitrust agencies, more likely a combination of those three things,” he said.Cicilline’s committee questioned executives of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple Inc. about whether they are harming competition. Amazon faced particular criticism with Cicilline suggesting its business model suffers from conflicts of interest and that it can use its control over data to thwart competition from third-party sellers on its platform.Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton denied the company uses data it collects on sales to favor its own products over third-party sellers. He also argued that it’s common in the retail industry for stores to sell their own brands that compete against others.Cicilline fired back: “The difference is Amazon is a trillion-dollar company that runs an online platform with real-time data on millions of purchases and billions in commerce and can manipulate algorithms on its platform and favor its own product -- that is not the same as a local retailer,” he said.In a separate hearing, a bipartisan group of senators told Google’s global policy chief, Karan Bhatia, that they continued to have concerns about the breadth of a liability shield that protects platforms like YouTube and Facebook from lawsuits over content posted by third parties.Cruz, fellow Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri and Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Mazie Hirono of Hawaii cast doubt on part of a 1996 law that helped internet companies thrive, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, by providing the legal protection.Lawmakers increasingly want to limit that protection, which was already trimmed in cases of sex trafficking last year. They cite concerns about online abuse, hatred, election misinformation and allegations of anticonservative bias.At the Senate hearing on Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, years of missteps over its handling of data and user privacy and exploitation of its platform by Russia in the 2016 presidential campaign caught up with the social media platform as lawmakers from both parties assailed the company and called it untrustworthy.“I don’t trust Facebook,” said Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona, “and I’m not alone.”Brown, the committee’s ranking Democrat, denounced the company, calling it “dangerous” and comparing it to a toddler with a book of matches.“Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience,” he said.American officials, including Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Trump, have expressed skepticism about the Libra project. Facebook has other problems in Washington, including a privacy investigation by the Federal Trade Commission over a scandal involving political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Last week, the FTC approved a $5 billion settlement to resolve the case, but lawmakers and privacy advocates objected, saying that it didn’t go far enough.Regulators were aghast that the tech giant wasn’t able to address concerns about money laundering, consumer protection and other potential risks after Facebook presented a white paper to more than a dozen officials from the Treasury Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies about the Libra project, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.“The calls to break up, the calls for data privacy laws, the calls for concern around Libra and Calibra are all around this idea of kind of the abuse of the dominance of the platforms, the lack of accountability,” Ashkan Soltani, the former FTC chief technologist, told Bloomberg TV on Tuesday.\--With assistance from Daniel Stoller, Kurt Wagner, Robert Schmidt, Ben Bain and Gerrit De Vynck.To contact the reporters on this story: David McLaughlin in Washington at dmclaughlin9@bloomberg.net;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at btenerellabr@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at sforden@bloomberg.net, John HarneyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 10:00

Corrected: Apollo 11's astronauts snapped photos for science. Then came MTV

Corrected: Apollo 11's astronauts snapped photos for science. Then came MTVPeople collected and shared prints of the Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk, which also became the basis for artist Andy Warhol's colored prints "Moonwalk" and for MTV's logo when the music channel launched in 1981. The Apollo 11 astronauts - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins - were not trained in how to take photographs of each other but those were the ones that became most popular, said Jennifer Levasseur, curator of the space history department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Armstrong had the instinct to photograph Aldrin standing alone and told him - by radio transmission - to turn around for a picture, Levasseur said.

  • July 17th 2019 at 12:07

Apollo 11's astronauts snapped photos for science. Then came MTV

Apollo 11's astronauts snapped photos for science. Then came MTVPeople collected and shared prints of the Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk, which also became the basis for artist Andy Warhol's colored prints "Moonwalk" and for MTV's logo when the music channel launched in 1981. The Apollo 11 astronauts - Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins - were not trained in how to take photographs of each other but those were the ones that became most popular, said Jennifer Levasseur, curator of the space history department at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Armstrong had the instinct to photograph Aldrin standing alone and told him - by radio transmission - to turn around for a picture, Levasseur said.

  • July 17th 2019 at 12:03

Apollo 11 moon landing celebrated as pioneering milestone, but it was really about winning the space race

Apollo 11 moon landing celebrated as pioneering milestone, but it was really about winning the space raceNeil Armstrong was a heralded pioneer for walking on the moon in 1969. But John F. Kennedy was focused on the space race when he launched a moon shot.

  • July 17th 2019 at 12:00

New study finds wearing hearing aid could also help protect the brain against dementia

New study finds wearing hearing aid could also help protect the brain against dementiaNew UK research has found that people who wear a hearing aid for age-related hearing problems also appear to have better cognitive function as they age than those who don't. Carried out by researchers at the University of Exeter and King's College London, the new study looked at more than 25,000 people aged 50 or over, some of whom wore hearing aids. All participants were asked to take annual cognitive tests over a two-year period.

  • July 17th 2019 at 11:48

50 years after Apollo 11, don't let space become a landfill for equipment and satellites

50 years after Apollo 11, don't let space become a landfill for equipment and satellitesMuch of what we launch into space never comes back. As it becomes more commercialized, we must manage space traffic and protect the space environment.

  • July 17th 2019 at 11:00

How to Sell a Skeptical America On Funding theΒ New Space Race

How to Sell a Skeptical America On Funding the New Space Race(Bloomberg) -- On May 25, 1961, U.S. President John F. Kennedy said Americans would land a man on the moon and return him safely to Earth by the end of the decade. Fifty years ago this week, NASA fulfilled Kennedy’s pledge.But while the space agency marched toward the moon, the nation was consumed by politics—from the fight for civil rights to the Vietnam War. And while the Apollo program captured the imagination of Americans when the Eagle landed in the Sea of Tranquility, there was significant opposition to the program’s cost both before and after that historic moment.Now, after decades of less-ambitious manned space exploration, nations are aiming for the stars again—and trying to sell people on the expense. Elon Musk is leading the way among billionaire entrepreneurs with Space Exploration Technologies Corp., lofting rockets from the same Florida pad used by Apollo 11 and inspiring awe with balletic booster landings. NASA, meanwhile, has been working toward an inaugural blastoff of its Space Launch System, a vehicle that would play a key role in an international return to the moon, and eventually a mission to Mars.As in the 1960s, political division and terrestrial priorities have left many cold when it comes to space. While NASA has announced $50 million tourist trips to its side of the International Space Station (ISS) and even opened it to commercial use, getting people to look up at the night sky with fascination has become mission critical to getting public, political and financial support. Felix Lajeunesse, a Canadian and co-founder of a Montreal-based cinematic virtual reality (VR) studio, hopes to be part of the solution to NASA’s problem. The 38-year-old is the creative force behind a VR documentary effort aboard the ISS, working with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the U.S. National Laboratory aboard the station, and Time.While NASA has participated in many documentaries over the years and maintains a significant footprint on social media, this latest collaboration aims to leverage cutting-edge media technology at a time when the space program needs it most. The hope is to accomplish through cinematic VR what in 1969 was left to grainy television broadcasts.NASA plans to return astronauts to the lunar surface by 2024. But the program requires tens of billions of dollars in additional funding from Congress, and public support has been less than overwhelming. A recent poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Chicago shows Americans don’t consider exploration a priority. While 68% said it’s very or extremely important for the space program to monitor threatening asteroids, only 27% said the same about sending astronauts to Mars. Felix & Paul Studios, the six-year-old company co-founded by Lajeunesse, has worked with NASA before (as well as Cirque du Soleil and professional basketball star LeBron James). The planned six-part VR documentary, Space Explorers: The ISS Experience, which is to be released next year, may serve two goals—increasing popular interest in the nascent technology and sending humans back out into space.“What virtual reality brings is a sense of you being able as an audience member to experience these things first hand, as if you’re a crew member,” Lajeunesse said. “This emotional, visceral connection between the millions of people of planet Earth and space exploration through the medium of virtual reality is very real. That will ultimately better connect audiences to this universal project of space exploration.”A more recent survey may lend his endeavor some hope: Gallup found last week that (perhaps as a result of all the hoopla tied to the 50th anniversary) a majority of Americans expressed support for NASA, NASA funding, and, for the first time, a mission to Mars.The two-decade old ISS, a 460-ton platform orbiting 250 miles above Earth, has hosted both government and private research. Lately, it’s been home to an additional piece of equipment—a nine-lens VR camera customized by Felix & Paul to film some of the station’s personnel as they go about their daily lives.The 360-degree device captures experiments, exercise routines and social moments. It’s already documented preparations for capture and departure of the most recent supply ship sent aloft by SpaceX, and there are plans to record a space walk. One former NASA official said life aboard the ISS functions as a snapshot of what space exploration will look like in the future.“We’ve had humans living permanently in space for the past 18, going on 19, years,” said Dave Williams, 65, a former Canadian astronaut and the first non-American to serve as a senior manager for NASA. “When we think about sending humans back to the moon and creating a lunar gateway space station, it will be the same model.”Obtaining permission to film aboard the ISS—not to mention getting the equipment up there—took some doing, said Lajeunesse. Joining forces with Time, which has a history of projects with NASA (and is making its own documentary about the making of The ISS Experience), certainly helped.  With the camera in fixed positions, the astronauts are filmed doing specific activities or making personal observations to viewers. In one clip, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques discusses his initial difficulty moving around the station, and how hard it is to track time when every 24 hours includes 16 sunrises.Dylan Mathis, a communications manager for the ISS program, compared the effect of 360 cinematic VR has on today’s viewers to what broadcasting live, color television from the moon did for people in the 1970s.VR viewers of the documentary will be able to focus in on Saint-Jacques, or look left and catch a glimpse of his floating American counterpart, Anne McClain. In the background, mustard and hot sauce bottles can be seen. Secured to a table with Velcro, VR makes them appear to be with a viewer’s reach. In another segment, McClain can be seen exercising on different machines as she explains in voice over the negative impacts low gravity has on the human body.The ISS Experience will be available on VR platforms such as Oculus, as well as in augmented reality (AR), a format that lets users project digital images through mobiles phones or headsets. While growing, the market for VR and AR is far from mass adoption. Some 7.6 million headsets will be shipped worldwide this year, according to market research firm IDC—a 30% increase from 2018. Bloomberg Intelligence compares the industry in its current state to smartphones before the iPhone. Headsets are still bulky and their streaming band too weak, with disappointing resolution.“We are getting there, but we are not there yet,” said Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Analyst Jitendra Waral. The rollout of 5G and Apple’s AR features for developers will help demand take off around 2021, said Waral. He expects the combined market for hardware and software, just $4.5 billion last year, to skyrocket to $65 billion by 2022. Other catalysts will be Sony’s expected PlayStation 5 console, stand-alone headsets and mass manufacturing of waveguide optics, a key component for thinner and lighter products. Tech and media giants such as Facebook Inc. and Walt Disney Co. have started pouring money into VR content and content providers. That includes Felix & Paul, which counts the venture capital arm of Comcast Corp. among its investors. For now, though, the studio is shouldering the approximately $4 million cost of the series.Along with Time, it’s also plotting broader distribution plans, in particular museum travel exhibits and an accompanying app. “We’ve got 7.6 million people that follow us on Instagram,” said Jonathan Woods, Time’s global head of video. “The awareness that we’re able to drive around this project is something that has a direct benefit.” To contact the author of this story: Sandrine Rastello in Montreal at srastello@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: David Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.netFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 10:00

Amazon Settles German Antitrust Probe Ahead of EU Battle

Amazon Settles German Antitrust Probe Ahead of EU Battle(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. struck a deal with Germany and Austria to shut down antitrust probes into how it handles other merchants on its site, just as it faces a bigger European Union investigation into its use of sellers’ data.The U.S. retail giant will change its business services agreement worldwide in mid-August to address a number of complaints from sellers, the German Federal Cartel Office said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.“We have obtained far-reaching improvements for sellers active on Amazon marketplaces worldwide,” Andreas Mundt, president of the German regulator, said in the statement. “The proceedings are now terminated.”Amazon’s troubles in Europe are only just beginning even as those two probes end. The company faces a full-blown EU antitrust investigation that could be announced as soon as this week. That targets Amazon’s online business model as a host to many smaller retailers in an inquiry that could also affect other tech giants.The EU has been asking how Amazon might use data it collects from sellers on its Marketplace platform, such as seeing what products do well, and whether Amazon uses that data advantage to launch similar items.Amazon said it will make changes to its Amazon Services Business Solutions Agreement from Aug. 16 to address issues raised by the German and Austrian regulators. Those probes targeted terms of business, liability provisions, contract clauses on where sellers could sue the company and the process of blocking and closing sellers’ accounts. Amazon’s rules on returns and reimbursements for customers will be unchanged, the German Cartel Office said.Amazon is also promising to roll out its Vine rating program to marketplace sellers who own a brand name registered with Amazon, the Cartel Office said. This is a response to sellers’ complaints that Amazon prefers its own sales as a retailer because it removes product reviews from external providers. Amazon argued that it’s acting against a considerable risk of fake reviews, the office said.\--With assistance from Matthias Wabl.To contact the reporters on this story: Stephanie Bodoni in Luxembourg at sbodoni@bloomberg.net;Aoife White in Brussels at awhite62@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net, Peter ChapmanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 11:11

Billionaire Premji Helps Create India’s Newest Tech Unicorn

Billionaire Premji Helps Create India’s Newest Tech Unicorn(Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Azim Premji has helped create India’s latest tech unicorn: a fast-rising software startup that symbolizes the growing investor interest in the Asian nation’s enterprise technology space.Icertis, which competes with SAP SE and Oracle Corp. to help businesses manage contracts in the cloud, has raised $115 million, propelling it to unicorn status as investors flock to enterprise software makers.The advanced-stage funding round in Bellevue, Washington and Pune, India-based Icertis was co-led by Greycroft Partners LLC and PremjiInvest, the fund managed by the family office of Indian tech billionaire Premji. Existing investors including B Capital Group, Eight Roads Ventures and Cross Creek Advisors participated. With this, Icertis has raised over $211 million.The enterprise software segment is heating up as investors from Tiger Global Management to Sequoia and Accel scour the industry for India’s next startup giants. Many are expected to be business- rather than consumer-focused, as the country’s talent pool shifts from IT outsourcing services for global clients toward designing and providing online software.Icertis said it now helps customers worldwide manage over 5.7 million contracts, from supply chain and procurement deals to employee agreements and nondisclosure pacts, that have a total value of more than $1 trillion.“As contracts get converted from static documents to digital assets for the first time in history, every dollar in or out is governed by a contract, putting them at the heart of every enterprise,” said Samir Bodas, Icertis’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “Every global company faces unprecedented global competition and needs software to manage contracts.”Icertis is currently valued at “well north of one billion dollars,” Bodas added. The company will use the additional funding to grow its business, including by expanding sales and marketing. Global compliance demands involving Brexit, tariffs, European data privacy regulations as well as rapid digitization has worked in Icertis’s favor, while technologies like artificial intelligence helped enhance the sophistry of its services.“We have been able to ride the technology wave and assert leadership in the space despite large competitors,” Bodas said, citing consultancies Forrester Research and Gartner.Icertis works on a subscription model, charging customers based on the number of contracts drawn up and tracked using its software. MGI Research forecasts the total spending by companies for such contract management at over $20 billion from 2018 to 2022, with services on the cloud growing around 37% annually over the same period.Founded in 2009 when Bodas and friend Monish Darda began exploring cloud-based applications, Icertis in 2015 homed in on building a contract management platform. Today, more than 600 of its 850 employees are based in Pune, where the product is developed. The startup operates a dozen offices from Sofia to Sydney.(Updates with Eight Roads’s participation in the third paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Saritha Rai in Bangalore at srai33@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at echan273@bloomberg.net, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 11:49

Elon Musk takes the wraps off Neuralink brain probe and aims for human trials

Elon Musk takes the wraps off Neuralink brain probe and aims for human trialsTwo years after word emerged that tech billionaire Elon Musk was backing a company called Neuralink, the secretive brain-link venture opened up about its progress, including tests of a robotic "sewing machine" that has wired up rat brains with threadlike sensors. During tonight's presentation at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Musk and other company executives said they'd seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration to start wiring up human test subjects as early as next year. And they're looking for help. "The main reason for doing this presentation is recruiting," said Musk, who has reportedly invested… Read More

  • July 17th 2019 at 08:58

Ericsson Ends Run of Earnings Beats With Asia Warning

Ericsson Ends Run of Earnings Beats With Asia Warning(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Ericsson AB posted earnings that missed analyst estimates for the first time in six quarters and warned its rollout of 5G mobile networks in Asia would weigh on profits, in a rare setback to Chief Executive Officer Borje Ekholm’s turnaround efforts.With Ericsson battling Finland’s Nokia Oyj and China’s Huawei Technologies Co. for pole position in 5G, Ericsson said the first big deployments in Asia will gradually pull down margins, although not enough to jeopardize profitability targets for 2020.Wireless operators are preparing for heavy spending on the new networks that offer super-fast download speeds, minimal delay and capacity for more simultaneous connections. Their suppliers are likely to sacrifice short-term profits to win the first big contracts as that gives them a better chance of securing longer-term business.With Huawei targeted by a U.S. campaign to have it blocked on security grounds, its Nordic rivals may be able to pick up more work. In an interview on Bloomberg TV, Ekholm said Ericsson is gaining market share, though it hasn’t won any contracts as a direct result of Huawei’s troubles.“We’re trying to strengthen our footprint in front of the 5G rollout,” he said. “Of course that is going to impact the margins, but as you see on networks, we can really manage that within the guidance we have given.’’Ericsson shares, which gained after the previous five quarterly reports, fell as much as 7.6%, the most since January 2018. The stock had risen 33% in the past year as Ekholm’s two-year effort to reverse a slump in profits begins to pay off.New Street Research’s Pierre Ferragu said lower-margin 5G deployments could hold back Ericsson’s profitability in the near term and, while the company has seen brisk business with U.S. operators this year, those revenues may be challenging to maintain.“We see Ericsson fully benefiting from the 5G cycle in 2021,” the analyst wrote. However, 2020 could be a “surprisingly painful” transition year, he added.Analyst Miss?Ekholm has ended a run of disastrous results by cutting costs, dropping unprofitable business lines and investing more in research so Ericsson can ride the wave of 5G spending. He’s cautioned that the company may experience temporary setbacks as its focus is on building a stronger business in the longer run.Ericsson Investors Start to Enjoy Life Without Nasty SurprisesThe Swedish vendor’s adjusted operating profit rose to 3.9 billion kronor ($415 million) from 2.0 billion kronor a year earlier. That compared with the average estimate of 4.4 billion kronor in a Bloomberg survey of analysts.All of Ericsson’s businesses units except its networks division posted results below estimates, showing Ekholm has more work to do after a successful turnaround of the company’s biggest unit. The CEO suggested that analysts may have been overestimating results in the digital services and managed services units.“I sometimes like to say that maybe the analysts have missed,” Ekholm said. “We have said that improvements will not be linear and they will vary from quarter to quarter.”(Adds analyst comment from eighth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Kit Rees.To contact the reporter on this story: Niclas Rolander in Stockholm at nrolander@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebecca Penty at rpenty@bloomberg.net, Thomas Pfeiffer, Marthe FourcadeFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • July 17th 2019 at 14:20

Elon Musk claims robot surgeon will sew electrodes into human brains, starting in 2020

Elon Musk claims robot surgeon will sew electrodes into human brains, starting in 2020Elon Musk's super-secretive startup Neuralink has finally revealed where it's at on the whole human-machine mind-meld project, and if the phrase "Elon Musk says a monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain" is on your sci-fi apocalypse bingo card, we have good news for you.A livestreamed presentation on Tuesday evening U.S. time revealed that the company's tech involves incredibly fine "threads", covered in electrodes, inserted into the brain by a robot surgeon and implanted next to neurons and synapses. The threads then record the information being transmitted onto a tiny sensor called the N1.Musk and Neuralink president Max Hodak told the audience that they aim to have the technology in an actual human brain as early as next year - and, in an Olympic-level lede-burying that seemed to take the other team members onstage by surprise, Musk also confirmed in the post-presentation Q&A that the rumours about testing on primates were not entirely off-base. > Elon Musk just answered a question about animal Neuralink research by saying, "A monkey has been able to control a computer with its brain" > > WHAAAAAAAAT > > Neuralink rep: "I guess we're letting that cat out of the bag!" > Elon: "You mean, that monkey"> > -- Sam Machkovech (@samred) July 17, 2019Until now, all we (thought we) knew about Neuralink was that its mission is to create "ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers". The idea was to start with medical applications - tracking neurons to help with research, treatment and so on - but eventually to allow puny human brains to keep up with AI by bypassing all that pesky talking and translation of thought into speech or action, which Musk frames as "compression". Brain-control interfaces (BCIs) would streamline the whole process into a "lossless" interaction that's faster and more efficient.In September 2018, during Musk's infamous appearance on Joe Rogan's podcast, the CEO told Rogan that Neuralink's long-term purpose would be to enable human brains to be "symbiotic with AI", and the company would have "something interesting to announce in a few months, that's at least an order of magnitude better than anything else; probably better than anyone thinks is possible". SEE ALSO: If this is the future utopia Elon Musk wants, be very afraidAnd on July 13, Wait But Why host Tim Urban - who wrote a deep, deep, deep, and Musk-approved dive into Neuralink in 2017 \- tweeted that he'd had another peek into its secretive workings, and Things were Happening.> Just visited @neuralink and absolutely mind-blown with the progress they've made since I was last there two years ago. Check out the livestream on Tuesday to also be mind-blown. (For a full overview of the company, here's my big article on it: https://t.co/dD144wl9Yj) https://t.co/n4geXtIz5F> > -- Tim Urban (@waitbutwhy) July 12, 2019Now we know.The stream - which began over 45 minutes late, to the amusement and chagrin of users in the YouTube chat window that was disabled around minute 18 - was plagued by technical issues, which is a worrying sign from a company that wants to, and I can't stress this enough, implant electrodes into human brains using robot-surgery sewing machines. But while the company's Twitter account promised viewers frustrated by the elongated wait that things would kick off "shortly", Bloomberg went ahead and reported that the company had demonstrated in front of a reporter how the tech had been inserted into brain of a rat and successfully recorded the information being transmitted by its neurons:> a usb rat pic.twitter.com/AkD0TGCWSX> > -- Sam Sheffer (@samsheffer) July 17, 2019Hodak explained that the company is hoping to have the FDA approve the first clinical study in 2020, testing the technology on quadriplegic patients with upper spinal cord (C1-C4) injuries - with the first goal to be training subjects to move a cursor on a smartphone using their minds. That sounds all well and good, but just because it kinda works on rats (and monkeys), doesn't mean it'll work on humans - and selling this as a medical technology is key to further funding for Neuralink and achieving Musk's long-term goal of allowing humans to "merge" with artificial intelligence. True to form, Musk couldn't help but talk the biggest game possible in his opening presentation, saying the technology is "important on a civilisation-level scale" (you know, because the singularity is coming, and it will be terrifying)."Even in a benign AI scenario, we will be left behind," he said. "With a high-bandwidth brain-machine interface, we can have the option of merging with AI."He also assured the audience that two people with the chips would theoretically be able to communicate though a kind of "telepathy" - and that the tech's revenue stream would not be based on advertising beamed directly into the brain. Which, somehow, is less than reassuring. WATCH: Elon Musk bewilders Twitter users with tweet about Mars

  • July 17th 2019 at 08:57