Medical drones 🚁, Cancer sponges 🧽 & airline bailout 💸!

Technology


Zipline Wants to Bring Medical Drone Delivery to U.S. to Fight COVID-19

Zipline’s autonomous, fixed-wing delivery drones provide blood to hospitals and clinics across Rwanda. Zipline has expanded into Ghana, and has plans to start flying in India as well. Zipline is working with the Federal Aviation Administration in the United States to expedite safety and regulatory approvals for an emergency humanitarian mission. The goal is to launch a medical supply delivery network that could help people maintain social distancing or quarantine when necessary by delivering urgent medication nearly to their doorsteps.

Apple acquires AI startup Voysis in apparent push to bolster Siri’s natural language skills

Apple recently purchased Dublin, Ireland-based company Voysis, a startup that conducted work on improving natural language processing in virtual assistants. According to the report, Voysis tech was able to narrow product search results by processing retail-related phrases like “I need a new LED TV” and “My budget is $1,000.” Effective language processing allows users to more naturally interact with AI voice assistants by removing hurdles like memorizing key command phrases. The firm’s solution is based on WaveNet technology.

Science


Using sponges to wipe out cancer

A sponge found in Manado Bay, Indonesia, makes a molecule called manzamine A. The study examined the anti-growth and cancer cell-killing effects of manzamine A in four different cervical cancer cell lines. Manzamine A stopped cervical cancer cells from growing and caused some cells to die but did not have the same effects on normal noncancerous cells. Manzamine A reduced expression levels of a protein known to be highly expressed in a number of cancers, including cervical cancer, and to contribute to poorer patient outcomes. “The goal now is to make sure that it works in animals and then try to advance it into clinical applications and further development.”

UTA study: In crisis, people trust feelings over facts

A study conducted shows that people are more likely to base decisions on anecdotal information instead of facts when they feel anxious and vulnerable. People are more likely to listen to personal stories instead of facts because emotions run high during medical emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. This example illustrates how consumers who feel vulnerable to a particular problem may rely more heavily on subjective, anecdotal information instead of objective, statistical facts to make decisions. The research also revealed that when emotional engagement is low, statistical evidence weighs more heavily.

Business


Global Airline Industry May Now Need A $1 Trillion Bailout

The aviation industry supports $2.7 trillion of the world’s GDP. This represents 3.6% of global gross domestic product, and if aviation were a country, it would rank 20th in size by GDP. A total of 43 airlines have grounded their entire fleets and many major carriers have cancelled as much as 96% of scheduled flights. With the potential direct and indirect support for carriers and suppliers in the U.S. and EU potentially totalling over $500 billion, the total global bill for support and bailouts could top $1 trillion.

Biggest companies pay the least tax, leaving society more vulnerable to pandemic – new research

The research shows that the worldwide tax system was progressive in the 1970s, with the largest corporations paying slightly higher rates. By the mid-1980s the system had turned sharply regressive and has stayed so ever since. For 2015-18, smaller listed corporations were effectively paying a 41% rate on their profits, while larger corporations paid 28%. One problem with the tax system is that it encourages businesses to concentrate into bigger and bigger entities. The global tax system rewards corporations for reaching a size that is actually bad for society.

Miscellaneous


British 5G towers are being set on fire because of coronavirus conspiracy theories

5G phone masts are being set alight in the UK, after online conspiracy theories have misleadingly linked the cell towers to the coronavirus pandemic. A variety of groups exist on Facebook and Nextdoor, where thousands of members repeat false and misleading claims that 5G is supposedly harmful. One theory claims that the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan because the Chinese city had recently been rolling out 5G. It’s now supposedly spread to other cities that are also using 5G. Some people are even harassing workers laying fibre optic cables for 5G installations.

Domestic abuse cases soar as lockdown takes its toll

More than 25 organisations in the UK helping domestic violence victims have reported an increase in their caseload. One group, Chayn, said that analysis of online traffic showed that visitors to its website had more than trebled last month compared with the same period last year. Most domestic abuse organisations provide face-to-face or phone support, but a quarter say they can not “effectively support” adult abuse victims owing to technical issues, inability to meet victims, and staff sickness.

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