Smart tractor 🚜 Domestic fish 🐠 Happy Meals 🍟!

Technology News

Monarch Tractor: The World’s Smartest, Fully Electric, Autonomous Tractor

Monarch Tractor has introduced the world’s first fully electric, driver optional, smart tractor integrated on a single platform. It addresses multiple issues by combining electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmer’s existing operations, increase labor productivity and safety, and maximize yields to cut overhead costs and emissions. The Monarch Tractor collects and analyzes over 240GB of crop data every day it operates. Sensors and imaging provide critical data points that can be used for real-time implement adjustments as well as long term yield estimates, current growth stages and other plant/crop health metrics.

Cloudflare and Apple design a new privacy-friendly internet protocol

Engineers at Cloudflare and Apple say they’ve developed a new internet protocol that will shore up one of the biggest holes in internet privacy that many don’t know even exists. Dubbed Oblivious DNS-over-HTTPS, or ODoH for short, the new protocol makes it far more difficult for internet providers to know which websites you visit. ODoH wraps a layer of encryption around the DNS query and passes it through a proxy server, which acts as a go-between the internet user and the website they want to visit. ODoH ensures that only the proxy knows the identity of the internet user and that the DNS resolver only knows the website being requested.

Science News

Can a coral reef fish help unravel how humans domesticated animals?

A study has found the first evidence of an animal other than humans domesticating another species. The team found coral reef fish in Belize, Central America, domesticated the planktonic mysid shrimp, using them to help fertilise their algae farms. “This is the first recorded case of a non-human vertebrate domesticating another species, and the first experimental evidence for a hypothesised pathway for how this domestication evolved.” This highlights the important role that protection from predators also plays in domestication, with mysids shrimp quickly consumed by other predators when the damselfish farmer wasn’t present.

New Compound Related to Psychedelic Ibogaine Could Treat Addiction, Depression

A non-hallucinogenic version of the psychedelic drug ibogaine has been developed with potential for treating addiction, depression and other psychiatric disorders. Experiments with cell cultures and zebrafish show that it is less toxic than ibogaine, which can cause heart attacks and has been responsible for several deaths. TBG increased formation of new dendrites (branches) in rat nerve cells, and of new spines on those dendrites. “We’ve been focused on treating one psychiatric disease at a time, but we know that these illnesses overlap. It might be possible to treat multiple diseases with the same drug.”

Business News

McDonald’s Happy Meals could get more expensive next year

McDonald’s is eliminating a four-decade-old deal with its franchisees that subsidized the price of Happy Meal toys for customers. Beginning next year, McDonald’s will stop issuing a roughly $300 per month contribution to each of its 14,000 US restaurants called the “Happy Meal Rent and Service Fee.” The chain told franchisees the subsidy is “no longer fueling growth in the way it once was” and that franchisees could opt to increase the price of a Happy Meal by 20 cents to offset. McDonald’s doesn’t set the prices of its menu items, but rather lets franchisees decide depending on location.

Nestle launches plant-based Harvest Gourmet brand in China

Nestle launched its plant-based Harvest Gourmet brand in China, moving into the country’s meat substitute industry that has seen a surge of interest from investors and brands over the past year. The brand would offer burgers, sausages, nuggets and mince, and will also sell dishes aimed to appeal to Chinese taste-buds, such as kung pao chicken, braised meatballs and pork belly. Demand for alternatives to regular meat is surging due to concerns about health, animal welfare and the environment. “If you look at 2014 to 2018, the growth of plant-based meat is doubling in China, which means (there is) ongoing awareness.”

Miscellaneous News

France to start research into ‘enhanced soldiers’

The French armed forces have been given the go-ahead to start research on developing “enhanced soldiers”. The report mentioned research on implants that could “improve cerebral capacity” or help soldiers tell enemy from ally. These could also allow commanders to locate them or read their vital signs from a distance. Drawing clear ethical lines, the document noted, was “therefore essential”. It said eugenic or genetic practices should be banned, as well as anything “that could jeopardise the soldier’s integration into society or return to civilian life”.

Human-made materials now outweigh Earth’s entire biomass

The giant human footprint stamped across the world in 2020 is greater than the impact on the planet of all other living things. The amount of plastic alone is greater in mass than all land animals and marine creatures combined. The research shows that human activity including production of concrete, metal, plastic, bricks and asphalt has brought the world to a crossover point where human-made mass – driven mostly by enhanced consumption and urban development – exceeds the overall living biomass on Earth. The stamp of humanity has been doubling every 20 years.

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