The US government is announcing $1 billion in new funding for multidisciplinary AI and quantum computing research hubs. A total of 12 hubs will be funded, embedded within different agencies of the federal government spanning a diverse range of topics; from using machine learning for atmospheric and ocean science, to speeding up high-energy physics simulations with quantum systems. Although China announced ambitious plans to become the world leader in AI by 2030, America still outspends the country in military funding (which increasingly includes AI research), while US tech companies like Google and Microsoft remain world leaders in artificial intelligence.
Apple plans to introduce bonus augmented reality (AR) content to its Apple TV+ streaming service next year. Characters or objects from TV shows could be integrated into your environment via a phone or tablet as Blu-ray-like bonus content. Apple’s reported aim is to boost interest in AR tech before its long-rumored headset launches, supposedly in 2022. The TV+ AR feature could give developers something to do in the meantime, while giving the public a preview of what’s to come. Apple is trying to boost the popularity of TV+ by bundling content like a rumored fitness app, or marrying other services like Apple Music, Arcade and News+ in a subscription called Apple One.
Researchers report that fructose adversely affects the liver after it reaches the intestines, where the sugar disrupts the epithelial barrier protecting internal organs from bacterial toxins in the gut. Developing treatments that prevent intestinal barrier disruption could protect the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The research team found that when fructose intake was reduced below a certain threshold, no adverse effects were observed in mice, suggesting only excessive and long-term fructose consumption represents a health risk. Moderate fructose intake through normal consumption of fruits is well-tolerated.
Engineers have devised a way to apply a temporary synthetic coating to the lining of the small intestine. The lining consists of a polymer made from dopamine molecules, which can be consumed as a liquid. This coating could be adapted to deliver drugs, aid in digestion, or prevent nutrients such as glucose from being absorbed. This approach could be used to simplify the delivery of medications that normally have to be taken multiple times per day. They also modified the coatings to deliver the enzyme lactase, which helps people digest the milk sugar lactose, and to block glucose absorption, which could offer a new strategy to treat diabetes or obesity.
The Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s mobile payments firm has announced plans to float on the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges in a move that could value the company at $225bn (£169bn). Ant Group could raise as much as $30bn in the flotation, which would make it the world’s largest initial public offering, overtaking the $25.6bn raised in the Saudi Aramco IPO in December 2019. It would use the funds raised to “further pursue [its] vision to digitalise the service industry”. Ant Group is 33%-owned by the e-commerce business Alibaba. The group’s best-known business is Alipay, the largest player in China’s 430tn yuan third-party mobile payments market.
The world’s biggest airline said the cuts, on top of voluntary departures and leave, would leave its workforce 30% smaller than it was in March. It recently announced plans to suspend service to 15 smaller airports in the US due to low travel demand. The reductions come amid warnings that the impact of the pandemic will cause airline losses of more than $84bn (£64bn) globally this year. In the US, the terms of a $25bn (£19bn) government bailout barred airlines from making significant job cuts before 30 September. While airlines have called for further support, talks in Washington about an aid package collapsed this month without a deal.
Russian competition authorities launched a consumer protection case against Swiss chocolate brand Lindt, saying its chocolate sold in Russia is of inferior quality to that available in western Europe. The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (FAS) said the brand advertised its chocolate in Russia on the basis of “guaranteed product quality” and its “high manufacturing reputation.” But in quality tests on Lindt products conducted in 2019, the FAS said it found the confectionery in Russia was worse than that available in other countries.
The death of Erna, the largest female and elder of the herd left Fredzia in mourning, putting her under stress. The zoo have launched a project to check whether cannabis-extract oil will reduce anxiety in the zoo’s animals. The oil is thought to stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine, messenger chemicals in the brain, which can help combat depression. The zoo’s elephants will be the first animals to be given the CBD oil, as they are prone to stress and at the same time relatively easy to monitor.