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April 21st, 2018 at 11:36 am

Anyone can now create Alexa skills in a matter of minutes

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Amazon on Thursday unveiled “Alexa Skill Blueprints,” code-free templates that any Alexa owner, regardless of experience level, can use to create customized Alexa skills in a matter of minutes.

Amazon included over 20 templates across four categories — Fun & Games, At Home, Storyteller, and Learning & Knowledge — with plans to add more.

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April 21st, 2018 at 11:28 am

Alexa Is a Revelation for the Blind

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Legally blind since age 18, my father missed out on the first digital revolution.

“Is it ‘Electra?’” my father asks, leaning in close to the Amazon Echo my mother has just installed. Leaning in close is his trademark maneuver: Dad has been legally blind since age 18, the result of a horrible car crash in 1954. He has lived, mostly successfully, with limited vision for the 64 years since.

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April 21st, 2018 at 11:19 am

In pursuit of the perfect AI voice

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How developers are humanizing their virtual personal assistants.

The virtual personal assistant is romanticized in utopian portrayals of the future from The Jetsons to Star Trek. It’s the cultured, disembodied voice at humanity’s beck and call, eager and willing to do any number of menial tasks.

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April 20th, 2018 at 9:50 am

Hemp is the multibillion-dollar cannabis opportunity few have heard about

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If the move to make it legal succeeds, entire industries could be revolutionized.

Today, the U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of hemp products. But because of the federal prohibition imposed on cannabis and hemp, the U.S. is importing an estimated $100 million of hemp products each year.

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April 20th, 2018 at 9:35 am

One of the world’s filthiest industries just agreed to clean up its act

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The shipping industry sets sail toward a carbon-free future.

Cargo-shipping regulators have struck a historic deal to set their dirty fuel-burning industry on a low-carbon course.

On Friday, the International Maritime Organization agreed for the first time to limit greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping. The nonbinding deal marks a critical shift for the sector—which, until last week, was the only major industry without a comprehensive climate plan.

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April 20th, 2018 at 9:20 am

Shared mobility is growing, but the ride-sharing economy still has a long way to go

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If you live in a US city, car-sharing services like Lyft and Uber might seem omnipresent. However, the ride-sharing economy still has a ways to go, at least according to consumer sentiment.

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April 19th, 2018 at 11:21 am

More than 95% of world’s population breathe dangerous air, major study finds

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Children walking to school wearing smog pollution masks in Britain. Residents in many developing countries are exposed to toxic air both outdoors and inside their homes.

More than 95% of the world’s population breathe unsafe air and the burden is falling hardest on the poorest communities, with the gap between the most polluted and least polluted countries rising rapidly, a comprehensive study of global air pollution has found.

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April 19th, 2018 at 11:10 am

Google futurist and director of engineering: Basic income will spread worldwide by the 2030s

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Basic income will be widespread by the 2030s, according to Google futurist and director of engineering Ray Kurzweil.

Kurzweil is known for making seemingly wild predictions. In 2016, he predicted that by 2029, medical technology will add an extra year to human life expectancies on an annual basis.

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April 19th, 2018 at 10:06 am

A Graphine roll out

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A new manufacturing process produces strips of graphene, at large scale, for use in membrane technologies and other applications.

MIT engineers have developed a continuous manufacturing process that produces long strips of high-quality graphene.

The team’s results are the first demonstration of an industrial, scalable method for manufacturing high-quality graphene that is tailored for use in membranes that filter a variety of molecules, including salts, larger ions, proteins, or nanoparticles. Such membranes should be useful for desalination, biological separation, and other applications.

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April 18th, 2018 at 9:47 am

A breakthrough in 3D printing liquids could lead to squishy, flexible gadgets

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The most common types of 3D printing involve either extruding melted plastic or using a laser to solidify tiny particles, layer by layer, to slowly build up a solid object. But researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found a way to radically change that process by 3D printing liquids inside other liquids—and it could mean major advancements in gadget construction.

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