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January 15th, 2019 at 11:56 am

Only two US states are making enough babies to maintain their populations

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But some demographers think it’s a good thing.

Populations of humans around the world are generally on the rise, but the United States is an exception. The US birth rate is at a historic low, and on Thursday, the CDC reported that the fertility rate has plunged in tandem with it. As it stands, there are only two states in the country where there are enough babies being born to keep the population steady.

“There are likely a number of factors behind the drop, including the decline in the birth rates to women under 30 years of age over that last 10 years, particularly the decline in birth rates for teens.”

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January 15th, 2019 at 11:46 am

Robot dogs are the weirdest package delivery system we’ve seen

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A mailman’s fever dream at CES 2019

Germany automotive firm Continental is best know for its tires, but at CES 2019 the company is demonstrating something a little different: package delivery by robot dog.

As part of its research into the future of mobility, Continental has partnered with robotics company ANYbotics (a spin off from ETH Zurich) to imagine the future of package delivery. In a staged demonstration on the CES show floor, the firm showed how one of ANYbotics’ four-legged robots could jump out the back of a self-driving delivery truck and carry a package right up to someone’s front door.

In the demo, the ANYMal robot could be seen slowly picking its way over debris in the garden before ringing the fake doorbell with one if its limbs. It then tips the package off its back onto the porch and performs a little victory dance as a bonus.

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January 15th, 2019 at 11:30 am

What Honeywell’s Ecommerce platform means for blockchain in aviation

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Honeywell recently announced the launch of its online buying and selling platform for new and used aircraft parts. Not only are online transactions in this space extremely rare, but Honeywell is also doing something even more uncommon: using blockchain technology. According to Lisa Butters, who leads the Honeywell Aerospace venture, “Currently, less than 2.5 percent of all transactions in this space are done online.” She continues: “We are the first marketplace to enable customized seller storefronts, and we are the first to leverage blockchain technology to build trust between the buyer and seller.”

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January 14th, 2019 at 12:37 pm

IBM unveils its first commercial quantum computer

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IBM Q System One

At CES, IBM today announced its first commercial quantum computer for use outside of the lab. The 20-qubit system combines into a single package the quantum and classical computing parts it takes to use a machine like this for research and business applications. That package, the IBM Q system, is still huge, of course, but it includes everything a company would need to get started with its quantum computing experiments, including all the machinery necessary to cool the quantum computing hardware. While IBM describes it as the first fully integrated universal quantum computing system designed for scientific and commercial use, it’s worth stressing that a 20-qubit machine is nowhere near powerful enough for most of the commercial applications that people envision for a quantum computer with more qubits — and qubits that are useful for more than 100 microseconds. It’s no surprise then, that IBM stresses that this is a first attempt and that the systems are “designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential in nature for classical systems to handle.” Right now, we’re not quite there yet, but the company also notes that these systems are upgradable (and easy to maintain).

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January 14th, 2019 at 12:19 pm

Giving up gas: China’s Shenzhen switches to electric taxis

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SHENZHEN, China (AP) — One of China’s major cities has reached an environmental milestone: an almost entirely electric-powered taxi fleet.

The high-tech hub of Shenzhen in southern China announced at the start of this year that 99 percent of the 21,689 taxis operating in the city were electric. Last year, it still had 7,500 gasoline-powered taxis on the roads. A few can still be found, but electric ones far outnumber them.

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January 14th, 2019 at 12:13 pm

CANVAS Technology unveils world’s first completely autonomous self-driving cart

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Autonomous cars are still a long way away from replacing human drivers on the road. But make no mistake: Intelligent, highly adaptable self-driving robots are here — and CANVAS Technology is leading the way.

CANVAS has been on our radar for a while. The Boulder-based robotics company launched in stealth mode more than two years ago, leaving us guessing at the work being done behind the scenes. It wasn’t until last September that the company finally revealed its mission: to build the world’s first completely autonomous, self-driving industrial cart.

Today, CANVAS unveiled its long-awaited brainchild and gave us a glimpse inside the complex and fascinating evolution of its technology.

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January 13th, 2019 at 11:09 am

Boeing unveils rendering of hypersonic jet that would fly from US to Japan in 3 hours

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  • Boeing unveiled a rendering of its first-ever design for a hypersonic passenger plane.
  • But questions remain about how much Boeing is willing to spend to develop the project.
  • Technological challenges remain and costs could be high, which raise questions about the potential profitability of the plane.

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January 13th, 2019 at 11:02 am

7 arguments against the autonomous-vehicle utopia

Neolix self-driving vehicle seen at the IEEV New Energy Vehicles Exhibition in Beijing

All the ways the self-driving future won’t come to pass.

Self-driving cars are coming. Tech giants such as Uber and Alphabet have bet on it, as have old-school car manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors. But even as Google’s sister company Waymo prepares to launch its self-driving-car service and automakers prototype vehicles with various levels of artificial intelligence, there are some who believe that the autonomous future has been oversold—that even if driverless cars are coming, it won’t be as fast, or as smooth, as we’ve been led to think. The skeptics come from different disciplines inside and out of the technology and automotive industries, and each has a different bear case against self-driving cars. Add them up and you have a guide to all the ways our autonomous future might not materialize.

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January 13th, 2019 at 10:50 am

Synthetic organisms are about to challenge what ‘alive’ really means

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We need to begin a serious debate about whether artificially evolved humans are our future, and if we should put an end to these experiments before it is too late.

In 2016, Craig Venter and his team at Synthetic Genomics announced that they had created a lifeform called JCVI-syn3.0, whose genome consisted of only 473 genes. This stripped-down organism was a significant breakthrough in the development of artificial life as it enabled us to understand more fully what individual genes do. (In the case of JCVI-syn3.0, most of them were used to create RNA and proteins, preserve genetic fidelity during reproduction and create the cell membrane. The functions of about a third remain a mystery.)

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January 12th, 2019 at 1:31 pm

Presenting the Best of CES 2019 winners!

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Several hours of discussions and debate later, Engadget’s editors have decided who among our finalists should win our Best of CES awards. Below is our list of winners for each category, as well as Best of the Best and People’s Choice. Congratulations to all winners and finalists!

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