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April 14, 2018

Ford takes aim at Toyota’s hybrid market lead with its new SUV lineup

Ford detailed a bunch of its roadmap for the next few years at a special media event today, and one of the key takeaways is that it’s going all-in on hybrids with its SUV lineup. Ford estimates that SUVs could make up as much as half the entire U.S. industry retail market by 2020, and that’s why it’s shifting $7 billion in investment capital from its cars business over to the SUV segment. By 2020, Ford also aims to have high-performance SUVs in market, including five with hybrid powertrains and one fully battery electric model.

These will include brand new versions of the Ford Escape and Ford Explorer that are coming next year, and two entirely new off-road SUVs, including a [...]

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April 14, 2018

Berkeley, California, is considering an ICO unlike any other

Venezuela is doing it. So is Estonia. And now Berkeley, California, is considering its own government-backed initial coin offering. But this is a different beast from the ICO craze that’s gripped the crypto world in the last year or so, and a far cry from a petro-state’s Hail Mary attempt to save its foundering economy.

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This piece appears in our twice-weekly newsletter Chain Letter, which covers the world of blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Sign up here—it’s free!

Ben Bartlett, a city council member in Berkeley, is after something that is in many ways much more mundane, though potentially far more revolutionary if it works: he wants to [...]

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April 14, 2018

Inside the Chinese lab that plans to rewire the world with AI

The ticket kiosks at Shanghai’s frenetic subway station have a mind of their own.

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Walk up to one and state your destination, and it’ll automatically recommend a route before issuing a ticket. It’ll even check your identification (a necessary step in China) by looking at your face. In the interest of reducing the rush-hour stampede, the system is set up to let you find information and buy tickets without pushing a button or talking to a person.

More impressive still, all this happens successfully in the middle of a crowded, noisy station. Each kiosk has to figure out who is speaking to it; zero in on that person’s voice within the crowd; [...]

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April 14, 2018

Farmland gene editors want cows without horns, pigs without tails, and business without regulations

The home page of the Minnesota biotech company Recombinetics shouts “The Gene Editing Revolution Is Here.” 

Or it would be, if only those pesky regulators would get out of the way.

The company is using gene editing, a new kind of precise molecular scissors, to create farm animals with useful properties. Gene editing, unlike its controversial cousin, transgenic modification, tweaks an organism’s DNA but doesn’t introduce any from other species.

Recombinetics and its partners have already used gene editing to make black-and-white Holstein dairy cattle with no horns and male pigs that never reach sexual maturity, avoiding the “boar taint” that can make pork chops [...]

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