The European Commission has unveiled radical measures to better tax technology companies with large operations in its member states. The first proposal would allow countries inside the EU to effectively tax profit that is created inside their borders… Engadget RSS Feed
The tracking of people’s location is becoming an increasingly useful tool for many businesses, whether they want to use it to connect customers with their special offers, monitor footfall, or provide other location-based services. However, a snag is coming in the shape of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which introduces much tougher rules around the collection and use of personal data. And location data can most certainly qualify as personal data, anytime it relates to an identifiable individual. It’s not that European regulators haven’t cracked down on location-based data protection abuses before. In 2015, France’s CNIL censured the billboard giant JCDecaux…
The European Union recently adopted laws embodying a proposed “right to be forgotten,” to protect individuals from eternal memorialization of unfortunate past indiscretions. However, I feel it’s time to propose a complementary “right to remember,” to ensure that history cannot be erased or rewritten at the whim of those who control the systems we use to communicate, plan, and lead our lives. Recent court cases have shown that the largest, most powerful companies controlling the internet are willing to take extreme positions regarding their right to control data after it’s been made public. They abuse ambiguous, out-of-date US legislation such…
If you’re already grossed out, we don’t blame you.
Nonetheless, IndieBio is part of a growing wave of companies betting that lab-grown protein is the future of food. Meat consumption is both environmentally hazardous and ethically a bit, uh, hard to swallow, so there are more people than ever working to find a solution. So many people, in fact, that a future rife with lab-grown meat feels inevitable.
But there’s a significant factor that these companies seem to not have considered: the “ick factor.” That is, how will companies get people accustomed to this understandably off-putting concept?
“People will get used to clean meat in a hurry if it tastes right, if it smells right,” asserts culinary biochemist Ali Bouzari in a video interview with Wired. “If it doesn’t, it’s gonna be a monumental thing to overcome.”
The Uncanny Valley of Food
Think about the last time you bit into something that was way slimier than you expected. Even if it tasted amazing, your brain probably responded with a wave of nausea that made it impossible for you to keep eating.
That reaction is what Bouzari calls the “uncanny valley” of food (yes, our aversion to almost-lifelike robots isn’t the only uncanny valley in our strange psyches).
“The uncanny valley of meat, and with food in general, is when you get to something that’s a highly sophisticated imitation but not quite there, it forces your brain into a very small window of context,” Bouzari explained to Wired. “Where you say, I’m convinced I’m gonna be eating a chicken nugget, this better behave exactly like a chicken nugget in every way, shape, and form, or I’m going to freak out.”
That’s because evolution has hard-wired our brains to make food seem incredibly repulsive if it might sicken or kill us. As a result, if a food doesn’t fit our expectations of what it’s supposed to feel or taste like, our brains involuntarily reject it.
“We are hard-wired to make sure that we’re not ingesting poison, to make sure we’re not ingesting something that has been contaminated, or even something that’s low in calories,” Bouzari said. “Your brain is going to pick every possible nit that’s there, because that’s its job.”
Unfortunately, because our brains are so sophisticated, those nits can come not only from our sensory experience of food — they can also come from ideas we have of food. Just as if someone told you that delicious chocolate cupcake you were eating had been made with pig intestine — which for most of us would make it suddenly and irrevocably disgusting, regardless of its flavor before — the idea of lab-grown meat is unnatural enough that just knowing its source could put even the ravenous among us off our dinner.
That’s a huge problem for an industry that’s already invested billions of dollars into the concept. And with such a barrier, one would think that lab-grown meat companies would have some sort of plan in place to ease people in. Yet few seem to have any idea how they’re going to get us to eat the stuff.
IndieBio, meanwhile, is taking a unique approach. This company believes that overcoming man’s innate discomfort with lab-grown proteins starts by feeding it to his best friend.
IndieBio’s company Wild Earth is making animal-free dog food out of protein that comes from koji, the fungus that Japanese cooks have used for centuries to produce soy sauce, miso, and sake. Fed by just water and sugar, the koji’s protein byproducts are strained into a thick paste that can be baked into kibble. According to Neo.Life reporter Grace Rubenstein, the koji kibble tastes “dense, crunchy, and earthy, with a taste like a dark rye cracker.”
That kibble will hit the market in June 2018 (with an initial price of over $ 20 for five pounds, though the company plans to bring the price down).
But more importantly, they want to win customers by showing that Fido is in better shape because he’s gone veggie. IndieBio’s founders hope to eventually prove that its meat-free canine consumers will have lower rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
After that, the next step will be cultivating lab-grown mouse meat to make into cat food — and, IndieBio’s founders say, getting people accustomed to the concept as they watch their pets lap it up happily: the “Trojan horse to introduce lab-grown meat for humans,” as Rubenstein wrote.
IndieBio’s premise seems to ride on the idea that just by being around lab-grown pet food, watching it benefit their pets (or perhaps sneaking a taste themselves) humans will be willing to make the jump to eating lab grown meat themselves. But beyond that, this “Trojan horse” idea isn’t really clear.
Though they’ve apparently heard from lots of people who don’t think that’s a great idea, IndieBio founder Ryan Bethencourt told Neo.Life that this is a great first step simply because it’s possible now.
“I won’t say who, but pretty much everyone says, ‘Don’t do it,’” Benthencourt said. “I hear where everyone is coming from, but this is something we can do, and it’s going to be transformative. The sooner we get there the better.”
In a decade of earnings calls, Apple executives spoke less positively than other tech firms and mentioned its flagship product, the iPhone, a lot. That’s according to a new report by research firm CB Insights, which used a machine learning platform to analyze 40 quarters worth of earnings calls made by tech firms including Apple, […] Read More… iDrop News
Thousands of people lined up at trendy Austin bar Icenhauer at SXSW 2018, but they weren't waiting for a refreshing handcrafted cocktail or finger food. Instead, they were trying to get into HP and Intel's "Digital Artistry House," where a handful of… Engadget RSS Feed
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, kicked off his SXSW 2018 keynote with some jokes that sparked a deafening laugh and applause from the audience. He first talked about how he was shocked by the amount of hipsters here in Austin, Texas, followed by a c… Engadget RSS Feed
Apple has updated the specs for its MFi accessories program (which also got a snazzy new logo over the weekend), letting companies now put USB-C ports on licensed devices, as well as create 3.5mm to Lightning cables for the first time, as reported by 9to5Mac.
They’re useful additions for Apple product users, especially as the company switches more towards using USB-C — at least on its laptops. Now third-party companies building things like controllers, battery packs, and speakers can use USB-C charging while still keeping Apple’s stamp of approval.
But Apple is still frustratingly limiting the specification: unlike Lightning ports, which are also part of the MFi spec for accessories, USB-C ports can’t be used for pass-through charging…
Wildlife trafficking is a pervasive crime that endangers animals and threatens wildlife populations. The internet has made it even easier for traffickers to illegally trade animals and products like ivory and rhino horn online. Now, 21 leading tech companies are working together to prevent animal trading on their sites and platforms.
Last week, the Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online was launched by TRAFFIC, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), and includes companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Instagram, and Alibaba. The coalition will “work together to collectively reduce wildlife trafficking across platforms by 80% by 2020.”
The black market for wildlife products is more expansive and accessible than ever thanks to the anonymity the internet can provide. We might think of crimes like ivory trade as something from a bygone era, but new technology creates new avenues for criminal activity to emerge.
The current challenge in putting an end to illegal trafficking isn’t that companies don’t care; when such activity is spotted, companies often do take action — but the criminals just move to another platform. As a coalition, companies could stand together to better identify and stop traffickers. Law enforcement can’t effectively police every platform or website that might be utilized for trafficking. Nor can each platform or website monitor for trafficking effectively on their own. “If you have one weak link in the chain, that’s where all of the illegal trade will gravitate towards,” said Crawford Allan, the senior director of wildlife crime at the WWF and TRAFFIC, to National Geographic. “It’s like the whack-a-mole effect.”
The commitment of companies to taking a stand can’t come soon enough, as the wildlife trafficking situation has become dire. Between 2007 and 2014, ivory poaching reduced the savanna elephant population by a whopping 30 percent. From 2007 to 2017, the number of rhinos killed for their horns in South Africa increased from 13 to over 1,000. More and more species are facing extinction, and without comprehensive action, populations will continue to dwindle. Allan shared that companies “realized it’s a non-competitive issue and they stepped up together to help find solutions with us.”