Lyft says it passed $1 billion in revenue last year — and is growing faster than Uber

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Uber is still much bigger — but Lyft is still alive.

Lyft, the main U.S. ride-sharing rival to Uber, says today that it passed $ 1 billion in revenue in 2017. And it says its revenue grew 168 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of 2017, almost three times faster than Uber’s reported 61 percent growth.

Uber, of course, is still much larger than Lyft — it generated a reported $ 7.5 billion in revenue last year and operates in many more cities and countries. While its fourth-quarter growth may have been smaller than Lyft’s percentage-wise, it was still almost certainly many times larger dollar-wise. Both companies are still unprofitable.

But the big-picture reality is that despite Uber’s head start, its early dominance, ability to raise massive amounts of financing, aggressive (often allegedly illegal) growth tactics, faster move into self-driving cars and everything else in its favor, it has not been able to destroy Lyft.

Instead, Lyft capitalized somewhat on Uber’s missteps and unsavory reputation, raised another $ 2 billion last year, gained market share, launched its first international market last year (Toronto) and seems poised to exist for the foreseeable future.

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SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocket Passed a Major Flight Test Milestone

The Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket on Earth, is now one step closer to bringing humanity to the stars.

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France Just Passed a Ban on Fracking and Oil Extraction

Goodbye Oil

In a bid to establish itself as the new leader in protecting the environment after the U.S. reneged on the Paris Climate Agreement, France has just passed a new blanket ban on fracking and oil extraction that will enter into force in 2040.

The proposal, drafted last September, was approved in Parliament by a show of hands on Dec. 19. After 2040, no new drilling permits will be issued and licenses will not be renewed, putting an end to the fossil fuels’ production in France and its overseas territories.

Some observers called the move “hypocritical”, comparing it to Vermont’s ban on fracking that was introduced in 2012. Although at the time the policy incensed industry leaders, in practice the state’s shale resources are limited.

Halting France’s domestic production is unlikely to have a big impact on the environment because the vast majority of the country’s fossil fuel consumption is imported. In fact, France’s entire production of approximately 815,000 tons of oil per year is equivalent to what Saudi Arabia extracts in just a few hours.

Moreover, the ban on fracking and oil extraction will have no impact on the operations of French-based oil giants such as Total, whose drilling projects span the developing world as well as Europe.

The former Socialist Minister of Ecology and Energy, Delphine Batho, responded to this criticism, telling journalists that “it would be an error of analysis to think that the text is only symbolic.” She hoped that the ban would be “contagious” for other countries willing to meet their climate targets.

Renewable Future?

The ban on fracking and oil extraction may be a relatively painless step for France, but much more difficult territory to navigate for President Emmanuel Macron is the production of nuclear energy, which currently covers more than 70 percent of France’s power needs. As part of his campaign, Macron pledged to reduce the country’s dependence on nuclear energy down to 50 percent by 2025, but it is still unclear whether renewables could really fill such a significant gap in just eight years.

But the French president seems determined to take the lead in the climate battlefield. He recently announced the 18 winners of the “Make our Planet Great Again” initiative, which funds international climate science. The grant’s recipients will receive up to $ 1.8 million over a period of three to five years. The program was unveiled in June 2017, shortly after the American president announced his intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.

Paris Climate Agreement
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And French renewable development is progressing, albeit not at the meteoric pace required by a drastic shift away from nuclear energy. For example, by 2035, the French electric utility company Électricité de France will have built 30GW of solar power plants in the country, which would quadruple the current installed solar capacity of 7.4GW.

In isolation, none of these measures are as revolutionary as the French administration likes to present them. But together they send a strong message about the importance of embracing an environmental agenda that speaks to the world.

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Ripple, the Fourth-Largest Cryptocurrency, Just Passed a Major Milestone

Ripple Passed a Dollar

In the cryptocurrency game, it can seem as though Bitcoin rules all, but other cryptos are finding success as well. In the most recent news, the fourth-largest cryptocurrency just hit a major milestone — Ripple passed a dollar for the first time.

According to CoinMarketCap data, the price of Ripple’s XRP token peaked at $ 1.37 on Dec. 22, though it has since fallen to $ 1.16 at the time of this writing. This news is on the tail end of Ripple’s recent successes, both in rising almost 4,000 percent in value in its second quarter and in being added to the Bloomberg Terminal.

Crypto market capitalizations as of a few months ago. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Crypto market capitalizations as of a few months ago. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Rising above a dollar might not seem like a big deal, especially compared to Bitcoin’s current value (at the time of writing) of $ 15,140. But, while Bitcoin has had a remarkably meteoric year, the success of Ripple and its XRP token is both impressive and significant.

Crypto Progress

These most recent price increases seem to be driven specifically by markets in Asia, according to CoinDesk. Within the South Korean exchange Bithumb, trading volumes increased by nearly a whopping 25 percent in the 24 hours surrounding Ripple’s surge. Additionally, Bitfinex, a Hong Kong-based exchange, saw trading volumes grow more than 10 percent.

The Entire History of Bitcoin in a Single Infographic
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Ripple’s recent achievement make it a more serious contender in the cryptocurrency market. It cruised right past litecoin in terms of market value, and it could continue to rise in value and popularity. Additionally, Ripple’s market cap stands at $ 41 billion, which is also a record high.

Ripple’s success is a success for all cryptocurrencies and the future of crypto. Initially, even heavyweight contenders like Bitcoin were, and sometimes still are, dismissed. But many who initially skeptical of Bitcoin are now seeing value in the cryptocurrency market and the true potential that it has not only to make money for investors, but to revolutionize transactions if, in the future, our finances run on a blockchain.

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

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We Can Observe Memories Being Passed Down Through Generations

Genetic Hand-Me-Downs

We know a great deal about how genetic traits are passed down from one generation to another. It’s simple enough to understand. Some characteristics, such as hair color or susceptibility to certain diseases, are handed down from parent to child and on and on. However, in recent years, scientists have learned that we don’t only inherit our parents’ genetic information — we can also inherit their epigenetic information through cells’ epigenetic memory.

Our epigenome influences which of our genes are expressed and to what extent. These modifications in an organism’s DNA don’t change the DNA sequence itself, and unlike our genome, which is coded into us from birth, our epigenome changes throughout our lifetime and can be influenced by such factors as the environment, lifestyle, age, and even disease state.

Previously, scientists assumed that changes in a person’s epigenome due to these outside factors died with them, but recent research has shown that’s not the case. Epigenetic information can actually be passed down to offspring.

“The ability of mammals to pass on epigenetic information to their progeny provides clear evidence that inheritance is not restricted to DNA sequence and epigenetics plays a key role in producing viable offspring,” wrote biologists Zoë Migicovsky and Igor Kovalchuk in a 2011 study published in Frontiers in Genetics.

Modifying Outcomes?

Researchers have been trying to better understand this epigenetic memory, and they’ve made remarkable progress on that front.

In 2014, scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, proved that one epigenetic mark could be passed down through generations, and in 2016, Tel Aviv University researchers claimed that they were close to figuring out the mechanisms that allow epigenetic inheritance to occur.

In April 2017, researchers from the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO) in Spain published a study in Science demonstrating how epigenetic memories of environmental changes can be passed down to 14 generations of glow worms.

How CRISPR Works: The Future of Genetic Engineering and Designer Humans
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While the ability of the environment to affect the development of certain genes is remarkable in and of itself, even more remarkable is that we may be able to use this knowledge in our fight against certain genetically induced or genetically linked diseases.

Alzheimer’s is thought to be caused by both genetic and environmental factors, and cancer could also have epigenetic causes. Neuropsychiatric, immunity, and mental retardation disorders are also viable areas of study for epigeneticists.

Understanding how the environment can affect the health of not just an individual but potentially their offspring as well could have a long-lasting impact on healthcare and disease prevention.

We’re living at a time when techniques for genetic manipulation are better than ever before, thanks to next-generation sequencing methods and gene-editing techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9. Combined with this new knowledge of how certain epigenetic memories get passed down, we could possibly find ways to edit out any epigenetic factors that could negatively impact multiple generations.

Whether through genetic manipulation or some other form of treatment, our knowledge of how epigenetic memory works can change how we approach genetic diseases. At the very least, knowing that our environment and lifestyle can be inherited could lead some to make healthier decisions in this lifetime for the sake of future generations.

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Former Xbox Live policy VP Stephen ‘StepTo’ Toulouse passed away

Stephen "StepTo" Toulouse, a tech vet, humorist and author well known for his role in managing Xbox Live over the years has passed away. His brother Jeff Toulouse tweeted that "It is with heavy hearts that we announce the loss of our brother, Stephen…
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The House Just Passed a Bill to Help Put More Autonomous Cars on U.S. Roads

More Cars on the Road

The U.S. House passed a bill on Wednesday that will allow self-driving car manufacturers to put thousands of autonomous cars on the road over the next few years.

The bill, known as the SELF-DRIVE Act, was first put forth in July and received approval shortly after. In addition to letting companies like GM, Ford, and Google introduce up to 100,000 cars to U.S. roads, they can also be exempt from safety guidelines that do not apply to autonomous driving technology.

In the past, companies invested in the future of self-driving cars have complained that laws created in relation to the technology could slow down its development. This latest bill, then, works in their favor.

Not everyone supports the bill, however: state and local officials have said they’re being passed over in favor of the federal government, which will have sole authority to control how autonomous cars are designed. That said, it would still be up to individual states to allow (or prohibit) self-driving cars on their roads.

According to Recode, consumer groups such as the Consumers Union wanted stronger safety regulations applied to self-driving cars. The group also expressed concerns about the tech’s impact on jobs — specifically those of truck drivers.

The bill hasn’t become law yet, as it still needs to make its way through the Senate. If it does, it will push us one step closer to life with autonomous cars. While some have argued they may pose a threat to our driving abilities, autonomous cars have also been heralded as the key to reducing traffic jams and accidents.

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The House Passed a Bill That Could Create a Branch of the Military for Space Defense

The Space Corps

Recently, it was revealed that legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would permit the creation of a sixth branch of the Armed Forces — the United States Space Corps (USSC). Proposed in part to protect satellites from potential interference, this will be, in effect, a space army. While the Trump administration is not in full support of this addition, the bill was passed by the House on Friday. 

Most Awaited Space Science Missions of 2017
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The USSC, however, still has a long way to go. This new branch would be created through an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the additional effort (and cost) is seen by some to be unnecessary. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, one person who is not on board with the USSC, was recently quoted as saying,  “At a time when we are trying to integrate the department’s joint warfighting functions, I do not wish to add a separate service that would likely present a narrower and even parochial approach to space operations.”

But how narrow and limited would the space corps really be?

A Safer Future

There are many, like Mattis, who see the progression of the USSC as an extra, unnecessary branch — one that would be too specific to provide a justifiable benefit to the American people. While future advancements in space exploration might broaden and intensify a need for cosmic protection, even just the seemingly narrow role of satellite protection is important, too.

For one, all of our smartphones and other computing devices rely on satellites. Our navigation systems, our hospitals, public transportation — just about everything that we depend on depends on satellites. National security is vitally tied to the our satellites and, as of now, they are relatively unprotected. It might seem somewhat superfluous to create an entire branch of the military to do this job, but as many have pointed out, in today’s world, the task is an essential one. The pushback might keep the Space Corps from becoming a reality for quite some time, but it certainly has a lot of people considering why such a branch might be needed in the first place. If not now, then in the near future.

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Eric Schmidt’s daughter Alison has passed away

A memorial page has been posted to the website of the Schmidt Foundation.

Alison Schmidt, one of Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt’s two daughters, has passed away, according to a memorial page posted on the website of the Schmidt Family Foundation.

“Our condolences to the Schmidt Family for the loss of their beloved daughter Alison, who recently passed away after a long illness. The family is making arrangements for a private memorial service,” the page states.

The 501(c)3 non-profit foundation is aimed at promoting energy and environmental sustainability.

James Fallows, a correspondent for The Atlantic, also posted about Alison’s passing.

The Schmidt Family Foundation declined to comment beyond what was posted to their website. Recode has also reached out to Alphabet for comment.

We extend our deepest condolences to the Schmidt family for their loss.

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