GE test-flies the world’s largest jet engine

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Airliners are growing ever bigger to haul more people per flight, which means they need appropriately massive engines — and GE Aviation is happy to oblige. It recently conducted the first test flight of the GE9X, widely billed as the world's larges…
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Jakub Rozalski’s Howling at the Moon is a beautiful art book that merges real and fictional worlds

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Late last year, concept art website ArtStation unveiled its first print book: Martin Deschambault’s Project 77, a neat collection that blends science fiction concept art and storytelling. The site announced its next book earlier this week: Howling at the Moon by Jakub Rozalski, the artist behind the acclaimed board game Scythe.

The book is a beautiful collection of fantastical art that reminds me of the style of Simon Stålenhag’s Tales from the Loop, which depicts an alternate, futuristic Sweden. Rozalski’s art features menacing robots and machines dotting the countryside of his native Poland, but rather than looking at the future, he draws his inspiration from the country’s rich past, using its history, wars, and folklore as the basis…

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The World’s First AI Financial Advisor to be Showcased at SXSW

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MMW has learned today that Pefin has been nominated and selected as a finalist in the interactive innovation category under New Economy, which honors those redefining the exchange of goods and services, from the sharing economy, to virtual currency, to micro-finance, to mobile-device-payment systems, and beyond.

If you’re not familiar, SXSW was founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas and is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film, and music industries.

Pefin’s proprietary technology helps users navigate the important decisions that impact their long-term financial well-being — from buying a house to starting a new job to saving for a child and retirement. It also provides personalized, actionable investment strategies that are tied to specific financial plans. Pefin’s patent-pending AI platform provides the same level of intelligent guidance as a human advisor at 1/20th of the cost and is powered by over 2 million data points assuring that information is real-time. All of this for the cost of a few cups of coffee. Founder, Ramya Joseph, CEO, Catherine Flax and CTO, Jay Gopalakrishnan will be attending the festival and available to answer questions and provide demonstrations.

Pefin’s goal is to inform attendees at SXSW on how to help people live their best financial life, regardless of age, gender, income, wealth, financial expertise or past mistakes.

To learn more, click here.

The post The World’s First AI Financial Advisor to be Showcased at SXSW appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

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Sierra Leone Just Held the World’s First Blockchain-Powered Election

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On March 7, 2018, blockchain startup Agora oversaw the results of Sierra Leone’s presidential election, marking the first use of the technology in this capacity.

For voters, the process wasn’t any different than previous elections. They arrived at their polling center, showed election officials their IDs, and then cast their votes on a paper ballot for one of 16 candidates.

What happened next was unlike any other election, though. As Agora’s chief operating officer Jaron Lukasiewicz explained to Coindesk, the Swiss startup then manually recorded the votes on a permissioned blockchain.

Permissioned blockchains aren’t quite the same as public blockchains, like those supporting the cryptocurrencies bitcoin. While anyone can validate transactions on a public blockchain, only authorized persons can validate transactions on a permissioned blockchain.

In the case of the Sierra Leone election, the authorized parties included people from Agora, the Red Cross, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Freiburg.

However, like a public blockchain, anyone can view transactions recorded on a permissioned blockchain. That means that once the groups managing the blockchain verified the Sierra Leone votes, anyone — voters, candidates, or just interested third parties — could see the election results.

According to Agora, the company even produced their results two hours sooner than election officials.

Sierra Leone has a history of violence surrounding elections, with several incidents reported in the days prior to 2018’s presidential election. The nation’s government is also more corrupt than most, so the small West African country served as an appropriate testing ground for a technology designed to increase fairness in the election process.

“A country like Sierra Leone can ultimately minimize a lot of the fall-out of a highly contentious election by using software like this,” Lukasiewicz told Coindesk.

Agora’s use of blockchain for the Sierra Leone election isn’t the company’s ultimate vision for the technology. Eventually, the startup hopes to eliminate the use of paper ballots altogether, allowing voters to cast their votes via personal electronic devices. This will cut down on election costs, increase voter accessibility, and eliminate a potential avenue for corruption.

Still, Agora’s work in Sierra Leone marked an important milestone on the path to a more transparent and fair democracy built on blockchain technology.

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.

The post Sierra Leone Just Held the World’s First Blockchain-Powered Election appeared first on Futurism.


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Makers of the World’s Largest Airplane Have Extraterrestrial Ambitions

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The Stratolaunch is sizing up to be the world’s largest airplane. Last year, entrepreneur Paul Allen revealed that the plane will have a massive wingspan of 117 meters (385 feet), but since the announcement details regarding what the aircraft would be used for have been scarce — until now. New information coming from an interview Allen did with The Washington Post finally brings the plane’s purpose into focus.

Instead of making a massive plane just to be able to carry more people and cargo around the world, Allen wants to use the Stratolaunch to transport and launch a reusable space shuttle currently known internally as Black Ice.

If built, the space shuttle would be roughly the same size as the space shuttle built by NASA, and could be launched from anywhere in the world, provided that Stratolaunch could utilize a runway big enough to accommodate the plane. Black Ice would be used to carry satellites into orbit and to travel to the International Space Station (though the ISS is expected to be defunded or handed off to private companies soon).

“I would love to see us have a full reusable system and have weekly, if not more often, airport-style, repeatable operations going,” Allen said during the interview.
Essentially, the Stratolaunch would serve as launch platform and first stage of the launch, while the Black Ice would be stage two and continue its voyage using its own fuel supply. After stage two commences, the plane would land and be prepped for a future flight.

It’s still too early to say whether Black Ice is going to be built at all. Right now, all attention is on the Stratolaunch. In December, the airplane completed its low speed taxi test, demonstrating that the craft was capable of steering and stopping properly, and could safely travel down the runway at 25 knots (28 miles per hour). Its first test flight had previously been set for 2019, though The Washington Post writes it could take place later this year. Regardless of when the test flight occurs, it’s sure to be an exciting display many will tune in for.

The post Makers of the World’s Largest Airplane Have Extraterrestrial Ambitions appeared first on Futurism.


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Does Dallas Have What it Takes to Be One the World’s Top Tech Hubs?

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Ask most people what comes to mind when they think of Dallas, and they’ll probably say football, steaks, and JR Ewing. But lately the answer has been a little different: “Disruption.”

You wouldn’t think Dallas, a city deeply rooted in tradition, is becoming synonymous with creating new markets and upending old ways of doing things. But sure enough, that’s exactly what’s happening.

The city’s pro-business environment, talented workforce, affordable real estate, and lack of state income taxes have always made it a magnet for traditional businesses like energy and finance. Other industries often felt it wasn’t worth their time to try and infiltrate what was seen as an Old Boys’ Club — but that antiquated perception has changed.

Here’s a look at why that is, plus explanations from some of the top CEOs and entrepreneurs in the city about the ongoing transformation.

Disruption in Dallas: A look at the numbers

“The Big D” as many call it is usually absent from discussions on which city will be the next Silicon Valley, but perhaps it doesn’t need to talk that talk. It has quietly put itself on the forefront of technology, now ranking as one of America’s fastest growing tech centers.

Dallas is business wealthy, ranking second in metro job creation (behind only New York). Historically that was because of the aforementioned traditional industries like oil, cotton, and cattle. But now, Dallas now has the 7th highest concentration of tech jobs in the country; in fact, it’s one of just four cities that have regional U.S. patent and trademark offices, a nod to the number of patents produced there.

Today Dallas is home to several world-renowned universities, 22 companies on the Fortune 500, 4 major sports franchises, and one of the biggest and busiest airports in the world. Amazon is even famously considering it to be home of its new HQ2, or second headquarters.

Other tech companies, too, are digging in — companies like Facebook and Salesforce.

“We see Dallas as a strategic location,” says Marie Rosecrans, senior vice president of small and medium-sized business at Salesforce. “Its growing reputation as a tech hub, combined with pro-business platform and even its geographic location make it a great place for any small business looking to grow.”

To that end, Salesforce is bringing its popular Business Growth conference to Dallas on March 22; anyone curious about using technology to connect systems and serve customers can attend for free.

Dallas as Start-Up Central

But it’s not just about the well established enterprises. Dallas is also home to a burgeoning field of startups and fast-growing businesses.

One exciting development: Austin-based accelerator Capital Factory recently joined forces with the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC) to grow Texas’s startup and investor profile.

The DEC’s Trey Bowles believes Dallas’s underrated tech community has a lot to offer.

“Dallas is extremely startup friendly,” he says. “If you think about larger markets like Silicon Valley or New York, there are often a lot of closed doors and hurdles you can’t overcome unless you have major connections — but in Dallas, truly anyone can start a business.”

One new founder is former NFL standout Darren Woodson. Woodson, who gave every snap in his career to the Cowboys, grew up in Arizona, but chose to stay in Dallas when he left the NFL.

“Dallas gave me an incredible football career, and now I try to give back to the city in my second career as an investor,” Woodson says.

Woodson concentrates on investing in new companies and startups that give a boost to the local economy. Today Woodson is the founder and CEO of CounterFind, a company that sells patented software that recognizes and eliminates counterfeit merchandise online.

“This software idea came up, and it seemed like a no-brainer. Several people asked whether or not Dallas was the right place to build this business, but to me there was no question. Dallas had the brains, the drive, the expertise.”

OK, but do you have to have to have name recognition to start a business here? “Not at all,” says Clarisa Lindenmeyer, Head of Strategy at Launch DFW.

“Dallas has really diversified over the past decade in terms of workforce and industry. Now that we’ve grown into something of a tech hub, people have seen the benefits of taking chances. Anyone can have access.”

Today technology companies abound in Dallas. Consider travel logistics maven MUV, which began in Dallas to disrupt ground transportation and logistics. CEO Mark Shrayber says Dallas was an easy choice.

“At a basic level, the mid-continent location puts us close to all of our customers, which is vital. Beyond that, all the Fortune 500 companies here in Dallas bring both an incredible workforce and a vibrant community.”

Traditional to transformative

Lance Auburg, a 4th generation Texan, has been witness to the transformation of Dallas and the entire state. Auburg’s family has been influential in the agricultural sector for generations, but recently Auburg has seen the opportunities presented by the influx of tech. It’s a new line of thinking that has transformed even the oldest of industries here.

“What we’re seeing today is a marriage of technology with the industries Dallas is known for, like energy and agriculture. While the innovations in those sectors are phenomenal, it’s especially exciting to see how entrepreneurs of all stripes are collaborating across Texas. There have been a lot of ups-and-downs in the Texas economy over the years, but I’ve never been more excited about the future of Dallas and Texas as a whole.”

The post Does Dallas Have What it Takes to Be One the World’s Top Tech Hubs? appeared first on ReadWrite.


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New Harry Potter game lets you attend world’s best magic school

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An RPG set in the Harry Potter universe, but where you get to create your very own wizard or witch and lead them through the Hogwarts school experience, sounds all kinds of amazing. That’s the basis for a forthcoming iOS game, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, which is set to land in the App Store any […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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