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TL,DR: Robot blood; Sino-British AI; camera plants; zero-carbon electricity

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What’s happening in the world of engineering and technology?

In the UK

Hooked on Norway's rain and snow

While debating leaving one union, Britain is keen to connect in a different way with other geographical areas. After agreeing to link the power grids of the UK and Norway via the world's longest 'interconnector' hooks, it could mean that water flowing from the mountains into the fjords of Norway may soon be powering British living rooms.

Renewables not so new anymore, as supply outstrips fossil fuels

With considerable inroads on wind power - which grew from 1.3 per cent a decade ago to 18.8 per cent in 2019 - and a considerable reigning in of coal - which recorded a decrease from 30.4 to 2.5 per cent - more British electricity is set to come from zero-carbon sources than fossil fuels for the first time.

Part of the secret in further cleaning up its power grid would come from demanding cleaner energy from other countries - something that may put a smile on the one or the other follower of the Brexit debate. By 2030, the UK anticipates having six 'interconnectors' connecting it to other countries, with nearly all of the power imported being zero-carbon, a dramatic increase from today's proportion of two-thirds.

Plant power keeps the batteries charged

For wildlife researchers to keep monitoring, it can get in the way that monitoring devices are no perpetuum mobile. They need be recharged or replaced to function. Scientists and green energy specialists Plant E in the Netherlands, have now developed a way to use plants to power cameras, traps and sensors in the wild, so that wildlife experts can keep the lights on the devices from afar and are able to keep monitoring habitats such as tropical rain forests without the hassle of replacing chargers.

Saving energy by turning off between keystrokes

The more energy we use, the more we emit CO2. Households understanding the perils of a weakening climate will be glad to hear that new inroads in science promise to transform daily life with an ultra-low energy consumption device - an electronic memory device. Developed by Lancaster University, a type of computer memory meant to solve the digital technology energy crisis has been invented and patented by scientists and could enable computers which do not need to boot up to 'sleep between keystrokes'. The technology is thought to be a disruptor and replace a $100bn heavy working memory market and challenge long-term memory in flash drives.

Meanwhile, in the US

Slack is not slacking off and lists on NYSE

The news of the week in US technology is undoubtedly Slack, the maker of team collaboration software tools and online services, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Caveat of the IPO involved an unusual direct listing - Slack simply made shares available without involving bankers (meaning the poor bankers missed out). In the past, Slack has been criticised for making workers less productive and also for being addictive. Other criticism stemmed from the fact that Slack stored data in the cloud, which was only under Slack's control (which could, for instance, complicate instant-accessing archived messages), as well as a change in the firm's privacy policy. With so much more public money now at hand, will problems like these find the attention of executives?

"Facebook’s jump into cryptocurrencies is another nail in the coffin for traditional banks"

At least according to the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory organisations, Nigel Green, founder and chief executive of deVere Group. He says that the role of traditional banks will decline at a quicker rate than many had previously predicted. Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency would allow users to transact across traditional payment rails and the partnering with PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Stripe, amongst others, will fuel merchant acceptance of the digital currency.

Google is fed up with making tablets

Reports surfaced that Google will not be launching a sequel to last year's Pixel tablet, after the Pixel Slate generally received only 'mediocre reviews'. Perhaps tablet developers working at Google should look out for new jobs?

Sail me to the moon, Carl

SpaceX, the private US aerospace manufacturer and space transportation services company from California, is planning to launch a sail propelled through space by solar radiation next week. Who came up with the idea in the first place? Someone best known for his scientific contribution to research into extraterrestrial life, that's who: Carl Sagan.

Do you 'recall' the time of the old MacBook Pro laptops?

Apple certainly does. It has announced that it will recall several of its older MacBook Pro laptops over a fire safety risk linked to batteries. Perhaps better to turn your old machine off before going to sleep. 

In Asia

Don't judge it by its foldable cover

Huawei revealed a notable update in the design of its foldable phone and shows that further plans have been left largely unaffected by criticism and blacklisting in other countries. The Huawei Mate X II foldable could be poised to challenge a new market of consumers. Despite delays and postponing of the launch of the Mate X for late Q3 2019, latest patents filings with World Intellectual Property Organization shows that Huawei may not be willing to give up on its 'foldables' portfolio.

From the world of science

Blood transfusion for bots

US researchers managed to guarantee enhanced machinery endurance by creating a form of 'robot blood'. Scientists at New York-based Cornell University came up with a system of circulating liquid within robotic structures that stores energy and power robotic applications to prepare them for long-duration tasks.

At the IET

The IET kicked off the 'China-Britain AI Summit 2019'. It invited guests such as Emma McClarkin, a member of the European Parliament for the East Midlands constituency, who said we need to consider the human element when implementing AI. Mike Carr, president of the IET reminded those present about the importance of ethics in AI when installing it. He also welcomed the collaboration with China - 39 per cent of technical content at the IET already comes from China.

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