[ singularityhub.com ] How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

How to Feed 9.7 Billion People? CRISPR Gene Editing For Crops

It’s no secret that we’re going to struggle to feed the rapidly expanding global population. New genome editing technologies could hold the answer, according to scientists.

The number of humans on this planet is expected to hit 9.7 billion by 2050, and crop demand is predicted to increase by 100 to 110 percent of 2005 levels over the same period. At the same time, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that changing weather patterns will almost certainly have a negative impact on crop yields.

Traditional plant breeding approaches have managed to achieve impressive increases in crop yield in the past, but the process is laborious and can take decades to develop improved varieties. More recent genetically modified (GM) crops have resulted in further improvements by transplanting genes from one organism to another.

Now the emergence of the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 is making it possible to precisely edit the native DNA of organisms with the potential to dramatically increase crop yields. In a recent commentary in the journal Science, Armin Scheben and David Edwards from the University of Western Australia say we should embrace the opportunity.

Unlike previous approaches to GM crops that introduce foreign DNA into an organism, genome editing achieves much the same outcome as selective breeding—but in a much faster and more selective way and without having to rely on natural genetic variation.

It effectively acts like a find-and-replace tool in a word processor, allowing researchers to target very specific sections of DNA and delete or substitute them. Aside from allaying some people’s fears about ‘Frankenstein food,’ the approach is also cheaper, easier and more precise than earlier approaches.

Importantly, it allows scientists to edit multiple targets simultaneously, which allows what is known as “trait stacking” and manipulation of complex gene networks related to things like drought tolerance.

“Many simple trait improvements involving few genes have likely already been made in staple crops, so that trait stacking and more complex modification of gene networks is required to further enhance global yields,” write the researchers.

The commentary highlights several promising lab demonstrations of how genome editing can be used to enhance pest resistance and drought tolerance in crop plants. There have even been field tests of tomato plants modified to flower and crop early, which demonstrates the possibility of shifting harvest times to match changing climate patterns.

Further down the line, genome editing may even make it possible to precisely engineer more complex traits, such as photosynthesis efficiency. A 2015 study in Cell showed that supercomputers are making it possible to model the entire photosynthetic pathway and identify bottlenecks that could be targeted by genetic engineering.

But it could be a long time for these innovations to translate into yield boosts. “Anything we discover in the lab now won’t be in a farmer’s field for 20 to 30 years,” lead author Stephen Long, a plant biologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) told Sci Dev.

Part of the problem is that while we can now easily target genetic changes, we don’t actually understand the genomes of most crops well enough to know what parts to target.

“Despite the wealth of genomic data available for major crops, researchers have yet to broadly connect genotype with phenotype information, model the behavior of gene networks, characterize regulatory elements, and develop databases to integrate and analyze this information,” write Scheben and Edwards.

This means more basic research into plant biology will be needed before the full promise of genome editing can be realized. Even then, the technology may run into other obstacles, not least fears around GM crops and associated regulation.

The technology is so new that few countries have clear policies to deal with genome-edited crops. Whether regulations end up lumping them in with GM crops, classing them the same as selectively bred varieties or giving them their own designation is likely to have a major impact on their adoption.

An editorial in Nature last year called for regulators to look at the product rather than the technology, pointing out that the approach achieves the same outcomes as selective breeding, just much faster. Key to that will be making a clear distinction between GM crops and genome-edited ones, particularly in the public sphere.

“Transparency and accuracy on the part of scientists and researchers will help to dispel negative or stigmatizing perceptions of genome-edited crops and hopefully pave the way for sensible policies for their regulation and use,” said the editorial.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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[ singularityhub.com ] These 6 Trends Are Retooling Manufacturing as We Know It

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

These 6 Trends Are Retooling Manufacturing as We Know It

Let’s be honest — sometimes manufacturing gets a bad rap. The industry can be seen as a behemoth — stuck in the past and slow to innovate, the victim of outsourcing and the purveyor of consumerism. Thankfully, in 2017 these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.

Global organizations like GE and Caterpillar are investing in new technologies and innovation methods. Startups like Local Motors and Carbon are creating their own breakthroughs from the ground up. And organizations like the US Council on Competitiveness are working to keep these innovators moving forward. The future of manufacturing is bright.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of trends to watch in 2017. If you want to learn more about the technologies fueling these trends, meet the people leading the charge, and connect with fellow leaders, join us at Exponential Manufacturing May 17–19 in Boston.

1. Innovation Is Outpacing Policy

People around the world are talking a lot about recent and impending policy changes. How will these changes impact innovation in the coming years? And how will policy keep pace?

AI and robots continue automating factories. Self-driving trucks and ships aim to automate the transportation of materials and finished products. Even biotech is beginning to offer new ways to make things. These and other emerging technologies will impact how we live, work, and trade.

Some jobs will disappear while others take their place, efficiencies will improve, entire sub-industries (shipping, for example) could be upended by unexpected technologies—and all this will happen faster than expected.

Can society keep the pace? How do we regulate innovation without suffocating progress? How do we adopt an open-minded yet ethical approach to new opportunities? Planning for the future now is how organizations and policymakers will move toward the best scenarios and avoid the worst ones.

2. The Cutting Edge Won’t Be Cutting Edge for Long

If you’re reading Singularity Hub, you’re aware of some amazing advances happening across research fields and industries.

The deep analytical powers of machine learning are transforming raw data into useful insights. Some robots can now safely interact with people and more nimbly navigate messy work environments. 3D printers are giving physical form to digital designs. And biotechnology is beginning to make living systems, such as engineered bacteria, into microscopic chemical-producing factories.

While these are incredible innovations—and more arrive every day—one could argue the greatest challenge will be anticipating, timing, and creatively implementing the latest breakthroughs into business strategies. Those who recognize which technologies will serve their organization best, lead a culture of change, and navigate rough political waters, will come out on top.

3. Data-Driven Decision-Making Gets More Intelligent

Data has always played a critical role in manufacturing. The entire industry, from sourcing to production runs to sales forecasting, has relied on data for decades. However, the amount of data is growing exponentially larger by the day. Thanks to cheap, connected, and increasingly ubiquitous sensors (the Internet of Things), companies are able to monitor more than ever before — things like machinery, deliveries, even employees.

Companies need to leverage the latest in artificial intelligence to make the most of these incredibly large and powerful data sets. For those who do adopt new tools, smart decision-making will become clearer, easier and faster.

4. Accelerated Design and Real-World Market Testing

Historically, the product creation process has been notoriously long. Market research, focus groups, R&D, short runs, testing, sourcing, long runs…the list goes on. What if you could make a part that’s exactly like the finished product, in a series of one? What if you could design, build, test, and iterate in real life, before ramping up large-scale production?

You can, and in fact, GE is.

GE’s FirstBuild program is a state-of-the-art, community-sourced lab that lies outside their main campus and is used for the rapid prototyping of new ideas. If a product proves its worth in a sample market, the design is transferred to the main campus for full production.

These are the changes that technologies like additive manufacturing and materials science are bringing to product design. When a giant like GE creates a spinoff group to act like a startup, it becomes obvious that power is being democratized, innovation times are being slashed, and long-held competitive advantages are evaporating.

5. The Automation and Democratization of Production

Like design, new technologies are cutting the time and cost required to get products to market. However, there are larger shifts happening in the overall production process as well. Robots are becoming more nimble, more versatile and smarter. Computer-guided fabrication—both additive and subtractive—is getting faster, cheaper, and more precise. Factories are becoming more efficient, while raw material waste is decreasing. All of this increases competition, making success without these technologies nearly impossible.

On the other end of the spectrum, the spread of additive manufacturing, the boom of the maker movement, and a reduction in small machinery cost are allowing individuals to build mini-factories in their homes. What was once only possible in the largest factories is now doable in your neighbor’s garage. And while some may discount the innovative potential of the non-professionals, consider the incredible amount of human capital unlocked by this change.

6. Reimagining the Global Supply Chain

One of the most difficult sectors of manufacturing is the supply chain, from sourcing raw materials around the world to delivering finished goods on time. Supply chain managers are responsible for coordinating with hundreds, if not thousands, of partners and service providers to make sure products are delivered on time, on budget, and in good condition.

While it may not be the sexiest piece of the puzzle, it’s certainly a critical one — and it’s ripe for improvement. Self-driving trucks and ships, AI-powered planning software, and localized manufacturing facilities are all converging to reshape the very nature of supply chains.

So, we’ve highlighted six trends currently impacting the global manufacturing landscape. What does it mean, though? How do we stay ahead of these shifts? How do we know which technologies will stick and which will end up as the Betamax of the year?

Some of these questions are yet unanswerable, while some gain more clarity each day. What we do know is that this is just the beginning. As technologies converge, they will continue creating ever stronger advances, thus compounding the rate of improvement.

Manufacturing leaders should incorporate ongoing, future-oriented education as part of their annual development to stay up-to-date on new breakthroughs, learn where the industry is headed, and discover how to bring these competitive advantages into their own organizations.


Ready to start your education? Join Singularity University for Exponential Manufacturing, an event that will lead 600+ manufacturing executives, entrepreneurs, and investors through an intensive 3-day program to look into these questions, connect with like-minded leaders, and prepare for success in the year to come. Prices increase April 1st. Apply here and save up to 15% with code SUHUB2017.

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[ futurism.com ] Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

Fatigued, Not Sleep-Deprived

If you are feeling exhausted all the time, you must need more sleep, right? Not necessarily. Although the CDC estimates that around 35 percent of us are coming up short in the sleep department, research is suggesting that fatigue can plague a person regardless of the amount of sleep they get. Fatigue is a costly condition, too, costing American employers about $100 billion annually as more than 20 percent of us struggle with fatigue that is serious enough to disrupt our daily lives.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), fatigue contributes to about 7 percent of all road accidents. The NHTSA also says that fatigue is responsible for 2.6 percent of all traffic fatalities, causing almost 886 fatal crashes, 37,000 injury crashes, and $45,000 property-damage only crashes every year. This is a conservative estimate, and NHTSA confirms that the 2009 Massachusetts Special Commission on Drowsy Driving might be right; if it is, fatigue is responsible for as many as 1.2 million crashes, 500,000 injuries, and 8,000 fatalities each year.

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

If all we needed to do to prevent fatigue and its devastating effects was to get everyone to spend a few extra hours in bed each night, we might be able to find a simple solution. But research is showing that fatigue is caused by sources beyond sleep deprivation. If fatigue is more than feeling tired, how do we know what it really is? Smith College neuroscientist Mary Harrington, one of several researchers looking for a reliable biological signal for fatigue, says there are a few possibilities.

Unpacking Fatigue With Research

Fatigue might be tied to a problem with the circadian clock, which is regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain. Normally, this area coordinates brain activity and hormones for a peak in alertness early in the day. Amount of sleep isn’t important, but light hitting the retina is, so too much light at night can be disruptive (as anyone who has experienced jet lag knows).

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

High body fat and levels of leptin released by fat cells may also be the issue. Leptin is a hormone that tells the brain when the body has enough energy. Higher leptin levels have been linked to increased fatigue and, presumably, less motivation to go out hunting and gathering. Furthermore, people whose bodies store excess fat also tend to exhibit more inflammation. This causes cytokines, which make you feel fatigued and drained, to be released into the body.

Another possible source of fatigue that researchers are looking at is depression. However, as with the other two possibilities, it seems that depression alone can’t solve the fatigue riddle — at least not when fatigue exists in so many millions of people.

If we are going to solve the mystery of fatigue and the many costs associated with it, we need to invest more into studying it. While the National Institutes of Health is searching for the elusive roots of fatigueHarrington told New Scientist that attention from more researchers and improved animal models will be needed to put fatigue to bed once and for all.

“I’ve done a lot of work on this because I think we can crack it,” Harrington said. “But I do feel pretty alone out there.”

The post Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone. appeared first on Futurism.

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[ futurism.com ] Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

Fatigued, Not Sleep-Deprived

If you are feeling exhausted all the time, you must need more sleep, right? Not necessarily. Although the CDC estimates that around 35 percent of us are coming up short in the sleep department, research is suggesting that fatigue can plague a person regardless of the amount of sleep they get. Fatigue is a costly condition, too, costing American employers about $100 billion annually as more than 20 percent of us struggle with fatigue that is serious enough to disrupt our daily lives.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), fatigue contributes to about 7 percent of all road accidents. The NHTSA also says that fatigue is responsible for 2.6 percent of all traffic fatalities, causing almost 886 fatal crashes, 37,000 injury crashes, and $45,000 property-damage only crashes every year. This is a conservative estimate, and NHTSA confirms that the 2009 Massachusetts Special Commission on Drowsy Driving might be right; if it is, fatigue is responsible for as many as 1.2 million crashes, 500,000 injuries, and 8,000 fatalities each year.

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

If all we needed to do to prevent fatigue and its devastating effects was to get everyone to spend a few extra hours in bed each night, we might be able to find a simple solution. But research is showing that fatigue is caused by sources beyond sleep deprivation. If fatigue is more than feeling tired, how do we know what it really is? Smith College neuroscientist Mary Harrington, one of several researchers looking for a reliable biological signal for fatigue, says there are a few possibilities.

Unpacking Fatigue With Research

Fatigue might be tied to a problem with the circadian clock, which is regulated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the brain. Normally, this area coordinates brain activity and hormones for a peak in alertness early in the day. Amount of sleep isn’t important, but light hitting the retina is, so too much light at night can be disruptive (as anyone who has experienced jet lag knows).

Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone.

High body fat and levels of leptin released by fat cells may also be the issue. Leptin is a hormone that tells the brain when the body has enough energy. Higher leptin levels have been linked to increased fatigue and, presumably, less motivation to go out hunting and gathering. Furthermore, people whose bodies store excess fat also tend to exhibit more inflammation. This causes cytokines, which make you feel fatigued and drained, to be released into the body.

Another possible source of fatigue that researchers are looking at is depression. However, as with the other two possibilities, it seems that depression alone can’t solve the fatigue riddle — at least not when fatigue exists in so many millions of people.

If we are going to solve the mystery of fatigue and the many costs associated with it, we need to invest more into studying it. While the National Institutes of Health is searching for the elusive roots of fatigueHarrington told New Scientist that attention from more researchers and improved animal models will be needed to put fatigue to bed once and for all.

“I’ve done a lot of work on this because I think we can crack it,” Harrington said. “But I do feel pretty alone out there.”

The post Getting Sleep, but Still Exhausted? Science Says You’re Not Alone. appeared first on Futurism.

http://ift.tt/2ocIry2

[ futurism.com ] The Future of Augmented Reality Is Bright

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

The Future of Augmented Reality Is Bright

Augmented reality is about to change everything.

The post The Future of Augmented Reality Is Bright appeared first on Futurism.

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[ gsmarena.com ] Truecaller 8 brings payment system, Duo integration, integrated Truemessenger

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

Truecaller 8 brings payment system, Duo integration, integrated Truemessenger

Truecaller has announced version 8.0 of its caller ID service and it is the biggest one yet. The company outlined the new features that will be coming with this update, some immediately and others at a later date.

The first one is the integration with Truemessenger. Truemessenger was a standalone SMS app for Android that would identify messages from unknown numbers and also had a built-in spam filter. As of version 8, Truemessenger will now be integrated into Truecaller itself on Android so you no longer need to have two apps installed.

Truecaller also added flash…

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[ futurism.com ] These Might Be the Most Realistic Virtual Objects Ever

[ mukeshbalani.com ] “You heard it here first…if you haven’t already heard it elsewhere”…

These Might Be the Most Realistic Virtual Objects Ever

Get close and personal with virtual objects.

The post These Might Be the Most Realistic Virtual Objects Ever appeared first on Futurism.

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