We’re leading today with the big AI news out of France, where Cedric Villani, winner of the Fields Medal and a French MP, is a rising star. He’s the human brain behind France’s 150-page AI strategy unveiled on Thursday, an influential ambassador pushing mathematics- and science-based education and policies. The plan at first glance seems well researched, well hyped and well packaged (a nice website and in catchy English). But will it be well received? This might serve as an inspiration for a different way to make – and present – policy in the EU.
ICYMI, the city of Atlanta, the capital of Georgia, was held hostage by a ransomware. From Thursday last week until Tuesday of this week, the city government’s digital systems were being held for ransom. Residents couldn’t pay water bills online, report potholes, or access the city’s website. Had a layover at the busiest airport in the world - ATL? No wifi for you. This attack was one of the best coordinated and biggest attacks on urban infrastructure to date, impacting an area of 6 million inhabitants. While critical infrastructure like those for 911 calls was left untouched, will the next victim – potentially in Europe – be so lucky?
* Zachery here, Georgia native. Hotlanta is the colloquial nickname for Atlanta, referring to its hot climate.
Where will fintech stop? It can do what old-school banking has done since the dawn of finance – and do it better. The latest disrupter comes from Sweden. Online mortgage provider Enkla offers much lower interest rates than the banks overseen by Swedish regulators. Authorities are only just catching up and say Enkla won’t need to meet the same rules that apply to banks until 2019. Meanwhile, Enkla is receiving some 1 billion SEK (€100 million) worth of applications, per hour. So where will fintech stop? There is growing concern among traditional bankers that there may be no answer to this question.
Virtual reality isn’t just for geeky gamers. A British startup designed a suit that can give a sense of touch when playing VR games, providing innovative healthcare implications. The suit can help stimulate the muscles of paraplegics and people with physical disabilities. VR has often showed that it can benefit disabled people by facilitating travel or by helping those who have brain injuries to be more independent. In the coming years, researchers and engineers will definitely find multiple ways to apply technology in health and healthcare.
Still on the VR train - this is a *very* long read, but well worth it. You’ve surely heard of out-of-body or near-death experiences, and probably had your doubts about their validity. One thing is certain: the people that claim to have had these experiences always feel profoundly changed afterwards. This piece tracks research on that subject and how it’s morphed in the digital age. Virtual embodiment, a new area of research funded by the EU, studies how experiences in VR can redefine how humans define and experience themselves. It’s a bit complex to describe in this short space, but read on for more on how it’s had an impact on domestic violence rates and the researcher’s visions for how it might be applied to other areas.
As US states continue to cut public health and family planning funding, apps like NURX aim to maintain women’s access to birth control. The app allows women to input health data, receive advice on the best contraceptive for them, and receive that medicine at their door. The service is often free or around $15. This is a boon to the hundreds of thousands of women who don’t have health insurance for doctor’s visits or prescriptions. It is especially useful for those who live in “contraceptive deserts” where access to women’s health services is nearly impossible. As these deserts continue to grow, especially in large states like Texas, we can expect to see more and more technology being used to try to fill in the gaps.
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