So far, around a quarter of people infected during the outbreak of a new coronavirus have developed severe respiratory infections, and around 3 per cent have died. With the numbers still climbing alarmingly fast, many groups are already rushing to try to find treatments for the virus. A vaccine that stops people being infected by the new coronavirus would obviously be better than any treatment, but that is some way off. "A vaccine would take at least a year, if not more," says virologist Jonathan Ball at the University of Nottingham in the UK. The good news is that a few existing drugs might help save lives in the meantime.
Farmers may soon have an alternative to spraying their fields with chemicals, as Small Robot Company and RootWave, two UK-based agritech startups, today announced a partnership to develop a high-precision robot that can kill weeds with a zap of electricity. Small Robot has already developed a series of small, agricultural robots, called Tom, Dick and Harry, which can automate some of the routine tasks of farming. Tom, a scouting robot similar to the Mars Rover, for example, uses computer vision to map the weeds in a field, covering about 20 hectares a day. Dick, a weeding robot, can already remove unwanted plants with either a micro-dose of pesticide or by physically crushing them, but the next stage will be to combine this with technology from RootWave, which destroys weeds by with an electric current, essentially boiling them from the inside out. "Farmers are really desperate for an alternative to the chemical control of weeds," says Sam Watson Jones, the chief executive of Small Robot Company.
Say the phrase "big data," and people tend to picture the TV show Black Mirror. They imagine a creepy dystopian future in which robot overlords control everything. But those fears are overblown. What people should think of when they think of big data is Netflix or Amazon: personalized recommendations and a customized experience that make it easier and faster for the consumer to find what they're looking for. In fact, you could say that, when it comes to big data, consumers worry about Black Mirror but hope for more Netflix.
The ranks of fintechs using Banking-as-a-Service to attract small business users to their sophisticated apps just got a jolt. An elephant by the name of Intuit just entered the room. But it's not just fintechs that are looking over their shoulder. Thousands of community financial institutions that consider small business relationships their bread and butter are -- or should -- be taking notice. Intuit, with its popular QuickBooks accounting software, is arguably the best-known brand among the small business community.