Technology Tuesday: December 27

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Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.

This week: Mark Zuckerberg reveals his personal AI, Jarvis, a universal antivenom, South Korean fusion reactor reaches new milestone, CRISPR gene editing takes another step forward, and the UN elevates the issue of antibiotic resistence.


Zuckerberg’s Artificial Intelligence, JARVIS

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At the beginning of this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg challenged himself to build an AI system to run his home and help him with work. He named the project Jarvis, after the fictional AI system built by Marvel’s Iron Man. This Jarvis may not have the wit or the Mind Stone of his namesake, but what Zuckerberg has managed to build is pretty impressive.

Zuckerberg recently explained the process of building Jarvis, while also being quite candid about its strengths and weaknesses. The system helps him and his wife Priscilla around the home by turning lights on and off, letting them know where their dog Beast is, or alerting them if their daughter is stirring in her room.

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Using Nanoparticles to Create a Universal Antivenom

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Each year, more than 100,000 people worldwide die from venomous snakebites. Even more, an estimated 4.5 million are bitten by these creatures, with nearly 3 million of them suffering serious injury, such as amputation. Since a variety of toxins are contained in the venom of any given species of venomous snake, it is imperative that the correct antivenom be administered in time to a bite victim. This is extremely difficult in many parts of the world for various reasons including the remote location of most of the incidents, lack of required refrigeration, and the staggering cost of producing conventional antivenom.

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South Korea’s KSTAR Fusion Reactor Hits New Milestone

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Wondering why a fusion reactor isn’t powering your home right now? There are numerous reasons, but one of the biggest is simply keeping the necessary super-hot plasma in an ideal state for energy generation — it doesn’t last that way for long. South Korea, however, just edged closer to that goal. The country’s KSTAR (Korean Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research) reactor team claims to have set an endurance record for operating with “high performance” plasma. The feat only lasted for 70 seconds, but that’s still a “huge step forward,” according to the National Fusion Research Institute.

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New Cas Enzymes Discovered for Use With CRISPR

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Microbes use a number of CRISPR-Cas systems for immunity, but it’s the class 2 system, typically utilizing the nuclease Cas9, that has been adapted for genome editing. A metagenomics search of microbes sampled from soil, groundwater, an acid mine drainage site in Colorado, and a Utah geyser has led to the discovery of additional class 2 CRISPR-Cas programs, including the first Cas9 identified in archaea and two small Cas enzymes in bacteria. Researchers published their findings in Nature today (December 22).

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The UN Declares Antibiotic Resistance to be a Global Crises

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The drugs that have protected us from virulent bacteria for more than seventy years are slowly losing their edge, and we need new weapons. Disease-causing bacteria are becoming impervious to antibiotics that once wiped them out, including some drugs once considered last-resort.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect at least 2 million people every year in the United States, killing 23,000. Some researchers estimate that if left unchecked, superbugs will kill 10 million people every year and cost the global economy $100 trillion by the year 2050.

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Know any interesting stories we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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