Category Archives: Emerging Technology

Removing patent protections from vaccines not about delivering more doses

Turns out that advocating dropping patent protection is for public relations messaging:

It won’t speed the manufacture of vaccines. It enraged the developers who delivered lifesaving doses in record time. But President Joe Biden’s decision to support waiving intellectual property rights for coronavirus shots had a broader purpose: to broadcast his administration’s commitment to global leadership.

More than a month of internal debate led up to Biden’s decision this week to endorse international calls to strip patent protections for vaccines.

Source: Biden move to share vaccine designed to spread US influence | KATU

President Biden implies that taking the intellectual property of vaccine manufacturers is to promote himself. Others in his party suggest he should go further and establish price controls on drug products.

This is not going to end well.

EU leaders do not support the U.S. position and call it a “false debate” as eliminating patents will not deliver vaccines faster. In fact, the major restriction is that the U.S. government has banned the export of vaccines manufactured in the U.S., and in some cases, even the components used by companies to manufacture vaccines outside the U.S.

EU leaders are not pleased with Biden’s proposal at all and in diplomatic speak pretty much called it stupid.

GM to address rare Chevy Bolt EV battery fires with new diagnostics

Rather than replace the errant batteries (apparently problem may only affect some vehicles or scenarios), GM dealers will install a new diagnostic system that monitors the battery pack and issues a warning to have it serviced, before it becomes a critical failure.

The software will monitor for potential battery problems and alert owners before they become an issue.

Source: GM to install advanced diagnostic software in all Chevy Bolts as recall fix – Roadshow

New battery chemistry said to provide 10x faster charging than Li-Ion batteries

Researchers in Russia have developed a new type of battery technology that they say can charge approximately 10 times faster than existing lithium-ion batteries – a speed-up that could offer huge time-saving advantages if it got rolled out in everyday devices.”

A battery manufactured using our polymer will charge in seconds – about 10 times faster than a traditional lithium-ion battery,” says electrochemistry researcher Oleg Levin from St Petersburg University. “This has already been demonstrated through a series of experiments.”

The key to the new batteries is a kind of nitroxyl-based redox polymer, a material that can undergo reversible oxidation (loss of electrons) and reduction (gain of electrons) when it discharges and charges.

Source: New Type of Battery Can Charge 10x Faster Than Lithium-Ion Models

Innovation shifts to western states in the U.S.

What are the most innovative U.S. states?

Source: Geographic Patterns of Innovation Across U.S. States: 1980-2010 | St. Louis Fed

Between the 1980s and the 2000s, based on patents filed/1000 population, innovations has strongly increased in the western US, but we also see strong growth in the Intermountain region (ID, UT, CO), plus Texas, MN, MI and New England.

One big changes, besides the growth in computing and semiconductors, is that software patents were not allowed in the 1980s. That new category opened opportunities for many more patent filings.

Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says – IEEE Spectrum

This is true – with a reminder that even as a brain injured idiot, I am a retired computer engineer and computer scientist:

Artificial-intelligence systems are nowhere near advanced enough to replace humans in many tasks involving reasoning, real-world knowledge, and social interaction. They are showing human-level competence in low-level pattern recognition skills, but at the cognitive level they are merely imitating human intelligence, not engaging deeply and creatively, says Michael I. Jordan, a leading researcher in AI and machine learning.

Source: Stop Calling Everything AI, Machine-Learning Pioneer Says – IEEE Spectrum

Much of our “AI” mimics some human behaviors while much more is sheer computational horsepower enabling us to create models with complex weighted input mappings which we refer to as “machine learning”. This is all good but its not the AI that many people think of when they hear the term.

And this is actually quite cool:

He says he believes that developments in machine learning reflect the emergence of a new field of engineering. He draws parallels to the emergence of chemical engineering in the early 1900s from foundations in chemistry and fluid mechanics, noting that machine learning builds on decades of progress in computer science, statistics, and control theory. Moreover, he says, it is the first engineering field that is humancentric, focused on the interface between people and technology.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services acknowledges cloth face masks do not work?

Am guessing they intend to make face masks mandatory forever:

The Mask Innovation Challenge aims to improve the comfort, utility, and protective capabilities of available community masks that are worn during day-to-day activities when physical distancing is not possible. This competition is designed to support the development of mask designs that meet predefined performance standards, while providing increased comfort and durability to the average consumer.

The Mask Innovation Challenge seeks to develop innovative and effective designs for mass-producible, general-use, low-cost per use masks that provide enhanced protection from respiratory disease pathogens. Furthermore, it should be usable by most people without extensive considerations for form, fit, and training for the user. Despite guidelines published by the CDC that recommend the use of personal protective equipment to prevent COVID-19 infection and spread, there remains widespread resistance to mask use; these barriers include, but are not limited to:

  • Currently available retail masks are often untested, with unknown protective capability
  • Physical discomfort with prolonged use, particularly in hot and humid environments
  • Perceived or actual breathing difficulties
  • Irritant contact dermatitis with extended wear
  • Inability to effectively communicate with others using facial expressions
  • Speech intelligibility and difficulty with glasses wearing,
  • Lack of understanding of the features of a mask

Source

There you go – the US DoHHS acknowledges that most masks are “untested, with unknown protective capability”. EXACTLY what I said one year ago – would you stand next to a person with confirmed Covid-19 who is coughing while that person is wearing a home made cloth mask, made from random materials, using an unknown design, and assembled by a person of unknown skill? That is specifically what the CDC told you to do one year ago – the whole point was that we don’t know if we were asymptomatic carriers and our home made cloth masks were to protect others.

Now here we are 12 months later and the Feds acknowledge the obvious – and this explains why subsequent cases went up by an order of magnitude after high compliance mask requirements went into effect. Because the cloth masks never worked.

That’s why Germany, Austria, the NBA and the White House have mandated certified N95 (or FP2s in the EU) and banned cloth face masks.

One year later: Smart phone, Bluetooth-based contact tracing apps remain AWOL

One year ago, the tech sector jumped in with a plan to develop smart phone based contact detection apps. These would use Bluetooth to estimate potential contacts with someone later testing positive for Covid-19.

I predicted at the time (see past posts) that this technology was not likely to be successful for many reasons.

Here we are, one year later, and we are only now developing testing criteria for these apps.

The Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $959,305 to the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory this week to create testing criteria for a COVID-19 digital contact tracing app. The award was granted … Read More »

Source: DHS taps University of Washington to create criteria for COVID-19 digital contact tracing app testing – Homeland Preparedness News

The media gave much attention to alleged privacy issues but that was never the problem – the problem was the nature of the technology and the high false negative and false positive rates and that huge numbers of people would need to use it for it to deliver mediocre results.

One year later, these apps are mostly non-existent and public health and has found very few potential cases through the technology. In spite of being a brain injured idiot, my analysis was correct.

Update: As of March 2021, essentially no one is using contact tracing apps in Canada either. In Alberta, the app has found 0.02% (that is 1% divided by 50!) of the positive Covid-19 cases. And some of those cases might have been determined by other means eventually anyway. The score card: 0.02% by contact tracing app and 99.98% by other methods.

EVs that swap batteries instead of recharging

(Reuters) – Ample, a seven-year-old San Francisco startup, wants to skirt one of the big hurdles to widespread adoption of electric vehicles by reviving the idea of quick, automated battery swaps for owners concerned about running out of juice while driving.

Source: California startup touts battery-swapping to juice demand for electric vehicles | Reuters

Interesting but I suspect super fast DC charging will meet most use scenarios for EVs. As EVs switch to 125 kwh to 350 kwh charging capabilities – the time to charge 80% of capacity will be short enough.

Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Agree:

Nuclear power has to overcome a baneful reputation garnered by association with the atomic bomb and radioactive disasters, but it’s a necessary, worthy and surmountable challenge to correct the naysayers, according to Gates.

That’s because the need for clean energy is dire, and the operation of nuclear power plants produces no greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gates, new innovations in nuclear technology (in which he is an investor) are making nuclear energy safer and more affordable, and countries around the world are starting to adopt nuclear power.

Source: Bill Gates: Nuclear power will ‘absolutely’ be politically acceptable

Excellent: Tech startup builds repairable, upgradeable notebook computer

Good for consumers and the environment:

Laptops these days are slimmer, sleeker, and lighter than ever—but their repairability and configurability are taking enormous hits in the process. Framework is seeking to roll back the clock in a good way with its first product, the upcoming Framework 13.5-inch laptop.

Following the lead of companies like Fairphone, the startup is focused on respecting users’ right to repair by building systems focused on modular design, with components that are easily configured, replaced, and even upgraded.

Source: Framework startup designed a thin, modular, repairable 13-inch laptop | Ars Technica

Meanwhile, my old Apple Macbook Pro has batteries glued inside and which take 2-3 hours of labor to replace… not repairable, re-usable, recyclable technology.