How Blockchain Is Changing Our World

Computer monitors morph into chain linksUses extend far beyond the financial sector.

By Rick Richardson

It's quickly becoming apparent that blockchain technology is about far more than just Bitcoin. Across finance, health care, media and other sectors, innovative uses are appearing every day.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: IBM Has Created a Computer Smaller Than a Grain of Salt | Think Twice About Logging into Your Hotel’s Wi-Fi | DNA Nanorobots Killed Cancerous Tumors | GM Plans a Car with No Steering Wheel in 2019
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Here are some examples of blockchain in use today. While some may fail to live up to their promises, others could go on to become household names if blockchain proves itself to be as revolutionary as many are predicting.
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IBM Has Created a Computer Smaller Than a Grain of Salt

Photo of chip on a fingertipGet ready to see – or not see – more of them.

By Rick Richardson

If there's one downside to powerful computers, it's that they're too big.

Luckily, that's about to change. At least, if IBM has anything to say about it.

Last month, IBM held its flagship conference, Think 2018, where the company unveiled what it claims is the world's smallest computer. They're not kidding: It's smaller than a grain of salt.

But don't let the size fool you: This little fella has the computing power of the x86 chip from 1990. Okay, so that's not great compared to what we have today but cut it some slack – you need a microscope to see it.

The computer will cost less than 10 cents to manufacture, and will also pack "several hundred thousand transistors," according to the company. These will allow it to "monitor, analyze, communicate and even act on data."

It even works with blockchain. Specifically, this computer will be a data source for blockchain applications. It's intended to help track the shipment of goods and detect theft, fraud and noncompliance. It can also do basic AI tasks, such as sorting the data it's given.

According to IBM, this is only the beginning. "Within the next five years, cryptographic anchors – such as ink dots or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt – will be embedded in everyday objects and devices," says IBM head of research Arvind Krishna. If he's correct, we'll see way more of these tiny systems in objects and devices in the years to come.

It's not clear yet when this thing will be released – IBM researchers are currently testing its first prototype. But one thing's for sure: The future is here. You just might need a microscope to see it.

Think Twice About Logging into Your Hotel’s Wi-Fi

Laptop open in hotel roomAre you giving your personal info away?

By Rick Richardson

What's the first thing you do when you arrive at your hotel?

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Check into Wi-Fi, obviously. Everything else, like unpacking, eating, drinking and enjoying yourself, comes after.
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Amazon Plans 6 More Cashierless Go Stores in 2018

Exterior of an Amazon Go storeIs Whole Foods next?

By Rick Richardson

After an extended testing period and one delay, Amazon’s cashier-free grocery store finally opened to the public last month.

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But it seems that the experiment has already been deemed a success, as the company is reportedly planning six more Amazon Go locations by the end of this year.
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Solar Panels Generate Power from Falling Raindrops

Illustration of raindrops on solar panelsNo sun? No problem.

By Rick Richardson

One of the biggest problems plaguing the widespread adoption of solar power is rainy weather.

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Solar panels are designed to convert sunlight into electricity. But when it's cloudy or rainy, they're rendered useless.
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DNA Nanorobots Killed Cancerous Tumors

Rendering of DNA helixThey did it by clotting, but only in the targeted areas.

By Rick Richardson

Chinese researchers have developed a method using microscopic robots to kill cancerous tumors and stifle future growth.

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The study published in the journal Nature Biotechnology uses nanotechnology to deliver thrombin, an enzyme that helps blood to clot.
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Microsoft CEO Sees Need for Education Revolution

Nadella

Not college or even high school, he said; the need is in middle school.

By Rick Richardson

“The world is rapidly running out of computing capacity," Satya Nadella said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The head of tech giant Microsoft warned that superfast quantum computers were needed to solve some of the most difficult problems.

MORE TECH THIS WEEK: Facial Recognition Could Replace Boarding Passes Within 4 Years | GM Plans a Car with No Steering Wheel in 2019 | Wireless Keyboard Never Needs Batteries | Why Laptops Are Terrible for Note-Taking | Machine Learning [VIDEO] | The End of Compliance [VIDEO]
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Nadella cited the quest to create a catalyst that can absorb carbon, in order to help tackle climate change.
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