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Smart Watch Fights Flu and Diabetes, Helps Couples Get Pregnant

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 14:40
Scientists are helping patients fight flu, diabetes and other maladies with the help of a smart watch that monitors body chemistry for blood sugar, sweat and other data. Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas say it can also help couples get pregnant by tracking the stress. Mariia Prus traveled to Texas to learn more. Joy Wagner narrates her report.

EV Charging Designed to be Cheaper, Greener and Data Provider

Sun, 02/10/2019 - 13:40
A new kind of electric car charging point has been switched on in London. It's designed to make electric vehicle, or EV, charging infrastructure cheaper and greener. It also acts as a data port, as VOA's Mariama Diallo reports.

Top US University Suspends New Research Projects with Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 23:57
One of the world's top research universities, the U.S.-based University of California, Berkeley, has stopped new research projects with Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecommunications giant. The university's suspension, which took effect on January 30, came after the U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges against the corporation and some of its affiliates two days earlier. The department announced a 13-count indictment against Huawei, accusing it of stealing trade secrets, obstruction of justice, violations of economic sanctions and wire fraud. Vice Chancellor for Research Randy Katz said in a letter addressed to the Chancellor's cabinet members the campus would continue to honor existing commitments with Huawei that provide funding for current research projects. Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, has been under house arrest in Canada since December 1 for allegedly deceiving U.S. banks into clearing funds for a subsidiary that interacted with Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions. Her extradition to the U.S. is pending. Meng's arrest has prompted some observers to question whether her detention was an attempt to pressure China in its ongoing trade war with the U.S.  She is the daughter of the corporation's founder, a relationship that places her among the most influential corporate executives in China. UC Berkeley and other leading U.S. universities, meanwhile, are getting rid of telecom equipment made by Huawei and other Chinese companies to prevent losing federal funds under a new national security law. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump alleges Chinese telecom companies are manufacturing equipment that allows the Chinese government to spy on users in other countries, including Western researchers working on innovative technologies. UC Berkeley has removed a Huawei video-conferencing system, a university official said. The University of California, Irvine is also replacing Chinese-made audio-video equipment. Other schools, such as the University of Wisconsin, are reviewing their telecom suppliers. The action is in response to a law Trump signed in August. A provision of the National Defense Authorization Act prohibits recipients of federal funding from using telecom and networking equipment made by Hauwei or ZTE. Universities that fail to comply with the law by August 2020 could lose federal government research grants and other funding.

What is 5G?

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 15:45
What you need to know about the next generation of broadband technology.

Most of 2030's Jobs Haven't Been Invented Yet

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 20:48
More than two-thirds of jobs that today's college students will have in 11 years haven't been invented yet. “Those who plan to work for the next 50 years, they have to have a mindset of like, ‘I’m going to be working and learning and working and learning, and working and learning,' in order to make a career,” says Rachel Maguire, a research director with the Institute for the Future, which forecasts that 85 percent of the jobs that today's young people will hold in 2030 don't exist right now. The Institute for the Future, a nonprofit that identities emerging trends and their impacts on global society, envisions that by 2030, we'll be living in a world where artificial assistants help us with almost every task, not unlike the way email tries to finish spelling a word for users today. Maguire says it will be like having an assistant working alongside you, taking on tasks at which the human brain does not excel. “For the human, for the people who are digitally literate who are able to take advantage, they’ll be well-positioned to elevate their position, elevate the kind of work they can do, because they’ve got essentially an orchestra of digital technologies that they’re conducting," she says. "They’re just playing the role of a conductor, but the work’s being done, at least in partnership, with these machines.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says today’s students will have eight to 10 jobs by the time they are 38. And they won't necessarily have to take time away from any one of those jobs for workforce training or to gain additional certifications related to their fields. Instead, they'll partner with machines for on-the-job learning, wearing an augmented reality headset that will give them the information they need in real-time to get the work done. “It eliminates the need for people to step away from income generating opportunities to recertify in order to learn a new skill so they can level up and earn more money," Maguire says. "It gives the opportunity for people to be able to learn those kinds of new skills and demonstrate proficiency in-the-moment at the job.” And forget about traditional human resources departments or the daunting task of looking for a job on your own. In the future, the job might come to you. Potential employers will draw from different data sources, including online business profiles and social media streams, to get a sense of a person and their skill set. Maquire says there's already a lot of activity around turning employment into a matchmaking endeavor, using artificial intelligence and deep learning to help the right person and the right job find each other. In theory, this kind of online job matching could lead to less bias and discrimination in hiring practices. However, there are potential pitfalls. "We have to be cognizant that the people who are building these tools aren’t informing these tools with their own biases, whether they’re intentional or not," Maguire says. "These systems will only be as good as the data that feeds them." Which leads Maguire to another point. While she doesn’t want to sound melodramatic or evangelical about emerging technologies, she believes it is critical for the public to get engaged now, rather than sitting back and letting technology happen to them. "What do we want from these new technological capabilities, and how do we make sure we put in place the social policies and the social systems that will result in what it is we all want?" she says. "I have a deep concern that we’re just kind of sitting back and letting technology tell us what jobs we’ll have and what jobs we won’t have, rather than us figuring out how to apply these technologies to improve the human condition.”

Virtual Reality Training Prepares Volunteers for Urban War Zones

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 14:05
There is no real preparation for dealing with the reality of being in a combat zone. But training helps, and that's the idea behind a virtual reality exercise that the International Committee of the Red Cross is providing to field employees. VOA's Kevin Enochs reports.

Apple to Contribute to Teen's Education for Spotting FaceTime Bug 

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 03:39
Apple Inc. on Thursday rolled out software updates to iPhones to fix a privacy issue in its FaceTime video calling service, and said it would contribute toward the education of the Arizona teenager who discovered the problem.  The software bug, which had let users hear audio from people who had not yet answered a video call, was discovered by a Tucson, Ariz., high school student Grant Thompson, who with his mother, Michele, led Apple to turn off FaceTime group chat as its engineers investigated the issue. The technology giant said it would compensate the Thompson family and make an additional gift toward 14-year-old Grant's education. Apple also formally credited Thompson and Daven Morris from Arlington, Texas in the release notes to its latest iPhone software update. "In addition to addressing the bug that was reported, our team conducted a thorough security audit of the FaceTime service and made additional updates to both the FaceTime app and server to improve security," Apple said in a statement. Two key U.S. House Democrats on Tuesday asked Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook to answer questions about the bug, saying they were "deeply troubled" by how long it took Apple to address the security flaw. The company said last week that it was planning to improve how it handles reports of software bugs.

Apple Puts Modem Engineering Unit Into Chip Design Group

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 00:53
Apple Inc has moved its modem chip engineering effort into its in-house hardware technology group from its supply chain unit, two people familiar with the move told Reuters, a sign the tech company is looking to develop a key component of its iPhones after years of buying it from outside suppliers. Modems are an indispensable part of phones and other mobile devices, connecting them to wireless data networks. Apple once used Qualcomm Inc chips exclusively but began phasing in Intel Corp chips in 2016 and dropped Qualcomm from iPhones released last year. Johny Srouji, Apple’s senior vice president of hardware technologies, took over the company’s modem design efforts in January, the sources said. The organizational move has not been previously reported. Srouji joined Apple in 2008 to lead chip design, including the custom A-series processors that power iPhones and iPads and a special Bluetooth chip that helps those devices pair with its AirPods wireless headphones and other Apple accessories. The modem efforts had previously been led by Rubén Caballero, who reports to Dan Riccio, the executive responsible for iPad, iPhone and Mac engineering, much of which involves integrating parts from the company’s vast electronics supply chain. Apple declined to comment. Technology publication The Information previously reported that Apple was working to develop its own modem chip. The Cupertino, California-based company has posted job listings for modem engineers in San Diego, a hub for wireless design talent because of Qualcomm’s longtime presence there and a place where Apple has said it plans to build up its workforce. Apple’s effort to make its own modem chips could take years, and it is impossible to know when, or in what devices, such chips might appear. “When you’re Apple, everything has to be good,” said Linley Gwennap, president of chip industry research firm The Linley Group. “There’s no room for some substandard component in that phone.” 5G on horizon Apple’s investment in modem chips comes as carriers and other phone makers are rolling out devices for the next generation of faster wireless networks known as 5G. Rival handset makers Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd already make their own modems. Making its own modem chips would likely cost Apple hundreds of millions of dollars or more per year in development costs, analysts said, but could save it money eventually. Modem chips are a major part of the cost of Apple devices, worth $15 to $20 each and likely costing Apple $3 billion to $4 billion for the 200 million or so iPhones it makes a year, said Bernstein analyst Stacy Rasgon. Apple may also benefit by combining its modem chips with its processor chips, as Samsung, Huawei and most other phone makers do. That saves space and battery life, two important considerations if Apple introduces augmented reality features into future products.

Germany to Restrict Facebook's Data Gathering Activities

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 22:31
Facebook has been ordered to curb its data collection practices in Germany after a landmark ruling on Thursday that the world's largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their consent. Germany, where privacy concerns run deep, is in the forefront of a global backlash against Facebook, fueled by last year's Cambridge Analytica scandal in which tens of millions of Facebook profiles were harvested without their users' consent. The country's antitrust watchdog objected in particular to how Facebook pools data on people from third-party apps — including its own WhatsApp and Instagram — and its online tracking of people who aren't even members through Facebook 'like' or 'share' buttons. "In future, Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook accounts," Federal Cartel Office chief Andreas Mundt said. Facebook said it would appeal the decision, the culmination of a three-year probe, saying the regulator underestimated the competition it faced, and undermined Europe-wide privacy rules that took effect last year. "We disagree with their conclusions and intend to appeal so that people in Germany continue to benefit fully from all our services," Facebook said in a blog post. In its order, the cartel office said Facebook would only be allowed to assign data from WhatsApp or Instagram to its main Facebook app accounts if users consented voluntarily. Collecting data from third-party websites and assigning it to Facebook would similarly require consent. If consent is withheld, Facebook would have to substantially restrict its collection and combining of data. It should develop proposals to do this within 12 months, subject to the outcome of appeal proceedings at the Duesseldorf Higher Regional Court that should be filed within a month. If Facebook fails to comply, the cartel office said it could impose fines of up to 10 percent of the company's annual global revenues, which grew by 37 percent to $55.8 billion last year. Antitrust lawyer Thomas Vinje, a partner at Clifford Chance in Brussels, said the Cartel Office ruling had potentially far-reaching implications. "This is a landmark decision," he told Reuters. "It's limited to Germany but strikes me as exportable and might have a significant impact on Facebook's business model." Vinje said it would be tough for Facebook to persuade the court that the Cartel Office's definition of the market for social media, and its dominance, were misguided. This is a battle that many firms have fought in court and lost, he added. Implications German Justice Minister Katarina Barley welcomed the ruling. "Users are often unaware of this flow of data and cannot prevent it if they want to use the services," she told Reuters. "We need to be rigorous in tackling the abuse of power that comes with data." The German antitrust regulator's powers were expanded in 2017 to include consumer protection in public-interest cases where it could argue that a company — such as Facebook — had so little competition that consumers lack any effective choice. Facebook has an estimated 23 million daily active users in Germany, giving it a market share of 95 percent, according to the Cartel Office which considers Google+ — a rival social network that is being closed down to be its only competitor. Facebook said the cartel office failed to recognize the extent of competition it faced from Google's YouTube or Twitter for users' attention, and also said the regulator was encroaching into areas that should be handled by data protection watchdogs. Facebook is considering appealing on the data protection issues to the European Court of Justice, but here the Cartel Office may also have the upper hand, said Vinje, the lawyer. "It seems to me that the Federal Cartel Office is informed by data protections, but not dependent on them, and that it has based its decision squarely on competition law," he said. The European Commission said: "We are closely following the work of the Bundeskartellamt both in the framework of the European Competition Network and through direct contacts." "The European legislator has made sure that there is now a regulation in place that addresses this type of conduct, namely the General Data Protection Regulation [GDPR]," it added. As part of complying with the GDPR, Facebook said it had rebuilt the information its provides people about their privacy and the controls they have over their information, and improved the privacy 'choices' that they are offered. It would also soon launch a 'clear history' feature, it said. Mundt also expressed concern over reports that Facebook, which counts 2.7 billion users worldwide, plans to merge the infrastructure of its Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram services. "If I understand things correctly, this move would intensify the pooling of data," said Mundt. "It's not very hard to conclude that, putting it carefully, this could be relevant in antitrust terms. We would have to look at this very closely." Facebook has said that discussions on such a move are at a very early stage.

Twitter Profit Soars as User Base Shrinks

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 20:51
Twitter said Thursday profits rose sharply in the fourth quarter, lifted by gains in advertising despite a drop in its global user base. The short-messaging platform said it posted a $255 million profit in the final three months of 2018, compared with $91 million a year earlier, as revenues rose 24 percent to $909 million. But Twitter's base of monthly active users declined to 321 million — a drop of nine million from a year earlier and five million from the prior quarter. Twitter said it would stop using the monthly user base metric and instead report "monetizable" daily active users in the US and worldwide. Using that measure, Twitter showed a base of 126 million worldwide, up nine percent over the year. "2018 is proof that our long-term strategy is working," said chief executive Jack Dorsey. "Our efforts to improve health have delivered important results, and new product features like a single switch to move between latest and most relevant tweets have been embraced by the people who use Twitter. We enter this year confident that we will continue to deliver strong performance by focusing on making Twitter a healthier and more conversational service." Twitter shares sputtered and then fell sharply after the report, dropping as much as eight percent in pre-market trade. Jasmine Enberg of the research firm eMarketer said the earnings were nonetheless positive. "Twitter's Q4 earnings prove that the company is still able to grow its revenues without increasing its user base," she said. "The falloff in monthly active users is likely a continuation of Twitter's efforts to remove questionable accounts." Twitter, which has struggled to keep up with fast-growing rivals like Facebook and Instagram, said it changed the measure for its user base to reflect "our goal of delivering value to people on Twitter every day and monetizing that usage."      

Scientists Devise New Earthquake Warning System

Thu, 02/07/2019 - 04:41
Californians are bracing for what could be the next big earthquake. Scientists have developed a new early warning system relying on sensors and an algorithm to help prepare. Deana Mitchell reports.

When the Earthquake Strikes, a New Way to Alert People in the US

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 09:59
Californians are bracing for what could be the next big earthquake. Scientists have developed a new early warning system relying on sensors and an algorithm to help prepare. Deana Mitchell reports.

From Dorm to Dominance: Growing Pains as Facebook Turns 15

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 07:05
Facebook, trudging through its awkward teenage years, is turning 15 on Monday.   Launched in 2004 as "TheFacebook," the service was originally intended only for Harvard students. It's now a massive global business that connects some 2.3 billion users. It was born in an era of desktop computers, years before the iPhone, and ran no ads.   At the time it was impossible to imagine that someday countries like Russia and Iran would try to use it for sophisticated information operations in order to influence elections around the world. In 2004, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's biggest problem may have been almost getting kicked out of Harvard. Zuckerberg's 2019 worries include the threat of government regulation of the empire he has built and the gnawing possibility that despite its stated lofty goals around connecting people and building community, Facebook may not be good for the world.   Today, it's hard to take a subway in New York or a tram in Budapest, Hungary without overhearing the word "Facebook" or "Instagram" in conversation or seeing their apps open on passenger phones. The social network has transformed the world, for better and for worse, and its effect will be debated for years.   Here are some numbers that give an idea of Facebook's past, present and future: Number of monthly users as of Dec. 31, 2018: 2.32 billion Number of daily users as of this date: 1.5 billion Number of people in the world with internet access: 3.9 billion Year Facebook reached 1 billion users: 2012 Number of users affected by the Cambridge Analytica data-mining scandal: up to 87 million 2018 revenue: $55 billion 2018 profit: $22 billion Number of employees in 2018: 35,587 Number of employees in 2004: About 7 Year the iPhone launched: 2007 Year Facebook launched its iPhone app: 2008 Year Facebook bought Instagram: 2012 Money it paid to buy it: $1 billion Money it paid to buy WhatsApp a year later: $19 billion Amount Facebook spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2018: $12.6 million Amount it spent lobbying the U.S. government in 2010: $259,507 Initial public offering stock price on May 18, 2012: $38 Lowest stock price, reached on Sept. 4, 2012: $17.55 Highest stock price, reached on July 25, 2018: $218.62 Market value Facebook lost the next day , a stock market record: $119 billion Kuwait's GDP: $120 billion Mark Zuckerberg's net worth as of Friday: $62.4 billion Date he said the idea that fake news on Facebook influenced elections was "pretty crazy": Nov. 10, 2016 Date he wrote on Facebook he regrets saying that: Sept. 27, 2017 Number of hours Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018 on election interference, privacy and other issues: 10 Number of followers he has on Facebook: 119 million Number of kids he has: 2  Sources: Facebook, International Telecommunications Union, Forbes, FactSet, lobbying disclosure forms

Tech Women in Silicon Valley Likely to Be Foreign-Born

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 06:55
Pushpa Ithal may not fit the stereotype of the typical Silicon Valley CEO — she's female, foreign-born, and a mother. Nevertheless, Ithal is an entrepreneur, living the Silicon Valley dream of running her own startup. Like her, many foreign-born tech women are finding a place in the Valley — as tech companies have become more and more dependent on foreign-born workers to create their products and services. Silicon Valley, the global center for high-tech innovation, could be renamed "Immigrant Valley." When it comes to technical talent, the engine of Silicon Valley is fueled by foreign-born workers, many of whom are from humble roots. And having worked hard to get here, many have ambitions beyond their day jobs. One of them is Ithal. On Sundays, she and her two children, ages 5 and 10, pick out the clothes the kids will wear the coming week. Each outfit is placed on a labeled hanger. Then she does the same with the week's snacks. "So there are no surprises for the kids," Ithal said. Being organized is one of Ithal's strategies for juggling parenting and running her own startup. And while that juggle is commonplace in Silicon Valley, Ithal is part of a distinct club — foreign-born women in tech.  Hailing from countries such as India and China, these women make up the majority of all women in certain Silicon Valley fields and are often the only females on male-dominated teams in tech companies.  Their uniqueness does not stop there. Foreign-born women in tech are more likely to be married and have children than their U.S.-born female coworkers. ​Immigrant Valley Born in Bangalore, India, Ithal has worked for big tech companies and startups. Her husband, also from India, has built successful startups. Starting her own firm, however, was a leap. "I came here all the way, let's risk it," recalled Ithal, founder and CEO of a company called MarketBeam, which is an AI-driven social marketing company. More than 60 percent of tech workers in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, home to Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other U.S. tech firms, are immigrants, according to the Silicon Valley Institute of Regional Studies. Immigrants work at all levels of the industry. Many are executives, company founders and venture capitalists. But foreign-born women stand out. In an industry where women make up about 20 percent of the technical workforce, many of these jobs are filled by foreign-born women. Technical roles Nearly three-quarters of all women in their prime working year and in technical occupations in Silicon Valley are foreign-born, according to the institute. In computers and mathematics, foreign-born women make up nearly 80 percent of the female workforce. The numbers surprised Rachel Massaro, vice president of Joint Venture Silicon Valley and senior researcher at the institute. It's her job to contribute to an annual index of Silicon Valley that looks at housing, transportation and population. "I double-checked, triple-checked the number just to make sure it was even real," Massaro said. Many things contribute to foreign-born women dominating tech — the dearth of women seeking a technical education in the United States, and an emphasis on tech education for girls in other countries, with many seeing technical skills as a path to financial independence and possibly a work visa in the U.S. There are also stereotypes of what women can and should do with their lives both in the U.S. and overseas. ​Working and raising children Looking more closely at these women, Massaro found a few other surprises — 71 percent of foreign-born female tech workers ages 25-44 are married, compared to 39 percent of native-born female tech workers. And they are more likely to be mothers — 44 percent have children, compared to 27 percent of U.S.-born female workers. One of those women is Lingling Shi, who was born in China. She saw studying computer science as her ticket. "Computer science, for most of us, it's easier to apply for a green card," she said. "It's not my main interest, I'll be honest." But Shi has succeeded in each of her jobs — she brushes up on any new technical areas online in the evenings — and is now vice president of digital banking technology at East West Bank. With her husband, who is also from China and in tech, she is raising her son. "I guess for Chinese, the family building is most important thing," she said. No amount of career success would fulfill her parents' desire for grandchildren. The message from family is clear, Shi said — "Oh, you are VP of Engineering now, but you don't have a kid?" Many women from India and China are "under a set of cultural expectations and norms that they will have a family right away — and they will excel in their careers," said AnnaLee Saxenian, dean of the UC Berkeley School of Information, who has written about immigrants in tech. "These women are really kind of super women in the tasks that they take on," she added. As Silicon Valley looks to bring more women into the technical workforce, these women provide a model of how to thrive.

Social Media Giants Blamed for British Teenage Suicides

Tue, 02/05/2019 - 00:48
“She had so much to offer." Ian Russell is speaking of his 14-year-old daughter Molly, the youngest of three sisters, who committed suicide in 2017, leaving a note that read, “I am sorry. I did this because of me.” After Molly’s suicide, her parents examined the teenager’s social media use and discovered she was interacting with other teenage users caught in the grip of depression and who were suicidal and self-harming. The users were almost grooming themselves and goading each other to take drastic action. “I have no doubt that Instagram helped kill my daughter,” Molly’s father told the BBC in an explosive interview that drew a public apology from U.S. social media giant Facebook, owner of the photo sharing site Instagram, as well as a promise to do more to tackle suicide and self-harming posts. “We're going to look at this from top to bottom and change everything we're doing, if necessary, to get this right,” Nick Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister and now Facebook's head of global affairs, said in a statement. The promise, though, has done little to tamp down criticism. In the past eight years, the suicide rate among British teenagers has nearly doubled. Last year around 200 schoolchildren killed themselves. Tech giants do not bear all of the responsibility for the deaths, their critics say, but they are abetting them by not doing enough to help stop them. Amid growing public uproar, the British government has said next month, it will unveil groundbreaking legislation designed to enforce a legal duty of care on such firms. “Social media companies clearly need to do more to ensure they are not promoting harmful content to vulnerable people,” said a government official. The British plan to order social media providers to protect users against material that promotes suicide methods and self-harm will be watched closely by policymakers in other European countries, who are also grappling with how to cope with malign consequences of social media use. Germany is cracking down on what Facebook does with users’ personal data. In France, the government is “embedding” regulators inside social media companies to investigate how they combat online hate speech. Since January, Facebook, in particular, has been targeted for criticism in the United States. The company operates a unique suite of apps, but U.S. critics say the social media giant is too casual about social responsibilities. U.S. lawmakers accuse Facebook of doing too little to stop Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race, and along with YouTube and Twitter, it has been attacked for being slow in taking down jihadist posts and videos. Laying the groundwork for the British measure, the country’s chief medical officer will announce this week that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp figure as important links in a dangerous chain leading from self-harm to suicide. Sally Davies will urge parents to be more alert and to limit, as well as monitor, their children’s screen time. The legislation is likely to be based on recommendations from a British parliamentary committee which wrapped up an inquiry last week and concluded social media use is disrupting young users’ sleep patterns, distorting their body image and leaving them exposed to bullying, grooming and sexting. The panel said that self-regulation will no longer suffice. “We must see an independent, statutory regulator established as soon as possible, one which has the full support of the government to take strong and effective actions against companies who do not comply,” the committee said. Clegg said some of the criticism is over-wrought. In a television interview last week, he said the company had “saved the lives” of thousands of potentially suicidal users by flagging them to authorities. Recent academic studies, including one by psychologists at Oxford University, suggest that social media use has no major adverse impact on mental health. The Oxford University study concluded that “wearing glasses has more negative effect on adolescent mental health.” But the academic studies are not assuaging critics, and some lawmakers cast doubt on their overall accuracy, saying they do not look closely enough on teenage girls, who seem the most vulnerable. “Worryingly, social media companies — who have a clear responsibility toward particularly young users — seem to be in no rush to share vital data with academics that could help tackle the very real harms our young people face in the virtual world,”  said lawmaker Norman Lamb. More than 30 British families have complained that social media giants have blocked or hindered their access to social media data after their children’s suicides. A requirement on firms to share data which can help identify and protect teenagers at risk will likely be among the new legal requirements the government unveils, officials said.    

Africa's Growing Economies, Youth Create E-Waste Challenge

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 16:07
The growing use of mobile phones, computers, and televisions in Africa has left the continent with huge amounts of electronic waste. According to the United Nations Environment Program, 40 percent of the world's electronic dumpsites are found in Africa. To reduce the growing problem, a group in Kenya is helping manage E-waste through local and exported recycling. Mohammed Yusuf reports from Nairobi.

Africa's Growing Economies, Youth Create E-Waste Challenge

Mon, 02/04/2019 - 14:01
A new report says the world produces at least 50 million tons of electronic waste each year, and that number is expected to double 30 years from now. The impact of all that electronic junk is especially felt in Africa. Mobile phones are increasingly common gadgets across Africa. You can get a phone for as little as $10 in the streets of Nairobi. Most Kenyans, however, don't know how to safely dispose of their old phones when they get a new one.  "I have a spoiled phone. I have kept at home maybe for future use or dispose it one day…mostly if it's not working, I can decide to throw it away. It depends on how it has spoiled. I throw it away,” Winnie says. It's this kind of behavior that has environmentalists concerned, as many phones, once thrown away, end up in rivers and oceans. The U.N. Environmental Program estimates that 50 million tons of electronic waste was produced in 2018. It says that number could climb to 120 million tons by the year 2050. One half of so-called e-waste comprises personal devices like computers, smartphones and tablets.  Simon Omengo uses unorthodox means to dispose of his electronic gadgets. “Since its motherboard failed then automatically I disposed it. I threw it in the toilet. I burn it, I break into pieces because it’s useless to me now,” Omengo says. Winnie says the government needs to come up with ways to safely dispose of old devices. “Our government (needs) to come up with a place where we can take all the gadgets, especially the phones which are spoiled. We go and dispose them there and they will know how they will dispose them, rather than just scattering around because some of the people they just throw them in the dust pin and its hazard to the environment,” Winnie says. Experts say electronic devices are becoming complicated to repair and some don’t last long. With more devices being thrown away, one Kenya-based group, Enviroserve, is trying to change how Africa’s e-waste is managed by stripping down re-useable metals and plastics from phones. Some materials remain in Kenya, while other parts like batteries are shipped abroad.  Shaun Mumford, the head of the company, says old phones have been simply dumped in Kenya for years.  "It wasn’t done in a way that is useful, and also it was staying here. So what we are able to do instead of Africa being the dumping ground, which historically been the case, we are able to deal with what makes sense here and send back out of the country things that need to be dealt with properly,” Mumford says. More than half the population is under the age of 30 and the demand for the latest electronics – and dumping the old ones – is only growing. 

Robots Dance, Tell Jokes, Serve Dinner, Give Us a Glimpse of the Future

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 13:20
Owners of a new café in the Hungarian capital Budapest are using robotics as a way of giving their customers a new experience. VOA’s Mariama Diallo reports.

Start a Start-up: University in Texas Helps Students Become Entrepreneurs

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 13:05
In December 2018, Apple announced its plans to build a new campus in Austin. Texas is rapidly becoming more and more attractive for tech companies and is often called a second Silicon Valley, thanks to affordable housing, highly qualified workers and the abundance of universities that train IT professionals. Mariia Prus traveled to Dallas to see how universities help their students become entrepreneurs. Joy Wagner has her report.

Scientists Enlist Incredibly Tiny Allies in Cancer Fight

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 12:56
Researchers and doctors are using incredibly tiny particles — fluorescent nanoparticles — in a quest for new ways to fight cancer. Some nanoparticles, just billionths of a meter across, are engineered to carry special dye that glows when it hits cancer cells. Oregon State University scientists say this makes it easier for surgeons to find and remove tumors. Iryna Matviichuk visited Portland and learned the new procedure is closer to testing in human patients. Anna Rice narrates her report.