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Modern Technological Innovations To Combat Increasing Food Demands And Climate Change

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Climate change has become a serious concern for the world in recent times.  With various human activities worsening the world’s climate even more, scientists are working hard to find different solutions to combat the situation. 

At the 2016 Paris Climate Change conference, where various political parties and activists gathered to discuss climate change, an agreement was passed with an aim to prevent global temperatures from rising.  However, Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates argued there should be more effort put in than just a cut in global emissions to combat climate change. As a solution, Bill Gates, along with many other billionaires, launched a fund to invest in innovative technologies which will help combat this issue. 

Global warming due to food and agricultural practices is a major concern for researchers and activists right now as it is estimated the global population will increase by 3 million people by 2050.  This increase in population will require us to convert more forests and other ecosystems into agricultural fields to accommodate the need of the world population, resulting in the emission of 15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide. 

According to a report issued by the World Bank and the United Nations, there will be 50 % expansion of global food needs by 2050, with an increased need for meat based food products.  It will require the conversion of nearly 600 million hectares of land for agricultural use and to meet the food requirements of the global population.

With a focus on finding solutions to the food related climate change issues, scientists are working on innovations for the reduction of food loss and waste and for the conservation of peatlands which release huge amounts of carbon dioxide after being converted to farmlands.  They are also working on projects to help in decreasing the use of fertilizers in the agricultural field, which causes 20 % of the agricultural emissions in the environment.

Scientists are working on modern technologies like CRISPR Cas9, plant based meat replacements and compounds which stop fertilizers from being converted to nitrous oxide by soil microbes.  

CRISPR Cas9 is a modern genome editing tool used in the manipulation of DNA and can be used to create or delete an entire genetic trait in a species.  Scientists are working on using the technology to improve plant breeding by altering the genetic traits of various crop plants to improve their quality and increase their resistance from biotic and abiotic stresses.

World’s dependance on meat based food products is also a major concern in terms of climate change as there is no way to meet the meat requirements of 9 billion people worldwide.  The solution to this problem is to develop lab grown meat and meat alternatives, undertaken by companies like Beyond Meat. Beyond Meat, which acquired an investment from Bill Gates, produces plant based meat burgers.  These meat burgers are made entirely from vegetable protein obtained from peas and can be used as a replacement to meat.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which plays a major role in global warming.  Majority of the methane in our ecosystem comes from our livestock, with a single cow releasing 3 tonnes of methane into the atmosphere every year by burping.  Scientists at DSM Company developed a methane reducing feed additive which can make cows give out less methane. 

There are other innovations done by researchers such as the use of solar power to produce hydrogen in nitrogen based fertilizers, using nontoxic spray on films to increase the shelf life of food items and developing crops which can absorb nitrogen, a major contributor to global warming.

It is a major challenge to feed an increasing world population without increasing the global temperatures, but with scientists working on technologies like CRISPR Cas9 and plant based meat food, there is still hope to achieve the impossible goal of combating climate change.

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Emerging Startup Stories

Suki: This Startup Wants To Transform Healthcare With Its Artificial Intelligence Tool

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We live in a rapidly transforming era where humanity is making exponential leaps in technology.  Thirty years ago, no one would have believed you could talk to an online voice assistant to create tasks and get things done.  Ten years ago, no one would have believed humanity would land robots on Mars.  Technology truly has improved the quality of living of every human who owns a smartphone and has access to an internet connection.  Voice assistants are slowly replacing manual tasks and making lives easier and efficient.  Siri, Alexa, Google Voice Assistant are just some of the widely used artificial intelligence based tools which are employed on a daily basis.  Artificial intelligence, which is hailed as the technology of the future is now slowly making its way into much more complex domains like self driving vehicles, quantum computing and also health care.

Suki, a United States of America based startup founded by Punit Soni, developed their own voice assistant which runs on artificial intelligence to simplify healthcare for doctors and other healthcare professionals.  In simple terms, Suki is akin to Siri for doctors.  While you could order a pizza or schedule an appointment on Siri, doctors could modify, edit and add health records of their patients.  Suki is a powerful tool to help doctors with documentation of health records which often take hours of their (doctors) time.  

Suki currently focuses on documentation but has the potential to expand its usage to data queries, ordering, prescribing and billing.  According to a white paper published by Suki, using its technology increases the time a doctor spends with a patient by 12% by cutting note taking time by 76%.  The time which is saved also brings in a financial benefit of $30,000 more in revenue a year on average for doctors.  

Suki raised a $ 20 million Series B round from Flare Capital Partners, First Round Capital, and Venrock, doubling its total funding to $ 40 million since its 2017 launch.  Suki is also looking to expand its reach in India and has decided to establish Bangalore as their base of operations.  India holds a lot of potential for Suki considering the amount of manual work which goes into almost any sector.  

It would be interesting to watch how Suki and other similar AI based startups would transform healthcare across the world.

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Leher Versus Clubhouse: Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?

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Clubhouse is a new type of social networking platform which is an audio only platform.  This means every conversation takes place through audio where users speak to let their thoughts known.  Users can create and host rooms where speakers will talk about a particular topic.  Originating in the Silicon Valley, Clubhouse attracted some major names onto its platform like Elon Musk, Evan Williams, Reddit co founder Alexis Ohanian, former Y Combinator President Sam Altman, AngelList co founder Naval Ravikant, Ashton Kuthcer, Oprah Winfrey, Drake, Kevin Hart and many others are some of the influential personalities who are on Clubhouse.  There is however a catch as Clubhouse is currently limited to iOS.

Leher is an Indian made alternative to Clubhouse and is a similar audio sharing and listening startup.  Leher also has video support unlike Clubhouse and is also available for both Android and iOS.  However, Leher does not have the biggest names in the world on its platform but it does have significant micro influencers and is growing at a rapid pace.  Within 180 days of its beta version launch, the company claimed to have its users spend about 44 minutes every day and 250,000 minutes per month for live video sessions.

We at Startup Stories are curious to see which among Leher or Clubhouse would our readers choose to take part in a virtual discussion.  Please let us know your answer in the poll below.

Which Audio Listening Startup Would You Choose?

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Technology

4 Useful And New WhatsApp Features That Released During The COVID-19 Lockdown 

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WhatsApp is one of the worlds largest online texting applications which is used almost in every country.  It is a light and easy to use texting application which also offers a lot of other important utilities other than texting.  These include video calling, group video calling, digital payments, document and media sharing and location sharing.  What began as a simple texting application is now an indispensable part of our lives because WhatsApp has made information flow faster and safer.  WhatsApp kept scaling new heights time and again and this was possible only because of the constant innovation by the developer team.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced entire countries to go into lockdown and shut down businesses, WhatsApp is doing its part to help people during these times by rolling out some nifty and important features.

Group video call limit increased 

WhatsApp had the facility for group video calls which could only accommodate 4 people in a single call.  However, with a new update WhatsApp increased the limit of group video calls to 8 users. The update is not just limited to increase in participants but also to the audio and video quality.  There has been a noticeable increase in the quality of the video and audio in group video calls.

‘Together At Home’ sticker pack

WhatsApp has launched a new sticker pack called ‘Together at Home’ in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO.)  The sticker pack aims to help people stay connected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restrictions on frequently forwarded messages

This is probably one of the most important  features to be released during the COVID-19 lockdown.  In a country like India, a lot of misinformation is shared on a daily basis on WhatsApp messages and most of these messages are forwards.  The amount of misinformation on WhatsApp is so high that WhatsApp is often referred to as ‘Whatsapp University.’  During the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp restricted ‘frequently forwarded messages’ to be sent to not more than one chat at a time.

Chatbots

WhatsApp has launched chatbots by partnering with WHO and the Indian government and launched a chatbot to provide authentic information related to the COVID-19 virus.  The chatbot developed by the Indian government is known as MyGov Corona Help Desk and can be accessed by adding +91-9013-151515 to your contacts and sending a message.

ALSO READ : Zoom Video Conferencing App Downloads Dethrone Whatsapp And TikTok In India

We believe that these features are definitely the need of the hour and will go a long way in creating a positive impact.  Let us know if you used any of these features on your mobile device!

 

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