Europe wants to shape the future of virtual worlds with rules and taxes

By Natasha Lomas

EU lawmakers are moving in on the metaverse and making it plain that, whatever newfangled virtual world/s and/or immersive social connectivity that tech industry hype involving the term may refer to, these next-gen virtual spaces won’t escape one hard reality: Regulation.

There may be a second metaverse certainty too, if the Commission gets its way: Network infrastructure taxes.

The EU’s internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, said today it believes some of the profits made in an increasingly immersive software realm should flow to providers of the network backbone required to host these virtual spaces — a suggestion that’s sure to trigger a fresh round of net neutrality pearl-clutching.

The Commission has been signalling for some months that it wants to find a way to support mobile operators to expand rollouts of next-gen cellular technologies — via imposing some kind of a levy on U.S. tech giants to help fund European network infrastructure — following heavy lobbying by local telcos.

Last week, Breton revealed it plans to consult on network infrastructure cost contribution ideas in Q1 next year — as part of a wider metaverse-focused initiative, with the latter proposal coming later in the year.

More details of the bloc’s thinking on fostering development of virtual spaces and the network pipes needed to connect them has emerged today.

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An AI that can design new proteins could help unlock new cures and materials 

The machine-learning tool could help researchers discover entirely new proteins not yet known to science.

By Melissa Heikkiläarchive


A new AI tool could help researchers discover previously unknown proteins and design entirely new ones. When harnessed, it could help unlock the development of more efficient vaccines, speed up research for the cure to cancer, or lead to completely new materials.

Alphabet-owned AI lab DeepMind took the world by surprise in 2020 when it announced AlphaFold, an AI tool that used deep learning to solve one of the “grand challenges” of biology: accurately predicting the shapes of proteins. Proteins are fundamental to life, and understanding their shape is vital to working with them. Earlier this summer DeepMind announced that AlphaFold could now predict the shapes of all proteins known to science. 

The new tool, ProteinMPNN, described by a group of researchers from the University of Washington in two papers published in Science today (available here and here), offers a powerful complement to that technology. 

The papers are the latest example of how deep learning is revolutionizing protein design by giving scientists new research tools. Traditionally researchers engineer proteins by tweaking those that occur in nature, but ProteinMPNN will open an entire new universe of possible proteins for researchers to design from scratch. 

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This New Electric ‘Flying Car’ Can Be Piloted With a Driver’s License—and It Will Fit in Your Garage

With its intuitive cockpit, Doroni says you only need 20 hours of flight training and a license to fly its H1. 


Miami-based Doroni has started to accept pre-orders for its “personal” flying machines. The company recently showed off the cockpit of its H1 aircraft at the EAA AirVenture in Wisconsin, using VR headsets to simulate takeoff, flight and landing.

Doroni is going after a different market than most eVTOL manufacturers, which are building air taxis for intra-city use. Instead, it’s targeting personal pilots, much like the Jetson, with an aircraft it claims will be intuitive and much easier to fly than a helicopter or conventional airplane. 

Company officials yesterday said in a webinar that they plan to “democratize” general aviation with a “semi-autonomous” aircraft designed for safety. CEO Doron Merdinger said anyone with a standard car driver’s license and 20-hour training course should be able to fly the H1.

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Korean nuclear fusion reactor achieves 100 million°C for 30 seconds

The Korea Superconducting Tokamak Advanced Research experimentKorea Institute of Fusion Energy

By Matthew Sparkes

A sustained, stable experiment is the latest demonstration that nuclear fusion is moving from being a physics problem to an engineering one.

A nuclear fusion reaction has lasted for 30 seconds at temperatures in excess of 100 million°C. While the duration and temperature alone aren’t records, the simultaneous achievement of heat and stability brings us a step closer to a viable fusion reactor – as long as the technique used can be scaled up.

Most scientists agree that viable fusion power is still decades away, but the incremental advances in understanding and results keep coming. An experiment conducted in 2021 created a reaction energetic enough to be self-sustaining, conceptual designs for a commercial reactor are being drawn up, while work continues on the large ITER experimental fusion reactor in France.

Now Yong-Su Na at Seoul National University in South Korea and his colleagues have succeeded in running a reaction at the extremely high temperatures that will be required for a viable reactor, and keeping the hot, ionised state of matter that is created within the device stable for 30 seconds.

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Starbucks gets on Web3: the plans of a coffee giant to utilize NFTs and blockchain in its rewards program

Members of the Starbucks Rewards loyalty program will soon be able to earn and buy digital stamps to collect, then buy and sell them in a marketplace with other members of the program. This new feature was announced Monday morning.

This is the coffee giant’s long-awaited move into the field known as Web3. It is called Starbucks Odyssey. The stamps will not be exchangeable. The company’s digital marketplace will use blockchain technology to verify each token and keep track of who owns it as it changes hands.

Starbucks says that the Odyssey stamps will give you access to benefits and experiences. The value of each stamp’s points will depend on how rare it is. The company gave examples like getting access to limited-edition items, being invited to a virtual class on how to make an espresso martini, or going to the Starbucks Hacienda Alsacia farm in Costa Rica.

Since Starbucks joined the NFT craze more than a year after it was at its peak, it might be easy to think of them as late to the party. But Brady Brewer, Starbucks’ chief marketing officer, says that the company thinks it will do better if it is “strategically patient” and thinks about how it does things.

“As many brands just jumped right in, we saw a longer-term potential for this technology rather than a one-off,” Brewer said in an interview in advance of the Odyssey announcement. “We were thinking, how can it augment not just our customer experience but our core business, rather than something that would be on the side.”

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China tests maglev cars that hover above highway

Successful test saw 2.8-tonne vehicles travel at speeds of 230kph while floating 35mm above the road 

By Anthony Cuthbertson

A car equipped with magnetic levitation (maglev) technology has been successfully tested on a highway in China, according to local media.

The 2.8-tonne vehicle hovered 35 millimetres above the road surface, powered by electromagnetic force and guided by pre-installed conducting rails.

The test, carried out by researchers at the Jiaotong University of Chengdu, aimed to calculate the feasibility of adopting maglev technology in this manner on a broader scale.

Maglev cars could significantly increase the lifespan of the vehicles, while also reducing energy consumption and increasing their range.

A dedicated lane for maglev cars could also offer safety benefits and be coordinated in a way to prevent traffic jams.

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Abra Launching First US Regulated Crypto Bank

By Jack Kubinec

  • Abra Bank will launch in the US during Q1 2023, with an international bank to follow
  • “As a regulated licensed bank, it’s no longer my opinion [that matters] on transparency and public disclosures,” Abra’s CEO told Blockworks

Abra, the crypto exchange and lending platform, is launching the first US regulated crypto bank, the company said Monday.

The move, in the eyes of industry participants, is a bullish indicator that somewhat shakes off the sector’s bear market woes — plus the pending trips of crypto lenders Celsius and Voyager to bankruptcy court. 

Abra’s move positions the company in what has been a yearslong arms race within crypto to create the first US regulated interest-bearing crypto account — offering consumers crypto exposures with legal safeguards.

All customer deposits into Abra Bank are set to be converted into stablecoins that accrue interest similarly to traditional banks. The bank will allow customers to transfer funds into over 100 cryptocurrencies. Abra also partnered with American Express in June to launch a crypto credit card.

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Pipes a Million Times Thinner Than Human Hair Could Deliver Personalized Therapies to Individual Cells

Pipes a million times thinner than a human hair could deliver personalized therapies to individual cells, according to new research.

The ‘world’s tiniest plumbing system’ could transform medicine by funneling drugs, proteins, or molecules to precisely targeted organs and tissue—without any risk of side-effects.

It comprises microscopic tubes that self-assemble and can connect themselves to different biostructures.

US scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Maryland engineered a way that ensured the pipes are safe from infinitesimally small leaks.

“This study suggests very strongly it’s feasible to build nanotubes that don’t leak using these easy techniques for self-assembly, where we mix molecules in a solution and just let them form the structure we want,” said co-author Professor Rebecca Schulman.

“In our case, we can also attach these tubes to different endpoints to form something like plumbing.”

It’s a significant step toward creating the first network of its kind to combat a host of life-threatening diseases.

Continue reading… “Pipes a Million Times Thinner Than Human Hair Could Deliver Personalized Therapies to Individual Cells”


In 2019, there were 3,029 dolphins in captivity in marine parks. 

By Terrell Worrell

This $3 million hyperrealistic robotic dolphin may one day free captive dolphins all over the world through a combination of mechanical innovation and high-tech puppetry. 

Edge Innovations’ robotic dolphin, Delle, weighs over 500 pounds and measures 8.5 feet long, about the same size as a real bottlenose dolphin. 

But what makes Delle so incredible is her medical-grade silicone skin and smooth mechanical movements, which make her appear so real that it’s almost impossible to distinguish her from a real dolphin on looks alone. 

Edge Innovations explains that Delle the robo-dolphin comes to life through a mix of puppeteering, programming, and artificial intelligence. The animatronic learning aid seems to be a valuable addition for PETA, as it is used to teach school kids to respect living creatures.

There is hope at Edge Innovations that animatronic dolphins can one day replace the wild animals kept in captivity for marine park attractions. In 2019, there were 3,029 dolphins in captivity in marine parks around the world, an industry that generates between $1.1 and $5.5 billion a year, as estimated by World Animal Protection. 

Most of those dolphins are kept in five countries; China, Japan, the United States, Mexico, and Russia, in descending order of quantity.

These vibrant and intelligent creatures would typically enjoy ranges of 100 square kilometers (38.6 square miles) in the wild, but are instead kept in enclosures 77,000 times smaller and forced to perform for crowds. 


Startup Says Train Powered by “Veillance Flux” Could Travel 620 MPH

It’s generating some serious buzz.

A Canadian startup called TransPod wants to revolutionize ground-based transportation by sending magnetically levitated trains through vacuum-sealed tubes at ludicrous speeds.

It’s a highly ambitious — and immensely expensive, nevermind comically vague — concept that’s generated some serious buzz in recent weeks.

And we can’t shake the feeling that we’ve seen this kind of design before. Remember the “Hyperloop?”

The Hyperloop is a concept popularized by Tesla CEO Elon Musk eons ago. But despite millions in funding, the handful of Hyperloop companies in existence have yet to break any meaningful ground — and we can’t help but wonder if TransPod will suffer a similar fate.

According to the company, its “FluxJet” is “a hybrid between an aircraft and a train,” and relies on electricity alone for propulsion.

Each pod is just over 80 feet long and can fit up to 54 passengers. Within cities, the train will more or less operate like a maglev monorail, but out in the open, it’s designed to blast through vacuum-sealed tubes, like the Hyperloop.

Continue reading… “Startup Says Train Powered by “Veillance Flux” Could Travel 620 MPH”

DARPA to develop next-gen military VTOL demonstrator


The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) intends to develop a next-generation military vertical take-off and landing VTOL demonstrator for the military. 

The project, called ANCILLARY and part of the X-Plane program, aims to apply innovation and technology from the commercial eVTOL sector to develop new architecture and design in the military sector “required for a leap ahead low-weight, high-payload, and long-endurance VTOL capabilities”.  

DARPA highlighted that its main goal is to build a military VTOL unmanned aircraft system that could launch without complex launch-and-recovery infrastructure, thus enabling its expeditionary deployments.  

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3 Aspects of the Real Estate Industry That Can Benefit Immensely from the Metaverse

As mainstream adoption grows people are finding more use cases for business within the digital realm. 

By Anthony Georgiades

The metaverse is already providing us with a wealth of new experiences and has spurred limitless speculation around the many avenues for its future expansion. These possibilities — which are beginning to appear infinite — are enjoyable and sometimes even practical for consumers, meaning they have the potential to be extremely lucrative for the businesses implementing them.

While current interactions and excitement around the metaverse fall heavily on realistic fashion shows, concerts and immersive video games, there are various applications that go beyond pure entertainment.

The deep value of the metaverse lies in the pragmatic applications it can power. In a globalized world where distributed work and communication is on the rise, metaverse applications allow users to engage with one another remotely in a far more collaborative and interactive setting. It removes the need for tedious obligations and offers more practical, efficient alternatives to in-person tasks, which sometimes require long wait times or long-distance travel.

From the perspective of realistic use cases for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology, the real estate industry in particular stands to benefit immensely from the metaverse. From breaking ground on the construction of a new home to its reselling years later, the metaverse and its immersive architecture can have a major impact. Here’s how:

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