In the world of emerging technology, prognostication is a tricky business. Things can change quickly in the tech business, where one breakthrough — in research, application or even legislation — can trigger a cascade of rapid consequences.
But what the hey — we’ll give it a shot. Here are ten tech trends to watch for in 2015, including developments in personal stealth wear, immersive virtual reality and artificial intelligence.
The world of emerging technology
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Around one-third of the Great Wall of China has been destroyed by vandalism and exposure to the elements, according to Chinese state-run media.
While human behavior — like the use of the wall’s stones for home-building or sale on the — has contributed to the deterioration, overgrown plants also have endangered the structure, Xinhua reported. As a result, whole sections of the UNESCO World Heritage site have large gaping holes and are crumbling — particularly in rural areas east of Beijing, it added in a report over the weekend.
“The destruction of the Great Wall has natural and human causes,” Dong Yaohui, vice chairman of the nonprofit Great Wall Society, told NBC News on Tuesday, calling for the creation of a systematic conservation plan. “The urgent task is to protect what is left.”
Visitors walk on a section of the Great Wall of China in 2014 in Mutianyu, near Beijing, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images file
With just a drop of blood doctors may one day be able to detect pancreatic cancer in its early stages, before it has become deadly, a new study suggests.
An international team of researchers was able to identify 100 percent of patients with late-stage pancreatic cancer, as well as those with earlier stage disease, by looking for a protein in the blood that is made in abundance by tumor cells.
That protein turns up in tiny virus-sized particles, called exosomes, which are excreted by all of the body’s cells, according to the study published in Nature. But, by good fortune, the protein turns up in exosomes only when there is cancer, so its presence could be an early, and testable, marker for the disease.
A protein turns up in exosomes when there is cancer
Sometime in the next few weeks, aides expect President Obama to issue orders freeing dozens of federal prisoners locked up on nonviolent drug offenses. With the stroke of his pen, he will probably commute more sentences at one time than any president has in nearly half a century.
The expansive use of his clemency power is part of a broader effort by Mr. Obama to correct what he sees as the excesses of the past, when politicians eager to be tough on crime threw away the key even for minor criminals. With many Republicans and Democrats now agreeing that the nation went too far, Mr. Obama holds the power to unlock that prison door, especially for young African-American and Hispanic men disproportionately affected.
But even as he exercises authority more assertively than any of his modern predecessors, Mr. Obama has only begun to tackle the problem he has identified. In the next weeks, the total number of commutations for Mr. Obama’s presidency may surpass 80, but more than 30,000 federal inmates have come forward in response to his administration’s call for clemency applications. A cumbersome review process has advanced only a small fraction of them. And just a small fraction of those have reached the president’s desk for a signature.
So might open the conversation with All Nippon Airways, if you’re one of the fans who attempt to book a seat aboard the Japanese airline’s new “Star Wars” jet coming this fall. In honor of the iconic movie series, the airline will paint one of its brand-new Boeing 787s with an R2-D2 motif.
An apparent video rendering of the R2-D2 plane, released on YouTube Thursday, shows the nose of the plane decorated with R2-D2’s signature blue and white stripes, along with graphics depicting the robot’s various ports.