An important milestone for internet access
According to a report by the U.N.’s International Telecommunications Union, almost half of the world’s population will have access to the internet by the end of 2016. This increase in access can largely be attributed to the growth of mobile networks and a continual decrease in prices worldwide. Currently, 47% of the world is online, but that figure is as high as 80% in well-developed nations and as low as 10% in less-developed ones. The report notes that less-developed countries (LDCs) tend to lag behind more developed ones by about 20 years, with LDCs having achieved a level of connectivity similar to that of more developed nations in 1998. Yet this report brings to light that with spreading connectivity and ever-decreasing prices, the internet will continually become more accessible and have the potential to benefit more individuals than ever.
An Alabaman takes on Venezuela's government
An Alabama Home Depot employee named Gustavo Diaz has become one of the most hated figures of the Venezuelan government for his role in setting the price of countless goods sold in his home country of Venezuela. Diaz runs the website “DolarToday.com”, which provides a benchmark exchange rate for the Venezuelan currency, the Bolivar. This information allows Venezuelans to buy and sell black-market dollars and effectively go around many of the strict controls instituted by the Venezuelan government. Diaz and his partners used to collect their information by polling exchange houses across the border in Colombia, but now use a method of scanning and adding up buy and sell requests on social media. With Venezuela currently in the throes of a massive recession, many Venezuelans rely on DolarToday for an exchange rate they can use to buy dollars in a nation that is increasingly in deficit of the physical currency to satisfy its skyrocketing inflation rates.
1,700 new American millionaires daily
According to Boston Consulting Group estimates, 1,700 new millionaires are minted in the U.S. every day. If this pace continues, that will mean 3.1 million new millionaires by 2020. The U.S. is home to far more millionaires than any other nation, with over 8-million households having financial assets above $1 million, and that’sexcluding the value of their homes. While $1 million does not have the purchasing power it did in the past, it still puts one in a wealth class above the majority of Americans, and certainly the majority of the global population. While the economy continues to be a topic of great consternation in many areas, this study shows the U.S. continues to possess a remarkable degree of wealth mobility when it comes to self-made millionaires.
A new approach to a deadly disease
In a surprising result, a Johns Hopkins University study cured an advanced prostate cancer patient of the disease following a treatment that involved shocking the cancer with very high and then very low levels of testosterone. After treatment, the patient’s “prostate specific antigen” levels, used to measure the disease’s activity, fell to zero and he no longer showed any signs of the disease. Similarly positive results were seen in other patients in the study, who showed decreasing PSA levels and shrinking tumor sizes. If replicable, these results demonstrate that this new treatment has great potential to benefit the many late-stage prostate cancer patients whose disease has become resistant to the conventional hormone treatments currently being used.
Robotic food delivery now a reality
The U.K.-based food delivery service “Just Eat” has facilitated the world’s first takeout food order delivered by robot. Just Eat recently unveiled a pilot program in Greenwich, England, testing the robots with hopes to soon expand the program into other parts of Britain. The robot was created by Starship Technologies and is able to autonomously travel to the delivery address with the prepared meal loaded safely into a built-in compartment. The order, from a local Turkish restaurant, was delivered to a Greenwich woman who was understandably surprised to see a robot waiting for her when she opened the door. More such surprises are sure to happen in the coming months as Just Eat continues to expand its use of the technology in Greenwich.
Chelsea Follett is the managing editor of HumanProgress.org.