Tech

Huge data centers are flooding into cities


You’ve probably never heard of Hikvision, but chances are you’ve been caught by one of its millions of cameras. The Chinese company’s products can be found anywhere from police surveillance systems to baby monitors in more than 190 countries. Its ability to produce good quality products at cheap prices (as well as its relationship with the Chinese state) has made Hikvision the largest video surveillance equipment manufacturer in the world.

But while Hikvision’s close links with the Chinese government have helped it grow, these links may now be undone. The company helped build China’s massive police surveillance system and tweak it to suppress Muslim minorities in Xinjiang. As a result, the US government has imposed several sanctions on it over the past three years. This year, the US Treasury Department is said to be considering adding Hikvision to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked List (SDN), which is usually reserved for countries like North Korea or Iran.

Here’s everything you should know about Hikvision: a company that once operated under radar but now faces becoming the most sanctioned tech company in the world. Read full story.

—Zeyi Yang

Scientists hack grasshopper brain to detect cancer

What did they do? Some animals, including dogs, have been taught to detect signs that people are sick. They are thought to be able to sense the chemicals that humans release through body odor or breath. The combination of chemicals can change depending on a person’s metabolism, which is said to change when we are sick. However, training and caring for dogs is expensive, and building a device that mimics a dog’s nose is still too difficult. So the scientists decided to “appropriate” an insect’s brain instead.

How did they do that? They exposed the brain of a living grasshopper and inserted electrodes into the lobes that receive signals from the insect’s antennae, which they use to sense odors. Grasshopper brains respond markedly to odors emanating from human cells both with and without cancer in the laboratory — the first time a live insect brain has been tested as a tool to detect disease.

What is next? The team hopes it could one day lead to an insect-based breath test that could be used in cancer screening, or inspire an artificial version that works in a similar way. Although it is a long way. Read full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

Energy-hungry data centers are quietly moving to cities



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