The internet: the $2.2 trillion answer to global poverty

Millions of people can be lifted out of poverty and trillions of dollars can be added to the GDP of developing countries by increasing the number of people who are connected to the internet, a new report has said.

Commissioned by social media behemoth Facebook, the study  found that $2.2 trillion in GDP can be created along with 140m jobs, which will lift 160m people out of poverty, as well as saving millions of lives.

It says increased internet access would be able to deliver critical information on nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention to those who need it the most.

Once people are connected to the internet they are able to gain access to basic tools such as health information, financial services and education, which can help them live better lives and move into the world’s economy.

The 56 page report was produced by professional service firm Deloitte on behalf of the social media company and the Internet.org movement.

The movement, which includes Nokia, Opera, Samsung, Qualcomm and Mediatek as founders, seeks to develop and provide technology that decreases the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. It also wants to expand internet access to everyone.

Currently internet penetration in developed countries such as America and Singapore is around 74% and is significantly higher than areas like India (13%), and Africa (20%). This equates to just 800m out of the 3.8bn people in the countries covered by the study having access to the internet at present.

The study says: “The world’s unconnected are more likely to face challenges related to high levels of poverty and limited social inclusion. Income levels are a key barrier to internet access, and internet penetration is often the lowest in countries with the lowest GDP per capita.”

The benefits of being able to access the most basic information – which could be provided in a low data-intensive text based forms – would help to improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Out of the regions covered by the study, India would be boosted by 65m new jobs, which would lead to an increase in the rate of growth of GDP by 110% and decrease extreme poverty by 28%.

Connectivity providing health information to those living in Africa could save almost 1m lives lost to general health issues and increase the lifespan of 2.2m HIV and AIDS patients.

The report says: “As a global partnership, Internet.org is working to harness the experience, wisdom and resources of people and companies across the world to understand and solve the challenges of the connectivity gap. Driven by this goal, Facebook engaged Deloitte to assess the economic and social impact of extending Internet access in the developing world.

“This report is the outcome of that initiative. And Deloitte’s conclusions are compelling: global connectivity will help lift millions out of poverty and drive important positive social and economic change.”


Image courtesy of Charles Fred / Flickr under Creative Commons.


Steve “Woz” Wozniak to advise hologram emoji company that he calls “groundbreaking”

Apple’s co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak has found himself a new gig; Woz has joined the hologram emoji company, Mojiit, as an adviser.

In his role as advisor to Mojiit, the legendary entrepreneur and engineer will help assemble a world-class engineering team in addition to bringing investors and partnerships to the newly launched startup. Wozniak will also serve as mentor to Mojiit founder, Jeremy Greene.

“I’m thrilled to join Mojiit as an advisor,” said Wozniak. “Jeremy is a natural leader, the company is groundbreaking, it’s going to change the ecommerce space, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Created in 2017, Mojiit is the latest startup technology venture from Greene. The company’s tech essentially enables users to project and share 3D hologram emojis via smartphones.

The platform turns users into emojis by scanning their face, which can then be sent to loved ones and friends. Once a Mojiit message is received, it will map the area where it is received and place the Mojiit hologram there in real time, so it works in a similar way to Pokemon Go.

“Steve is one of the best and brilliant engineers in the entire world. But outside of that, he’s a wonderful man,” said Greene. “There isn’t anyone I’d want to be in business with more than this guy. He’s a legend. Who better to learn from than the guy who created the computer?”

Image courtesy of Nichollas Harrison. Featured image courtesy of Mojiit

In addition to consumer use, businesses of all kinds can tap into hologram emojis with Mojiit’s technology.

Mojiit investors already  include NFL alum Ed Reed, and the company was able to raise a total of $1 million in its seed round of funding.

Alongside the appointment of Woz, Entourage and Ballers producer Rob Weiss recently joined the company as a creative director.

“It’s exciting to expand beyond television and film to digital platforms,” said Weiss. “Hologram technology brings incredible opportunity to entertainment and media. I’m thrilled to be leading creative at Mojiit.”

Nanoengineers send antibiotic-delivering micromotors into the body to treat cancer-causing infection

Nanoengineers have demonstrated for the first time how “micromotors” that measure half the width of a human hair can be used to transport antibiotics through the body.

Nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego tested the micromotors in mice with Helicobacter pylori infections, which can also be found in about two-thirds of the world’s population and while many people will never notice any signs of its presence it can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer.

The mice received the micromotors – packed with a clinical dose of the antibiotic clarithromycin – orally once a day for five consecutive days.

Afterwards, nanoengineers evaluated the bacterial count in each mouse stomach and found that treatment with the micromotors was slightly more effective than when the same dose of antibiotic was given in combination with proton pump inhibitors, which also suppress gastric acid production.

Micromotors administered to the mice swam rapidly throughout the stomach while neutralising gastric acid, which can be destructive to orally administered drugs such as antibiotics and protein-based pharmaceuticals.

Because gastric acid is so destructive to traditional antibiotics drugs used to treat bacterial infections, ulcers and other diseases in the stomach are normally taken with additional substances, called proton pump inhibitors.

But when taken over longer periods or in high doses, proton pump inhibitors can cause adverse side effects including headaches, diarrhea and fatigue. In more serious cases, they can cause anxiety or depression.

The micromotors, however, have a built-in mechanism that neutralises gastric acid and effectively deliver their drug payloads in the stomach without requiring the use of proton pump inhibitors.

“It’s a one-step treatment with these micromotors, combining acid neutralisation with therapeutic action,” said Berta Esteban-Fernández de Ávila, a postdoctoral scholar in Wang’s research group at UC San Diego and a co-first author of the paper.

The nanoengineers say that while the present results are promising, this work is still at an early stage.

To test their work, the team is planning future studies to into the therapeutic performance of the micromotors in animals and humans, and will compare it with other standard therapies used to combat stomach diseases.

UC San Diego nanoengineers also plan to test different drug combinations with the micromotors to treat multiple diseases in the stomach or in different sections of the gastrointestinal tract.

Overall, the researchers say that this work opens the door to the use of synthetic motors as active delivery platforms in the treatment of diseases.

Image and video courtesy of the Laboratory for Nanobioelectronics at UC San Diego.