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Can Personalized Cognitive Technology Improve Education?

In December of 2013, IBM predicted that cloud-based cognitive technology would personalize education for students within five years. IBM is already testing out the idea in a Georgia public school district serving 170,000 students. Known as Personalized Education Through Analytics on Learning Systems (PETALS), the project will use machine learning, predictive modeling, deep content analytics, and advanced case management to analyze students’ strengths and weaknesses, and come up with a personal plan for each. The Big Data project will track students' activities — including attendance, test scores, how they interact with electronic content, and what they are being taught in the classroom — and suggest improvements to tailor their educations.

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Will Amazon's Drone Delivery Service Really Fly?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced that Amazon's R&D department is working on "Amazon Prime Air," a service that enables drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes. The earliest the technology could be in service, however, is 2015, because the FAA will need to update its laws.

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Would You Trust a Robot to Draw Your Blood?

As medical technology advances, doctors are increasingly being assisted by robots. Tele-operated machinery like the Da Vinci system, for example, helps surgeons perform a variety of surgeries. One of the latest technologies, Veebot, is a robot phlebotomist that uses infrared light, a camera, and ultrasound to pick a good vein in a person's arm and draw blood.

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Is an "Exercise Pill" a Good Idea?

This month, researchers at the Scripps Institute in Florida found that mice injected with a protein called REV-ERB underwent physiological changes usually associated with exercise, including increased metabolic rates and weight loss. The scientists suggested that we are therefore closer than ever before to creating a pill that provides all the benefits of exercise. Many support the time-saving benefits of such a pill, as well as the obvious health advantages, but many have concerns about its effect on fitness and sports industries, as well as its effect on one’s discipline and work habits.

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Will Telepresence Robots Become Commonplace over the Next Decade?

Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared iRobot's RP-VITA telepresence robot for operation in hospitals. Controlled by an iPad interface, the RP-VITA allows doctors to virtually "visit" patients and staff remotely. Similarly, it was reported this month that a boy with severe allergies was able to attend class via a robot with a wireless video hookup. Other telepresence applications are possible in the business world; workers, for example, can use the technology to virtually pop into the office, even while travelling.

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If You Could Afford the $750 Million Ticket, Would You Take the Trip?

This week's Question: Using existing hardware as well as specifically designed spacesuits and landers, a new space company called Golden Spike hopes to offer private trips to the Moon before 2020.

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