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Vanessa Bates Ramirez

Vanessa is senior editor of Singularity Hub. She's interested in biotechnology and genetic engineering, the nitty-gritty of the renewable energy transition, the roles technology and science play in geopolitics and international development, and countless other topics.

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From This Author


New Artificial Photosynthesis Method Grows Food With No Sunshine

How can we grow more food using fewer resources? Scientists have been focused on this question for decades if not centuries, as an ever-growing global population necessitates constantly seeking new ways to produce food...

A New Carbon Capture Plant Will Pull 36,000 Tons of CO2 From the Air Each Year

A little under a year ago, the world’s biggest direct air capture (DAC) plant got up and running in Iceland. Christened Orca after the Icelandic word for energy, the plant was built by Swiss...

An Autonomous Ship Used AI to Cross the Atlantic Without a Human Crew

Just under 402 years ago, in August of 1620, the Mayflower set sail from Southampton, England, bound for America. The 100-foot-long-long, triple-masted wooden vessel with canvas sails took more than two months to cross...

Japan’s Kairyu Sea Turbine Will Harvest the Never-Ending Power of Deep Ocean Currents

A little over a year ago, a Scottish company called Orbital Marine Power was getting a two-megawatt tidal turbine up and running in the North Sea. The system was expected to generate enough electricity...

Amazon Will Pilot Drone Delivery in California This Year

The number of packages people order—and the number of people ordering packages—isn’t likely to go down anytime in the foreseeable future, and companies are working on ways to get those packages delivered quickly and...

Alquist Says It Will 3D Print 200 Houses in a Small Virginia Town

In late 2021, a 3D printed house went up in Williamsburg, Virginia. The printed portion of the three-bed two-bath home—that is, the exterior walls—took just 22 hours to complete. The house was a collaboration...

The World’s Biggest 4-Day Work Week Pilot Just Launched in the UK

Just under a year ago, a think tank called Autonomy released a report on what was at the time the world’s biggest four-day work week trial. It took place in Iceland and involved more...

Summer Could Bring Rolling Blackouts as Power Grids Get More Unstable

The rush to decarbonize our energy supply has led to some ambitious goal-setting, like President Biden’s plan to create a zero-emissions power sector by 2035 and a zero-emissions economy by 2050. The North American...

In a First, Doctors Transplant a 3D Printed Ear Made of a Patient’s Own Cells

3D printing is becoming commonplace as a tool for manufacturing, construction, and even food preparation, but the technology’s advancement in the medical field has understandably been a bit slower. This week marked a new...

The World’s Biggest Cultured Meat Factory Will Soon Be Built in the US

Just under a year ago, one of the biggest production facilities for cultured meat opened in Israel. Future Meat Technologies’ Rehovot plant produces 500 kilograms of lab-grown meat per day (that’s equivalent to about...

30-Second Deliveries? This Startup Wants to Build a Hyperloop for Packages

Elon Musk’s Boring Company has long been trying to build underground tunnels for hyperloop transit, and reportedly finished digging said tunnels under the Las Vegas convention center in 2020. The company also won a...

Volvo and DHL Are Partnering on Hub-to-Hub Autonomous Trucking

You’ve probably heard the term “the Great Resignation” in the last year or so, as millions of people reportedly quit their jobs during the pandemic. Hospitality was one of the hardest-hit industries, and multiple...

A 590-Foot-Tall Dam in China Will Be Built Entirely by Robots

As the world rushes to stop burning fossil fuels and implement more renewable sources of power, there’s a lot of hype around solar and wind. While they’re comparatively easier to get up and running,...

Democracy Is Ailing. Here’s How We Can Start Reviving It

Masks. Vaccines. Immigration. Abortion. Gun control. Taxes. The list of divisive issues in American politics goes on, with liberals and conservatives seeming more polarized and less able to agree than ever before. Indeed, democracy...

This Portable Wind Turbine Is the Size of a Water Bottle and Charges Devices in Under an Hour

Five years ago, a startup called Semtive Energy took the concept of a wind turbine, shrank it down to the size of a garden shrub, and started marketing it directly to households; much like...

Scientists Used AI to Create an Enzyme That Breaks Down Plastic in a Week Instead of a Century

Earth has a plastics problem, and not many great options to solve it. Plastic is everywhere: food, toiletries, and cleaning products come encased in it; our toothbrushes and children’s toys and disposable coffee lids...

The US Just Put $3 Billion Towards Securing Its Battery Supply Chain

In the coming years and decades, critical minerals will start to rival oil and gas as the world’s most sought-after commodities, and the US is currently not very well-positioned to compete in this new...

The UK’s First Autonomous Passenger Bus Started Road Tests This Week

Driverless buses may beat driverless cars in becoming a commonplace mode of transportation. It would make sense; buses run on fixed routes, always stop in the same places, don’t need to go too fast,...

Could Future Skyscrapers Be Made of Wood? Two New Timber Towers Are Going Up

Construction is a major carbon dioxide emitter, with eight percent of global emissions traceable to the cement industry and another eight percent coming from steel production. Engineers and entrepreneurs are testing out new ways...

The US Is Spending $6 Billion to Keep Its Aging Nuclear Reactors Running

For the last several decades, nuclear power has been viewed by many in the US and abroad as an energy source that’s too risky, not “green” enough, or otherwise undesirable. But with climate change...

GM Just Patented a Self-Driving Car That Teaches People How to Drive

For more than a decade, people have been trying to teach cars how to drive. In the not-too-distant future, this effort may come full circle, with cars teaching people how to drive; last week,...

A Startup Is Engineering Trees to Grow Faster and Capture More Carbon

Genetic engineering has given scientists the power to manipulate fundamental properties of living things, from humans to animals to plants. In plants, genetic tweaks have brought all manner of advancements, namely higher crop yields....

Nissan and NASA Are Teaming Up to Make a Metal-Free Solid-State Battery

The slow but steady transition to renewable energy was already underway when Russia invaded Ukraine in February, and since then the global energy market has been turned on its head. We’re likely to witness...

Scientists Are Using CRISPR Gene Editing to Try to Create Hypoallergenic Cats

There’s been a lot of buzz in the last few years about the perils of using CRISPR gene editing on human germline cells—the reproductive cells that determine the DNA of every other cell in...

3D Printed Homes Will Be the Teslas of Housing, Says ICON CEO

It’s no secret America is in the midst of a housing shortage, with home prices ballooning, supply remaining stagnant, and would-be homebuyers frantic to secure an affordable place to live. Supply chain backups due...

These ‘Chicken-Free’ Egg Whites Use a Protein Recipe From Real Chickens

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? This eternally-confounding question now has an answer—that is, if just the egg white counts. In a continued expansion of the list of animal products now being...

The World’s First Deep Geological Nuclear Vault Will Store Radioactive Waste in Finland for 100,000 Years

Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, the world was on the cusp of an energy crisis. As countries scramble to set ambitious carbon neutrality targets, it remains wholly unclear how those targets will be met,...

As Tech Tries to Hack Love, It May Be Killing It Instead

Finding love is hard, and for the past decade or two, technology has been trying to help. The number of dating apps on the market has skyrocketed—to over 1,500 by one estimate—with at least...

Are NFTs a Passing Trend, or Here to Stay? Beeple Weighs In

From oddly-dressed apes to clip-art yachts, NFTs have been all the rage for the last year. But will this new trend last, or is it just that—a trend that will ultimately fade, leaving those...

It’s Not Too Late to Replace Toxic Tech With Humane Technology

A year and a half ago Netflix released The Social Dilemma, a docu-drama that dug into the harmful consequences of social media. Think political polarization, the spread of misinformation, and upticks in anxiety and...

Moderna Will Develop mRNA Vaccines for 15 of the World’s Worst Diseases

To much of the world, it seemed like the Covid-19 vaccines were whipped up in less than a year—an amazing feat of science and biotechnology if ever there was one. While the vaccines did...

China Plans to Build 450 GW of Wind and Solar Power in the Desert

Last year the Chinese government set an ambitious energy target, aiming for 40 percent of its grid’s power to come from non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. President Xi Jinping also said China will be...

Google Is Using Radar to Help Computers Read and React to Your Body Language

Technology has quickly infiltrated almost every aspect of our lives, but the way we interface with our devices is still less than ideal. From hunching over our computer screens (because if you’re anything like...

This ‘Cow-Free Milk’ Has Real Dairy Protein, but No Lactose or Cholesterol

How close can we get to animal products without actually involving animals? Multiple companies are putting this question to the test, whether by producing plant-based “meat” that uses a soy protein to mimic real...

The Biggest Guaranteed Income Trial in the US Is Launching in Chicago

The idea of universal basic income has been gaining steam for several years, with proponents like Andrew Yang touting such programs as a possible solution to unemployment resulting from growing automation across various sectors...

Japan Wants to Make Half Its Cargo Ships Autonomous by 2040

The Covid-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus how unavoidably global the world economy has become. Production freezes on one side of the globe wreaked havoc on the other, and supply chains haven’t yet recovered....

Flippy the Fast Food Robot Just Got Hired in 100 Restaurants

Before the pandemic started (ah, those glorious days…) a collective panic was mounting over automation and robots gradually replacing workers in various fields, or “stealing our jobs,” as the common refrain went. These worries...

This $4 Desalination System Can Meet a Family’s Daily Water Needs

In 2018 Cape Town, South Africa came frighteningly close to being the world’s first major city to run out of water. Unfortunately it’s not alone; water scarcity is a growing problem in multiple regions...

Drones as Big as 747s Will Fly Cargo Around the World With Low Emissions, Startup Says

The global supply chain is currently experiencing all kinds of glitches, from material shortages to labor shortages and beyond. Moving goods from point A to point B has become more expensive, and there’s no...

Sony’s Racing AI Just Beat the World’s Best Gran Turismo Drivers

Over the last several years, AIs have learned to best humans in progressively more complicated games, from board games like chess and Go to computer games like Pacman and Starcraft II (and let’s not...

Look Up: NASA’s Asteroid Tracker Now Searches the Entire Sky Every 24 Hours

Outside of watching movies like Don’t Look Up or Armageddon, most of us don’t think much about the possibility of an asteroid or a comet slamming into Earth and ending (or at least upending)...

Scientists Chasing Artificial Kidneys Create Most Complex Kidney Tissue Yet

Over 93,000 people in the US are in need of a kidney transplant. Our kidneys are delicate organs that can be damaged by a poor diet, overuse of alcohol or anti-inflammatory drugs, and high...

Walmart Just Invested Big in Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is quickly becoming a popular way to grow organic food close to major urban centers. Indoor “farms” that grow crops in stacked trays using LED light have opened or are underway in...

A UK Startup Is Building 200 Flying Taxi Hubs Around the World

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas two years ago, Hyundai and Uber unveiled an air taxi concept they’d partnered on, claiming people would be riding in the flying vehicles by 2030. Now Hyundai...

Habitat for Humanity Is Using 3D Printing to Build Affordable Houses

Over the last year home prices have skyrocketed (along with prices of almost everything else), leaving millions of people unable to afford to move or to change their housing situation. Mortgage lender Freddie Mac...

The World’s Biggest Vertical Farm Yet Is Going Up in Pennsylvania

Four and a half years ago I visited a vertical farming research facility in the Netherlands to learn the basics about growing food indoors without sun or soil. Since then, new vertical farms have...

This Autonomous Delivery Robot Has External Airbags in Case It Hits a Person

Autonomous delivery was already on multiple companies’ research and development agenda before the pandemic, but when people stopped wanting to leave their homes it took on a whole new level of urgency (and potential...

Watch a Jet Suit Pilot Deliver Supplies in a Mountain Warfare Rescue

In 2020 a jet suit pilot flew up a mountain to test whether it would make sense for emergency responders in wilderness areas to add jet suits to their toolkit. Last year the same...

Next Week You’ll Be Able to Eat ‘Chicken’ Made From Plants at KFC

It’s a new year, and for millions of people that brings resolutions like exercising more and eating healthier. Ice cream? Gone. Potato chips? In the trash. Burgers? Try a salad instead. Fried chicken? Well,...

A Chinese Company Says It Will Be Selling Driverless Cars by 2024

As recently as 2015, auto industry insiders predicted fully self-driving cars would be on the road by 2020. As you know, that didn’t come to pass, and two years later we’re still waiting for...

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