Which country has the best gender equality, some of the latest inventions unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show and why sheep that eat seaweed could be the key to sustainable farming. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities.
Gender gap could take 100 years to close
The country with the best gender equality is Iceland for the 11th year in a row, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 – but it could take almost 100 years to close the overall global gender gap of 31.4%. The largest disparity is to be found in political empowerment, with economic participation and opportunity the second biggest area of inequality, it says. While there has been “slow but positive” progress in terms of women in leadership positions, female participation in the labour market is stalling overall.
Latest technological innovations unveiled
The annual Consumer Electronics Show took place in Las Vegas in January, presenting the latest – and sometimes wackiest – developments in technology. Engadget selected its favourite innovations from the event, including a hearing aid that can adapt sound to your environment, a system to purify waste water, and an electric vehicle charging unit that allows owners to use the power generated to run their household appliances, or sell it back to their local utility grid. The event’s keynote speech addressed the topic of how technology and innovation is transforming travel.
Life expectancy increasing – fivefold?
Life expectancy is steadily increasing – but we could be living a lot longer in the future. Scientists in the US and China have worked together to identify cellular pathways that can increase longevity fivefold in worms, a species that shares certain genes with humans, Science Daily reports. The research could pave the way for anti-ageing drugs and treatments that could increase the healthy lifespan of a rapidly aging population.
Read more: Is the planet ready for 100-year olds?
Seaweed-munching sheep key to sustainable farming
Sheep that eat nothing but seaweed could be the key to more sustainable farming. The BBC says that the animals on Scotland’s North Ronaldsay island are prevented from eating grass by a stone wall which confines them to the coastal area. Studies have shown that livestock that eat seaweed create less methane than grass-fed animals, the broadcaster says, adding that methane is a greenhouse gas with a global warming effect of nearly 30 times that of carbon dioxide.
AI more accurate in detecting breast cancer
Artificial intelligence (AI) has proven more accurate than doctors in diagnosing breast cancer from mammograms– suggesting that technology could be used to improve rates of detection of the disease at an early stage. A new study, published in Nature, found that AI had outperformed radiologists in screening programmes, but further clinical trials would be needed to assess how the technology could be used in medical practice.