New United Nations report finds almost everyone – male or female – is biased against women, scientists discover why women live longer, and how artificial intelligence is helping amputees control prosthetic limbs. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities.

Almost all men – and women – have gender bias

Gender equality is still some way off, according to the United Nations latest Gender Social Norms Index, which found that nearly 90% of both men and women are biased against women to some extent. According to the index, about half of the world’s men and women felt that men make better political leaders, and over 40% thought that men are better business executives – and have more right to a job when jobs are scarce. The UN is calling on governments and institutions to tackle discrimination through policies and education, such as tax incentives for men and women sharing childcare responsibilities, or encouraging women to enter traditionally male-dominated sectors.

Read more: Gender (in)equality in India: Women and the informal economy

Why do women live longer?

The average life expectancy of women is longer than that of men – and scientists believe they may finally understand why. It’s not just humans, but several types of mammals where the female tends to live longer – while for birds, males usually live longer. Scientists gathered data from 229 different species and found that having two of the same sex chromosomes was linked to greater longevity, the Guardian reports. The second copy could offer a protective effect, which could aid research in extending lifespans, it says.

Read more: What does longevity mean to ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ star Koh Chieng Mun?

Carbon sinks becoming less effective

Tropical forests that remove carbon from the atmosphere have been absorbing less of the harmful gas each year since the early 1990s, a team of researchers has found. Nature magazine says that as temperatures rise and droughts increase, trees are dying – meaning that so-called carbon sinks are disappearing. As a result, the world may need to reduce its carbon emissions faster to limit global warming to below 2˚C, as set out in the Paris climate agreement.

Read more: The climate crisis is no excuse for dodgy accounting

Flexible concrete to withstand earthquakes

A new type of flexible concrete could help buildings better withstand earthquakes, Engadget reports. Made from coal plant waste and synthetic fibres, the new building material also has a lower carbon footprint. However, the process is in its early development stage and needs a more affordable production technique before it can be widely used.

Read more: The effects of Asia’s megacities on climate change

AI helps amputees control limbs

Scientists have developed a way to help amputees control prosthetic limbs with their minds, which could increase their ability to carry out tasks and dramatically improve their standard of living, according to MIT Technology Review. It has been possible already to control artificial limbs by implanting a brain-machine interface, but the procedure is costly and invasive. A new implant uses machine learning to amplify nerve signals and has allowed the amputees testing the device to control fingers in a prosthetic hand with no gap between thought and movement.

Read more: How digital technology is transforming Asia’s economy