Can a robot present the news? The lost emperors, origami robots and sticky proteins. Our round-up of provoking thoughts, penetrating insights and digital curiosities…

Sticky proteins

Scientists have developed a decoder that can translate brain activity into speech, raising hope for people who have lost their voice through conditions such as throat cancer, Parkinson’s disease and paralysis, The Guardian writes. The new technique – which uses implanted electrodes to identify relevant neural signals – promises to be significantly faster than spelling out words letter-by-letter, using eye or facial muscle movements, as currently required by speech synthesisers.

Sticky proteins could protect crops more safely than chemical pesticides, according to the magazine Science. A new molecule with two separate chains of amino acids is less toxic and might not require farmers to apply the protection as frequently.

Read more: Sustainable impact

The lost emperors

Satellite images show that the second largest emperor penguin colony in Antarctica has disappeared, according to the British Antarctic Survey, the BBC reports. Thousands of emperor chicks drowned when the sea-ice broke up in 2016 and since the population of the Halley Bay colony was decimated.

Elsewhere, in the tropical regions, about 12m hectares of forest were lost in 2018, according to the Global Forest Watch, the BBC also tells us. This is equivalent to 30 football fields per minute.

Read more: Investing in an age of accelerating climate change

Origami robots

Researchers have developed tiny, millimetre-long robots that can fold into countless different shapes, Science reports. These origami robots, could one day deliver drugs inside our bodies and help perform operations, use magnets as remote controls.

In Russia, a robot is now presenting the news, according to the BBC. ‘Alex’, who has a silicone head and can move his facial features and neck, has so far delivered a few news bulletins for state news channel Rossiya 24 – but his reception has been mixed.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum suggests that AI robots could soon be teaching in universities.

Read more: What has the Digital Economy given you?