bitcoin-tech-newsBitcoin Value Rockets Past $19,000

The value of a Bitcoin briefly surpassed $19,000 yesterday, adding fuel to the speculation over its future. It's amazing to remember that earlier this year, a single Bitcoin was worth only $800. Today, everybody is wondering whether it will keep going up, or begin falling back to more rational levels.

"What happens next is anyone's guess, and most analysts are united only in their uncertainty over the cryptocurrency's future. Bitcoin long ago stopped being useful for actually buying things (partly because of its rocketing value and partly because of achingly-slow transaction times), so the questions facing speculators are: is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?" writes James Vincent in The Verge.

One thing seems certain: No matter what happens eventually to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, blockchain is here to stay. 

tech-news-digestIs There a Flying Taxi in Your Future?

European tech startups are aggressively touting the rise of flying cars, especially in the form of airborne taxis that would whisk travelers from busy airports in the suburbs to downtown destinations.

"How far out are flying cars that you can actually hail via an app, get inside and be whisked off to your destination? Germany based Volocopter reckons a commercial service powered by its electric vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft could be up and running before 2020," writes Natasha Lomas in TechCrunch.

Interestingly, the physics of flying cars is actually less challenging than the physics of automobiles, mostly because there's less traffic in the air than on the ground. But fleets of flying taxis would change all of that pretty quickly, leading perhaps to skies that are as crowded as busy highways.

Robot-TA-FINALSan Francisco Says 'Whoa' to Delivery Robots

San Francisco, the city most associated with cool new tech, has clamped down on robotic delivery services. For the time being, robots will be allowed to operate in out-of-the-way neighborhoods, for experimental purposes only. In other words, the delivery robots won't be allowed to actually deliver packages. 

"The SF Board of Supervisors voted ... to severely restrict the machines, which roll on sidewalks and autonomously dodge obstacles like dogs and buskers. Now startups will have to get permits to run their robots under strict guidelines in particular zones, typically industrial areas with low foot traffic," writes Matt Simon in Wired. "It's perhaps the harshest crackdown on delivery robots in the United States-again, this in the city that gave the world an app that sends someone to your car to park it for you."

ford-chinaFord Sees China Leading the Way in Electric Cars

Speaking in blunt terms, the executive chairman of Ford predicted that China would blaze the trail for a new generation of electric vehicles.

"The Ford Motor Company said on Tuesday that it planned to introduce 15 battery electric or plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid car models in China by 2025," writes Keith Bradsher in the New York Times

William C. Ford Jr. told reporters he expects China to lead the world in the development of electric vehicles. His counterparts at GM, Volkswagen and Daimler share the opinion that China will be the leading market for electric cars and trucks. That would also make China a powerful player in the global automotive industry, which is becoming increasingly reliant on alternative fuels. 

"China is already the world's dominant producer not just of electric motors but of practically all their components. Chinese companies even mine most of the valuable minerals, called rare earth metals, that go into the tiny magnets often used to make many of the motors," writes Bradsher.