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The 2020s are here - Happy New Decade

The clock struck twelve and people worldwide wondered what the new decade has in store for us. Many hope the 2020s will improve things for them and the Earth. The 2010s were a little chaotic. Global warming put our existence in danger; wars continue around the world; millions still lack clean water and education; and thousands of species became extinct. Technology and more cooperation between nations will hopefully make the 2020s better.

A technology website predicted our lives will be more like science fiction. It wrote: "The decade...will take us even further toward a world where far-out ideas like hooking brains up to computers, and even immortality, become topics of serious conversation." A futurologist wrote about flying cars and unlimited clean energy. He said: "The 2020s will be when the incredible promises of technology finally happen." Let's talk in 2030 to see if this comes true.


Fortnite most influential video game of the decade

The technology website wired.com has released its list of the most influential video games of the decade. Number one on the list of games that had the biggest impact on the gaming industry in the 2010s is Fortnite. In second place is another game that attracted millions of gamers to take up gaming - Minecraft. Other games in the top five are Dark Souls, Gone Home, and The Legend of Zelda. Many people might argue other games should have been on the list. Games on other top-five lists include Super Mario Galaxy 2 and Pokemon Go, which was the first major game to incorporate Augmented Reality (AR). Pokemon Go had millions of gamers running around the world's streets in search of mythical, cute creatures.

Wired.com said so many creative games were released in the 2010s and many of them "reshaped the entire video game landscape". It said: "This list can only contain a limited sample of games, just those that made the most sizable, culture-shifting impact." The reason Fortnite topped the list is, "because it's one of the only games of the decade to truly infiltrate broader pop culture". Fortnite is now more popular than many global sports. The annual Fortnite World Cup takes place at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, home of the US tennis Open. A total of $30 million went to the winners in 2019. Wired said there is more to come from Fortnite. It wrote: "Its influence is just starting to show its true scope."


Breast cancer tests better with Google Health AI

Doctors have a new tool to use when diagnosing breast cancer. It is called Google Health, and of course comes from Google. The tool uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to recognise anything abnormal in breast tissue. Researchers trained the AI program to detect abnormalities. It read a huge number of results from X-rays over the past few years. X-rays are currently what doctors use to detect breast cancer. The Google Health program will help doctors in reading these X-rays more accurately. The current system is that two doctors agree on whether or not an X-ray shows cancer. If they cannot agree, they ask a third doctor. Google Health will make this diagnosis quicker.

Researchers from Google Health worked with experts from Imperial College London to design the AI program. They trained the program by inputting X-rays from more than 76,000 women in the U.K. and more than 15,000 in the USA into its software. The software then produced an algorithm. In hospital tests, the algorithm did better at reading X-rays than six doctors. Google Health spokesperson Dominic King said: "Our team is really proud of these research findings, which suggest that we are on our way to developing a tool that can help doctors spot breast cancer with greater accuracy." The World Cancer Research Fund said over two million new cases of breast cancer were reported in 2019.


Australia fires

Tens of thousands of residents in the southeastern Australian state of Victoria are being warned that it may be too late to evacuate in anticipation of massive wildfires heading for the region. Instead, fire officials are telling people in the popular tourist area of East Gippsland to seek shelter immediately and stay inside. Dry weather and thunderstorms are expected in the area over the next few days, which means no respite from the blaze. Meanwhile, more than a quarter of a million people have signed a petition asking that officials cancel Sydney's famed New Year's Eve fireworks display and redistribute the funds toward firefighting efforts. Sydney's Lord Mayor Clover Moore says, while she appreciates citizens' support and concern, the event's budget has already largely been spent. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday the display will go on because it is "important to send a message to the world."


Chinese gene scientist

One of the Chinese scientists who shocked the world by creating the first-ever gene-edited babies in 2018 has been sentenced to three years in prison. He Jiankui, an associate professor at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, was convicted of illegal medical practice for his role in using gene-editing technology to produce a set of twin babies he announced was immune to HIV. The scientific deed was met with condemnation by many in the global community, who raised critical questions about the ethics of gene editing, the issue of consent and the impact of such an act on the future of biomedical research. The court that sentenced He also said that his actions went against national regulations, and that he went through with the process with the intent to profit and gain recognition. Editing the genes of embryos intended for pregnancy is banned in many countries, including the United States.


Election 2020

Julián Castro is out. The former Housing and Urban Development secretary ended his presidential campaign yesterday after failing to gain traction in the wide and deep-pocketed field of Democratic candidates. The departure of Castro, the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, also cuts deep into the diversity of the campaign field. Meanwhile, keep your eyes on that revolving door: Marianne Williamson, a fringe candidate in the Democratic race, has laid off her campaign staff nationwide. All of this culling and jostling comes a month before the Iowa caucuses officially kick off the campaign season. The Democratic front-runners -- Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders -- are now burning a path through the all-important swing state, with Elizabeth Warren not far behind.


2020 census

The 2020 census is coming, and with it, a laundry list of controversies. A federal judge has directed the Commerce Department to review and publish documents related to the Trump administration's efforts to include a citizenship question on the census, even though the administration dropped the issue last year after a Supreme Court ruling. The judge said the documents could clarify the impetus for the push for a citizenship question. Previous documents revealed a Republican consultant found a citizenship question would be "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites" when it comes to drawing voting lines. Meanwhile, new projections suggest the presidential battlegrounds of Florida and North Carolina could make gains in the Electoral College once congressional seats are reorganized according to census results. There's a lot to think about there, but we have time -- any redistricting wouldn't take place until 2022.


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