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The Next Wave of ‘Unicorn’ Start-Ups

SAN FRANCISCO — Technology start-ups worth $1 billion, once as rare as unicorns, are now plentiful enough and old enough that there’s a new generation behind them — one that looks very different.Silicon Valley’s current crop of highly valued tech start-ups, which include now-household names like Uber and Airbnb, all benefited from the spread of smartphones and cheap cloud computing. Many of these companies built global empires by simply taking existing businesses — like taxis, food delivery and hotels — and making them mobile. Some of the start-ups became giants: Uber, for instance, may reach a $120 billion valuation this year.But as those companies have matured and…

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Robotic Milkers and an Automated Greenhouse: Inside a High-Tech Small Farm

BULGER, Pa. — About 150 Jersey cows in the rolling terrain at Rivendale Farms in Bulger, some 25 miles west of Pittsburgh, wear Fitbit-like collars that monitor their movement, eating and rumination patterns. They are milked not by humans but by robotic machines.A nearby greenhouse, about a quarter-acre in size and filled with salad-bowl crops like kale, arugula and baby carrots, is automated. The temperature, humidity and sunlight are controlled by sensors and retractable metallic screens. And soon, small robots may roam the farm’s eight acres of vegetable crops outdoors to spot disease and pluck weeds.Farming in America is increasingly a high-tech endeavor. Combines guided by GPS,…

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When Passion and Technology Meet

Their Invention Identifies DisinformationImageAsh Bhat, right, and Rohan PhadteFounders of RoBhat Labs, Botcheck.meAsh Bhat and Rohan Phadte have been friends since junior high in San Jose, Calif., when Mr. Bhat dove into coding and Mr. Phadte tinkered with robots. Now, they are barely past 20 years old, housemates in Berkeley, Calif., the headquarters for their start-up RoBhat Labs, fighting the scourges of our digital political reality.In May, the men used some of the methods they had picked up in machine learning classes to help develop a NewsBot for Facebook Messenger: Drop a link of a news article into the chat window and the bot judges whether the…

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