Robot Rights, iPhone Redesign & More: 5 Things We Learned This Week

apple iphone 7 rumor specs
An Apple logo adorns the wall of Apple's new retail store in San Francisco, California, U.S., May 19. Reports suggest the company will switch to a three-year launch cycle. REUTERS/Noah Berger

From consideration of robots' rights to the discovery of a sightless fish in Texas, here are five things we learned in Tech & Science this week:

robot europe human electronic person EU A 2.4 meter tall robot called Cygan built in 1957 on display at the Science Museum, London, May 10. A report has proposed to classify robots as "electronic persons." Jack Taylor/Getty Images

  • The most significant design changes to the iPhone in years may be coming next year, if reports are to be believed. The 2017 iPhone is rumored to do away with the device's tactile home button and feature a curved, edge-to-edge screen in a bid to get even sleeker. Reports have also said Apple may be doing away with the headphone jack in future smartphones, which should enable it to produce an even thinner product as design chief Jonathan Ive pursues a phone that resembles a "single sheet of glass."

iphone 7 apple redesign 2017 rumors specs An Apple logo displayed at the firm's World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, June 13. Apple has been ordered to pay €13bn in back taxes. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

  • Computers can learn to anticipate actions in videos, according to the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Researchers developed a deep learning algorithm that was fed hundreds of hours of video. By searching for patterns and recognizable objects like hands and faces, the algorithm was able to predict human interactions such as hugging, kissing, shaking hands or high fiving. "Computers can gain enough knowledge to consistently make predictions about their surroundings,” researcher Carl Vondrick said.

  • Invasive pests are a particularly dangerous threat to developing nations, where they ruin crops and cost billions. A study conducted by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) found that 40 of 124 countries studied were likely to be invaded by a pest not currently within their borders. While large agricultural producers such as the U.S., Brazil, China and others will suffer the most monetarily, their diversified economies can weather the impact. Developing nations' agricultural sectors generally cannot, especially because many emerging countries are overly reliant on agriculture.

6-20_Asian-citrus-psyllid An adult Asian citrus psyllid feeds on the new growth of a citrus tree. These invasive pests have already severely impacted the citrus industry in Florida, and are now spreading to other parts of the United States. CDFA/Handout/Reueters

  • A rare eyeless fish thought only to be found in Mexico has been discovered in a Texas cave. The Mexican blindcat lives in the complete darkness of underground streams and pools, where it has no need for eyes and finds prey by sensing their electrical fields. The discovery in Texas suggests the fish moved underground through the Edwards-Trinity Aquifer, which stretches from Mexico to San Antonio. “Cave-dwelling animals are fascinating in that they have lost many of the characteristics we are familiar with in surface animals, such as eyes, pigmentation for camouflage and speed,” said biologist Peter Sprouse Zara in a statement. “They have found an ecological niche where none of those things are needed, and in there they have evolved extra-sensory abilities to succeed in total darkness.”

two-blind-cavefish Two endangered blind catfish found in a cave in Texas were previously only known to exist in Mexico. Danté Fenolio