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In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the character Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, and the character Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from Avatar. (TM & © 2009 Twentieth Century Fox - All Rights Reserved - Not for sale or duplication.)
In this film publicity image released by 20th Century Fox, the character Neytiri, voiced by Zoe Saldana, and the character Jake, voiced by Sam Worthington are shown in a scene from Avatar. (TM & © 2009 Twentieth Century Fox - All Rights Reserved - Not for sale or duplication.)

Small Business Briefing

Entrepreneur hires scientists to make Avatar reality Add to ...

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

Media mogul thinks outside the box

Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov claims to have hired 30 scientists who are working toward downloading human minds into robots within 10 years, The Daily Mail reports.

The project "is leading down the road to immortality," Mr. Itskov says. "A person with a perfect Avatar will be able to remain part of society. People don’t want to die."

His idea is to upload minds, without surgery, and to leave the human bodies as empty shells while their "owners" live inside robots. The project has been dubbed Avatar, named after the James Cameron movie of the same name, in which human soldiers use mind control to inhabit the bodies of human-alien hybrids.

Mr. Itskov, a media mogul, says the system will initially be of interest to "disabled people and people at the edge of dying," while the following stage "will be to create an artificial human brain." His final goal is to upload human minds into holographic bodies.

Far fetched? Sure. But he was presenting at the Global Future Congress 2045 conference, so it was certainly the right setting.

Top five TEDx business videos

With past speakers including Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Wales, TEDx’s arrival in Australia sparked plenty of interest, according to StartupSmart. The country's 2012 program has recently been announced, with events in Canberra and Sydney, and what's being billed as a "purely social" event in Melbourne this week. TEDx, the site says, will attract some of Australia’s smartest and most creative entrepreneurs. Ahead of the coming events, here are what it's billing as five of the best business-related talks from TEDx’s history.

Encouraging numbers point to growth

The Thomson Reuters/PayNet Small Business Lending Index, which measures the overall volume of financing to U.S. small businesses, increased 18 per cent in January from a year earlier, PayNet said Thursday in this Reuters story. At a reading of 100.8, the index was down from the four-year high reached in December, as some businesses rushed to lock in loans before the end of the year. Recent upbeat data on employment, manufacturing and overall growth has caused analysts to temper earlier expectations of a sharp pullback in growth this quarter. The PayNet survey suggests growth could continue for the next few months. PayNet tracks borrowing by millions of small U.S. businesses, and the index is correlated with changes in U.S. gross domestic product a quarter or two in the future.


Entrepreneur of the Year nominations

The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards are held in more than 140 cities, and each of the country winners gather every year in Monte Carlo for the final annual event. If you’ve been inspired by successful entrepreneurs, take the opportunity to recognize their achievements with a nomination. And if you lead a high-growth company, you can submit a self-nomination. To request nomination materials, call +1 888 WIN EOYI or visit your regional program page on the map here. You can also recommend a nominee or complete an application online. The application deadline is April 30.

A salute to small business

The stars of the business community in Hamilton, Ont., will be honoured later this month at the annual Outstanding Business Achievement Awards. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce said 16 local firms have been nominated in seven categories, and the chamber awards will be the highlight of a special day celebrating local business: Celebration of Business in Hamilton, on March 26. The city’s Small Business Enterprise Centre will also mark its Salute to Small Business, and the Economic Development Division will recognize property excellence in Hamilton’s Business Improvement Areas. For more details, and to buy tickets, click here.


Is it time to overhaul your website?

Technology moves fast, and its easy for a once-cutting-edge website to suddenly seem bland and stale. How do you know when your online property is ready for a redesign? That’s not always an easy question to answer, but there are some common indicators.


Robot designed to help improve hockey sticks

A team of students and a professor at the University of Waterloo hope their invention — a two-handed contraption that can grab a hockey stick and repeatedly fire off blistering slapshots as fast as 180 km/h — will revolutionize the game by leading to stronger sticks that are less prone to break at critical moments, Canadian Press reported in this story from June, 2011.

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