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Jeff Bezos at Wired's 25th anniversary conference in San Francisco. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Monday he plans to spend "a little more" than $1 billion on his space exploration company, Blue Origin, next year — a slight increase over the current $1 billion a year.

Why it matters: Bezos, along with other billionaires like Elon Musk, has been criticized for focusing his resources on moonshot projects like space travel instead of immediate problems on Earth (he did recently announce a $2 billion investment in early education and homelessness). Bezos made his announcement at Wired's 25th anniversary conference in San Francisco.

I will not spend one minute of my life on anything I don’t think is contributing to society and civilization...You want risk taking. You want people to have a vision most people don’t agree with.
— Jeff Bezos

On the recent backlash against tech companies working with the military: "If big tech companies are going to turn their backs on the Department of Defense, we are in big trouble.... This is a great country and it does need to be defended."

On concerns for technologies' misuse: "Technology is always two-sided... this isn't new. The book was invented and people could write really evil books and lead bad revolutions with them and fascist empires with books... It doesn't mean the book is bad."

On social media: "I think social media is increasing, unfortunately, identity politics and tribalism. I think the internet in its current iteration is a confirmation bias machine... So we don't know the solutions to these problems yet but we'll figure them out yet.

  • "I worry that some of these technologies will be very useful for autocratic regimes to enforce their rules ... But that's not new, that's always been the case ... The last thing we want to do is stop these technologies even if they're dual-use."

On growing calls for large tech companies (like Amazon) to be heavily scrutinized: "I think all large institutions should be scrutinized ... it's normal ... We want large companies but we want to scrutinize them. And I preach inside Amazon that this is going to happen, don't take it personally."

Go deeper

UN poll: Most see climate change as global emergency amid pandemic

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg (C) fronts a Fridays For Future protest at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in September. Photo: Jonathan Nacksrtrand/AFP via Getty Images

64% of people from around the world say climate change is a global emergency, a United Nations poll published Wednesday finds.

Why it matters: It's biggest global survey on climate change ever conducted, with some 1.2 million participants from 50 countries — including the U.S. where 65% of those surveyed view climate change as an emergency.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.