🇬🇧 Good Wednesday morning.
Situational awareness: U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May faces a no confidence vote from her Conservative Party early evening London time, and will be out if she loses. (CNN)
D.C. readers: Please join Axios managing editor Kim Hart tomorrow at 8 a.m. for a breakfast conversation about how AI will impact our jobs and lives. RSVP here.
The sudden scrutiny and skepticism hitting Google and other Big Tech companies is "here to stay," Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Axios in an interview yesterday after testifying for more than three hours on Capitol Hill.
The big picture: Pichai has been the least public of the top tech CEOs, and he and Google are beginning an effort to engage more consistently and directly with policymakers. Kim Hart, David McCabe and I talked with him after lawmakers grilled him (at times clumsily) on perceived search bias and consumer data abuses.
Pichai said the company is exploring instances in which certain user settings would default away from collecting the data that fuels the company’s ad-targeting machine, and instead let consumers opt in to that data collection.
On concerns about AI's power, Pichai said the only way to thwart fake videos is to develop technology advanced enough to sniff them out:
What's next: When asked if foresees a U.S. effort to break Google up, Pichai made the case for bigness: "There are some advantages of big companies, which is we do invest for the long term in foundational technologies."
Asked during a Reuters interview in the Oval Office yesterday about business dealings with Russians around the 2016 campaign, President Trump said:
Bonus 1: "It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country."
Bonus 2, when asked if he discussed campaign finance laws with Michael Cohen:
Here's why the political world isn't writing off a potential presidential candidate who's mainly known for a failed Senate race, Axios' Alexi McCammond writes:
Barack Obama had only been a U.S. senator for two years before launching his presidential campaign, and Donald Trump had never held elected office at all.
Why it matters: The Beto for President buzz is a culmination of what he mastered in 2018...
Great moments from the impromptu televised debate in the Oval Office yesterday ...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Thanks to advances in robotics and artificial intelligence, humans are on the cusp of being removed from the driver seat. But as drivers are asked to do less, they are becoming more complacent — and complacency breeds danger, writes Axios' Joann Muller.
Why it matters: Autonomous vehicles promise safer roads and more freedom for the poor, the elderly and the disabled. But they're not ready to drive themselves yet. Some people are relying too heavily on their car's automated features, resulting in avoidable crashes and dangerous incidents that threaten to undermine public confidence in self-driving cars.
"Ralph Breaks the Internet" (Disney via AP)
"Disney’s feature film success is one of the great business case studies of the 21st century," Matthew Ball writes for REDEF.
Check out these stats Ball pulled together (and follow him on Twitter if you care about smart media biz thinking):
"Americans, More Than Ever, Are Aging Alone ... Loneliness undermines health and is linked to early mortality — and baby boomers are especially feeling the effects," The Wall Street Journal's Janet Adamy and Paul Overberg report (subscription):
"Policy makers are concerned this will strain the federal budget and undermine baby boomers’ health."
"The cyberattack on the Marriott hotel chain that collected personal details of roughly 500 million guests was part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering effort that also hacked health insurers and the security clearance files of millions more Americans," reports the N.Y. Times.
Why it matters: "The discovery comes as the Trump administration is planning actions targeting China’s trade, cyber and economic policies, perhaps within days."
Google's top U.S. trending search queries for the year — those that had the highest spike in traffic over a sustained period in 2018 as compared to 2017:
"Female-led films have consistently outperformed male-led movies at the box office, according to a study initiated by Time's Up, the organization formed by prominent women in the entertainment industry to promote gender equality," AP's Jake Coyle reports:
"[T]he study found that films that passed the Bechdel test do better, too. The Bechdel test, an invention of the cartoonist Alison Bechdel, rates whether a movie features two female characters having a conversation about something other than a man."
"Of the 350 films studied, 105 qualified as female-led and 245 registered as male-led."