Axios AM

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November 09, 2023

Good Thursday morning! My thanks to Sam Baker for orchestrating this issue. Edited by Emma Loop and Bryan McBournie.

  • Smart Brevity™ count: 1,242 words ... 5 mins.

🕵️‍♀️ Situational awareness: FBI headquarters will move from the Brutalist-style J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue — often called the ugliest building in Washington — to 60 acres near the Greenbelt Metro station in Prince George's County, Md.

  • Go deeper: 14-year fight between Va. and Md. to land the HQ.

1 big thing — Scoop: Dems' new abortion plan

Joe Biden standing in front of a backdrop that says "Restore Roe"

Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca via Getty Images

Democrats are rushing to get abortion-related initiatives on the ballot next year in key swing states, Axios' Stef Kight and Alex Thompson report.

  • They're hoping they can replicate this week's success in Ohio to boost President Biden and down-ballot Democrats in 2024.

🔎 Why it matters: Even in the face of bleak polling on the economy, abortion continues to be a winning issue for Democrats — even, apparently, in red states.

  • "Ohio really has taken this ballot measure strategy to protect abortion rights to the next level," said Kelly Hall, executive director of The Fairness Project, a progressive nonprofit.

🗳️ What we're watching: Advocates are particularly focused on potential ballot initiatives in Arizona, Nevada and Florida, as well as Republican-dominated Nebraska and South Dakota.

  • Florida may be an uphill climb — it has one of the most difficult ballot-initiative processes in the country. And some national advocates believe on-the-ground organizing there got started too late.
  • But organizers still feel the wind at their backs. Voters have explicitly endorsed abortion rights via ballot initiatives in seven states since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year — California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Vermont and now Ohio.

Behind the scenes: In private and with a group of abortion-rights organizers in Miami last month, second gentleman Doug Emhoff described Democrats' path to victory in 2024 as "Dobbs and Democracy," according to two people familiar with his comments.

2. 🦾 Axios AI+ Summit: Instagram's new AI filters

Photo: Chris Constantine/Axios

Two new generative AI filters will make it easy for Instagram users to easily separate elements of images and make other advanced edits, Ahmad Al-Dahle, V.P. of generative AI at Meta, told Axios' Ina Fried onstage at the inaugural AI+ conference in San Francisco yesterday.

  • Meta first announced plans for the two filters (Backdrop and Restyle) at Meta Connect in September. Al-Dahle says they're rolling out imminently, Axios' Megan Morrone writes.

On safety issues with generative AI, Al-Dahle argued that a closed model is not necessarily safer. (Meta's Llama models are partially open source.)

  • Al-Dahle said Meta's product testing included "thousands of hours trying to expose vulnerabilities in the model."

🔮 What's next: Al-Dahle told Axios that Meta plans to let businesses and creators make their own AIs, bring AI onto their devices and make it more efficient and accessible to more people.

Wave of democratization

Sequoia Capital's Sonya Huang and a16z's Anjney Midha. Screenshot: Axios Events

Anjney Midha, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Sonya Huang, a general partner at Sequoia Capital, told Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva at the summit that there's a big difference between generative AI's current moment and the false dawns of the past.

  • Midha cited an "alchemy" driving innovation and a breathtaking pace of change.

Huang said the generative AI wave has been "decades in the making": Cloud computing, mobile technology and other tech has created the "necessary conditions" for this transformational moment.

  • "[D]emocratizing AI development ... was always a theory because if you grab one of these models, you actually have to train them yourselves and there were only so many people capable of training models," she said.
  • "Now that you can access a GPT … as an API, you've actually democratized AI development for developers. And so now the dream of democratizing AI is finally here."

Share this story ... 📱 Watch the summit video.

3. 📉 U.S. heads toward population bust

Projected U.S. population
Data: U.S. Census Bureau. Graphic: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

The U.S. population will most likely begin to decline in just 50 years, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes from new U.S. Census Bureau projections.

  • Why it matters: Population growth is critical for economic growth and maintaining safety-net programs.

🔎 Between the lines: Immigration was projected to be the largest contributor to population growth, as it has been for decades.

  • If immigration stopped altogether, the Census Bureau said, the U.S. population would begin declining next year.

👀 High levels of immigration are the only projected way to keep the U.S. growing beyond 2080.

  • Under the middle-of-the-road scenario census experts deem to be the most likely outcome, the population would peak at about 370 million.

Share this story.

4. 🎬 Hollywood scrambles to restart

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The 118-day actors' strike ended last evening. But cameras won't be rolling again until January at the earliest, industry insiders tell Axios' Tim Baysinger.

  • SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors, announced a tentative agreement with the major studios.
  • The union said in a statement that the deal contains "unprecedented provisions for consent and compensation that will protect members from the threat of AI" as well as a "streaming participation bonus."

🎬 What's next: Some projects that hadn't started filming yet are likely to get canceled. Some films will likely slide into 2025 to avoid an end-of-year traffic jam.

  • 📺 HBO had slated the third season of Emmy-winning "The White Lotus" for 2024. HBO chief Casey Bloys said last week it will likely debut in 2025.

Go deeper.

5. 🌡️ GOP debate turns testy

Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Last night's GOP presidential debate was a slugfest, Axios' Zachary Basu reports from Miami.

  • "We've become a party of losers," Vivek Ramaswamy said, referring to the GOP's losses in state-level elections Tuesday. He then launched into an extended attack on RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and debate moderator Kristen Welker.

"You're just scum," Nikki Haley later said to Ramaswamy, after he mentioned Haley's daughter during an exchange about whether to ban TikTok.

  • Haley, who's been rising in the polls, absorbed most of the incoming last night.

🥊 Reality check: Former President Trump has a 44-point lead in the GOP primary, per the RealClearPolitics polling average.

6. 💰 Mapped: Most expensive cities

Cost-of-living index, Q3 2023
Data: Council for Community and Economic Research. (Map shows urban areas with more than 100,000 people.) Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

If Manhattan were its own city, it would be by far the most expensive city in the U.S. — with a cost of living that's more than double the national average, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick and Kavya Beheraj report.

  • Large coastal cities still have the highest cost of living in the country, according to a new analysis from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
  • But parts of the Sun Belt are starting to get pricier as they grow.

💰 Honolulu topped the cost-of-living index among big cities, followed by San Jose and San Francisco.

  • Boston, Miami, D.C., L.A. and Seattle were all significantly above the national average.

Interactive map.

7. 🛢️ Record U.S. oil production

Data: FactSet, Energy Information Administration. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: FactSet, Energy Information Administration. Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. is pumping oil at a record rate, Axios Markets co-author Matt Philips writes.

  • U.S. production hit 13.2 million barrels per day in the first week of November. It's pushing the price of crude lower, even though Russia and Saudi Arabia have cut their production in an effort to boost prices.

🥊 Reality check: Global demand has been slumping, especially from China.

8. 🏈 1 for the road: Stat du jour

Patrick Mahomes running during a game
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, playing Sunday in Frankfurt, was born in 1995. Photo: Ralf Ibing/Getty Images

For the first time ever, every player who threw a pass in the NFL in Week 9 was born in 1990 or later, per the AP.

  • 15 of the 28 starting quarterbacks last week were age 25 or younger.

The run of quarterbacks born in the 1970s ended with Tom Brady's retirement after last season.

  • Injuries to Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill, and a bye week for Russell Wilson, kept the QBs born in the 1980s off the field last weekend.

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