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Hurricane Sandy strikes NYC, 2012. Photo: Christos Pathiakis/Getty
When the subject of the world's most lucrative future industries arises, the business and financial worlds usually speak of coming bonanzas in AI, robots, the internet of things, 5G, and driverless cars. What goes all-but unmentioned is a nearer-term play that rivals them in scale — the utterly embryonic business of extreme weather.
What's happening: Over the next 5 years, existing global companies estimate that they will earn more than $2.1 trillion in revenue from services such as financing, building and hardening resilient infrastructure, according to a ground-breaking survey.
The big picture: Historically speaking, some of the greatest global fortunes have been earned in episodes of chaos — like war, economic depression, and natural disaster — when profiteers have figured out how to manipulate circumstances to personal advantage.
Driving the news: Now, though, companies are talking. The turning point was 2017, the year of hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria — not to mention enormous, deadly wildfires in California. "Those really brought it home for U.S. businesses," said Emilie Mazzacurati, founder of Four Twenty Seven, a Berkeley-based firm that calculates the risk posed to physical assets by extreme weather.
At that stage, the companies can figure out how they want to respond — or not — by reinforcing, replacing or retiring exposed assets, all of which would be part of the future extreme weather industry.
What's next: CDP's Sarda said that the 5-year revenue estimate is actually likely to be larger than $2.1 trillion because that's only the sum from 224 companies that answered the survey in great detail. On top of those are roughly 6,775 companies that gave incomplete answers, in addition to the thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of startups yet to be created in response to the weather.
Where the revenue may be earned:
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Since Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the first short-lived bill to outlaw malicious deepfakes, a handful of members of Congress, and several statehouses, have stabbed at the growing threat, Kaveh reports.
But so far, legal and deepfakes experts haven't found much to like in these initial attempts, which they say are too broad, too vague or too weak — meaning that, despite all the hoopla over the technology, we're not much closer to protecting against it.
Big picture: Deepfakes pose a threat to elections and businesses, and experts worry that a convincing, well-timed fake video could set off riots or even armed conflict. But, as we've been chronicling, campaigns and firms are largely unready for the threat.
What's happening: Congress and state legislatures are trying to head off deepfakes instead with laws that would punish creating or distributing certain types. Virginia, Texas, California and New York have made early moves, but only Virginia's — which outlaws nonconsensual deepfake porn — has yet passed.
None of these quite hits the mark. "The bills I've seen so far have been crafted really quickly," says Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at Berkeley. "I don't think they've been thoughtful about the technology and the consequences."
Between the lines: It's really hard to head off the deepfake threat with laws, because by the time a malicious fake goes viral — whether it's aimed at a candidate or it's nonconsensual porn — it's too late to contain the damage.
What's next: Citron and Franks are working with a House member — they won't say who — to draft a bill they say is better suited to the problem. Rather than specific uses of deepfakes, it takes on digital impersonation broadly, Citron says.
Photo: Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty
Did time just get away from you? Never mind — here is the top of Future for the week:
1. The road to Titan: Envisioning humans on Saturn's largest moon
2. The zoning puzzle: Cities need more housing space
3. Tech job slowdown: The U.S. economy's engine is growing slower
4. Improving human brains: Technology picks up where Darwin left off
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Women's soccer looks for an even bigger coup (Laine Higgins - WSJ)
Tech's laissez-faire era ends (Ina Fried, Scott Rosenberg - Axios)
Mapping the 1960s "freeway revolts" (Linda Poon - CityLab)
The surging ban on plastic bags (The Economist) (map)
Tick saliva in the human body (Sarah Zhang - The Atlantic)
Photo: Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket/Getty
JUST, an American company that makes plant-based mayonnaise and ranch dressing, has a new goal: fill your breakfast sandwich with fake eggs.
The big picture: The vegan meat and dairy revolution is picking up momentum. This week JUST closed a deal with Canadian coffee chain Tim Hortons to introduce its plant-based eggs to the fast food industry.
Have a great weekend!