📺 Coming up on “Axios on HBO”: The life-changing costs of being a whistleblower (sneak preview), Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on the company’s goals for profitability and an exclusive poll on America’s surging political anger.
Today's issue is 1,227 words, which should take <5 minutes to read.
Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde. Photo via Francois G. Durand/Getty Images
Technology could erode the evidentiary value of video and audio so that we see them more like drawings or paintings — subjective takes on reality rather than factual records.
What's happening: That's one warning from a small group of philosophers who are studying a new threat to the mechanisms we use to communicate and to try to convince one another.
The big picture: We generally trust that videos and audio clips tell us something about real events, in part because of how costly and time-consuming it is to fake them — unlike, say, a sketch, a statement spoken aloud or even a photo.
The big picture: There have been plenty of informed guesses about specific potential hazards of AI-powered deepfakes — a spoiled election, a tanked IPO, a derailed trial — but their broader effects on society remain hazy.
How it works: Normally, when you receive new information, you decide whether or not to believe it in part based on how much you trust the person telling you.
The big question: What comes next? When Photoshop made it easy to transform images, we could fall back on video or audio. But we may now be at the end of the line, Rini says.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Amazon spent nearly $1.5 million in Seattle's City Council race Tuesday — an eye-popping contribution for a municipal election — but it couldn't guarantee the results it wanted, Erica writes.
What's happening: Seattle accepts ballots by mail, so the election results are still somewhat in flux. But, of the seven candidates supported by Amazon, only two appear poised to win places on the nine-seat council — though the company may still end up taking out its biggest critic.
Why it matters: The limits of Amazon's money illustrate a larger trend. Big companies are finding it increasingly difficult to throw their weight around in their progressive hometowns.
Erica's thought bubble: Big companies and rich CEOs are starting to realize that spending on politics can work against their interests.
What to watch: Amazon's most important fight is against Sawant, who is arguably the tech giant's fiercest hometown critic. Her race is still up in the air.
The bottom line: All eyes are on Sawant's race. Unseating her would be worth more to Amazon than all of its other victories combined, experts tell Axios. That’s looking increasingly less likely.
Go deeper: Big Tech's hyperlocal fights
A predicted wave of new jobs in the drone industry may spread beyond the usual tech hotbeds, attached not just to research universities in wealthy areas but to delivery and logistics hubs, construction sites and big industrial installations.
Why it matters: It's not yet clear how much new work drones will create, but where new jobs are — and who will be equipped to do them — will help determine who will benefit from the Drone Age.
The big picture: Thousands of people already work with drones — designing, manufacturing, maintaining and flying them. But the industry is still in its early stages, slowed in part by regulatory requirements.
"It's so easy to see the explosive nature of it," says Ian Siegel, CEO of ZipRecruiter, the job-search site — and an outspoken drone optimist.
Yes, but: "On the ground, sometimes it feels like it's moving a little slower," says Alan Perlman, CEO of UAV Coach, which trains pilots for a certification required to fly drones.
The big question: When the government finally allows most pilots to fly drones remotely — beyond their own line of sight — will operations be aggregated into a central location?
Internet freedom crumbles worldwide (Dave Lawler - Axios)
Autonomous vehicles' collision course (Will Oremus - OneZero)
Six-figure annual tuition is coming (Alia Wong - The Atlantic)
The China balancing act for American AI (Craig Smith - Eye on AI podcast)
Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group/Getty
Buttons seem like simple affairs: start or stop, on or off. But when they don't work as expected, they're crazy-making.