Scott Rosenberg here, briefly subbing for Ina as your Login attendant. Sit back and enjoy the words — all 1,496 of them (a 5-minute read) — but remember that news may move around in the overhead compartments.
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
With impeachment hogging Congress' agenda, no national privacy law is likely to preempt California's stringent rules from going into effect next year — and activists in the state are already gearing up to put an even tougher initiative on the state's 2020 ballot.
Why it matters: California's rules often become de facto national standards. Home to Google and Facebook, this is where the tech industry's user-tracking, ad-targeting economy was born, but now it's also where efforts to tame the industry keep sprouting.
Driving the news: Real estate developer Alastair Mactaggart and his organization Californians for Consumer Privacy, which led the drive for a state law in 2018, last week introduced a new privacy-focused ballot initiative for 2020 that would bolster the requirements of the state's current law.
The new ballot initiative goes further ...
Flashback: The CCPA was written and passed hastily in 2018 as part of a deal with Mactaggart and his group to withdraw an earlier ballot initiative that had first spurred the push for a state-level privacy law in California.
Between the lines: Critics say big global companies that have already adapted to Europe's strict GDPR rules won't bat an eye at further privacy limits in California, while small firms and startups may find themselves hobbled.
What's next: California initiatives need more than 600,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Globally, no city is even close to being prepared for the challenges brought by AI and automation. Of those ranking highest in terms of readiness, nearly 70% are outside the U.S., according to a report by Oliver Wyman, Axios' Kim Hart reports.
Why it matters: Cities are ground zero for the 4th industrial revolution. 68% of the world's population will live in cities by 2050, per UN estimates. During the same period, AI is expected to upend most aspects of how those people live and work.
The big picture: Many cities are focused on leveraging technology to improve their own economies — such as becoming more efficient and sustainable "smart cities" or attracting companies to compete with Silicon Valley.
"What struck me most is just how many cities didn't have this on their radar screens. The thing about AI is that it's fundamentally opaque, and that makes it harder for cities to keep track of it. The overall focus on smart cities almost masks the broader trends."— Timo Pervane, partner at Oliver Wyman, told Axios
What they found: No city or continent has a significant advantage when it comes to AI readiness, but some have parts of the recipe.
By the numbers: Here are the survey stats that stood out.
Reality check: Cities can't deal with the repercussions of AI on their own. National and regional governments will also have to step in with policy strategies in collaboration with businesses.
Go deeper: See how your city measures up
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Tech giants, startups and academic labs are pumping out datasets and detectors in hopes of jump-starting the effort to create an automated system that can separate real videos, images and voice recordings from AI forgeries, Kaveh Waddell writes for Axios Future.
Driving the news: Dessa, the AI company behind the hyper-convincing fake Joe Rogan voice from earlier this summer, published a tool today for detecting deepfake audio — the kind that recently scammed a CEO out of $240,000.
The big picture: There's an all-hands scramble for better detectors, which generally require a lot of really good examples of deepfakes. Researchers use them to train algorithms that can tell if media was created by AI.
Unlike these datasets, which allow researchers to cook up their own detectors, Dessa is releasing a pre-baked system — which has advantages and risks.
But, but, but: Thurairatnam acknowledged that an open-source detector could help a particularly determined troll create new audio fakes that fool it. That's because generative AI systems can be trained to trick a specific detector.
WeWork's roller coaster over the last 2 weeks has monopolized headlines, and now the story of the office coworking company and its high-flying CEO will be subjects of an upcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporters Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell, they tell Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva.
The big picture: The growing influence of technology companies on the world has made them not only the subjects of regulatory and investor scrutiny, but now also the focus of grand business narratives.
The intrigue: There's already been a string of tech startup books, from John Carreyrou's "Bad Blood" (about Theranos) to Mike Isaac's "Super Pumped" (Uber). Brown tells Axios there's room for more.
The book will be published by Crown, an imprint of Random House. There's no release date yet.
The Bits & Pretzels conference runs through Tuesday in Munich.
Bruce Bochy’s grandson tips his hat as the SF Giants' manager prepares for his final game as skipper.