Toyota, Intel and Ericsson in a self-driving consortium - Axios

Toyota, Intel and Ericsson in a self-driving consortium

Lexus autonomous prototype (Toyota Research Institute)

Toyota and Intel — in a tense race to own what they see as a gigantic future self-driving industry — have announced yet another new international consortium in order to beat their rivals to the perceived prize.

The new group — which also includes Swiss telecoms company Ericsson and Japanese auto parts maker Denso — seeks to standardize a system to handle an extraordinary expected leap in data created by self-driving vehicles and services like realtime mapping apps, and stored in the cloud.

In a statement yesterday, Toyota forecast that the volume of data to be transmitted between vehicles and the cloud will grow by 10,000 times over the next eight years — to 10 exabytes per month, equal to 10 billion gigabytes.

Why it matters: The announcement is yet another sign of a frenzy around an uncertain yet broadly accepted forecast: that the world's roads will soon be zooming with autonomously driven vehicles. It is a given that light autonomous vehicles — able to stay in freeway lanes, warn of impending accidents, and park themselves — will be here soon. What is not knowable is when fully autonomous cars will be here — in five years, or more like two decades or longer. Until they are, such partnerships may be premature.

Who's ahead now: Among chipmakers, Nvidia is far ahead of anyone; its platform seems to be the go-to technology for all the carmakers in the race. In terms of car companies, Tesla and GM have seized the lead commercially, with Google right there in terms of research. But Apple, Microsoft and every carmaker on the planet are furiously competing, too, and no one can be sure who will dominate self-driving in the end.

Hence the partnerships. The consortium is just the latest move for:

  • Intel, which, attempting to remake itself as a powerhouse in autonomous driving technology, has spent $15.3 billion to buy self-driving sensor-maker Mobileye, said on Aug. 9 that it will put 100 test self-driving cars on the road over the next year or so; and
  • Toyota, which began a big push into autonomous vehicles last year. It began sprinkling $25 million grants around U.S. universities like MIT, Stanford and the University of Michigan, and spent $1 billion on a research institute with campuses in the invention hotbeds of Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Massachusetts. In March, Toyota's institute announced its first self-driving prototype vehicle (pictured above). And two months later, it announced a partnership with MIT and five companies to develop blockchain technology for self-driving cars.

Gianforte hasn’t given that interview to reporter he bodyslammed

Greg Gianforte on the night of his election to Congress. Photo: Bobby Caina Calvan / AP

Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican who bodyslammed Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs on the eve of his election to Congress, said in court that he planned to "sit down" with Jacobs after taking office, but has yet to agree to an interview, per the Washington Post's Erik Wemple.

  • The Guardian's position: "... in light of his promise to sit down for an interview with Ben in the courtroom before being sentenced on June 12, we fully expect the Congressman to be a man of his word."
  • Gianforte's position, per a spokesman: "We've offered times to Ben to sit down with Greg when the House reconvenes."
  • The disconnect: While the Guardian says Gianforte promised an interview, Gianforte's camp has said only that they'll have a "meeting." As Wemple writes, "A body slam, a false statement, not to mention the failed Republican attempt to repeal-and-replace Obamacare: These are all issues that Gianforte would presumably prefer to address off the record or not at all."

The world's top economies are all growing at once

Jens Meyer / AP

The world's top economies are experiencing growth in sync, the Wall Street Journal reports based on data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which tracks economic growth in 45 countries. This year, 33 of them are expected to experience accelerated growth from last year.

Why it matters: Economies across the globe are finally healthy after a string of crises that had worldwide reverberations. But "the development comes, ironically, just as nationalist movements in the U.S., Europe and beyond have gotten a new life, driven by suspicion over global trade and finance," Josh Zumbrun of the WSJ writes.

The numbers:

  • The IMF predicts global output will grow 3.5% this year, up from 3.2% in 2016.
  • The worst year in recent history was 2009, which saw 36 shrinking economies.
  • Greece is at a turning point, with 1% percent growth predicted — the best in 10 years.

Google engineer fired over memo hires civil rights attorney

Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

James Damore, the former Google engineer who was fired over a memo he wrote criticizing the company's diversity efforts, has hired civil rights lawyer Harmeet Dhillon, she confirmed to Bloomberg. Though Google has said he was fired for violating the company's employee code of conduct, Damore claims that it was for expressing political views that differ from Google's.

Why it matters: Damore's memo set off wide backlash because of his assertions that women were biologically less inclined to pursue computer science professions and that Google doesn't tolerate conservative or minority viewpoints. Dhillon's firm is seeking other Google employees who believe they've been unfairly treated by the company, she posted on Twitter.

Trump connection: Dhillon was rumored to be considered by President Trump to lead the Department of Justice's Civil Rights division.

What's next: Damore has already filed a complaint to the National Labor Relations Board and has said he's exploring further legal actions.


Amazon-Whole Foods deal clears key hurdle

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos arrives for a meeting with then-President Elect Donald Trump. (Evan Vucci / AP)

The Federal Trade Commission is done vetting Amazon's proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, it said Wednesday, allowing the $13.7 billion deal to clear a key a regulatory obstacle. The companies hope it will close this year; Whole Foods shareholders approved it earlier in the day.

"Based on our investigation we have decided not to pursue this matter further," said Bruce Hoffman, the acting director of the agency's Bureau of Competition, in a statement. "Of course, the FTC always has the ability to investigate anticompetitive conduct should such action be warranted."

Details: The agency evaluated whether the merger of the organic grocer and online retail powerhouse "substantially lessened competition" or "constituted an unfair method of competition."

Bigger picture: Critics of Amazon say it has gotten too big and should be subject to antitrust scrutiny. But it was always doubtful that this deal would be the field where that battle is fought.


Scientists think they finally know what sunk a Confederate sub

Bruce Smith / AP

Researchers at Duke University might have solved one of the enduring mysteries of the Civil War: they think the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley — the first sub ever to sink an enemy ship — sank immediately from the force of its own torpedo, per Popular Science.

  • What happened: The shock wave from the sub's torpedo struck the craft so hard that it damaged the soft tissues of the crew's lungs and brains, perhaps killing the entire crew of eight immediately.
  • How they found out: The research team built a scale model of the Hunley and blew it up in a pond in an attempt to replicate the effects of the shockwave.
  • Fool me twice: Before its final, fateful journey, the Hunley had already been sunk and raised twice — killing 13 previous crew members in the process.

Actor Danny Glover joins Airbnb as advisor


Danny Glover, an actor, director, and activist, is joining home-sharing company Airbnb as an advisor, the company said on Wednesday. Glover will help the company with its outreach to communities of color to recruit more hosts via a partnership with the NAACP that Airbnb announced last month.

Why it matters: Last year, Airbnb got in some hot water when users began speaking out about the discrimination they experienced while using the home-sharing service. A recent study found that most hosts in predominantly black neighborhoods are white, further supporting the need for the company to get more minority hosts on board.


How to spot a fake poll

Otto Kitsinger / AP

As the polling industry moves online and it becomes less expensive to launch a survey, fake polls (polls that are not conducted properly, or polls that can't be trusted) are going to keep popping up. To help sort through it all, FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten lays out a couple of ground rules.

Make sure they look professional: Check for sloppy mistakes like typos. It likely means the authors of the poll aren't familiar with the content or weren't paying attention like a professional would.

  • Also see where the polling company is located, since without an address, it's probably a fake company. Check when the company was founded. If there's no answer or it was recently, be suspicious.
  • Look at who conducted the poll: Seek out their reputation and their track record. Check if they have a web site beyond a Twitter account.

Look for how the poll was conducted — via phone, internet, Google survey? — to see if the pollster is revealing that information. If they're not transparent, they're likely not professional.

  • Look at the questions in the poll, and especially for political polls, look for questions that go beyond comparing two candidates, including demographic questions, since professional pollsters will want to weight their data. Plus, most professional pollsters want to find out people's reasoning for leaning one way or the other, not just which way they lean.
  • See why a poll was conducted since if they don't tell you, you should be cautious. Academic institutions poll to increase name recognition or educate, professional pollsters to make money, for example.
  • Check when the poll was conducted and how many people it reached since every professional pollster will tell you that since that influences the results and their precision.

Former Russian ambassador: recruitment allegations "nonsense"

Carolyn Kaster / AP

Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, dismissed the notion that he tried to recruit Trump team officials as "nonsense" after CNN caught up with him in Russia.

  • On reports Jared Kushner wanted to set up a Russian backchannel: "I've said many times that we do not discuss the substance of our discussions with our American interlocuters. Out of respect to our partners."
  • On the Oval Office meeting where Trump disclosed classified intel: "I'm not sure that I heard anything that would be secretive, but it was a good meeting and we were discussing things that are important to your country and to mine."
  • On the recently passed sanctions bill: "[It's] basically a statement of being anti-Russian. It's not going to be wished away, it's going to stay and it's going to spoil ability of both countries to resume a normalcy in our relations. And normalcy in our relationship is exactly what is missing."

Charlottesville covers up Robert E. Lee statue

A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia that was a focal point for a white nationalist rally earlier this month was covered up on Wednesday afternoon. The city council ordered the statue and another of Stonewall Jackson be shrouded out of respect for Heather Heyer, the woman killed during the protests, per NBC Washington.


Moore dominating Strange in Alabama Senate polling

Roy Moore, a former Alabama chief justice, has 50.3% support compared to incumbent Sen. Luther Strange's 32.2%, per a Decision Desk HQ/Opinion Savvy poll.

Moore's 18-point lead comes one month before the September 26th primary runoff that will decide the Republican nominee to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Data: Decision Desk HQ/Opinion Savvy Poll of likely voters, Aug. 22, 2017; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon

Why it matters: Strange has strong endorsements from both President Trump and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but Moore is the Trumpian candidate, whose campaign ad's say he'll "drain the swamp." Polling indicates that the president's populist message, rather than his explicit endorsement, resonates with his base. As recently as December 2016, Moore said there was "a big question" about President Obama's citizenship, reigniting the disproved "birther" debate.

One Trump thing: 68.6% of voters polled say they "strongly approve" of Trump's performance.

Polling data, including methodology, here.