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Courtesy of Waymo

Alphabet's self-driving branch is getting some more Washington firepower. Waymo has hired Senate Commerce Committee staffer David Quinalty as its new Head of Federal Policy and Government Affairs. He'll interface with lawmakers and federal transportation regulators as part of the job.

Why it matters: Self-driving technology is moving full speed ahead in Silicon Valley, and Washington in trying to keep pace. Lawmakers in both chambers — including the committee Quinalty currently works for — are working on bills related to autonomous vehicles. If the companies are able to secure federal preemption of state regulations, it would be a huge win that they say would make it much easier to roll out the technology nationwide.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
29 mins ago - Technology

Doomsday Clock stays at 100 seconds to midnight

Robert Rosner, left, and Suzet McKinney reveal the 2021 setting of the Doomsday Clock. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists/Thomas Gaulkin

In its annual update on Wednesday morning, scientists announced the Doomsday Clock would be kept at 100 seconds to midnight.

Why it matters: The decision to keep the clock hands steady — tied for the closest it has ever been to midnight in the clock's 74-year history — reflects a picture of progress on climate change and politics undercut by growing threats from infectious disease and disruptive technologies.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden to sign major climate orders, setting up clash with oil industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Biden will sign new executive actions today that provide the clearest signs yet of his climate plans — elevating the issue to a national security priority and kicking off an intense battle with the oil industry.

Driving the news: One move will freeze issuance of new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and waters "to the extent possible," per a White House summary.

The rebellion against Silicon Valley (the place)

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Smith Collection/Gado via Getty Images

Silicon Valley may be a "state of mind," but it's also very much a real enclave in Northern California. Now, a growing faction of the tech industry is boycotting it.

Why it matters: The Bay Area is facing for the first time the prospect of losing its crown as the top destination for tech workers and startups — which could have an economic impact on the region and force it to reckon with its local issues.