Pacific trade deal, Chinese moon probe, AI faces

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today and Jan. 1

Kim Jong Un delivers his New Year’s address. Will the North Korean leader sound threatening, conciliatory, or both? Each year analysts listen carefully for hints about his intentions, especially with regards to tests of missiles and nuclear weapons.

Germany begins offering a third gender option on official documents. As of January, intersex people (and parents of intersex babies) will be able to register as “divers,” which means diverse or other, instead of having to choose between male or female, on birth certificates and similar registrations.

A slew of creative works enter the public domain in the US. Films, books, songs, and other artistic works once protected by US copyright, and all from the year 1923, will finally be in the public domain. In 1998, Disney successfully lobbied for a 20-year extension, but it’s coming to an end.

Over the weekend

The CPTPP went into effect. For Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, and Singapore, the trade deal is now in force. Vietnam will follow in mid-January, with the four other countries yet to ratify. Donald Trump withdrew the US from the TPP, an earlier version of the deal.

Disney and Verizon resolved a high-stakes spat. The companies had until Dec. 31 to come to terms before Disney channels (including ESPN) no longer appeared on Verizon’s Fios TV network. With viewership declining, media companies are asking for more for their content to make up for lost revenue, but service providers are balking.

Bangladesh held a troubled election. At least 17 people were killed in violence linked to the election, amid widespread allegations of rigging. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s ruling party was on course for a landslide victory. The final results are due Monday.

China’s space probe moved into position over the moon. The Chang’e-4 entered a planned orbit “to prepare for the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon,” the official Xinhua news agency reported. It didn’t say when the landing would occur.

Quartz obsession interlude

Gwynn Guilford on the decline of GM. “GM once built nine of every 20 new cars sold in America… [But a] 1972 strike—or, more precisely, GM’s response to it—marked the beginning of the company’s long but uneven descent, which would be characterized by a repeated impulse to bet on fancy, futuristic but unproven technologies while undervaluing its workers.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

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Robot workers need legal rights, and they need them now. Humans have a long history of abusing machines and robots, and it’s only a matter of time before robots start retaliating.

AI competition is the new space race. Progress in the field has been incremental so far, and that leaves the field wide open, with the US, China, and Europe all vying for leadership.

Regaining trust is the top issue for tech in 2019. Consumers, lawmakers, and investors are more skeptical of tech companies than they’ve been in years.

Surprising discoveries

AI-generated faces bear telltale signs. Don’t be fooled by photo-realistic images of people who never existed.

The debate over gene-edited babies isn’t all that heated. Two-thirds of Americans are OK with editing genes in embryos to prevent disease or disability.

First class isn’t the ultimate in commercial airline luxury. United’s secret, ultra-elite airline status (subscription) affords a tiny group of super-spenders perks the rest of us can only imagine.

UK authorities still have no proof of the drone attack on Gatwick. The best they can offer is that they are “absolutely certain” there was at least one drone.

Some oysters spend their winters on dry land. They’re dormant at low temperatures anyhow, so it doesn’t matter whether they’re in the water.

Note: Quartz will not send a Daily Brief on Jan. 1.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, oyster recipes, and robot workers to Join the next chapter of Quartz by downloading our app and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written and edited by Steve Mollman and Indrani Sen.