🌎 Pop go the UFOs

Plus: Apple’s got the best seats to the AI showdown
🌎 Pop go the UFOs

Good morning, Quartz readers!

Here’s what you need to know

The US has shot down three unidentified flying objects in the past three days. The Pentagon was adamant the balloon destroyed off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4 was a Chinese surveillance device, but little is known about these airborne objects.

A record airplane deal is in the works for Airbus and Boeing. Air India has reportedly inked agreements with the two planemakers for more than 500 orders, which would be the largest in aviation history.

Mars was fined more than $14,500 over a chocolate tank accident. Federal workplace authorities ruled that the two workers who fell into a vat of chocolate at a Pennsylvania factory had not received proper authorization and training.

Turkey detained 134 people involved in building contracting. Poor engineering and a lack of code enforcement are being blamed for the collapse of thousands of structures, contributing to the death of more than 33,000 people after an earthquake hit Turkey and Syria last week.

Mexico detained a suspected leader of the fentanyl trade. The man, identified as “Jose N”, was described as a logistics chief for a drug lord linked to the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

Dunkin’ Donuts made its Super Bowl ad debut. The coffee-and-donut chain worked with Ben Affleck’s production company in one of the many star-studded commercials at the sporting event that saw the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the Philadelphia Eagles.

What to watch for

Dubai’s World Government Summit might look like a mini version of Davos’s World Economic Forum (WEF), but this year the four-day gathering of business and political leaders that started on Feb. 12 has one-upped the Swiss meeting—it expects an appearance from billionaire Elon Musk.

Musk derided Davos last month as “boring” and questioned the summit’s goals. But the serial CEO evidently feels no such qualms about the UAE-based event, committing to a 20-minute “chat” on Feb. 15 with the summit’s chairperson and UAE government minister Mohammad Al Gergawi.

While Musk may be shunning one conference for the other, several speakers are attending both.

🎤 Will.i.am, musician turned investor and philanthropist

🎥 Idris Elba, actor and UN ambassador

💻 Nick Clegg, former UK deputy prime minister and current president of global affairs at Meta

💰 Kristalina Georgieva, IMF director-general

🏔️ Klaus Schwab, WEF founder

🗺️ Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, WTO director-general

Apple’s got the best seats to the AI showdown

Tech companies are champing at the bit to build the next generation of AI-powered search engines. It could be a ripe opportunity for Apple to make some big bucks.

For years, Google has been paying to ensure that its search engine is built by default into Apple devices. The cost is formidable. Analysts estimate that Google paid as much as $10 billion in 2020 and $15 billion in 2021, securing a prime spot to rake in search advertising revenue.

But now Microsoft has entered the wings with its own AI-augmented Bing. Should Bing overtake Bard, Apple could sit back and enjoy an ensuing bidding war between Google and Microsoft. That is, if Apple hasn’t developed its own search engine first.

How much lithium does India have?

Last week, India suddenly became the country with the fifth-largest reserve of lithium in the world, after 5.9 million tons of the resource was discovered.

The finding of such a large swath of lithium, which is used to make batteries and EVs, could not have come at a better time. It gives fuel to Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist fire and the country’s quest to become a global manufacturing leader. But there’s a catch: India will now need to create an infrastructure to refine the metal into a usable mineral, which is going to take years, and carries with it a huge environmental cost.

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Surprising discoveries

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Need a place to put that toaster that reminds you of your ex? We suggest a 10,000-square-foot baroque palace in Zagreb, Croatia.

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A pocket mouse named Pat is the oldest in human captivity. Ringing in at the same weight as three pennies, the mini rodent is 9 years and 209 days old.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, sliced bread, and pats for Pat to hi@qz.com. Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Ananya Bhattacharya, Samanth Subramanian, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.