🌎 Robotaxis galore

Plus: Amtrak is dreaming of Japan

A Waymo autonomous vehicle drives along California Street on April 11, 2022 in San Francisco, California.
Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

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San Francisco greenlit 24/7 robotaxis. Waymo and Cruise received authorization to let their self-driving vehicles pick up paid rides at all hours, despite safety concerns.

Kellogg’s became the latest target of a conservative crusade. A Steven Miller-led group accused the cereal company of discriminatory hiring for pursuing diversity targets.

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Food service workers at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas rallied to protest stagnant wages. Union workers are preparing to go on strike after waiting nearly a year for a new contract from hospitality company Levy Restaurants.

China has new app rules. Developers will be required to submit business information to the Chinese government, posing a big headache for local and foreign tech companies.

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Mexico recruited the army to run an airline. It’s the latest form of transport placed under military supervision.


Zoom users, here’s WhatsApp

“Let’s WhatsApp” is starting to sound a lot like “let’s Zoom.”

The Meta-owned instant messaging platform is now letting users share screens on video calls, the same way you can on Zoom and Google Meet. Sure, Zoom still dominates the global video call market, and this won’t change overnight—but what it doesn’t have is WhatsApp’s huge user base. Instead, it just has a huge amount of drama.

2.7 billion: People who use WhatsApp
300 million: People who participate in Zoom calls daily
11%: Share of Zoom’s user base compared to WhatsApp


Those pesky US housing costs

Inflation in the US was up a smidge in July compared to June, but the increase could have been entirely avoided if the country provided ample housing for its people. Seriously—a whopping 90% of the uptick could be attributed to shelter.

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If you were hoping for signs home and rent prices are about to become more affordable—or even self-storage real estate priceswe’re sorry to disappoint you, because there’s a lot of zoning laws that have to change first. But if you’re looking for five signs the US economy is still motoring along, well, that we have.


Amtrak is dreaming of Japan

Gif: Giphy
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Imagine: 240 miles (390 km) in just 90 minutes, one way. But in America.

A high-speed rail line connecting Dallas and Houston (two of the five largest metro areas in the US) has been a twinkle in Texas Central’s eye for the past decade. Now Amtrak is hopping on board, and the inspiration is clear: Japan’s N700S Series Shinkansen, aka the bullet train. How long it’ll take for the dream to reach reality, though, is something no American is holding their breath for.

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Surprising discoveries

A New Zealand supermarket’s AI meal planner is suggesting “poison bread sandwiches.” This is what they mean when they say AI is going to kill us all.

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Europe underwent a big freeze 1.1 million years ago. It was so severe that for 200,000 years, no humans lived in Europe.

Someone recreated Steve Job’s beat-up Birks. Thirty pairs of the lookalikes were made with no plans to sell them, at least yet.

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Plastic can be made into… soap?! If you can get past the “unique color,” it’s fully functional.

And weeds can be made into… airplane fuel?! Field pennycress has an impressively high oil content.

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