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Samsung will build a $17 billion semiconductor factory in Texas

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Samsung has committed to build a chip-making factory in Texas, just as the US starts to push for the expansion in semiconductor production within the country. The Korean tech giant will be investing $17 billion into the new facility, which will manufacture high-end and advanced chips for smartphones, 5G and artificial intelligence, among other applications. According to The Wall Street Journal, construction for the factory is scheduled to begin next year, while production within the facility is expected to start in the second half of 2024. 

The US government has been taking steps towards boosting semiconductor production in the US, following the global chip shortage caused by shuttered plants and the high demand for PCs and other devices during the pandemic. This issue continues to have a huge impact across industries — just this year, automakers like GM and Ford had to suspend or cut production in their US plants due to supply constraints. 

Samsung scouted locations in Arizona, New York and Florida for the new project and also considered Austin, where it has an existing factory. It ultimately chose Taylor, Texas for this new facility due to the generous tax breaks and incentives it offered, as well as the city’s capability to do rolling blackouts and providing electricity to certain facilities in the case of power outage. 

Kim Ki-nam, chief executive of the Samsung Electronics Device Solutions Division, said in a statement:

“As we add a new facility in Taylor, Samsung is laying the groundwork for another important chapter in our future. With greater manufacturing capacity, we will able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain. We are also proud to be bringing more jobs and supporting the training and talent development for local communities, as Samsung celebrates 25 years of semiconductor manufacturing in the US.”

Source: https://www.engadget.com/samsung-17-billion-chip-factory-texas-054150875.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Mariella Moon

Congress looks to push 911 calls into the 21st century with texts, videos and photos

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A next-generation 911 would allow the nation’s 6,000 911 centers to accept texts, videos and photos.

The big picture: U.S. emergency communications have remained stubbornly analog, but Congress is about to take another run at dragging 911 into the digital age.


Why it matters: Giving people ways to reach 911 beyond voice calls could save citizens’ and first responders’ lives.

Driving the news: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), co-chair of the Senate Next Generation 9-1-1 Caucus, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) announced a bill Thursday that would create a $10 billion federal grant program for upgrades to the nation’s 911 centers.

  • “In a crisis, no one should be put in danger because of outdated 9-1-1 systems, and first responders, public safety officials, and law enforcement must be able to communicate seamlessly,” said Klobuchar, who will push to include the funding in Democrats’ reconciliation spending plan.
  • Similarly, the House Energy & Commerce Committee approved its own proposal this week for a $10 billion boost for next-generation 911 as part of the $3.5 trillion spending package.

How it works: Expanding 911 to accept more kinds of digital data would add more resiliency to a system that’s still built around a copper-based telephone network.

  • According to the FCC, almost 3,000 911 centers are capable of receiving text messages. But none have full capabilities to take data from smartphones, said Harriet Rennie-Brown, executive director of the National Association of State 911 Administrators.
  • “You have this amazing device in your hand, and we can’t use all of the information it’s capable of sending us,” Rennie-Brown told Axios.

What they’re saying: “Right now Americans are enduring the most frequent and severe natural disasters in recorded history — meanwhile our country’s 9-1-1 operators are being asked to respond with outdated technology from a bygone era,” House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said in a statement. “Next generation 9-1-1 is about saving lives.”

The other side: Republicans opposed the House proposal during a marathon markup session Monday after Democrats voted against Republican amendments.

  • One amendment from Republicans would have prohibited the new funding to go to 911 centers in cities that voted on defunding their police departments.
  • “Our amendment simply says let’s not waste any of it,” Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) said. “You don’t want police support. You don’t want to fund the police, deal with it yourself.”

The intrigue: The House proposal would not allow the funding to go to states that divert funds from the 911 fees on consumer phone bills to non-911 purposes.

  • The Federal Communications Commission, in an annual report spotlighting fee diverters, said 5 states used a portion of their 911 funds to support public safety programs unrelated to 911.
  • The FCC said Pallone’s home state of New Jersey, and New York, home of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also used a portion of their funds for either non-public safety or “unspecified” uses.
  • The FCC this year created a “strike force” to recommend ways to end 911 fee diversion, and that group is expected to vote on its report Friday.

Source: https://www.axios.com/congress-911-calls-digital-update-emergency-services-f1d575c6-bf6a-42f6-a707-29e848cab8cd.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Margaret Harding McGill

How much COVID misinformation is on Facebook? Its execs don’t want to know

How much COVID misinformation is on Facebook? Its execs don’t want to know

Enlarge (credit: KJ Parish)

For years, misinformation has flourished on Facebook. Falsehoods, misrepresentations, and outright lies posted on the site have shaped the discourse on everything from national politics to public health.

But despite their role in facilitating communications for billions of people, Facebook executives refused to commit resources to understand the extent to which COVID-19-related misinformation pervaded its platform, according to a report in The New York Times.

Early in the pandemic, a group of data scientists at Facebook met with executives to propose a project that would determine how many users saw misleading or false information about COVID. It wasn’t a small task—they estimated that the process could take up to a year or more to complete—but it would give the company a solid understanding of the extent to which misinformation spread on its platform.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/07/facebook-willfully-ignored-its-covid-misinformation-problem-report-says/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim De Chant

New York City E-Race Grand Prix shows potential of electric vehicles

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BMW’s Maximilian Günther and Jaguar’s Sam Bird captured the checkered flags at the thrilling New York City E-Prix racing doubleheader in Brooklyn over the weekend. But the real winners, race organizers hope, are electric vehicles themselves.

Why it matters: ABB FIA Formula E’s all-electric street racing series, held in some of the world’s most iconic cities, is meant to showcase EV technology in the very places electric cars are likely to have the biggest impact.


  • For auto manufacturers, it’s also a test bed for innovation in sustainable mobility.
  • “If we win and we are successful, we can show the world we are a step ahead on technology,” Pascal Zurlinden, director of factory racing for Porsche AG, tells Axios.

Driving the news: New York is the only U.S. stop on this year’s Formula E tour, now in its seventh season. As EV technology has advanced, the racing series has evolved too.

  • Batteries in the first generation of race cars lasted only 25 minutes, so teams had to swap cars midway through the race.
  • The current generation of cars has a lightweight 250-kilowatt battery and a top speed of 174 mph, eliminating the need for pit stops during the 45-minute race.
  • The entire 24-car field uses the same battery pack, which was designed and manufactured by Lucid Motors through its Atieva technology division.

Details: Each team designs the rest of the car’s powertrain — things like the electric motor, inverter and gearbox — but the design can’t change after the season begins.

  • The only permitted changes are software updates to optimize thermal management.
  • To win, racers need to strike the right balance between power and efficiency — the same riddle that engineers designing standard EVs are trying to solve.
  • Like race car drivers, EV owners can continually improve their vehicles through software updates too.

Context: Motorsports has long been a laboratory for future automotive technology.

  • Jaguar, for example, pioneered disc brakes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1953. Today, they are widely available on all vehicles.
  • The British carmaker is already implementing lessons learned from Formula E racing, says James Barclay, team director of Jaguar Racing. A software update added 12 miles of extra range to the 2021 Jaguar iPace electric SUV, for instance.

The big picture: Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and a massive source worldwide.

  • Automakers are rushing to replace their gasoline-powered vehicles with electric models as governments tighten tailpipe emissions rules and companies face pressure to act on climate.

What’s next: Formula E is growing, adding three new cities next year — Vancouver, Canada, Cape Town, South Africa, and Seoul, South Korea — as it expands to a record 16 races across four continents.

  • The technology continues to evolve, too. Batteries in the next generation of race cars, coming in about 18 months for Season 9, will pack 350 kW of energy into a smaller, lighter package, meaning even better performance.

The bottom line: Formula E is an exciting sport with sustainability built into its mission.

Source: https://www.axios.com/electric-car-race-ab33e282-89ef-403f-9700-c15aa9b7cd47.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Joann Muller

New York City launches a cyberdefense center in Manhattan

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Infrastructure cyberattacks are quickly becoming a significant problem in the US, and New York City is opening a facility that could help fend off those potentially dangerous hacks. The Wall Street Journalreports that NYC has launched a long-in-the-making Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure (CCSI) operations center in Manhattan to defend against major cyberattacks.

The initiative’s members are a mix of public and private sector organizations that include Amazon, the Federal Reserve Bank, IBM, the New York Police Department and multiple healthcare providers. If a cyberattack hits, they’ll ideally cooperate closely to both overcome the attack and muster a city response if the digital offensive hobbles NYC’s infrastructure.

Politicians first floated the idea in 2017, but CCSI has been a strictly virtual initiative until now.

NYC is the first US city to have such a cyberdefense center, but it might not be the last. Cities like Atlanta and Baltimore have reeled from ransomware attacks in recent years, in numerous cases taking a long time (and a lot of money) to recover. A coordinated operations facility could help those cities bounce back quickly from a wide variety of hacks, or at least mitigate the damage.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/new-york-city-cyberattack-defense-center-131728692.html?src=rss
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jon Fingas

Residents claim massive bitcoin mining operation is heating up a local lake

Residents in upstate New York are angry because they say a large bitcoin mining operation is heating up Seneca Lake. Seneca Lake is one of the largest Finger Lakes in upstate New York. Typically, the lake is used heavily for boating, fishing, swimming, and other leisure activities in the summer. However, residents say that a gas-fired power plant nearby pollutes … Continue reading

Source: https://www.slashgear.com/residents-claim-massive-bitcoin-mining-operation-is-heating-up-a-local-lake-07681398/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Satsuki Then

The high stakes of Branson and Bezos’ race to space

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When Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson take flight aboard the rockets their companies built, the hopes and dreams of a burgeoning industry will be flying with them as well.

Why it matters: Accidents or errors on these high-profile flights from Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin could derail their plans — and possibly affect others’ plans — for commercial space tourism and travel.


Driving the news: Last week, Virgin Galactic announced that it would push to fly Branson and others on a fully crewed test flight on July 11, just ahead of Blue Origin’s first flight with Bezos, scheduled for July 20.

  • There has been a low hum of animosity brewing between the two companies in public since it was revealed Bezos might fly before Branson.
  • That rivalry spilled over last week after the Branson announcement, with Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith saying the two companies aren’t after the same prize in these first flights.
  • “We wish him a great and safe flight, but they’re not flying above the Karman line and it’s a very different experience,” Smith said of Branson and Virgin Galactic in a statement via the New York Times. (The Karman line is the unofficial altitude at which space begins, about 62 miles up.)

The big picture: Launching and building satellites is a big moneymaker in the space industry, but suborbital space tourism is seen as a means of getting more people interested in the space industry in the long term.

  • In theory, these flights should be more affordable and available to a large group of people who will only need to train for a day or two before going to the edge of space.
  • If something were to go wrong with one of these high-profile, early flights, it could threaten the companies’ business plans going forward and cast doubt on whether suborbital space tourism could serve as a boon for the rest of the industry.

Flashback: An accident during a Virgin Galactic test flight in 2014 left one pilot dead.

  • After the crash, Branson considered stopping development of the company’s space plane altogether.

Yes, but: The company did continue on, and public support for it has been steady.

  • It’s possible an accident from either of the companies wouldn’t hurt public opinion of the endeavor as a whole.
  • Depending on why an accident occurred, “I don’t think you would see a mass exodus of Virgin Galactic reservation holders or a noticeable drop in interest in flying on Blue Origin,” space historian Robert Pearlman said.

What to watch: A major failure or problem could also put pressure on Congress to start pushing for more regulation of private human spaceflight, which some argue could stifle the space travel industry just as it is beginning.

  • At the moment, the FAA is not allowed to regulate the safety of “spaceflight participants” — Bezos, Branson or anyone else who would fly on one of these vehicles — until at least 2023.
  • Instead, the crews today fly under a regime known as “informed consent” where they must agree to and be told of the risks before launch.
  • That moratorium on regulation was put in place in order to allow the industry to launch before restrictions were placed on it.

Source: https://www.axios.com/branson-bezos-space-race-stakes-8261d5aa-a206-4fbe-9d89-84c72caf5f14.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Miriam Kramer

Attempting to reform gig work via co-ops

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Ride-hailing service The Drivers Cooperative recently debuted in New York City, claiming that its lack of VC funding would result in better driver pay and lower passenger costs.

Why it matters: TDC’s approach is a direct rebuke to the venture capital-fueled gig economy model.


Details: The organization is incorporated as a “worker cooperative corporation” and currently lets every signed-up driver enroll as a member of the co-op, which means receiving one share in the company and one shareholder vote.

  • The co-op takes a 15% cut of rides (compared to Uber and Lyft’s roughly 20%) to fund its operations, and any leftovers at the end of the year will go back to drivers via profit-sharing.
  • The company says its drivers currently make on average about 30% more than they would driving for Uber or Lyft, and that riders pay slightly less.

The big picture: A number of companies have tried (and often failed) to reform the model popularized by Uber and Lyft, including:

  • Juno: The NYC-born startup promised it would give drivers equity in its company. It eventually sold to U.K.-based Gett and backtracked on its equity promise because regulators wouldn’t allow it.
  • Austin’s indies: A crop of upstarts, including a nonprofit and a Facebook group matching drivers and riders, emerged in Austin a few years ago when Uber and Lyft ceased operating for a year.
  • Dumpling: The startup, which charges drivers a monthly fee for using its app instead of taking a cut from each transaction, recently expanded into ride-hailing after getting its start in grocery delivery. Unfortunately, it’s reportedly also run afoul of some workers with changes made to its apps.

Between the lines: “We’re actually selling things for the price that they cost,” says TDC co-founder Erik Forman, adding that Uber and Lyft’s lack of profits are a sign that their approach isn’t actually working.

  • The argument for the venture-backed model has been that it takes a lot of upfront capital to set up operations and grow very quickly to capture market share and compete with rivals.
  • That’s also meant price wars on all fronts — including price cuts for riders and earnings bumps for drivers — which has mostly been financed by venture capital for the first several years of a company’s life.
  • TDC has only raised about $300,000 via mostly debt and is preparing to raise just over $1 million.

And it’s not the only one to take this approach. Driver’s Seat, an app for drivers to collect and analyze data about their hours and earnings, is also set up as a cooperative. While free for drivers, it sells access to aggregate data and insights to municipalities.

  • Co-founder Hays Witt says the aim is to give drivers back some ownership and control over their work data.

Yes, but: It remains to be seen how a smaller, local upstart can fare in the face of multibillion-dollar public companies that are already household names.

  • While its brand can certainly appeal to many drivers’ and passengers’ sense of using a more “ethical” service, some will undoubtedly prefer convenience or sticking with the familiar.
  • And while Forman sees the technology as a commodity, companies like Uber and Lyft spend tremendous resources on developing, maintaining and fine-tuning their apps to keep drivers and riders happy.

The bottom line: Uber and Lyft proved there’s a market for smartphone-enabled urban transportation — but the quest to meet that demand via a radically different approach to business is ongoing.

Source: https://www.axios.com/reform-gig-work-co-ops-ride-hailing-uber-lyft-ee4848cf-d80c-4fa7-9297-10a19b23196d.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Kia Kokalitcheva

New York City project to use clean energy to fund high-speed broadband, WiFi access

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A new type of housing initiative kicking off in New York City seeks to address two major problems facing the U.S. today: The lack of widespread, high-speed broadband access for low-income residents, and the need to more widely deploy clean energy technologies.

Why it matters: The project is a unique marriage between two of the Biden administration’s top infrastructure policy goals, except on a local level.


Driving the news: Using funding from the New York Green Bank and New York State Housing Finance Agency, the Workforce Housing Group — a New York-based affordable housing development organization — is set to launch a project involving about two-dozen buildings in New York City.

  • These buildings will capitalize on the cost savings of solar power to bring high speed broadband and WiFi access to residents who might not be able to afford it otherwise.
  • One goal of the project is to improve low-cost, high-speed internet access to residents of affordable housing units in East New York, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, according to an announcement set to be made Tuesday.

The details: The project is being funded through a loan to cover the up-front costs of the installation, with loan payments to be offset by the expected energy savings on utility bills.

  • Additional savings from generating solar power would go towards providing free wifi and high-speed broadband connections for residents.

What we’re watching: Brandon Gibson, co-founder of Flume Internet, a New York-based company that will be providing the broadband access, told Axios the project could be replicated by other communities.

  • “We’re not aware of anyone else really doing that around the country,” Gibson said. “[We’re] really excited to set this as a precedent, and we’ll use it moving forward while working with other developers and other landlords in and around the country.”
  • “We expect this innovative structure to serve as a model for further partnerships with housing finance agencies and affordable housing developers as we continue advancing New York State’s equitable energy transition,” said Andrew Kessler, acting president of the New York Green Bank, in a statement.

Source: https://www.axios.com/new-york-city-solar-energy-affordable-broadband-a3207461-b00e-465e-8a1e-140290b5dd3d.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Andrew Freedman

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