Waymo will build its self-driving vehicle fleet in Detroit


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Waymo will build its autonomous vehicles in Detroit. CEO John Krafcik wrote Tuesday in a Medium post that the company will repurpose an existing facility in Motor City with the goal of being operational by mid-2019. Back in January, the company announced it had chosen southeast Michigan as the location of its new facility for the mass production of L4 autonomous vehicles, the first of its kind in the world.

The company will create anywhere between 100 to 400 jobs as a result of the venture, according to The Detroit Free Press. Waymo will also receive incentives from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

“We will partner with American Axle & Manufacturing to repurpose an existing facility, bringing a workforce back to an area where jobs in the automotive industry were recently lost,” Krafcik wrote. He also added that the location would allow Waymo to take advantage of Michigan’s strong talent pool in engineering, operations and fleet coordination. The Detroit facility should open at a time when Waymo is dramatically expanding its operations. The automaker owned by Alphabet Inc said it would double its operations in Arizona earlier this year.

Waymo’s announcement comes as Michigan is still grappling with GM’s decision to pull back from two factories in the state. GM will stop production at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant in January 2020, which built the electric vehicle Chevy Volt. GM is still planning on building production versions of its self-driving Cruise car at the Orion Assembly Plant in Michigan.

While it likely won’t make up for the job loss due to GM’s departure, a few other automakers are also building new operations in Michigan. Fiat Chrysler announced in February that it will build a new Jeep factory in Detroit. Back in March, Ford said it will build EVs in its facility in Flat Rock, Michigan, and devote a facility elsewhere in Southwest Michigan to build autonomous vehicles.

Waymo, along with Uber, General Motors and Tesla, are currently in a race to be the first to make their autonomous vehicles available nationwide. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said earlier this week that the company plans to launch a robo-taxi service in 2020. Waymo launched its robo-taxi service to a small group of riders as a part of a pilot program in Phoenix last December.

Update 4/23/19 1:54PM ET: This post has been updated to clarify that Waymo’s previous announcement was that it would build a facility in southeast Michigan.

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Twitter bots pushed 'Russiagate hoax' following the Mueller report


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As much as Twitter has done to keep bots from manipulating users, it still has work to do. NBC News and disinformation campaign researcher Clint Watts have learned that a network of over 5,000 Trump-supporting Twitter bots echoed an attack on the alleged “Russiagate hoax” following the release of the Mueller report in mid-April. They’d been created between November and December of 2018, but were only taken down on April 21st for violating Twitter rules forbidding “platform manipulation.”

These don’t seem to have been products of Russia, though. The bots were linked to a social networking outfit that previously disseminated positive stories about Saudi Arabia, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. It’s not certain if the accounts were connected to the Saudi government, although Salah Faya, the person who registered the domain for the website (Arabian Veritas) linked to the accounts, described himself in part as an “e-Government Expert” and worked for a “confidential” company in Saudi Arabia. Twitter has previously fought pro-Saudi bots and may have even had an employee who was enticed to spy on Saudi dissidents.

As Watts noted, the goal wasn’t necessarily to sway people directly. They were too obviously artificial for that. Rather, it was to amplify the overall signal of the keywords and influence people inclined to believe the political message behind them. And when it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to start a bot network, the results don’t need to be dramatic to have value. Twitter may have a tough fight to prevent networks like this from surfacing in the future, even if it’s more capable of dealing with them than it was a few years ago.

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FDA clears first personal ECG device to detect three heart arrhythmias


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To date, personal ECG devices have only really detected one kind of heart arrhythmia: atrial fibrillation. While that’s helpful, it doesn’t cover other conditions that could be just as dangerous. You might not be left wondering for much longer. AliveCor’s KardiaMobile has received the first FDA clearance allowing a personal device to detect two other relatively common conditions, bradycardia (where your heart rate dips to 40-50BPM) and tachycardia (a jump to 100-140BPM). While these conditions are sometimes innocuous and might not show symptoms, they can also be representative of issues like heart disease.

AliveCor emphasizes that this will only help “inform” chats with your doctor, not replace them. This still isn’t as sophisticated as a multi-lead ECG you’d receive at a clinic or hospital. However, it could be useful even if you’re in fine health. It should reduce the number of inconclusive ECG results you see, and provide a clearer picture of your heart’s performance than before. Don’t be surprised if other devices follow suit.

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Philo cuts its most affordable TV streaming plan


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The budget TV streaming service Philo announced it’s eliminating its lower-cost subscription. Beginning May 6th, Philo will drop its $16-per-month plan, offering only a $20 monthly subscription. The move puts Philo on a growing list of streaming TV providers that have increased prices in the past few months.

Philo’s $20 plan includes 58 channels — that’s 13 more than it included in its $16 offering. The additions include BET Her, Discovery Family Channel, MTV Live, Nicktoons, UPtv and more. If you’re an existing customer with the $16 service, you won’t see a price hike as long as your subscription doesn’t lapse. And if you already have the $20 package, you shouldn’t notice any changes. Only new customers will be restricted to the $20 option.

When Philo launched 18 months ago, it promised a low-cost service. Since then, DirecTV, YouTube TV, PlayStation Vue and Sling TV have all raised their rates. Disney, Apple and AT&T’s WarnerMedia have all tossed their hats in the ring and announced plans to launch their own streaming services.

At $20 per month, Philo is still less than DirecTV, YouTube TV, Sling TV and PlayStation Vue. But we don’t know yet how much the new streaming services will cost, and Hulu still offers a $6 option. Of course, price isn’t the only factor, and you’ll want to compare channels, too. Philo doesn’t include HBO, so if you’re looking to watch the last episodes of Game of Thrones, you’ll need to choose one of the other options.

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Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' hits Spotify and Apple Music three years late


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Three years after Beyoncé’s Lemonade dropped with little warning, the album is at long last available on Spotify (at which she has taken jabs in the past), Apple Music and other streaming services. Until now, it was only available to stream through Tidal — the star is one of many artists who have a stake in that service.

Lemonade was the best-selling album of 2016, with 2.5 million worldwide sales. Along with the accompanying visual album, it racked up a number of Emmy and Grammy awards as well as a Peabody Award.

The record’s arrival on the likes of Spotify and Apple Music caps off a big week for Beyoncé. Homecoming, the spellbinding concert film of her groundbreaking Coachella 2018 headline set, hit Netflix last week, and reports emerged she has a deal for two more projects with the service. Alongside the documentary, a live album of the performance landed on streaming platforms. Beyoncé is also set to star as Nala in the upcoming remake of The Lion King, so it’s an exciting few months for the Beyhive.

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