Elon Musk Juices Bitcoin Price Yet Again With His Stupid Tweets

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sits in a car arriving to the construction site for a new Tesla in Gruenheide near Berlin, northeastern Germany on May 17, 2021.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sits in a car arriving to the construction site for a new Tesla in Gruenheide near Berlin, northeastern Germany on May 17, 2021.
Photo: Odd Andersen/AFP (Getty Images)

Elon Musk sent the price of bitcoin soaring Sunday night after a positive tweet about the cryptocurrency, which has tracked closely with Musk’s tweets over the past six months. The SpaceX founder also revealed his electric car company Tesla has sold roughly 10% of its bitcoin holdings.

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Musk, the second wealthiest person in the world, was responding to a tweet from crypto news outlet CoinTelegraph that accused the billionaire of running a pump and dump scheme when he made his latest revelations.

“This is inaccurate. Tesla only sold ~10% of holdings to confirm BTC could be liquidated easily without moving market,” Musk tweeted on Sunday, using the abbreviation of bitcoin.

Oh, for sure. It’s perfectly normal to sell off millions of dollars in assets to… test the market. That’s just smart business and not a sign of trying to dump your Monopoly money.

Musk continued by explaining that he’ll let Tesla accept bitcoin as a payment for electric cars once the energy consumed to mine the cryptocurrency reaches about 50% renewable.

“When there’s confirmation of reasonable (~50%) clean energy usage by miners with positive future trend, Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions,” Musk tweeted.

Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are notoriously bad for the environment, consuming enormous amounts of energy to run properly. Musk started accepting bitcoin for Teslas back in March but stopped in May when the billionaire said he was worried that crypto was bad for the environment.

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The weird part, of course, is that nothing changed environmentally in that period when Tesla accepted bitcoin. Everyone knew it was bad for the environment when Musk started taking bitcoin and there’s basically no way that someone like Musk could’ve been ignorant of the environmental impact before he made that decision.

The price of bitcoin is currently sitting at roughly $39,200, up 9.64% over the past 24 hours, according to CoinDesk. That’s still quite a ways off it’s all-time high of $64,829, but bitcoin diehards have to be excited that it’s moving in a positive direction after Musk’s tweets from the past few months sent the price tumbling.

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Musk knows what he’s doing by manipulating the bitcoin market with his tweets, but he still has some level of plausible deniability, if only because the market isn’t regulated in any serious way. The only question left is whether Musk’s legion of followers realize it’s all a grift before they empty their bank accounts on the wrong side of Musk’s crypto rollercoaster. We’re not going to hold our breath.

DOJ Vows to Hunt Down Whoever Let the Public Know How Little Billionaires Pay in Taxes

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland at a Senate hearing on June 9, 2021.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland at a Senate hearing on June 9, 2021.
Photo: Stefani Reynolds / Pool (Getty Images)

This week, ProPublica released a massive scoop—a treasure trove of financial records showing how some of the U.S.’s wealthiest billionaires scamper off with virtually no tax burden. And the U.S. government knows exactly what to do in response: find whoever released those embarrassing records and incarcerate the shit out of them.

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Priorities, people!

ProPublica obtained official Internal Revenue Service documents that were, admittedly, not supposed to be public knowledge and released key details about just how well various tax tricks used by the ultra-wealthy are working out for them. For example, compared to Forbes estimates, the country’s 25 richest people saw a net growth of $401 billion in wealth from 2014 to 2018 but paid just $13.6 billion in federal income tax—an effective rate of 3.4%. Berkshire Hathaway investment titan Warren Buffet saw his net worth rise by $24.3 billion over that period, paying just $23.7 million in tax. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth rise by $99 billion, paying just $973 million in tax. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ratio was $22.5 billion in net worth gains to $292 million in tax, while Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was $13.9 billion to $455 million.

Morally obscene display of inequality and impunity as this is, the U.S. government has far more pressing concerns, such as punishing whoever squealed. Attorney General Merrick Garland assured lawmakers on Wednesday that one of his most immediate focuses will be plugging the leak, wherever or whoever it might be.

“I promise you, it will be at the top of my list,” Garland told GOP Sen. Susan Collins during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, according to CNBC.

“Senator, I take this as seriously as you do. I very well remember what President Nixon did in the Watergate period—the creation of enemies lists and the punishment of people through reviewing their tax returns,” Garland added. “This is an extremely serious matter, people are entitled, obviously, to great privacy with respect to their tax returns.”

Garland added that IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig had told him “inspectors were working on it, and I’m sure that that means it will be referred to the Justice Department.”

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“The unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal,” Treasury spokeswoman Lily Adams told CNN. “The matter is being referred to the Office of the Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate.”

Of course, the tax records likely were obtained in some illegal manner before they were released to ProPublica. And even if the IRS sympathized with those on the shitty end of the billionaires’ inequality stick—not that they do—looking the other way is not an option in any way, especially as the feds must determine if any IRS officials were involved in the leak or IRS systems were compromised by hackers. (According to the Financial Times, 30-year IRS small business division veteran Eric Hylton said he had “not seen a leak such as this in my entire career” and found the idea it originated with IRS personnel hard to believe.)

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Finding the source is not mutually exclusive with President Joe Biden’s proposals to raise an additional $3.5 trillion in taxes from the extremely wealthy over the next decade. But punishing someone won’t change that ProPublica’s scoop was undeniably in the public interest, detailing just how and why the system is wired to enrich the wealthy at the expense of pretty much everyone else.

The Biden administration has said it will not go to the same extremes as Donald Trump’s administration in hunting down leakers, taking off the table some methods that threatened the First Amendment right of journalists to publish leaked government documents. But previous administrations, such as Barack Obama’s, have similarly paid lip service to a free press while simultaneously targeting whistleblowers, leakers, and journalists for crackdowns, and Biden has yet to demonstrate he won’t do the same. CNBC noted that Garland’s comments come as the Justice Department is backpedaling Trump-era tactics at the DOJ such as obtaining phone records of New York Times reporters, but hasn’t officially ruled them off-limits yet:

Garland’s comments came as the Justice Department, at the direction of President Joe Biden, has sought to move away from the aggressive tactics employed against journalists and media organizations under former President Donald Trump and previous administrations.

On Saturday, the department said that, “in a change to its longstanding practice,” it will refrain from seizing records from reporters in leak investigations. Last month, Biden called that practice “simply wrong,” though his position hadn’t been formalized yet as policy.

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The Financial Times wrote that at least one of the billionaires shaken by the ProPublica report is planning to launch their own investigation. Bloomberg told the paper in a statement he would use “all legal means” to find the source of the leak, that he “scrupulously obeys the letter and spirit of the law,” and that three-quarters of his annual income goes to taxes or charities.

“The release of a private citizen’s tax returns should raise real privacy concerns regardless of political affiliation or views on tax policy,” Bloomberg told the Times. “We intend to use all legal means at our disposal to determine which individual or government entity leaked these and ensure that they are held responsible.”

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El Salvador Becomes First Country to Recognize Bitcoin as Currency

The 39-year-old president of El Salvador Nayib Bukele in a file photo from Feb. 17, 2021

The 39-year-old president of El Salvador Nayib Bukele in a file photo from Feb. 17, 2021
Photo: Salvador Melendez (AP)

El Salvador has become the first country in the world to recognize the cryptocurrency bitcoin as legal currency, according to President Nayib Bukele in a tweet on Wednesday. Citizens will be able to pay taxes in bitcoin and, perhaps most importantly for bitcoin diehards, bitcoin won’t be subject to capital gains taxes in El Salvador.

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“The #BitcoinLaw has been approved by a supermajority in the Salvadoran Congress,” the 39-year-old president Bukele tweeted on Wednesday. “62 out of 84 votes! History! #btc”

The price of bitcoin, shortened as BTC, rose early Tuesday following the news out of El Salvador, up 4.3% over the past 24 hours.

The so-called Bitcoin Law acknowledges that roughly 70% of Salvadorans don’t have access to traditional financial services and proposes bitcoin as a possible alternative. The law suggests bitcoin is great as a digital currency because it, “answers exclusively to free-market criteria, in order to increase national wealth for the benefit of the greatest number of inhabitants.”

Retailers in El Salvador can now list prices in bitcoin, though the law states U.S. dollars will need to be used as a reference currency for accounting purposes. That’s almost a given since the price of bitcoin swings wildly on any given day—or at any given hour for that matter.

For example, bitcoin dipped to a low of $31,453 on Tuesday and is currently trading at $34,335 according to CoinDesk. With that kind of volatility, many retailers that accept bitcoin list their prices in U.S. dollars. Tesla did precisely that for the brief period when it was accepting bitcoin for its cars. The electric car company dropped the scheme after Elon Musk expressed concerns about the environmental impact of bitcoin—something that’s not exactly new information.

To be clear, there’s no evidence that bitcoin helps the poor people this new law in El Salvador claims it’s trying to help, but it’s a great move for any wealthy people in the Latin American nation who want to hide profits made from crypto under the guise of economic “freedom.”

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Will people around the world try to move their bitcoin profits to El Salvador in order to gain some kind of tax advantages? That’s entirely possible, but would still be a useless exercise for the average American. The U.S. tax code applies to all Americans no matter where they reside, so any American citizen would likely need to set up some kind of complex shell company in El Salvador in order to avoid paying capital gains taxes on bitcoin. Which is to say, you can’t take your bitcoin wallet physically to El Salvador and think you’re going to simply avoid paying capital gains tax on any crypto earnings—at least not without denouncing your U.S. citizenship first, and that comes with plenty of its own tax penalties.

President Bukele recently changed his Twitter avatar to include laser eyes, a modification that used to be associated with white supremacists but has recently been adopted by bitcoin enthusiasts. Bitcoin believers have been ecstatic ever since Bukele announced his intentions to adopt bitcoin as legal currency earlier this week.

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Bitcoin has plunged in recent months, responding to the whims of the world’s second wealthiest person, Elon Musk. The SpaceX founder changed his Twitter bio to read “bitcoin” in March and said he was a big believer. Musk’s company Tesla even announced in an SEC filing that it had purchased an enormous amount of bitcoin before Musk pulled a 180 that can only be interpreted as a very blatant attempt to move the crypto market up and down whenever he chooses. By May, Musk explained that he no longer wanted to accept bitcoin and the price of bitcoin tanked.

Yes, bitcoin isn’t officially beholden to any one government around the world, but for a supposedly “decentralized” store of value, it depends immensely on how Elon Musk feels on any given day.

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It’s anyone’s guess how El Salvador will fare with bitcoin recognized as an official currency, but we can safely bet on one thing: The rich will get richer and the poor will almost certainly suffer.

Apple and Google Go All In On Digital Car Keys

Illustration for article titled Apple and Google Go All In On Digital Car Keys

Screenshot: Apple

Apple today announced expanded support for digital car keys in iOS 15 during its WWDC keynote. Combined with Google’s recent Android announcements at its own developers conference, it’s clear that the big transition to digital car keys will begin in earnest later this fall.

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While Apple first announced support for digital car keys last year, today the company expanded its efforts with new updates coming to Wallet in iOS 15 that will allow iPhones to connect to nearby cars via UWB. The addition of support for UWB mirrors a similar announcement Google made during Google I/O that regarding support for digital car keys via UWB or NFC depending on the specific model of car in Android 12.

Currently, NFC and UWB are slated to be the two main methods for implementing digital car keys, both of which have their pros and cons. NFC typically has a much shorter range than UWB, which means you often have to be right next to your vehicle or even tap your phone on a certain spot on your vehicle in order to unlock its door or start the car. However, because NFC is already built into all but the cheapest budget phones, it remains a relatively easy way to transition from traditional physical keys to newfangled digital car keys.

On the flip side, UWB boasts a potential range of more than 100 feet, which means users might be able to start their car or turn on the heat/AC remotely from inside their home, just so long as they have a relatively clear line of sight to the vehicle vehicle. The downside is that because UWB is still relatively new technology, it’s only available on a handful of devices right now, which means you might need to upgrade to a new phone to get support for UWB.

Here’s how Google’s digital car key interface is expected to look in Android 12, with Apple’s take visible in the image above.

Here’s how Google’s digital car key interface is expected to look in Android 12, with Apple’s take visible in the image above.
Image: Google

Among Android phones, the two main devices that support UWB are the Galaxy S21+ and Galaxy S21 Ultra, but not the standard S21Samsung says support for UWB was not included to help keep its price down. And in the future, it seems like Google is poised to add UWB support to Pixel 6. Meanwhile for iPhones, Apple started adding support for UWB starting with the iPhone 11. Though Apple is currently ahead when it comes to UWB support, anyone still using an iPhone XS or older is sadly out of luck.

Aside from Tesla, the automaker currently leading the charge for digital car keys is BMW, who has already partnered with Apple, Google, and Samsung to support the initiative in select BMW models, though other manufacturers like Hyundai and more recently Ford have been working to support digital car keys as well.

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The arrival of digital car keys has the potential to make life a lot easier. However, it also presents a couple problems, the most worrying being that simply losing your phone could turn into a real disaster. That’s because in addition to losing your primary method for calling or messaging people, the rise of digital car keys and smart locks means that if you don’t have access to your phone, you also might not have access to your home or vehicle, too, which could leave you truly stranded in an emergency.

For some, that possibility may be enough to make them think twice about digital car keys, and even though many manufacturers still provide a physical key or card key as a backup, it will be interesting to see how fast the public embraces digital car keys once they become more widely supported this fall.

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But either way, between existing automakers like Tesla and wider support coming soon in iOS 15 and Android 12, it seems both the tech giants and car makers are finally ready to bring car keys into the 21st century.

Square Will Invest $5 Million to Build an Open-Source, Solar-Powered Bitcoin Mining Facility

Illustration for article titled Square Will Invest $5 Million to Build an Open-Source, Solar-Powered Bitcoin Mining Facility

Graphic: Blockstream

Square, the digital payments firm led by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, is teaming up with blockchain technology provider Blockstream Mining to build an open-source, solar-powered bitcoin mining facility at one of Blockstream’s U.S. sites.

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Square will invest $5 million in the facility, which will be a “proof-of-concept for a 100% renewable energy Bitcoin mine at scale,” Blockstream announced in a company blog post Saturday. The partnership, which Square confirmed via Twitter on Saturday, is part of Square’s Bitcoin Clean Energy Investment Initiative, an effort it launched in December to support companies working to reduce the bitcoin ecosystem’s massive carbon footprint.

A few bitcoin mining operations have already begun transitioning from fossil fuels to more renewable sources of energy such as solar and hydropower, but Blockstream said it hopes the “open and transparent nature” of this facility will encourage others to follow suit. Its operational costs and return on investments will be made open to the public, and Blockstream will maintain an online dashboard that shows real-time metrics about the facility’s performance, including its power output and bitcoin yield, accessible 24/7 from any internet browser.

“We hope to show that a renewable mining facility in the real world is not only possible but also prove empirically that Bitcoin accelerates the world toward a sustainable future,” states the company’s blog post. 

It takes a ton of electricity to power bitcoin mining operations, though scientists have struggled to determine its exact carbon footprint. Some researchers estimate that the carbon footprint of bitcoin mining alone could push us over the critical two-degree Celsius threshold within a few decades. A study published in March in the science journal Joule estimated that by the end of 2021, bitcoin mining could consume nearly as much energy as every data center in the world combined.

Yet another study from Digiconomist, the researchers behind the widely cited Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, found that, on average, mining a single bitcoin consumes 1,553 kilowatt-hours of electricity, about what your typical U.S. household would burn through in 53 days. Each year, bitcoin mining consumes roughly 125 terawatt-hours, on par with the annual power consumption of the entire country of Pakistan, and its annual carbon footprint is comparable to that of Morocco, according to Digiconomist.

As such, several businesses in the industry are pursuing more sustainable methods for mining or, alternatively, forgoing participating in the ecosystem until its environmental costs are mitigated. Earlier this year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the automaker will no longer accept bitcoin for car payments out of concern over the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for bitcoin mining.”

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Dorsey, head of both Square and Twitter, has been an outspoken bitcoin fanboy, positing in 2018 that it will become the world’s single currency within 10 years. Square revealed in February that it had purchased $170 million worth of bitcoin as part of a larger investment in cryptocurrency. On Friday, Dorsey tweeted that Square is “considering making a hardware wallet for bitcoin” built entirely in collaboration with the community.

Apple Car Development Hits Bumpy Road Following the Departure of Multiple Managers: Report

Illustration for article titled Apple Car Development Hits Bumpy Road Following the Departure of Multiple Managers: Report

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images (Getty Images)

In the ongoing saga of Apple’s long-rumored plans to build an electric car, a new report claims the company has hit a bumpy stretch after multiple top managers from the auto development division have left the company in recent months.

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According to Bloomberg, former Tesla engineer Doug Field remains in charge of the division overseeing the Apple car’s development but the project’s core management team—which consists of fewer than a dozen people—has suffered from at least three major departures already this year.

The most recent exit is reportedly that of Dave Scott, who recently left Apple to become the CEO at Hyperfine, which is a company working to create new and more affordable MRI systems. And just before Scott left, the person who was previously in charge of the Apple Car’s safety and regulations team, Jaime Waydo, also exited the company to become the CTO at the autonomous car startup Cavnue. 

Finally, going back to February, Bloomberg says Benjamin Lyon, one of the original members of the Apple car team, quit to serve as the chief engineer for space and satellite launch company Astra.

While most predictions claim that the Apple Car won’t be ready until 2024 or 2025 at the earliest, rumors and reports regarding the Apple Car’s development continue to get a lot of attention as Apple entering the car world represents one of the company’s biggest most challenging new projects ever.

Back in January and February, reports came out saying that Apple had selected Hyundai’s E-GMP EV car platform as the base for the Apple Car, only for negotiations between Apple and Hyundai to fall apart a week later after some execs within Hyundai expressed concerns about being turned into a contract manufacturer for Apple, similar to the role Foxconn plays when it comes to making iPhones.

Bloomberg says that one of the issues plaguing the Apple Car’s development is multiple changes in scope. Back at the beginning of the project in 2014, Apple’s original plan was to build a vehicle to rival Tesla’s EVs. However, sometime in 2016, Apple reportedly narrowed its scope to simply developing an autonomous driving system instead of an entire car. But recently, it seems Apple has changed its priorities again back to creating a full self-driving electric car, potentially with the help of established EV makers when it comes to creating a core EV platform.

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So while even the most aggressive estimates for the arrival of the Apple Car still place the vehicle’s release state three or four years away, if the company’s car division continues to suffer from an exit of talent and a change in focus, there’s a good chance people looking forward to the Apple Car could be waiting a lot longer than that.

Tesla Makes Cars in Texas but Has to Re-Import Them to Sell in the Lone Star State

The Tesla factory in Fremont, California.

The Tesla factory in Fremont, California.
Photo: Ben Margot (AP)

The Texas legislature adjourned on May 31 without making any changes to the state’s auto dealer franchise laws—meaning that the only way for Tesla to sell electric cars made at its forthcoming factory in Austin will be to ship them out of state and re-import them.

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The Drive first reported the franchise laws currently prohibit auto manufacturers like Tesla from directly selling cars to consumers, but instead require cars to be purchased through third-party dealerships—meaning Tesla stores can’t sell to or ship to Texans. As it stands, loopholes allow Tesla to operate “galleries” where prices aren’t discussed, but no Tesla facilities in Texas can process paperwork and cars have to be delivered for pickup from out of state depots:

Any Texan can go online and order a Tesla through the company’s website. But no orders may be placed or processed within any Texas facility owned by Tesla. One buyer noted his paperwork had been FedExed to and from a Tesla Store in Nevada for completion.

Once ordered, the vehicle is shipped to one of Tesla’s eight Texas service centers. The buyer must first pay for it online (from outside the facility grounds), and can then drive it away—meaning Tesla has not actually “delivered” the car to a buyer, but simply made it available to be “picked up” by an existing owner.

Texas isn’t unique in these restrictions. It’s just a standout because Tesla is actually building a factory there. As of 2018, some sixteen states had laws that would prevent Tesla from opening its own direct dealerships, while an additional nine had limits on the total number of stores that the company could operate. California, where Tesla’s main U.S. facility is located in Fremont, doesn’t have a similar law on the books.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that the Austin manufacturing plant will employ 10,000 people by the end of 2022 and could begin building cars as soon as late 2021. The $1.1 billion project will make Tesla models including the Semi, Model 3 compact, Model Y, and the Cybertruck.

HB 3479, a legislative proposal that would have exempted companies that solely manufacture battery-powered vehicles and didn’t maintain franchised distributors in Texas, never made it out of Committee after being heard in May, according to the Drive. That bill was mostly tailored for Tesla and would exclude most other large manufacturers that make electric vehicles, but the Verge reported it could benefit other companies including Rivian, Lucid, and Canoo. Another more sweeping bill relating to electric vehicles, HB 2221, stalled after being voted out of committee. That means Texas legislators essentially dropped the matter before the end of the session. These and similar proposals have been fought against by auto distributors and car dealers, who (justifiably) worry that manufacturers could simply view them as an unnecessary middleman and undercut their prices, driving dealerships out of business.

Musk tweeted late last month that “Tesla sure would appreciate changing the law, so that [the workaround] is not required!” But it seems quite unlikely the situation will change anytime soon.

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The Texas legislature does not meet every year and isn’t scheduled to meet again until January 2023. According to the New York Post, the sole remaining option for Tesla to directly deal cars in the state anytime soon would be for Governor Greg Abbott to call a special session on the topic—while Abbott has threatened to hold such a session, it would specifically relate to Texas GOP-backed voter suppression bills, and his office didn’t respond to the Post’s requests for comment on Tuesday. Similar proposals have gone unheeded in 2013 and 2015.

Tesla Cars Will Now Spy on You to Make Sure You Don’t Autopilot Yourself Into a PR Disaster

Illustration for article titled Tesla Cars Will Now Spy on You to Make Sure You Don’t Autopilot Yourself Into a PR Disaster

Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

In an effort to assuage fears about the dangers inherent in its autopilot system, Tesla has announced that the in-cabin cameras in its Model 3 and Y vehicles will now monitor drivers for “attentiveness” while the feature is turned on, TechCrunch reports.

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The cameras in question are located above the rearview mirror and, when engaged, are already used in a limited capacity by the company to record and store data about “safety events,” i.e., fender-benders or worse. Now, however, they’ll automatically turn on whenever drivers initiate the car’s advanced driver assistance system. The changes, announced in a recent software update, will also get the car to yell at you if it thinks you’re not paying enough attention, says TechCrunch, citing online reports from multiple Tesla owners who’ve begun to receive the update.

This switch-up definitely makes sense, since Tesla’s autopilot feature has gotten it into some hot water over the last several years. While Tesla makes it clear that autopilot is “not a self-driving system” and is designed for a “fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time,” the feature has nevertheless been abused and misused repeatedly—leading to a number of crashes, including fatal ones.

Now, in what seems like an effort to avoid more episodes like the one involving this raving maniac, the company is clamping down by making sure that you’re still, like, sitting upright and looking at the road while autopilot is turned on. If you have somehow fallen asleep at the wheel, the car will send you an alert.

“The cabin camera above your rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged. Camera data does not leave the car itself, which means the system cannot save or transmit information unless data sharing is enabled,” the company told drivers in a statement, clearly trying to assuage privacy fears.

While improving safety, this is also likely a liability feature for Tesla so that, in the event of a crash, the cameras can verify that it was the driver’s fault, not some rogue AI insurrection a la HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Telsa shut down its press department recently, so there’s no one to ask for comment.

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Tesla Opens Data Center in China to Obey Cybersecurity Law for Foreign Companies

A man sits inside of a Tesla car Model 3 as a vendor talks to him at a Tesla shop inside of a shopping mall in Beijing on May 26, 2021.

A man sits inside of a Tesla car Model 3 as a vendor talks to him at a Tesla shop inside of a shopping mall in Beijing on May 26, 2021.
Photo: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP (Getty Images)

Electric car company Tesla will open a data center in Shanghai, China in order to store data collected from its customers’ cars in the country and stay on the right side of Beijing’s cybersecurity laws, according to a new report from the South China Morning Post. All data that foreign companies collect in China about their customers must be stored in China in order to adhere to a tough data law passed in 2017.

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“We have set up a data centre in China to locally store data–collected by Tesla vehicles sold in mainland China–and we will add more. All data generated from cars sold in mainland China will be stored within China,” Tesla wrote on the social media app Weibo, sometimes known as China’s version of Twitter.

Apple recently built its own data center to adhere to the same law for Chinese users of its iCloud storage service, as the South China Morning Post notes. That move previously drew criticism from human rights groups that worry it gives the Chinese government too much access to the iCloud data of Chinese users—data that previously would’ve required a U.S. court order when the iCloud keys were stored on American soil.

Tesla expanded into China, the largest electric car market in the world, in 2019 but has come under increased scrutiny in the country over the past few months. Customers in China have raised concerns over safety, including during a highly publicized spectacle at the Shanghai Auto Show last month when a protester stood on a Tesla Model 3 while shouting, “Tesla brakes fail.”

Chinese officials have also drawn attention to concerns that the U.S.-based car maker could transmit sensitive visual data back to the U.S. through its imaging capabilities. Tesla CEO Elon Musk denies all spying concerns from Chinese officials, but that didn’t stop Beijing from banning all military staff from using Tesla cars back in March.

The U.S. and China have battled over alleged spying on both sides, with American officials warning of potential threats from Chinese companies like Huawei, which has historic ties to the Chinese military. Social media platform TikTok has also come under scrutiny for its vulnerabilities, including Beijing’s access to customer data. But China has its own concerns over how U.S. companies operate on its soil, and Tesla has been just the most recent target of Beijing’s ire.

Tesla has a few reasons to be concerned after investing a lot of money in China, especially after sales recently slowed. Gordon Johnson, CEO of GLJ Research, pointed out to CNBC on Monday that other car companies like Ford are now producing electric vehicles with better battery capabilities for the same amount of money.

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“In April, the first month of this [financial] year, they’ve gotten completely eviscerated in China,” Johnson said of Tesla, pointing out their sales were down 66% month over month.

Impossibly Fast Fan-Assisted RC Car Can Out-Accelerate a Tesla Roadster’s 0-60 Time

Tesla likes to make a lot of claims about the performance of vehicles that don’t exist yet, and promises the upcoming Tesla Roadster can go from zero to sixty miles per hour in just 1.9 secs, and possibly even faster if you drink the Musk Kool-Aid. But for far less than $200,000, a YouTuber has built an RC electric car that can out-accelerate Tesla’s best offering.

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For the past few months, YouTube’s Engineering After Hours has been perfecting a design for a remote control car that uses a pair of electric jet fans to create a vacuum underneath that literally pulls the vehicle to the ground, increasing traction and dramatically improving its acceleration. It may seem like an unorthodox approach to speed, but back in 1978, Gordon Murray, the famed car designer responsible for the iconic McLaren F1, helped create the Brabham BT46 “fan car” which did the exact same thing, winning the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix before being withdrawn from the competition.

Engineering After Hours’ fan car isn’t as elaborate or expensive as Murray’s F1 entry, but it does represent months of design and redesign because even just getting an RC car to hit 60 miles per hour is no easy feat. At that speed its tiny two-inch wheels have to spin at over 5,000 revolutions per minute, requiring powerful electric motors and reinforced components. But at those RPMs, even rubber tires have a tendency to lose grip and slip, so in addition to adding traction compound to each wheel to improve their stickiness, the use of electric jet fans increases the downforce, giving the tiny car an impressive 20 pounds of traction force off the line.

Even with the fan car’s well-honed design, there were still unexpected surprises and challenges during its acceleration testing, including strong components simply being sheared off due to the high G-forces being experienced. But eventually, with some special tuning of the electric motors to increase the power at launch, the RC car was able to accelerate to 60 miles per hour in just 1.73 seconds.

That easily outperforms a Tesla Roadster, but the fan car’s creators believe that 0-60 time can be shaved down even further, as the vehicle inexplicably experiences some shaking at launch, hindering its ability to properly accelerate for the first few moments. Once the cause is determined and remedied, it should be able to accelerate even faster, although at some point it’s going to be so fast that putting a human operator at the remote control might not be the best idea.