Tesla’s Hubris, Rwanda’s Drones, and the Upside of Spying on Your Kids


Tesla Cops to Hubris. That’s a Good Thing
 The advance orders on Tesla’s Model 3 suggest it has a bright future. But in the meantime, it needs to clear up its present. First-quarter unit sales (WSJ) were about 10 percent less than predicted. There were also problems manufacturing one of its current models, which the company admitted as “hubris in adding far too much new technology,” which it could not deliver in quantity. Is that damning with boisterous praise? Financial analysts may focus on the quarterly miss, but what’s most interesting to us is that the company acknowledged its shortcoming using a word — hubris — that most visionary companies exude without owning up to. Regardless of intent, it’s a welcome act of transparency from a company that’s going to have to be open with the nearly 300,000 people who have put down $300 million worth of deposits for the Model 3.

The Future Is Already Here. It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed
 You’ll never guess where William Gibson’s most famous quote has come alive: Silicon Valley startup Zipline is prepping its drones to transport blood and pharmaceuticals in Rwanda (NYT), cutting down the transfer time from weeks or months to mere hours. This will make Rwanda, one of the poorest nations on the planet, the first place with a true drone delivery network.

Clearing Up Mexico City
 Mexico City is trying to battle air pollution with a partial driving ban (Tech Times). Starting today and for the next three months, each car in the city must stay off the road one day each week and an additional Saturday per month. Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said he was also “working on medium-term solutions like improving public transport.” That approach might help north of the border, too, where we seem unwilling to pay for quality public transportation, despite the glaringly obvious benefits (The Conversation).

Chromebooks: Spying on Children … and Saving Lives
 Schools that have installed a tracking app on Chromebooks claim it has thwarted student suicide attempts (Fusion) by monitoring student browser history and sending alerts to faculty. Chromebooks account for more than half of all devices issued to students in American public schools, and Chromebook maker Google has been accused of invading kids’ search history. Schools are walking a tightrope here. You can’t argue against saving children’s lives but you can still worry about their digital privacy.

Tech Is Over … and “Spotlight” Debuts
 The people who hoped that technology would change the world? They won. What comes next? NewCo editor in chief John Battelle has ideas in his debut column, also appearing in the inaugural issue of the new NewCo Weekly. Also new at NewCo: A new Medium presence, including a very cool (if we do say) new “Spotlight” video series. Check it out here.

Photo: KQED

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