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What Happens When China's Steel Curbs End? Here's BHP's Outlook Steelmakers in China are about to get back to business full-time. When unprecedented winter supply curbs lapse in the coming weeks, BHP Billiton Ltd. forecasts mills in the top producer will step up output, boosting run rates through the second quarter to A former employee says Tesla sells “lemons” in a new lawsuit A former regional manager for Tesla is suing the company for demoting and firing him after he raised concerns that its practice of selling previously damaged cars was illegal. The plaintiff, Adam Williams, is bringing the suit under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act. The lawsuit, surfaced by the Verge , says, “During the course of Mr. Williams’ employment with Defendants, he became aware of Defendants’ practice of failing to disclose to consumers high-dollar, pre-delivery damage repairs prior to any transaction with consumers.” It goes on to accuse Tesla of receiving vehicles designated as “lemons” and knowingly reselling them as “used” or “demo/loaner” cars . Tesla is denying the claim. Last year, Tesla faced major production issues that held back production goals for its newest car, the Model 3. In January, CNBC reported that Tesla factory workers were, in some instances, putting batteries together by hand, and that quality may be have been affected. In its latest earnings statement , the company promised it is “taking many actions to systematically address bottlenecks and add capacity” in necessary areas. These Are The Transformative Technologies That MIT Says Will Shape Our Future Who doesn’t love a good list, especially when it’s about technologies that have the potential to shape our future? This morning, MIT Technology Review published its 18th-annual 10 Breakthrough Technologies list , and it includes some fascinating entries. (I picked six of the more interesting ones below.) By “breakthrough,” the publication means “a technology, or perhaps even a collection of technologies, that will have a profound effect on our lives.” Simple, right? Now that we have our definitions out of the way, let’s take a look at some of the technologies that our kids will probably see as old-hat, but that we’ll consider truly innovative. 3D Metal Printing With the possibility of using metals as well as plastic, composites, and other materials, 3D printing companies will make it easier than ever for businesses to print replacement parts, or even all-new ones. And that means they don’t have to keep huge inventories of things they might someday need. The technology also enables the creation of stronger parts, and more complex shapes than what is possible with traditional manufacturing methods. Artificial Embryos Researchers at the University of Cambridge have already grown mouse embryos using nothing but stem cells. Now scientists at places like the University of Michigan and Rockefeller University are looking into expanding on that work and making artificial embryos based on human stem cells. There are obvious ethical questions, but as MIT puts it, doing this would be a big step forward, as it would allow researchers to study events early in development, not to mention employ things like gene editing. Smart Cities Toronto is the site of what could be the most exciting digital city initiative: a waterfront neighborhood known as Quayside that is being reclaimed and rebuilt from the ground up with the latest technologies. Things like policy, design, and technology will be based on information gleaned from a wide network of sensors–measuring air quality, noise levels, people’s activities, and more, MIT writes. Plus, all vehicles there will be autonomous and shared. Robots will do menial chores–like mail delivery–and the systems powering everything will be made open so companies can layer services on top of them. AI for Everyone While artificial intelligence is largely in the hands of big tech companies, cloud-based AI could democratize it, MIT believes. Ironically, though, it’s the tech giants–Amazon, Google, and Microsoft–that will develop the cloud-based AI platforms that will make it possible for smaller companies to get in on the game How Amazon’s Startup Fund Is Betting On An Alexa-Everywhere Future Amazon had a significant head start in the voice-based personal assistant wars when it introduced its Echo speaker in 2014 . That original Echo, it turned out, was just the first vehicle for Alexa’s artificial intelligence and natural language technologies. Three years later, Amazon is pushing Alexa in all sorts of directions, including new apps, platforms, and gadgets from both Amazon and third parties. And while much of that product vision comes from inside Amazon, the company is wisely looking for the service to be shaped by outsiders, too. Enter the Alexa Fund. Born with a $100 million investment from Amazon in 2015, the year after the debut of the Echo, the fund is part of the company’s effort to identify more Alexa-showcasing companies and products around the world. It isn’t just a fund. It’s come to comprise three parts–a VC-style investment arm, an accelerator, and a university fellowship program. You can think of these as different ways of reaching innovators and entrepreneurs at various stages, from training to ideation to execution as a real company. Paul Bernard , Alexa Fund manager [Photo: courtesy of Paul Bernard] The accelerator program–which is run in partnership with preeminent startup accelerator Techstars–is targeted at young startups that are developing their product and beginning to think about its potential place in the world. After an initial accelerator class that began last summer, the company said Wednesday that it and Techstars will fund a second accelerator of 13 companies hosted in Seattle and London later this year. The announcement follows the tech giant’s commitment in November to invest another $100 million in the fund, with an emphasis on locating more portfolio companies outside the United States. These startups aren’t just sitting around creating new Alexa skills. How the companies’ technologies fit into the Alexa vision is more nuanced than that. Some of the companies work with natural language in a way that could impact Alexa’s language skills and personality in the future. Others provide enabling technologies that help Alexa work in new places or use less power. In fact, only about half of the companies in the fund’s portfolio make consumer-facing products accessed or operated via Alexa and voice. But all of the startups live in places where Amazon thinks digital assistants are headed. “We try to lean forward in identifying companies that will map to the next domain, or the next set of experiences that are going to be relevant,” says fund director Paul Bernard, a former Nokia executive with a background in business development and investments. The First Accelerator Class When I visited the accelerator in its temporary home in October, inside the Startup Hall on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle, I saw mostly young men scattered around the shared work tables in rows from the entryway to the back wall. A small sign with the Alexa Fund logo stood on a tripod stand at the front.
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Confidential, discreet professional services to privately held business
owners.Specialists in 401k/IRA business funding.VR has sold more
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