The Wonder, April 5 - Your internet has shipped

A Weekly Snapshot of Life-Changing Technology

1. Your internet has shipped

Amazon plans to launch over 3,000 satellites to offer broadband internet coverage around the world.

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Hot Take
When Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos began competing to explore space, it looked less like a business decision and more like an ego competition to personally advance the human race through space exploration. But they could be revealing their hands – both billionaires announced plans to provide global internet coverage through a network of satellites.

Why It Matters
Half of the world still doesn’t have access to the internet. Whoever provides that access will become the gatekeeper of information, commerce, and connectivity.

2. The green medal goes to...

Norway set a global record when almost 60% of all new cars sold in March were fully electric.

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Hot Take
Politicians working to combat client change need real-life models of success to build upon. Norway, which exempted battery engines from taxes imposed on diesel and petrol (a sort of reverse carbon tax), is showing a viable path forward.

The Tesla effect
It’s no coincidence that the surge of electric cars came as Tesla ramped up delivery if its mid-sized Model 3.

Fun Fact
Norway is Western Europe’s biggest producer of oil and gas, a fact that has not stopped them from seeking to end fossil-fueled vehicle sales by 2025.

3. Japan just shot a copper cannonball at an asteroid

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which already fired a bullet at the asteroid Ryugu, is stepping up its attacks. It just attempted to blast a new crater into the surface of the object it’s been orbiting for months.

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Hot Take
From the early days of exploration, people have been shooting things that they don’t understand.

Why It Matters
Asteroids are like care packages from parts of the universe we could never feasibly explore. Studying them offers us an opportunity to study the origins of our solar system and of life itself. Also, they may have some super valuable metals.

Sure, it’s a long shot, but we still have no plan for what to do if a big enough asteroid collides with Earth (again). Might as well start experimenting.

4. You've got subject lines

Gmail’s Smart Compose feature can now suggest subject lines based on the content of your email.

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Hot Take
I’ll make this quick – better subject lines help us prioritize and respond to email, saving us time. Time is good. Thanks Google.

Really, Andrew?
I’ve been a vocal believer that writing skills are the most important workplace skill of the generation. Email writing should be its own subject matter in school. Tools that assist in effective writing even the playing field and help more people reach their full potential.

5. Watch this robot lift and place boxes better than you can

Boston Dynamics has updated its 2017 Handle robot to be much better at moving boxes around a warehouse.

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Hot Take
Boston Dynamics is known for making eerily human-like robots that can run and jump. But their creations never make it out of the prototype phase. A major update to a robot with such practical applications, say, at an Amazon Fulfillment center, could signal a first foray into commercialization.

But the jobs…
In 2017, Amazon employed around 90,000 full-time employees in its fulfillment centers. At the time, they also employed 80,000 robots. Since then, the number of robots in use has increased, but not as quickly as the number of employees. Even with automation, demand is outpacing supply.

Thanks for reading! We’ll see you next week. 

-Andrew Greenstein, on behalf of SF AppWorks