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Inside Automotive (Aug 30th, 2019)

Hi there! I'll be off on Labor Day (Monday, September 2) so there will be no Inside Automotive newsletter coming out that day. Enjoy your extended weekend!  

1. A day after its launch, Tesla has made updates to its insurance website, which have resulted in updated rates for drivers. A few hours after the website launched on Wednesday, Tesla said it was updating the algorithms on its website and that service would resume “shortly.” The website went down, with Tesla saying the update was necessary due to “bugs” affecting customer rate quotes. Once the website went back online, some drivers on the /r/TeslaMotors subreddit reported new Tesla insurance rates that were lower than previously offered. One driver said his current rate with Geico was $223 a month and dropped down to $134 with Tesla insurance. One Tesla owner on the subreddit said, “This got a lot cheaper for me. Wow, now I've got some thinking to do.” — /R/TESLAMOTORS - REDDIT

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2. From Inside AI: In a joint debate about AI on Thursday, Elon Musk and Jack Ma had strikingly different views about how the technology will benefit or hurt humanity, including if AI will one day outsmart people. The Tesla CEO and the Alibaba Chairman were the highlights of Thursday's World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai, where they sparred about the dangers and future of AI. Specifically, the two vehemently disagreed on whether machines will eventually become smarter than people. Here are some of the highlights of their discussion:

  • Musk said AI will be "much smarter than the smartest human." He proposed a solution - "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" - and cited his own neurotechnology company Neuralink, which will start testing a computer-brain interface and brain-decoding implants in humans as early as 2020.
  • Musk argued that humans are already cyborgs "because we are so well integrated with our phones and our computers," noting that a phone's communication bandwidth is still very low.
  • Ma said that AI will one day enable people to work four hours a day, three days a week. Musk sort of agreed, saying AI "will make jobs kind of pointless.” As far as future work, Musk recommended that people study engineering, go into careers involving people interaction, or "art," noting that still, “eventually the AI will just write its own software.”
  • Ma argued that machines will never control humans, as "computers might be more clever" but "human beings are much smarter." Similarly, he disagreed with Musk that AI is a threat or "something terrible," noting that "The best resource on earth is not the clothes, not the oil, not the electricity -- it’s the human brain.”

Musk refuted Ma's comments, saying, “The first thing you should assume is that we are very dumb, and that we can definitely make things smarter than ourselves." — BLOOMBERG

This very well-written update first appeared in Inside AI, which is published by Beth Duckett. You can subscribe to Inside AI here

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3. Follow Friday: @TesLatino 

Rafael Santoni (@TesLatino) delivers awesome content related to Tesla in both English and Spanish in hopes to reaching a diverse audience. He has created tons of videos on his YouTube channel on various aspects of Tesla ownership, including interviews with owners, demos and vehicle feature tests. Santoni also serves as the founder of Tesla Club South Florida. 

@TesLatino, who is currently based out of Florida, is documenting how he is driving his vehicle through Hurricane Dorian, showing pictures of long gas lines as a contrast to his home charging setup. He is a big advocate for electric cars, even making an argument against plug-in hybrids, saying in one tweet "Supporters of plug-in hybrids are in their own right. But I disagree. The time for plug-in hybrids should be over. The false narrative, that EVs are too expensive or more difficult to build, is a fallacy. The 'Priuses' of the world had their place, gasoline is no longer needed" 

You can follow him on Twitter here and on YouTube here

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4. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said it “sure looked like” Anthony Levandowski took files from Google. In an interview with Bloomberg, Khosrowshahi said the company went through incredible depths to make sure that any information Levandowski acquired from Google did not make it over to Uber, to make sure the company wasn’t guilty of anything that could be “nefarious” in one way or another. When Uber was about to go public, the company revealed it may have to pay about $127 million more to cover obligations tied to Levandowski’s alleged theft of intellectual property. — BLOOMBERG

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5. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has exempted Tesla vehicles from its purchase tax. The government currently levies about a 10 percent purchase tax on each vehicle, which could save customers up to $13,957.82 on a Tesla purchase. All three vehicles currently offered by the automaker, but no reason was given for the tax break. — REUTERS

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6. Waymo is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to promptly remove regulatory barriers to begin rolling out autonomous vehicles without steering wheels or brake pedals. Automakers must follow safety standards set by the NHTSA to feature manual controls, like steering wheels and brake pedals, in order for vehicles to operate on roads. But developers, like the Alphabet self-driving unit, feel like these manual controls are not necessary with autonomous vehicles and are calling on the NHTSA to remove these requirements. — REUTERS

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7. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the company would offer those affected by Hurricane Dorion. @Model3Owners asked if the company would be unlocking free Supercharging and extra range for vehicles who need to get to safety in the wake of the hurricane. Musk said, “yes.” Tesla often offers affected drivers these benefits during natural disasters. — @MODEL3OWNERS/TWITTER

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8. Porsche is expanding its subscription services to Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Toronto. Both Porsche’s subscription services, Porsche Passport and Porsche Drive, are currently offered to drivers in Atlanta, through local dealers. The least expensive subscription Porsche Passport plan costs about $2,100 per month for access to eight different vehicle variants, with insurance and maintenance included. — TECHCRUNCH

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9. A police department in Bargersville, Indiana, is adding Tesla Model S vehicles to its fleet. A study conducted by the department showed the city would save money over the cost of a Dodge Charger after 26 months. The police department also expects to save money over time due to maintenance costs. The department says it will begin with one vehicle and possibly expand to more in the future. — DAILY JOURNAL

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10. One user on the Tesla subreddit shared a very cool video of him passing Corvettes at 130 miles per hour on the Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. /u/pio3000 said he did a 20 minute session at the track, and had enough “juice” for about two more 20 minute sessions. He said it is typical for “ICE” cars to burn through a tank of gas at these events. — /R/TESLAMOTORS - REDDIT

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This newsletter was written and curated by Johan Moreno. Johan is based out of Los Angeles, CA and has covered technology and automotive extensively for a variety of publications, including Forbes and The Orange County Register. Follow him on Twitter @dudejohan

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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