One giant leap for SpaceX
Good morning! This Tuesday, what you need to know about tomorrow's SpaceX launch, why we need a better word for "remote work," and an AI that builds Pac-Man from scratch.
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Planning for an unknown future is one of the hardest parts of surviving this downturn, Airbnb's Brian Chesky said:
Companies touting their remote-work capabilities should make sure they can back that up, Randall Koutnik said:
On Protocol: The current food-delivery business model doesn't work forever, Slice CEO Ilir Sela said:
It doesn't technically happen until Wednesday, but the story of the week is Launch America: the mission in which NASA and SpaceX will send two American astronauts into space.
The launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. local time at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Two astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — will be sent to the ISS. They've been working on this project for almost as long as it's existed.
The astronauts will be flying in SpaceX's Crew Dragon, and launching on the company's reusable Falcon 9 rocket.
Unlike most launches, there won't be huge crowds at Kennedy or along the coast watching. Or maybe there will? NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said, "We are asking people to watch from home," but Wayne Ivey, the sheriff of Brevard County (where Kennedy is located) told people to come out as long as they're safe.
As if to preempt SpaceX's excitement, Virgin Orbit set up a demo of its orbital rocket Monday, which is designed to launch off the top of a 747. (It's basically a prop from a Tom Cruise movie.) But "an anomaly then occurred early in first stage flight," and Virgin terminated the mission. Still, the company called it a success — and Elon Musk tweeted his support. "Sorry to hear that," he said. "Orbit is hard. Took us four attempts with Falcon 1."
Launch America passed its final review yesterday, and barring bad weather seems set for Wednesday. It will be one small step for two dudes on a spaceship, one giant leap for NASA, SpaceX, Musk and the idea that private companies might be a part of the future of space travel after all.
Oh, and make sure you block off your calendar and bookmark this link for Wednesday. (We'll remind you, too.) You're not going to want to miss this.
What do we call the non-office (or at least less-office) future of work? It sounds like a dumb question, but we're clearly at a moment in need of a new vocabulary. Here, as best I can tell, are the leading candidates:
"Remote" seems to be the term of art for where we're headed next. But that ignores the continued primacy of the office, and the fact that many people are still going to want to find ways to work face-to-face. We're not going remote. Just … sort of remote. But that's definitely not a good term, either.
What do you think? What do we call the future of work? Let's see if we can do better. Send all your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet them at @pierce.
Walmart Commits to Over $935 Million in Bonuses for Associates this Year
Walmart announced plans to provide another cash bonus for all U.S. hourly associates to recognize them for their many contributions to communities across the country during this unprecedented time.
Every business has too many tools. So, of course, we get new tools designed to replace all those tools! Which just adds more tools. (Cue that iconic XKCD comic.)
A company called Command E went the other way: It built what amounts to a search engine for your stuff. It's modeled on a terminal and tools for quick-switching between code files and editors. Instead of people looking for the same thing in three places, Command E hopes they'll just open its app (I bet you can guess the keyboard shortcut) and search in there.
Uebel said the company's working on making results more personalized, too, so it could know that you tend to use Jira for task-related stuff but keep your contacts in LinkedIn. It's also thinking about ways to make it easier to create and move things, rather than just find them.
The team's challenge is to get companies to give them access to their most sensitive data — and to help them understand a new way of working.
The Augmented World Expo runs today through Friday. You'll need a $199 ticket to get all the content, but many of the main talks are being livestreamed.
HP, Box, Workday, VMware, Salesforce and Dell all report earnings this week.
Nvidia's GameGAN AI is definitely better than you or me at Pac-Man. (Computers are very good at Pac-Man.) But this model went a step further and actually built its own Pac-Man after watching 50,000 versions of the game being played. Just by watching the game go, it was able to understand how it worked and reproduce it. But wait! Here's the best part! Nvidia's Sanja Fidler said that "the learned GameGAN that reproduces this game has this bias of never killing Pac-Man." An AI that helps you win at games instead of crushing your spirit in them? That's the future I'm here for.
Walmart Repeats Cash Bonus for Associates
Bonuses will be $300 for full-time hourly associates and $150 for part-time hourly and temporary associates, adding up to more than $390 million for hourly associates in stores, clubs, drivers and more.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to me, email@example.com, or our tips line, firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.