Waymo traffic

February 4, 2019

New research suggests that self-driving cars could actually make traffic worse in metropolitan areas.
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Say it ain’t slow: Are self-driving cars going to make traffic worse?

New research in Transport Policy magazine suggests that self-driving cars could more than double the volume of vehicle travel to, from, and inside metropolitan areas.

Why? Because autonomous vehicles have no reason to park close to their destination (or at all, for that matter), leading to more cars on the road. 

Rather than pay for expensive parking in big cities like drivers in normal cars, “AVs can seek out free on-street parking, return home, or cruise” for hours on end.

Like airport pickups, but everywhere, all the time

An argument in favor of AVs and ridesharing is that if people are encouraged to use on-demand services instead of owning cars, the total number of vehicle miles driven would fall.

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But research has already contradicted the theory that ridesharing reduces traffic. Now, early forecasting suggests that self-driving vehicles will have a similar impact. 

Using “game theoretic framework,” Adam Millard-Ball of the Environmental Studies Department at UC Santa Cruz demonstrates that self-driving cars actually have an incentive to “coordinate with each other in order to generate congestion” to save their owners money.

Uhh, excuse you?

Ball unpacked his theory for us via email: “Cruising at low speeds is not only cheaper per hour than paid parking, but cheaper per hour than traveling at high speeds,” he said. “If AVs drive the same streets, they can purposely slow each other down to save their owners more money.”

In other words, AVs looking to kill time while their humans are off doing who knows what would love nothing more than a little traffic jam. 

Ball predicts that even just 2k self-driving cars deployed in San Francisco would slow overall traffic to less than 2 miles per hour.

Soooo, time to start riding scooters?

Rideshare startups have been leaning into the micromobility game, but many skeptics, including Ball, argue transportation improvements need to come from regulation.

Large locales like London, Singapore, and Stockholm impose congestion fees where motorists pay a flat rate to enter the city center, and Ball suggests cities like New York and San Francisco need to implement the same before it’s too late.

I know! We’ll build a pit!

Chop, chop, Boring Company!
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We won the POT-tery! The POT ticker lottery winner in Canada saw its shares rocket 65%

Time to roll up a fatty and watch some Netflix: A tiny, Vancouver-based company named Weekend Unlimited was declared the winner of the ‘POT’ stock-symbol lottery in Canada, and the company is flying high.

“Weekend Unlimited is thrilled to add the iconic POT trading symbol to its identity,” the firm’s CEO and President Paul Chu said.

Per Bloomberg, shares for the company lit up as much as 65% after it won the first-ever random lottery for a Canadian ticker symbol.

Puff, puff, pass 

After the POT symbol (which was formerly owned by the world’s largest producer of the alkaline-potassium compound, Potash Corp.) came up for grabs last week, more than 40 companies applied for the rights. 

So, due to high demand, the exchange held a lottery to determine the winner. Weekend Unlimited, a self-styled “lifestyle brand” that scales small to medium flower, extract, and edible brands, begins trading with the POT symbol starting today.

Underdog gets greens

Weekend Unlimited debuted on the Canadian Securities Exchange in October with YOLO as their ticker, 2 days before the country legalized recreational marijuana.

Its stock had fallen 57% since the market close, with a market value around $28.6m before trading opened on Friday.

As for the retired YOLO ticker, another pot-related security has reportedly filed with the SEC and the NYSE to trade under the symbol. 

» Can’t let a good symbol go to waste

WorldFirst shuts down its US operations to enable a $900m sale to Ant Financial

WorldFirst, a British money transfer business in talks to be acquired by China’s Ant Financial for $900m, shut down its whole American division so US regulators wouldn’t put the kibosh on the deal.

An unexpected shutdown

WorldFirst’s abrupt US closure will result in “heavy job losses” among the company’s employees in both Austin and San Francisco.

But WorldFirst’s sudden closure was also a surprising kick in the pants for American Amazon sellers who use WorldFirst’s services to sell their products in international markets.

Now, some of Amazon’s most sizable sellers have to find new money transfer partners on short notice, which could put their international shipments on hold for the foreseeable future.

Ant-sy to expand

Last year, the US government shot down Ant’s attempted $1.2B acquisition of US-based MoneyGram for security reasons.

Now, after looking for fresh blood for the past year, Ant will finally satisfy its appetite by swallowing up WorldFirst in order to get a foothold in financial markets outside of China.

US regulators are likely to continue cracking down on trade with China, so it will likely become increasingly common for global businesses to cut ties with the US before partnering with Chinese firms to avoid the wrath of regulators.

» That’s a big Ant

Super Bowl Sick Day: An estimated 17m people are too hungover to work today

An estimated 100m face paint-wearing, chest-pounding football fans chowed down on chicken wings and chugged beers yesterday as they watched the Super Bowl.

But today, 17.2m of those same fanatics are taking sick days from work, according to research reported by The Washington Post.

An expensive hangover

The Rams aren’t the only losers this morning: The total amount of lost productivity on ‘Super Sick Monday’ is expected to exceed $4B.

Most managers get it: 62% of execs “think it’s funny” when their employees call out sick the day after the big game, according to a recent survey.

But the hangovers also seem to be getting worse: Research shows that the number of workers who surrender to sleeping in on the day after the Bowl has been rising since 2005.

Should Super Bowl Monday be a holiday?

The amount of productivity lost in the aftermath of the Super Bowl is so consistent year after year that some managers want to throw in the towel and make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday and, according to research, 72% of HR managers agree.

A National Hangover Day sounds like a nice idea (especially if you drank 13 Michelob Ultras and ate 4 pounds of queso last night). But don’t get your hopes up: The last time a new holiday was created was MLK day in 1983.

» Super Bowl, Super Headache

Postmates is giving $100 to get anything and everything delivered

$100 in delivery credit? That’s way too much. This must be a mistake. 

Sure, they told us this was what they wanted to promote — but what if it’s just a rogue junior marketing employee trying to bankrupt the company? 

Well, when life hands you lemons… order a burrito from the nearest taqueria and pick up an iPhone charger from Target while you’re at it.

New customers can download the Postmates app and use code HUSTLE to get $100 worth of free delivery (on practically anything) for their first 7 days. 

Quick, before they notice → monday morning review

Is this thing on?

‘Earcons’ are the coolest. Ever heard of ‘em? The answer is (whether you know it or not) a resounding yes. 

From Alexa’s “boo-doop” to Intel’s classic “buh, bum, buh, bum,” earcons are the signals technology uses to communicate with us; a universal language between human and machine.

For me, the one that seared its airy, bing-y tone into the depths of my ear holes since the ’90s is the dial-up modem sound — you all know the one.

It sounds like 2 robots working tirelessly to communicate, searching for a connection. When they do, something incredible happens — just like in real life, with humans. And it goes something like this: 


The only thing more entertaining than the sound itself? Hearing human vocal cords try to recreate it. 

No, seriously, you guys need to hear this: Call this number  — 513-278-3190 — and after the beep give us your best human dial-up modem sound (don’t worry, we expect them to be bad).

Once they’re in, we’ll put them on a Spotify playlist where you’ll be able to laugh along. Psyched to hear the lightning.

Wes Schlagenhauf, Assistant to the regional manager of earworm harvesting

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The Modern Leper, Frightened Rabbit. If you’ve never listened to fast paced jams in the dark, this is a good one to start with.
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