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Boston Dynamics unveils a new robot, controversy over MKBHD, and layoffs at Tesla

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Image Credits: Boston Dynamics

Welcome, folks, to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s weekly news recap. The weather’s getting hotter — but not quite as hot as the generative AI space, which saw a slew of new models released this week, including Meta’s Llama 3.

In other AI news, Hyundai-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics unveiled an electric-powered humanoid follow-up to its long-running Atlas robot, which it recently retired. As Brian writes, the new robot — also called Atlas — has a kinder, gentler design than both the original Atlas and more contemporary robots like the Figure 01 and Tesla Optimus.

Turning our attention to YouTube for a moment, Dom and Amanda wrote about how Marques Brownlee (MKBHD), the famed gadget reviewer, shouldn’t be blamed for the fate of AI startup Humane AI, whose product, the Ai Pin, Brownlee gave a scathing review of earlier this week. They point out that Humane is a well-funded company with plenty of funds in the bank to burn, and find that critics of Brownlee — who accuse him of being unfairly harsh — have misplaced their rage.

And Rebecca and Sean report on layoffs at Tesla, which they say hit high performers and gutted some departments. The cuts were largely due to poor financial performance; Tesla’s seen its profit margin narrow over the past several quarters as the EV price war persists.

Lots else happened. We recap it all in this edition of WiR — but first, a reminder to sign up to receive the WiR newsletter in your inbox every Saturday.

News

X charges for posting: X CEO Elon Musk is planning to charge new X users a small fee to enable posting on the social network in an effort to curb what he describes as a “bot problem.”

Change ransomware: An extortion group has published a portion of what it claims are the private and sensitive patient records on millions of Americans stolen during the ransomware attack on Change Healthcare in February.

Tesla adjusts prices: In more Tesla news, the automaker ditched EV inventory price discounts in what CEO Elon Musk characterized as a move to “streamline” sales and delivery. Tesla also dropped the price of its advanced driver assistance package, Full Self-Driving, to $99 per month in the U.S.

Mars free-for-all: Devin reports that space startups are licking their lips over NASA’s decision to convert its $11 billion, 15-year mission to collect and return samples from Mars into essentially a commercial free-for-all.

Waymo problems: Six Waymo robotaxis blocked traffic moving onto an on-ramp in San Francisco on Tuesday. It’s not the first time Waymo vehicles have caused a road blockage, notes Rebecca — but this is the first documented incident involving a freeway.

Analysis

Google Cloud bets on generative AI: Ron writes about how Google Cloud is investing heavily in generative AI, as evidenced by the string of announcements during Google’s Cloud Next conference earlier in the month.

Generative AI in health: Generative AI is coming for healthcare — but not everyone’s thrilled. Some experts don’t think the tech is ready for prime time.

Airchat, for talking: Anthony breaks down the hype over Airchat, an app launched by former AngelList founder Naval Ravikant and ex-Tinder product exec Brian Norgard that focuses on voice, not text.

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