From a heated Brazilian election to Elon Musk’s new robot friend – Here’s your October 3 news briefing

From a heated Brazilian election to Elon Musk’s new robot friend – Here’s your October 3 news briefing
People stand in line to cast their votes outside a polling station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil October 2, 2022. REUTERS/Lucas Landau

To start off, we’re looking into:

Brazilians go to the polls

In Brazil, current far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been a polarizing leader since he started his term in 2019. Bolsonaro’s most controversial acts as president revolve around how his administration has contributed to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, dropped the ball on Brazil’s COVID response and tried to undermine Brazilians’ faith in the democratic system. In the unfolding election, his opponent is also a former president of Brazil – leftist Luiz Inácio “Lula" da Silva.

Brazilians headed to the polls on Sunday to cast their votes, where Bolsonaro is up for re-election. So far, across the country, there have been reports of brutal political clashes, with supporters of either candidate literally killing one another. And both candidates have campaigned while wearing bulletproof vests at times. Most recently, Lula has been the frontrunner in all major polls. But, there’s no clear winner just yet.

Is Lyft getting left in the dust?

Competition between ridesharing platforms Uber and Lyft isn’t anything new. But, over the years, Uber has been diversifying its services. No longer just a glorified taxi, Uber now offers food and grocery deliveries, car rentals and more. Meanwhile, Lyft has stayed more singularly focused and localized in its niche, mostly available in the US.

Now, Lyft’s business approach is starting to affect its market attractiveness. Analysts say its revenue will hit less than a third of Uber’s ridesharing component alone this year. So even though ridesharing is more popular now than during peak pandemic times, Lyft doesn’t seem to be making up for lost time.

Marketwise, UBS analysts expect Lyft to grow its revenue by 18% per year for the next two years, but it expects Uber to hit 21% growth each year. With Uber entering new sectors, aiming at transitioning taxi drivers to its platform and offering better benefits for drivers, it should expect share gains over time.

Stampede at Indonesia football game

Indonesia football
Fans invade the soccer field after a match between Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya at Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang, Indonesia Oct 2, 2022 in this screen grab taken from a REUTERS video. REUTERS TV via REUTERS

On Saturday night, at least 125 people were killed during a crowd rush at a football game in Malang, Indonesia. The whole thing started when fans flooded the football pitch to riot after the home team lost to their rivals, and police then shot tear gas into the crowd. This forced everyone to try to escape the stadium, which was when people were crushed and unable to breathe.

This kind of event isn’t unprecedented; football stadium disasters like this one have been happening for a long time, like in 1989 during a Liverpool game that killed nearly a hundred people. And only last year, 10 people died at a Travis Scott concert in Houston after a crowd surge during the concert.

Still, this is one of the worst sports disasters to date. Already, FIFA, an international governing body of football, says that tear gas should not be used at matches. So now, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has suspended all other football games.

To end, we’ll look into:

Elon Musk shows off Tesla’s humanoid robot

Tesla robot
Source: Tesla

In everything from “Star Trek" to “Ex Machina," there’s a pretty clear message – we have good reasons to be afraid of humanoid robots being plugged into AI. But Elon Musk, notorious for heeding the advice of not-so-futurists, has decided it’s in everyone’s best interest to push forward with the concept. And worry not – because Elon knows best.

In all seriousness, Tesla just showed off its new humanoid robot (called Optimus) at the company’s AI day presentation, and it’s pretty interesting. Untethered to any cords, the robot came out on stage, waved at the audience and even did the “raise the roof" dance move that, depending on when you were born, you would think is either cool or incredibly cringy. Tesla also showed some videos of other tasks Optimus can do, like moving around boxes or watering plants, but Musk admitted that they didn’t want to show that off on stage just yet for fear of it falling “on its face." (After the Cybertruck incident a few years ago, this was probably a good call.)

Optimus uses similar software to Tesla cars to detect its surroundings and interact with them. Musk has said in the past that he hopes these bots will do anything that is “boring, repetitive and dangerous" for humans to do. He’s also said he’s hoping the price of the bots could be less than US$20,000 and that they could be for sale to the public in only a few years.

Not everyone is impressed, though. Critics have said that other companies have already passed the benchmarks Tesla is celebrating and that Musk’s tendency for optimism can lead to exaggerated claims. Some have also noted that there’s no concrete plan for how this robot would fit into the company’s bigger clean-energy initiatives.

So, for all of us wondering if this thing could really work out, we could take the best advice from Musk himself. When asked a difficult question at last year’s event, he said, “Well, I guess you’ll just have to see."

In other news …

😵Burkina Faso sees another coup: Burkina Faso just witnessed its second coup within nine months. A group of military officers overthrew the prevailer of the last coup. Gunfire went off in the capital on Saturday following this development.

🥼Russia abducts head of nuclear power plant: On Friday, Ukrainian power plant director general Ihor Murashov was arrested by Russian patrols in Zaporizhzhia, which Russia currently controls. This kidnapping could jeopardize the safety of the plant.

😢Women die in Kabul blast: On Friday, an explosion hit the West Kabul area when a suicide bomber attacked during a practice exam in the girls’ section of a private tutoring center. The UN said that at least 35 people had been killed and 82 injured. This is a major blow to the women’s education movement in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

📊Chinese and Indian stock market divergence: Two of Asia’s largest economies, India and China, have increasingly different market outlooks. Last quarter, the MSCI India Index boosted almost 10%, while China’s hit a 23% slump.

OPEC+ considers cutting output: When it meets this week, oil producer group OPEC+ will discuss cutting output by over 1 million barrels per day. This cut would reflect the concern of a slowing global economy and an attempt to stabilize oil prices.

🍾Ukraine takes back Lyman: Ukraine has sent Russian forces retreating from Lyman, a rail hub. This is one of the areas Russia wanted to annex, but residents there are just now hearing about that. On top of that victory, vocal Putin critic Arturs Krisjanis Karins’ party won 19% of the vote in Latvia (meaning representation in Parliament).

💊Promising Alzheimer’s treatment: A key study shows promising breakthrough results in a new Alzheimer’s drug, lecanemab. This drug is in the last stage of clinical trials and is manufactured by Biogen and Eisai. It could slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients by up to 27%!

🚀Firefly launch a success: Commercial rocket company Firefly just successfully launched a crewless rocket into space. Last year around this time, they tried to do just that, but the launch ended in an explosion. The second time’s the charm.