Airbnb is laying off around a quarter of its workforce due to revenue declines and a need to curtail costs. The layoffs will impact several internal product groups. Airbnb anticipates that it will receive less than 50% of 2019's revenue in 2020. It has recently taken on more debt to provide extra liquidity in its business. The company had previously promised a 2020 IPO. Separated employees will receive 14 weeks of pay, with an additional week of pay for every year served at the company. Airbnb will allow employees who are laid off with under 12 months of tenure to buy their vested options and it will also be providing 12 months of health insurance for the former employees.
A worker at an Amazon fulfillment center in New York has died of COVID-19, and the number of workers diagnosed with the virus continues to climb. The deceased employee was last on site on April 5th and was placed on quarantine after his diagnosis on April 11th. Workers say that Amazon's safety precautions are insufficient and that their jobs often require them to be close to each other. Amazon announced last week that it planned to spend $4 billion on its COVID-19 response. So far, Amazon has only closed down one facility in the US. It has hired 175,000 workers in recent weeks in response to surging demands.
The new record holder for the world's fastest camera boasts a rate of 70 trillion frames per second, fast enough to capture light waves in motion. Compressed Ultrafast Spectral Photography uses extremely short pulses of laser light combined with a system of optics and a specialized sensor. The technology could be used to study fundamental physics and help create smaller and more sensitive electronics.
A team in Florida working with the US Air Force has built an experimental model of a rotating detonation rocket engine. It uses spinning explosions inside a ring channel to create a super-efficient thrust. Most engines use combustion, which is a relatively slow and controlled process compared to detonation. Detonation releases significantly more energy than combustion with significantly less fuel, but detonation engines have proven to be incredibly difficult to build and sustain. A 20-second slow-motion video of the rocket firing is available.
CNN Explainer is an interactive visualization system design to help non-experts learn about Convolutional Neural Networks. CNNs are a type of artificial intelligence that excel at image classification. A live demo is available, containing the interactive system along with an explanation of CNNs and links to further learning resources.
Ford is releasing a comprehensive self-driving dataset to academics and researchers. The data was collected over a year and it comes from multiple self-driving vehicles. Ford is also sharing a plug-in with data visualization tools. Other companies have released self-driving data as well, but Ford's data is unique in that it contains a variety of weather conditions and diverse scenarios.
China has introduced a color-based QR code system to control where people can go. Chinese citizens are assigned a red, yellow, or green code to indicate their health status. People with a yellow status are asked to self-quarantine for seven days and those with red codes are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The codes are generated inside mini-programs within WeChat and Alipay. A man who committed a murder in 1996 turned himself in as he didn't have a smartphone, which meant that he didn't have access to a code, making it impossible for him to travel or find accommodation.
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