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Read Now: On Westworld, Bernard Wages His Own Infinity War – 101 Latest News



On Westworld, Bernard Wages His Own Infinity War

#Westworld #Bernard #Wages #Infinity #War

Bernard looks stern as he sits in a booth at a diner.

Photo: John Johnson/HBO

Bernard’s back, baby! After leaving him in a motel room in the season three finale, waking up from his VR trip to the Sublime, and waking up absolutely covered in dust, tonight’s episode reveals exactly what happened to everyone’s favorite Host, and it’s quite strange. Doctor Strange, one might say.

Image for article titled On Westworld, Bernard Wages His Own Infinity War

The Sublime, for those who may have forgotten, is the cloud-like data server where most of the Hosts in Westworld uploaded their consciousnesses in the season two finale, foregoing their physical bodies. We’ve never seen inside the Sublime until tonight’s episode, “Années Folles,” and it’s not what I or Bernard (Jeffrey Wright) expected. When Bernard first arrives, he ends up in a business conference room and is greeted by Akecheta (Zahn McClarnon), the former leader of the Ghost Nation in the park, who explains the Hosts inside can create their own worlds—something that Bernard will also need to do if he’s going to learn how to save the real world.

So that’s what Bernard was doing the year-plus he was connected to Sublime—running scenarios to figure out a path to keep the world from ending. And because time moves differently in Host Haven, Bernard spent the equivalent of a millennium there, effectively checking out different timelines to see how to proceed. It’s almost exactly like Doctor Strange in Avengers: Infinity War, although Bernard’s lucky enough to find multiple ways to save the world. Unfortunately, to succeed in any of those scenarios, he’s also going to have to die, much as Strange did.

Somehow, this means Bernard is basically aware of everything in the future: what people are going to say, what they’re going to do, and how they’ll react. Annoyingly, he resolutely refuses to give out any details about how or when the world will end, or why he’ll need to die to save it. Frustratingly, he won’t even explain what he’s doing in the moment—like say, suddenly beating two men in a diner parking lot unconscious and severing one of their heads—and about the only reason it’s bearable is because it annoys Stubbs (Luke Hemsworth) immensely. Yes, thank goodness, Stubbs is back, despite having been gunshot and left dying in an ice-filled motel bathtub before Bernard took his trip to the Sublime. He’s been taking care of Bernard’s body (but resolutely not dusting him, which is hilarious to me), and joins him in his quest to save the world, mainly because he has nothing better to do.

That quest begins with the severed head and a woman (Aurora Perrineau) who pulls up to the diner who was supposed to meet with the two men. Instead, Bernard gives her the bag, revealing the men were in fact Hosts sent to infiltrate the woman’s group, a militia that lives in the desert of the “Condemned Lands,” which implies something extremely bad happened there between now and the 2050s. (Honestly, is anyone surprised?). All we know about these people is that they presumably hate Hosts, they don’t trust Bernard or Stubbs, and they’re looking for a weapon in the desert—a weapon that Bernard knows where to find, of course. I don’t have the faintest idea how these people are involved with the end of the world or what role they’ll have in the show, but right now, they’re too vague to be interesting.

Image for article titled On Westworld, Bernard Wages His Own Infinity War

Photo: John Johnson/HBO

The rest of the episode focuses on Maeve (Thandiwe Newton) and Caleb’s (Aaron Paul) time in Mobworld (or whatever the show eventually decides to call it). It’s kind of a disappointment because the pair spend more time below the park than above it, trying to figure out what William and Hale are up to rather than enjoying various gangster shenanigans. It’s also, humorously, a disappointment for Maeve, as the park is just a rebranded version of Westworld with the same locations, the same characters, and even the same storylines. The Hosts are wearing different faces and have been dumbed down, according to Maeve, to prevent any unpleasantness like the Westworld massacre, but there’s still a Dolores-ish character who drops her can, hoping to entice a guest into her adventure. However, the lack of creativity in the park means Maeve knows exactly when Hector (now a gangster instead of an outlaw) will burst into the new Maeve’s speakeasy/brothel to rob her safe. When the park attendants (disguised as undertakers) collect the Host corpses, Maeve and Caleb sneak aboard.

The only major difference between Mobworld and Westworld is this: it includes a storyline where new Dolores gains fake consciousness and goes on a fake rampage killing fake Guests, allowing the real ones the pleasure of taking out killer robots. (As before, the Hosts’ guns don’t work on guests.) This Delos has created an entire fake Delos floor beneath Mobworld for guests to sneak into, meaning Maeve and Caleb need to sneak to an even lower secret level where all the park functions are controlled.

It’s also where Hale (Tessa Thompson) is running her current pet projects, which are 1) infecting large numbers of flies with black goo, and 2) controlling humans like humans controlled the Hosts. Maeve and Caleb watch in horror as a group of test subjects very unwillingly shoot themselves in the head in response to a sound generated by… some kind of device. Then Caleb is extra-horrified to discover his daughter, Frankie (Celeste Clark), is one of the new group of test subjects. Maeve manages to override the Delos system at the very last second to open Frankie’s cell door and allow Caleb to wrench the gun from her hand, also at the very last second, but that’s when things break bad. Not only does William (Ed Harris) show up to fight with Maeve (a fight he quickly loses, only to stand back up and accost her again), but that’s not Frankie at all, of course. It’s a Host whose face blossoms open releasing a swarm of flies—one of which crawls directly into Caleb’s ear.

After two episodes that gave us as many answers as it did mysteries, “Années Folles” wasn’t dire, but it was frustrating. It also didn’t feel like much happened. Sure, Bernard woke up and has a mission, but we have absolutely no indication of what his plan is or what the militia’s deal is. Caleb and Maeve snuck into Delos, but we already knew Hale was controlling humans and making flies that love crawling into human orifices. The only true development is that Caleb now has a fly stowaway of his own. Plus, Mobworld was kind of a bust.

Of course, that’s no reason to write season four off or fret that the next episode will also spin its wheels. But if Bernard doesn’t do some explaining soon, I hope Stubbs shoots him in the head.

Amazingly, these were the only three production stills HBO offered for this episode.

Amazingly, these were the only three production stills HBO offered for this episode.
Photo: John Johnson/HBO

Assorted Musings:

  • The episode title, “Années Folles,” is French for “the crazy years.” It’s what Americans call the Roaring ‘20s.
  • The tower that Peter and the unhoused man ranted about appears to be in the Sublime! I am very interested to see how this figures into whatever the hell Christina’s deal is.
  • A Host’s gun failed to harm Caleb, so my theory he’s a Host is kaput.
  • There was a C-storyline about one of Hale’s goons trying to kidnap Caleb’s wife and the real Frankie, but it was only so the show could trick you into thinking the real Frankie was in the cell. It didn’t work and they escaped anyway.
  • I had forgotten that Hosts could split their faces into quadrants, and it was truly horrifying to see. The flies did not help.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.



Read Now: Get 3 months of Adobe CC access plus 100GB of storage for just $30 – 101 Latest News



Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps 100GB: 3-Month Subscription

#months #Adobe #access #100GB #storage

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Read Now: States With Deregulated Energy: The Pros and Cons of Choosing Your Energy Provider – CNET – 101 Latest News



homes with electrical lines at sunset

#States #Deregulated #Energy #Pros #Cons #Choosing #Energy #Provider #CNET

The power of choice is a wonderful thing. And depending on where you live, you may be able to choose your energy provider.  

It’s called energy deregulation, and about 40 percent of US states have it. Commonly known as retail choice, in deregulated states residents have a say in where they get their energy. In these states, public utilities function like any other business: Competitors provide options, and residents choose how to spend their money. 

In regulated markets, however, electricity comes from a designated utility provider and you don’t have a choice. Regulated energy markets create a form of monopoly, meaning no competitors to choose from or switch to, but in which the public utility is still controlled by the state government. 

Which method is most beneficial for the people? Which states have it right? “It’s a question of whether you believe that a free-market environment is best for consumers or that a regulated monopoly is best for consumers,” Joshua Basseches, an assistant professor of public policy and environmental studies at Tulane University, told CNET. 

Here’s what you need to know about energy deregulation, how it works, and whether your state offers you the option to choose.  

For more information on deregulated energy rates and companies, check out CNET partner site, which, like CNET, is owned by Red Ventures.

What is energy deregulation and how does it work?

Energy deregulation refers to a utility system of retail choice, where different companies other than the existing energy utility are able to offer different packages of deals, giving customers a choice of who they purchase energy from.  

In states without a deregulated utility environment, governing bodies manage a regulated monopoly, where one company provides the utility across the state, with rates and prices controlled by the government. 

Whether a state is deregulated or not, that particular state’s utilities are managed by its public utility commission, or PUC, a governing body that regulates public utility rates and services. Different public utility commissions operate in different ways, but their ultimate goal is to represent citizens’ interests when determining utility policies. 

Even in deregulated states, that regulation still exists. That’s why Basseches refers to deregulation as a misnomer — instead, he prefers to use the term “restructured.” 

“What’s often referred to as deregulation is the difference between what’s known as a vertically integrated utility monopoly enterprise — where the utility company generates, transmits and distributes electricity — and a deregulated or restructured environment, where various aspects of that supply chain are opened up to competition and only parts of the cost are regulated by the commissions,” he said.

A brief history of energy deregulation

Beginning in the early 1900s during the early days of electricity commercialization, companies began approaching state legislators to set up a regulatory compact, which became the regulated utilities we know today. That system largely stayed the same until, beginning with The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and continuing on through the 1990s, a series of legislation allowed states the authority to deregulate or restructure. 

But not every state decided to do so, and decisions were made based on each state’s belief as to what would most benefit residents. Today, about 20 states have some form of deregulated or restructured system, with the majority of states still working with regulated monopolies. 

Deregulated vs. regulated energy markets: the pros and cons

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer as to whether regulation or deregulation provides a better outcome for the everyday resident. Even for Basseches, an expert who’s spent the last six years on a book project about state-level renewable energy policy, the issue is too complicated to come down on one side or the other.

He says it’s unclear, on a systematic level, whether deregulation has led to decreases in electricity rates. Factors from weather to the war in Ukraine can affect those rates, and even for experts, it’s too difficult to say definitively that one method is the right one. 

“You can look at electricity prices over time and see that they’ve gone up and down, but it’s hard to attribute that,” he said. “They’ve gone up and down both in restructured and traditionally regulated jurisdictions. So in cases where costs went down, it’s hard to say that it’s because of restructuring. But what is clear is that restructuring gives consumers more choice and more direct say in what kind of electricity they want and how much they’ll pay for it.”

Pros of energy deregulation

Basseches and other industry experts say deregulation proponents point to examples like the following as pros of deregulated energy:

  • Deregulated markets give power of choice to the consumer. 
  • Competition should even the playing field against the power of a utility monopoly. 
  • Utility monopolies are less focused on the consumer’s best interest.
  • Deregulated markets tend to be more open to changes like clean energy adoption and technology improvements.

The biggest and most obvious benefit of a deregulated environment is that it gives choice to the people. In an ideal world, PUCs would be trusted to provide the best option for all. But that isn’t always the case, and it isn’t always easy for the consumer to tell. For Basseches, that’s what makes it a worthwhile change. 

“What I like about competition is that, in the absence of transparency, you can have some faith that there’s some check on the power of the utility monopoly by virtue of competition and market forces,” he said. 

A deregulated or restructured system also takes power away from long-standing monopolies. Often, providers have been in place for decades, and critics say they’re focused less on what’s best for consumers and more on maintaining the status quo. 

“What you have to worry about with a regulated monopoly is that it will be best for the monopoly company and not the consumers,” Basseches said. 

Public utilities are usually behemoths that are resistant to change. Basseches says a restructured (deregulated) state can create an environment where companies are able to be more nimble and able to change. That means quicker adoption of new technology, more alternatives and even better options for clean energy. 

“For those who care about climate change and environmental issues, it’s been much easier for renewable energy to penetrate the market in deregulated environments,” he said. “If wind and solar are the cheapest resource and you no longer have utilities owning all the generation, they’re not going to be fighting regulators to hold on to things that are no longer economical but that they’ve invested in.” 

Cons of energy deregulation

  • Responsibility lies with the consumer.
  • Energy shopping experience can be complicated.
  • Consumer education is needed to navigate. 
  • Competition and deregulated market creates opportunity for bad actors or scams.

In a deregulated or restructured environment, the choice is with the consumers — but so is the responsibility. Most people don’t know much about public utilities or energy policy, so they’re required to be more informed in order to make good decisions in a deregulated system. That can lead to wasting or not fully realizing the benefits that choice provides. 

“Usually, if consumers don’t choose an alternative, they’re given the default service provider, which is typically the local utility,” Basseches said. “So it does require the consumer to be more educated.”

Just because a state is deregulated doesn’t mean that state’s PUC is any less important. In fact, in a deregulated state, that commission is the only thing standing in the way of bad actors, which means people and states can be taken advantage of. 

“It really just depends on the vigilance of these public utility commissions,” Basseches said. “One thing I always tell people is to pay attention to public utility commissions. If they’re doing their jobs effectively, they provide a safeguard against exploitation.” 

What US states are deregulated for electricity or natural gas? 

Most states still have regulated utility providers. Just 18 states (and the District of Columbia) have deregulated markets. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 13 states (and the District of Columbia) have fully deregulated or restructured electricity utilities:

  1. Connecticut.
  2. Delaware.
  3. DC
  4. Illinois.
  5. Maine.
  6. Maryland.
  7. New Hampshire.
  8. New Jersey.
  9. New York.
  10.  Ohio.
  11.  Pennsylvania.
  12.  Rhode Island.
  13.  Texas.

Another five states have partially deregulated or restructured environments:

  1. California.
  2. Georgia.
  3. Michigan.
  4. Oregon.
  5. Virginia.

How to find the best electricity provider in Texas

Basseches said Texas is “a poster child for a fully restructured electricity sector” and called it “extremely restructured.” 

“Restructuring is a continuum and it’s very complex and multilayered,” Basseches said. “Restructuring isn’t just a switch, there are different degrees. And Texas is the most restructured.”

Texas has a wider selection of providers than anywhere else in the country, which is why Basseches advises residents to be as informed as possible when making their choices in “this system on steroids.” Texas residents are likely to receive more solicitations from different suppliers, and the choice can be overwhelming. His advice is simply to seek as much information as possible. 

“Talk to your neighbors,” he said. “The same way you’d make a choice about purchasing a new car, talk to your neighbors, talk to people you trust, and know that the public utility commission works for you and your tax dollars. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.”

For more information, here’s the Texas PUC Facts and FAQs page and the state’s government-run comparison website: When shopping for electricity plans on any website, before enrolling, make sure to read through the electricity facts label (EFL) or “fact sheet” to learn about the details of each plan. 

How to find the best electricity provider in other states

For Basseches, the best first step in any state is to start with the public utility commissions, or PUCs, whose websites should have information on competitive suppliers, options and more. 

Before making a choice, be sure to read up on options, understand the dynamics of the different companies involved and educate yourself on lingo, pricing and more. 

“Just like investing in the stock market, there’s going to be some risk,” Basseches said. “But the public utility commission does work for the people and they do have the most knowledge because companies have to register with them. So my advice is to get to know your public utility commission, read things carefully and know that everyone is vying for your business. Just like anything else, you have to pay attention.”

Public utility commission websites:

Energy deregulation FAQ

What does deregulation mean in energy?

Deregulation refers to a utility system of retail choice, where different companies other than the existing energy utility are able to offer different packages of deals, giving customers a choice of who they purchase energy from.  

In states with a regulated utility environment, governing bodies manage a regulated monopoly, where one company provides the utility across the state, with rates and prices controlled by the government. 

What are the disadvantages of deregulation in energy?

In a deregulated or restructured environment, both the choice and the responsibility lies with the consumer. Most people don’t know much about public utilities or energy policy, so they’re required to be more informed in order to make good decisions in a deregulated system. That can lead to wasting the benefits that choice provides and can allow unethical companies to take advantage. 

When was US energy deregulated?

Beginning with The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 and continuing on through the 1990s, a series of legislative measures gave states the authority to deregulate or restructure. Today, less than half of US states have deregulated their electricity utility. 

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Read Now: Gig workers get paid, Fidelity slashes Reddit’s valuation and AI conquers Minecraft – 101 Latest News



Gig workers get paid, Fidelity slashes Reddit’s valuation and AI conquers Minecraft

#Gig #workers #paid #Fidelity #slashes #Reddits #valuation #conquers #Minecraft

Hey, folks, welcome to Week in Review (WiR), TechCrunch’s regular newsletter that recaps the week in tech. Hope the summer’s treating y’all well — it’s a balmy 90 degrees here in NYC! — and that some much-needed R&R is on the agenda.

Speaking of “agenda,” mark your calendars for Disrupt, TC’s annual conference, kicking off in September. Whether you’re a startup rookie learning the ropes or a founder hell-bent on changing the world, Disrupt will deliver the tools, knowledge and connections to help you make it happen. You don’t want to miss it.

Elsewhere, stay tuned for City Spotlight on June 7 (Wednesday), which will highlight Atlanta, Georgia, this go-round. Atlanta has emerged as one of the buzziest new hubs in the nation, with booming cybersecurity and software-as-a-service sectors as well as a slew of investors looking to back the hot new startups coming from the metro. Among the speakers at City Spotlight will be mayor Andre Dickens — we’re looking forward to hearing his perspective.

Now with the PSAs out of the way, here’s your WiR!

most read

Fidelity sours on Reddit: This week, Fidelity, the lead investor in Reddit’s most recent funding round in 2021, slashed the estimated worth of its equity stake in the social media platform by 41% since the investment. The devaluation, part of a broader trend that has hit a variety of growth-stage startups across the globe in the past year, raises uncertainties about whether Reddit will maintain its initial intent to reportedly go public at a valuation around $15 billion.

Amazon Prime Data: Amazon is considering offering low-cost or possibly free nationwide mobile phone service to Prime subscribers in the United States, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The tech giant is reportedly in talks with Verizon, T-Mobile, Dish Network and AT&T.

Gig workers get paid: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other app-based ride-hail and delivery companies will have to reimburse California gig workers potentially millions of dollars for unpaid vehicle expenses between 2022 and 2023. The back payments come from a provision in Proposition 22, the controversial law that classifies gig workers as independent contractors rather than employees and promises them half-hearted protections and benefits.

Volkswagen’s ace in the hole: Volkswagen is betting big on the upcoming ID.Buzz electric van. With availability of the vehicle still a year out, the automaker is counting on years of pent-up anticipation to not only sell the bus shrouded in nostalgia, but to also have it act as a halo product to bring customers to the brand’s entire EV lineup.

Shopify launches Shop Cash: Shopify’s Shop app is introducing a new rewards program called Shop Cash, the e-commerce platform announced on Friday. The new program is funded by Shopify and earns shoppers 1% back on purchases made using its Shop Pay online checkout service.

Stripe gets into credit: Stripe wants to make it easier for businesses to access credit. The private financial infrastructure giant announced a new charge card program today from Stripe Issuing, its commercial card issuing product. Denise Ho, head of product at Stripe, gave TechCrunch the exclusive details — go read the piece by Mary Ann.

AI conquers Minecraft: AI researchers have built a Minecraft bot that can explore and expand its capabilities in the game’s open world — but unlike other bots, this one basically wrote its own code through trial and error and lots of GPT-4 queries. Called Voyager, this experimental system is an example of an “embodied agent,” an AI that can move and act freely and purposefully in a simulated or real environment.

YouTube Shorts, in minutes: Dumme, a startup putting AI to practical use in video editing, is already generating demand before opening to the public. The Y Combinator–backed company has hundreds of video creators testing its product, which leverages AI to create short-form videos from YouTube content, and it has a waitlist of over 20,000 pre-launch, it says.


Need a new podcast to get your weekend started right? Good news — TC has you covered (and then some). On Equity, the crew took a look at the latest from Web Roulette, Stripe’s acquisition of Okay, what Klarna’s Q1 means for the fintech market and QED and a16z’s early-stage strategies. Found spoke with Dr. Stacy Blain, the co-founder and chief science officer at Concarlo Therapeutics, about the company’s novel therapeutic solutions for drug-resistant cancer. Over at Chain Reaction, Gary Vaynerchuk, the chairman of VaynerX and the CEO of VaynerMedia and NFT collection VeeFriends, spoke on his experiences in the creative media industry. And the TechCrunch Live folks dove into how AI doomerism is overblown — and why the blowhards doing the blowing want it that way.


TC+ subscribers get access to in-depth commentary, analysis and surveys — which you know if you’re already a subscriber. If you’re not, consider signing up. Here are a few highlights from this week:

Competition concerns in the age of AI: AI is rapidly changing how businesses sense, reason and adapt in the market. But these groundbreaking capabilities are creating an upheaval in how companies engage with competitors and consumers. Henry Hauser is counsel in Perkins Coie’s antitrust and litigation practice groups. He muses on this in an informative piece.

Salesforce becomes a data company: Could the data exhaust being generated by the Salesforce family of products become more valuable than the products themselves — at least in terms of new revenue adds? This piece explores the possibility.

Why don’t more scientists become founders?: Why is it so common to see outsiders bringing research out of the lab and not the scientists themselves? It’s a complex issue to unravel, but Rebecca does it deftly.

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