Company Breaks Ground on New Campus, Begins Production of All-New Mac Pro
Austin, Texas — Apple today announced the start of construction on its new campus in Austin, Texas, as part of its broad expansion in the city. At a production facility just a short distance away, Apple is preparing to ship the all-new Mac Pro to customers starting in December.
“Building the Mac Pro, Apple’s most powerful device ever, in Austin is both a point of pride and a testament to the enduring power of American ingenuity,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “With the construction of our new campus in Austin now underway, Apple is deepening our close bond with the city and the talented and diverse workforce that calls it home. Responsible for 2.4 million American jobs and counting, Apple is eager to write our next chapter here and to keep contributing to America’s innovation story.”
The all-new Mac Pro was unveiled at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Mac Pro units are now in production in Austin and will soon ship to customers across the Americas. The 244,000-square-foot Mac Pro facility employs more than 500 people in a range of roles, including electrical engineers and electronics assemblers, who build each unique unit to customers’ specifications.
Apple’s growth in Austin is part of the company’s nationwide expansion — announced in January 2018 — to increase its investment in manufacturing, engineering and other jobs across the US. Apple is on track to contribute $350 billion to the US economy between 2018 and 2023, and during that time will hire an additional 20,000 employees in cities across the country.
Apple in Austin
Apple has broken ground on its new $1 billion, 3-million-square-foot campus. The campus will initially house 5,000 employees, with the capacity to grow to 15,000, and is expected to open in 2022.
Apple is steadily growing in Austin with approximately 7,000 employees in the city — more than a 50 percent increase in the past five years alone.
As part of its commitment to respecting the historical and geographical significance of the area, Apple is partnering with Austin-based Bartlett Tree Experts to preserve and increase the diversity of native trees on the 133-acre property. Thousands of trees spanning over 20 varieties native to Texas are planned for the campus — significantly more than were on the site before construction started. Additionally, the site will be designed to maximize green space, with landscaping covering over 60 percent of the campus, including a 50-acre nature and wildlife preserve that will be open to the public. Like all Apple facilities, the new Austin campus will run on 100 percent renewable energy, including from solar power generated on site.
Earlier this year, Apple launched its Community Education Initiative in Austin, partnering with Austin Community College, Austin area public schools and other community partners to bring Swift coding into the classroom. In addition, Austin Community College was one of the first community colleges in the country to offer App Development with Swift to train its students to design and develop apps.
Making Mac Pro in the US
The all-new Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful machine ever, and 15,000 times faster than the original Mac. Apple and its manufacturing partners invested over $200 million in the Mac Pro facility in Austin, building out the complex assembly line where the Mac Pro is produced. Each Mac Pro travels a distance of 1,000 feet along the production line, with some components requiring precision placement within the width of a human hair.
Like all Apple products, Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California. Apple uses 9,000 suppliers across all 50 states, and Mac Pro contains hundreds of components from companies in 19 states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont and Washington. This includes computer processors from Arizona and Oregon and graphics processors from New York, as well as electrical components from Maine, Pennsylvania and Texas.
The Mac Pro manufacturing site is UL Zero Waste to Landfill Gold certified, and has been recognized by Austin Water for Excellence in Water Conservation and Excellence in Environmental Stewardship.
Apple in the US
Apple is on track to reach its 2018 commitment of contributing $350 billion to the US economy by 2023, and will spend $30 billion in capital expenditures during that same period. The company supports 2.4 million jobs across the US, including 450,000 manufacturing and operations jobs and 90,000 direct employees in all 50 states.
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More than $1 billion from Apple’s $5 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund has already been invested in American companies to foster innovation and growth in the US manufacturing sector. That includes $450 million distributed to Corning Incorporated in Harrodsburg, Kentucky, to support its research and development into state-of-the-art glass processes, equipment and materials integral to the delivery of next-generation consumer devices; $390 million awarded to Finisar in Sherman, Texas, to exponentially increase its R&D spending and high-volume production of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers; and $10 million allocated to the Elysis aluminum partnership to bring revolutionary advancements in green aluminum manufacturing to the commercial market.
Apple also continues its expansion in Boulder, Culver City, New York, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Seattle.
A wave of synthetic media–and synthetic social media-based characters–is here.
In August 2008,Kim Kardashiancut her foot on a shard of glass and a then-newish celebrity gossip website, TMZ.com, sent out alerts to millions of people. As it happened, I was sitting with several executives, who collectively eye-rolled and argued that the famous-for-being-famous set have a short shelf life.
Say what you will about Kim Kardashian–at least she’s a human. The next generation of the famous-for-being-famous are being engineered from scratch. They’re synthetic stars–algorithmically generated characters who have millions ofInstagram followers, show up in glossy magazines, and have songs on Spotify. Like Lil Miquela, who’s sort of thesynthetic Beyoncé, thanks to her 1.6 million Instagram followers. She models for the likes of Prada and Calvin Klein, her first single came out last year, and she hassponsorship dealswith companies like Samsung. Among her pals: Bermuda, a rule-breaking bad girl who models and touts brands, and Blawko, an L.A.-based Gen-Zer who likes fast cars and Absolut vodka, and who is never seen without his trademark scarf covering his nose and mouth.
Synthetic stars aren’t entirely new. Virtual Japanese pop star Hatsune Miku debuted in 2007–though actual people wrote her songs–and still does stadium tours around the world. (In English, her name translates roughly to “first sound of the future.”) But they’re becoming a big business. Brud, the company behind Lil Miquela, is valued at $125 million. Companies like Superplastic, Toonstar, and Shadows are developing virtual characters, and this year the incubator and investor Betaworks launched Synthetic Camp, an accelerator program designed to nurture and invest in such companies.
Synthetic stars are an antidote to egotistical and misbehaving celebs. They’re ideal employees: They don’t show up late. They don’t follow trendy diets requiring costly, hard-to-find foods. They never get tired. They don’t get crazy on alcohol or drugs. They’re never off-message, and their mug shots don’t go viral on the internet. (Though, this summer, Bermuda posted her own mug shot on Instagram, to “get ahead” of the press.)
There are many other implications: Rather than having Emily Blunt spend hours voicing a character in an animated film, one could license her voice, and then program a system to mimic it. Synthetically voiced ads could be modified with regional accents. A public service announcement about malaria was produced this year by AI video synthesis company Synthesia and ad agency R/GA; in it, David Beckham discusses how to fight malaria in nine languages, thanks to synthetic voice technology. And imagine different synthetic characters appearing in hundreds of ads, each targeting narrow demographic bases: trendsetting moms in Southern California, stay-at-home dads in Chicago, aspirational Gen-Zers from Atlanta who are entering college.
There are risks, of course. Like all cutting-edge tech, from gene editing to AI-enabled hiring, the law hasn’t kept pace with innovation. I know of no law or regulation anywhere that governs synthetic content, although some observers have recommended adapting current laws that cover libel, defamation, identity fraud, and impersonating a government official.
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Meanwhile, last spring criminals used synthetic voice technology to impersonate a CEO and trick a manager into transferring $243,000 into their bank account. Synthetic versions of Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi have repeatedly gone viral. And what happens when humanlike avatars, trained on our personal data, start selling us things? What if someone generates a synth of one of your employees–or of you?
Some companies are working on such concerns. Synthesia co-founder Matthias Niessner created a system to detect, say, fake Pelosi videos called FaceForensics++. His team is developing other tools to identify synthetic content. All of which is great–but he had better work fast. If scores of ersatz Kim Kardashians are created, TMZ will never be able to keep up.
The face-to-face meeting came as Zuckerberg sat down with some of his harshest critics during his visit to Washington. Trump has been among those critics, having repeatedly criticized Facebook as“anti-Trump”and for perceived anti-conservative bias. The President has tweeted on multiple occasions in support of conservative activists who have either been kicked off of Facebook or had run-ins with the company.Axios first reported theZuckerberg-Trump meeting.
Trump confirmed the meetingin a tweetThursday evening.
“Nice meeting with Mark Zuckerberg of @Facebook in the Oval Office today,” the President said.
The meeting was the most important meeting of Zuckerberg’s rare visit to the nation’s capital this week to meet with some of his biggest skeptics, seeking to bridge a divide between the social media giant and policymakers who have grown increasingly suspicious of its dominance.
Zuckerbergwill meet members of the House Judiciary Committee on Friday, according to a person familiar with the matter, following a slew of meetings on Thursday with some of his most prominent critics in Congress.
Zuckerberg is expected to meet with committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, as well as Rhode Island Democratic Rep. David Cicilline, who leads the committee’s antitrust panel.The Washington Postwas first to report on the meeting.
Cicilline is several months into a sweeping antitrust probe of tech giants including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Last week, Cicilline sent letters to all four companies seeking detailed records on their business practices, acquisitions and prior dealings with governments around the world.
Zuckerberg met Thursday afternoon with Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, one of Facebook’s most vocal critics, to discuss data privacy and allegations of anti-conservative bias.
Calling it a “frank discussion,” Hawley said he pressed Zuckerberg to sell off WhatsApp and Instagram.
“Safe to say he was not receptive to those suggestions,” Hawley said. He added that Zuckerberg conceded that the company had “made a mistake” in a fact-checking controversy surrounding a pair of videos published by the anti-abortion group Live Action.
Zuckerberg left the meeting wordlessly, flanked by advisers including Facebook’s US public policy chief, Kevin Martin.
Over dinner Wednesday night, Zuckerberg and a number of US senators discussed Facebook’s role in securing the country’s elections, as well as consumer privacy and competition issues in the social media marketplace.
“I was glad for the opportunity to discuss my concerns directly with Mr. Zuckerberg,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut. “I focused on the challenges of privacy safeguards and I welcome the strong, constructive interest shown by Mr. Zuckerberg.