A Florida Man Is Suing Tesla for a Scary Autopilot Crash

When Shawn Hudson decided to buy a Tesla Model S last year, Autopilot was a key selling point. His commute was brutal—125 miles each way, nearly all of it on the highway—and he figured the semi-autonomous driving system would make his life easier. Over 98,000 miles of driving, he used it regularly, letting the computer keep the car in its lane and away from other cars.

“I was sold,” he told reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning. He would relax during the long ride, checking his phone and sending emails.

That changed one Friday morning a few weeks ago, during his daily drive from his home in Winter Garden to his job at a Nissan dealership in Fort Pierce, Florida. Driving at about 80 mph in the left lane of the Florida Turnpike, with Autopilot engaged, Hudson crashed into a disabled, empty Ford Fiesta.

And in a lawsuit filed today against the automaker, his lawyers write “Tesla has duped consumers, including Hudson, into believing that the autopilot system it offers with Tesla vehicles at additional cost can safely transport passengers at highway speeds with minimal input and oversight from those passengers.”

According to the lawsuit, filed in Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, Hudson “suffered severe permanent injuries.” Those include possibly fractured vertebrae, Hudson’s lawyer Mike Morgan, of Morgan & Morgan, said during the press conference. The suit seeks $15,000 in damages (Morgan & Morgan did not immediately reply to a request to confirm that unexpectedly conservative number is correct) and accuses Tesla of negligence, breach of implied warranty or fitness for a particular purpose, and violation of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, among other things. It also names the owner of the disabled Fiesta as a defendant, accusing him of negligence.

“We have no reason to believe that Autopilot malfunctioned or operated other than as designed,” Tesla said in a statement. “When using Autopilot, it is the driver’s responsibility to remain attentive to their surroundings and in control of the vehicle at all times. Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents, and Tesla goes to great lengths to provide clear instructions about what Autopilot is and is not, including by offering driver instructions when owners test drive and take delivery of their car, before drivers enable Autopilot and every single time they use Autopilot, as well as through the Owner’s Manual and Release Notes for software updates.”

Before using Autopilot for the first time, drivers must agree to watch the road and keep their hands on the wheel. The car monitors the latter and issues warnings when drivers go more than a few seconds without touching the wheel.

This is just the latest in a string of crashes in which Autopilot-equipped Tesla cars have hit stationary vehicles. At least three Teslas have hit stopped fire trucks in 2018 alone. It’s a known weakness of the feature, even noted in Tesla’s manual: “Traffic-Aware Cruise Control cannot detect all objects and may not brake/decelerate for stationary vehicles, especially in situations when you are driving over 50 mph (80 km/h) and a vehicle you are following moves out of your driving path and a stationary vehicle or object is in front of you instead.” Like, say, a Ford Fiesta just sitting there in the left lane.

Similar systems offered by Tesla competitors, including Volvo, have the same shortcoming. It’s a function of how they use radar data. The sensor picks up everything from speed signs to Mack trucks, so engineers curtail false positives—slamming your brakes for no reason can be very dangerous—by focusing on the stuff that’s moving. That’s part of the reason all these automakers, including Tesla, insist that drivers pay constant attention to the road and keep their hands near or on the steering wheel.

Hudson says that at the time of the impact, he was looking at his phone. And his crash makes clear that a disconnect between what a car can do, and what a human wrongly believes it can do can have serious results.

Over the past few years, Tesla has been accused of not addressing that disconnect, most notably by the National Transportation Safety Board. In response, Tesla reduced how long you can keep your hands off the wheel without getting a warning to a few seconds. After a few warnings, Autopilot turns off and can’t be re-engaged until you restart the car. (Cadillac and Audi have developed systems that track the driver’s head position and gaze, respectively, more sophisticated ways to verify they’re watching the road.)

According to the lawsuit, Tesla’s sales people—who are Tesla employees; the automaker doesn’t sell cars through franchised dealers—encouraged Hudson’s confidence in Autopilot. One sales rep said “a consumer can purchase an autopilot upgrade with any Tesla vehicle that will allow the vehicle to drive itself from one point to another, with minimal user input or oversight,” the suit reads. It continues: “Tesla’s sales representative further advised Hudson that, in the event the vehicle detects a hazard, the autopilot system is designed to also alert passengers so that they could take control of the vehicle if necessary.”

Autopilot, though, is not capable of recognizing obstacles it’s not build to handle—that’s why it can’t handle them. Again, that’s why it’s so important that the human remain alert at all times.

Tesla spokespeople did not answer WIRED’s questions about these specific allegations and about how Tesla trains its sales staff to explain Autopilot to consumers.

Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s unlikely this will be the last time someone questions the design of Autopilot and similar systems, and what responsibility their makers should assume for ensuring they’re not taken for granted as they proliferate. Tesla sold 83,500 cars in the third quarter of this year—more than it did in all of 2016. Autopilot—which it offers for $5,000—is one of its most popular features.


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Intel says more women, blacks in workforce after diversity push

FILE PHOTO: The Intel logo is shown at E3, the world’s largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Intel Corp has increased the ratio of women and African-Americans in its workforce after three years of a high-profile effort to improve diversity, the U.S. microchip maker said in a report released on Monday.

Intel still lags behind several large U.S. technology companies in terms of women and ahead of many for African Americans and Hispanics, the report showed. Chronic underrepresentation of minorities has been a source of concern for years at tech companies.

Overall, women comprised 26.8 percent of Intel’s U.S. workforce in 2018, up from 24.7 percent in 2015. Women in leadership positions grew to 20.7 percent from 17.7 percent.

The percentage of African Americans at Intel has risen to nearly 5 percent from 3.5 percent in 2015 and Hispanics rose to 9.2 percent from 8.3 percent.

“Although we are among the leaders in African American representation in the tech industry, we are still not satisfied,” Barbara Whye, Intel’s chief diversity and inclusion officer said by email. The company will continue to work with historically black colleges and the Oakland Unified School District in California, she added.

Without providing figures, Intel said it had reached “full representation” two years ahead of its goal based on skilled minorities in the available workforce.

In 2015, Intel established a $300 million fund to be used by 2020 to improve diversity. Whites make up 46.2 percent of the workforce at the company, and Asians 38.9 percent, according to Intel.

Intel’s African American 2018 representation was better than at Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc, and Microsoft Corp, according to the companies’ latest data.

But its female representation was behind Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc , and only ahead of Microsoft.

Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; Editing by Richard Chang

Intel Ends Donations to Steve King Campaign After He Endorsed a Candidate Who Used a White Supremacist Slogan

Intel has ended its financial support for the re-election of Steve King (R-Iowa), after the congressman openly supported a white supremacist.

Dawn Jones, the tech giant’s director of policy and external partnerships, announced the decision in an email to employees on Thursday.

“We had engaged with Rep. King because of his support for IP theft protections, which is important to Intel’s business,” Dawn wrote in the email obtained by Popular Information. “However, an Intel employee raised concerns about the donations earlier this month. We looked into the congressman’s public statements and determined they conflict with Intel Values. As a result, we are no longer donating to his campaigns.”

The technology giant had donated $2,000 to King’s campaign, according to Popular Information.

Earlier this month, King endorsed Faith Goldy for mayor of Toronto, a candidate who recited an infamous white supremacist slogan during a podcast interview, according to Esquire.

King has previously retweeted a Nazi sympathizer, though remains popular among his supporters, the Washington Post reported.

Intel is not the only company taking heat for supporting King in his bid to retain his seat in Iowa’s 4th Congressional district. Land O’Lakes is facing a boycott over its donation to King. Other corporations that have contributed to King’s campaign—including AT&T, Berkshire Hathaway, the American Bankers Association—have far not responded, Popular Information reports.

IBM Buying Open Source Specialist Red Hat for $34 Billion

IBM just spent $34 billion to buy a software company that gives away its primary product for free.

IBM Sunday said it would acquire Red Hat, best known for its Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. Red Hat is an open source software company that gives away the source code for its core products. That means anyone can download them for free. And many do. Oracle even uses Red Hat’s source code for its own Oracle Linux product.

Spending billions to acquire an open source software company might seem strange. But companies pay Red Hat to support those products, to the tune of around $3 billion in revenue each year.

IBM has long been a big user of and contributor to Linux and other open source projects. Open source was once a fringe, idealistic movement in software, but it’s now a core part of how big companies operate, from internet giants like Google and Facebook to Walmart and ExxonMobil. Sharing code with competitors allows companies to work together to solve common problems. Even Microsoft, which once openly mocked open source, has come around. Microsoft has released multiple open source projects and just closed a $7.5 billion acquisition of the code hosting and collaboration company GitHub.

Meanwhile, IBM has struggled in recent years to transform itself into a cloud computing company. A survey commissioned by cloud management company RightScale earlier this year put IBM as the fourth-most-widely-used cloud service, behind Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, and found the company growing slower than the top three. Its Watson-branded artificial intelligence services have experienced setbacks such as the decision by cancer center MD Anderson to walk away from a contract with IBM last year, big layoffs, and widespread criticism within the AI industry that Watson is simply overhyped.

Red Hat has had its own problems. Its shares fell 14 percent in one day in June after it issued a financial forecast that disappointed investors. Shares have fallen an additional 17 percent since then.

Red Hat isn’t a major host of cloud services, but it is a major player in the building of cloud services. While Red Hat is best known for its operating system, it offers a growing range of other products that make it easy for companies to build cloud-like platforms in their own data centers or manage applications that run on multiple different cloud computing services. They include OpenShift, which which is based on increasingly popular technology known as “Linux containers.”

Red Hat could be a good fit for IBM’s business. IBM has largely transformed from a hardware giant into a services-centric company, and has long partnered with Red Hat. The big question is whether the two companies will be a good cultural fit. IBM says Red Hat will operate as a standalone unit within its Hybrid Cloud organization, with Red Hat’s leadership staying intact.


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Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting Suspect's Gab Posts Are Part of a Pattern

11 people were killed and six others—including four police officers—injured Saturday when a gunman opened fire during a baby-naming ceremony at the Tree of Life Congregation, a Synagogue in Pittsburgh. The shooter, Robert Bowers, 46, surrendered to the police and was taken to the hospital, a local councilwoman told the The New York Times. Bowers—who has been linked to an account on the social media site Gab that shared anti-Semitic messages—is expected to face hate crime charges. The Anti-Defamation league called the shooting “likely the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.”

Gab, a relatively small social network that claims to “defend individual liberty and free expression online” has fewer restrictions on what users can post than platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Its relative lawlessness has made it a gathering spot for white supremacists and other members of the extreme alt-right. The network released a statement following Saturday’s shooting identifying an account believed to have belonged to Bowers, the Synagogue shooter. “The account was verified and matched the name of the alleged shooter’s name, which was mentioned on police scanners,” the statement reads. “This person also had accounts on other social networks.” Gab says it took down Bowers account and contacted the FBI, according to the post. Paypal banned Gab from its payment platform after Saturday’s shooting.

This is the second attack this week in which the perpetrator has been linked to social media accounts that shared online conspiracy theories. Cesar Sayoc, 56, who was arrested earlier this week in connection with 13 explosive devices sent to prominent Democrats and CNN, is believed to have used sites like Twitter to share ultra-right-wing conspiracy theories about many of the people he targeted. That includes George Soros, a prominent Jewish philanthropist who is often the target of right-wing conspiracy theories, which have been repeatedly echoed by President Trump. The first device discovered Monday was located at Soros’ home.

It may never be entirely clear why Sayoc and Bowers chose to carry out violent attacks. But their social media activity is part of a broader increase in anti-Semitism online. Jonathan Albright, a researcher at Columbia’s Tow Center For Digital Journalism, has recently found a high volume of anti-Semitic content on Instagram, under hashtags like “#soros”. In advance of the midterm elections, far-right extremists have used anti-Semitism as a talking point on social media, according to a report released Friday from the Anti-Defamation league, a Jewish civil-rights group that tracks bigotry and hate crimes. The ADL’s researchers interviewed five Jewish Americans who are involved in politics and analyzed more than 7.5 million Tweets, sent between August 31 to September 17 of this year. In that time, they found that amount of anti-Semitic language had increased. “The online public sphere—now a primary arena for communication about American politics—has become progressively inhospitable for Jewish Americans,” the researchers wrote. They also concluded that the majority of anti-Semitic messages posted to Twitter came from real individuals, not bots.

Anti-Jewish sentiment is also on the rise in seedier online locales, including Gab and the message board 4Chan, both of which are already known to house hate speech and far-right conspiracy theories. The use of term “jew” and a slur for Jewish people dramatically increased on Gab and 4chan’s politically incorrect message board following political events like the 2016 presidential election, President Trump’s inauguration, and the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to a study conducted by the non-profit Network Contagion Research Institute that has yet to be peer-reviewed.

Anti-Semitism is also on the rise in the real world too. Instances of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism, and assault increased 57 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to an Anti-Defamation League report released earlier this year. It’s the largest single-year jump the ADL has recorded since it began collecting data in the 1970s. In its most recently released survey, the FBI found that was an almost 5 percent rise in hate crimes in 2016—and, that of the roughly 20 percent of hate crimes that were religiously motivated, more than half were targeted against Jews. From 2014 to 2015, the FBI recorded a 10 percent rise in hate crimes.

It’s impossible, at this point, to directly correlate Sayoc and Bowers’ online postings to their subsequent violent attacks—but taken in tandem, the combination is troubling. Digital communities provide a fertile breeding ground for hate speech to fester and organize. It wouldn’t be the first time these online ecosystems spilled that hate into real world violence.


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In the Last 2 Years, Delta Air Lines Has Given Passengers Something Astonishing and Valuable (and No One Has Noticed)

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

If you were asked you what you most want from a flight, I suspect many would respond: “No one in the seat next to me.”

There’s little more cheering than hearing that the aircraft doors have been closed and you don’t have to tolerate anyone invading your space.

After that, though, you’d like to have a little legroom and the flight to be on time. 

What about a smooth flight?

Doesn’t everyone want that? Does anyone enjoy periodic bouts of turbulence that rock the plane and the brain and perhaps even make some people feel queasy?

It seems, though, that Delta Air Lines has found something of a remedy for that.

Delta says the app was created in partnership with engineering company BCI. It also enjoys algorithms from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Remarkably, its data is even customized according to the type of plane. Bigger planes are affected by turbulence differently from smaller ones.

Delta claims this information is far more useful to pilots than the more common PIREPS system, which presents the pilots with information from planes that flew earlier in the day.

The result is that turbulence is more easily prepared for and avoided — though there’s no way to always get around it.

Nature’s a little bigger than we are. 

Darren Murph at the Points Guy says a Delta pilot gave him a demo of the app. The pilot explained how much more accurate the information was, which allowed the pilots and the cabin crew to prepare more thoroughly.

The biggest question, naturally, is whether frequent Delta flyers have noticed that their flights have been largely smoother.

To hear, though, that a major airline is doing a little something to allay that is oddly cheering.

The airline does, however, have a reputation of at least occasionally thinking about the little things.

That’s why American and United are always looking enviously upward toward it.

Bothering about the little things can cause internal turbulence. It does, though, also have its rewards.

Sometimes, they’re even financial.

Tesla Is Facing a ‘Deepening Criminal Probe’ About Misleading Investors on Its Model 3 Production, Report Says

Tesla, the pioneering electric-car manufacturer that posted blowout earnings this week, may be facing an FBI investigation over investor communications it made regarding the production levels of its Model 3 sedans, the Wall Street Journal said Friday.

Earlier this month, Tesla settled with the SEC over charges that it misled investors after CEO Elon Musk tweeted that he had secured funding to take Tesla private. The SEC, which alleged that the tweets were fraudulent, at first sued Musk, before reaching a settlement that required Musk and Tesla to each pay $20 million in fines, while finding an independent chairman to replace Musk.

According to the Journal, Tesla the FBI “has intensified” its investigation into whether Tesla misstated data on the production of its Model 3, its lowest-priced sedan. Tesla has invested heavily in the Model 3 production, adding to losses in recent quarters. Last quarter, however, Model 3 sales pushed Tesla into the black.

In a statement, Tesla disputed some of the Journal’s report. “Earlier this year, Tesla received a voluntary request for documents from the Department of Justice about its public guidance for the Model 3 ramp,” a Tesla spokesperson said in a statement to Fortune. “We have not received a subpoena, a request for testimony, or any other formal process, and there have been no additional document requests about this from the Department of Justice for months.”

The Journal reported that former Tesla employees, who received subpoenas earlier in the investigation, have been contacted in recent weeks by the FBI for further testimony.

Musk told investors on earnings calls that Tesla would be producing between 5,000 and 20,000 Model 3s per month by the end of 2017, the Journal said. In reality, Tesla ended up producing only 2,700 Model 3’s for all of 2017. The FBI is reportedly investigating such discrepancies.

While Tesla admits it did not meet its early and ambitious production goals, it said it was “transparent about how difficult it would be… and that we were entering ‘production hell.’” Tesla further noted that “it took us six months longer than we expected to meet our 5,000 unit per week guidance,” but that its approach has been “to set truthful targets – not sandbagged targets that we would definitely exceed and not unrealistic targets that we could never meet.”

Tesla’s stock, which rose 5.2% Friday during official trading, was down 1.8% in after-hours trading.

STEM Candidates Can't Deliver Everything You Need. Success Requires Employees From the Arts.

I love STEM. Without STEM students, there wouldn’t be doctors, or the engineers who put together the Inc.com site. Big data has revolutionized the way business is done, and it would be impossible without STEM skills. But when young people ask me what they should study, I always encourage them to consider liberal arts.

Businesses will need people to translate computer language into human language. When big data analytics uncovers a hidden pattern, someone needs to draw conclusions from the information and develop an action plan. If a robot breaks down, someone needs to explain to management why it happened – and why it won’t happen again.

Here are more reasons why you should hire someone from the arts:

1. Fresh Perspective

Hiring an artist is like getting an injection of creativity. Leaders can use this to better market to their customers, and to better connect with their employees. Artists aren’t afraid to be unconventional, but they have no time for inauthenticity. Having these elements as part of your company culture is a great way to attract high quality candidates, and will appeal to the right kind of customers.

2. Agility, with Mission Focus

3. Budget Management

The arts are chronically underfunded. If you’re looking for an employee who can stretch the value of a dollar, the arts are a great place to look. Artists use their creativity, open-mindedness, and pain tolerance to make it work. They’re able to stay on course no matter the budgetary constraints, and produce something that looks and feels like money was no object.

4. Personality Tolerance

The arts are full of people with personality – and the spectrum of personality is wide! Imagine putting together a theatre production. You have to work with an idealistic writer, a Method actor, a union stagehand, and a theatre director trying to keep donors happy. People in the arts are used to handling a variety of personalities and balancing competing interests while keeping everyone happy and working together. It’s a skill any office can benefit from, and can help keep your company humming.

5. Content Over Medium

This is perhaps the most important reason you should hire someone from the arts. With constantly changing technology and evolving tastes of customers, it can be difficult for business to find the right way to connect with employees and consumers. But here’s what many business leaders forget: the method of communication doesn’t matter if the content is garbage. To reach your desired audience, your content needs to make an impact. Artists are expressive, and know how to use humor, trauma, and beauty to make an emotional impact on the audience. No matter the medium, artists can effectively communicate your message, helping your culture blossom and your business grow.

AMD revenue forecast disappoints as crypto demand subsides, shares plummet

(Reuters) – Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD.O) on Wednesday forecast fourth-quarter revenue below estimates as the chipmaker faces dwindling demand from cryptocurrency miners for its high-margin graphic processors and excess inventory, sending its shares down 22 percent.

FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at motherboards being displayed at the AMD booth during the 2012 Computex exhibition at the TWTC Nangang exhibition hall in Taipei June 6, 2012. REUTERS/Yi-ting Chung/File Photo

AMD shares, which have more than doubled this year, were trading at $17.84 after the bell.

AMD and Nvidia, its main rival in the gaming chip market, were the biggest beneficiaries of a cryptocurrency boom last year as miners invested in new networks to keep up with demand.

However, with cryptocurrency prices in free fall, mainly due to regulatory worries, demand for the chips have declined.

Graphic Processing Units like AMD’s Radeon provide the high computing abilities required for cryptocurrency mining.

Nvidia shares were down 2.5 percent at $194.98.

AMD said it now expects revenue of about $1.45 billion, plus or minus $50 million, below analysts’ estimates of $1.6 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

The company said revenue from its graphics and computing business, which sells Ryzen desktop processors and Radeon graphics cards, rose 12 percent to $938 million in the third quarter.

AMD said strong sales of Ryzen chips were partially offset by lower revenue from its graphics business, where blockchain-related GPU sales were negligible.

“In graphics, the year-over-year revenue decrease was primarily driven by significantly lower channel GPU sales, partially offset by improved OEM and data center GPU sales,” Chief Executive Officer Lisa Su said on a post-earnings call.

Channel GPU sales came in lower than expected based on excess channel inventory levels, caused by the decline in blockchain-related demand that was so strong earlier in the year, she added.

Su said the graphics and computing segment underperformed expectations by $100 million in the quarter and added that inventory levels for its graphics products remain high and may take a couple quarters to return to normal levels.

“The miss was due to GPU. AMD had too high an exposure to the crypto-currency market. Additionally, they do not have a competitive line-up in the PC Gaming market,” Summit Insights Group analyst Kinngai Chan said.

Sales in its enterprise, embedded and semi-custom unit, which makes EPYC server processors, fell 5 percent to $715 million.

AMD said net income climbed to $102 million, or 9 cents per share, in the third quarter ended Sept. 29 from $61 million, or 6 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, AMD earned 13 cents per share, narrowly beating estimates.

Revenue rose to $1.65 billion, but missed estimates of $1.7 billion.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar

LeBron James Is More Than an All-Time Great—He’s a Mogul

The LeBron James era in Los Angeles began, predictably enough, with all the flash and drama of a Hollywood blockbuster: a home-court introduction from rapper-actor Ice Cube, a slew of replay-worthy dunks, and an end-of-game fracas against the Rockets that culminated in a miasma of ejections, suspensions, and fines. Just as predictably, the LeBron James era kicked off with a trio of losses—what, according to critics, is expected to be the first of many. As a three-time NBA champion and seven-time MVP, James is among the most dominant players to grace the hardwood. Still, for the first time in nearly a decade, his supernova talents likely won’t be enough to catapult his team into the finals.

What is less questionable this season, however, is James’ off-court presence. He has just as effectively proven to be the rare multi-hyphenate athlete whose impact extends well beyond the league—it’s LeBron as activist, philanthropist, and emergent business titan. In moving to LA as part of a much-ballyhooed four-year, $154-million deal, James fully positions himself as an enterprise of change, a one-man orbit whose aspirations signal a new kind of moguldom for athletes: one centered on social good.

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Nearly since his entrance into the NBA in 2003, James has moved with the eyes of the crowd on his back. He’s a populist, if decisive, figure who has done more to shape the league, and the image of its athletes, than just about any player: rekindling the superteam era by joining Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat in 2010; testing our understanding of the athlete-activist by wearing an “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt to honor Eric Garner in 2014; calling President Trump a “bum” on Twitter last year for using sports as a dividing force instead of a unifying one.

Each of those actions has come after careful consideration; for an athlete who makes in excess of $50 million yearly from endorsements, voicing conviction is always a calculation. For James, though, legacy has always trumped risk. And in signing with the Lakers, besieged as they are by unrealized potential, he made the ultimate legacy play, one that stands to immortalize him while also solidifying his footprint as an influential Hollywood executive.

When James founded production company SpringHill Entertainment with his childhood friend Maverick Carter in 2015, the original idea was to leverage the athlete’s star power from behind the camera; a move that would allow the company to slowly find its own identity outside James magnetism. Early on, though, SpringHill safely flirted with sports biography: including a prize-winning documentary about James’s high school days, More than a Game, and I Am Giant, which chronicled the trials of former NFL wide receiver Victor Cruz. Even scripted shows, like Showtime sitcom Survivor’s Remorse, paralleled James’ rise out of adversity to basketball phenom.

What’s on tap for SpringHill in the coming year, though, seems more in line with James evolving, socially-conscious moguldom. In addition to HBO’s The Shop—an unscripted series where James and his famous friends (Odell Beckham Jr, Snoop Dogg, Drake, and Candace Parker among them) confab in a barbershop about adulthood, racial expectations, and more—the company is currently developing a limited-series starring Octavia Spencer as Madame C.J. Walker, the first black woman millionaire (it was acquired by Netflix); a documentary about the controversial champion boxer Muhammad Ali; Lean On Me, a CW drama inspired by the 1989 film that follows a young educator trying to “transform a failing campus into an urban oasis;” and a three-part HBO documentary about the athlete’s role in the political sphere titled Shut Up and Dribble. (The company also has shows in development with NBC, Starz, and Facebook.)

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when James had his political awakening. He was raised in a single-parent, paycheck-to-paycheck household in Akron, so it’s likely he’s always understood the weight of his skin, and the consequence it carries in America. But as his foray into television and film has continued, each project has functioned as a conduit, even a conversation starter, for larger messages around race, politics, and social justice. Within each of these undertakings is a push for wider representation, a calculated gamble that seeks disruption and balance behind and in front of the screen.

James’s growing reach, of course, extends past these projects—he’s reportedly in talks to produce a Friday the 13th reboot—and even past the glint of Hollywood. This summer, in July, he opened the first I Promise educational facility in a bid to revolutionize public education. An Akron-based non-charter school that plans to do more than just educate students, its offers what administrators refer to as “wraparound” services—each student is supplied with a Chromebook and a bicycle, has access to the school’s pantry, is provided with job and family services, tutors, as well as emotional and psychological services. All graduates are guaranteed free tuition to the University of Akron beginning in 2021. “When people ask me why a school, it’s because I know exactly what these 240 kids are going through,” James said in a speech during the school’s opening ceremony. “I’ve been there.”

Increasingly, as players have invested in outside entities—most noticeably, the Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant made a series of investments in Silicon Valley startups, following the lead of his teammate Andre Iguodala—James has continually bet on himself. It reminds me of what he said during his I Promise speech: about having been there. Having accrued the experience to know what it would eventually take to make a lasting imprint. It’s about opportunity and representation. It’s perhaps James’ most vital lesson, the one that will define his legacy: In trying to change a system, he built—and became—his own.


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