Data Sheet—Explaining Congo’s Cobalt ‘Curse’

Feeling droopy. In the latest twist on drones and AI, IBM filed a patent for an autonomous flying vehicle that could deliver hot beverages to “those who appear to be in a ‘pre-determined cognitive state’ requiring coffee.” Sign me up.

TKO. After last month rejecting the Winklevoss brothers concept for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund, the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday offered similar reasons in nixing proposed digital currency funds from investment firms ProShares, GraniteShares, and Direxion. The requests failed to show how such funds could “prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices,” the agency wrote.

Cleaning up the block. Under fire for failing to adequately police third-party apps on its service in the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook permanently banned the personality quiz app myPersonality. Facebook said myPersonality’s creators refused to cooperate with an audit of how they protected and shared app gathered by the app.

Shutterbug shift. Back in April, we mentioned that the two titans of photography, Canon and Nikon, were in danger of being disrupted by a new camera technology known as mirrorless. On Thursday, Nikon finally tried to match competitors with a couple of high-end mirrorless cameras of its own. The new $3,400 Z7 and $2,000 Z6 are said to be smaller and quieter than Nikon’s comparable traditional DSLR models. In a first impressions review, photog site DPReview found the Z7 to be “a pretty well-rounded do-everything camera.”

Under pressure. Stealthy self-driving car startup Zoox fired its CEO Tim Kentley-Klay. The co-founder tweeted that his board moved against him “without warning, cause or right of reply.” Zoox raised $500 million last month in a deal valuing the company at $3.2 billion.

Judging by the cover. As initially announced earlier this year, Walmart jumped into the declining ebook market on Wednesday, launching an online store in partnership with e-reader maker Kobo. Publishers set ebook prices and a quick check showed Walmart’s prices were identical to Amazon’s prices in its Kindle ebook store. James Patterson’s recent best seller Texas Rangers is $15 in both stores, while Jodi Picoult’s 2016 novel Small Great Things is $4, for example.

Chinese clicks. Speaking of retailing giants, Alibaba reported its revenue jumped 61% to $12.2 billion last quarter though adjusted earnings per share rose only 1% to $1.22. Both figures were slightly better than Wall Street expected. The company said it reached 576 million annual active customers in China, 4% more than a year earlier. Alibaba shares, up a measly 3% so far this year, gained another 4% in premarket trading on Thursday.