Today, it was announced that on December 15th AOL Instant Messenger will shut down after 20 years. No way, 20 years?  While we’ve all moved on to other chat platforms, a tech chapter will be turned when we have to say farewell to the “Buddy List.”

Here’s our weekly pick of news items impacting the innovation ecosystem:

Self-Driving Car Industry Not Stalled

The Senate Commerce Committee just took the next step in creating what could be the new national standard for the testing and deployment of self-driving cars. As reported by Recode, the bipartisan bill, called AV Start, would establish a framework for how state and national regulations would determine how companies like Uber, Tesla, Lyft, GM and others can safely and legally test and then roll out their self-driving cars on public roads.

The takeaway: self-driving cars are a real thing and may be on the roads sooner than we anticipated. The conversation and laws detailing how tate and federal governments will regulate them is just warming up. What’s encouraging is commentary from legislators like Senator Todd Young (R-IN) saying, “The industry is changing, we can adapt the current workforce needs. We ought to be leaning into this and understand that this is where the industry is headed.”

The Office Overhaul

Individual offices, cubicles, open floor plans, pods, sit-down, stand-up, sit on a ball…we’re constantly being told which office set-up produces the most productivity.  Almost anything goes these days. This week, The New York Times took a closer look at why so much effort is being put into the office set-up.

The takeaway: There are many reasons why changes to office spaces are made. A diversity of spaces, experts say, is more productive, and the new concept is called “activity-based workplace design” endorses the tailoring of spaces to match the type of work that needs to be done.

Musk Could Power-Up Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico power problem is real. Only 10% of the island has power and, according to the Puerto Rico state-owned electric company, some areas won’t be able to turn the lights back on for four to six months. TechCrunch reports that Elon Musk knows the scope of the problem and he has offered to help design a new solar/battery electrical network for Puerto Rico.

The takeaway: Puerto Rican government officials are eager to find a solution to their electricity problem and they have engaged Elon (if only via Twitter) to power a solution. Musk seems confident his system can scale to meet the demands of the island’s 3.4 million citizens, and if the political stars can align, there’s potential that a tragic hurricane could catapult Puerto Rico into a global leader in energy infrastructure.

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