OneWeb announced $1.25 billion in additional funding from investors on Monday as the internet satellite start-up begins to rapidly increase production, aiming to launch 650 satellites into orbit over the next two years.

“OneWeb is moving from the planning and development stage to deployment of our full constellation.” OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said in a statement.

This latest influx of cash represents OneWeb’s largest single round of fundraising. The round was led by Japanese conglomerate SoftBank, Mexican conglomerate Grupo Salinas, Qualcomm and the Rwandan government. OneWeb has now raised a total of $3.4 billion since its inception in 2012, with earlier investments also coming from Virgin Group, Coca Cola, Airbus, Intelsat, EchoStar-owned Hughes Communications and Indian conglomerate Bharti Enterprises.

The added capital enables OneWeb “to accelerate the development” of its global network of satellites, the company said. Marcelo Claure, SoftBank COO, said in a statement that OneWeb’s first successful launch last month “extended its first-mover advantage” in the internet satellite race.

Boeing, SpaceX and Telesat are just a few of the companies racing to build next-generation networks of satellites, called constellations. Using small satellites, OneWeb and others plan to use an interconnected network of satellites to provide internet coverage across the entire globe. These constellations are looking to offer speeds comparable to Earth-bound fiber optic networks.

OneWeb is building the satellites through a joint venture with Airbus called “OneWeb Satellites.” The first six satellites launched last month were built in Toulouse, France. But OneWeb says it is ready to “ramp-up production this spring” at its manufacturing facility near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“We’re set up for scale,” Steckel told CNBC. “We can do about two satellites a day at maximum.”

Each OneWeb satellite costs about $1 million to manufacture, according to Steckel. If OneWeb is going to keep to its two year timetable, the company needs to begin producing satellites quickly and at scale.

OneWeb expects to being a monthly launch campaign in the fourth quarter of this year, with more than 30 satellites going up on each rocket. The start-up contracted the launches to Arianespace, which is using Russian-built Soyuz rockets to put OneWeb’s satellites in orbit.

In addition to the Florida manufacturing facility, OneWeb is based-out of operation centers in London and Virginia, with an additional office in California.

Social network giants and their users should share the responsibility of alerting authorities about online radicalism as soon as they spot it, according to a security expert.

“With social media, and with the internet today, basically terrorists can become their own mass media and, certainly, more does need to be done to try to take that ability away from them,” Scott Stewart, vice president for tactical analysis at geopolitical intelligence firm Stratfor, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Monday.

His comments come days after a gunman killed 50 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and livestreamed the attack as it happened.

In the past, terrorists relied on mass media to propagate their messages but the internet has made it easier for them to spread their agenda, said Stewart, previously a special agent for the U.S. State Department who was involved in numerous terrorism investigations.

“One of the things that does need to be done is for people to shout out when they see things developing, and when they see these attacks coming down the pipe. A lot of people scoff at saying ‘see something, say something’ but it really works,” he said, adding that there should be tools made available for people to report instances of radicalism on social media, chat rooms or even in real life.

“I think everybody shares a little bit of the responsibility.”

Last Friday, a gunman opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, and killed 50 people in what is said to be the country’s worst ever peacetime mass killing. Dozens more were wounded, some of them critically. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called the attack an act of terrorism.

The attacker left behind a lengthy document that stated he was a white nationalist who hates immigrants and was set off by attacks in Europe that were perpetrated by Muslims, the Associated Press reported. He was charged with murder on Saturday.

The shooter livestreamed the attacks on Facebook for 17 minutes using an app designed for extreme sports enthusiasts and copies of that video have reportedly been circulated around various social media platforms such as Twitter, Alphabet’s YouTube and Facebook-owned Whatsapp and Instagram.

That led to many calling on social media giants to do more to crack down on online extremism.

Facebook reported in the first 24 hours since the shootings, that it had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack globally — 1.2 million of those were blocked during uploads. In a series of tweets, the social network said it is also removing all edited versions of the video that do not show graphic content.

The social network giant is reportedly building its own artificial intelligence chips that can help the company filter videos that violate its terms of services quicker.

For her part, Ardern said she plans to hold discussions with Facebook over the issue of livestreaming.

— The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Google is getting into gaming.

The tech giant best known for its search engine and Android operating system for smartphones now seeks to take a stab at revolutionizing the $100+ billion gaming industry currently dominated by incumbents like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. As Google seeks to diversify its revenue sources beyond digital ads, gaming presents a massive opportunity for the company.

But Google appears poised to take a different approach when it presents its vision for the “future of gaming” during its Game Developers Conference (GDC) presentation on Tuesday in San Francisco. That likely includes a commercial version of its “Project Stream” service and its rumored “Yeti” gaming console, both of which could realize the ultimate dream of a “Netflix for video games” streaming service.

Right now, if you want to play a hit game, you usually need to spend a few hundred bucks on a console like the PlayStation 4 or Xbox One or a good $1,000 or so on a high-end gaming PC. Then, you either need to go to the store and buy a physical game disc or wait for a large file to download to your console, which can take hours.

Google’s streaming service could change that model by letting users stream top games to the devices they already own, like a laptop, smartphone or streaming box connected to a TV.

“Cloud gaming will enable publishers to broaden their reach even further by potentially taping into new audiences on any device and any screen,” Forrester vice president and principal analyst Thomas Husson told CNBC. “Beyond music or video, gaming represents another opportunity to offer recurring streaming revenues for companies in the gaming ecosystem. For cloud platforms like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, it will also become an opportunity to offer cloud storage and services to game publishers, who spend more and more in their IT infrastructure.”

Google’s vision is to let people stream games wherever they are, on a phone or a computer or a tablet, without the need for anything more than a zippy internet connection.

Google has already shown how this works on a small scale with Project Stream, a trial that let people stream “Assassin’s Creed Odyssey” with nothing more than a Chrome web browser running on a cheap computer, like a Chromebook.

Traditionally, gamers needed to own a gaming PC, a PlayStation 4, an Xbox One or a Nintendo Switch to play that game. But Google proved it was possible to do all the hard rendering in the cloud instead of locally on an expensive machine.

While there’s already an understanding of how Project Stream worked, there are still lots of questions around how Google’s rumored “Yeti” console will operate. Since the processing is expected to occur remotely in the cloud, Yeti may be a simple piece of hardware — perhaps just a controller and streaming box that connects to your TV — that lets users stream games instead of playing them locally on traditional gaming console.

Google declined to comment.

Google has a chance to completely upend the video game industry, which IDC analyst Lewis Ward told CNBC generated $136 billion in revenues in 2018 and is growing at a rate of 15 percent per year. If Google pulls this off, it could mean a lot of additional revenue for the company, and might mean a loss of business for the kings of the console market, Microsoft and Sony.

But there are plenty of things standing in the way.

Google doesn’t have a unique vision for streaming games.

Several companies have tried or are still trying to launch similar game-streaming services, but so far all have failed to reach a massive scale.

“There have been several companies that have jumped into this space over the years from a variety of angles, but as far as I can tell, the only one left standing that’s got a significant paying subscriber base in Western markets at least, is Sony’s PlayStation Now service,” IDC’s Ward said.

Sony’s PlayStation Now costs $99 per year or $19.99 per month. It lets gamers stream more than 750 PS4, PS3 and PS2 games to a PS4 or a PC. This might be the closest competition to what Google is planning, but it still requires specialized hardware. You can’t stream to any phone, tablet or other device of your choice.

NVIDIA also offers a similar service called GeForce Now that works on Macs, PCs and NVIDIA’s own Android-based Shield console for TVs. The service includes a library of 400 games, which normally require beefy graphics cards and expensive gaming rigs to play. But GeForce Now is limited in scope and is still considered a beta product.

Finally, a start-up called OnLive that launched several years ago promised to let people stream games to any device, but ultimately failed to gain enough subscribers to stay in business. The company shut down in 2015 and sold its remaining business assets to Sony.

Google may be next in line to fail.

“I believe Google will have a tremendously hard time pulling off a successful paid game streaming service,” Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told CNBC. “It has middling success with paid music, movies and books, so my expectations are low.”

But Husson said Google at least has a good foundation in place.

“It is no surprise to see Google invest in the space,” Husson said. “The fact they recently announced the recruitment of Jade Raymond, [formerly of] Ubisoft and EA, is a clear sign they want attract gaming publishers. They already have a massive developer ecosystem thanks to the success of games on the Android platform. Now is the time to signal to the market they too are serious are about cloud gaming.”

Google needs a lot of things to work in its favor in order to find success in this industry.

First, customers will need a reliable and fast internet connection to stream games. NVIDIA’s GeForce service, for example, recommends a speed of 50MBps for full HD quality, though gamers can play at lower resolutions if they have a slower connection.

In Google’s case, its gaming cloud service will need to make sure it’s able to serve up those games fast enough, too. Nobody wants to play a game that doesn’t immediately respond to commands from a controller.

Google will also need to make sure that it can offer a compelling library of games, something Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have already proved to their customers. Google isn’t a game publisher, so it doesn’t have marquee titles or franchises like Nintendo’s Super Mario, Sony’s “God of War” or Microsoft’s “Halo,” all of which attract buyers to consoles. But Google can partner with third-party companies like Rockstar for “Grand Theft Auto” or Bethesda for games like “Skyrim.”

“They have no in-house content,” IDC’s Ward said. “They’ve probably nailed the tech aspects, but without some unique content – which is generally quite expensive and takes years to make when it’s AAA quality – it’s just another digital store.”

Last year, Google hired Phil Harrison, a member of Sony’s PlayStation team who served as Sony’s executive vice president of development in Europe. That means Google has someone who can put a foundation in place to get developers to build for its platform. Google could make it even easier on those developers by creating a way to port existing titles, built originally for Xbox or PlayStation, over to Google’s system. This would alleviate the need to rebuild the games from scratch.

“Google has somewhere between a little and zero exclusive content today,” Ward said. “I don’t see how they get very far without making massive studio investments, and without making massive gamer community investments, and both are out of the company’s wheelhouse.”

Meanwhile, Microsoft and Amazon are also going to present stiff competition.

Google’s biggest headwinds may come from Microsoft and Amazon, which are said to be working on similar streaming game services.

Microsoft already has a sprawling cloud business — a key component to streaming games — a die-hard gaming fan base, established relationships with publishers and game developers and years of experience building and selling both games and consoles. It’s already starting to demo its own streaming game service too.

Just last week, Microsoft provided an update on its own streaming game platform, called xCloud, which may provide a similar experience to what Google will offer. As an already-established player with more than a decade selling gaming consoles and a sprawling Azure cloud business, Microsoft will be a tough foe for Google.

Moorhead said Microsoft has a better shot than Google.

“I’d favor Microsoft’s chances given it too has the scale and technolog,y but has been successfully engaged in the gaming industry via Windows and XBox for over 30 years,” he said.

Like Google and Microsoft, Amazon also has a powerful enough cloud to run these sort of games.

After all, companies like Netflix are able to stream 4K HDR video to millions of viewers running off of Amazon AWS, and you need that kind of power to stream games. Reports from The Information and The Verge have said that Amazon is building a cloud gaming service. It could eventually run games developed by its in-house game studio, such as “New World,” which is currently limited to PCs.

There’s a lot more at stake than just revealing a service. And even if it does, there’s skepticism that this can make Google a lot of money soon.

“I think we’ll have to wait until 2021 before cloud-streamed game services make an appreciable dent in the overall video game industry from a gamer spending perspective,” IDC’s Ward said.

Husson said this is just a taste of what’s to come, and that it’ll take a few years for anything to get off the ground.

“The battle is just starting and it will take several years all the more you need an excellent internet and data connection to truly make the most of game streaming. That’s why 5G will help in the years to come,” he said.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

Watch: “Apex Legends” is giving “Fortnite” a run for its money

Ride-hailing platform Lyft will launch the investor road show for its initial public offering on Monday, March 18, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lyft will be seeking to convince investors to make large commitments to its IPO, rather than hold out for its larger rival Uber Technologies, which is planning to launch its own public offering next month, the sources said.

Lyft will meet with investors across the United States before pricing the IPO and listing on the Nasdaq at the end of the month, the sources said. It will be pitching itself as a more focused bet on ride-hailing to differentiate itself from Uber, which has diversified to areas such as food delivery and freight hauling and expanded around the world, the sources said.

Uber is seeking a valuation as high as $120 billion at its IPO, although some analysts have pegged it closer to $100 billion based on selected financial figures it has disclosed. Neither Uber nor Lyft are profitable.

Lyft’s IPO will give provide a funding boost as it continues to subsidize rides with promotions to attract passengers. The windfall from the IPO will also help finance investments in areas such as autonomous driving, the sources said.

Lyft declined to comment.

After a quiet start to the year, technology companies are lining up for public listings as public equity markets hover near historic highs, but remain vulnerable to geopolitical concerns, including tensions over trade agreements and a slowdown in economies including Europe and China.

Other Silicon Valley unicorns — startup companies with valuations of at least $1 billion —including business messaging company Slack Technologies and image-sharing company Pinterest, are waiting in the wings to go public later in 2019, sources have said.

Lyft’s IPO will mark the first time a ride-hailing company has debuted on the U.S. public markets. Lyft launched in 2012 and is led by its founders, Logan Green and John Zimmer.

The ride-hailing industry, which touted $36.5 billion in sales globally in 2017, is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years, but is fraught with questions about the future of automated driving, regulatory pushback and legal challenges over drivers’ pay and benefits.

Lyft will emphasize to investors its rapid growth in the United States and its relatively uncomplicated business model, which focuses on selling rides in cars, bikes and scooters, Reuters has reported.

In its IPO filing, Lyft said its U.S. market share has risen to 39 percent, from 35 percent early in 2018, gaining some ground on long-dominant Uber. Unlike Uber, Lyft operates only in North America.

Lyft’s revenue was $2.16 billion for 2018, double the previous year and up 528 percent from $343 million in 2016. But Lyft posted a loss of $911 million for 2018, which climbed from $688 million in 2017 and $682 million in 2016, according to its IPO filing.

Losses could continue to mount, Lyft cautioned, as it continues to invest and eye a broader international expansion, and it could be forced to increase driver pay.

Uber’s revenue last year was $11.3 billion, while its gross bookings from rides were $50 billion. But the company lost $3.3 billion, excluding gains from the sale of its overseas business units in Russia and Southeast Asia.

SoftBank’s Vision Fund and Toyota Motor Corp are part of a consortium of investors in talks to invest $1 billion in Uber’s self-driving car unit, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Taking on large investors that will influence a key business is an unusual move for a company so close to an IPO.

For powering your smartphone or your Tesla Model 3, there’s currently nothing better than the lithium-ion battery. Since its introduction in 1991, the rechargeable lithium battery has been the standard for everyday tech devices and electric-vehicle power. Many of the world’s more than 3 million electric vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries. But as the world races toward an electric future, it needs something better than the lithium-ion battery in order to keep pace.

“Lithium is pretty much hitting a wall right now. If you really want to increase energy density, you have to go to a completely different paradigm,” said Yifei Mo, a materials science and engineering professor at the University of Maryland. More energy density means cheaper, lighter batteries that last longer on a single charge.

Fortunately, there are battery start-ups trying to build better batteries, ones with lower costs, improved energy densities and better performance for supercharged industrial products and consumer technology, as well as electric vehicles, which would charge more quickly and travel longer distances. Starting this year, several start-ups with batteries they believe are big improvements over current lithium-ion technology will introduce their cells to the commercial market.

“It’s taken us eight years and probably 35,000 iterations of our material synthesis just to have something that’s commercially ready,” said Gene Berdichevsky, CEO of Sila Nanotechnologies.

Sila is just one of several battery start-ups that recently received major funding to continue tweaking battery tech. Last year the Alameda, California-based company took on $70 million in Series D financing from several investors, including Siemens’ global venture firm, to build its first commercial production line for silicon anode batteries. That’s exactly one decade after being co-founded by Berdichevsky, a mechanical and energy engineer and the seventh employee at Elon Musk‘s Tesla, who led the development of the battery system in the Tesla Roadster (the car that SpaceX, also founded by Musk, launched into orbit in 2018).

Emerging variations of the current lithium-ion battery have taken about 10 years of research. Only now are start-ups gearing up for the commercial spotlight, a rollout that will take at least a few years, and possibly even another full decade.

“The material required for one car is the equivalent of 10,000 smartphones or 1,000 smart watches,” said Berdichevsky. “We’ll be in consumer devices to start. Over the next five years, we’ll scale up with automotive partners.” One of Sila’s current auto partners is BMW.

Current lithium-ion batteries are limited in their material parts and physical energy density. New battery technology seeks to improve both the safety and energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries where there is no risk of fire if the battery overheats or becomes damaged.

Each lithium-ion battery is composed of four essential parts: the anode and cathode — the electrodes that bookend each lithium-ion cell — a liquid electrolyte and a separator. Positive and negative currents are created as the electrolyte carries lithium ions through the separator to and from the anode and cathode. It’s this process that generates the charge that’s stored in the battery.

If the chemicals making up the anode and cathode — respectively, graphite and some type of metal oxide — heat up too intensely, it can break down the physical separator, which leaves the highly flammable electrolyte exposed. Recall Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones exploding and you can see, literally, the problem. And maximum lithium-ion energy density today is about 260 watt-hours per kilogram; by comparison, most current electric vehicles hold between 220 and 250 watt-hours per kilogram.

One new battery technology is solid-state, which replaces not only the graphite anode with one made up of lithium metal but also the liquid electrolyte and separator with one solid piece, usually ceramic, glass or flame-retardant polymer. Taking this approach is Solid Power, a Colorado-based manufacturer of solid-state batteries that received $20 million in Series A financing in 2018. According to company executives, the battery they’re developing leads to at least 50 percent more energy density.

Secretive Stanford University spinoff QuantumScape is also developing a solid-state battery, in partnership with Volkswagen. Last year Volkswagen increased its stake with a $100 million investment. PitchBook data shows the San Jose-based start-up has a valuation of $1.75 billion. According to a press release announcing the deal, QuantumScape’s battery would allow Volkswagen’s E-Golf to travel 466 miles — its current range is 186 miles — on a single charge, making it comparable to ranges achieved by conventional gas-powered vehicles. According to Volkswagen, QuantumScape’s battery should be faster-charging and much lighter than current lithium-ion batteries.

Yet solid-state batteries probably won’t be available en masse until sometime next decade, as one Nissan vice president said last year. Even QuantumScape’s press release states a commercial production target for 2025.

The longer timeline for solid-state technology is a symptom of how current battery factories are set up. They’re built to handle lithium-ion production with liquid electrolytes, and switching to solid materials is more than a matter of just replacing processes on a factory floor.

“It’s an emerging technology in the very, very early stages of commercialization,” said Dean Frankel, Solid Power’s head of business development. “It just takes time from a scale-up standpoint.”

While some start-ups work toward perfecting and scaling up the solid-state battery, others like Sila Nanotechnologies hope to take advantage of current lithium-ion manufacturing processes to bring batteries quickly to market. Instead of creating a solid-state battery, Sila just replaces the graphite anode with one composed of silicon, a material that absorbs lithium ions about four times faster than graphite.

What’s more, most lithium-ion batteries with graphite anodes have a charge-rate, or C rate, of less than 1 percent. Start-ups developing new cells with silicon anodes say the C rates of their batteries are much better, a key differentiator to enabling an electric-vehicle future, since most people don’t want to wait around more than an hour for a car to charge when pumping gas takes just minutes.

“We can sustain a charge rate 10 times as fast as a conventional graphite cell,” said Robert A. Rango, CEO of Enevate.

The Irvine, California-based company creating a next-generation lithium-ion batteries with silicon anodes is armed with $111 million in funding, which includes an investment made last year by South Korea battery company LG Chem. Rango said Enevate, whose batteries have been in the works for 10 years, is about a year and a half away from the first commercial deployments of its technology, most likely in electric bikes and scooters.

Still, silicon anode batteries have one potential drawback: Silicon material swells, which means every charge causes the battery to deteriorate. It’s a problem both Berdichevsky and Rango said their respective companies have solved.

“Silicon does expand, and that’s been one of the challenges of the industry,” Rango said. “In our cells, we’ve been able to contain the expansion. Our cells have specifications that meet electric-vehicle requirements.” Those requirements? That a battery is able to charge to 80 percent after it has been charged and discharged 1,000 times.

The long development timeline for these start-ups is a sign of how difficult pushing battery technology can be. And while improvements in the range of electric vehicles is certainly one of the major implications of a better battery, successors to the current lithium-ion battery will most likely be initially found in much smaller items.

“You’re talking about a generational technological shift that has to happen,” Berdichevsky said. “In 150 years of batteries existing, there have been four commercially relevant chemistries to come to market. And every time you go to these new chemistries, they get harder.”

We all know humans are imperfect. We’re subject to biases and stereotypes, and when these come into play in the criminal justice system, the most disadvantaged communities end up suffering. It’s easy to imagine that there’s a better way, that one day we’ll find a tool that can make neutral, dispassionate decisions about policing and punishment.

Some think that day has already arrived.

Around the country, police departments and courtrooms are turning to artificial intelligence algorithms to help them decide everything from where to deploy police officers to whether to release defendants on bail.

Supporters believe that the technology will lead to increased objectivity, ultimately creating safer communities. Others however, say that the data fed into these algorithms is encoded with human bias, meaning the tech will simply reinforce historical disparities.

Learn more about the ways in which communities, policemen and judges across the U.S. are using these algorithms to make decisions about public safety and people’s lives.

In the world of BMW, M-model cars are the kings. Cars like the M3, M4 and M5 represent the quickest, most exclusive and most expensive models in the Bavarian stable. Competition models take things a step further, with tweaked suspensions and upgraded engines that provide maximum performance.

So when we say that the M2 Competition is about as good as BMW gets, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. It doesn’t offer the luxury experience that your neighbor’s X5 crossover does, but the M2 Competition is so much fun that you won’t care.

In the past, most competition-spec BMW models have been sold alongside their standard counterparts. That’s not the case here, as the 2019 BMW M2 Competition replaces the 2018 M2 in the lineup. That means all 2019 models have a stiffened chassis, new exhaust system and a new engine. The inline-six cylinder, twin-scroll turbocharged engine is the same basic powerplant you’d get in a BMW M3 or M4, producing 410 horsepower.

Mated to the optional dual-clutch transmission, that engine will pull to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds. Opting for the manual slows things down a bit as you’re missing out on launch control and the lightning shifts of the automatic box. BMW’s dual-clutch boxes swap gears in just a few milliseconds, so we’d be understating the speed if we said it happened in the blink of an eye.

Of course, a lot of cars have more powerful engines and amazing gearboxes. What makes the M2 Competition the most fun car we’ve ever reviewed is the brilliant chassis and suspension setup. With an overly enthusiastic dab of throttle, you can easily get the back to slide on every turn if you desire.

No matter how many times you slide it around or how much of a fool you’re being, the M2 Competition won’t bite you. Even with stability control off, it’s incredibly easy to slide but nearly impossible to spin. If you’re sliding and you want to regain grip, a quick flick of the upshift paddle or relaxing the throttle will get it hooked back up without incident.

With precise steering that offers a lot of feedback to the driver, that behavior helps make the M2 Competition one of the most predictable performance cars out there. Whether you want to slide through a corner or take it at high speed without letting the back step out, this BMW is so well-balanced that you can consistently and confidently drive it exactly how you want to. Plus, there is a track mode for the stability control that allows you to have fun but will intervene and cut power if you’re at risk of losing control.

It’s not just the most fun BMW on sale or the most predictable sports coupe. It’s genuinely one of the most exciting and balanced performance vehicles on sale at any price point. At $67,045, it’s a hell of a performance bargain.

If you’re looking for a luxury performance vehicle, you’ve probably arrived at the wrong place. The money in this car went toward an amazing powertrain and driving experience, not on whiz-bang tech and a decadent interior.

The M2 Competition makes do with a last-generation version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, which is perfectly usable but not exciting or cutting edge. The interior has a lot of dark plastics and hard buttons, which serve their function without wowing anyone. Again, this isn’t a luxury experience.

This is especially apparent on low-speed drives through cities, where the stiffness of the BMW’s ride can become tiresome. It thunks into potholes without much softening, though it relaxes considerably on the highway and is always quiet. If you’re planning on driving one through cities and in traffic daily, it’s a tough sell.

If you are looking for pure performance and fun, there are only a few things you need to consider. First, BMW continues its tradition of making performance cars that just don’t sound that great. The engine doesn’t have the aural sense of occasion that performance cars from Alfa Romeo and Mercedes provide.

Finally, the shifter for the dual-clutch transmission is obnoxious. Look at it and you’ll notice that there isn’t a “park” position or button. So you might assume that you’re supposed to leave it in neutral and set the parking brake, but if you do that the car will not allow you to lock the doors because it isn’t “secured” against rolling. Instead, you leave the transmission in drive and turn the car off, which then puts it in park. That’s so tremendously unintuitive that I’m not sure how they ever came up with it.

Luckily, since this vehicle is all about fun, you can solve that problem by just going for the more exciting manual transmission.

The M2 Competition starts at $59,895 with destination charges. Budget $550 if you don’t want it in white. We’re quite partial to Long Beach Blue, but there’s also a great orange color and the Hockenheim Silver pictured on our test car.

The Competition also has lovely exclusive wheels that didn’t come on the test car, as it was riding on winter tires to handle a life based in Detroit. We’d skip the executive package and the dual-clutch transmission, but the dark cabin would benefit from the $1,050 moonroof. That brings the total to $61,495.

The M2 Competition went away weeks ago, but we can’t stop thinking about it. It was incredible, easily securing its place as the most fun car we’ve driven. That our preferred spec is available for just north of $60,000 is genuinely amazing.

It’s not a luxury car. It’s not a tech flagship. It’s not even the fastest thing around. What it is is the most fun, most predictable and most exciting thing you can get for the price.

Exterior: 4.5

Interior: 2.5

Driving Experience: 5

Value: 5

Overall: 4

Price as tested: $67,045

* Rating out of 5.

Microsoft denied that it has any connection with a controversial Chinese facial recognition app that rights groups say is being used by Beijing to track minority Muslims in China.

The company, called SenseNets, sells facial recognition and crowd analysis technology that is designed to detect unusual behavior in large groups of people, according to its website.

SenseNets suffered a data leak in February which was discovered by security researcher Victor Gevers. He revealed that personal information on 2.5 million people tracked by the company was publicly available. Gevers found that most of the records were collected in China’s Xinjiang province, a region in the west of China with a large population of minority Uighur Muslims.

Human rights groups say that more than 1 million Uighur Muslims have been detained in so-called “political education” camps for their perceived disloyalty to the ruling Communist Party.

Various rights groups have urged the United Nations to carry out a fact-finding mission in Xinjiang. The U.S. State Department weighed in on Thursday on China’s human rights violations against Muslims in Xinjiang, calling it “great shame for humanity.”

The Chinese government has consistently denied any wrongdoing with regard to the Uighurs.

SenseNets did not respond to three attempts by CNBC this week to contact the company.

Reports suggest that facial recognition is part of a wide-scale surveillance program in the region that also includes the collection of people’s DNA samples.

SenseNets, which is involved in the facial recognition aspect of the program, lists Microsoft on its website under its “partners” section.

The U.S. software giant denied any involvement with the company.

“Microsoft is not involved in a partnership with SenseNets. We have been made aware SenseNets is using our logo on its website without our permission, and we have asked for it to be removed,” a spokesperson for the company told CNBC on Friday.

Microsoft sells software for facial recognition based on its cloud product Azure. Third parties can purchase Microsoft’s software for use in their own applications. But Microsoft said it has no relationship with SenseNets.

The company’s denial comes after Gevers posted a screenshot of code from SenseNets software. It shows a line of code appearing to be tied to Microsoft’s facial recognition tool.

Gevers told CNBC on Friday that the Microsoft code could have been present because an individual developer brought it and paid for it themselves or used a free trial. This means there would be no trace back to SenseNets.

CNBC asked Microsoft to clarify whether SenseNets could have access to its tool without paying for it or without the company’s knowledge. Microsoft did not immediately respond to that inquiry.

Microsoft has tried to lead the responsible development of artificial intelligence.

In January, CEO Satya Nadella called for regulation on facial recognition technology. Microsoft has a six-point manifesto that it says guides its facial recognition work. One of those points is “lawful surveillance,” in which it advocates for “safeguards for people’s democratic freedoms in law enforcement surveillance scenarios.”

Microsoft has said it will “not deploy facial recognition technology in scenarios that we believe will put these freedoms at risk.”

“The thing that’s going to be really interesting is the longevity of a lot of these devices,” Viskontas said. “You know, whether the pain relief is going to last or if it is just going to be taken over by the next thing, when the person realizes that their pain hasn’t gone away.”

Jennifer Hah, a pain management specialist at Stanford University Medical Center, is optimistic about technology, even if there’s a placebo effect on patients.

“There potentially could be a mechanism behind how that is actually helping patients, whether it’s just a reduction in anxiety or depressed mood symptoms, that’s going to have a positive effect on how well patients respond to our other pain treatments,” Hah said.

Neuromodulation devices and other technology can potentially offer other advantages over pills, she said.

Parents may be more comfortable with doctors prescribing devices for children, and the cost of a device can also be far lower over time than prescription drugs that need to be refilled consistently by a pharmacy.

“It’s such a large number of people that we need to have practical cost-effective solutions that can get to every corner of the country,” Hah said.

In the cloud wars, Microsoft has been able to win big business from retailers, largely because companies like Walmart, Kroger, Gap and Target are opting not to write big checks to rival Amazon.

The more Amazon grows, the more that calculation could start working its way into other industries — like automotive.

In a recent interview with CNBC, Volkswagen’s Heiko Hüttel, who runs the company’s connected car division, said the carmaker chose Microsoft Azure late last year for its “Automotive Cloud” project after considering Amazon Web Services.

Hüttel said he’s not worried about Amazon building competitive cars, but suggested that there are other things the company is doing in connectivity that could seep into Volkswagen’s market. Amazon was recently seen hauling cargo with self-driving truck technology from start-up Embark.

“If I take a look at all the competitors out there, you see they have capabilities in disrupting you at the customer interface,” Hüttel said. “Then you have to carefully choose who is really getting down into the car, where you open up a lot of data to these people, and then you have to carefully choose with whom you are doing business.”

Microsoft likes to tout the merits of its cloud technology, but the company is fully aware that taking on AWS, which has a commanding lead in the cloud infrastructure market, isn’t just about offering the best services. Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft is taking a much different tactic from the days when it was viewed as a potentially risky partner.

“We’re not going to turn around and compete with our customers,” said Julia White, corporate vice president at Microsoft, at a Goldman Sachs tech conference in San Francisco last month.

For Volkwagen, the decision to go with Microsoft came after a six-month evaluation. The company has been using AWS for some of its applications, including the We Park app for digitally handling parking meter payments. Hüttel said applications on AWS will be ported over to Azure, and Volkswagen plans to build new services on Microsoft’s cloud in areas like predictive maintenance, charging and personalization.

The Amazon and Microsoft clouds are basically equivalent when it comes to technological capability, Hüttel said, but Microsoft’s track record in software was a big reason why it was able to win over Volkswagen, which is increasingly a software-based company. A Volkswagen spokesperson said the company has used Microsoft products like Windows and Office for a long time.

Hüttel said Microsoft is prepared to help Volkswagen in its transition.

“Obviously Microsoft had the better answers to that, although the answers from Amazon were not that bad,” he said.

Microsoft has plenty of experience in the auto industry, beyond Volkswagen. The company has highlighted Aston Martin, Honda, Mazda and the Renault-Nissan Alliance as Azure customers, and Nadella said in a 2016 interview with the Wall Street Journal that Daimler, BMW, Ford and Toyota are “significant customers of ours.”

“I’m very thrilled about all the car companies using Azure today,” Satya Nadella said in the interview.

Microsoft doesn’t break out Azure revenue, but analysts at Morgan Stanley estimate that it accounted for almost 10 percent of sales in the latest quarter. Jay Vleeschhouwer, an analyst at Griffin Securities, predicts revenue of $16 billion in 2019, which would represent 12.6 percent of total sales at Microsoft. That would make it less than half the size of AWS, which will grow to $35 billion this year, according to analysts surveyed by FactSet.

“At some point, perhaps the car cockpit could be a new battleground,” said Vleeschhouwer, who has a “buy” rating on Microsoft and doesn’t cover Amazon. He envisions voice assistants in the car — “‘Alexa, take me home,’ that kind of thing.”

While Volkswagen is pushing workloads to Microsoft, AWS has a sizable auto business of its own, with BMW, Audi and the Toyota Research Institute all listed as customers. And a Volkswagen employee spoke about the company’s use of Amazon’s cloud at the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas in November.

In an emailed statement, an AWS spokesperson said that in addition to traditional car companies, Lyft, Uber, Grab and Ola are all customers.

“Interest in AWS from the auto industry is significantly accelerating on top of a strong base,” the spokesperson said, adding that customers “get the most functionality, innovation, agility, security, performance, and ecosystem options of any other infrastructure provider‎.”

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