What in the World—Week of April 10

Want to sleep in a bean can?

Forget glamping, “canping” is the new thing this year.

At least it is according to the family-owned bean company Bush’s Beans, which is running a contest offering a stay in “a fully stocked giant bean can on wheels” stopping at three national U.S. parks as part of an ongoing partnership with the National Park Foundation.

A replica of one of the bean brand’s metal cans, the circular “canper” comes fully stocked with what Bush’s calls “bean-themed design touches.” Contest winners will also receive Bush’s canping gear and “bean-centric, camping themed breakfasts and dinners” prepared by a private chef.

“As a camping staple that fuels outdoor adventures, Bush’s is excited to partner with the National Park Foundation and support their mission of protecting and preserving our national parks for current and future visitors,” said Stephen Palacios, Bush’s senior vice-president of marketing and innovation, in a release. But be warned: There’s no information in the release about the “canper” featuring a state-of-the-art odour control system.

Barbie’s back, baby

The 64-year-0ld Barbie brand shot back into the public consciousness in a big way last week, after the reveal of cast posters and the official trailer for the upcoming movie.

Starring Margot Robbie in the titular role, and Ryan Gosling as her longtime paramour Ken, the movie has already sparked speculation that it could reinvigorate the Barbie brand, according to Forbes.

The official trailer has already racked up millions of views across social media, while the posters, featuring the character in a starburst and typically containing the phrase “This Barbie is…,” also inspired a wave of memes featuring other (decidedly non Barbie-esque) celebrities and characters, such as members of the Roy family from the hit HBO show Succession.

Not surprisingly, brands also got into the act. IKEA Canada’s Instagram account, for example, last week posted photos of several items, including its signature furniture assembly tool the Allen key, in a post aping the Barbie posters.

Twitter labels public broadcasters as ‘government-funded’

In yet another example of meddling by Twitter’s fratboy-esque owner Elon Musk, the social platform has taken to identifying public broadcasters, including NPR in the U.S. and Britain’s BBC, as “government-funded” media (as of Monday, the Twitter account for Canada’s CBC did not carry any such designation).


Last week, Twitter slapped a label on NPR’s account identifying it as “US state-affiliated media,” the same designation it gives to media outlets from Russia and China, which some worried could undermine the public’s confidence in the organization.

Clicking on the label takes visitors to the Twitter help centre, which identifies government-funded media as “outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” The BBC responded by saying that it “is, and always has been, independent,” noting that it is funded by the British public through an annual licence fee.

According to The Washington Post, Musk appeared to be “distancing himself” from the controversy by late Sunday, acknowledging that the “government-funded” label could be tweaked. “Minor government influence in [the BBC’s] case would be accurate,” he tweeted.

Once the domain of academia, AI investment is increasingly industry led

Annual global corporate investment in AI technologies grew from $79.6 billion in 2018 to $276.1 billion in 2021, before falling off to $189.6 billion in 2022, according to the sixth edition of the AI Index Report prepared by Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centred AI.

Among the study’s key findings: while most significant machine learning models were released by academia until 2014, industry has since “taken over,” with 32 significant industry-produced machine learning models in 2022, compared to just three by academia. “Building state-of-the-art AI systems increasingly requires large amounts of data, computer power, and money—resources that industry actors inherently possess in greater amounts compared to nonprofits and academia,” the study concluded.

The study also notes that the number of “AI incidents and controversies has increased 26 times since 2012,” which it says is evidence of their increased prevalence and awareness of misuse possibilities.

Domino’s introduces Apple CarPlay ordering

Domino’s Pizza, which prides itself on being as much a tech company as a pizza company, is now offering customers the ability to order hands-free from their car via its iOS app on Apple CarPlay.

According to a release, customers have two ordering options available to them: “Tap to Order,” which lets them submit a saved order or one of their most recent orders, or “Call to Order,” which enables them to place a hands-free order using the CarPlay system.

Domino’s is a pioneer when it comes to pizza ordering, with innovations including the ability to order via emoji, and a “zero click” app that lets users place a saved order whenever it is opened.

“Domino’s has been known as the industry leader when it comes to pizza and technology, and we’re constantly striving to continue providing the best experience to customers,” said the pizza chain’s senior vice-president and chief digital officer, Christopher Thomas-Moore, in a release.

Chris Powell