News Roundup: Clinton’s VPs, drone strikes, and robot rights
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News Roundup: Clinton’s VPs, drone strikes, and robot rights

A roundup of the week’s news including Bluetooth-enabled coffee filters for some reason.

No Apple car

Is Apple’s plan to create a self-driving car on the skids? According to Bloomberg, Apple has “drastically scaled back” Project Titan and no longer plans to produce a car at all. The report suggests the Cupertino company instead plans to create an autonomous driving system it can supply to existing OEMs.

As one door closes, however, another opens. Tesla announced this week that all the cars the company produces – including the current models – will be shipped with the hardware required for full autonomy. The features will not be turned on by default and will be activated at an unspecified later date through an over-the-air update.

When the whole world is only driverless cars, life is going to be great. However, during the awkward transition years, human beings are going to make things very difficult for our poor car friends. A new study from Goodyear suggested a lot of people are planning to drive in a somewhat unfriendly manner around them. The report uses the word “bully” followed by this charming quote:

“[The AVs are] going to stop. So you’re going to mug them right off. They’re going to stop and you’re just going to nip round.”

Mugging off autonomous cars now is all well and good, but when cars literally rule the world (and our paperclip factories), don’t think for a minute they’ll forgive or forget your roadhog ways.

Clinton’s VPs

In another reality, could Apple’s Tim Cook, Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, or even Michael Bloomberg have been Hilary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate? An email released by WikiLeaks in its recent Podesta Email dump suggests a host of potentials, including either Bill or Melinda Gates, Cook, Burns, Bloomberg, plus the likes of Bernie Sanders, and her eventual pick Tim Kaine.

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has said this week that Trump’s attitude towards criticism, threats to imprison his rival, and refuse an election result he doesn’t like “erodes our democracy around the edges.”

M&A

Facebook-owned Oculus has acquired Irish LED startup InfiniLED, Cisco has snapped up Worklife, and CoreOS has bought RedSpread.

LogMeIn is to retire Cubby, it’s Dropbox-like fileshare offering. No, we didn’t know it had one either.

Disney reportedly backed out of acquiring Twitter because all the trolls and online abusers might have tarnished the company’s otherwise spotless image.

NSA

-          Ecuador cut off Julian Assange’s internet connection, possibly due to US influence.

-          A tribunal has ruled the UK spy agencies have been breaking the law with mass data collection.

-          It is illegal to post about the state of the country in Ethiopia.

-          The US has promised cyber-retaliation for Russia hacking US systems.

-          Open Source is creating unmanaged risk, according to a new study.

LinkedIn Diversity

LinkedIn has released its latest diversity figures. The company is 58% male, 42% female, and 54% white overall. In tech roles, the figures skew to 80% male, 20% female, and 59% Asian. The business social network – recently acquired by Microsoft – fares better than other companies such as Facebook and Google.

Drones

For years, the biggest danger to planes have been birds. A football team’s flight had to be grounded after a ‘bird strike’ incident. YouTube is full of bird strike testing to make sure planes are suitably resilient to such incidents. But with the advent of drones and their constant buzzing of airports, there’s a new paradigm that needs testing. According to the Daily Mail and the Verge, the UK Department of Transport has commissioned a series of tests to examine the potential damage a ‘drone strike’ could cause.

Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind WeChat, has released its own drone. Unlike Facebook, this isn’t some Boeing 737-sized monster, but a $300 folding consumer quadcopter which can stream video straight to WeChat.

And this week’s most passive aggressive ad campaign goes to Uber, who have been flying drones bearing adverts for Uberpool over cars stuck in traffic jams in Mexico.

Robot rights

For now, I’m not too worried about some Skynet-like AI ruling the world. When they start writing their own software, I will definitely welcome our new robot overlords with open arms.

One Professor, however, is more worried that robots are already being creative and should have adequate patents rights to reflect this. I Think, Therefore I Invent: Creative Computers and the Future of Patent Law calls for changes to current patent rules in order to accommodate ‘creative computers’ in a way that ‘may require a rethinking of the baseline standard for inventiveness, and potentially of the entire patent system.’

“Soon computers will be routinely inventing, and it may only be a matter of time until computers are responsible for most innovation,” said Ryan Abbott, Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey’s School of Law and author of the study.  “To optimise innovation – and the positive impact this will have on our economies – it is critical that we extend the laws around inventorship to include computers.”

IoT coffee filters

You know how last week we said kettles don’t need Wi-Fi embedded in them? Seems no one listened. A Bluetooth-enabled coffee filter is now available on Kickstarter. Apparently it comes with built in smart scales, and an app (obviously) that provides guidance and allows you to save all your brewing data. Make it stop.

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Dan Swinhoe

Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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