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News Roundup: Lots of Pi, AI hacking, and driverless car crashes

A roundup of the week’s tech news including Ballmer the baller, anti-drone bazookas, and dogs vs. robots.

Alotta Pi

This week saw the third iteration of the Raspberry Pi minicomputer. While it’s impressive how much extra stuff they can cram in without cranking the price, it’s the sales figures which really deserve the headline.

According to founder Eben Upton sales of the device will surpass the 8 million Amstrad PCWs sold this month. ”We're calling it,” Upton told the BBC. ”We’re the best-selling UK computer ever.” The Pi had sold 5 million by early 2015, which means over three million Pis have been shifted in the last year alone. Impressive stuff.

Driverless car crashes

There was a minor automobile milestone this week; a driverless car actually caused an accident. According the accident report filed with the Cali DMV, one of Google’s autonomous Lexus models crashed into the side of the bus in full autonomous mode. The report states that the car was traveling about 2pmh and signalled for a right hand turn, a bus travelling at around 15mph failed to stop and allow the car into the lane, resulting in a collision with the side of the bus. There were no injuries, and although the pilot of the google car saw the bus, autopilot was not disengaged as they “believed the bus would stop or slow to allow the Google AV to continue,” according to the report.

Google has admitted responsibility, but also pointed a finger at the bus for not allowing its car to change lanes. It’s an interesting case as it shows the continuing problem of mixed fleets of human and robotic drivers on the road at the same time. Every other collision Google’s vehicles has been due to human error and it’s likely two autonomous vehicles in the same situation would have avoided each other.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to be cryptic about the possibility of an iCar. ”Do you remember when you were a kid, and Christmas Eve it was so exciting, you weren't sure what was going to be downstairs?” he said during the company's annual shareholder's meeting when asked about the possibility of an Apple vehicle. “Well, it's going to be Christmas Eve for a while.”

One person who isn’t waiting impatiently for such a car is Fiat Chrysler Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne. ”If they have any urges to make a car, I'd advise them to lie down and wait until the feeling passes,” Marchionne said this week. ”Illnesses like this come and go, you will recover from them, they're not lethal.”

Judging by what we’ve seen so far – Google, Lutz, GATEway – the driverless cars of the future look decidedly funky. And according to tyre manufacturer Goodyear, they’ll have spherical wheels too. The Goodyear Eagle-360 concept was shown off at the 2016 Geneva auto show and would be 3D printed, allow the wheels to move in any direction and come with a range of sensors built in to assess road conditions.

HPE vs. Trump

Mitt Romney isn’t the only one to be taking pot shots at potential Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump this week. “Donald Trump is unfit to be president,” said Hewlett-Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. She labelled Trump a “dishonest demagogue who plays to our worst fears“ and would ”take America on a dangerous journey.”

Whitman, who had previously backed Chris Christie, was unhappy about the latter’s backing of trump once his own campaign had failed. “Chris Christie’s endorsement of Donald Trump is an astonishing display of political opportunism,” she said.

It’s all for nothing though, as “Cybersecurity legend” and Libertarian Presidential candidate John McAfee has it in the bag. “Trust me, I’ll have no problem whatsoever winning this election,” he told USNews. “If I can’t win in a year when we have dissatisfaction and children on stage, well then the Libertarians should just give up.”

Intel AR

Is Intel working on its own Augmented-Reality headset? According to the WSJ and “people briefed on the company’s plans,” the chip manufacturer is planning to enter an already-crowded space and use its RealSense 3d camera technology. The report claims Intel would offer its design to manufacturers rather than sell directly to customers.

NSA

-          John McAfee says government-backed backdoors are dangers and give enemies access to our systems.

-          Rather than reeling back some the proposals in the draft “Snooper’s Charter”, Theresa May wants to give the police even more powers in the latest version.

-          New malware potentially from the Hacking Team has been found in the wild.

-          Ed Snowden is a traitor and a spy, apparently.

M&A

IBM has acquired security firm Resilient Systems, Cisco has made a double swoop for Leaba Semiconductor and CliQr, AR startup Daqri has bought 1066 Power Labs, Docker has purchased Conductant, Netsuite now owns IQity, SugarCRM has snapped up Contastic, IFS has snaffled MainIoT, GoPro has netted two video editing apps in Splice and Replay, and MapR has got its hands on Geneva Lake.

Yahoo! is willing to sell $1 billion-$3 billion of patents, property and other ”non-core assets”, according to its CFO Ken Goldman.

Amazon takes to food delivery

Not content with upending eCommerce, Cloud, logistics and drones, Amazon has set its sights on the UK food market. Amazon has paired up with supermarket chain Morrisons to allow Amazon Prime customers to order fresh and frozen food and have it delivered directly to their door.

Jeff Bezos probably won’t be voting for Donald Trump after the divisive presidential candidate took umbrage with the Amazon CEO’s ownership of the Washington Post. “[Bezos] wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That’s not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.” Trump has previously said he’ll somehow force Apple to manufacturer everything in the US.

AI hackers

The world has enough trouble with hackers as it is. Now some clever science types think it’s a good idea to bring artificial intelligence in and let that have a go at bringing down our digital world. “Fully automated hacking systems are the final frontier. Humans can find vulnerabilities but can’t analyse millions of programs,” Giovanni Vigna, professor of computer science at the University of California Santa Barbara, told the RSA security conference. According to the Guardian, there are seven teams working on an AI capture the flag mission to “attack the other team’s vulnerabilities as well as find and fix weaknesses in their own software.”

Damn drones

We’ve had drones with nets, well-trained eagles and even anti-drone radio weapons, but that’s not enough in the fight against UAVs. In the US, a new bill would allow police to legally shoot down rogue drones, while a new startup from the UK has created a futuristic net-firing-bazooka to take down unruly flying menaces. It looks pretty cool but definitely a bit OTT.

Dogs vs. robots

If those so-called experts are to be believed, artificial intelligence and robots will bring about the end of humanity. While I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords, it seems the world’s canines may put up a bit more resistance. A new video from Alpha-Google's Boston Dynamics shows Cosmo the terrier freaking out at the presence of Spot the four-legged robot. 

Ballmer the baller

I think we should all just take a minute to appreciate the dunking skills of former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. 

ballmer2

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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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