Obama thrills Silicon Valley with pledge to invest$ 4 billion in self-driving cars

Venture capitalists and Silicon Valley firms have been pouring money into autonomous vehicles for years, but there’s a new investor getting in on the action: the United States government.

The Obama administration on Thursday called for$ 4 billion of spending on self-driving cars.

The investment, which would be budgeted over a 10 -year period, will be used to “accelerate the development and adoption of safe vehicle automation through real-world pilot projects, ” according to a statement by Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration( NHTSA ).

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a speech at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, promised a series of initiatives aimed at solving the considerable technological and legal challenges that could otherwise slacken the rollout and adoption of self-driving vehicles.

Now in its final year, the Obama administration is advising a longterm opinion toward federal involvement in the development of autonomous vehicles. Foxx indicated the process could take several decades while emphasizing the potential benefits of a future with roads occupied by self-driving cars.

“Automated vehicles promise to move people and goods more efficiently than we are moving them today, ” Foxx continued. “And, when automation is combined with other technologies like electric motors and innovations coming out of the sharing economy, we will be able to reduce congestion and pollution even further.”

Bryant Walker Smith, chair of theEmerging Technology Law Committeeof theTransportation Research Boardof the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, compared this stage of investment in autonomous vehicles to the invention of the airplane.

“We’re all lucky that Orville and Wilbur Wright had a beach where they could fly their aircrafts. The relevant proposals is about determining that beach for the 21 st Century, ” he said. “In words of funding, it could rival European efforts.”

Smith cautioned, however, that the White House’s pledge is simply a proposal with no detailsnot a definitive investment. The nearly$ 4 billion in suggested spending will appear in the administration’s 2017 budget.

In the near word, Foxx said there are plans to have the NHTSA work with automakers and state governments to develop model laws and regulations for states to adopt. This will take place over the next six months, he said, with hopes of creating a route to a consistent national policy.

Some early steps are already in place. The U.S. Department of Transportation( DOT) has launched initiatives to learn more about the future of transportation, including connected vehicle test beds across the country and the Smart City Challenge. Likewise, the NHTSA has funded a project to develop best practices among the states with respect to automated driving.

Still, Smith called the six-month goal for policy framework “remarkably ambitious, ” and he suggested it is “both inspired and imperiled” by the impending end of the administration.

“Policy is about much more than passing a law, ” Smith said. “I’m pleased that the U.S. DOT is going to facilitate a more thoughtful approach to the regulatory topics. Some countries have been essentially praying the U.S. DOT to do this for years. But states will still play an important role in calibrating their laws, preparing their roads, and taking other measures to encourage automated driving.”

In Silicon Valley, tech companies have welcomed the pledge, which is an expansion on Obama’s statement during the State of the Union to invest in a “2 1st century transportation system.”

“Fully autonomous vehicles have the potential to save lives, ” spokesperson forGoogletold the Daily Dot, “so we welcome the secretary’s commitment to removing barriers that may prevent them from sharing the roads when they’re ready.”

Areportin December indicated Google is planning to partner with Ford to manufactureself-driving vehiclesthat would be used to develop a ridesharing service.

The statement from the search giant echoed Foxx’s on the health risks security benefits of autonomous vehicle technology, which the secretary suggested could have saved “more than 25,000 lives … in 2015 alone.”

There is some question as to just how much safer self-driving cars will be; a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that self-driving vehicles have a higher crash rate per million miles traveled than conventional vehicles. However, most of those accidents were were caused by human drivers slamming into the computer-controlled automobiles, suggesting people still have not adjusted yet to sharing the roads with autonomous cars.

Lyftand General Motors recentlyannounceda plan to bring autonomous vehicles to the roads of Austin, Tx. for users of the ridesharing platform.

A spokesperson ridesharing service Lyft told the Daily Dot that the company is “optimistic about the Obama administration’s plan to support the introduction of autonomous cars.”

“Safety is the top priority for Lyft and GM’s on-demand autonomous network, which will introduce self-driving autoes to the U.S ., ” the spokesman said. “We look forward to continuing to work with federal, nation, and localgovernments to shape the future of mobility.”

While ridesharing is clearly a focus of the future of transportation for many firms, consumer-focused companies are also optimistic about the government’s participation in the future of autonomous technology.

“A consistent, coordinated, and transparentregulatoryframeworkis the best way toallowtechnologyto moveforward, ” aTeslaspokesperson told the Daily Dot. “Our conversations with the Department of Transportation and California DMV have been quite positive. Theybothclearly acknowledge the safety potential ofautonomous transport and want tosupportit ina style that encourages its appropriate growth and introduction into the market.”

H/ T The Hill | Photo via Open Grid Scheduler/ Flickr( Public Domain )

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General Motors expends $500 m in ride-hailing company Lyft

The Uber rival and the automaker plan to open a network of US hubs where Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles, giving non-car-owners a way to earn money

General Motors and ride-hailing company Lyft are forming an unprecedented partnership that could help them beat their rivals to the self-driving future.

Lyft said Monday that GM invested $500m in the company as part of a $1bn round of fund-raising.

GM gets a seat on Lyfts board and access to the three-year-old companys software, which matches riders with drivers and automates payments. It also becomes a preferred vehicle provider, with the chance to get many more people behind the wheel of a Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac.

San Francisco-based Lyft gets the expertise of a 108-year-old automaker with decades of experience in making connected and autonomous vehicles. Detroit-based GM also has an enviable global reach; it sells almost 10m cars each year in more than 100 countries. Lyft operates in 190 US cities, and it recently formed partnerships with ride-sharing services in China and India.

Together, the companies plan to open a network of US hubs where Lyft drivers can rent GM vehicles. That could expand Lyfts business by giving people who dont own cars a way to drive and earn money through Lyft. It will also give GM a leg up on competitors like Daimler AG and Ford Motor Co, who are developing their own ride-sharing services.

In the longer term, GM and Lyft will work together to develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles that city dwellers can summon using Lyfts mobile app. Partnering with GM could give Lyft a boost over its arch-rival, Uber Technologies Inc, which is working on its own driverless cars.

Lyft co-Founder and president John Zimmer and GM president Dan Ammann say the two companies began serious discussions about three months ago. Both see big changes coming in the traditional model of car ownership, and they had similar ideas about how to address it. It felt very natural very quickly, Zimmer said.

Ammann said the resulting partnership is unlike any other in the auto and tech industries.

Do we want to deploy the resources and people to do everything ourselves, or get there faster by working in partnership? Ammann said. We see a really compelling, complimentary set of capabilities.

Following its latest round of fundraising, which also included a $100m investment from Saudi Arabias Kingdom Holding Co, privately-held Lyft set its value at $5.5bn. The company expects revenue of around $1bn this year. By comparison, GM is valued at $53bn and earned $153bn in revenue in 2014.

But neither company can afford to rest. Ubers value could soon surpass GMs, and newcomers like Apple and Google are also eager to disrupt the traditional auto industry.

We see the world of mobility changing more in the next five years than it has in the last 50, Ammann said.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Robots Will Steal Our Jobs, But They’ll Give Us New Ones

At the Dusseldorf airport, robotic valet parking is now reality. You step out of your auto. You press a button on a touch screen. And then a machine lifts your car off the ground, moving all three tons of it into a kind of aerial parking bay. Built by a German company called Serva Transport, the system saves you period. It saves garage space, thanks to those carefully arranged parking spots. And it’s a sign of so many things to come.

But the one thing it doesn’t do, says J.P. Gownder, an analyst with the Boston-based tech research firm Forrester, issteal jobs. In fact, it creates them. Before installing the robotic system, the airport already employed automatic ticket machines, so the system didn’t replace human cashiers. And now, humans are needed to maintain and repair all those robotic forklifts.” These are not white-collar tasks ,” Gownder tells WIRED.” This is the evolution of the repair person. It’s harder to fix a robot than it is to fix a vending machine .”

Gownder uses the Dusseldorf parking garage as a style of showing that the coming revolution in robotics and artificial intelligence may not squeeze the human workforce as much as some pundits have dreaded. In a widely cited analyse from 2013, Oxford professors Carl Frey and Michael Osbourne say that machines could replace about 47 percent of our tasks over the next 20 years, but in a new report released today, Gownder takes a more conservative opinion. Describing on government employment data and myriad interviews with industries, academics, and, yes, pundits, Gownder predicts that new automation will cause a net loss of only 9.1 million U.S. tasks by 2025. The horizon of his survey is much closer, but his numbers are well under the roughly 70 million jobs that Frey and Osbourne believe to be in danger of vaporization.

” While these technologies are both real and important, and some jobs will disappear because of them, the future of jobs overall isnt nearly as gloomy as many prognosticators believe ,” Gownder writes in the report.” In reality, automation will spur the growth of many new jobs–including some entirely new job categories .”

AI Versus Humanity

Yes, the revolution is coming. Gownder points to a robot at the ALoft hotel in San Francisco delivers towels and toothpaste and other stuff. At Vanguard Plastics in Connecticut, a machine called Baxter is fabricating goods in ways machines never could in the past. The likes of Google and Amazon are pushing even further into this area with everything from warehouse dronings to self-driving cars.

Perhaps more importantly, the giants of the` net are rapidly advancing the art of artificial intelligence, teaching online services to recognize images, understand natural language, and even carry on conversations–the kinds of artificial intelligence that will empower robots to tackle ever-more complex tasks.Using the AI that Google and Facebook use to identify photos on the’ net, researchers have already built machines that can, says, teach themselves to screw on a bottle cap.

” Today’s technology is different than what we’ve seen in the past ,” says Martin Ford, the author of the recent volume Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future .” The technology is taking on cognitive chores. We know have machines and algorithms that they are able, at least in a limited sense, suppose .”

‘The future of jobs overall isnt nearly as gloomy as many prognosticators believe.’J.P. Gownder, Forrester

As this tech evolves, concern is certainly warranted , not only because of howthese technologies will affect the workforce but because, some argue, smarter robots could wind up becoming more harmful robots. After ensure the most recent artificial intelligence in action, Elon Musk, the founder of electric car company Tesla and the space exploration outfit SpaceX, worries that such AI may turn on humans in more direct styles, so much so that he has donated millions to attempts that seek ways of maintaining AI” beneficial to humanity .” But Gownder rightly points out that such technology is still in the early stages of development–and that it still requires much assistance from humans.

‘Job Transformation, Not Job Replacement’

Humans must build these machines and program them and repair them. But they must also train them. This is true of” deep learning” AI, and it’s true of robots like Baxter. Baxter must be programmed to perform certain tasks, and that involves physically moving his legs back and forth.

IBM is touting the arrival of Watson, a broad collect of online tools that use artificial intelligence to assist diagnose cancer , among other things, and so many others are exploring similar run. But whatever the message from IBM, such tools operate alongside humans , not in lieu of them.” Watson is like a robotic colleague ,” says Gownder.” It’s chore transformation , not task replacing .”

‘It’s task transformation , not chore replacement.’

Andrew Moore, the dean of the school of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University who previously worked in AI and robotics at Google, concurs. He says that he has find no evidence that this technology is stealing jobs–and that, as hour goes on, it will likely create an enormous number of jobs.

” Technology does change the mix of jobs. You’re going to see physicians taking more of the role that involves the personal interaction with both patients and less of the role of trying to keep huge amounts of evidence in there head. The nurse may become more prestigious than the doctor ,” Moore says.” But if you look around, there are also new various kinds of creatives roles being produced across the market. There are so many undertakings that didn’t exist just a few years ago .”

This is the larger message of Gownder’s report. Robotics and AI will change the way we work, but it won’t inevitably take awayour work. Today’s warnings over the rise of AI, he says, are reminiscent of that handwringing over so many other technological advances in the past–and after all these centuries, the workforce is still there.

It should be said, however, that Gownder’s study merely looks so far down the road. And as Ford says, even Gownder’s rather conservative estimation — 9.1 million jobs lost–is still instead significant. Robotics and AI will continue to progress–at an unprecedented rate–and though Gownder believes the doomsayers have overblown the threat of widespread automation, he too watches reason for concern–and for continued to debate.” The rate of change matters ,” Gownder says.” We must keep our eyes open .”

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Detroit Is Stomping Silicon Valley in the Self-Driving Car Race

Tesla sits in themiddle. It’s strong on “vision”( that’s Elon Musk for you) and go-to-market strategy( it’s already offering semi-autonomous autoes ). But Navigant knocks Teslaon staying power( it’s a young player in a brutal industry ), marketings, marketing, and distribution( Tesla can’t operate in every state ), and technology( because Musk won’t use the expensive lidar tech experts say is necessary for full independence ).

Now, this report comes with a whopper of a caveat: These are early days in a race that will unfold over years, if not decades. Every company listed could shore up its weaknesses with smart partnerships or acquisitions, and jump to the front of the pack. Ford ranked sixth in the 2015 version of this study; Uber wasn’t on it at all.” These[ outcomes] are by no means final ,” Abuelsamid says.

Rankingmay one day change, but they serve as a reminder that it takes more than clever tech to change the world–and that muscle still matters.

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7 huge business storylines for this quarter’s earnings season

It’s that time of the year again: earnings season. It’s a finance nerd’s dream, but for the rest of the world, it’s important because some of the biggest technology companies in the world spill their intestines to the public. We get to see who’s win, who’s losing, what’s going wrong and how much Twitter’s monthly active user counting dropped.

In short, this is where the big moves happen. Wall Street watches these events with intense scrutiny because it helps them figure out where those companies are going. Will Apple hit$ 1 trillion? Does Blue Apron survive? Each quarter, we get a few data points that help us tune our crystal ball algorithm and figure out where things are going.

It’s also important because these events help define larger trends in the industry. If advertisers aren’t biting on Snap, it may be that they are just cooling off to alternative platforms in general. That could have ramifications for Pinterest and other different plays.

So, on that note, here are a few big story lines we’re tracking heading into the next couple of weeks.

( Editor’s note: We’re not going to bother addressing Twitter because it’s Twitter .)

Apple: Was the iPhone 8 a reach?

We got a surprise during Apple’s last earnings report where the business signaled a better upcoming third quarter than its original forecast. Reading( semi) deeply into the tea leaves, that indicated a few things: First, the next iPhone was going to arrive on schedule; second, it meant that the next iPhone should have had a pretty good debut.

( Note: Q4 listed below is the midpoint of the forecast from Apple .)

Bounty hunters are legally hacking Apple and the Pentagon- for big money

A growing roster of white hat hackers earn thousands receiving chinks in the digital armor of the US government and companies such as Apple and Google

Nathaniel Wakelam became a bounty hunter when he was 18.

Now 21, it is his full day chore. This month so far he has earned $21,150, in installments: he counted them out over the phone 400, plus 400, plus 300, plus 100, plus 1,000, plus 3,000, plus 4,000

Wakelams month-to-month earning varies considerably, but in an average year, he said, he can comfortably clear $250,000, running from his home in Melbourne or on his Macbook in coffee shops or nearby bars.

He saves a lot of what he earns, and spends philanthropically; he runs a charity which connects young hackers with mentors. Last year, he bankrolled a trip-up for six people to a conference in New Zealand, employing his earnings from only 48 hours of work. If you are able to get money doing something like that and it comes easily, I think youve got an obligation to help people around you, he said.

Wakelam is one of a new generation of so-called white hat hackers. Unlike black hat hackers who hack for criminal, nefarious, or destructive intents white-hat hackers make their living hunting for chinks in the digital armor of big companies in order to report them and collect an often generous reward.

There is no shortage of money to be made. This month, Apple joined the ranks of Facebook, Microsoft, Adobe, Tesla, Yahoo, and Google when it became the latest big tech firm to instigate a bug bounty program, offering awards of up to $200,000 to bounty hunters who discover security vulnerabilities.

Its not just private companies that are using bounty hunters to shore up their info security. The US Department of Defense( DoD) launched a pilot program in March called Hack the Pentagon. The first exploit was determined, Rice said, within 15 minutes of the programs launch. All in all, 58 participating hackers find 134 vulnerabilities in simply three weeks, and the DoD paid out more than $ 70,000 in bounties.

One of the recipients was David Dworken. He grew up in north Virginia, outside Washington DC, graduated from high school in June, and was invited to the Pentagon by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter after the Hack the Pentagon program: Dworken received six vulnerabilities on the first day of the pilot, working mainly in free periods or after school.

Dworkens first hack was of his schools website, when he was 16. Within two years he was collecting bounties: around $10,000 so far from Uber, and 1.3 m air miles from United Airlines. Some of the winnings hes put aside, he said, and some hes spent on upgrading his computer.

The US defense department launched a pilot program in March called Hack the Pentagon. The first glitch was found within 15 minutes. Photo: AFP/ Getty Images

Facebook was an early adopter of the idea of glitch bounties. Their program, launched in 2011, received more than 13,000 submissions in 2015 alone, according to a February blogpost, and has given out more than $4.3 m to more than 800 bounty hunters in 127 countries since its inception, virtually$ 1m of which was in 2015 alone. In May, Facebook paid a $10,000 reward to a 10 -year-old Finnish schoolboy who found a vulnerability in Instagrams code.

The total sizing of the marketplace for glitch bounties is unknown, in part because the programs are a mishmash of private programs, some of which dont release data. Facebook, like many companies, also sometimes use a third party in their case, a company called Bugcrowd to connect bounty pays to hunters. These third-party companies act as brokers.

Bugcrowd operates 286 programs, paying out more than$ 2m on more than 50,000 submissions since 2013; another, Exodus Intelligence, recently announced a $500,000 bounty for Apple hackers and Zerodium, a broker which specializes in so-called zero-day exploits, paid out$ 1m in 2015 for a working attack on Apples operating system. HackerOne, another big player who helped coordinate the Hack the Pentagon event, currently hosts more than 550 programs; a spokesperson said the company had tens of thousands of would-be bounty hunters signed up.

Hackers have a natural curiosity, said Alex Rice, a former head of product security at Facebook and co-founder and CTO of HackerOne. He said that, despite Hollywood depictions, all but a small minority in the information security community take a very negative opinion on criminal behaviour. We dont ask every locksmith how they feel about burglars.

You think of hacking as being this very exclusive skill set, he said, but the reality is that data software security is in a sorry nation, and if you ask most engineers how would you transgress it, if properly incentivized most of them will be able to figure out how to do it.

Of the programs posted on HackerOne, Rice said, a vulnerability was found within the first 24 hours in 77% of cases. Not one single site or piece of software has ever survived longer than a week under the scrutiny of his bounty hunters.

Finding a vulnerability or hacker feelings arousing, because you are the first person in the world to discover it. It feels good to know that you are somewhere no one else has been, said Francisco Correa, a 30 -year-old bounty hunter who also works with HackerOne.

Correa, who has a beachfront apartment in Chile which hes fitted out with fiberoptic internet, began working four years ago with Googles bug bounty program, and was promptly detecting vulnerabilities for Adobe and Microsoft as well. I was never a normal kid in school, he said. I get kicked out of six different schools. I was never one of those people who are ok following orders.

For Wakelam, the appeal lies in the problem-solving it always has been.

I genuinely enjoy breaking into big networks, he said. Its something that I can spend 24 hours on. In fact, he added, he had been doing just that for the 24 hours preceding his conversation with the Guardian for a profit of $3,000.

I can do it on my own period, he said. I dont have a boss. I can go to sleep at six in the morning and do what I want to do, as long as Im delivering glitches on a time Im happy with.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Swift creator Chris Lattner joins Google Brain after Tesla Autopilot stint

Chris Lattner, one of the key creators behind the Apple programming language Swift, is on the move again. After a short six-month stay at Tesla, which he joined last year from Apple to act as VP of Autopilot Software, Lattner announced on Twitter today that his next stop is Google Brain.

Lattner, who worked for more than a decade on low-level software and systems at Apple, indicates that there is June that he wasnt going to be staying on at Tesla after procuring that it wasnt a good fit. Lattner then joked that his resume was easy to find online, and noted his top qualification: Seven years of Swift experience, which is the longest anyone not on his immediate squad at Apple is fair to assert without outright lying.

Swift isnt Lattners only major contribution to the world of programming: Prior to his helping hand with Apples latest coding language, he created the Land compiler and LLVM. In other terms, youd be hard-pressed to find a modern developer whose run hasnt been touched at a fundamental level by something Lattner has created in the past.

Google Brain is the search giants team focused on deep learning and artificial intelligence. It focused on helping to use AI across a range of products, tackling both research and product integration, paired with squads across Alphabet, including at DeepMind. Its ultimate stated motive is to advance the field with open source projects, academic collaboration and publication.

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