View profile

Big Revolution - Self-driving disillusion

Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution, even if the UK public holiday on Monday means it feels more li
August 29 · Issue #185 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution, even if the UK public holiday on Monday means it feels more like a Tuesday to me…

Big things you need to know today
  • The UK prime minister has announced initial funding for a satellite navigation system to rival GPS and Galileo, should the UK be thrown out of the EU’s Galileo consortium after Brexit. However, given the project could cost £3bn in total, it seems a lot to commit to, given the many other things the country would have to spend its money on while replacing EU infrastructure.
  • PSA: Yahoo Mail still scans users’ email to help target advertising. Other email providers like Google have increasingly shied away from the practice.
  • It’s now easy to apply to become verified on Instagram. The Verge has the details. But the rules haven’t changed about who gets approved, so you probably still won’t get that little blue check any time soon.
  • Facebook employees have set up a group to tackle what they see as a ‘liberal bias’ in the company’s internal culture. More than 100 employees have joined the group that thinks the left-leaning culture is 'intolerant’ of other political viewpoints. As you’d expect, there’s been some pushback from others within the company.
The big thought
"It only hesitated on three junctions today!" Credit: Waymo
Self-driving disillusion
Alphabet’s Waymo has generated a lot of excitement with its forthcoming self-driving taxi service in Phoenix, Arizona. But despite the fact it has a fleet of cars at the ready, plus commercial partnerships with the likes of Walmart lined up, all might not be going as smoothly as Waymo would have liked.
The Information has published details of how the vehicles regularly hesitate at junctions or stop unpredictably. From the report:
“Two weeks ago, Lisa Hargis, an administrative assistant who works at an office a stone’s throw from Waymo’s vehicle depot, said she nearly hit a Waymo Chrysler Pacifica minivan because it stopped abruptly while making a right turn at the intersection. “Go!” she shouted angrily, she said, after getting stuck in the intersection midway through her left turn. Cars that had been driving behind the Waymo van also stopped. “I was going to murder someone,” she said.”
In Phoenix, the A.I. drivers aren’t ready for the behaviour of human drivers, and vice-versa. And that’s just in one city, where the weather is quite stable, the roads are straight, and the traffic is pretty calm. Waymo cars would be less than useless in Switzerland in winter, for example.
This is a reminder that fully automated driving is still a long way from being the norm. We may even reach a point when excitement and the pace of development towards that autonomous future wanes. The past has seen several ‘A.I. winters,’ where funding for research dried up because progress wasn’t as fast as hoped.
It seems fair to anticipate that public excitement for the autonomous driving tech will slump as the glorious future they were promised doesn’t arrive as soon as they expected.
We’re beyond the point of no return with self-driving cars. The sheer number of R&D projects – many well advanced – means autonomous driving isn’t going to disappear. But if you were thinking your 10-year-old child wouldn’t need to learn to drive in their late teens, you should think again.
Your grandkids, however, will probably think of driving like we think of horse riding – you’d do it for enjoyment or sport, but you’d be crazy to do it for your commute.
One big read
The Internet of Garbage by Sarah Jeong The Internet of Garbage by Sarah Jeong
Sarah Jeong, the latest addition to the New York Times’ Editorial Board, has suffered her fair share of online harassment in recent weeks. But back in 2015, she literally wrote the book on online harassment. Here, her former employer publishes an ‘interim edition’ of The Internet of Garbage.
Click the ebook links in The Verge’s introduction to download the book. They’ve also included an excerpt from chapter 3.
“The Internet of Garbage provides an immediate and accessible look at how online harassment works, how it might be categorized and distinguished, and why the structure of the internet and the policies surrounding it are overwhelmed in fighting it. Sarah has long planned to publish an updated and expanded second edition, but in this particular moment, I am pleased that she’s allowed us to publish this interim edition with a new preface.”
One big tweet
Elon Musk reignited his evidence-free claims against a diving expert yesterday, in a Twitter conversation with my former colleague Drew Olanoff, which has made headlines around the world. Click the tweet for the full thread.
Elon Musk
@yoda @RMac18 @TijenOnaran You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services. And you call yourself @yoda
5:41 PM - 28 Aug 2018
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow. In the meantime, don’t forget:
  • if you have any feedback on Big Revolution, you can always hit ‘reply’ to this email
  • if you like this newsletter, share this link with your friends and suggest they subscribe
  • if you want to help support this newsletter, you can do what around 5% of subscribers do, and become a member for $5 per month. More details

Did you enjoy this issue?
Become a member for $5 per month
Don’t miss out on the other issues by Martin SFP Bryant
You can manage your subscription here
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here
Powered by Revue