1 big thing: Navigating potholes on the road to self-driving cars
There's no question that the roads will be safer once they are filled with autonomous vehicles. The challenge is navigating the path to that future amid so much uncertainty around business models and rules of the road.
Why it matters: While the eventual arrival of safe self-driving cars is a welcome goal, the challenge is navigating the bumpy and uncertain road to that goal.
We asked some of our outside Expert Voices contributors to weigh in on a couple of the most pressing issues.
On the business model front, the challenge is that autonomous vehicles will cost far more than traditional cars, especially at first. The good news is there are a number of ways to share that increased cost, through joint ownership, ride-hailing and other methods.
In this Expert Voices piece, IoT Disruptions CEO Sudha Jamthe takes a look at a number of the ideas being tested and who's picking up the tab. She writes...
- Waymo has partnered with Jaguar Land Rover to offer premium rides on all-electric iPace SUVs.
- Nissan and DeNA in Japan have developed “Easy ride,” a premium concierge robotaxi with restaurant recommendations and coupons.
- Auro.ai shuttles offered free rides to students in Santa Clara University until its acquisition by Ridecell.
- Voyage.auto provides on-demand autonomous mobility within retirement communities in San Jose and Orlando.
- Lyft is testing autonomous rides for 2% of its Boston rides in partnership with Nutonomy to gauge how customers respond.
- Walmart plans to pay Waymo to drop customers off at its stores to pick up grocery orders they placed online — a strategy to increase foot traffic in stores.
- AutoNation, an auto dealer, wants to replace loaner cars with Waymo AVs.
- Drive.ai has AV ride pilots for retail, entertainment and dining destinations in Frisco, Texas, including The Star, the Dallas Cowboys' stadium.
- Via, funded by Mercedes-Benz, runs pilots to replace transit buses with on-demand autonomous ride-share vans in New York, Chicago, D.C., and Arlington, Texas. The cities subsidize the rides and consumers pay a $3 fare.
- EasyRide offers a free shuttle from rapid transit system BART to Bishop Ranch office park in San Ramon, Calif.
- Coast Locomotive has piloted free commuter shuttles in Las Vegas and expanded to New York.
Meanwhile: Self-driving cars have the potential to be far safer once the industry is mature, but less clear is how to regulate and manage them in their early stages. In this other Expert Voices piece, Carnegie Mellon University's Philip Koopman has a look at how different states are approaching their oversight role.
The bottom line: Autonomous cars may drive themselves, but they'll need plenty more human help to steer their way toward safe, widespread use.
2. T-Mobile and Sprint chug along
With their merger still awaiting regulatory approval, T-Mobile and Sprint continue to operate as independent, competing wireless companies. In separate earnings reports on Wednesday, both companies appear to be holding their own.
- Sprint reported first, noting that it continued to add customers, though its profits were impacted by higher costs.
- T-Mobile, which reported after the market closed, once again led the industry in customer gains, with Bloomberg reporting it added 1 million subscribers, including 686,000 phone customers. The company also said it still plans to launch a video service later this year.
The bottom line: Sprint and T-Mobile can probably do OK on their own in the short term, but the wireless industry is a scale business. AT&T and Verizon have it and Sprint and T-Mobile don't.
3. Hackers hit Reddit
Reddit disclosed on Wednesday that hackers broke into its systems back in June, gaining access to a mix of decade-old posts and recent email digests.
Should you worry? Probably not, says Axios' Joe Uchill. The only things that hackers could see were:
- Data from 2005 until 2007. That includes usernames, encrypted passwords, posts and direct messages. If you've been using Reddit for more than a decade — or just want some piece of mind — it couldn't hurt to change your password.
- Email digests sent this June. If you turned off email digests, you're safe.
What happened? The best practice in industry is to use two-factor authentication: a system where to log in, a person needs to offer both a password and another security step, like a fingerprint scan or a physical key.
- Reddit employees used text messages as a second factor, so the system sent text messages to users trying to log in.
- But, text messages aren't perfectly secure. Hackers in this case gained access to the text messages, and leveraged them to log in.
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4. Alex Stamos exits Facebook for Stanford
Facebook's chief security officer, Alex Stamos, is leaving the company to teach and conduct research at Stanford University.
Why it matters: While his exit was expected, it comes as the company is still grappling with the spread of political disinformation on its platform, notes Axios' David McCabe.
- Stamos, well respected in and out of the company, has been focusing on election security and was involved in yesterday's revelation of a new coordinated political disinformation campaign.
- Stamos has been a prominent voice at Facebook as it faced challenges over privacy and its effect on democracy. But his pushes for transparency around Russian election meddling reportedly brought him into conflict with others at the company and his day-to-day responsibilities were said to have been taken away.
- "We need to listen to people (including internally) when they tell us a feature is creepy or point out a negative impact we are having in the world," he said, in a memo written after the New York Times reported in March that he would leave.
- Stamos' memo, which was published by BuzzFeed News last month, also said: "We need to deprioritze short-term growth and revenue and to explain to Wall Street why that is ok. We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues."
What they're saying:
- Stamos: "It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the security and safety teams at Facebook," he wrote in a Facebook post. His last day at the company will be Aug. 17.
- Facebook said it won't directly replace Stamos. "We are not naming a new CSO, since earlier this year we embedded our security engineers, analysts, investigators, and other specialists in our product and engineering teams to better address the emerging security threats we face," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We will continue to evaluate what kind of structure works best as we continue to invest heavily in security to protect people on our services."
5. What it's like to be Steve Jobs' kid
In a Vanity Fair excerpt from her upcoming memoir, Lisa Brennan-Jobs talks about the highs and lows of being the daughter of Apple founder Steve Jobs.
The bottom line: Jobs was a complicated person: brilliant, frustrating, inspiring and abrasive all at the same time. That was as true for Brennan-Jobs as it was for those who worked with him.
In the excerpt, Brennan-Jobs reflects on her earliest encounters with her father, from the initial days when he denied paternity through their early, infrequent childhood encounters.
Most poignantly, she recalls asking Jobs if Apple's early Lisa computer was named for her. He tells her it wasn't.
"I see now that we were at cross-purposes. For him, I was a blot on a spectacular ascent, as our story did not fit with the narrative of greatness and virtue he might have wanted for himself. My existence ruined his streak. For me, it was the opposite: the closer I was to him, the less I would feel ashamed; he was part of the world, and he would accelerate me into the light."— Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Asked later by Bono, Jobs admits that, yes, the Lisa computer was named for his daughter.
My thought bubble: My own relationship with Jobs as a journalist covering Apple was also complex. As I wrote when he died, Jobs had several irreplaceable qualities, from his abilities as a salesman and dealmaker to his unmatched eye for design and his innate sense for what consumers would want. And yet, in the times I interviewed him, he could also be brusque, dismissive and downright rude.
6. Take Note
- Internapalooza, a gathering of students and interns at Silicon Valley companies, takes place today in San Francisco.
- Earnings reports include Altice, Arrow Electronics, Activision Blizzard, CBS, GoDaddy, GoPro and Symantec.
- Former Northrop Grumman CEO Ronald Sugar is joining Uber's board as independent chairman.
- Sonos raised $208 million in its IPO, but shares priced at $15 apiece, below the company's target, Bloomberg reports.
- Fitbit's quarterly sales fell 15% from a year earlier, but earnings topped estimates, per Reuters.
- Reuters also reports that a federal jury ordered Apple to pay $145 million to Canada's WiLan in a patent infringement case.
- Spotify has removed several episodes of a podcast by Infowars' Alex Jones, saying they violate its rules.
- New York City has rejected a plan from ride-hailing companies including Uber and Lyft to create a bailout fund for hard-hit taxi drivers.
- CBS has hired two law firms to investigate misconduct allegations against CEO Les Moonves.
7. After you Login
Warby Parker has a new line of custom pencils, complete with rather witty sayings.