Greetings from London. Here’s a take a look at the week’s tech information:
Lots of people are getting far more in placing totally autonomous vehicles on the street.
With Lyft’s preliminary public providing on Friday, and Uber’s anticipated in the coming months, traders are successfully putting bets on autonomous autos. The growth of driverless expertise is central to each firms’ changing into worthwhile and making good on their valuations of tens of billions of .
Uber and Lyft need robocars to navigate metropolis streets alone to allow them to supply rides 24-7 with out having human drivers share their takings. Lyft admitted in its I.P.O. prospectus that with out autonomous autos, “our business, financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected.”
So the firms want to check the expertise in the actual world, aggressively. And traders will need that to occur. But the expertise nonetheless lags behind the hype.
Waymo, broadly thought-about to be the market chief, has pushed widespread testing of its autos for years. It is testing an autonomous ride-hailing service in Phoenix that’s utilized by paying members of the public.
But in response to a report by The Information, things aren’t going smoothly. Almost 40 percent of Waymo’s customers registered complaints in reviews seen by the publication, from wrong turns to near-crashes. “This buggy and concerning service should not be charging money yet,” one customer reportedly wrote.
Ambitions to push harder are also softening. “Currently, the company doesn’t believe it is close to being able to operate a fleet of self-driving taxis without safety drivers,” The Information wrote.
Investor pressure on Uber and Lyft will probably influence decisions about holding off on accelerated testing, which raises questions about how strictly cities and states should regulate self-driving vehicles. Some jurisdictions are liberal, even allowing some cars to be tested without safety drivers; others are more strict.
Mark Fagan, a lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, thinks city and state authorities should allow testing of vehicles only where safety improvements are “unambiguous.” Maybe that means airport shuttles, low-speed taxi pods or some other uses that are safe even if they are … well, a harder sell to investors.
“I’m on the side of safety and security and over-testing,” Mr. Fagan says. “Rather than letting the market do its thing.”
Apple Has Inertia on Its Side
In the face of flagging iPhone sales, Apple unveiled a digital services plan last Monday — new TV programming, video games and news, as well as a credit card.
The announcement was heavy on big names. A cast of Hollywood stars announced the streaming service, its news offering included publishers like The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal, and its credit card is backed by Goldman Sachs.
Beneath the gloss, questions lurked. There were no details about pricing of the TV service. It’s unclear how much content readers will have access to in the news service. The Journal is offering just a curated selection, for instance. And there were no details about credit limits or interest rates for the credit card.
Still, Apple has the inertia of its ecosystem to fall back on. It has more than 1.4 billion devices in use around the world, including more than 900 million iPhones. Users have bought 300 million in-app subscriptions to services belonging to Apple and third parties.
“If they are any indication of how Apple is leveraging their current iOS users, then they’ve been able to leverage them pretty well,” Annette Zimmermann of the research company Gartner said.
A Warning Sign for Tech
If a commodities slump indicates impending economic issues, tech may have a problem.
Samsung Electronics warned on Tuesday that its financial results for the first three months of this year would be disappointing. It pointed to its memory and display businesses, which account for 43 percent of its revenue.
Memory and displays appear in almost all electronic devices, but are sensitive to supply and demand — like a tech world equivalent of oil. There is currently excess inventory and weak demand for the components: See, for instance, a 7 percent decline in global smartphone shipments during the fourth quarter of 2018.
Samsung says it “expects the scope of price declines in main memory chip products to be larger than expected.” Competitors probably feel the same.
Grindr, a Spy Tool?
It’s 2019, and a dating app is considered a potent security threat.
The Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun is reportedly being forced to sell Grindr, the popular gay social network that it bought in two stages in 2016 and 2018, according to Reuters, which cited unidentified sources. That’s the result of an order from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which reviews the national security implications of foreign investments in American operations.
“This appears to be the first case in which the United States has asserted that foreign control of a social media app could have national security implications,” David E. Sanger wrote in The Times.
It’s not too surprising. China is no stranger to cyberespionage, and some data on Grindr is highly personal. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is supposed to be playing closer attention to data as a security risk, and has the power to unwind deals.
But it’s a clear sign that United States trust in China’s digital operations has worn paper-thin.
In other news:
■ Google’s robot reboot is all about software. Its new focus is making robots smarter by injecting them with machine-learning algorithms so they can learn for themselves.
■ Europe adopted tough online copyright rules. They are meant to force tech firms to aggressively remove unlicensed copyrighted material from their websites proactively.
■ Three artificial intelligence pioneers won computer science’s Nobel. They snagged the Turing Award for their work in developing artificial neural networks.
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