Driverless Cars and the Internet of Things

Study Says Self-Driving Cars Would Eliminate Majority Of Traffic Deaths, Congestion: CBS News.

But: Driverless Cars Are Further Away Than You Think: MIT Technology Review.

Smart Robots, Driverless Cars Work – but They Bring Ethical Issues Too: The Guardian.

Previously: Two good reads on the future of driverless (and driver assisting) cars, including the significant advantages Google might possess given its access to the voluminous amount of data critical for the safe and proper functioning of driverless cars:

  • Data in the Driver’s Seat by Frédéric Filloux at MondayNote: “Applied to millions of vehicles, traffic and infrastructure management will turn into a gigantic data and communication problem. Again, Google might be the only entity able to write the required software and to deploy the data centers to run it. Its millions of servers will be of great use to handle weather information, road conditions (as cars might be able to monitor their actual friction on the road and transmit the data to following vehicles, or detect humidity and temperature change), parking data and fuel availability (gas or electricity). And we can even think of merging all this with day-to-day life elements such as individual calendars, commuting patterns and geolocating people through their cell phones.”

  • Why Silicon Valley is Winning the Robocar Race by Virginia Postrel at BloombergView: “One reason for Silicon Valley’s ascendency is the extraordinary quality of today’s cars. Pretty much everybody makes reliable cars that drive well. So the main competitive differences don’t come from mechanical engineering but from software.”

Facebook “Home” Initial Reaction

The consensus early reaction, the day after the Facebook Home announcement, appears to be:

  • Facebook Home is well-designed, with some clever elements such as the messaging bubbles;
  • Google and Android app developers will dislike Facebook’s lock/home-screen and launcher approach which makes Google services and 3rd party apps less visible;
  • Facebook home might appeal to certain Android users in the United States (i.e., Facebook power users and mobile phone newbies), but Facebook Home might be more of a play for new users internationally, particularly in emerging markets;
  • So what’s new: Facebook Home poses additional privacy concerns through enhanced data collection.

Facebook Home Link Round-up:

What the Analysts are Saying: A dozen analyst reactions at CNN.Money.
How Facebook Home Is (and Isn’t) an OS: Fast Company.
App Developers Are Scared Facebook Home Will Bury Their Stuff: Business Insider.
Facebook Home’s uneasy relationship with Google: Tim Carmody at The Verge.
I Like It, but I Don’t Like It Like It: Farhad Manjoo at
Facebook Home at First Glance: Web/App designer, Khoi Vinh.
The Soul of a New (Facebook) Machine: The Atlantic.
Mark Zuckerberg on Facebook Home, Money, and the Future of Communication: Steven Levy.


What Google has actually done is create a powerful infrastructure. The shape of that infrastructure influences everything that goes online. And it influences the allocation of mental resources of everyone who interacts with the online world. But there isn’t much to the real human world that isn’t shaped by the mental activity of the people in it! That’s a lot of power to put in the hands of a company that now seems interested, mostly, in identifying core mass-market services it can use to maximise its return on investment. Now in the short run, that may mostly be a problem for all of us … But in the long run that’s a problem for Google. Because we tend not to entrust this sort of critical public infrastructure to the private sector. Network externalities are all fine and good to ignore so long as they mainly apply to the sharing of news and pics from a weekend trip with college friends. Once they concern large swathes of economic output and the cognitive activity of millions of people, it is difficult to keep the government out.
From The Economist: “Google’s Google Problem”.

I think that’s about right – given that Google already has a giant target on its back vis-a-vis U.S. and EU regulators, it certainly seems short-sighted to annoy large swaths of journalists, influencers and the like with the shutdown of Google Reader.

As a power RSS/Google Reader user, I’m disappointed in the shutdown, but as long as the sync/data backend gets replicated, I will be fine using other RSS services: Mr. Reader (iPad), Reeder (OS X), Feedly (Adroid and Firefox), and perhapds recently announced new and updated services: Digg’s upcoming RSS Reader and a revamped NetNewsWire.

More and more, privacy is being used to justify censorship. In a sense, privacy depends on keeping some things private, in other words, hidden, restricted, or deleted. And in a world where ever more content is coming online, and where ever more content is find-able and share-able, it’s also natural that the privacy counter-movement is gathering strength. Privacy is the new black in censorship fashions. It used to be that people would invoke libel or defamation to justify censorship about things that hurt their reputations. But invoking libel or defamation requires that the speech not be true. Privacy is far more elastic, because privacy claims can be made on speech that is true.
Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, Peter Fleischer, in a thoughtful personal (i.e., not official Google) blog post about the “right to be forgotten.”

The first step to fixing the Android Marketplace has nothing to do with the Android Marketplace

The first step to fixing the Android Marketplace has nothing to do with the Android Marketplace

Facebook, arguably the largest and most important website in the world has most of its content walled off from Google. In fact, the biggest loser in the Facebook privacy debate is not Facebook, it’s Google. Why? Because the more people that put all their status updates, information and pictures behind a wall of privacy, the fewer status updates available to Google (and other search engines as well). The net result is that Google’s mission to index all the world’s information has been irreparably damaged. 500mm Facebook users and most of what they all publish to their networks is unavailable.

Larry Lessig: “For the Love of Culture: Google, Copyright and Our Future”

Larry Lessig: “For the Love of Culture: Google, Copyright and Our Future”