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Snowden: 'The Central Problem of the Future' Is Control of User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on December 14 '16 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's no-place-to-hide department:
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey interviewed Edward Snowden via Periscope about the wide world of technology. The NSA whistleblower "discussed the data that many online companies continue to collect about their users, creating a 'quantified world' -- and more opportunities for government surveillance," reports TechCrunch. Snowden said, "If you are being tracked, this is something you should agree to, this is something you should understand, this is something you should be aware of and can change at any time." TechCrunch reports: Snowden acknowledged that there's a distinction between collecting the content of your communication (i.e., what you said during a phone call) and the metadata (information like who you called and how long it lasted). For some, surveillance that just collects metadata might seem less alarming, but in Snowden's view, "That metadata is in many cases much more dangerous and much more intrusive, because it can be understood at scale." He added that we currently face unprecedented perils because of all the data that's now available -- in the past, there was no way for the government to get a list of all the magazines you'd read, or every book you'd checked out from the library. "[In the past,] your beliefs, your future, your hopes, your dreams belonged to you," Snowden said. "Increasingly, these things belong to companies, and these companies can share them however they want, without a lot of oversight." He wasn't arguing that companies shouldn't collect user data at all, but rather that "the people who need to be in control of that are the users." "This is the central problem of the future, is how do we return control of our identities to the people themselves?" Snowden said.

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First Offshore Wind Farm In US Waters Delivers Power To Rhode Island
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's good-to-go department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: On Monday, energy company Deepwater Wind announced that its wind farm three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, has the all-clear to sell electricity to the regional power grid. The Block Island Wind Farm is the first offshore wind energy plant in the U.S., and it's expected to produce 30 MW of electricity at full capacity. Deepwater Wind is slowly ramping up energy output and still must provide additional paperwork to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, but the executive director of that organization, Grover Fugate, told the Providence Journal, "we don't anticipate any major issues" to getting the wind farm fully online. The one hitch in the Deepwater's plan is that one of the five turbines was recently damaged when a drill bit was left in a critical part of turbine. According to the Providence Journal, "the bit had caused damage to an unspecified number of the 128 magnet modules that line the circular generator and are critical to producing energy." Although the magnet modules can apparently be replaced easily, Deepwater needs to have the components shipped from France, where General Electric, the manufacturer of the wind turbines, makes them. For now, four turbines capable of churning out 6 MW of power each are operational. The Providence Journal notes that National Grid will pay Deepwater Wind 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour of power, with the price escalating over time to 47.9 cents per kilowatt hour. Because the residents of Block Island have some of the most expensive electricity rates in the nation, they will actually see energy savings, despite the price. Mainland Rhode Islanders, on the other hand, will pay an extra $1.07 per month on average.

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IBM Promises To Hire 25,000 Americans As Tech Executives Set To Meet Trump
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lick-and-a-promise department:
IBM Chief Executive Ginni Rometty has pledged to "hire about 25,000 professionals in the next four years in the United States" as she and other technology executives prepared to meet with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday. Reuters reports: IBM had nearly 378,000 employees at the end of 2015, according to the company's annual report. While the firm does not break out staff numbers by country, a review of government filings suggests IBM's U.S. workforce declined in each of the five years through 2015. When asked why IBM planned to increase its U.S. workforce after those job cuts, company spokesman Ian Colley said in an email that Rometty had laid out the reasons in her USA Today piece. Her article did not acknowledge that IBM had cut its U.S. workforce, although it called on Congress to quickly update the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that governs federal support for vocational education. "We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving," she said. "As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills -- which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting." She said IBM intended to invest $1 billion in the training and development of U.S. employees over the next four years. Pratt declined to say if that represented an increase over spending in the prior four years.

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Microsoft Formally Introduces Zo, Its Latest AI-Powered Chatbot
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 06:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-luck-next-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Windows Central: Microsoft is surging forward with its commitment to artificial intelligence (AI), formally announcing its latest chatbot, Zo. In a post outlining its commitment to AI, Microsoft introduced Zo as the next chapter in the evolution of its attempts to create a social chatbot. Zo is built on the back of the same technology that powers Microsoft's other chatbots in China and Japan, Xiaoice and Rinna. Zo is meant to learn from her interactions with humans, and is able to respond to conversations with her own personality. In a nod to an awkward turn of events involving Microsoft's last attempt at a social chatbot, Tay, the company notes that Zo has guards in place to prevent exploitation. While you can currently only strike up a conversation with Zo on Kik messenger, Microsoft says it has plans to bring the chatbot to Skype and Facebook Messenger as well. Still, if you use Kik, you can start a conversation up with Zo now. Otherwise, head to Zo.ai to request an invite to chat with the bot on Messenger when it's available.

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Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe Steps Down, Will Now Lead PC-Focused VR Team Within Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 05:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's moving-on-to-bigger-and-better-things department:
The co-founder and CEO of Oculus, Brendan Iribe, is stepping down from the company he helped create with Palmer Luckey over four years ago in Irvine, California. Iribe writes in a statement to UploadVR: "We've decided to establish new PC and mobile VR groups to be more focused, strengthen development and accelerate our roadmap. Looking ahead and thinking about where I'm most passionate, I've decided to lead the PC VR group -- pushing the state of VR forward with Rift, research and computer vision. As we've grown, I really missed the deep, day-to-day involvement in building a brand new product on the leading edge of technology. You do your best work when you love what you're working on. If that's not the case, you need to make a change. With this new role, I can dive back into engineering and product development. That's what gets me up every day, inspired to run to work." UploadVR adds: When we asked Oculus PR what this meant for Max Cohen, the current Head of Mobile at Oculus, we were told that, "he's still focused on mobile and growing the mobile ecosystem on Jon's team." After publication, Oculus PR also informed us of how this affects the roles of Nate Mitchell, VP of Product, and Michael Abrash, Cheif Scientist, upon further inquiry: "Nate will be leading Rift, on Brendan's PC VR team. Michael Abrash still leads Oculus Research on Brendan's team. When asked about John Carmack, CTO, and Michael Antonov, Chief Software Architect, Oculus PR informed us that, "they are both still at Oculus and they work on the mobile team. Michael Antonov is leading the Carmel and ReactVR effort today."

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AMD Unveils First Zen Desktop Processor Details, Picks 'Ryzen' To Brand Zen CPU
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 05:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-performance department:
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: AMD has just officially unveiled that desktop variants of its Zen processor family will now be branded RYZEN. Zen-based processors will eventually target desktops, servers, and mobiles device, but the first wave of products will be targeted at the performance desktop market, where gamers and VR continue to spur growth. AMD is positioning RYZEN as a high-performance option and though there will be other core configurations as well, AMD has disclosed that one of the high-end options in the initial RYZEN line-up will feature 8 cores (16 threads with SMT) and at minimum a 3.4 GHz base clock, with higher turbo frequencies. That processor will also be outfitted with 20MB of cache -- 4MB of L2 and 16MB of L3 -- and it will be infused with what AMD is calling SenseMI technology. SenseMI is essentially fancy branding for the updated branch predictor, prefetcher, and power and control logic in Zen. AMD's upcoming AM4 platform for RYZEN will be outfitted with all of the features expected of a modern PC enthusiast platform. AM4 motherboards will use DDR4 memory and feature PCIe Gen 3 connectivity, and support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe, and SATA Express. Performance demos of RYZEN shown to members of the press pit a stock Intel Core i7-6900K (3.2GHz base, 3.7GHz turbo) with Turbo Boost that was enabled on the 6900K, versus RYZEN with boost disabled running at 3.4GHz flat. In the demo, the RYZEN system outpaced the Core i7-6900K by a few seconds.

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Google Publishes Eight National Security Letters
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 05:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-matters-into-your-own-hands department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google dropped a single National Security Letter into its most recent transparency report without much fanfare, but today the company published eight more NSLs in an attempt to shed more light on government surveillance of Google users. The eight letters published today were sent to Google from FBI offices across the country. Cumulatively, the NSLs seek broad access to content for around 20 user accounts. The names of the targets are redacted, but most of the letters seek access to Gmail accounts. The NSLs were sent to Google over a five-year period, from 2010 to 2015, with the majority coming from the Charlotte, North Carolina field office of the FBI. Others came from Florida, Arizona, New York, and California. "In our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, today we begin to make available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations," Richard Salgado, Google's director of law enforcement and information security, wrote in a blog post. Google has fought to make the letters public in part because the FBI can issue them without prior judicial oversight.

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A Typo Led To Podesta's Email Hack, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 04:14 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's auto-correct department:
tomhath quotes a report from The Hill: Last March, Podesta received an email purportedly from Google saying hackers had tried to infiltrate his Gmail account. When an aide emailed the campaign's IT staff to ask if the notice was real, Clinton campaign aide Charles Delavan replied that it was "a legitimate email" and that Podesta should "change his password immediately." Instead of telling the aide that the email was a threat and that a good response would be to change his password directly through Google's website, he had inadvertently told the aide to click on the fraudulent email and give the attackers access to the account. Delavan told The New York Times he had intended to type "illegitimate," a typo he still has not forgiven himself for making. The email was a phishing scam that ultimately revealed Podesta's password to hackers. Soon after, WikiLeaks began releasing 10 years of his emails.

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Florida Court Says Suspected Voyeur Must Reveal His iPhone Passcode To Police
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 04:14 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's constitutional-protections department:
A Florida appeals court has reversed a decision by a previous judge and ruled that a suspected voyeur can be made to reveal his iPhone passcode to police. "The defendant was arrested after a woman out shopping saw a man crouch down and aim what she believed was a smartphone under her skirt," reports BBC: Store CCTV captured footage of a man crouched down, holding an illuminated device and moving it towards the victim's skirt, according to court documents published by news site Courthouse News. Aaron Stahl was identified by law enforcement officers who reviewed the footage, according to court documents. After his arrest, Mr Stahl initially agreed to allow officers to search his iPhone 5, which he told them was at his home. However, once it had been retrieved by police - but before he had revealed his passcode - he withdrew consent to the search. The trial court had decided that Mr Stahl could be protected by the Fifth Amendment, which is designed to prevent self-incrimination. However, Judge Anthony Black's formal opinion to the court quashed the decision. Judge Black referred to a famous Supreme Court case, Doe v US 1988, in which Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that a defendant could be made to surrender a key to a strongbox containing incriminating documents but they could not "be compelled to reveal the combination to his wall safe." "We question whether identifying the key which will open the strongbox - such that the key is surrendered - is, in fact, distinct from telling an officer the combination," wrote Judge Black. "More importantly, we question the continuing viability of any distinction as technology advances."

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Feds Unveil Rule Requiring Cars To 'Talk' To Each Other
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smile-and-wave department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Obama administration released a long-awaited rule on Tuesday requiring all new vehicles to have communication technology that allows them to "talk" to each another, which officials say could prevent tens of thousands of crashes each year. The proposal calls for all new light-duty cars and trucks to eventually be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, a safety system that enables cars to send wireless signals to each other, anticipate each other's moves and thus avoid crashes. The rule would require 100 percent of new vehicle fleets to have V2V technology within four years of the final rule's enactment. The proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days. The connected vehicle rule builds on previous work by the outgoing administration to accelerate the deployment of innovative safety technology. The Department of Transportation released the first-ever federal guidelines for driverless cars in September. "We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "This long-promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety." Officials say V2V has the potential to mitigate 80 percent of non-impaired crashes and can interact with other crash avoidance systems, like automatic braking. V2V uses dedicated short-range radio communications to exchange messages about a car's speed, direction and location. The system uses that information from other vehicles to identify potentials risks and warn its driver. A pair of Democratic senators called on the agency to ensure that vehicles have "robust" cybersecurity and privacy protections in place before automakers deploy V2V.

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Apple Removes the 'Time Remaining' Battery Indicator In New macOS Update
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-simple department:
Apple has removed the "time remaining" battery life indicator with the new macOS Sierra update following complaints from several users of new MacBook Pro models. Apple says it stands by its 10-hour battery life claim in the new MacBook Pro models, and adds that the battery life indicator didn't show accurate information. From a report on The Loop: You can still see the image on the top of the screen, and you can see the percentage, but you will no longer be able to see how much time is remaining before your battery dies. [...] Apple said the percentage is accurate, but because of the dynamic ways we use the computer, the time remaining indicator couldn't accurately keep up with what users were doing. Everything we do on the MacBook affects battery life in different ways and not having an accurate indicator is confusing. Besides the apps we are working on all the time, there are a lot of things that are happening in the background that users may not be aware of that affects battery life.

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Uber Defends Privacy Practices After Allegations It Spies On Riders
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 01:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's he-says-she-says department:
Uber is defending the scope of its privacy practices after a wide-ranging report alleged employees were tracking individual riders. From a CNBC report: "We have hundreds of security and privacy experts working around the clock to protect our data," Uber told "Reveal" in a statement. Additionally, Uber told CNBC that it is continuing to increase its security investments. The company pointed to workers that needed data for their roles, such as anti-fraud experts, or employees that validate driver insurance documents or investigate traffic incidents. "It's absolutely untrue that 'all' or 'nearly all' employees have access to customer data, with or without approval," Uber said. "We have built [an] entire system to implement technical and administrative controls to limit access to customer data to employees who require it to perform their jobs. This could include multiple steps of approval -- by managers and the legal team -- to ensure there is a legitimate business case for providing access." According to legal documents filed by ex-employee Ward Spangenberg in October and reported by The Center for Investigative Reporting on Monday, "Uber's lack of security regarding its customer data was resulting in Uber employees being able to track high profile politicians, celebrities, and even personal acquaintances of Uber employees, including ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, and ex-spouses."

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Android Things Is Google's New OS For Smart Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 01:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-google-does department:
Google wants to put Android in the next wave of smart devices that'll be vying to fill up your home. It's launching a version of Android today called Android Things that can run on products like connected speakers, security cameras, and routers. A report adds: The OS is supposed to make it easier for companies to start shipping hardware, since they'll be able to work with the Android dev tools they already know. Android Things is a new name, but the operating system itself isn't strictly new. It's basically an update and a rebranding to Brillo, an Android-based OS for smart devices and Internet of Things products announced a little more than a year and a half ago. Brillo has -- publicly, at least -- gone close to nowhere. It was more or less a no-show at CES last year, and there's been little mention of it since. But today's rebranding marks a key update meant to make developing a product with this operating system much easier. Unlike Brillo, development on Android Things can be accomplished with "the same developer tools as standard Android," according to Google. The hope is that experienced developers will be able to quickly get up to speed and start work on a new product.ArsTechnica has more details.

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SpaceX Delays First Crewed Flight Of Its Dragon Capsule For NASA
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-hurry department:
NASA says the first crewed test flight of SpaceX's Dragon vehicle has been delayed until May 2018. From a report on The Verge: In the wake of its September 1st rocket explosion, SpaceX has officially delayed the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle -- the capsule that the company is building to take NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Originally planned for late 2017, the first flight of the Crew Dragon with people on board is now slated to take place in May of 2018, according to a NASA blog post. Prior to that flight, SpaceX will perform a demonstration mission of Crew Dragon in November 2017 -- a flight that won't include any astronauts. There had been heavy speculation that the flight would be delayed following the accident, in which a Falcon 9 rocket exploded as it was being fueled on a Florida launch pad. And SpaceX says the move was made as the company finalizes its investigation into the accident. "As this investigation has been conducted, our Commercial Crew team has continued to work closely with NASA and is completing all planned milestones for this period," SpaceX said in a statement to The Verge. "We are carefully assessing our designs, systems, and processes taking into account the lessons learned and corrective actions identified. Our schedule reflects the additional time needed for this assessment and implementation."

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Energy Department Refuses To Give Trump Team Names of People Who Worked On Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald Trump's transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs. Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received "significant feedback" from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week. From a Reuters story, syndicated on BusinessInsider: The response from the Energy Department could signal a rocky transition for the president-elect's energy team and potential friction between the new leadership and the staffers who remain in place. The memo sent to the Energy Department on Tuesday and reviewed by Reuters last week contains 74 questions including a request for a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the annual global climate talks hosted by the United Nations within the last five years. "Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of (the Energy Department) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people," Eben Burnham-Snyder, Energy Department spokesman said. "We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," he added. "We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."

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Android Chief Squashes Rumors of Android Merging With Chrome OS
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's making-sense department:
If you were holding out hope that Android and Chrome would one day merge into some kind of super OS that marries the desktop and mobile worlds once and for all, Google's senior vice president for Android, Chrome, and Chromecast Hiroshi Lockheimer has some bad news for you: It's not happening. From a PCWorld report: Speaking on the All About Android podcast, the mobile chief threw a giant bucket of cold water on the idea that the two platforms would eventually converge, despite recent rumors that suggest such a project is already in development at Google. "There's no point in merging them," Lockheimer said, pointing out sales of that Chromebooks overtook Macs in the first quarter of this year. "They're both successful." He added, Google's aim is "to make sure that both sides benefit from each other. ... You'll see a lot more of that happening, where we're cross-pollinating, but not a merge."

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Why China Can't Lure Tech Talent
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 10:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's explain-like-I-am-5 department:
China may have been hoping to attract tech talent to its nation, but it is unlikely that people in the tech industry will move there. A columnist at Bloomberg explains why: The biggest problem is government control of the internet. For a software developer, the inconvenience goes well beyond not being able to access YouTube during coffee breaks. It means that key software libraries and tools are often inaccessible. In 2013, China blocked Github, a globally important open-source depository and collaboration tool, thereby forcing developers to seek workarounds. Using a virtual private network to "tunnel" through the blockades is one popular option. But VPNs slow uploads, downloads and collaboration. And it isn't just developers who suffer. Among the restricted sites in China is Google Scholar, a tool that indexes online peer-reviewed studies, conference proceedings, books and other research material into an easily accessible format. It's become a crucial database for academics around the world, and Chinese researchers -- even those with VPNs -- struggle to use it. The situation grew so dire this summer that several state-run news outlets published complaints from Chinese scientists, with one practically begging the nationalist Global Times newspaper: "We hope the government can relax supervision for academic purposes." The cumulative impact of these restrictions is significant. Scientists unable to keep up with what researchers in other countries are publishing are destined to be left behind, which is one reason China is having difficulty luring foreign scholars to its universities. Programmers who can't take advantage of the sites and tools that make development a global effort are destined to write software customized solely for the Chinese market. The author has raised several other reasons to make his case.

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Apple Warns Of Counterfeit Power Adapters and Batteries Following Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fake-products department:
Following a lawsuit revealed back in October in which Apple exposed an issue with a large percentage of fake Apple adapters being marketed as "genuine" online, today the company has posted an official warning to customers. From a report on 9to5Mac: The message, posted on the front page of the company's support webpage, warns customers that counterfeit power adapters and batteries could pose safety issues. The company also offers customers that might have had a recent battery replacement the option to bring in their devices to an Apple Store or authorized service provider to check if the battery is genuine.

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Malware Found In the Firmware of 26 Low-Cost Android Models
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers have found malware hidden in the firmware of several low-end Android smartphones and tablets, malware which is used to show ads and install unwanted apps on the devices of unsuspecting users. 26 Android device models have been found to be vulnerable. The common link between all these devices is that all are low-cost devices, mostly marketed in Russia, and which run on MediaTek chipsets. According to security researchers from Dr.Web, a Russian antivirus vendor, the malware appears to have been added to the firmware by "dishonest outsourcers who took part in [the] creation of Android system images decided to make money on users." The security firm has informed MediaTek and the device vendors about this issue so the affected companies can inspect their distribution chain and find the possible culprits.

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Google Has Stopped Developing Its Own Self-Driving Car - Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 13 '16 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's change-in-plans department:
Google has reportedly shelved its long-standing plan to develop its own autonomous vehicle in favor of pursuing partnerships with existing car makers. From an article on TechCrunch: The Information reports that Google's self-driving car unit -- known internally as Chauffeur -- is working with established automotive names to develop cars which will include some self-driving features, but won't ditch the steering wheel and pedal controls. The firm is already working with Fiat Chrysler, per a partnership announced in May, and that could be the start of others to come. Google first set out to do away with the steering wheel and pedals approach, but this backtrack is from Alphabet CEO Larry Page and CFO Ruth Porat who found the original approach to be "impractical," according to the report. That's despite Google's autonomous vehicles clocking over two million miles of tests on public roads.

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