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Chinese Company Oppo is the Latest To Be Caught Cheating on Phone Benchmarks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 10:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fraud-alert department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: You can add another big name to the list of phone makers found cheating on benchmarks. UL Benchmarks has delisted Oppo's Find X and F7 phones from its 3DMark charts after testing from itself and news outlet Tech2 revealed that both devices were artificially ramping up processor performance when they detected the test by name. Oppo acknowledged that it always stepped things up when it detected "games or 3D Benchmarks that required high performance," but claimed that any app would run full bore if you tapped on the screen every few seconds to signal your actions. UL, however, rejected the justifications. It was clear that Oppo was looking for the benchmark by name and not the extra processing load involved, according to the outfit. Moreover, tapping wouldn't be an effective solution if Oppo treated apps equally -- you couldn't get consistent results. Further reading: Huawei Caught Cheating Performance Test For New Phones.

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Microsoft's Problem Isn't How Often it Updates Windows -- It's How It Develops It
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Ever since Microsoft settled on a cadence of two feature updates a year -- one in April, one in October -- the quality of its operating system (taking into consideration the volume of bugs that emerge every few days) has deteriorated, writes Peter Bright of ArsTechnica. From the story: The problem with Windows as a Service is quality. Previous issues with the feature and security updates have already shaken confidence in Microsoft's updating policy for Windows 10. While data is notably lacking, there is at the very least a popular perception that the quality of the monthly security updates has taken a dive with Windows 10 and that installation of the twice-annual feature updates as soon as they're available is madness. These complaints are long-standing, too. The unreliable updates have been a cause for concern since shortly after Windows 10's release. The latest problem has brought this to a head, with commentators saying that two feature updates a year is too many and Redmond should cut back to one, and that Microsoft needs to stop developing new features and just fix bugs. Some worry that the company is dangerously close to a serious loss of trust over updates, and for some Windows users, that trust may already have been broken. These are not the first calls for Microsoft to slow down with its feature updates -- there have been concerns that there's too much churn for both IT and consumer audiences alike to handle -- but with the obvious problems of the latest update, the calls take on a new urgency.

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YouTubers Will Enter Politics, And If They Do, They're Probably Going To Win
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
A group of twentysomethings leveraged their huge YouTube audiences and actually won seats in Brazil's federal and state elections. What happens next is anyone's guess. Ryan Broderick, writing for BuzzFeed News: Kim Kataguiri is known in Brazil for a lot of things. He's been called a fascist. He's been called a fake news kingpin. Is he a YouTuber? He definitely uses YouTube. He's definitely a troll. A troll with a consistent message, though, he points out. Maybe he's Brazil's equivalent of Milo Yiannopoulos. His organization, Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL) -- the Free Brazil Movement -- is like the Brazilian Breitbart. Or maybe it's like the American tea party. Maybe it's both. Is it a news network? Kataguiri says it isn't. But it's not a political party, either. He says MBL is just a bunch of young people who love free market economics and memes. One thing is very clear: His YouTube channel, the memes, the fake news, and MBL's army of supporters have helped Kataguiri, 22, become the youngest person ever elected to Congress in Brazil. He's also trying to become Brazil's equivalent of speaker of the House. [...] Kataguiri's political awakening is a textbook example of the way algorithms beget more algorithms. During his last year of high school, his teacher started a debate about welfare programs in Brazil. So Kataguiri started googling. He discovered Ron Paul and the Brazilian libertarian YouTuber Daniel Fraga. "Then I did a video to my teacher and my friends at school to talk about what I had found out," Kataguiri says. "There was one problem: I posted this video on YouTube. So it was public and it went viral." He says people kept asking for more videos, but he didn't know anything. So he went back to googling, and then made more videos about what he learned.

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China Requires Blockchain-Based Information Service Providers To Register Users Using Real Names, Censor Postings and Store User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-China department:
Chinese users will have to register their real names before they can use online information services based on blockchain, in the first set of rules specifically targeting the technology behind digital currencies like bitcoin that is known for providing anonymity for users. From a report: Under proposed new rules, companies and entities operating in China that provide blockchain-based information services will have to ask users to register their real names and national identification card numbers, censor content deemed to pose a threat to national security and store user data to allow inspection by authorities. The Cyberspace Administration of China published the draft regulations on its website on Friday for public consultation until November 2. It is not clear when the rules will come into effect. The latest rules come after an activist in China published an open letter in April about an alleged cover-up of sexual harassment at a top university more than two decades ago on the ethereum blockchain, after the post attracted censors on social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo. The anonymous poster attached the letter to an ether transaction to himself, in a move similar to leaving a note in a bank transfer. But since all transaction records are public on ethereum, the letter can be read by anyone.

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Intel Has Killed off the 10nm Process, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 06:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Charlie Demerjian, reporting for SemiAccurate: SemiAccurate has learned that Intel just pulled the plug on their struggling 10nm process. Before you jump to conclusions, we think this is both the right thing to do and a good thing for the company. For several years now SemiAccurate has been saying the the 10nm process as proposed by Intel would never be financially viable. Now we are hearing from trusted moles that the process is indeed dead and that is a good thing for Intel, if they had continued along their current path the disaster would have been untenable. Our moles are saying the deed has finally been done. This isn't to say the road to this point has been easy or straightforward, and the road ahead is even less solid. Intel has continually moved the public bar on 10nm back, incrementally, while singing a different song internally. In their Q1/2018 earnings call they moved the timetables and spun it in a curious way but were telling partners a different story.

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Hack On 8 Adult Websites Exposes Oodles of Intimate User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 06:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pubic-to-public department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A recent hack of eight poorly secured adult websites has exposed megabytes of personal data that could be damaging to the people who shared pictures and other highly intimate information on the online message boards. Included in the leaked file are (1) IP addresses that connected to the sites, (2) user passwords protected by a four-decade-old cryptographic scheme, (3) names, and (4) 1.2 million unique email addresses, although it's not clear how many of the addresses legitimately belonged to actual users.

Robert Angelini, the owner of wifelovers.com and the seven other breached sites, told Ars on Saturday morning that, in the 21 years they operated, fewer than 107,000 people posted to them. He said he didn't know how or why the almost 98-megabyte file contained more than 12 times that many email addresses, and he hasn't had time to examine a copy of the database that he received on Friday night. Still, three days after receiving notification of the hack, Angelini finally confirmed the breach and took down the sites on early Saturday morning. A notice on the just-shuttered sites warns users to change passwords on other sites, especially if they match the passwords used on the hacked sites. The affected sites "offer a variety of pictures that members say show their spouses," reports Ars. "It's not clear that all of the affected spouses gave their consent to have their intimate images made available online."

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Linus Torvalds is Back in Charge of Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 03:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's captain-returns department:
At Open Source Summit Europe in Edinburgh, Scotland, Linus Torvalds is meeting with Linux's top 40 or so developers at the Maintainers' Summit. This is his first step back in taking over Linux's reins. From a report: A little over a month ago, Torvalds has stepped back from running the Linux development community. Then, in a note to the Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML), Torvalds has said, "I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely." To do, this he took time off "to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely. I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people's emotions and respond appropriately." That time is over. Torvalds is back. Whether he'll be a kinder and gentler Torvalds remains to be seen. In the Linux 4.19 announcement, Greg Kroah-Hartman, Linux's temporary leader and maintainer of the stable branch, wrote: "Linus, I'm handing the kernel tree back to you. You can have the joy of dealing with the merge window :)"

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Bill Gates Honors Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen: He 'Changed My Life'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 22 '18 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-but-never-forgotten department:
In an article published to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Bill Gates reflected on Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's life and the impact Allen had on him. Paul Allen passed away last Monday from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 65. People Magazine reports: "I met Paul Allen when I was in 7th grade, and it changed my life, Gates wrote in the Journal. "I looked up to him right away. He was two years ahead of me in school, really tall, and proved to be a genius with computers... Eventually, we were spending just about all our free time messing around with any machine we could get our hands on." The two would often sneak off during late hours to use the computers at the University of Washington, something Gates said he wouldn't have had the nerve to do without Allen by his side.

Back then, Allen was able to foresee how powerful and essential computers would one day become. When Allen came across an issue of Popular Electronics that featured a powerful computer that was going to be released, he convinced Gates to join him in placing all of their focus into getting in on the computer industry before it took off without them. "That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft," Gates recalled, adding that Allen's talents largely helped to make Microsoft successful at its inception. "As the first person I ever partnered with, Paul set a standard that few other people could meet. He had a wide-ranging mind and a special talent for explaining complicated subjects in a simple way." In closing, Gates wrote: "Paul was cooler than I was. He was really into Jimi Hendrix, and I remember him playing 'Are You Experienced?' for me. I wasn't experienced at much of anything back then, and Paul wanted to share this amazing music with me. That's the kind of person he was. He loved life and the people around him, and it showed."

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A Device That Can Pull Drinking Water From the Air Just Won the Latest XPrize
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 11:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's pushing-the-limits department:
Two years ago, XPrize, which creates challenges that pit the brightest minds against one another, announced that it would give any startup or company $1 million that can turn thin air into water. This month, it announced that the challenge has been concluded. From a report: A new device that sits inside a shipping container can use clean energy to almost instantly bring clean drinking water anywhere -- the rooftop of an apartment building in Nairobi, a disaster zone after a hurricane in Manila, a rural village in Zimbabwe -- by pulling water from the air. The design, from the Skysource/Skywater Alliance, just won $1.5 million in the Water Abundance XPrize. The competition, which launched in 2016, asked designers to build a device that could extract at least 2,000 liters of water a day from the atmosphere (enough for the daily needs of around 100 people), use clean energy, and cost no more than 2 cents a liter. "We do a lot of first principles thinking at XPrize when we start designing these challenges," says Zenia Tata, who helped launch the prize and serves as chief impact officer of XPrize. Nearly 800 million people face water scarcity; other solutions, like desalination, are expensive. Freshwater is limited and exists in a closed system. But the atmosphere, the team realized, could be tapped as a resource. "At any given time, it holds 12 quadrillion gallons -- the number 12 with 19 zeros after it -- a very, very, big number," she says. The household needs for all 7 billion people on earth add up to only around 350 or 400 billion gallons. A handful of air-to-water devices already existed, but were fairly expensive to use. The new system, called WEDEW ("wood-to-energy deployed water") was created by combining two existing systems. One is a device called Skywater, a large box that mimics the way clouds are formed: It takes in warm air, which hits cold air and forms droplets of condensation that can be used as pure drinking water. The water is stored in a tank inside the shipping container, which can then be connected to a bottle refill station or a tap.

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Micron Plans To Buy Out Intel's Stake In Flash Memory Joint Venture For $1.5 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's strategically-sound department:
Micron is planning to exercise a $1.5 billion option to buy Intel's 49% stake in the companies' IM Flash Technologies Joint Venture. "The option is exercisable on Jan. 1, 2019, and Micron says the deal will close six to 12 months after," reports TheStreet. From the report: In a statement, Intel suggests the timing of the deal's closing is at its discretion for up to a year after the option is exercised, while indicating it long expected Micron's decision. The companies have already made a pair of announcements this year that between them that signal the end of their age-old R&D partnership for developing non-volatile memory technologies. IMFT owns a manufacturing plant (fab) in Lehi, Utah that both produces NAND flash memory and is for now the sole manufacturer of 3D XPoint (pronounced 3D cross-point), a memory technology that Micron and Intel co-developed and announced to much fanfare in mid-2015. Intel, via its Optane product line, has a head-start on Micron in launching 3D XPoint-based products. However, Micron, via its QuantX brand, plans to launch its own 3D XPoint offerings in late 2019, using a second generation version of the technology.

< article continued at Slashdot's strategically-sound department >

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GitHub's Website Remains Broken After a Data Storage System Failed Earlier Today
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 09:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-reports department:
Github engineers are trying to repair the data storage system underpinning the code hosting website, which has been presenting users with a "What!?" error for much of the Sunday. From a report: Depending on where you are, you may have been working on some Sunday evening programming, or getting up to speed with work on a Monday morning, using resources on GitHub.com -- and possibly failing miserably as a result of the outage. From about 4pm US West Coast time on Sunday, the website has been stuttering and spluttering. Specifically, the site is still up and serving pages -- it's just intermittently serving out-of-date files, and ignoring submitted Gists, bug reports, and posts. Sometimes, it appears to be serving a read-only cache or older backup of itself, although some fresh code pushes are coming through onto the site. From the status page, it appears a data storage system died, forcing the platform's engineers to move the dot-com's files over to another box. In the meantime, some older versions of files and repos are being served to visitors and users. "We're continuing to work on migrating a data storage system in order to restore access to GitHub.com," the team said just after 5pm PT, adding in the past few minutes: "We are continuing to repair a data storage system for GitHub.com. You may see inconsistent results during this process."

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US Air Pollution Deaths Nearly Halved Between 1990 and 2010
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 09:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from EurekAlert: Air pollution in the U.S. has decreased since about 1990, and a new study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now shows that this air quality improvement has brought substantial public health benefits. The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, found that deaths related to air pollution were nearly halved between 1990 and 2010. The team's analyses showed that deaths related to air pollution exposure in the U.S. decreased by about 47 percent, dropping from about 135,000 deaths in 1990 to 71,000 in 2010.

These improvements in air quality and public health in the U.S. coincided with increased federal air quality regulations, and have taken place despite increases in population, energy and electricity use, and vehicle miles traveled between 1990 and 2010. [...] Still, despite clear improvements, air pollution remains an important public health issue in the U.S. The estimated 71,000 deaths in 2010 translates to 1 of every 35 deaths in the U.S. -- that's as many deaths as we see from all traffic accidents and all gun shootings combined.

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MPlayer, VLC Media Player Hit By Critical Vulnerability
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 06:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hit-and-run department:
A critical remote code execution vulnerability has been spotted in the LIVE555 media streaming library used by popular media players such as VLC and MPlayer. "Maintained by the company Live Networks, the library works with RTP / RTCP, RTSP or SIP protocols, with the ability to process video and audio formats such as MPEG, H.265, H.264, H.263 +, VP8, DV, JPEG, MPEG, AAC, AMR, AC-3, and Vorbis," reports Hackread. From the report: These findings (CVE-2018-4013) have left millions of users of media players vulnerable to cyber attacks, according to Lilith Wyatt, a researcher at the Cisco Talos Intelligence Group. In this case, the flaw lies in the HTTP packet parsing functionality, which analyzes HTTP headers for RTSP tunneling over HTTP, explains. An update has already been issued to address the vulnerability. Therefore, if you are using any of the vulnerable media players make sure they are updated to the latest version.

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TSA Lays Out Plans To Use Facial Recognition For Domestic Flights
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's prepare-yourself department:
The TSA has released its roadmap to use biometrics technology in the coming years. The Verge reports: Customs and Border Protection has been using facial recognition to screen non-U.S. residents on international flights since 2015, a project that was expedited by the Trump administration. Last year, the U.S. government laid out its plans to start expanding the screening tools to U.S. citizens, which would require them to undergo facial scans when they leave the country through a system called the Biometric Pathway. Today's news lays out how the TSA will adopt the same technology, partnering with CBP on biometrics for international travelers, expanding security operations to TSA Precheck members, and eventually, using facial recognition to verify domestic travelers.

TSA says that by moving toward facial recognition technology in a time where travel volume is rising, it's hoping to reduce the need for physical documents like passports and paper tickets. Currently, TSA manually compares the passengers in front of them to their ID photos, but it believes an automated process that can match facial images to photos from passports and visa applications will be more accurate and efficient.

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Armenia Opens $50 Million Bitcoin, Ethereum Mining Farm
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 02:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-late-and-a-dollar-short department:
Armenia has opened a cryptocurrency mining farm to the tune of $50 million. It reportedly mines Bitcoin and Ethereum and consists of 3,000 machines. Chepicap reports: The country's first mining project, launched in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, is headed by Armenian real estate investment company Multi Group Concern and Malta-registered Omnia Tech International Company. Armenian entrepreneur and head of Multi Group, Gagik Tsarukyan said at the ceremony that $50 million had been invested into the farm. The first floor of the farm is designed for an IT business center with around the clock operating services. Bitcoin.com reports that Armenia is working at establishing its own Silicon Valley through the development of a free economic zone that will boast an advanced technology center.

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Not Exercising Worse For Your Health Than Smoking, Diabetes and Heart Disease, Study Reveals
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 01:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-get-moving department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: We've all heard exercise helps you live longer. But a new study [published in the journal JAMA Network Open] goes one step further, finding that a sedentary lifestyle is worse for your health than smoking, diabetes and heart disease. Researchers retrospectively studied 122,007 patients who underwent exercise treadmill testing at Cleveland Clinic between January 1, 1991 and December 31, 2014 to measure all-cause mortality relating to the benefits of exercise and fitness. Those with the lowest exercise rate accounted for 12% of the participants. Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and senior author of the study, said the other big revelation from the research is that fitness leads to longer life, with no limit to the benefit of aerobic exercise. Researchers have always been concerned that "ultra" exercisers might be at a higher risk of death, but the study found that not to be the case. "There is no level of exercise or fitness that exposes you to risk," he said. "We can see from the study that the ultra-fit still have lower mortality."

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Experimental Android App Determines Alertness By Examining Eyes
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 11:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eye-tracking department:
An experimental new Android app developed by a team at Cornell University is designed to determine a person's alertness by examining their eyes. The app, called AlertnessScanner, utilizes a smartphone's front-facing camera to gauge the size of users' pupils. "When we're in an alert state, our sympathetic nervous system causes our pupils to dilate so that we can take in information more easily," reports New Atlas. "On the other hand, when we're tired, our parasympathetic nervous system causes our pupils to contract." From the report: In an initial study, test subjects were prompted to use the app to manually take photos of their pupils, once every three hours. Additionally, six times a day they completed a five-minute phone-based Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), which is an established method of gauging reaction time. When the results of the two alertness-testing methods were compared, they were found to be very similar. That said, it was determined that most people wouldn't like having to make a point of using the app so many times every day. Additionally, in order to properly image the test subjects' pupils, the infrared filters of the phones' cameras had to be removed. The researchers managed to address these problems by changing it so that the app automatically takes a one-second-long burst of 30 pupil photos whenever users unlock their phones; and using a larger 13-megapixel front-facing camera.

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Windows 10 Will Banish Spectre Slowdowns With Google's Retpoline Patch
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 10:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's performance-improvements department:
Microsoft is including Google's mitigation for the Spectre Variant 2 speculative execution side-channel attack in the next release of Windows 10, currently codenamed 19H1. ZDNet reports: Google developed a software-based mitigation for Spectre Variant 2 called Retpoline that constrains speculative execution behavior sufficiently to mitigate an attack. Google's testing found its fix had a negligible effect on performance. Retpoline was implemented by Linux distributions such as Red Hat and SUSE, as well as by Oracle for Oracle Linux 6 and 7. And now, as MSPoweruser spotted, Microsoft's kernel engineers have confirmed that Retpoline will be part of the next version of Windows 10, 19H1, which is due out next year. Google's Retpoline plus Microsoft's own kernel modifications have reduced the performance impact to "noise level", according to Mehmet Iyigun of Microsoft's Windows and Azure kernel team. "Yes, we have enabled Retpoline by default in our 19H1 flights along with what we call 'import optimization' to further reduce perf impact due to indirect calls in kernel-mode. Combined, these reduce the perf impact of Spectre v2 mitigations to noise-level for most scenarios," wrote Iyigun.

"The bad news is that Microsoft didn't include the Retpoline fix in the latest Windows 10 October 2018 Update Redstone 5, or RS5, release, even though, according to CrowdStrike researcher Alex Ionescu, it could have," reports ZDNet.

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How the Finnish Survive Without Small Talk
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 10:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's language-barriers department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Finnish people often forgo the conversational niceties that are hard-baked into other cultures, and typically don't see the need to meet foreign colleagues, tourists and friends in the middle. As Tiina Latvala, a former English instructor in Sodankyla, Lapland, explained, part of her job was to introduce her young students to the concept of small talk. "We had a practice where you had to pretend to meet someone for the first time," Latvala said. "You had to pretend you were meeting at the cafe or on a bus and [that] you didn't know each other and do a bit of chit chat. We had written on the whiteboard all the safe topics so they didn't have to struggle with coming up with something to talk about. We brainstormed. They usually found it really difficult."

< article continued at Slashdot's language-barriers department >

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Will Tech Leave Detroit In the Dust?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 21 '18 at 09:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-of-transportation department:
As automotive companies shift their focus to software and services in the pursuit of self-driving cars, the impact to large manufacturing cities like Detroit could be drastic. The Wall Street Journal explores this "transformation without precedent" and poses the question: will tech leave Detroit in the dust? From the report: Auto makers point out that they have one advantage that newcomers to the industry don't: vehicles. "Ultimately, you can have the best services platform there is, but if you don't have the vehicles to operate on it, that won't do you much good," said Sam Abuelsamid, a senior analyst with Navigant research. "That's where the manufacturers have an ace in the hole." Many analysts believe businesses like Uber and Alphabet's self-driving tech subsidiary Waymo won't have the appetite to get into the low-margin, capital-intensive business of car manufacturing. Some auto executives say they can hold on to their roles as hardware providers while also tapping into the growth of more-profitable services. Mr. Stackmann said VW can earn millions more customers than it currently has by offering transportation as a service through a network of connected cars. "They talk about scalability, but where is the added value from Uber?" he said. "We have a technical foundation and will build connectivity into our vehicles to connect them and our customers to our ecosystem. In the long term, the question will be: Why do you need Uber?"

< article continued at Slashdot's future-of-transportation department >

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