Tempe police chief says Uber “preliminarily…would likely not be at fault” for fatal crash

The chief of police in Tempe, Arizona, where an Uber self-driving car just hit and killed a pedestrian, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that “I suspect preliminarily it appears that the Uber would likely not be at fault in this accident.” Chief Sylvia Moir explained after viewing the car’s own video of the event that “she came from the shadows right into the roadway,” and that “it would have been difficult to avoid this collision in any kind of mode.” A lighted crosswalk was nearby but the place where the accident occurred was in the dark. The car would almost certainly have been aware of the pedestrian, but it’s also possible that she moved out in front of the car faster than the car could reasonably be stopped. The details are known only to Uber and the authorities at present and it wouldn’t be right to speculate
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Selling data on millions ‘is the opposite of our business model,’ says Facebook’s Boz

Facebook’s former VP of ads has weighed in on the ongoing disaster involving his company’s apparent negligence in allowing data on as many as 50 million users to be used for nefarious purposes by Cambridge Analytica. In a post on (what else) Facebook, Andrew “Boz” Bosworth gave variations on the line we’ve come to expect from tech in these situations: They’re not supposed to do that, and anyway how could we have known? “This is the opposite of our business model,” he wrote. “Our interests are aligned with users when it comes to protecting data.” What reason could you possibly have to be skeptical of this declamation? He said much more than that, of course, and very earnestly indeed, but if you cut through the prevarication here’s the simplified timeline:
  1. Facebook deliberately allows developers to collect a bunch of data from users who authorize it, plus a bunch
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Internet Archive adds trove of cheap LCD handhelds to its emulation collection

During CES, the single piece of electronics I spent the most time with, apart from my laptop and camera, was a Mattel Dungeons & Dragons Computer Fantasy Game handheld. This decades-old device held the attention of John Biggs and myself through quite a few drinks as we navigated its arcane interface (eventually slaying the dragon, thank you). These cheap handhelds, sold as impulse buys at drug stores and Toys ‘R Us (RIP), are the latest thing to be collected and emulated in full by MAME and the Internet Archive. At first when I heard this, I was happy but not particularly impressed. They’re great little devices — mostly terrible games, albeit a nostalgic kind of terrible — but how complicated can they be? Oh, quite complicated, it turns out. Unlike, say, an NES ROM, these little gadgets don’t have their graphics palettized, their logic isolated, etc. No, each one of
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Here’s how Uber’s self-driving cars are supposed to detect pedestrians

A self-driving vehicle made by Uber has struck and killed a pedestrian. It’s the first such incident and will certainly be scrutinized like no other autonomous vehicle interaction in the past. But on the face of it it’s hard to understand how, short of a total system failure, this could happen when the entire car has essentially been designed around preventing exactly this situation from occurring. Something unexpectedly entering the vehicle’s path is pretty much the first emergency event that autonomous car engineers look at. The situation could be many things — a stopped car, a deer, a pedestrian — and the systems are one and all designed to detect them as early as possible, identify them, and take appropriate action. That could be slowing, stopping, swerving, anything. Uber’s vehicles are equipped with several different imaging systems which work both ordinary duty (monitoring nearby cars, signs, and lane markings) and
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IBM working on ‘world’s smallest computer’ to attach to just about everything

IBM is hard at work on the problem of ubiquitous computing, and its approach, understandably enough, is to make a computer small enough that you might mistake it for a grain of sand. Eventually these omnipresent tiny computers could help authenticate products, track medications and more. Look closely at the image above and you’ll see the device both on that pile of salt and on the person’s finger. No, not that big one. Look closer: It’s an evolution of IBM’s “crypto anchor” program, which uses a variety of methods to create what amounts to high-tech watermarks for products that verify they’re, for example, from the factory the distributor claims they are, and not counterfeits mixed in with genuine items. The “world’s smallest computer,” as IBM continually refers to it, is meant to bring blockchain capability into this; the security advantages of blockchain-based logistics and tracking could be brought to something
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Suspicious likes lead to researcher lighting up a 22,000-strong botnet on Twitter

Botnets are fascinating to me. Who creates them? What are they for? And why doesn’t someone delete them? The answers are probably less interesting than I hope, but in the meantime I like to cheer when large populations of bots are exposed. That’s what security outfit F-Secure’s Andy Patel did this week after having his curiosity piqued by a handful of strange likes on Twitter . Curious about the origin of this little cluster of random likes, which he just happened to see roll in one after another, he noticed that the accounts in question all looked… pretty fake. Cute girl avatar, weird truncated bio (“Waiting you”; “You love it harshly”), and a shortened URL which, on inspection, led to “adult dating” sites. So it was a couple bots designed to lure users to scammy sites. Simple enough. But after seeing that there were a few more of the same type
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GrokStyle’s visual search tech makes it into IKEA’s Place AR app

GrokStyle’s simple concept of “point your camera at a chair (or lamp, or table…) and find others like it for sale” attracted $2 million in funding last year, and the company has been putting that cash to work. And remarkably for a company trying to break into the home furnishing market, it landed furniture goliath IKEA as its first real customer; GrokStyle’s point-and-search functionality is being added to the IKEA Place AR app. What GrokStyle does, in case you don’t remember, is identify any piece of furniture your camera can see — in your house, at a store, in a catalog — and immediately return similar pieces or even the exact one, with links to buy them. I remember being skeptical last year that the product could possibly work as well as they said it did. But a demo shut my mouth real quick. The growing team is led
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