Truth will out. In a long-awaited safety report, Uber on Thursday disclosed 3,045 allegations of sexual assaults involving its drivers and passengers in the United States last year amid 1.3 billion trips. That's about 1 in every 427,000 rides. There were also 9 murders and 58 people killed in traffic accidents.
Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up. Gearing up for the next round of the phone wars, Samsung is preparing mega-upgrades to the cameras in its devices; mega as in megapixels, that is. The Korean phonemaker will add a 108 megapixel camera and 5X telephoto lens to its Galaxy S11 smartphone next year, Bloomberg reports. This year's cameras topped out at a lowly 16 megapixels. Rumors are also circulating about the 2021 (!) Apple iPhone. It may have no ports at all, relying on wireless for charging and data exchanges, the well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says.
Maclunkey. Speaking of wireless iPhone tech, the privacy mystery in Apple's newest models has been cracked. Researcher and writer Brian Krebs noticed earlier this week that iPhone 11 models appear to be seeking location data even when all controls and apps have location services turned off (to avoid tracking). That could have been a big black eye for privacy-conscious Apple–and its marketing department. But the company admitted on Thursday that the leaks were related a new ultra wideband wireless technology in the phones. Apple said it would add a setting to disable the service to a future software update.
I'm still talkin' champagne. It's been fun tracking the battle among tech giants Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google for the title of world's most valuable public company (Apple is currently in the lead with a market cap of $1.2 trillion). But all that will fall away, at least for a while, as Saudi Aramco goes public today at a stock market valuation of $1.7 trillion.
HRRRRRRRRRRrrisse and Shyneeee. While you were at work all week, or maybe working from home on a snowy day, the stars at Qualcomm and the reporters who cover them were in Hawaii for the company's annual new products shindig. Of course, there are new chips for phones with even better 5G capabilities (and, in some cases, lower prices, too). There's also new silicon, dubbed the XR2 platform, to run virtual and augmented reality headsets.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
They're teaching artificial intelligence programs to perform so many human tasks. How about painting and sculpture? Some say the machines can't make true art, but Arthur I. Miller disagrees. The emeritus professor of history and the philosophy of science at University College London argues that the works of computers are offering a unique perspective on the world, just as human artists do, as he explains in an interview with Nautilus.
The machine sees the world in a different way than we see the world. Just like an artist does. That gives you an inkling that machines will have a different physiology. In time, they will evolve emotions. Just from scanning the web now, they could imitate our emotions. They’ll say, “Oh, thirst, that’s cool. I think I’ll be thirsty,” and they can convince you they’re thirsty. “Love, that sounds cool too, I just had this nice discussion with a machine down the street, and it seems like love.” They’ll hone their notion of love by reading novels, and soon they will evolve emotions and consciousness. That will be the point of artificial general intelligence. Then it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to artificial superintelligence, where they go beyond us in intelligence, emotions, and consciousness.
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FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
A few long reads that I came across this week:
Ponzi Schemes, Private Yachts, and a Missing $250 Million in Crypto: the Strange Tale of Quadriga (Vanity Fair)
When Canadian blockchain whiz Gerald Cotten died unexpectedly last year, hundreds of millions of dollars in investor funds vanished into the crypto ether. But when the banks, the law, and the forces of Reddit tried to track down the cash, it turned out the young mogul may not have been who he purported to be.
When a Disappointment Helped Lead to a Nobel Prize (New York Times)
The winners of this year’s Nobel in economics did pioneering field experiments that sometimes didn’t work as expected.
Inside Larry Page’s Turbulent Kitty Hawk: Returned Deposits, Battery Fires And A Boeing Shakeup (Forbes)
The technology is one thing, but 80% of the effort is in productizing and building an aircraft that can be certified.
How I Get By: A Week in the Life of a McDonald’s Cashier (Vice)
Cierra Brown is trying to do all she can on her own, but it rarely feels like she’s doing enough.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Meet Evil Corp., the Hacker Group Feds Say Stole $100 Million From Banks By Chris Morris
Can Sundar Pichai Bring Order to Alphabet? Former Google Employees Have Doubts and Hope By Danielle Abril
Gift Guide: Winning Presents for the Video Gamers on Your List By Lisa Marie Segarra
The Newest Perk at W Hotels: A Rent the Runway Closet Concierge Service By Rachel King
BEFORE YOU GO
The Sundance Film Festival is almost always chock full of interesting movies that I put on my "must see" list. The lineup for next year's festival is out and I'm enticed once again. Actress Elizabeth Moss always picks great roles and she's starring as author Shirley Jackson in Shirley. There's also the Gloria Steinem biopic The Glorias. And don't sleep on the Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana. Get your popcorn ready!
On Twitter: @ampressman