Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Were Struggling Before Arizona Crash

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Were Struggling Before Arizona Crash SAN FRANCISCO — Uber’s robotic vehicle project was not living up to expectations months before a self-driving car operated by the company struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz.
The cars were having trouble driving through construction zones and next to tall vehicles, like big rigs. And Uber’s human drivers had to intervene far more frequently than the drivers of competing autonomous car projects.
Waymo, formerly the self-driving car project of Google, said that in tests on roads in California last year, its cars went an average of nearly 5,600 miles before the driver had to take control from the computer to steer out of trouble. As of March, Uber was struggling to meet its target of 13 miles per “intervention” in Arizona, according to 100 pages of company documents obtained by The New York Times and two people familiar with the company’s operations in the Phoenix area but not permitted to speak publicly about it.
Yet Uber..

Zuckerberg Takes Steps to Calm Facebook Employees

Zuckerberg Takes Steps to Calm Facebook Employees Photo Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has been on an apology tour of sorts this week for his company’s mishandling of data privacy. On Friday, he spoke to employees. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO — For the past week, Mark Zuckerberg has grappled with a backlash from lawmakers, regulators and users over Facebook’s mishandling of data privacy. He has also had to face another restive group: his own employees.
The Facebook chief executive has taken multiple steps over the past few days to communicate with the social network’s 25,000 employees over revelations last week that a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, had improperly obtained data of 50 million Facebook users.
The Silicon Valley company held a staff meeting on Tuesday to answer questions about Cambridge Analytica, featuring one of Facebook’s lawyers, Paul Grewal. On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Zuckerberg addressed employees directl..

Siri, Alexa and That Google Gal Will Get You Only So Far

Siri, Alexa and That Google Gal Will Get You Only So Far Photo Credit Anna Godeassi In 2015, when the Silicon Valley C.E.O. Mike Chen was working on a health care start-up, he and his colleagues had one of those light bulb moments regarding digital assistance.
“There should be something where you can just text it, and it just, like, does it for you,” he said. Three years later, his remote personal-assistant company, Magic, has employees in the United States and the Philippines. Its promise is bold: to do “anything” for customers who send requests over text or email, Mr. Chen said, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
Fin, another new virtual personal-assistant company, is the brainchild of Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina, a founder of the popular mobile payment service Venmo. Fin is similar to Magic but costs $1 per minute instead of 59 cents, and only uses assistants in the United States (though they work out of Arizona, rather than the company’s San Francisco headquarters). Its sleek, z..

Bargain Booze owner set to go into administration risking 2,500 jobs

Conviviality says it is exploring options for a potential sale of all or parts of the business
The owner of Bargain Booze has said that it intends to appoint administrators within the next 10 business days “unless circumstances change”, putting 2,500 jobs at risk.
In a brief statement, Conviviality said that it intends to keep trading and to work alongside advisers “in order to preserve as much value as possible for all stakeholders”.
It said that it is exploring options for a potential sale of all or parts of the business.
Read more Death of the high street? Closures and cuts paint grim scene for 2018 Shares in the company, which are listed on the AIM division of the London Stock Exchange, will be suspended pending further notice.
Conviviality is the latest in a string of high street names to succumb to financial pressure. In recent weeks it has issued a string of profit warnings and its chief executive has stepped down after the group revealed a £30m tax bill that it had pre..

How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google

How Calls for Privacy May Upend Business for Facebook and Google Photo The recent revelation that the voter profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook users has raised an uproar over the digital business model of consumers giving up their data for free services. Credit Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images SAN FRANCISCO — The contemporary internet was built on a bargain: Show us who you really are and the digital world will be free to search or share.
People detailed their interests and obsessions on Facebook and Google, generating a river of data that could be collected and harnessed for advertising. The companies became very rich. Users seemed happy. Privacy was deemed obsolete, like bloodletting and milkmen.
Now, the consumer surveillance model underlying Facebook and Google’s free services is under siege from users, regulators and legislators on both sides of the Atlantic. It amounts to a crisis for an internet industry that up until no..

To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen

To Invade Homes, Tech Is Trying to Get in Your Kitchen Photo Credit Chris Philpot SAN FRANCISCO — On a recent Saturday night, German Salazar made chicken tacos for his friends while they chatted with him in his kitchen. Occasionally, he interrupted the conversation to talk to another friend: Google.
Mr. Salazar was speaking to Google Home, the artificially intelligent speaker living on his kitchen counter. “Hey Google, set a timer for 20 minutes,” he said, to activate a countdown for when the chicken would be cooked and ready for shredding.
At first, Mr. Salazar’s friends snickered when he talked to the speaker. But after a few bottles of wine, everyone began grilling Google Home with questions and requests: “How much did Jamie Lee Curtis make in ‘True Lies’?” and “Tell me a joke.”
For many people, the kitchen is the center of the home and a locus for interactions that go beyond preparing and eating food. Now tech companies and appliance makers, aiming to deepen their relationships wit..

Apple Goes to Hollywood. Will Its Story Have a Happy Ending?

Apple Goes to Hollywood. Will Its Story Have a Happy Ending? Photo Credit Getty Images (Spielberg, Spencer, Chazelle, Witherspoon); Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times (Shyamalan) Known for its bold designs and its big marketing campaigns, Apple relishes its status as a dominant force in the corporate world. So it was noteworthy when one of its executives, Eddy Cue, struck a note of humility during a discussion this month at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Tex.
“We don’t know anything about making television,” said Mr. Cue, a senior vice president who oversees the team in charge of the company’s original programming initiative. “So what skills does Apple bring to that? And the viewpoint is: very little. There’s other things we bring. We know how to create apps, we know how to do distribution, we know how to market. But we don’t really know how to create shows.”
As Mr. Cue’s words suggested, Apple’s new venture has taken the company far from its Silicon Valley comfort..