TIME Innovation

How Quantum Computers Are Prepared for Hackers

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Your passwords — and everybody else’s — won’t stand a chance against a hacker with a quantum computer.

By Dan Goodin in Ars Technica

2. Is China the new Spanish Empire?

By Jacob Soll in Politico Europe

3. The earned income tax credit keeps millions out of poverty. Leave it alone.

By the Editors of Bloomberg View

4. NASA wants to stop hitching rides to space with Russia.

By Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden in Wired

5. Google has a secret interview process — and it starts with your Google searches.

By Max Rosett in the Hustle

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Google

How A Fixed Gear Bike Can Mess With Google’s Self-Driving Cars

Sensors are confused by the cyclist's rocking motion

Google’s self-driving cars have driven over a million miles in autonomous mode. But when Google brought its testing program to Austin, Texas, one of the vehicles met its match: a cyclist doing a track stand – when a rider shifts very slightly forward and back to maintain balance while keeping feet on the pedals.

Whereas our brains can predict relatively easily how a car, pedestrian or cyclist might act, computers have to be programmed to recognize different patterns of behavior on the road.

According to a report in The Washington Post, one cyclist in Austin rode up to a stop sign at a four-way intersection and started track standing as he waited for the Google car to carry on. In his account posted on an online forum, he explains that the car apparently detected his presence and stayed stationary, struggling to work out whether the rider was moving forward or not:

it finally began to proceed, but as it did, I rolled forward an inch while still standing. the car immediately stopped…

I continued to stand, it continued to stay stopped. then as it began to move again, I had to rock the bike to maintain balance. it stopped abruptly.

we repeated this little dance for about 2 full minutes and the car never made it past the middle of the intersection. the two guys inside were laughing and punching stuff into a laptop, I guess trying to modify some code to ‘teach’ the car something about how to deal with the situation.

The cyclist balancing on his pedals, while moving a tiny bit to keep upright, confused a computer’s understanding of how cycles behave. And while Google is continuing to refine its software, for now it seems they have some way to go before self-driving cars are ready to hit the road.

[Washington Post]

MONEY Opinion

Self-Driving Cars Won’t Arrive Anytime Soon

US-BRAZIL-DIPLOMCY
JOSH EDELSON—AFP/Getty Images Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff takes a ride in a self-driving car at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California on Wednesday, July 01, 2015.

To reap the benefits of a driverless future, most cars on the road will need self-driving capabilities and be able to communicate with each other.

There’s no question that the idea of an autonomous or “self-driving” car has a great deal of appeal. There’s also no question that a world in which most of the vehicles on the roads are automated will be safer and more efficient than today’s jammed highways.

But when is that world coming? Some tech enthusiasts would have us believe that a self-driving future is just around the corner. But investors hoping to ride this trend should consider the possibility that it will be many years before the idealized self-driving future will be a reality.

The future vision is compelling
When people talk about the promise autonomous or “self-driving” cars, they generally mean vehicles that both drive themselves and communicate with the other vehicles and infrastructure around them.

Once the roads are flooded with these vehicles, the argument goes, accidents and traffic jams will be greatly reduced — and travel by car will be safer, swifter, and more pleasant.

That all sounds true to me. Companies (and regulators) are already working hard to bring about that future. But there’s a catch: To get all of the great benefits, most of the cars on the road have to have self-driving (and intercommunication) capabilities.

That’s why I think that a fully self-driving future is probably still a long way off, even though self driving cars are already heading to market.

Self-driving cars are already emerging …
It’s possible to argue that the first self-driving car has already arrived — but only for an extremely limited definition of “self-driving.”

Daimler‘s DAIMLER AG DDAIF -1.28% Mercedes-Benz already has an extremely limited self-driving feature available on a couple of models: It can take the wheel in stop-and-go highway traffic. But it only works up to 37 miles per hour, and it doesn’t work when you’re not bumper-to-bumper on a clearly marked highway.

General Motors, Tesla Motors TESLA MOTORS INC. TSLA 2.27% , and a few other automakers are expected to release similar systems over the next 18 months or so. In fact, Tesla has promised that a software update for existing Model S sedans will enable some limited self-driving abilities in the near future, possibly before the end of 2015.

For now, these first systems will mostly be gadgets in expensive luxury cars. Think of them as increasingly smart versions of cruise control rather than as robots that can drive your car.

But the expectation is that these systems will get more sophisticated over time, and automakers will gradually add them to mainstream models as costs come down. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is already working on standards for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and a few automakers — again, starting with luxury brands — are rolling out some very limited capabilities.

… but a self-driving future is still many years away
I’ve talked to several auto-industry executives about the likely timeline for self-driving cars. All agree that fully self-driving vehicles won’t be available for a while yet. That’s partly because the government is still figuring out the rules for such vehicles, and partly because the technology still has to overcome some big technical challenges: For instance, rain can be very confusing to a self-driving car’s sensors.

These executives say that while many manufacturers have promised self-driving cars by 2020, it’s likely to be several years after that before true, fully self-driving vehicles are available to the mass market.

But even if those cars were to hit the market tomorrow, there’s another reason it’ll take a long time before that utopian self-driving future emerges: It’s what the auto industry calls “replacement rate.”

Here’s the key figure: The average vehicle on U.S. roads today is over 11 years old. Vehicles built today are much more durable and reliable than the vehicles of 20 or 30 years ago. People (and businesses, and governments) are keeping them longer.

It’s possible that most every new car on the U.S. market will have self-driving capabilities within a decade. But even if that happens, it’s likely that it will takeanother decade before most of the cars on U.S. roads have that ability.

That is, unless some sort of big disruption happens.

Even the Apple Car won’t change that
The alternative view is that the emergence of self-driving technology leads to a sudden move away from the idea of private car ownership. Instead of dealing with the hassles of owning (and driving, and parking, and fixing, and insuring) cars, people will opt to subscribe to an automated car service that can take them wherever they need to go, without the hassles.

I think it’s likely that Apple (among others) is looking to create such a service. There has been a lot of speculation about an Apple car, but I don’t think Apple wants to enter the auto business. I think the company is exploring the idea of creating a premium car service using automated electric cars.

Uber is also believed to be working on such a service, and it’s a safe bet that other companies are as well. But even if that alternative vision is the one that prevails, it’ll almost certainly be many years before it spreads beyond the city environments where Uber is succeeding with human drivers now. And in the meantime, people outside those cities will still be buying (and probably driving, at least part of the time) familiar-looking cars and trucks from the established automakers.

Either way, that self-driving future is more than just a few years away.

John Rosevear owns shares of Apple and General Motors.

More From Motley Fool:

MONEY Autos

Google Is Developing a System to Map Potholes Using a Car’s GPS

Google Pothole GPS Map Patent
Boston Globe/Getty Images Boston Public Works uses a Smartphone app to report potholes. Google has a new solution in the works.

It filed a patent for "systems and methods for monitoring and reporting road quality" last week.

Everyone hates potholes. They can spill your coffee, tax your suspension, and if you’re a cyclist, they can easily leave you with a broken collarbone.

Last week, Google filed a patent to help solve pothole problems, describing a system that uses the GPS from cars’ navigation systems in conjunction with another bump sensor that detects vertical movement to map out potholes. Then, the system uploads the data to the cloud.

Fixing potholes is simple—municipalities and states simply fill them in—but locating them is inefficient, usually relying on people to fill out a form and report them individually. If Google puts this technology into cars, an entire database of road condition would be available to the Department of Transportation, enabling it easily identify and prioritize problem areas.

As Autoblog notes, a patent isn’t a guarantee Google will actually develop this into a reality, but judging from Google’s forays into self-driving cars it seems likely.

TIME Innovation

Facebook Should Pay for Our Data

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Facebook should pay all of us.

By Tim Wu in the New Yorker

2. Could Google could rig the 2016 election?

By Robert Epstein in Politico

3. Don’t be shocked. Amazon’s culture is the American workplace.

By Michael Cohen in the Boston Globe

4. For Putin, Crimea went from long lost relative to problem child.

By Carol Matlack in Bloomberg Business

5. Are Americans losing their right to walk?

By Antonia Malchik in Aeon

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Companies

Google Lost Data After Lightning Hit Its Data Center in Belgium

It says it is making upgrades to prevent it from happening again in the future

Despite the popular saying, lightning does strike twice, or even four times — as it did at a Google data center in Belgium last Thursday, causing problems for the next several days and leading to permanent data loss for a small percentage of unlucky users.

The problem began when the facility lost power briefly during one of the late-summer thunderstorms common in the area. That caused problems with reading or writing data for about five percent of disks in the data center. Most were fixed but data on .000001% of the center’s total disk space was lost. “In these cases, full recovery is not possible,” the company said in a statement.

Google accepts full responsibility for the incident and says it is making upgrades to prevent something like this from happening again.

TIME YouTube

YouTube Opens Studio In Bollywood

Google Holds Event For Creators At YouTube Tokyo Space
Kiyoshi Ota—Bloomberg/Getty Images An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google Inc.'s YouTube logo displayed at the company's YouTube Space studio in Tokyo, Japan, on March 30, 2013.

The video network is set to open its seventh YouTube Space studio for film makers.

YouTube is planning to open a studio for film creators in Mumbai, India, the company said on Wednesday.

Launching in partnership with renowned Indian film school Whistling Woods International, the new space will be at the center of Mumbai’s film and television production hub, Filmcity. “Through this collaboration, India’s popular up-and-coming YouTube creators, as well as their students, will have free access to Whistling Woods’ studios, high-end audio, visual and editing equipment, in addition to training programs, workshops and community events,” YouTube said in a blog post.

The number of Indian YouTube creators and viewers has exploded in the last few years. Two of the company’s creators, comedy collective AIB and entertainment network TVF, recently reached 1 million fans within two years of being on YouTube, according to the company. Mumbai is also home to Bollywood, a popular Indian film genre and booming sub-market of the Indian film industry.

The YouTube Space in Mumbai is the company’s seventh, after launching similar ventures in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York City, Sao Paulo, and Berlin. Since it launched its first Space in 2012, creators have visited the locations more than 100,000 times, they’ve held more than 800 events and workshops, and have yielded more than 11,000 videos, according to YouTube.

Work has already begun on the new space, which is set to open soon.

TIME Google

Google Went Public 11 Years Ago Today

Google Goes Public
Chris Hondros—Getty Images The Google logo appears on a screen and ticker inside the NASDAQ Marketsite just before the markets close Aug. 19, 2004.

Its stock price is up more than 1,500%

Google’s stock has been, historically, one of the best performers in the stock market over the last decade. But 11 years ago to this day, Google’s IPO was considered a disappointment.

On August 19, 2004, Google went public with a price of $85 for its roughly 19.6 million shares, which as CNBC’s Bob Pisani noted, was at the low end of expectations. The reason was manifold, starting with Google’s choice to sell their shares through a Dutch auction, where buyers went online to indicate the price and amount of shares they wanted until Google determined a fair price for their shares. As USA Today recounts, this didn’t please those who wanted the option of offering first dips at these shares to their interested clients.

People were also skeptical of the then-search engine’s revenue stream and general business model. As detailed in this Fortune article, one of our writers even took to calling those who wanted in on the Google IPO “a sucker.”

Those who bought in have been rewarded handsomely. On a split-adjusted basis, Google’s stock price is up more than 1,500% from its offering price. It has done so well, that only 10 other current members of the stock index have done better. Google’s market capitalization of more than $460 billion makes it the second biggest company in the world after Apple. And with recent news of consolidation under a new parent company called Alphabet, many believe this could result in more clarity and transparency on Google’s wide-range of businesses, and boost the stock price even more.

TIME Nuance

This New Dictation App Is More Powerful Than Any You’ve Ever Seen

Apple Poised to Sell 10 Million IPhones in Record Debut
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A customer tries the Siri voice assistant function on an Apple Inc. iPhone.

Siri can't compete.

Nuance plans to launch its new Dragon Anywhere dictation app this fall on iOS and Android, the Verge reports.

Most of us already have basic dictation features that come with our phones, but this app is much more powerful than any of the features offered by Apple and Google. Those companies’ features require you to constantly stop and wait, and with varying levels of success. Dragon Anywhere, on the other hand, has proved to be “quite accurate.”

Users can also navigate the app using voice commands. They can move between entries, edit a document, and customize dictionaries and text shortcuts that can be synced between devices onto a Dragon desktop app.

Voice dictation apps aren’t in high demand for most people, especially since we already have the basic feature on our smartphones. However, Nuance believes that this app will be successful with professionals, such as doctors, service workers, and anyone else who constantly needs to fill out forms or record lengthy notes.

The only downside about this app is that it will exclusively be available as a subscription, the price of which has yet to be determined because running the servers to keep up with all the transcriptions will be expensive for Nuance. The desktop application will be sold at a flat rate.

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