TIME Innovation

Here’s the First Prototype of Google’s Self-Driving Car

Gordon De Los Santos—Google

Google built the prototype from scratch, layering self-driving technology onto a patchwork of auto parts

Google unveiled its first prototype of a fully-functional, self-driving car on Monday, promising to send it for a whirl on its test track over the holidays.

“Today we’re unwrapping the best holiday gift we could’ve imagined,” Google wrote in a post on the project’s official blog page, “the first real build of our self-driving vehicle prototype. “

Google’s engineers built a variety of prototypes from the ground up. Each model combined self-driving technology, such as laser guided steering, with car parts from conventional suppliers. “We’ve now put all those systems together in this fully functional vehicle—our first complete prototype for fully autonomous driving.”

Project director Chris Urmson has previously told the Wall Street Journal that Google is not interested in manufacturing the cars themselves, but was looking to partner with existing auto makers in a bid to commercialize the technology in five years.

 

TIME North Korea

North Korea Suffers Internet Blackout

Evergreen Enterprise On the Road in North Korea
Portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are illuminated on a building side as the sun rises over Pyongyang, June 14, 2014. David Guttenfelder—AP

The failure comes after the hack on Sony which has been linked to the rogue state by the U.S. government

North Korea’s Internet connectivity went dark Monday, just days after President Obama warned the U.S. would launch a “proportional response” to the attack against Sony.

The hermit country’s Internet access first became unstable late Friday and worsened over the weekend. By Monday, North Korea’s Internet was completely offline. The country’s Internet connection appeared to show signs of life later by around 5:00 pm ET, according to the Internet company CloudFlare, but traffic had not yet recommenced.

Security researchers said that the network failure in North Korea appeared to be a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, in which hackers flood a network with traffic until it collapses. “Their networks are under duress,” Doug Madory of Dyn Research told the Times. “This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers.”

But Matthew Prince, the co-founder of Cloudflare said Internet connection in North Korea had been flickering on and off all morning, indicating that the attack—if that’s what it was—was likely not technologically sophisticated. “It’s far more likely this attack was carried out by a 15-year old kid in a Guy Fawkes mask than the National Security Agency,” Prince told TIME. “If a nation state decided they would launch this attack, it’s much more likely you’d see a total collapse.”

President Obama said Friday the United States will respond to North Korea over its cyberattack on Sony Pictures, but did not say whether his administration would order an attack on the hermit nation’s networks.

DDoS attacks are traditionally associated with so-called “hacktivist” groups who are often ideologically allied with nation-states but lack extensive cyber capabilities. The civil war in Ukraine has sparked a surge in DDoS attacks by outside groups against both separatists and Ukraine’s government, as did the recent war between Hamas and Israel.

North Korea has an extremely limited connection to the worldwide web, and even a primitive DDoS attack could knock the country off the Internet, security researchers said. The country has just 1,024 Internet protocol addresses, compared with the United States’ billions of addresses.

Last week, a London teenager pleaded guilty to successfully launching a DDoS attack against the anti-spam service Spamhaus, whose Internet connectivity is much greater than North Korea’s likely is.

North Korea’s Internet connection is routed through a Chinese telecommunication company called Unicom. Prince said that the collapse of Internet connectivity could also be due to China’s Unicom “kinking the hose” with North Korea, or North Korean shutting the Internet off itself.

The White House declined to comment to the Associated Press on Monday. In the past, most U.S. cyber operations have reportedly been aimed at collecting defense operations or obtaining communications between terrorism suspects.

READ NEXT North Korea Threatens Strikes on U.S. Amid Hacking Claims

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TIME

Bitcoin Trader Sentenced for Silk Road Money Laundering Scheme

Tribeca Talks: After The Movie: The Rise and Rise Of Bitcoin - 2014 Tribeca Film Festival
Charlie Shrem attends Tribeca Talks: After The Movie: The Rise and Rise Of Bitcoin during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival at the SVA Theater on April 23, 2014 in New York City. Astrid Stawiarz—Getty Images

Charlie Shrem stood accused of supplying upwards of $1 million in Bitcoins to money laundering ring

A prominent Bitcoin trader was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday for facilitating an illicit exchange of bitcoins for cash through the online marketplace, Silk Road.

Charlie Shrem, a former vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, stood accused of securing roughly $1 million in bitcoins for Robert Failla, a Silk Road user who allegedly helped drug trafficking rings swap the digital currency for cash, the BBC reports.

Shrum’s defense team argued that he was only a Bitcoin enthusiast unwittingly caught up in an illicit trade, but the presiding judge ruled that Shrum was not, “some kid making a one-time mistake,” and the evidence suggested that Shrum “excitedly” supplied a steady stream of Bitcoins to Silk Road’s users. Shrum was also ordered to forfeit $950,000 to U.S. authorities, BBC reports.

Law enforcement officials shut down Silk Road following a 2013 sting operation against its users.

TIME the big picture

Your Tablet Will Be Your TV: 5 Bold Tech Predictions for 2015

Tablet Television
2 people watching television on a tablet. Nick David—Getty Images

And Apple will make the MacBook Air even thinner

Every winter for the last 26 years, I’ve taken a stab at predicting tech trends for the upcoming year. I’ve had a solid track record: Last year, I was half-right when I said Google would spin off Motorola — it was instead sold to Lenovo. I also predicted PC sales could actually grow in 2014, and that was basically true: In 2013, PC sales were down 10%, and this year they’ll only be off by about 2.5%. That resurgence came as people figured out their shiny new tablets couldn’t fully replace their PCs.

Oh, and back in 1998, I said Apple would be the largest consumer electronics company in the world within a decade. I remember that one mostly because the piece got so many comments calling me an idiot.

With that in mind, here are my top five predictions for tech in 2015:

1. Tablets will be positioned as personal TVs. The tablet market has become competitive enough to drive prices down to the point that about half of American adults own one. Tablets have become major hits worldwide, too, especially lost-cost models meant for consuming media.

But in 2015, we will see a major push to position tablets as personal televisions. Qualcomm’s new Broadcast LTE chip, which enables media to be broadcast directly to a smartphone or tablet, will help make this happen. One of China’s major TV broadcasters, for example, is creating a branded tablet marketed as a TV that can get all of the broadcasters’ content as part of a subscription service. The Chinese tablet will be $99 with a small monthly content fee.

I already turn all my tablets into televisions via Slingbox, but I need a secondary device to make it happen. Tablet owners can already get video content via apps like Netflix or over the web, but come next year, tablets will be marketed as televisions first and computing devices second.

2. Streaming media will be everywhere. HBO’s decision to offer streaming-only services in early 2015 is a big deal. This type of unbundling of traditional cable content is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving even more content into direct streaming models and services. Add to that the dedicated social media platforms being developed around streaming content and shared viewing from remote locations, and next year we could see streaming media expand its reach and have a big impact on traditional media distribution.

3. Apple will release a new ultra-thin, ultra-light MacBook Air. While Apple is rumored to be releasing a bigger iPad next year, I think Apple’s really big hit in 2015 — besides the Apple Watch — will be a newly designed MacBook Air. Apple’s MacBook Air pushed the laptop market to thin and light designs overall, but if Apple does something even thinner and lighter with a new MacBook Air (and maybe a retina display) it could make “ultra-thins” the next big thing in laptops.

4. Application-specific tablets will take the market by storm. Did you know it’s cheaper to buy a $99 tablet than a souped up clock radio for the bedside? And the tablet gives you not only a variety of clock faces and alarms, but the versatility to hear Internet radio, AM/FM radio, podcasts, police and fire radio bands and more. This is just one of the trends we’re seeing as people buy cheap tablets to hang under kitchen cabinets, place in bathrooms or put in their kids’ rooms for news, podcasts and television.

5. You will finally start using 3D scanners and printers. While 3D printers will gain more traction in 2015, what the market really needs are easier ways to design 3D products. I believe we will see the first laptops with built-in 3D cameras by end of the year. Along with a 3D printer, that would make it possible to take an object, put it in front of your laptop camera and push print. Don’t be surprised if Apple goes big on 3D cameras or ways to capture 3D images for use with 3D printers in 2015.

TIME apps

These 4 Must-Get iPhone Apps Are On Sale Right Now

Podcast
Women sharing earphones on subway Image Source RF/DreamPictures—Getty Images/Image Source

Up your podcast game with the high-quality Castro app

Looking to download a few great iPhone apps while saving some money this week? Check out these four, all on sale or free right now.

Lego Harry Potter

Some of the most popular Harry Potter games have been their LEGO versions, like the strangely terrifying LEGO brick version of Chamber of Secrets. Now, Harry Potter years 1-4 and 5-7 are on sale for iPhone, which means revisiting your after-school days of skipping homework and working your way through Harry Potter’s world instead.

LEGO Harry Potter years 1-4 and 5-7 are on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

Batman Arkham City Lockdown

While Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy gave you only a taste of battling Gotham’s most depraved psychopaths, this game allows you to delve deep into that world of criminal insanity. Customize your Batman character, collect power-ups, deploy the Caped Crusader’s signature gadgets and clobber bad guys until the streets of Gotham have been cleansed.

Batman Arkham City Lockdown is on sale for $0.99 in the App Store.

Castro

If you’re a fan of podcasts, but find that on occasion the sound quality is poor, then check out Castro, which offers high-fidelity versions of your favorite subscriptions. Castro has all the top podcasts, like This American Life, Radiolab and Serial — just in much higher quality sound than you’re used to.

Castro is on sale for $1.99 in the App Store.

Art Cloud

You can learn more in a few hours of playing with Art Cloud than you did in that whole semester of art history you took. The app is packed with over 1,000 artists and 60,000 works of art. Although it’s probably easiest to use on an iPad, the app works well on your iPhone, too. One of its best functions allows users to explore specific museums across the world, which means you don’t need to revisit the Orsay to remember the name of a painting you liked.

Art Cloud is temporarily free in the App Store.

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