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Apple is secretly hiring talent, potentially for the greatest tech coup ever

(TECH NEWS) Apple is secretly hiring robotics experts and engineering PhDs and forming secret development teams.

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Self-driving cars is all the news lately. They will soon revolutionize our society, we know as much. Google, Tesla and Nvidia are already competing. We know that too.

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Leaked evidence is now mounting to reveal what experts have long suspected: Apple is joining the action.

Oops

The clearest evidence of it came rather comically in a clerical oversight at the California DMV department, making it full of irony.

It reveals that Apple has quietly developed a secret team of robotics experts and engineering PhDs to gain momentum in its quest to develop its own self-driving car.

Why is all of this kind of a big deal?

Because a tech giant like Apple, which has been ridiculously secretive about its involvement in this space, despite consistent rumors to the contrary, changes the whole playing field.

The clues

The first indication that Apple was up to something came from a letter written last year by Apple’s Director of Product Integrity Steve Kenner to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminsirtation (NHTSA).

“The company is investing heavily in the study of machine learning and automation, and is excited about the potential of automated systems in many areas, including transportation,” Mr. Kenner wrote.

Then about a week ago, things got interesting.

First, Business Insider noted that the California DMV updated its website to add an unexpected name amongst the 29 other companies that already has permits to test self-driving vehicles in the state: Apple.

Unexpected, precisely because all through 2016, Apple spent a lot of time denying any rumors related to self-driving technology. “It’s going to be Christmas Eve for a while,” said Apple’s Tim Cook when asked about the project last year, referring to Apple’s policy in not disclosing their intentions yet.

Then, late last year, it was reported that Apple had hit unexpected glitches.

That was code for the project “has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car,” according to people familiar with the project.

So why is Apple suddenly applying for permits for a program it is not pursuing, analysts asked? Their claims and actions did not match up.

This is where the latest unintended oversight by the California DMV comes in.

And it reveals something even more crucial—Apple’s secret autonomous driving team, or at least part of it.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the permit granted to Google contained names of six Apple employees, designated as “drivers/operators” of driverless cars.

And get this: those six names were meant to be redacted before release! Oops!

The revelation went viral immediately. Who are these six people? Surely, their identity will tell us a lot about Apple’s intentions, despite their tight-lip policy. Correct! Apple is luring talents with high-level experience from NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, ex-Tesla employees, robotics experts, electrical engineers, and augment reality PhDs.

More intriguingly, several of these people do not have Apple listed on their resume! No one knew they were working for Apple.

Why not tell the world you work for Apple? Precisely because Apple intended it that way.

Well, not anymore!

Padding the roster

Bloomberg also reported that Apple has hired NASA’s Jeff Norris, an expert in Augmented Reality glasses.

It is now clear that Apple would pose a major challenge to the existing automakers, as well as rival tech companies like Google’s autonomous vehicle program company, Waymo. Apple also hopes to bring AR-related hardware to the market as soon as next year.

Competitors, on their part, seem ready for the challenge.

The latest revelations may not raise their eyebrow. CEO Elon Musk, back in 2015, already called Apple a “Tesla graveyard,” referring to Apple’s practice of employing underperforming former Tesla employees.

What’s Apple’s aim?

It must also be noted that it is unclear if Apple is developing both the hardware and software for driverless cars, or just focusing on the operating system technology that it would sell to the highest bidders. Given Apple’s appetite for success and domination, one is tempted to think it would go all in.

But Apple may be working to compete against the LIDAR technology, which is crucial for both Uber and Waymo.Click To Tweet

For now, one thing is certain: Apple is very bad at lying.

#GetComfy

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Business News

Are Gen Z more fickle in their shopping, or do brands just need to keep up?

(BUSINESS NEWS) As the world keep changing, brands and businesses have to change along with it. Some say Gen Z is fickle, but others say it is the nature of change.

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Gen Z woman shopping outside on a laptop.

We all know that if you stop adapting to the world around you, you’re going to be left behind. A recently published article decided to point out that the “fickle” Gen Z generation are liable to leave a poor digitally run site and never return. Now of course we’ve got some statistics here… They did do some kind of due diligence.

This generation, whose life has been online from almost day one, puts high stakes on their experiences online. It is how they interact with the world. It’s keyed into their self-worth and their livelihoods, for some. You want to sell online, get your shit together.

They have little to no tolerance for anything untoward. 80% of Gen Zers reported that they are willing to try new brands since the pandemic. Brand loyalty, based on in-person interaction, is almost a thing of the past. When brands are moved from around the world at the touch of your fingertips there’s nothing to stop you. If a company screws up an order, or doesn’t get back to you? Why should you stick with them? When it comes to these issues, 38% of Gen Zers say they only give a brand 1 second chance to fix things. Three-quarters of the surveyed responded saying that they’ll gladly find another retailer if the store is just out of stock.

This study goes even further though and discusses not just those interactions but also the platforms themselves. If a website isn’t easy to navigate, why should I use it? Why should I spend my time when I can flit to another and get exactly what I need instead of getting frustrated? There isn’t a single company in the world that shouldn’t take their webpage development seriously. It’s the new face of their company and brand. How they show that face is what will determine if they are a Rembrandt or a toddlers noodle art.

The new age of online shopping has been blasted into the atmosphere by the pandemic. Online shopping has boosted far and above expected numbers for obvious reasons. When the majority of your populace is told to stay home. What else are they going to do? Brands that have been around for decades have gone out of business because they didn’t change to an online format either. Keep moving forward.

Now as a side note here, as someone who falls only just outside the Gen Z zone the articles description of fickle is pompous. The stories I’ve heard of baby boomers getting waiters fired, or boycotting stores because of a certain shopkeeper are just as fickle and pointed. Nothing has changed in the people, just how they interact with the world. Trying to single out a single generation based on how the world has changed is a shallow view of the world.

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Business News

Chasing Clubhouse success? How the audio chat room trend affects products

(BUSINESS NEWS) It is inevitable that when a new successful trend comes along, other companies will try to make lightning strike twice. Will the audio chat room catch on?

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Smiling woman seated in dark room illuminated by lamp and phone light, participating in audio chat room.

Businesses are always about the hot new thing. People are the always looking for the easiest dollar with the least amount of effort these days. It tends to lead to products that are shoddy and horribly maintained with the least amount of flexibility in pleasing their customers. However, you also have to look at the customer base for this as well. You follow where the money is because that’s where its being spent. It’s like a merry-go-round, constantly chasing the next thing. And the latest of these is the audio chat room.

During the pandemic the entire world saw an eruption of social audio investments. Silicon Valley has gone crazy with this new endeavor. On the 18th of April this year, Clubhouse said it closed on some new funding, which was valued at $4 billion for a live audio app. This thing is still in beta without a single penny of revenue!

The list of other companies who have pursued new audio suites (either through purchase or creation) include:

  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • Twitter
  • Discord
  • Apple

This whole new audio fad is still in its infancy. These social media and tech giants are all jumping headlong into it with who knows how much forethought. A number of them have their own issues to deal with, but they’ve put things aside to try and grab these audio chat room coattails that are running by. It’s a mix of feelings about the situation honestly. They are trying to survive and keep their customers.

If a competitor creates this new capability and they stay stagnant then they lose customers. If they do this however without dealing with their current issues then they could also lose people. It’s an interesting catch 22 for people out there. Which group do you fall in? Are you antsy for a new toy or are you waiting for one of these lovely sites to fix a problem? It’s another day in capitalism.

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Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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