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Ride share issues leaving SXSW goers immobile

(TECH NEWS) Price gouging and lack of availability has left SXSW goers up creek without a paddle – or ride.

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Feeling the void

Uber and Lyft left Austin in 2016 and during regular times of the year, the ride share apps native to Austin, can probably handle the demand with ease but during festivals, the apps are failing, and failing miserably.

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With SXSW in full swing and an influx of 72,000+ people (stats from 2016), the void created when Uber and Lyft departed is being felt.

Not so fast, Fasten

On Saturday March 11th, the first day of the festival, Fasten, the most widely used app crashed. The CEO, Kirill Evdakov, stated that the app was poised to be able to handle a 5x increase but that the app had seen a 12x increase and couldn’t keep up with demand.

Evdakov said in his statement on Facebook that “Hopefully ~1 hour of intermittent service issues (out of the 240 total hours of SXSW) won’t ruin your (and that of local riders and SXSW visitors) experience.

What’s being over shadowed by the crash (the subsequent crashes), are the massive price surges that are taking place.

Crashing our wallets

In images and tweets shared on facebook and twitter by pissed off users such as Amanda Coolong (@acoolong), a 7 minute/2 mile ride was estimated at between $10 and $12 dollars, but when booked jumped to between $43 and $51 dollars.

Another user Roeland Pater (@roelnd) showed his 8 minute ride estimate at between $70 ad $83 dollars.

Fortunately for Evdakov and Fasten, since the normal users of Austin have no real choice in the matter, as Uber and Lyft opted to leave the city, Fasten and a few lesser used apps will be sticking around.

Bad press

Unfortunately for Evdakov, in a post written by Richard Bagdonas, posted in Austin Tech Alliance, Bogdonas states:

“This was posted today from a friend who came to Austin from SFO. He has 29K followers on Twitter and 4k on FB. Moreover he is a writer.Fasten, the local, popular ride service that has replaced Uber and Lyft, has essentially gone to surge pricing and seems to be screwing drivers. My driver saw that I was being charged $14 for my $2 ride but it was 25 on PayPal that is 12x the usual rate, worse than Uber ever overcharged me.”

“We need to get mainstream ride sharing back.”

And this isn’t the only influential person to complain.

Pedicabs be petty

For those festival goers staying downtown or simply those too tired to walk, there have always been the option of pedicabs – which typically run off of tips.

Now all pedicab providers seem to be charging a fee plus optional tips but the fee schedule isn’t posted anywhere and it’s leaving users feeling swindled.

Benn Rosales, CEO of The Real Daily/The American Genius was taken THREE BLOCKS and the driver demanded $10 per person, and another longer ride said it would be $5 per person with tips optional). After googling all the pedicab services in Austin, not one website states a fee schedule.

Car2Go is a no-go

Car2Go, which has a fairly decent footprint in the city is seeing an uptake in sign-ups and use as an alternative to cabs and ride shares for it’s relatively low cost. Their 2 person, smart car version is $.41 a minute with a 23-minute trip costing $11.92 including the $1.08 driver protection fee.

The company, owned by Mercedes Benz also has the option of using a Mercedes Benz 4 and 5 seater CLA or GLA at just $.47 a minute.

Car2Go has been great for locals who want to drive downtown but not pay the fees to park, especially during SXSW when parking rates can get as high as $100.

Back to the basics

As a last resort, many people are going back to cabs.

With Austin holding a number of world acclaimed festivals each year, something needs to happen and it needs to happen fast.Click To Tweet

Either Fasten and it’s cohorts need to step up or the city council need to reevaluate the regulatory decisions that led to Uber and Lyft opting out.

#WeWantOptions

Pam Garner is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas, currently pursuing her master’s degree in graphic and web design. Pam is a multi-disciplined creative who hopes to one day actually finish her book on all of her crazy adventures.

Tech News

Another thing that can trick iPhone X facial recognition

(TECH NEWS) The iPhone X has had an array of challenges, even with their innovative facial recognition technology.

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Yiiiikes, a mask tricked Apple’s new Face ID feature. Vietnamese security firm Bkav Corporation recently held a demo pointing out flaws in the iPhone X’s facial recognition, claiming the technology is not as secure as Apple originally touted.

Bkav Corporation focuses on network security, anti-virus software, and mobile security software. Bkav Corp created a 3D mask that “beat” Face ID in a demonstration. The mask was crafted with a combination of 3D printing and 2D images.

When verifying users, Face ID takes photos using infrared cameras. The first photo creates the surface of the face then the second pic makes a mesh, reproducing the face in 3D. From there, Face ID uses AI technology to distinguish faces.

The 2D/3D hybrid is meant to throw off the AI feature specifically. According to Bkav’s VP of Cyber Security Ngo Tuan Anh, “Apple’s AI can only distinguish either a 100% real face or a 100% fake one. So if you create a ‘half-real half-fake’ face, it can fool Apple’s AI.”

Face ID is supposed to have a one million-to-one chance of false recognition.

Compared to Touch ID’s potential fail rate of fifty thousand-to-one, Face ID is meant to be way more secure. However, the risk of a false recognition increases with identical twins, siblings, and children under the age of thirteen since their facial features aren’t finished developing.

When iPhone X launched, Apple stated they worked with professional Hollywood mask makers and makeup artists to ensure Face ID couldn’t be fooled by masks or other prosthetics. While Apple noted Face ID should still work if users get haircuts, change facial hair, or sometimes wear glasses, masks weren’t part of the good-to-go features for unlocking phones.

If you’re one of the adopters of iPhone X, don’t start freaking out yet though. To create their mask, Bkav had to use a handheld scanner to get pictures of their target’s face. As in, the person whose phone they were trying to hack had to be in the same room to get the initial scans.

Plus, Bkav could have intentionally done a subpar job of setting up the Face ID. The obvious solution if you’re still worried? Add a passcode as well and don’t trust anyone who wants to make a mask of your face.

Read also: Do literally anything with your money besides buy the iPhone X

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Tech News

Well great, now the robots can do acrobatics

(TECH NEWS) Do you want Terminators? Because this is how you get Terminators. Bipedal robots can do backflips now…

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This is it. It’s happening. Robots.

A year ago Boston Dynamics robot Atlas was learning to stand and falling over while walking. Now, Atlas has been upgraded, allowing it to easily scale blocks parkour style, doing backflips, and even raising its arms triumphantly after nailing a landing.

And I am raising a card with a 10 for the solid execution, albeit shakily, because the first thing that went through my head watching those eerily fluid, human-like movements, was imagining it stomping over piles of human skulls with an AK in its cold, calculating hands.

We can build it. We have the technology.

Let’s hope it doesn’t find videos all those videos on YouTube of its creators tormenting the thing; prodding it with hockey sticks like a lion tamer with a chair, knocking boxes out of its arms, pushing it over, and kicking its robo-dog companions.

Atlas won’t forget that.

Imagine this thing chasing you in the woods, or down the street. In a few years, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Atlas bots were wearing badges. Atlas is far more spry than the dopey droids you might find in a Star Wars flick, and well on its way to creating Skynet from Boston Dynamics.

Guys, Atlas can do acrobatics now, like a ninja:

Anywhere human feet can tread, an advanced enough droid will be able to go (can we start calling them droids now?). If you knock them over, they get right back up. Those human-powered mechs have nothing on Atlas. Give it enough time, and Atlas will run circles around both Eagle Prime and KURATAS. They won’t need us puny humans for robot battles.

One day, they might not need us at all.

All jokes aside, it’s an incredible, awe-inducing advancement in robotics. Boston Dynamics also recently revealed a smaller, less creepy version of their robo-dog Spot to bring us SpotMini: a small four-legged robot that can climb stairs and moves similarly to the way a dog would romp about.

Just so you know, this is nothing to be afraid of… We’ve only just found out that robots are evolving at an alarming rate.

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Tech News

Social media giants are trying to operate without human controls but are failing

(TECH NEWS) Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking over in fascinating ways, but this big experiment of replacing human tasks is failing. Good news / bad news.

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Let me tell you a story. In fact, let me tell you several.

A village in Macedonia had a small economic boom during the 2016 election, plagiarizing and stitching together pro-Trump messages on social media, then publishing the results as “news” in order to profit from Google ad revenue.

Back during the “Keep Calm and…” T-shirt fad, a shirt company went through a thoroughly justified PR apocalypse for selling products labeled “Keep Calm and Hit Her” and “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot.”

The 17th most popular website on Earth occasionally likes to tell women over 30 to freeze their ova.

So! That’s a parade of fail. What’s it got in common, beyond making any reasonable reader consider moving to an Amish community and trying to forget even the word “Internet”?

People. More accurately, their absence.

Veles, Macedonia churned out profitable nonsense about Trump slapping a protester (that didn’t happen) or getting the blessing of the Pope (Pope says nope) because Google ads are programmatic. There’s no QA component, no human eyes reviewing content and asking “is this worth advertising on?” or for that matter “is this blatantly false?”

Likewise the Evil T-Shirt Crisis. The company generated slogans by dropping memes into an algorithm, then throwing the result on Amazon. That ended… poorly.

We, and every other tech and business network in the digital cosmos, have written in depth about all the dang robots taking our jobs. Usually our primary concern is the economic fallout. We’re a business news organization. It’s our job to warn you about that stuff.

But there’s another problem, and it’s a huge problem, especially as media consumption in general continues to rise, and more and more of that media is moderated by algorithms rather than people.

Robots aren’t just taking our jobs. They suck at our jobs. Algorithms may play go, but they aren’t ready to make value judgments yet. A quick Google will yield a dozen more examples of AI failures just as repulsive and/or hilarious as the ones on my list. And the real punchline for all of that?

It’s good news.

For once, the robot apocalypse is cutting us puny humans a break. It’s creating jobs almost as fast as it’s gobbling them up, because at this point, it is excruciatingly clear that robots aren’t ready to produce work people can actually see. They’re not even ready to put ads on work people see, not without causing a PR catastrophe every other month.

AI isn’t a better widget. It also isn’t an employee that doesn’t want benefits or take long lunches.

It’s a product in permanent beta, desperately trying to catch up to the constantly changing nuance of human interaction. It doesn’t work without homo sapiens holding its robot hand.

Let’s call it Salter’s Law: For every application of AI to customer-facing work, you will need to hire at least one human for damage control when the AI screws up.

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