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Who’s kissing who? Self driving cars edition

(TECH NEWS) With so many players, partnerships and rivalries in the self driving car game, we thought we’d try to put everything in one place for you.

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We begin with a story.

In the grim darkness of the 2000s, when I was but a little Matt, cocooned in higher learning, intent on writing the Man and sticking it to the Great American Novel and/or vice versa, a friend showed me a remarkable object.

This friend, and her friends, and their friends, had joined in fearsome female conspiracy to produce a list of who, in the… “complicated” is underselling it. Who, in the lunatic “Game of Thrones with twice the beer, half the IQ and no sharp objects” social congress of a co-ed dorm full of liberal arts majors, had been canoodling with whom.

My entry appeared 18th. High midfield – there were about 80. I never got up the nerve to ask how we were ranked.

You wouldn’t believe how useful that list has been to my life. Not the list itself, beyond a healthy infusion of self-doubt (18th?). But the concept, friends. Who’s smooching whom? It’s the universal question. Money and math are just ways to track it. Map the relationships, you’ve mapped the thing.

Let us therefore speak of self-driving cars. Because they’re coming, we all know it, and like any reasonable person you would like to acquire a giant Scrooge McDuck money pool to swim in thereby.

First, for our purposes, assume every car manufacturer has an in-house outfit at least looking at autonomous cars, because duh. For our purposes, they’re celibate. Nothing wrong with that.

Second, for the sake of their self-image (18th? Really? I mean, it was 80-some, but… really?) I’ll keep my smoochers alphabetical.

Now. Who, amongst the people actually building autonomous cars, is smooching whom?

Daimler, or Mercedes to be all American about it, is smooching..

…Smart. Yep, just Smart, which is a Daimler brand. Daimler is quite monogamous in its autonomous automotive endeavors. Aww. And seriously, the self-driving Smart Car is freaking adorable.

…Lyft, which is branching out of the X-as-a-service business to actually build stuff. At least, it says it is. Fair dues, it says it emphatically, like “by 2021 a majority of our rides will be in self-driving cars, and by 2025 personal car ownership won’t be a thing.” To that end, they’re smooching…

…Ford, because, you know, Ford makes cars and Lyft doesn’t.

…themselves. We’ve all been there.

But there’s more to Lyft. I ain’t saying Lyft is a gold digger, but it is not frequently seen in the company of partners with less than substantial means. They’re looking to be network of choice for other people’s self driving cars. That is, Lyft seeks to be smooched. Big-name volunteers currently include GM and Jaguar.

Uber. I’m almost hesitant to write about Uber, because, my Deity of Choice, Uber is a hot mess right now. Like, really. But they do theoretically have a business model other than litigation, and they have made a commitment to actually making, not just contracting, self-driving cars. To that end, they’ve been doing some hopefully less-skeezy-than-usual smooching with…

…Otto. Otto was Uber’s Waymo, their in-house startup. Unfortunately, they’re currently in court arguing that it’s not Uber’s Waymo in the sense that a Waymo executive stole a bunch of stuff from Waymo, then hooked up with Uber. Oh my, the drama. Poor Otto, like so many third wheels, appears to have been dropped, but there was smoochin’ going on. Litigious smooching! That is the worst kind of smooching.

…Volvo. Volvo was going to be to Uber what Fiat Chrysler was to Waymo. You may be sensing a pattern. Also, the Uber Volvo self-drivers are back in testing after smacking into somebody in Arizona. See aforementioned “mess, hot.”

Volvo. What’s to say about Volvo? My first car was a Volvo wagon (of course it was, I am, as noted elsewhere in my oeuvre, a painfully stereotypical fluffy hippie) and I can think of nothing exciting to say about Volvo. That (un)said, Volvo has a rep for surprisingly forward thinking techwise, given its cars are best known for safety, reliability and other unsexy things. That’s borne out in its smooching, which includes…

…Autoliv, which, world’s largest auto safety supplier. Sounds like Volvo.

…Nvidia, which, what? Nvidia’s definitely the “s/he’s hooking up with who?” entry on this list. For non-nerds in the audience, Nvidia’s main consumer-focused business is graphics processing for PCs. Gamer stuff. They make sure you can see the individual folds of brain tissue off the zombie you just domed. As an Nvidia customer myself, I’d never lower myself to a stereotype-laden joke like “Nvidia’s doing cars? Nvidia customers don’t go outside!” but, well. On the other hand, chipsets. They are very good at them.

Waymo, the Alphabet-owned (read “Google, but for things we don’t want to call Google”) startup that’s all autonomous cars, all the time, is smooching…

…well, mostly Google. They would be. But – can we be real a second? Google’s a slut. We all know it. Get a little entrepreneurial Natty Light in ‘em and they’ll go home with anything. So in practice, Waymo is smooching…

Fiat Chrysler Automotive to get the cars on the road. That’s already happened with their Early Rider Program, which has put 500 robo-Chryslers on the streets of Phoenix, something I still find vaguely intimidating. If the satnav says “Exterminate!” I’m moving to Mars.

Intel for hardware. Waymo still does its development entirely in-house, but Intel, being noted for building nice chips, is building the chips.

The great thing about “who’s smooching whom” is that, when you map that one aspect, you get a sense of the whole. That list from the first paragraph? An alien could be given that and no other information about h. sapiens collegiensis and determine “these organisms have little impulse control, no understanding of consequences, and should probably consume less of a mysterious resource called ‘beer.’”

The Spock analysis of automotive smooching yields similar results. For all the crazed Lannister decadence above, the relationships people are building in order to make self-driving cars a reality come down to three things: a business plan for their use, top-tier tech, and a whole bunch of actual cars.

As yet, nobody has all three, hence the smooching. Lyft has a business plan, but no cars, so smooches for Ford, GM and Jag. Volvo has cars, but no tech or business plan, so Nvidia and Autoliv get their smooches.

The question is, who will get all three in one place in a way customers care about?

That’s where you come in. Read the above, read this (that goes into far greater detail). It has maps!

After that, your call. It’s your money. Like any good smooch, you don’t know how it’s gonna go until it’s gone.

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Tech News

How to buy Internet of Things gifts this year with security in mind

(TECHNOLOGY) Internet of Things devices are neat, but they also pose a significant security risk if not properly implemented. Here’s how to buy IoT gifts that won’t ruin your friend’s Xbox Live.

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As smart technology becomes more and more relevant, the issue of cybersecurity increases in pertinence as well. If you plan on picking up smart home (Internet of Things) gifts for your family and friends this year, Next Advisor offers a few security tips to keep in mind:

Firstly, the difference between “always on” items and selectively on appliances is huge, as smart home “always on” items pose a much more significant security risk than a device that can be disabled with the press of a button. Things like smart lights, thermostats, speakers, and so on—while popular—are best left to your recipient’s discretion.

This is because “always on” (also known as “Internet of Things”, or IoT) devices are often ill-suited to the degree of connectivity that they must sustain. Due to security shortcuts or weak coding, it’s relatively easy for an attacker to use your Internet-connected refrigerator or thermostat to take down your whole network. As such, traditional devices that can be enabled and disabled at will have a distinct security edge in this area.

When in doubt, go the gift card route; that way, your intended recipient will be able to purchase whatever smart item they want without you having to worry about compromising their safety.

If you do decide to buy Internet of Things gifts this year, it’s important to invest in strong, secure options. The easiest way to ensure that the device that you’re buying is sufficient is by looking at the manufacturer: was the device produced by Google, Intel, Apple, or another household tech name, or are you considering a company that you’ve never heard of?

A less security-based issue lies in the quality of the products, as third-party devices tend to fail faster and achieve less support than ones from large tech companies. When in doubt, go with the devil you know.

The other main thing to keep in mind is the face security of the item itself.

If the IoT item has a password and regular update support, it’s a much more secure item than any device lacking either of those features (to say nothing of both). Make sure that you know the answers to these questions before investing in any IoT device this holiday season, or just avoid them altogether.

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Tech News

Chatbot recruits qualified candidates, schedules interviews

(TECH NEWS) No chatbot can replace humans, but like this one, there is great potential to streamline paper pushing.

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When I was younger, the coolest technology at the time was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Us teens and tweens would sit at our desk tops for hours, having pointless conversations with the same people we had seen all day long at school.

Every once in a while, the stars would un-align and there would be no buddies to talk to. This is when we would get desperate and strike up a conversation with SmarterChild, an AIM chatbot.

For us millennials, this was our first introduction to a chatbot, which is now a concept that has taken on a (virtual) life of its own. They now exist on many different websites, particularly ones with customer service, and are designed to have, basically, all of the answers.

Now as we get ready to jump into 2018, we see that this technology has advanced enough to the point where there are chatbots that serve as pre-recruiting tools for employers. One of these chatbots can be found on Applyr.

“Applyr is designed to be the most human recruitment tool. Our recruiter chatbots ‘sit’ on a company’s careers page and engage with, pre-select, and schedule interviews with candidates,” according to developers.

“This represents a radical improvement in the candidate experience, whilst saving the hiring company and the recruiter huge amounts of time. The more interactions Applyr chatbots engage in, the more our platform learns from the data it measures. Which further serves to improve recruiting processes.”

These recruiter chatbots are designed to help employers weed through candidates without consuming their precious time. The bots are customizable and scalable solution to your recruitment overload. Applyr states that they bring the power of Artificial Intelligence to the top of your recruitment funnel.

It is a fully comprehensive solution for global recruitment teams that includes: ATS integration, low-risk and GDPR compliance, security and confidentiality, international and multilingual capabilities, simple integration, and equal opportunities.

Applyr chatbots find qualified candidates through use of the AI-powered software. It then auto schedules the first interview and provides detailed analytics.

This way, more time can be spent on the interview itself and less time on arranging it. Applyr is no replacement for a human, but it can certainly speed up the process of getting to the best candidate.

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Tech News

The new best time of day to post on Facebook

(TECHNOLOGY) There has long been a “universal” sweet spot for when to post on Facebook, so what is it now?

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The best time to post on Facebook is a hotly contested topic, with some experts claiming to have the end-all-be-all answer while others admit that it isn’t an exact science.

While the best time to post for your demographic will ultimately depend on that demographic’s habits, regional location, and more, AI machine learning may ultimately provide the answer that you’ve been looking for.

To assume that there’s a universal “best time” to post on Facebook is a bit contrived, given the dynamic nature of people and their various nuances; however, there is almost certainly a best time for you to post to your followers. This time will depend on a myriad of different factors, which is why you shouldn’t have to calculate it yourself.

There are plenty of social media analysis tools available, one of the popular options is Socialbakers which offers a comprehensive suite that you can try for 14 days to see if it even works for you. The idea is that the suite will analyze your posts’ traffic, giving you a day-by-day report on when is the best time for you to post to your audience.

This dynamic approach allows you to target specifically the most active section of your audience without having to guess or account for outliers (e.g., holidays) by giving you an exact (often down to the minute) time at which your posts should go out for your selected day. The suite also learns as it is used, meaning that your posting hours will only improve in accuracy with time.

While experts are still throwing out best posting time estimates like between 1:00 and 4:00 on weekdays, the fact remains that the optimal posting solution for you most likely doesn’t always fall during this vanilla time frame—and even if it does, the exact time will always net more views and engagement than tossing a post into the void of the Internet during a three-hour window.

The bottom line is this: your social media game may be fine, but knowing the exact time of day on which to post – a luxury afforded only by an AI suite – is the only way to post reliably during your audience’s sweet spot.

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