January 2016

In the mobile age, does it still matter where you are?

One of the predicted consequences of the global village was the fading importance of place.  After all, if everyone can talk to and look in on everyone else regardless of location, through the miracle of telephones and TV and Internet, then location would become irrelevant.

We do not yet live in that world.  Many people continue to commute to work, for example, to be in the same building with their colleagues.

The right right stuff.

John Glenn died December 8, aged 95. Glenn had been the last surviving member of the Mecury Seven, the first group of astronauts as selected by NASA.

Fake news, hoaxes, lies, misinformation, and errors

Will Oremus at Slate has written an interesting piece on the semantic spread of the term "fake news."  The term recently came to prominence over the propagation of fraudulent news items as a tool of persuasion in the recent US election.

Hyperloop hype, and atmospheric rails

Have you heard of "hyperloop"? According to Wikipedia, it's a "a new mode of passenger and freight transportation that propels a pod-like vehicle through a near-vacuum tube." Imagine a subway but over longer distances between major cities, and much faster, comparable to airplanes and beyond, I suppose, mag-lev trains.

Facebook, misinformation and censorship

Three recent New York Times articles illustrate some issues facing information providers like Facebook when it comes to dealing with potentially harmful content being shared through its service.

A tale of two robots

Today brings another pair of interesting news items to compare.  The first concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot food.  The second concerns an automated vehicle that delivers hot lead.  (Some lines just write themselves!)

AI, discovery, and censorship

My news feed put up an interesting pair of articles about applications of AI to what might be called knowledge discovery.

The first was an article by Adrienne Lafrance about the search for another Antikythera mechanism.  The Antikythera mechanism is an astronomical computer made in Hellenistic Greek times and found in a shipwreck off the island of Antikythera in 1901.

Speaker-battery combo for electric bike

Emma Tucker at Dezeen writes about a new feature of the "Angel" electric bicycle by Noordung.  The Angel is a high-end electric bike clearly meant to appeal to an exclusive market, at the exclusive price of €9,760 each.

The alcohol patch

When you hear the term alcohol patch, what do you think of?  An imaginary place more adult than the Cabbage Patch?  Wrong!  A patch that slowly releases alcohol into your bloodstream?  Getting warmer!

As Mike Hanlon describes it in New Atlas, the ONUSblue alcohol patch is a sensor that rests on a person's skin and monitors their blood alcohol level:

Predictive policing and ghetto avoiding

Logan Koepke has written an interesting article at Slate about the nature of predictive policing.  Predictive policing involves the use of computer algorithms to assign police coverage to a given region on the basis of anticipated risk of crime. 

Bringing back US manufacturing work?

One of the promises driving support for Donald Trump in the recent U.S. election was his promise to bring back manufacturing work.  Many Americans have seen their industrial jobs disappear without much prospect of return.  They and Trump blame globalization for moving these jobs overseas.  Thus, changes in trade policy are touted to bring them back.

Digital Dependencies: How we upload and offload ourselves

A panel discussion by three UWaterloo professors is set to take place that would be of interest to readers of this blog.  The speakers and topics are as follows:

Aimée Morrison (English) 

Loneliness and social media: What does it mean, and not mean, to have ‘Friends’ online?

When innovation precedes knowledge

One theme raised in our STV 202 class is that acquisition of information may precede practical knowledge of what to do with that information.  This issue is especially noticeable in health, where it has become very easy to track people's vital statistics but not so easy to know how to use the results to benefit them.

Think of any commercial fitness tracker you can name.

Should people be made to do without their smartphones sometimes?

An interesting article by Alice Hopton on CBC news discusses when people might be required to do without their smartphones.

The article describes Yondr, a small pouch in which smartphones may be locked during concerts, classes, and other social gatherings.  Yondr's inventor, Graham Dugoni, argues that some people's habit of recording concerts, rather than just experiencing them unfiltered, undermines the point of such events, which is:

Does fake news swing elections?

As Scott recently point out, the recent U.S. election has been characterized by a deluge of fake news.  A concern about this phenomenon is that it distracts from the real news and entrenches readers in their prejudices through confirmation bias

Do bots win elections?

As we contemplate the fallout of the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, it is interesting to consider the rising influence of social media in modern politics. 

Automotive safety standards

William Gibson, the Canadian science-fiction writer, once said:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

Is this blog post fake or not?

According to a recent BBC report, the US election season has produced a bumper crop of fake news. Of course, people have been making stuff up and passing it off as genuine probably forever. But the BBC seems to be focused on two tech-related factors: social media and advertising, and less on the non-tech-related one: satire.

The dishonest printer

Andy Greenberg at Wired points out an interesting project by one Julian Oliver: A printer that highjacks cell phone traffic.  You may have heard of the StingRay, a device used by police (among others) that intercepts cell phone traffic by spoofing a legitimate cell phone tower.  Well, Mr.

The book is not dead yet!

Andrea Ballatore and Simone Natale write whatever is the opposite of an obituary for the old-fashioned, print book.  The piece was occasioned by the news that ebook sales among the UK's top-five booksellers actually fell in 2015.  This news, the authors suggest, show that predictions that print books were doomed by the rise of the e-book were hype.

Police car colouration controversy

A recent article in the Toronto Star by Betsy Powell discusses controversies surrounding new colour schemes for Canadian police cars.  A number of Canadian police forces have been changing from older schemes based on red, white, and blue to darker schemes based on grey, navy blue or black.

The ultimate tuque

John Brownlee at FastCompany describes the "ultimate tuque",  a version of the hat most associated with Canada.  Designed by Toronto design firm Frontier, the tuque aims to get this iconic piece of headgear right.

In terms of function, the Frontier tuque is designed to address many common complaints about tuques, such as scratchy material, lack of warmth, retention of sweat, and being too tight. It may be the most technotonic tuque of all time!

Privacy and productivity in the workplace

Science writer David Berreby has posted an interesting piece in Psychology Today about the relationship between privacy and productivity in the workplace

Cars, bikes, and safety technology

The Internet sometimes provides interesting pairs of news items.  Today's pair concerns an intersection between mobility, safety, and technology.

Drone strategies

This blog has documented many of the purposes for which drones have been used.  Sometimes, drones seem to be the best solution to a given problem.  Other times, drones seem to be the best solution in search of a problem.

Here are some more drone applications to ponder.

Smart lights reduce congestion in Pittsburgh

An item in IEEE Spectrum by Prachi Patel notes the development of a smart traffic system in Pittsburgh.  Called Surtrac, the system developed by CMU professor Stephen Smith uses Artificial Intelligence techniques to adapt traffic signals to current conditions.

Prof. Smith's research suggests that Surtrac has reduced trip times 25 percent and idling times by over 40 percent, a significant difference.

Machine readable bikes

I was interested to see in Ben Coxworth's brief piece in New Atlas an item about a gadget designed to make bicycles more visible to radar-equipped cars

The "Shield TL" is a kind of souped-up rear light that can be attached to a bicycle.  Besides the usual blinking red light, the Shield TL has a baffle shaped to create a large reflection when struck by radar of the type used by driving assist technology in high-end vehicles. 

A minimalist door bell

Rima Sabina Aouf describes a "minimalist" door bell in Dezeen.  Just launched on Kickstarter, the "Ding" door bell provides a wireless door bell ringing and answering system.

The system consists of a button, which is hung on or near the door in question, and a speaker, which emits the chime.  Both components have been simply styled, appearing as almost featureless rectangles with circular ends:

Conversational computing and context

Quentin Hardy at the New York Times has written an interesting article introducing conversational computing, that is, the use of speaking software interfaces. 

It probably has not escaped your notice that people interact with software through conversational means more and more often.  Tech companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon have made speaking agents, such as Siri, Cortana, and Echo, central to interactions with their consumer goods.

Speak French without embarassment

Sean Captain at FastCompany reports that Duolingo—perhaps the world's best-known second-language learning app—is trying to remove the embarrassment of being a newbee in a second language.

The service has unveiled a set of chatbots that users can interact with in order to practice their French, German, or Spanish—with more languages to come.  "Practice real Spanish conversations without blushing," is the assurance given to curious users.

The history of "innovation"

In his article "Technological innovation", Benoît Godin provides a history of the term innovation and its adoption in discourse about technological change. 

The history of the expression begins as a translation of a Greek term that referred to subversive novelties and was invariably negative in tone.  Early Christian authors used the new word, innovo, to refer to regeneration, a return to a better state of affairs from the past, clearly a positive connotation.

The last of yesterday's telephones

Scott earlier talked about simplistic notions of firsts in technology.  When was the first computer invented?  Depends on what you mean by computer!  Anyway, who says the arrival of computers was marked by the invention of any given machine?

Triclosan no longer on hand

The Globe and Mail reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently banned the sale of antibacterial ingredients from soaps.  Manufacturers have one year to reformulate their products to exclude compounds such as triclosan and triclocarbon.

Traffic inefficiencies and technological change

Technology is often linked to efficiency. As in, technology change or technological progress equals greater efficiency. In our courses we try to break students of that assumption, and consider cases where greater efficiency may be harmful or anti-progressive. One of our favourites is Jevon's Paradox, in which an improvement in efficiency can paradoxically lead to an increase in consumption of the resource.

But here's another example. In this case, traffic efficiency was reduced to make streets safer.

Technological firsts

According to Wikipedia, September 27 marked a handful of interesting historical technological achievements:

Drone manners

There have been many reports of drones being shot at by people who believe they are being spied on.  An article in Slate by Faine Greenwood explains why shooting at drones is both misguided and dangerous.

The first reason is that shooting at drones endangers everyone in the vicinity.  There is a chance that the drone, if damaged, may collide with someone on the ground.  There is also a chance that stray or falling ammunition may hit somebody.

Electronic voting

With election day approaching in the US, issues around the mechanics of the voting itself have returned to the limelight.  Voters in many states will use a variety of electronic machines—many connected to the Internet—to cast their ballots.  In this day when government and private information have been leaking (or leaked) like sieves, this fact gives rise to some trepidation.

Essentialism and obesity

The Internet has recently brought forth some news about research on  so-called "obesity genes".

Obesity is an increasing problem (no pun intended, of course).  Why it occurs and how it might be mitigated are hot topics in medical science.  One such area of research concerns the genetic contribution to obesity.  Is there an obesity gene or genes and, if so, what might be done about it?

Will Volvo's sensitive bus be safer?

A short item in New Atlas describes a new bus prototype from Swedish automotive giant Volvo.  The new bus is equipped with a system called the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System (PCDS). 

The PCDS combines cameras attached to the bus with a program that anticipates danger to cyclists, pedestrians, and other mobile "obstacles" to bus travel.  When a collision appears possible, the bus makes a noise to warn the pedestrian, etc.  The horn is used if the risk is deemed to be very high.

Giraffe genes and species

A Wired article gives an account of some research on the matter of how many species of giraffes there are.  Up until now, biologists held that there exists one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, divided into nine subspecies.

We shape our buildings...

In 1943, after the British Parliament buildings had been destroyed by a bomb, Winston Churchill mandated that they be rebuilt as before.  He justified his decision as follows:

Lost stories, hidden figures.

A few weeks ago I wrote about how computing was at one point an occupation, primarily for women who sat at a desk and carried out endless manual calculations. I also pointed out a new movie coming out, Hidden Figures, a fictionalized account of many black female computers and mathematicians who worked at NASA during the space race and were given important responsibilities, such as shock wave research and orbital calculations related to the moon landings.

High-tech curling brooms banned

Sweeping restrictions have been announced by Curling Canada, the national regulator for the sport of curling.  That is, Curling Canada has outlawed certain sorts of curling brooms that support novel kinds of sweeping.

The move follows controversy originating in the previous season with the introduction of brooms designed to allow sweepers to significantly change the trajectory of a curling stone after it has been thrown.

Apple ditches headphone jacks! Is that progress?

Yesterday, Apple revealed that its newest iPhone (model 7) will not include a headphone jack.  Executives gave a number of reasons for the move.  Phil Schiller, senior vice president for marketing at Apple, said that the jack took up a lot of space in a device that Apple is determined to shrink.

Bugaboo luggage

Bugaboo is a Dutch company known mainly for its lines of up-market strollers.  I use the Bugaboo Frog in class to illustrate the concept of technotonicity: How designs appeal to potential users. 

In physical terms, the Frog is praised for its handling, so much so that some people reported that they took it out for a push just to enjoy the feeling of steering it!

Zuckerberg:Francis :: Galileo:Paul V?

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg met with Pope Francis, which is not a phrase I might have ever imagined writing. What did the the two world leaders with a billion followers apiece talk about?

What is phubbing?

Although I have a smartphone, I am not a particularly heavy user of the technology.  Thus, I was surprised to learn of a new smartphone phenomenon called "phubbing" from a research article entitled, "When phubbing becomes the norm."  

In the article, the term is defined in this wise:

The term “phubbing” represents the act of snubbing someone in a social setting by concentrating on one’s phone instead of talking to the person directly.

Spreadsheetology and scientific research

BBC News reports that some genetic scientists have run up against a problem when using the Excel spreadsheet, which would "helpfully", automatically, and presumably without notification alter the data within a column. For example: "Gene symbols like SEPT2 (Septin 2) were found to be altered to "September 2".

The magic carpet of the Rio Olympics

One of the main sources of excitement at a Summer Olympics is watching sprinters break Olympic and world records.  In this respect, the 2016 Rio Games was a bit of a bust.  The only such record to be broken was by Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa in the Men's 400m final.

Drones, crops and Jevons' Paradox

Jevons' Paradox concerns how increases in efficiency can lead to increases—rather than decreases—in consumption of resources.  Designers expend a great deal of brainpower and passion on increasing the efficiency of their designs.  The goal is often to decrease consumption of a resource, as a way of improving overall sustainability.  In brief, the reasoning is that if a given task can be completed with fewer resources, then those resources will be conserved.

How IT products serve social goals

The slogan "form follows function" has long been associated with a minimalist view of good design.  On the positive side, it has been used to mean that designs should be configured to fulfil their intended goals.  On the negative side, it has been used to limit those goals to so-called basic needs only, to the exclusion of social goals.

Who is a computer?

Cameron has written about some of the problems with defining a computer today, but as some people remember computers used to be people. In fact, that is is the earliest definition: "A person who makes calculations or computations", from the earliest 17th century (thank you OED). It was only in the mid 20th century that the word included electronic devices.

What is a computer? Some more!

A recent posting pointed to some lack of clarity about what a computer is.  Is a computer anything that carries out automated, logical or arithmetical operations?  Or, is it a particular kind of good, e.g., a PC and not an iPad?

What is a computer?

What is a computer?  Wikipedia currently gives the following definition:

A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out an arbitrary set of arithmetic or logical operations automatically.

This definition is one that might be expected from a computer scientist.  It is very broad and entirely functional, that is, it describes a computer strictly in terms of what it does.

Olympics + Samsung = #Unity or #Censorship?

To follow-up on some of the recent Olympics related blog posts, I'd like to direct your attention to an ad from Samsung, one of the sponsors of the 2016 Olympic. You may have seen it already, perhaps in an abbreviated, edited-for-TV version. 

Known as "The Anthem", it shows people around the world singing each other's national anthems, particularly the lines that emphasize unity, humanity and progress. "One World One Anthem" it says, before wrapping up with by pointing out that Samsung is a

DNN: 16 Aug 2016

A recent edition of The Economist has two articles that make mention of drones.  Semi-autonomous vehicles will certainly change things.  But, will they change everything that their promoters claim?

The Cyborgian games?

One of the most salient technology-society issues in Olympic sport is that of  enhancement.  Consider my recent post on gene doping, for example.  In general, the question is: When is the use of technology in a sport appropriate or acceptable?

Happy Birthday IBM PC

(This post was meant to go out last Friday...)

August 12, 2016 is the 35th anniversary of the announcement of the IBM Personal Computer. Here's a few points to ponder as you celebrate the occasion:

CRISPR will give us wings!

CRISPR refers to short repetitions in DNA, the study of which has produced technology to edit DNA with great precision.  The prospect of being able to edit DNA nearly at will has led to a lot of breathless commentary about how we may change the world—for better or worse—through employing it.

A video recently posted on a YouTube channel called "Kurzgesagt" (German for "In a nutshell") falls into this category:

So/Not so obsolete at this time

A post a few weeks ago featured some obsolete technology that's
making a comeback. This time I want to talk about how obsolete
technologies often surprise people at their longevity.

E-bike style and safety

An electronic bike (or "e-bike") is more-or-less what it sounds like: a bike with an electric motor integrated into it.  E-bikes have become quite popular in Europe and in China, especially as a substitute for cars for short distance commuting.

Should gene doping in sport be accepted?

I noted in an earlier post that the Rio Olympics marks the first time that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has proactively tested for cheating, specifically for gene doping.  

A recent article in New Scientist rehearses some arguments for why gene doping should simply be accepted, rather than banned and policed.  I want to briefly go over those arguments here.

Gender and the Rio Summer Olympics

One of the most fundamental distinctions made in Olympic sports (and others) is the division between men's and women's events.  Most sports on offer at the Games feature events that are divided into exclusively male or female categories.

(Some exceptions come to mind: rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming are for women only, whereas Greco-Roman wrestling is for men only.  Men's and women's gymnastics involve some different equipment for men versus women.  Equestrian events are integrated.)

When is colored food good?

Increasingly, food companies seem to manipulate food coloration as a marketing ploy.  In 2000, Heinz marketed green ketchup as a way of attracting interest in a humdrum condiment.  This was followed by increasingly odd colors such as purple, pink, orange, teal and blue.

Although the campaign had a good run, Heinz reverted to the traditional red after a few years.

Where are we now?

One of the casualties of the advent of rapid and ubiquitous, electronic communications was supposed to be place.  That is, when you can virtually be anywhere at any time, then it would hardly matter where you actually are.

This reduction has occurred to some extent.  Consider the recent Pokémon Go phenomenon.  Players of the augmented reality game can collect a Rattata, for example, almost anywhere.  Whether the virtual creature is encountered in Canada or Brazil, say, makes no difference.

The crosswalk revisited

In STV 202: Design and Society, I often use the design of the typical crosswalk as an example of how designs embody social contracts.  

A crosswalk is a place where two parties, drivers and pedestrians, share a resource that both want to use, namely, a certain stretch of roadway.  In order to do so for the benefit of each, and reducing the danger to pedestrians, there is often a signal system that manages the right of way.  Only the party with the right of way, as indicated by the signals, is permitted to use the contested area of street.

Anticipating Obsolescence

Over at the Atlantic are a few articles suggesting that future cities may no longer have street signs. As the argument goes, driverless automated cars are going to depend on high-precision maps. Such maps will be incredibly valuable to companies like Google and Apple, who may no longer be willing to give them away for free to consumers.

Are sports just games?

As the Rio Summer Olympics approach, the subject of sport, excellence, and cheating returns to the fore.  With it comes discussion of what cheating in sport is and why it is bad, or not.

In search of wrongdoing

One important means for enforcing rules of conduct is to allow police to search for evidence of violations.  Search can take many forms, as recent examples illustrate.

In the upcoming Rio Summer Olympics, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will be searching for evidence of gene doping.  Gene doping is the insertion of genes into a body's cells in order to modify their behavior for the purpose of enhancement (as opposed to gene therapy, which is done to restore health).  

Brain stimulators for Olympians?

With the approach of the Rio Summer Olympics, the role of technology in sport comes naturally to the fore.  Many of those questions center on issues of enhancement.

New loop for straphangers

The aptly named Product Design Studio of Japan has improved on an old piece of design, namely the hand loop grasped by straphangers on public transit.  

The classic handle for someone standing on the bus, streetcar, or subway was a loop of plastic hanging from a bar overhead.  This solution helps to prevent people from being knocked over by jolts experienced during normal operation but is not very comfortable to hold onto.  

Pokémon Goes on

Pokémon Go is hard to avoid.  Players wander the highways and byways, and the halls of academe, collecting Squirtles and the like.  

Like any broadly adopted technological phenomenon, the game comes with trade-offs, that is, features that work to the advantage of some and disadvantage of others.  As ever, opinions may differ about what exactly those are.

Adios, VCR!

The New York Times reports that Funai Electric of Japan will cease production of its VHS VCR lines this August.  After that, there will be no more producers of this venerable technology.

VCRs were first produced in the mid-1950s and cost $50,000 each!  The first consumer versions were marketed in the 1960s but serious household use got underway in the mid-1970s with the so-called Betamax-VHS format war.  

Scarborough gets a subway stop

Toronto's City Council recently approved a plan to construct a subway extension in Scarborough, in the eastern region of the city.  The decision riles many urban planners because it provides only one stop at a cost likely well in excess of $3 billion.

An alternative plan calling for construction of light rail transit (LRT) through the same section of the city would provide more stops, serve more people, and cost significantly less.  

Is Myriad hoarding patient data?

Myriad Genetics is perhaps best known for its ultimately failed defence of its patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes associated with elevated risk of breast cancer.  

A new article describes another way in which the company has offended some cancer patients, namely by keeping details of their test results a proprietary secret.  

More Pokémon news

It may not surprise you to learn that the Pokémon Go phenomenon continues to grow.  As such, here are a few more items that may interest readers of this blog:

More retro gaming news

As a follow-up to Cam's post yesterday about the return (revenge?) of Pokemon, here's a few other bits of retro video game news.

Pokemon conquers Waterloo?

You cannot swing a virtual cat on the 'net without hitting a news item about the appearance of Pokémons everywhere.  The little Nintendo critters from the 1990s are back amongst us, visible only to those who have downloaded the Pokémon Go app on their smartphones.

The app allows users to view their surroundings but inserts pocket monsters where it sees fit.  Players can ambulate through their surroundings spotting and collecting them, or something like that.

Stories about the app abound.  Here are a few:

Professor Modafinil

Adderall and Ritalin have been used for some time in academia by some students and faculty seeking to get ahead in their occupations.  Both drugs were developed to treat people with conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder.

An attractive electrical substation?

The Seattle City Light utility is preparing installation of the Denny Street substation.  Why is this news?  Because the new substation does not look like a substation.  Behold!

(Courtesy NBBJ Architects.)

DNN: 7 July 2016

Perhaps the earliest suggestion that consumer drones were about to take off in a big way was the "tacocopter", the little drone brings people tacos from above.  The idea exploded onto the Web in 2012 with the product launch.

The machine readable roadway

The death of Johsua Brown in a collision between his Tesla and a big rig has led to some reflections on automation and trust.  However, it also raises issues about in what ways our world is, or should be, readable by machines.

Death in Tesla using autopilot function

On 7 May 2016, Joshua Brown was killed as his Tesla drove underneath an 18-wheeler on US 27-A highway in Florida.  The truck was making a left turn from the westbound lanes across the eastbound lanes when the eastbound Tesla Model S struck it.  

Garbage gizmo to reduce food waste?

A team of Mechanical Engineering students at Rice University have invented a gizmo that they hope will help mitigate food waste.  The device is called "BioBlend" and it consists of an add-on to a standard garburator that processes food scraps into a paste suitable for composting or conversion to biogas.

Check out the video below.

Efficient medicine

A couple of interesting pieces have appeared describing effects of computerization on medicine.

The bots are coming!

The Communications of the ACM has an interesting short article on the rise of so-called social bots.  A social bot is software that emulates a human being on social media.  An example of a social bot would be a Twitter account that talks up Kanye West.

Should your robot car kill you?

The arrival of self-driving cars poses many society-technology challenges.  For example, since self-driving cars do not possess deep-seated instincts for self-preservation, they could be programmed to react in almost any way in the event of a collision.  

Intelligent bike helmets

Innovation is a hallmark of good design that we discuss in our STV 202 class.  According to noted designer Dieter Rams, it is important to distinguish between true innovation and mere novelty.  True innovation improves the essential function of a design in a given category.  Novelty is change for some other purpose, such as artistic expression or gimmickery.

DNN: 21 June 2016

When people think of delivery drones, they likely picture a small aircraft bringing them some tacos or the laundry soap they forgot at the store.  Of course, drones can also be used to deliver things for people whose needs are much more basic.

Why blame humans?

A Slate post by Madeleine Clare Elish explores the role that human drivers or pilots play in semi-automated vehicles.  Semi-automated vehicles have features that take over some, but not all, driving tasks.  

A simple example would be cruise control, now standardly available in cars, or the autopilot function of modern airliners.

Technology and women's jobs

The World Economic Forum recently released its annual jobs report.  As Emma Teitel of the Toronto Star points out, one of the issues flagged by the report is potential loss of 7.1 million jobs in the "office and administrative jobs" category by 2020.

Insurance for self-driving cars

British insurance company Adrian Flux has issued an insurance policy to cover self-driving cars.  Highlights of the policy include coverage in the following circumstances:

  • Crashes due to loss of communication with satellites or software failures;
  • Crashes due to hacking.

Even failure of drivers to take manual control in these cases is covered.

However, other situations are not covered, including:

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