Technology

In a little over two years, a fleet of driverless cars will make its way from Oxford to London, completing the entire journey from start to finish without human intervention, including on urban streets and motorways. Organisers of the government-backed project, announced on Monday, still expect to have a human in the driving seat. But as the cars communicate, update on hazards, and automatically react, is the time coming when a human driver is not just redundant but an active danger? A driverless transport trial started this month in Greenwich, south-east London, with members of the public invited to climb aboard Harry – a version of the pod vehicles used at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, souped-up with lasers, sensors and £20,000 worth of autonomous technology. Harry was doing a careful 15mph beside the Thames when an oncoming jogger swerved right in front of us, forcing the vehicle to a sudden halt. In other circumstances, road rage …

Uber faced yet another challenge on Monday when a former Lyft driver filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that a secret program created by the ride-hailing giant to spy on its rival’s drivers violated federal and state privacy laws. The program, known internally as Hell, was revealed on 12 April by the tech news site the Information. Uber allegedly used the program to track and identify Lyft drivers, building up profiles of individuals and figuring out who was driving for Uber and Lyft. Uber then prioritized sending rides to drivers who used both apps, hoping to persuade drivers to abandon Lyft, according to the report. Uber disputed the charge of giving preference to drivers using both services in a comment to the Information but has not commented further on the program. The lawsuit, filed by Michael Gonzalez, who drove for Lyft from 2012 until November 2014, asserts that in using Hell, Uber engaged in “unlawful invasion …

Artificial intelligence and other technologies will cause people “more pain than happiness” over the next three decades, according to Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman and founder of Alibaba. “Social conflicts in the next three decades will have an impact on all sorts of industries and walks of life,” said Ma, speaking at an entrepreneurship conference in China about the job disruptions that would be created by automation and the internet. A key social conflict will be the rise of artificial intelligence and longer life expectancy, which will lead to an aging workforce fighting for fewer jobs. Ma, who is usually more optimistic in his presentations, issued the warning to encourage businesses to adapt or face problems in the future. He said that 15 years ago he gave hundreds of speeches warning about the impact of e-commerce on traditional retailers and few people listened because he wasn’t as well-known as he is now. “Machines should only …

Image copyright Getty Images Uber reportedly used a tactic called fingerprinting to track iPhones in order to fight fraud – despite Apple banning the practice. The New York Times reports that in 2015 Apple discovered that the ride-sharing company had broken its privacy rules by collecting iPhone serial numbers. Boss Tim Cook told Uber founder Travis Kalanick to remove the “fingerprinting” code or he would ban the app from the Apple Store, the paper claims. Apple declined to comment. Uber said the practice of fingerprinting deterred criminals from installing its app on stolen phones, using stolen credit cards to book journeys, then wiping the phone and doing it again. “Being able to recognise known bad actors when they try to get back on to our network is an important security measure for both Uber and our users,” it said. New York Uber drivers may get tips Uber: We did not steal Google’s tech Uber ends …

Image copyright Central news Image caption Adam Mudd pleaded guilty to computer offences at an earlier hearing A teenager made about £360,000 by creating computer hacking software which cost universities, gaming websites and other businesses millions of pounds, a court has heard. Adam Mudd, 20, of Hertfordshire, has already admitted offences under the Computer Misuse Act. The Old Bailey heard he lives with his parents and the crimes were about “status”. He is expected to be sentenced next week. The court heard Mudd created the Titanium Stresser “malware” in 2013, when he was 16 years old, and sold it to cyber criminals across the world. College attacks The programme had 112,000 registered users who were responsible for about 1.7 million “distributed denial of service” attacks on websites, including gaming sites such as RuneScape, Minecraft and Xbox Live. The court heard there were about 25,000 attacks on RuneScape and the company which owns it spent £6m …

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Valery Seleznev says his son was “abducted” A member of the Russian parliament is outraged after his son was handed down a sentence of 27 years in prison for computer hacking crimes in the US. Roman Valeryevich Seleznev, 32, was convicted in August for stealing credit card data from US restaurants, causing nearly $170m (£132m) in damages. Russian MP Valery Seleznev said the sentence was “passed by man-eaters” and that his son was “abducted”. Seleznev made millions by selling the data on the dark web, US officials say. Mr Seleznev, a member of the lower house of the Russian legislature known as the Duma, is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the New York Times reports. “My son was tortured because being in jail in a foreign country after abduction is torture in itself. He is innocent,” he told RIA Novosti news agency. Mr Seleznev, a member of …

Almost 120 years ago, during the first Gilded Age, sociologist Thorstein Veblen coined the term “conspicuous consumption”. He used it to refer to rich people flaunting their wealth through wasteful spending. Why buy a thousand-dollar suit when a hundred-dollar one serves the same function? The answer, Veblen said, was power. The rich asserted their dominance by showing how much money they could burn on things they didn’t need. While radical at the time, Veblen’s observation seems obvious now. In the intervening decades, conspicuous consumption has become deeply embedded in the texture of American capitalism. Our new Gilded Age is even more Veblenian than the last. Today’s captains of industry publicize their social position with private islands and superyachts while the president of the United States covers nearly everything he owns in gold. But the acquisition of insanely expensive commodities isn’t the only way that modern elites project power. More recently, another form of status display …

Image copyright Getty Images Two graduate students stood silently beside a lectern, listening as their professor presented their work to a conference. Usually, the students would want the glory. And they had, just a couple of days previously. But their families talked them out of it. A few weeks earlier, the Stanford researchers had received an unsettling letter from a shadowy US government agency. If they publicly discussed their findings, the letter said, it would be deemed legally equivalent to exporting nuclear arms to a hostile foreign power. Stanford’s lawyer said he thought they could defend any case by citing the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. But the university could cover legal costs only for professors. So the students were persuaded to keep schtum. What was this information that US spooks considered so dangerous? Were the students proposing to read out the genetic code of smallpox or lift the lid on some shocking presidential …

Image caption Businesses such as this one were badly hit by the internet ban Internet services in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions have been turned back on three months after they were cut off following protests. People were delighted when online access was restored in both regions on Thursday at around 19:00 GMT, a BBC correspondent in Bamenda reports. Before the ban, authorities had warned mobile phone users they faced jail for spreading false information. Communications and the economy were badly affected by the shutdown. Anglophone Cameroonians make up about 20% of the country’s 23 million people. The other regions of the country are predominately French-speaking. Africa Live: BBC News updates Google coding champion with no internet Why has Cameroon blocked the internet? Find out more about Cameroon Celebrations: Frederic Takang, BBC News, Bamenda, Cameroon Excited groups gathered in the city centre to share the news with each other on Thursday night, as passing cars honked their …

Image copyright Three Mobile phone company Three has apologised after some of its customers were unable to make calls or texts. The company said it had a “temporary network issue” which affected calls and texts during Saturday afternoon and evening. It said calls had since been restored and that it is working to restore full service. But some users on Twitter complained of their texts being sent to random numbers instead of their contacts. A spokeswoman said the company was “currently investigating the cause of the service disruption” and that it apologised for any inconvenience. It also said that some “customers and non-customers” may have received a message from an unknown sender on Saturday. In a statement on its website, the company said its advice “is to ignore all text messages that you deem incorrect”. Three, which has about nine million customers, experienced a data breach last year which saw personal details, including names and …

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