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MzHeather

It is that time when I pretend that the search strings people typed in are actual questions. Details? What details. Mitigating circumstances? Ha! It’s all assumptions, all the time!

1 “Dating two sisters at the same time.” 

Your life is your own, obviously, but I’m not going to encourage obviously terrible decisions.

2 “Why a lady tells you that ‘let’s have a secret relationship.'”

People that want secret relationships tend to be:

a) Involved with someone else and don’t want them to know about you, with a high chance that they are breaking some rules or agreements they have with somebody else and lying about it.  Cheating, forbidden office romances or teacher/student, doctor/patient type stuff.

b) People who have something super-complicated going on. Legal battles (esp. divorce/custody stuff), public figures avoiding gossip and security threats, superheroes protecting their alter-egos.

c) Both/all of the above?

Definitely ask why, think about whether those seem like good reasons, and double-check anything that doesn’t seem right. Somebody who will lie about you has a more than zero percent chance of being comfortable lying to you.

3 “Reply for ‘I don’t go for looks.'”

My best guess is that this person is telling you they don’t like how you look, but want to date/sleep with you anyway, and they want you to know that they’re making some kind of generous concession. And it’s like, oh, buddy, don’t worry, I do go for looks, so this was never going to work out between us, happy trails!

My most generous read is that they’ve bought into the ‘people you find attractive are probably shallow and vapid, only ugly/average-looking people are deep and smart’ trope, they think this is a compliment, or they’re trying to talk themselves into the idea of you, using a story about how it’s what’s on the inside that counts. They are also foolish enough to do their thinking out loud, so you are eavesdropping on a conversation between them and themselves, and this is already way too much work.

4 “What’s wrong with correcting an employee in front of a customer?” 

Well, I’m imagining a retail/customer service/waitstaff thing here. If you are a manager and you see someone doing something incorrectly, or a customer is complaining and wants your employee to fetch you, what’s stopping you from pulling the employee aside to quietly check in with them and give them a chance to correct whatever it is themselves? What’s stopping you from briefly stepping in instead of your staffer and helping a hostile or particularly high-maintenance customer yourself? Isn’t that’s why they pay you the slightly bigger bucks? The customer gets helped, your employee gets supported.

I’m sure people can come up with all kinds of exceptions, and if there’s something absolutely wrong or unsafe going on, where it’s worth embarrassing an employee to stop something worse from happening, then correct away! Presumably knowing when and why to do this is also why they pay you more?

If you’re unsure of the difference, here’s a story about how not to be: The owner at a long-ago restaurant job I worked loved swooping in an being “The Mayor,” his whole schtick was “hands-on” guy, but it was never to back up the waitstaff, it was always to show how great he was instead of us. So he’d chuckle with the customers about how hard it is to “find good help these days” while I was within earshot, he’d grab whipped cream out of my hands to apply it “correctly” to a slice of pie without checking in about whether it was a special request from the customer, then yell at me five minutes later for “wasting” pie when I had to redo the order. He’d yell at us about accepting expired coupons and gift certificates before shift started, but when we’d say “no” to a customer during the shift, suddenly he’d be there to make sure “the customer is always right” and grant an exception. Whatever, it’s his business, but maybe skip the lectures and threats to take expired gift cards out of our tips if we accepted them? He once overheard me answering the phone when I worked the front counter with “Dude, please stop calling and get some help” and chewed me out in front of all my regulars about professional phone manners. Who was on the other end of that phone? The guy who called three times a shift to ask me if I had ticklish feet and could he masturbate on them. He also grabbed dirty dishes out of my hands more than once and threw them in the trash, making absolutely sure that the customer who used them, an AIDS patient from the nearby assisted living facility, could see and hear it.

Anyway, I quit that job in 1996, but last time I was in the area, I noticed there’s a new parking lot where his life’s work used to stand.

5 “I don’t like to chat on phone before meeting up.” 

If you are doing the online dating thing, probably filter for other people who share this preference or who will respect your boundaries and wishes, though I suggest considering some pandemic-flexibility around brief phone or video chats vs. in-person first dates, possibly with a decision matrix based on “how much you hate the phone” vs. “how bad you wanna meet any people/this particular person.” There are messaging apps and services like Google Voice that let you do this safely without giving out your cell# to anyone who asks.

6 “l want to free sex demon partiner online.” 

You want A free demon sex partner online? Maybe start with FetLife?

Or is it that you want TO free a demon who is also your online sex partner? Maybe revisit that Buffy episode where Willow tries online dating before you do anything Hellmouth-y.

7 “Is him watching my favorite shows a big sign of love?” 

It’s nice when someone you like gets interested in the things you like because you like them, it’s certainly not a sign of dislike or disinterest. But people don’t have to like the same media to like each other, love is going to need some conversations before you can count on it. May this be a good beginning!

8 “How do I break the news to my spouse that his youngest daughter moved in with her boyfriend?” 

What if it’s his daughter’s job to tell her dad what she wants him to know, when she wants him to know it?

You didn’t say she was your daughter, so get out of the middle and reject the roles of secret keeper or messenger. “You should call your dad or send him a note with your news.” “You should talk to your daughter about that.”

9 “Decided to post my first dick pic.” 

Wow, big milestone! I can’t congratulate you without knowing where you sent it and how consensual and expected it all was, so forgive me if I don’t immediately record it in the family newsletter, but good luck out there and remember, nobody wants to be surprised with images of your privates. If it’s not a forum where people share and expect to see that stuff consensually, or if you’re texting back and forth with someone, and it’s too awkward to ask first and wait for a yes, then it’s definitely too awkward to send it.

10 “I was fired for lecturing my coworkers about the vegan way of life.” 

Well, everybody loves being lectured, what could have possibly gone wrong?

This has inspired me to do some chart/visual-aid making, while I’m working on that, here’s what I’ll say with some confidence:

  • It wasn’t the veganism, it was the lectures. You were either so annoying about this that it didn’t matter how good at your job you were or so bad/mediocre at your job that it wasn’t work putting up with how annoying you were. The better you were at your job, the more likely there was a series of meetings and awkward chats and warnings where they gave you every chance to knock it off before they showed you the door.
  • Nobody likes being lectured or preached at about anything, especially by coworkers, and nobody likes having their food judged. Do this enough, and even people who agree with you will start to groan when you start talking and find ways to avoid you, and there is not a single religion, lifestyle, political movement, fandom, or food choice that grants an exception to this.

I hope you land somewhere that’s a better fit for your lifestyle and obsessions and also learn the life-changing magic of keeping your eyes on your own plate when you’re at work.

Thank you for the diverting topics! I have deadlines this week so it was either “write post” or “read comments” but not both, so, enjoy.

MzHeather 38 minutes ago · Tags: fusevy, love, relationships
Paige

Volopay, a Singapore-based startup building a “financial control center” for businesses, announced today it has raised $2.1 million in seed funding. The round was led by Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen, and included participation from Soma Capital, CP Ventures, Y Combinator, VentureSouq, the founders of Razorpay and other angel investors.

The funding will be used on hiring, product development, strategic partnerships and Volopay’s international expansion. It plans to launch operations in Australia later this month. The company currently has about 100 clients, including Smart Karma, Dathena, Medline, Sensorflow and Beam.

Launched in 2019 by Rajith Shaiji and Rajesh Raikwar, Volopay took part in Y Combinator’s accelerator program last year. It was created after chief executive officer Shaji, who worked for several fintech companies before launching Volopay, became frustrated by the process of reconciling business expenses, especially with accounting departments located in different countries. Shaiji and Raikwar also saw that many companies, especially startups and SMEs, struggled to track different kinds of spending, including subscriptions and vendor payments.

Most of Volopay’s clients are in the tech sector and have about 15 to 150 employees. Volopay’s platform integrates multi-currency corporate cards (issued by VISA Corporate), domestic and international bank transfers, automated payments and expense and accounting software, allowing companies to save money on foreign exchange fees and reconcile expenses more quickly.

In order to speed up its development, Volopay integrated Airwallex’s APIs. Its corporate cards offer up to 2% cashback on software subscriptions, hosting and international travel, which Volopay says are the three top expense categories for tech companies, and it in November 2020, it launched a credit facility for corporate cards to help give SMEs more liquidity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compared to traditional credit products, like credit cards and working capital loans, Shaji said Volopay’s credit facility, which is also issued by VISA Corporate, has a more competitive fixed-free pricing structure that depends on the level of credit used. This means companies know how much they owe in advance, which in turn helps them manage their cashflows more easily. The average credit line provided by Volopay is about $30,000.

Since TechCrunch last covered Volopay in July 2020, it has grown 70% month on month in terms of total funds flowing through its platform, Shaji said. It also launched two new features: a bill pay feature that allows clients to transfer money domestically and internationally with low foreign exchange rates and transaction fees, and the credit facility. The bill pay feature now contributes about 40% to Volopay’s total payment volume, while the credit product makes up 30% of its card spending.

Shaji told TechCrunch that Volopay decided to expand into Australia because because not only is it a much larger market than Singapore, but “SMEs in Australia are very comfortable using paid digital software to streamline internal operations and scale their businesses.” He added that there is currently no other provider in Australia that offers both expense management and credit to SMEs like Volopay.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/18/singapore-based-volopay-raises-2-1-million-seed-round-to-build-a-financial-control-center-for-businesses/

Paige one hour ago
Paige

The best thing about 2020 is we survived it. No need to say what the worst thing is, it’s hands down our collective stupidity in the choices we’ve made. That reality has forced us to refactor what we do moving forward.

If we had correctly understood the massive changes ahead, we would not be wondering when we will return to the old, new, or any normal. The normal is what got us here. Unlimited air travel, freedom to do whatever we wanted without regard to the impact it would have on anybody else. Nationalism. What the hell is that all about? Keeping us in, everybody else out.

Take Twitter for one. When it first emerged, it felt like a pipe dream realized. For me, it still feels that way. Good people like it, so do bad people. Bad as in they use the global network to inflict damage on their political enemies. Does that mean the phone is a bad thing, too? Or cars, or popcorn butter? What about dramas? They’re sad, reward winners and losers? Do I wish Hollywood was only allowed to make romcoms? Well, yes I do.

But only if it doesn’t abridge my rights, my freedom to pursue happiness. So when I see Twitter turn into a cesspool, I look for someone to blame. Let’s start with the bad guys. But what if they have a point about something? Their motives may be suspect, or just plain evil. What am I doing reading them anyway. It’s not like I chose them to follow. Well, apparently I did, by listening to people who retweet what these folks spew.

Retweets are another one of these things I love about Twitter. Let’s say I follow someone whose perspective I admire, and they in turn retweet others who they admire. A social cloud forms with interesting characteristics. Implicitly, the pattern of retweets, @mentions, and likes can be plugged into readers or aggregators to reflect trends, emerging news, business analytics, and social dynamics of power, ethics, humor, and stature.

So it’s not like a follow of the bad actors, but it is like I follow their relative position in the stream of those I follow. I can and do rationalize this monitoring of other than the chosen social group as a necessary early warning system for trouble ahead. These signals can be used prophylactically to measure how our message is carrying, but a typical impact is to pigeonhole our views as fodder for those who wish us ill.

Net net, this countervailing energy reduces the sense of fun I have with the global network. If I had to choose no Twitter over this problem, I still choose Twitter. In the early days of social media, I had a front row seat in observing how these little signals could have a surprising impact on the concerns of the day, on the projection of ideas around the network to and with others who together built support, and sometimes, business through the collective group mind.

Has this been lost in the partisan nature of our daily political noise? Of course, just try saying anything about anything and watch the nasty trolls rev up their schtick. Not fun. Also not effective, because the pushback creates a new rhythm of Pee Wee Herman yeah-but-what-am-I dynamics. What to do? How about a @botmention that argues with tagged trolls but silently removes the noise from the feeds of those who @like the @bot tag.

Implementing this semi-public stream is already doable inside a private network, with the “cost” of joining the agreement to provide access to an internal view that makes the stream less noisy and more responsive. We’ve been experimenting with just such a private/public backchannel to support production of the Gillmor Gang, but I’m not here to promote that. More usefully, the network functions efficiently in concert with Twitter.

The events of 2020, and the years leading up to the election and pandemic breakout, make clear that the kind of social media spread we have seen has consequences we should have countered but in fact exacerbated. Yet even in the volatile wind down of the election are some signs of a rebound from playing the chaos card. Whatever you think of Twitter’s history of or lack of backbone development, Jack Dorsey’s red line in the sand was a much needed call to arms against Trump’s bullying.

Even if the actual technology was limited in effect, the application of any pushback at all was a signal of what the world might look like if the election went the other way. The first amplification of that subtle shift came from social media’s biggest customer, mainstream media: pointed pushback in White House press conferences, silent movie montages of Republican senators refusing to answer shouted hallway questions, networks cutting away from events when the falsehood level reached fake mass.

Mitch McConnell’s move to tie additional stimulus help to Trump’s attempt to punish Twitter by repealing Section 230 protection proved effective in running out the clock. It also moved the ball from Trump’s control to the hard numbers of January 20. The Georgia runoff on January 5, followed the next day by the attempt to challenge the electoral college Biden win and the storming of the Capitol, changed everything. Twitter became Trump’s last super power. Note: this edition of the Gang was recorded minutes before Twitter permanently suspended the @realDonaldTrump account.

Well, there is Zoom too. Its swappable background feature lets the ex-resident broadcast to the faithful as though nothing has changed. That’s why he came back from vacation early, to pre-pardon his production staff and hire a shadow cabinet. Secretary of Streaming, Chief Acting Legal Officer, Secretary of Horror Stephen Miller, Secretary of Bacteria Giuliani.

Zoom lets you do this behind a subscription paywall, but now Trump+ is competing against Disney+, Netflix, Apple+, and the bundles designed to lock-in the market until the vaccines take root. Or how about an ACA+ bundle that gives you pre-existing coverage, the latest iPhone, and any three + networks on a rotating basis to encourage competition for stream retention.

from the Gillmor Gang Newsletter

__________________

The Gillmor Gang — Frank Radice, Michael Markman, Keith Teare, Denis Pombriant, Brent Leary and Steve Gillmor. Recorded live Friday, January 8, 2021.

Produced and directed by Tina Chase Gillmor @tinagillmor

@fradice, @mickeleh, @denispombriant, @kteare, @brentleary, @stevegillmor, @gillmorgang

Subscribe to the Gillmor Gang Newsletter and join the backchannel here on Telegram.

The Gillmor Gang on Facebook … and here’s our sister show G3 on Facebook.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/18/gillmor-gang-twitter/

Paige 2 hours ago
Paige

The idea for Capsule started with a tweet about reinventing social media.

A day later cryptography researcher, Nadim Kobeissi — best known for authoring the open source E2E encrypted desktop chat app Cryptocat (now discontinued) — had pulled in a pre-seed investment of $100,000 for his lightweight mesh-networked microservices concept, with support coming from angel investor and former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan, William J. Pulte and Wamda Capital.

I'm designing a decentralized social media solution where each user hosts their own microservice. These then connect to one another in a mesh, allowing following and sharing posts. It will be lightweight, user friendly and secure.

Are you interested in funding its development?

— Nadim Kobeissi (@kaepora) January 10, 2021

The nascent startup has a post-money valuation on paper of $10M, according to Kobeissi, who is working on the prototype — hoping to launch an MVP of Capsule in March (as a web app), after which he intends to raise a seed round (targeting $1M-$1.5M) to build out a team and start developing mobile apps.

For now there’s nothing to see beyond Capsule’s landing page and a pitch deck (which he shared with TechCrunch for review). But Kobeissi says he was startled by the level of interest in the concept.

“I posted that tweet and the expectation that I had was that basically 60 people max would retweet it and then maybe I’ll set up a Kickstarter,” he tells us. Instead the tweet “just completely exploded” and he found himself raising $100k “in a single day” — with $50k paid in there and then.

“I’m not a startup guy. I’ve been running a business based on consulting and based on academic R&D services,” he continues. “But by the end of the day — last Sunday, eight days ago — I was running a Delaware corporation valued at $10M with $100k in pre-seed funding, which is insane. Completely insane.”

Capsule is just the latest contender for retooling Internet power structures by building infrastructure that radically decentralizes social platforms to make speech more resilient to corporate censorship and control.

The list of decentralized/p2p/federated protocols and standards already out there is very long — even while usage remains low. Extant examples include ActivityPub, Diaspora, Mastodon, p2p Matrix, Scuttlebutt, Solid and Urbit, to name a few.

Interest in the space has been rekindled in recent weeks after mainstream platforms like Facebook and Twitter took decisions to shut down US president Donald Trump’s access to their megaphones — a demonstration of private power that other political leaders have described as problematic

Kobeissi also takes that view, while adding the caveat that he’s not “personally” concerned about Trump’s deplatforming. But he says he is concerned about giant private corporations having unilateral power to shape Internet speech — whether takedown decisions are being made by Twitter’s trust & safety lead or Amazon Web Services (which recently yanked the plug on right-wing social network Parler for failing to moderate violent views).

He also points to a lawsuit that’s been filed in US court seeking damages and injunctive relief from Apple for allowing Telegram, a messaging platform with 500M+ users, to be made available through its iOS App Store — “despite Apple’s knowledge that Telegram is being used to intimidate, threaten, and coerce members of the public” — raising concerns about “the odds of these efforts catching on”.

“That is kind of terrifying,” he suggests.

Capsule would seek to route around the risk of mass deplatforming via “easy to deploy” p2p microservices — starting with a forthcoming web app.

“When you deploy Capsule right now — I have a prototype that does almost nothing running — it’s basically one binary. And you get that binary and you deploy it and you run it, and that’s it. It sets up a server, it contacts Let’s Encrypt, it gets you a certificate, it uses SQLite for the database, which is a server-less database, all of the assets for the web server are within the binary,” he says, walking through the “really nice technical idea” which snagged $100k in pre-seed backing insanely fast.

“There are no other files — and then once you have it running, in that folder when you set up your capsule server, it’s just the Capsule program and a Capsule database which is a file. And that’s it. And that is so self-contained that it’s embeddable everywhere, that’s migratable — and it’s really quite impossible to get this level of simplicity and elegance so quickly unless you go this route. Then, for the mesh federation thing, we’re just doing HTTPS calls and then having decentralized caching of the databases and so on.”

Among the Twitter back-and-forth about how (or whether) Kobeissi’s concept differs to various other decentralized protocols, someone posted a link to this XKCD cartoon — which lampoons the techie quest to resolve competing standards by proposing a tech that covers all use-cases (yet is of course doomed to increase complexity by +1). So given how many protocols already offer self-hosted/p2p social media services it seems fair to ask what’s different here — and, indeed, why build another open decentralized standard?

Kobeissi argues that existing options for decentralizing social media are either: A) not fully p2p (Mastodon is “self-hosted but not decentralized”, per a competitive analysis on Capsule’s pitch deck, ergo its servers are “vulnerable to Parler-style AWS takedowns”); or B) not focused enough on the specific use-case of social media (some other decentralized protocols like Matrix aim to support many more features/apps than social media and therefore can’t be as lightweight is the argument); or C) simply aren’t easy enough to use to be more than a niche geeky option.

He talks about Capsule having the same level of focus on social media as Signal does on private messaging, for example — albeit intending it to support both short-form ‘tweet’ style public posts and long-form Medium-style postings. But he’s vocal about not wanting any ‘bloat’.

He also invokes Apple’s ‘design for usability’ philosophy. Albeit, it’s a lot easier to say you want to design something that ‘just works’ vs actually pulling off effortless mainstream accessibility. But that’s the bar Kobeissi is setting himself here.

“I always imagine Glenn Greenwald when I think of my user,” he says on the usability point, referring to the outspoken journalist and Intercept co-founder who recently left to launch his own newsletter-based offering on Substack. “He’s the person I see setting this up. Basically the way that this would work is he’d be able to set this up or get someone to set it up really easily — I think Capsule is going to offer automated deployments as also a way to make revenue, by the way, i.e. for a bit extra we deploy the server for you and then you’re self-hosting but we also make a margin off of that — but it’s going to be open source, you can set it up yourself as well and that’s perfectly okay. It’s not going to be hindered at all in that sense.

“In the case of Capsule, each content creator has their own website — has their own address, like Capsule.Greenwald.com — and then people go there and their first discovers of the mesh is through people that they’re interested in hearing from.”

Individual Capsules would be decentralized from the risk of platform-level censorship since they’d be beyond the reach of takedowns by a single centralizing entity. Although they would still be being hosted on the web — and therefore could be subject to a takedown by their own web host. That means illegal speech on Capsule could still be removed. However there wouldn’t be a universal host that could be hit up with the risk of a whole platform being taken down at a sweep — as Parler just was by AWS.

“For every takedown it is entirely between that Capsule user and their hosting provider,” says Kobeissi. “Capsule users are going to have different hosting providers that they’re able to choose and then every time that there is a takedown it is going to be a decision that is made by a different entity. And with a different — perhaps — judgement, so there isn’t this centralized focus where only Amazon Web Services decides who gets to speak or only Twitter decides.”

And while the business of web hosting at platform giant level involves just a handful of cloud hosting giants able to offer the required scalability, he argues that that censorship-prone market concentration goes away once you’re dealing with scores of descentralized social media instances.   

“We have the big hosting providers — like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud — but aside from that we have a lot of tiny hosting providers or small businesses… Sure if you’re running a big business you do get to focus on these big providers because they allow you to have these insane servers that are very powerful and deployable very easily but if you’re running a Capsule instance, as a matter of fact, the server resource requirements of running a Capsule instance are generally speaking quite small. In most instances tiny.”

Content would also be harder to scrub from Capsule because the mesh infrastructure would mean posts get mirrored across the network by the poster’s own followers (assuming they have any). So, for example, reposts wouldn’t just vanish the moment the original poster’s account was taken down by their hosting provider.

Separate takedown requests would likely be needed to scrub each reposted instance, adding a lot more friction to the business of content moderation vs the unilateral takedowns that platform giants can rain down now. The aim is to “spare the rest of the community from the danger of being silenced”, as Kobeissi puts it.

Trump’s deplatforming does seem to have triggered a major penny dropping moment for some that allowing a handful of corporate giants to own and operate centalized mass communication machines isn’t exactly healthy for democratic societies as this unilateral control of infrastructure gives them the power to limit speech. (As, indeed, their content-sorting algorithms determine reach and set the agenda of much public debate.)

Current social media infrastructure also provides a few mainstream chokepoints for governments to lean on — amplifying the risk of state censorship.

With concerns growing over the implications of platform power on data flows — and judging by how quickly Kobeissi’s tweet turned heads — we could be on the cusp of an investor-funded scramble to retool Internet infrastructure to redefine where power (and data) lies.

It’s certainly interesting to note that Twitter recently reupped its own decentralized social media open standard push, Bluesky, for example. It obviously wouldn’t want to be left behind any such shift.

“It seems to really have blown up,” Kobeissi adds, returning to his week-old Capsule concept. “I thought when I tweeted that I was maybe the only person who cared. I guess I live in France so I’m not really in tune with what’s going on in the US a lot — but a lot of people care.”

“I am not like a cypherpunk-style person these days, I’m not for full anonymity or full unaccountability online by any stretch,” he adds. “And if this is abused then sincerely it might even be the case that we would encourage — have a guidelines page — for hosting providers like on how to deal with instances of someone hosting an abusive Capsule instance. We do want that accountability to exist. We are not like a full on, crazy town ‘free speech’ wild west thing. We just think that that accountability has to be organic and decentralized — just as originally intended with the Internet.”


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/18/cryptocat-author-gets-insanely-fast-backing-to-build-p2p-tech-for-social-media/

Paige 2 hours ago
Paige

The Station is a weekly newsletter dedicated to all things transportation. Sign up here — just click The Station — to receive it every weekend in your inbox.

Hi friends and new readers, welcome back to The Station, a newsletter dedicated to all the present and future ways people and packages move from Point A to Point B.

Before I launch into the news of the week, let’s take care of some housekeeping. First, you might have noticed that The Station landed in your email inbox on Sunday, not Saturday.

I have received some feedback that suggests the newsletter is typically read on Sundays. Do you have an alternate view? Please reach out with your opinion on this matter.

When would you like to see The Station? And what do you like and dislike about the newsletter?

One last item: I am now transportation editor at TechCrunch. The title change comes with more responsibility and a mission. I’ll be bringing on more freelancers to expand our “future of transportation” coverage. Mark Harris, an investigative reporter who has already delivered some wonderful articles for us, will be a more regular fixture here. Harris has a knack for rooting out news tucked inside legal documents and filings such as his Tesla tariffs article in 2019 and insights into the passenger capability of Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop project.

I hope to add more faces to the transportation bureau in the weeks and months to come.

Email me at [email protected] to share thoughts, criticisms, offer up opinions or tips. You can also send a direct message to me at Twitter — @kirstenkorosec.

CES roundup

Mercedes-EQ. MBUX Hyperscreen

Mercedes-EQ. MBUX Hyperscreen

Maybe it was the virtual format, but autonomous vehicle technology didn’t play a starring role at CES this year as it has in the past.

Instead, several other themes emerged at CES, mostly around infotainment and advanced driver assistance systems. And continuing a trend in 2020, there were several gigantic screens, including the Mercedes Hyperscreen that is pictured below.

Pioneer, Harman and Panasonic all revealed future products aimed at bringing more audio and visual technology into the vehicle. Harman, for instance, unveiled three new “experience concepts,” that can turn the infotainment system in a vehicle into a concert hall, recording studio or gaming center.

Panasonic also announced a partnership with UK startup Envisics to jointly develop and commercialize a new generation of head-up displays for cars, trucks and SUVs. Head-up displays, or HUDs, seemed to be everywhere this show. The technology isn’t new. But recent advances are pushing the capabilities of these systems, which are integrated in the dash of a vehicle and project images onto the windshield to aid drivers with navigation and provide other alerts.

Envisics Navigation

Image Credits: Envisics

GM had perhaps the biggest presence at the virtual 2021 CES, at least within the transportation sector. The automaker chose the tech trade show to announce a new business unit called BrightDrop that will focus on electric vans and other products and services for the commercial market. But that wasn’t all.

GM used the opportunity to tease its upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EUV — a vehicle that will have GM’s hands-free highway driving assist technology known as Super Cruise — as well as the Cadillac Celestiq dashboard and even a new logo. The intent of this bouquet of announcements was clear: GM wants the world — and shareholders — to know it’s serious about electrification and connected car tech.

GM’s numerous announcements were hard to miss — there was even an eVTOL. Conversely, Mobileye’s announcements flew a bit under the radar, but are arguably as notable. 

GM showed off two concepts at CES 2021: an autonomous shuttle and a personal eVTOL.

Mobileye outlined plans to expand its autonomous vehicles testing to more cities, which was expected and is in line with the company’s previously stated plans.

What stood out to me was a talk that Mobileye president and CEO Amnon Shashua gave which outlined the company’s vision and progress.

The recap: Mobileye is taking a three-pronged strategy to developing and deploying automated vehicle technology that combines a full self-driving stack — that includes redundant sensing subsystems based on camera, radar and lidar technology— with its REM mapping system and a rules-based Responsibility-Sensitive Safety (RSS) driving policy.

Mobileye’s REM mapping system essentially crowdsources data by tapping into nearly 1 million vehicles equipped with its tech to build high-definition maps that can be used to support in ADAS and autonomous driving systems. Shashua said Mobileye’s technology can now map the world automatically with nearly 8 million kilometers tracked daily and nearly 1 billion kilometers completed to date.

The company provided more details at CES about a new lidar System on Chip product that is under development and will come to market in 2025. The lidar, which will use Intel’s specialized silicon photonics fab, is notable because Mobileye is known for its camera-based technology. To be clear, Mobileye is not backing away from that camera-first approach. Shashua explained Mobileye believes the best technological and business approach is to develop a camera-first system and use the lidar and radar as add-ons for redundancy.

In short: Mobileye has the money and existing network to commercialize automated vehicle technology and bring it to the masses.

Below is sampling of our transportation-related CES coverage:

Mercedes unveils Hyperscreen, a 56-inch screen for its flagship EQS electric vehicle

GM targets delivery with new EV business unit BrightDrop

Mobileye is bringing its autonomous vehicle test fleets to at least four more cities in 2021

Sony reveal more details on its secretive Vision S sedan

Holographic startup Envisics partners with Panasonic to fast track in-car AR tech

Startups look beyond lidar for autonomous vehicle perception

BMW previews its next-generation iDrive infotainment system

Sono Motor plans to license the tech that powers it solar electric car

Air taxi startup Archer partners with FCA

Another Uber spinoff is in the works

POSTMATES OUSTER 1

Postmates’ Serve robot is equipped with cameras as well as lidar from Ouster.

Remember when I predicted that autonomous delivery would gain momentum in 2021? It seems that sometimes I am right!

Postmates X, the robotics division of the on-demand delivery startup that Uber acquired last year for $2.65 billion, is seeking investors in its bid to become a separate company called Serve Robotics.

You might recall Serve, the yellow and black-emblazoned autonomous sidewalk delivery bot that was developed and piloted by Postmates X. This robot, which recently partnered with Pink Dot Stores for deliveries in West Hollywood, will likely be the centerpiece of the new startup.

I learned of a few important details of this plan, which is not yet settled. Uber will maintain a stake in this new startup. Uber’s stake was initially low, but has since popped to about 25%, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The company would be run by Ali Kashani, who heads up Postmates X and leads the Serve program. Anthony Armenta would lead the startup’s software efforts and Aaron Leiba would be in charge of hardware — keeping the same positions they hold at Postmates X.

I’ll fill y’all in with more details as I learn them.


Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/18/the-station-ces-trends-and-uber-plots-another-spinoff/

Paige 6 hours ago
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