Visitors to SXSW this week found a city without Uber and Lyft but where plenty of other ride sharing services have moved in. From CNN
"There's no secret sauce," Joe Deshotel, spokesman for Ride Austin told CNNTech. "The technology is becoming easier to replicate. It's really about culture. Do riders and drivers like what you're doing? Do they feel like they're a part of it?"
Ride Austin sprung up immediately after Uber and Lyft exited. Fasten, an existing Boston ridesharing service, followed suit and is among the most popular new services in Austin. Ride Austin will charge surge pricing, but Fasten does not. Fasten uses "boost pricing," in which a customer can get a ride quicker if they choose to pay extra.
Fare and Wingz, which specialize in airport rides, have also found a niche.
Many former Uber and Lyft drivers have joined these services. The cost is in the ballpark of what you would have paid for Uber and Lyft.
Decades ago, the Vespa scooter changed the way people drive around cities. Now Piaggio Fast Forward--a division of the Piaggio Group, which developed the Vespa--is trying change the way they walk. Once users don a special belt, the Gita can follow them around, carrying as much as 40 lb. of cargo and using stereoscopic and fish-eye cameras to avoid obstacles. In the future, once Gitas have mapped a route, they may even be able to navigate on their own to, say, deliver goods. "We're inventing a new form of mobility," says PFF CEO Jeffrey Schnapp of the Gita, which is slated for commercial release in 2018.
Gill Pratt of Toyota Research Institute presented at CES in Las Vegas about progress and challenges with AI, robotics, material science and other science in coming driverless cars. starting at 14:40 below
In the meantime, Strategy+Business talks about potential impact on the auto insurance industry here
Saildrone, a self-sailing trimaran uses “13 sensors to collect environmental data or monitor the effect of seals on fish stocks. Backed by Google's Eric Schmidt, the seven-metre yachts have travelled 111,000 kilometres, with customers paying up to £2,000 a day for the data they collect.”
Before computers existed as we know them, data was processed by women, often black women. But they were much more than mere calculators. Indeed, the achievements of Katherine Johnson and many others were integral to NASA’s success. The film Hidden Figures, about their part in the race for space, is currently on release in the US and will be out in the UK on 17 February.
Users will still have to do some tasks, such as partially buttoning shirts, ensuring clothes aren’t inside out, and bunching socks before putting them inside the machine. That’s because even the best machine-learning applications can’t figure out how to fold a pair of socks.
Each item takes about 10 minutes to fold, which Sakane attributed to the time necessary to scan each part of the clothing and communicate via Wi-Fi with a central server. He is working to get it down to 3-to-5 minutes, but said the robot was designed to be used passively while users are doing something else or out of the house.
In writing my recent book, Silicon Collar I saw several mismatches in the labor market. There have been nearly 5 million unfilled jobs for 4+ years. Yet, people have racked up over a trillion in student debt for education many cannot parlay into jobs. Higher education still thinks in terms of 4-6-8 years of formal school when the average job is lasting 5 years or less. We need to revisit our learning methods and fast.
So, I have been watching with interest as Nick Hortovanyi started describing on social media his experience in a new area using Udacity.
Nick had graced this blog a couple of years ago as he described how wearables and data were reshaping his passion for cycling
I asked him how and why he decided on Udacity
“I'm not an academic, have never been to University and the thought maybe of going to University for 3+ years was offputting. I have had a life long learning experience with technology via technology itself. The Udacity Silicon Valley approach seems to fit how I learn using the internet itself."
However, he is not using Udacity for learn a well-trodden subject. And he is doing it across the Pacific from his home on the Gold Coast of Australia.
"I was having trouble finding a large enough market for a startup vision, I had improving performance of cyclists from the data they collected. Thus as part of my what’s next thinking I applied for the new Udacity Self Driving Car Engineer Nano Degree. I thought if I got in, that'd be great, I could get recognition for some of my more recent data science learnings as well as learn more about AI (Deep Learning & Machine Learning), Computer Vision and Robotics.”
It is cutting edge stuff like the Advanced Lane Detection project where he applied “computer vision techniques to augment video output with a detected road lane, road radius curvature and road centre offset.”
What interested me, however, was what the vending machines say about Japan's unique culture. An obvious answer stuck out: Japanese people, and Tokyoites in particular, work a lot and therefore value convenience. But so do New Yorkers, as well as any other number of city-dwellers, and still vending machines are not nearly as popular.
So why are they ubiquitous? Sociologists and economists have offered a few potential answers.
Staples's smart office assistant will go into alpha testing with five to 10 customers by the end of the year. It's scheduled to go into a larger beta test with about 100 large customers in the first quarter of next year.
Depending on the results of those two tests, the Easy Button device could be released in the second or third quarter of 2017, Masud said.
Initially, the device will be focused on ordering products, returns and tracking orders, but Staples has a bigger roadmap planned for it.
Silicon Collar looks at machines and humans at work in over 50 settings across industries and countries. On this blog I will excerpt many of those settings over the next few weeks. On Deal Architect I will excerpt more of the policy parts of the book.
As FastCompany reported, "Companies such as Wealthfront, Betterment and FutureAdvisor offer ‘robo-adviser’ services. Rather than investing money based on the decisions of a human expert, they use technology to manage a portfolio and recalibrate it on an ongoing basis. Doing so allows them to grind down fees, and poses a threat to the conventional business model of a company like Schwab, which is very much used to monetizing the wisdom of human beings."
So Schwab has responded with its own Schwab Intelligent Portfolios, which it markets as "an online investment advisory service that builds, monitors, and rebalances your portfolio—so you don't have to."
While it's still tiny—the service has $6 billion under management and a team of 300 (out of a total staff of 15,000)—it positions Schwab to compete with the start-ups as the market gradually warms up to robo-advisers.