Welcome to #TechAways, where our talented tech team – full of voracious readers – introduces you to our selection of the top stories we’ve read each week. We’re here to help you keep up with the hottest developments in the tech world and their implications for Europe.
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Taking risk off the road [Wired]
Consumers get excited about the novelty of autonomous cars, but often overlook a game-changing factor in their rollout – mitigated accident risk. The programme powering your wheels won’t be distracted by texting or spilt coffee. This change can massively reduce road deaths – but how perfect will the programme and product have to be to hit the road? Too perfect, manufacturers and some regulators worry.. Last year, a staggering 37,500 people died on US roads. If autonomous cars were involved in only 30,000 deaths, that would represent a major year-on-year reduction. While humans tolerate their own errors, are they ready to tolerate those made by machines in the name of progress?
When old-school banking scales fintech start-ups [TechCrunch]
Who said big banks and fintech start-ups should be at odds? Flux, the company on a mission to digitise the world’s receipts, has announced a partnership with Barclays in the UK. Barclays’ customers taking part in the trial will see their receipts in real time, including all purchases, with VAT, delivered directly to the app. If the pilot is a success, it has the potential to be rolled out to the 5 million customers using the main Barclays banking app. Win-win Economics 1.0.1: start-up, are you eager to scale up quickly? Industry giant, are you afraid of the disrupter? You might want to stick together.
Of existential fear and cautious optimism [The Next Web]
Most people are either scared of or (cautiously) optimistic about the changes AI will bring. Ray Kurzweil, Google’s AI and speech recognition specialist, has a very different vision. He believes humanity has never been better off, and that AI will continue that trend. What’s next? Medical robots in our brains, connecting our neo-cortex to the smart cloud by 2029. That might sound like a short timeline, but considering 90% of his predictions have come true, it seems to be time to consider a more integrated future with AI.
Banning killer robots? [The Telegraph]
While campaigners made the case this week at the UN for a global prohibition on lethal autonomous weapons systems, Stuart Russell, a Berkeley professor, issued a warning – technology to create killer robots is already here and needs to be banned. Scary? The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots has released a short film, titled Slaughterbots, designed to demonstrate the risk. In July, Tesla’s Elon Musk described AI as the “biggest risk we face as a civilisation” and warned that it needed to be regulated before “people see robots go down the street killing people”. Maybe all of this sounds a bit exaggerated, but we should at least consider the worst-case scenario.
In case you haven’t had enough:
- `Warren in a Box’ to Pick Stocks for First Nordic AI Fund [Bloomberg]
- Deliveroo wins right not to give riders minimum wage or holiday pay [The Guardian]
- The Tech Industry’s Gender-Discrimination Problem [The New Yorker]
- Report suggests US is in a ‘pre-9/11’ cyberattack moment — here’s what you need to know [The Next Web]
- Telecoms versus carmakers in race to get connected [Financial Times]
- The STEM Paradox: Why Are Muslim-Majority Countries Producing So Many Female Engineers? [Slate]
- Bitcoin’s Exorbitant Energy Costs May Prove to Be Biggest Risk [Bloomberg]
- How One Woman’s Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her [Wired]
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