Tesla says fatal crash involved Autopilot

Tesla says fatal crash involved Autopilot

Tesla has provided another update to last week’s fatal crash. As it turns out, Tesla said the driver had Autopilot on with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum. However, it seems the driver ignored the vehicle’s warnings to take back control.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

The promise of Tesla’s Autopilot system is to reduce car accidents. In the company’s blog post, Tesla notes Autopilot reduces crash rates by 40 percent, according to an independent review by the U.S. government. Of course, that does not mean the technology is perfect in preventing all accidents.

As Tesla previously noted, the crash was so severe because the middle divider on the highway had been damaged in an earlier accident. Tesla also cautioned that Autopilot does not prevent all accidents, but it does make them less likely to occur.

No one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did. The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe. There are about 1.25 million automotive deaths worldwide. If the current safety level of a Tesla vehicle were to be applied, it would mean about 900,000 lives saved per year. We expect the safety level of autonomous cars to be 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars.

In the past, when we have brought up statistical safety points, we have been criticized for doing so, implying that we lack empathy for the tragedy that just occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth. We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us. However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.

This development, of course, comes in light of a fatal accident involving one of Uber’s self-driving cars in Tempe, Arizona.

Tesla says fatal crash involved Autopilot
Source: TechCrunch

Baidu’s streaming video service iQiyi falls 13.6% in Nasdaq debut

Baidu’s streaming video service iQiyi falls 13.6% in Nasdaq debut

The streaming video service iQiyi, a business owned by China’s online search giant Baidu, dropped 13.6% in its first day of trading on the Nasdaq — closing at $15.55, or down $2.45 from its opening price of $18.

The company still managed to pull off one of the largest public offerings by a Chinese tech company in the past two years raising $2.25 billion — the only Chinese technology company to make a larger splash in U.S. markets is Alibaba — the commercial technology juggernaut which raised $21.5 billion in its public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.

“It’s a special day and an exciting day for iQiyi, and I will say it’s also an exciting day for the Chinese internet,” said Baidu chief executive Robin Li of the iQiyi public offering.”Eight years ago, when we got started, we were not the first one, we were not the largest one, but we gradually worked our way up, and caught up and surpassed everyone. It has been not an easy journey, but finally we are public. We surpassed everyone. That’s because we have a very strong team. I have a full confidence on Gong Yu and on the whole iQiyi Team.”

Over its eight year history there’s no doubt that iQiyi has gone from laggardly to lustrous in the Chinese streaming video market. Baidu’s offering and Tencent’s video service have both managed to overtake the previous market leader Youku Tudou, which was acquired by Alibaba in 2016.

Tencent leveraged its 980 million monthly active users on the WeChat mobile messaging app, the 653 million monthly active users on its older QQ messaging platform and the company’s attendant social network (think Facebook) to juice growth of its video streaming offering, according to analysis from The Motley Fool.

For Baidu, the company’s pole position for online search became critical to the growth of iQiyi — along with a partnership to China’s ubiquitous hardware manufacturer and technology developer Xiaomi . The company also locked in early content licensing deals with big Hollywood studios like Lions Gate and Paramount — and a deal with Netflix to juice its subscriber base in China. By the end of 2017, Baidu was claiming more than 487 million monthly active users for the service.

The former leader in China’s video streaming market, Youku Tudou, seems to have wilted under the weight of its acquirer’s platform. Alibaba’s ecommerce was never a natural fit with online video streaming.

For all of their massive user bases each of China’s leading video streaming services face a profitability problem. For its part, iQiyi went to market with substantial losses of $574.4 million for the last fiscal year.



Baidu’s streaming video service iQiyi falls 13.6% in Nasdaq debut
Source: TechCrunch

LinkedIn is introducing auto-playing video ads

LinkedIn is introducing auto-playing video ads

In a move that was probably inevitable, LinkedIn is introducing video advertising as one its Sponsored Content formats.

Although my LinkedIn newsfeed already includes plenty of video, Abhishek Shrivastava, director of product for LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, explained for advertisers, the only way to incorporate videos was to link to other websites. Now, the Microsoft -owned professional network is rolling out a native ad format, where video ads will appear as standalone posts in the feed.

The video ads will play automatically, though with the sound turned off initially.

Other social networks introduced video advertising years ago, but LinkedIn is a different environment — Shrivastava touted this as a way to bring “sight, sound and motion” to business marketers, while the company announcement declares that the company is going “all in on B2B video.”

Shrivastava added that while most videos are seen as ideal for “top of the funnel” marketing (i.e., building awareness, rather than sealing the deal), LinkedIn’s Video for Sponsored Content is designed to work “across the funnel.”

LinkedIn video ads

So yes, the videos can be designed to build brand awareness, but they can also point directly to the advertisers’ desktop or mobile website, or even be used to collect leads. And they can incorporate LinkedIn’s ad targeting and conversion tracking capabilities.

LinkedIn says it’s been testing the format with more than 700 advertisers since October, resulting in engagement times that are nearly three times longer than those for regular Sponsored Content.

In addition to the video ads, LinkedIn is also introducing the ability for businesses to include native video on their Company Pages — so a company that’s hiring might highlight a video about their culture and work environment.

LinkedIn says it will be rolling out these capabilities to all businesses over the next few weeks.

LinkedIn is introducing auto-playing video ads
Source: TechCrunch

Palantir confirms a staff link with Cambridge Analytica

Palantir confirms a staff link with Cambridge Analytica

Turns out there is a link between Peter Thiel’s secretive big data analytics firm, Palantir, and Cambridge Analytica — the political consulting firm at the center of the current Facebook data misuse scandal.

Starting in 2013, the New York Times reports that a UK-based Palantir employee worked with Cambridge Analytica — going on to gain access to the dataset of 50M+ Facebook users the latter firm obtained in 2014 via a third party personality quiz app deployed on the social network giant’s platform.

In testimony to the UK parliament yesterday, CA whistleblower Chris Wylie told MPs that senior Palantir employees worked with the firm on the Facebook data to help it build models off of the dataset to use for political ad targeting purposes.

At the time Wylie worked for SCL Group, the UK defense contractor that went on to form CA with funding from US billionaire, Robert Mercer. CA was later engaged by the Trump campaign, for the 2016 presidential election.

Reached yesterday for a response to Wylie’s allegations, a Palantir spokeswoman flatly denied Wylie’s claim — telling us: “Palantir has never had a relationship with Cambridge Analytica nor have we ever worked on any Cambridge Analytica data.”

However in a statement to the NYT, Palantir has now modified this line — saying: “We learned today that an employee, in 2013-2014, engaged in an entirely personal capacity with people associated with Cambridge Analytica. We are looking into this and will take the appropriate action.”

The NYT reports it has seen documents showing that a London-based employee of the big data firm — named as Alfredas Chmieliauskas — worked with the CA data scientists who were building its psychological profiling technology.

The documents were presumably provided by Wylie (pictured below), who has also handed email and other documentary evidence to the DCMS committee investigating online disinformation in political campaigning, as well as to the UK’s data watchdog and Electoral Commission — both of which are also probing digital political campaigning issues (including around the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum vote, which Wylie alleges CA also worked on).

According to the NYT report, it was actually Chmieliauskas who came up with the idea for cloning the work of Michal Kosinski, the first Cambridge University academic that Wylie says CA approached for help to gather data.

Kosinski was deputy director at Cambridge University’s Psychometrics Centre at the time and, along with another professor at the department, David Stillwell, had already worked on a project drawing links between anonymized Facebook profiles and responses from personality surveys — with that data also obtained via a Facebook app — aiming to connect interests with voting tendencies.

Yesterday Wylie told the committee that Kosinski had asked for $500k up front from CA and 50% equity in the commercial venture to work on the project — which he said was ultimately why it ended up signing a data licensing deal with another Cambridge professor, Aleksandr Kogan, who agreed to work first on gathering the Facebook data and to discuss commercial terms later.

“I had left field idea,” Chmieliauskas wrote in May 2014, the NYT reports. “What about replicating the work of the cambridge prof as a mobile app that connects to facebook?” — going on to suggest this “could be a valuable leverage negotiating with the guy”.

Chmieliauskas’ LinkedIn profile states that he joined Palantir in April 2013 and remains employed at the company in London — working on “business development”.

It also includes the mission statement: “i fix or break large things”.

In the event, Chmieliauskas’ suggestion to clone Kosinski’s app led to CA’s data licensing relationship with Kogan, whose own personality test app — thisisyourdigitallife — was built bespoke for its project and successfully used to harvest data on 50M+ Facebook users so CA could, in turn, build psychological profiles on millions of American voters.

Wylie told the committee yesterday that a pilot of Kogan’s quiz app was launched in May 2014 with 10,000 Facebook users, before formal contracts were signed between CA and GSR — GSR being the company Kogan set up to commercialize the work with CA.

The app then was used to harvest the full Facebook dataset over the summer of 2014, garnering ~270,000 downloads — but able to pull far more data via Facebook’s (now shuttered) friends API.

Yesterday Wylie also claimed CA was able to pull data on “substantially” more Facebook users than even the 50M users that’s been reported so far.

Returning to Palantir, according to the NYT there were also discussions between SCL and Thiel’s firm in 2013 about working together on election campaigns. The newspaper said a Palantir spokeswoman confirmed the companies had briefly considered working together but claimed it had declined a partnership — in part because executives wanted to steer clear of election work.

Further emails seen by the NYT show CA’s (now suspended) CEO Alexander Nix and Palantir’s Chmieliauskas also sought to revive talks about a formal partnership in early 2014 — but Palantir executives again declined.

We reached out to Palantir for confirmation and a spokeswoman sent its updated statement — following what she described as an “initial investigation”.

Palantir confirms a staff link with Cambridge Analytica
Source: TechCrunch

Amazon partners with French retailer Monoprix to launch Prime Now grocery deliveries in Paris

Amazon partners with French retailer Monoprix to launch Prime Now grocery deliveries in Paris

Amazon’s business in France is taking a big step forward after announcing a new deal today with retail giant Monoprix to deliver groceries through Prime Now. The service will begin serving Prime Now members in Paris this year and include products carried by Monoprix, including its own branded items and fresh produce.

Monoprix’s website already offers services including home deliveries in some areas and “click and collect,” which lets shoppers pre-order items online before picking them up at a nearby store.

Frédéric Duval, Amazon France’s country manager, told Journal du Dimanche earlier this month that the company wanted to launch grocery delivery there, though at the time he didn’t specify who Amazon would partner with. Monoprix competitors Systeme U, Leclerc and Intermarche were reportedly also considered potential candidates, while struggling big box store operator Carrefour was speculated to be an acquisition target.

Monoprix is owned by Casino Group, a French retail conglomerate that operates stores, including supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants, in France, Latin America and Southeast Asia. It generated 38 billion Euros in consolidated net sales last year.

In press statement, Duval said “This commercial partnership, which further enlarges Prime Now service selection, will enable Amazon Prime customers to benefit from ultra-fast deliveries for their Monoprix orders.”

Amazon partners with French retailer Monoprix to launch Prime Now grocery deliveries in Paris
Source: TechCrunch