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Driverless vehicles humble to turn out to be actual

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The dream of computer-controlled cars taking over the streets remains a fantasy. But slowly and perhaps more modestly than tech idealists imagined, driverless vehicles are becoming real.

After a period of funk where tests on the road were frozen by a pandemic, developments in driverless cars have been strong and rapid in recent weeks.

Waymo, part of the same company as Google, recently expanded its driverless taxi service in Phoenix – without a person in the driver's seat in case something goes wrong. General Motors' driverless car company will also soon be removing human thoughts from their self-driving test cars in San Francisco. Tesla has announced that it will soon be turning on software features that will turn many of its cars into driverless test vehicles on the road.

Driverless cars are currently driving in individual cases. It will take many years for them to be reliable, affordable, and common in all road and weather conditions. And I continue to worry that optimism about driverless cars will lead people and policymakers to avoid difficult decisions about inefficient and congested roads and instead have computer-controlled vehicles solve everything – what they won't.

But progress is progress. The latest developments hold promise for driverless vehicle technology if we are realistic about what it can and cannot do.

Oliver Cameron, the executive director of driverless car company Voyage, said one challenge for this type of technology is getting people – provided they aren't drunk or distracted, which is too often – familiar with the circumstances of the road they're on are on the move, can handle it fairly well. have never seen. Computers are not.

One example Cameron mentioned is the apparently not uncommon problem of a driverless car encountering a herd of wild turkeys.

A human driver could honk their horns or move forward to try to scare away the birds, but Cameron says Voyage's computer system doesn't know what to do other than freeze in place. "It sounds really easy, but you have to stop reliably or navigate around all obstacles," he told me.

There are tons of other scenarios like this that are individually unusual but together make reliable self-driving cars difficult. And there is little room for failure when it comes to life.

So the journey begins "modestly," said Cameron. The company recently redesigned its bespoke computerized taxis to operate without a replacement driver, and vehicles only run in two age groups.

Slow speeds, relatively easy road conditions, and small geography that Voyage computer systems mapped in advance remove some of the complications and risks. And for seniors, having door-to-door car service can make their lives a lot better.

Voyage is even limited to niche cases, dealing with complexities that confuse the mind. The cars have backup systems to the backup systems. The settings prevent the driver from grabbing the steering wheel or pressing the accelerator pedal while the car is in self-drive mode. (We all know people who would do this in a robot-controlled car.) There are also people standing by on the trip who can take over cars remotely if necessary.

I asked Cameron when driverless cars will be on the streets in large numbers everywhere. He was hopeful but cautious as driverless supporters misjudged the difficulty of the technology.

"The optimist in me says things will only accelerate from here," said Cameron. Then he paused and said he couldn't give me a timeline. "It's not an answer," he said.

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Last week, Brian X. Chen, the New York Times' personal tech columnist, debated how to stop robocallers from bombing our phones. Now he's addressing a similar annoyance: unsolicited text messages from marketers, political groups, and others.

Here's what we can do:

On iPhonesyou can filter out messages from unknown senders. This won't stop the texts, but it won't vibrate or ring your phone. The texts are displayed in a list called "Unknown senders". That way, you won't distract the unwanted texts or clog the messages you want to see from people you care about. To do this, open the the settings App, tap announcements, scroll down and turn on Filter unknown senders.

You can also prevent a specific phone number from texting you. In the offensive text message, tap the name and number at the top of the message, and then tap The information Symbol right. Tap the Info button again and choose Block this caller.

Android Device owners can also prevent certain numbers from sending them texts. For example, on Pixel phones, open the text message and tap the icon in the top right corner that looks like three vertical dots. Choose details and then choose Block and report spam.

There are also third-party apps out there that prevent spammers from texting you, but I'm generally not a fan of them. In my tests, these apps still let a lot of unwanted messages through – and they get expensive to use over time.

We should keep pushing cell phone companies to address this problem at the network level. Until then, we'll be alone with some incomplete tools.

From blah to influential thanks to the worst social media: My colleague Kevin Roose has an exciting, disturbing article on how a struggling news organization affiliated with a Chinese spiritual movement became a right-wing media force. The Epoch Times organization used the incentives of Facebook and YouTube to spread bipartisan messages and conspiracy theories, which were rewarded with more dissemination and engagement on these websites.

Google is a verb. Alipay is the financial equivalent of a noun, verb, article, preposition, and adjective: They want my colleague Ray Zhong Alipay of Ant Group to explain, one of two digital payment apps widely used in China that has nearly overtaken cash and other forms of payment in that country, offering loans, investments and insurance policies.

How to Talk to Loved Ones Who Share Conspiracy Theories: Charlie Warzel, an opinion writer for The Times, encouraged people to talk about the mechanics of online information, lead them through a conspiracy to close their holes, and not scold or ridicule loved ones for what they do believe.

Instead of bank branches on every corner in America, can we have these amazing dancing bank mascots from Thailand?

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