The impetus behind self-driving cars has come from the luxury brands, which have to be seen to offer the latest and greatest technology, but it may not necessarily be in their interests as car companies.
After all, why do people buy a BMW, Mercedes or Jaguar? Partly, it's for the badge as a status symbol and because they have the spare cash.
However, it's also because they are objectively better cars, for which it is worth paying a premium. They have bigger engines, better handling, faster acceleration and top speeds that may well exceed the motorway limit but make them more of a pleasure to drive.
So what happens when all cars are self-driving cars controlled by pretty much the same software and all driving in pretty much the same boring way?
Today's self-driving cars, it is said, drive just like a nervous grandmother: slowly, cautiously and fuel-efficiently. Acceleration is glacial and speed limits are diligently observed.
The self-driving cars of the future might be able to accelerate with a bit more haste than today's prototypes, but it's unlikely that they'll be allowed to break speed limits or even go round corners, mild or tight, in the same way you probably do now. That fun hairpin bend in Winchelsea? Forget it. They will all drive in exactly the same way.
My point, and I do have one, is that there will be scarcely any point in expensive cars in the future when even a Jaguar F-Type or Tesla Model S drives like a Nissan Serena.
Why lash out fifty grand for the pleasure of 550 highly refined charging horses under the bonnet of an F-Type when the only tangible differences between one car and the next is the comfort of the seats, the reliability of the internet connection and the entertainment it offers to divert passengers' attention while the car takes you to Morrisons?
Indeed, what would be the point of a Chelsea tractor if there's no pleasure to be had from looking down on the proles in their Skodas and Hyundais and intimidating them at mini-roundabouts?
And that's before the self-driving car concept makes the prospect of renting cars at the swipe of smartphone a more realistic prospect. If you really can ‘dial a ride' for pennies from someone who knows you won't be able to crash it, why pay thousands to own a vehicle outright?
In other words, self-driving vehicles will fundamentally change not just driving, but the car industry itself, removing individuality from purchasing decisions and turning the industry even further into a commodity producer.
Do the luxury car brands leading the charge into self-driving cars appreciate what they are letting themselves in for? If and when the shift happens, it will almost certainly hit them the hardest, and another round of industry-wide consolidation will be inevitable.
It should go without saying that you should scan an executable before running it, even if it's coming from a trusted source. As the last few years have shown, though, a false sense of security loves to bite people over and over again.
On August 2nd 2016, for three hours, an external developer had their account compromised on Audacity's and Classic Shell's download server FossHub and was used to replace the legitimate installer with a malware that overwrite the master boot record. Thanks to the quick response of the Audacity team they quickly moved to take down the rogue download before too many people were affected.
Sadly it was a two for one deal, as not only Audacity was targeted, but also the popular Windows modification tool called Classic Shell. Classic Shell was also targeted and had their installer mirrored on FossHub replaced with the infected version. Unfortunately, this malware version of Classic Shell was downloaded approximately 300 times according to an official response posted by FossHub:
The attackers uploaded a malware file on Classic Shell page which was downloaded approximately 300 times. We removed the file in several minutes and we changed all passwords for all services we had.
When installing the malware version of Classic Shell, it was fairly easy to spot that something was not right. When the normal version is installed, it will display a UAC prompt that shows Ivaylo Beltchev as the publisher of the program. On the other hand, the malware version would have the publisher listed as Unknown.
When the malware version of Audacity and Classic Shell were installed, the malware would overwrite the master boot record so that it displays a message when the computer starts. This message states "AS YOU REBOOT, YOU FIND THAT SOMETHING HAS OVERWRITTEN YOUR MBR! IT IS A SAD THING YOUR ADVENTURES HAVE ENDED HERE!". This quote is a reference to the 1987 video game called ShadowGate, which was notorious for the amount of ways you could die in the game.
A group named PeggleCrew claimed responsibility for the attack and explained that they did it to teach people a lesson.
@AuraTheWhiteHat We also compomised Audacity. FossHub was fully compromised, including (temporarily), the admin's email.
If you or someone you know was affected by this malware, assistance can be received in the Am I Infected? forum. You may also attempt to repair the MBR yourself as seen in this video
There are a few lessons to take from this and (hopefully not) future incidents:
1. As 2016 has shown us, never reuse passwords. Websites can easily be compromised and if the same password is used for different sites, it might just end up coming back to bite you in the end. It is also important to NOT allow browsers to remember passwords as there are various tools that can retrieve saved passwords from browsers like Chrome and Firefox. If you must use a password remembering tool, I personally recommend 1Password, although it isn't free it does offer a trial that allows you to store up to 20 logins and offers more security than storing the passwords within the browser.
2. Always scan before running a program, even if a file is coming from a trusted source. Virustotal is a good online scanner that utilizes many different antivirus engines to scan files uploaded.
3. Keep an up to date Antivirus & Antimalware software on your computer. Everyone has their own opinions about security software and the ones I personally prefer are Avast! Antivirus & Malwarebytes Antimalware.
4. If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is. The best security is common sense, if you choose to disregard it, you may find your security software won't be able to protect you.
If you have any security tips of your own, feel free to post them in the comment section below, you may end up helping save someone from becoming a victim.
Email tries to trick users into giving up personal details
Crooks go after Apple users with latest phishing scam
Apple has warned customers about a phishing scam that uses emails claiming that the recipient has been charged £20 to download a song from iTunes.
The email purports to come from Apple and says that the user has mistakenly paid £23.34 to download a song or audio book from the iTunes Store. The victim is then encouraged to click on a link in an attachment to 'cancel and manage subscriptions'.
Going dark is harder than you think - but this is how you can do it
We live in a time when it's never been easier for people to get detailed information about us. We don't think twice about adding endless nuggets of facts about our lives to social networks, signing up to endless newsletters and allowing websites to track our moves over the web, so they can serve us up the same targeted ad time and time again.
No wonder there's been a wave of tech of late that's cashing in on making sure we stay as private as possible. From the recently announced BlackBerry DTEK50to the BlackPhone range.
But it's not just on the web that we are being tracked. Step out your front door and into any city and your every move is being monitored by CCTV. All of this makes 'going dark' extremely hard to do but it is possible, according to ex MI5 agent Annie Machon.
On the run
TechRadar recently met up with Machon for the launch of Blacklist: Season 3 on Blu-ray. In the show, Raymond 'Red' Reddington (James Spader) and Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) are on the run, so who better to speak to about this than someone who absconded from the MI5 and went on the run herself?
Back in the '90s, this is exactly what Machon and her partner at the time, David Shayler, did. They ran because Shayler turned whistleblower, releasing myriad MI5 secrets to a journalist, because he felt there was inherent wrong-doing in the agency.
Once they were given the call that the secrets were to be published in the Sunday newspapers, Machon and Shayler fled the country to Amsterdam and went dark.
"We had a month on the run, moving hotel to hotel every night, paying in cash and if we needed to get more cash, we would make sure we withdrew it from a city then got the hell out of there within the next hour, as they could easily trace you that way," explained Machon.
Having been at the heart of the MI5 and been in constant contact with other European agencies, Machon used the skills she had acquired during her time at the MI5 to her advantage.
She had investigated targets before and knew the tricks that were used. Both her and Shaylor were gamekeepers turned poachers and it meant they knew how to evade capture.
"We thought 'okay, if I was sitting behind a desk investigating me, what would I do? What would be the tricks of the trade?'
"There was one time in Amsterdam early on, when David did his first TV interview and we just didn't trust the journalist. And, it turned out, the journalist went off and immediately contacted the MI5 about our whereabouts.
"At this point, I said we had to go right now and we did. They arrived at the hotel soon afterwards. We knew this would happen as we knew how quickly the MI5 can react to these things."
Machon and Shayler managed a full month 'dark' by going the remotest parts of France, never paying for anything other than with cash, only using trains to get around and changing the way they looked. At any point they felt they had been rumbled, they just kept moving.
But this was 20 years ago. The world, and the world of technology, has changed significantly since then, so much that it's hard to ever stay completely anonymous.
"There are ways to go dark now but it's difficult because we are now in an endemic surveillance state - a global surveillance panoptic is probably the best way to put it," says Machon, who now spends some of her time in the Berlin hacker scene.
"Back in the '90s the MI5 could do everything that's done now but it was very labour intensive so you could only do it against one target. Now, with the internet and this huge 'flick a switch' surveillance that goes on, they can track you easily. But if you know the tech then you can protect yourself a little bit."
This is the technology that Machon recommends:
Don't use proprietary software
"Get off Apple, get off Microsoft and use Linux open source software, because you can at least check the code to see if there is anything bug-wise built into it."
But if you are, then get this program...
"If you are using a proprietary software then there are a suite of tools you can use. One is called Tails and this is a secure operating system. You can just put it on a flash drive and it means that your computer is empty of anything until you put this flash drive in and then that is what your computer runs off. That is fairly safe and fairly new."
When browsing the web and texting, go REALLY private
"To web browse securely then always use the onion router (TOR) and if you want secure instant messaging then there is something called OTR, which is 'off the record' messaging. I always think it means 'on the run' as that's what OTR stands for in MI5 terminology.
"If you want to hide where you are connected to the internet, then always use a VPN and always use email encryption. The best one to use is PGP - Pretty Good Privacy - which you can just download from the internet and install. Then you should install a Bitcoin wallet so you can make transactions anonymously."
Use computer hardware that's pre 2008...
"According to Edward Snowden's revelations, all hardware post 2008 has backdoors built into it. That means computers, telephones, even USB cables post 2008 can have bugs in them.
"There's is a raging hot market across Europe at the moment for pre-2008 ThinkPads. If you have an old computer and an old burner phones, then they should be safe and secure as well.
"That is the tech stuff that, if I was going on the run now, would give me a fighting chance to not be traced by technology."
The Blacklist: Season 3 is out on Blu-ray & DVD now
For the uninitiated, the series involves Corden picking up a celebrity guest to ride along with him in a compact car while singing their and others' hit songs — past guests have included Adele, Justin Bieber and most recently, First Lade Michelle Obama. According to Variety, the series has helped boost sales and streaming for those songs that are performed on the segment.
The "Carpool Karaoke" spinoff will be available on Apple Music worldwide, and apparently "The Late Late Show" segments will still be available on YouTube — but fans are notpleased, because a spinoff could still affect the original show. More resources could be allocated to a spinoff or more celebrity guests could start appearing on the Apple Music show instead. Plus, some fans wondered whether a show hosted by anyone other than James Corden might just not be as good.
Jillian D'Onfro/Business Insider
Fans of the show took to Twitter to express their displeasure, too — although they mostly seem unsure what to expect with the new version.
The episode featuring Michelle Obama already has more than 32 million views on YouTube since it was posted on July 20, which means there's a huge following for the show — one that may not want to pay for an Apple Music subscription to watch the new show.
The music giant has licensed 16 episodes at a half-hour each — current episodes are more like 10 or 15 minutes — that will be produced by Corden and Ben Winston, the executive producer of "The Late Late Show." A different host will be cast later.
Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.
Earlier this month in Dallas, a sniper killed five officers and injured nine others before he was cornered in a parking garage.
Instead of putting bodies in the way of harm, police strapped a bomb to a MarkV-A1 bomb disposal robot and drove it with a remote control. Once the robot arrived, it detonated an explosive, killing the sniper.
"The only way to get a sniper shot, to end his trying to kill us, would be to expose officers to great danger," Brown said on CNN afterward.
It appears to be America's first great example of using an armed robot to avoid putting police officers in danger. Police analysts say that national grants are bringing ever more robotics into police departments across America, causing ethicists to worry about a future with more ubiquitous surveillance and automated killing machines. But if we used robots regularly to remove police bodies from tense situations, it could protect not just police officers, but bystanders.
"If an officer goes into a room and there's an armed adversary, he has no choice except to shoot," said Sean Bielat, a former marine and CEO of Endeavor Robotics, a company that manufactures robots for the military and police departments. "By adding time and space between the operator, you've introduced an element that can potentially reduce casualties."
Bielat used a provocative example. In Minnesota in early June, a police officer killed black man Philando Castile during a traffic stop after Castile said he was lawfully carrying a registered firearm. In video of the incident taken by Castile's girlfriend, the officer is appears nervous.
"Fuck," he yells repeatedly as the victim lies bloodied in the driver's seat.
It's unclear if the reason the officer fired was because he was nervous, but even routine traffic stops can increase an officer's adrenaline and anxiety. The fear of immediate harm, real or perceived, can hamper decision-making and lead to snap judgement about lethal use of force.
An operator who sent a slow-moving, unarmed robot in his or her stead would be less likely to act on impulse out of fear. Officers projecting their presence through a robot could carry on a conversation, or even manage a hostile encounter, without threat to their own body.
"The more we get robots into a dangerous situation instead of a person, the better off outcomes will be," Bielat said.
Robots have already begun their entry into police work. In 2014, police in Grand Forks, North Dakota, used flying drones to chase four men through a cornfield who were suspected of drunk driving. In one instance last year in San Jose, police used a robot to deliver a pizza to a man threatening suicide on an overpass. In another case, a bomb disposal robot helped negotiators through a potentially deadly standoff in a quiet Canadian neighborhood without anyone needing to fire a weapon.
And then there are the futuristic possibilities for robots that we already have on manufacturing assembly lines, but haven't put to use. Flying quadcopters could be used to scope out a scene or evaluate fires and disasters from hard-to-reach vantage points. Bulky search and rescue bots could be used to extract the injured from dangerous situations, or protect a prone officer by acting as a shield.
Another concern in the Dallas case is that a remote-controlled killer robot resembles our assassination-based drone program overseas, according to Ken Williams, a former homicide detective who speaks publicly about police reform and use of force. A police officer can use deadly force and is trained to aim for the center of the targets mass when firing a weapon, but the aim isn't explicitly to kill. Williams worries that by introducing a more sophisticated, targeted weapon like a remote-controlled robot, it means police are more able to make cold, advanced decisions about who lives or dies.
"You'll never find a policy manual where it says you're authorized to kill," Williams said. "It'll say you can use deadly force, but at the same time, it's not going to say in the policy that you're authorized to kill that person."
As Cornell University's Sarah Kreps pointed out to Mic over the phone, these fears are causing police and military alike from deploying these systems.
When Seattle residents found out the Seattle Police Department had two small drones, the public backlash forced the department to shunt them off on the Los Angeles Police Department. LAPD won't use the drones for the same reason as Seattle: public outcry.
"Technophobia can distort a rational reading of an incident," Kreps said. "So people who are using this technology know they have a great incentive to use it properly, because the last thing they want is that they use the robot to kill the wrong person."
But the trouble with getting these gadget into the hands of police, largely, is paying for it. The robot used in Dallas was worth about $100,000, and is typically available only if a city is large enough to warrant a bomb squad. Endeavor Robotics' cheapest robot, a rugged little 5 lb. robot with cameras and a microphone that can be thrown through windows, costs about $19,000. Trying to purchase just one in a small city's police budget is a headline-making event.
"The demand is much greater than the ability to pay for the robots," Bielat said. "Budgets are tight, and these are expensive pieces of technology. That's the primary limitation."
But police budgets are also responsive to popular demand, and as long as police robots are seen more as a threat than a way to mitigate harm to both police and the people they serve, the number-one barrier in adopting the use of robots in police work could be the public's dystopian imagination.
Intel Kaby Lake, 4K screen and new Surface Pen expected
The Surface Pro 4 has impressed despite a troubled launch, and a follow-up is definitely on the cards. The only question surrounding Microsoft's next tablet is when.
The biggest revelation to-date comes courtesy of MobiPicker, which cited manufacturing sources in China in shedding some light on the expected specs.
The Microsoft Surface Pro 5 will use Intel's 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors, which improve on the current-generation Skylake chips in terms of power efficiency and therefore battery life.
The Kaby Lake CPU also means even faster integrated graphics chips as standard, so expect an upgrade to the Iris GPU.
The Surface Pro 5 won't have impressive 4K visuals as standard, but they will be offered as an option. The Surface Pro 4 currently ships with a 2K display, which will remain a staple of the base model.
There are also whispers of the new Nvidia Pascal or AMD Polaris GPUs making an appearance, but these dedicated GPU offerings will come at a premium.
Microsoft's Surface Pen is reportedly getting an upgrade to support wireless charging with the introduction of a replaceable battery. Patently Mobile recently showed a patent that points to such an innovation.
We could also see USB Type-C (rather than USB 3.0 on the current Surface Pro 4) and better camera technology.
Windows 10 Redstone 2
It's also been suggested that a new Surface Pro will launch only after the next major update to Windows 10. The Windows 10 Anniversary Update lands on 2 August, but a second, codenamed Redstone 2, is expected to arrive in spring 2017.
The Surface Pro 4 was launched in October 2015, which has led eagle-eyed commentators to perhaps read too much into the recent Surface Pro 4 price reductions.
A photo taken at Microsoft's Building 88 in Redmond seems to suggest that a new Surface-branded product will arrive before the end of the year, but it just might not be the one we expected.
This image points to one Surface device in 2016 and three in 2017.
We were led to believe at Computex in May that production of the new Kaby Lake processors would begin by the end of the quarter. However, a consumer roadmap seen in leaks implies that the first Kaby Lake-powered devices will break cover in 2017.
So any Surface devices introduced before the end of this year will not feature Intel's next-generation CPU, suggesting that the next Surface will be an incremental upgrade rather that a completely new machine.
Microsoft officials have also been quoted as saying that manufacturing of the Surface 3 family will cease in December. If true it's highly likely that another range will take its place.
We can once again expect a range of configuration options with the Surface Pro 5, with i7 and 16GB RAM combinations sitting at the top end. Prices should start as low as £749 if Microsoft sticks with the entry-level i3.
Amazon's drone's are capable of delivering goods weighing almost 2.5kgs
Amazon is launching a new project exploring the safe use of drones for home deliveries in Britain, with support from the UK government.
The technology giant has been developing drones that can deliver its parcels to private addresses over a short distance as part of its Prime Air initiative.
Amazon is now working with the government and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to develop better safety regulations, improve drone technology and conduct the first tests of the technology in the UK.
Current regulations do not permit drone operators to lose line of sight of their device or operate over densely populated areas, unless they have CAA permission.
Technology to overcome these restrictions will be explored in the new programme, which will also test sensor performance to help drones detect and avoid obstacles.
The US launched a registry system for owners and operators of drones in December last year that became a mandatory requirement for all owners of drones above a certain size.
While a similar system has not yet been implemented in the UK, the government has considered implementing mandatory geo-fencing technologywhich acts as virtual walls to prevent drones from entering restricted areas such as airports or military bases.
Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global innovation policy and communications said: "The UK is a leader in enabling drone innovation. We've been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite some time.
"This announcement strengthens our partnership with the UK and brings Amazon closer to our goal of using drones to safely deliver parcels in 30 minutes to customers in the UK and elsewhere around the world.
"Using small drones for the delivery of parcels will improve customer experience, create new jobs in a rapidly-growing industry and pioneer new sustainable delivery methods to meet future demand."
"The UK is charting a path forward for drone technology that will benefit consumers, industry and society."
The drones themselves are capable of transporting loads weighing up to 2.5kg, but will probably be initially confined to high-population density areas.
The CAA's policy director Tim Johnson said: "We want to enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology by safely integrating drones into the overall aviation system. These tests by Amazon will help inform our policy and future approach."
The manufacture, dissemination and use of anti-personnel mines were effectively banned in the late 1990s when 133 nations signed the Ottawa Treaty. But despite that international agreement, an estimated 100 million mines remain buried beneath former war zones where they kill or maim an average of 10 people per day. Using conventional methods -- whether that involves detector animals, human deminers or armored vehicles -- we'd need more than millennium to deactivate them all. The creators of this mine-hunting UAV, however, figure they can get it done in a little over a decade.
It's called the Mine Kafon Drone (MKD) and its creators have just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its production. The MKD is a hexcopter with three interchangeable arms: a high resolution camera, a metal detector and a robotic arm. The drone first flies over the field and uses its camera to both create a 3D aerial map and mark potentially dangerous areas with GPS waypoints. Then, using its metal detector attachment, the MKD rescans the field looking for actual mines. It uses the 3D map it made in the previous step to keep the detector just 4 cm from the ground as it flies by. Any mines that it finds are geotagged for removal. To actually do that, the MKD attaches its gripper arm to drop a small, timed detonator atop the mine. Once the drone is safely out of range, the detonator explodes, setting off the mine underneath. Overall, the MKD's creators estimate that this process can clear a minefield up to 20 times faster -- and for 200 times less cost -- than conventional methods.
The MKD team is trying to raise €90,000 to get the project going. A €17 donation will allow you to sponsor 7,500 square meter of mine field mapping. €75 earns you a miniature replica of the drone. €5,000 will get you an MKD of your very own, complete with robo-arm. That's not a bad deal given that the final version of the drone is expected to retail for 4 times that amount -- a whopping €20,000. Should the campaign reach its funding goal, MKDs could begin demining the world's war zones as early as next June.