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Updates: The good, the bad, and the autonomous
Been hankering for an update on your fav non-productive EV company? How about a primer on how the world’s
best only paper straw company is doing?
Here are a few updates on some old gems:
The good: Aardvark is killing the paper straw game
In August, Aardvark, the great crusader against plastic straws, was acquired by Hoffmaster Group — because when you’re the only paper straw maker in an industry currently catching like wildfire, sometimes you need a hand.
As promised by the Hoffmaster Group, Aardvark is building a new factory to further stay ahead of booming demand (which has grown 50x), and a question looms: What’s Aardvark’s carbon footprint gonna look like once the new digs are up and running?
The bad: Faraday Future still on hard times
What’s worse than a company with arguably one of the most revolutionary EV concepts in the past 5 years but still no product to show for it? Answer: A company that, nearly 5 years later, still has no product to show for it. And what do you know, it’s the employees who continue to suffer.
According to the Verge, EV company Faraday Future has furloughed at least 250 more employees since reducing staff from 1k to 600 back in October. Their reasoning: A “financial crisis.”
Of course, the company is pointing its finger at Evergrande Health, who agreed to a $2B bailout back in June so Faraday could keep the lights on.
Now, the company claims the investor is “refusing to make its scheduled payments,” and employees are getting the ax because of it. Basically, Faraday is the kid who repeatedly wrecks his car, then blames Mom and Dad for cutting him off.
The autonomous: Waymo’s new self-driving taxi launches
Last month, Alphabet’s self-driving arm, Waymo, announced its new self-driving taxi, the Waymo One, would hit the streets in December.
Well, the holiday season is here, and they did not disappoint: Yesterday, Waymo became the first autonomous ride-hailing company to hit the streets without the restraints of a closed course, or engineers riding shotty.
Now, it’s just the car, you, and nothing behind the wheel.
Lie detectors are BS — and eye-scanning technology won’t make them any better
More than 100 years ago, The New York Times imagined a future where a machine would be able to tell if people were lying or telling the truth.
Today, that machine exists: It’s called a lie detector — it’s a $2B-per-year industry, and it’s based almost entirely on shoddy pseudoscience.
In a recent feature, Wired went deep on a new device, Converus EyeDetect, that’s trying to change this by enlisting eye-scanning technology. But is tech really any better at detecting lies?
Why do lie detectors suck?
A traditional polygraph test rests on the premise that when a person lies, she will produce a unique physiological response. Basic “indicators” like blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate are measured during a round of questions; if there’s a spike, it’s interpreted as deception.
One company thinks it can do better…
The Converus EyeDetect promises to boost the accuracy of lie detection from 65% to 86% by “capturing imperceptible changes in a participant’s eyes.” It already boasts 500 paying customers in 40 countries.
But according to Wired reporter Mark Harris, who tested the device, the EyeDetect falls back on the same assumption as the polygraph, that deception can be physically measured in a scientifically sound way.
What’s really being measured here is fear and anxiety. And as we all know, sh*tting your pants is not an indication of guilt.
China claims it will crack down on IP-thieves
After nearly 6 months of a trade war waged by the US, China said it will finally punish companies and individuals who conduct intellectual property theft against foreign companies.
As Bloomberg reports, the Chinese government has laid out a total of 38 different punishments regarding IP violations, which could be a “positive step” toward mending the contentious trade relations between the US and China.
Mess with the spray tan you get the tariffs
In early 2017, the US completed a 7-month investigation finding “hard evidence” that China uses foreign-ownership restrictions on American companies to conduct cyber attacks, with the intent of accessing trade secrets.
The Trump administration began levying tariffs on China in July after the investigation, alleging that China’s policies were causing “multiple billions of dollars” in damage to US companies.
Concession? Or smoke screen?
Over the years, China has dismissed claims of government-backed IP-thievery as heresay (even after F-35 fighter jet and US submarine supersonic warfare secrets were confirmed stolen and sold to China), so the vowed crackdown must mean… we’re making some progress… right?
Meh. Experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies remain skeptical, noting that IP violations have increased since the investigation. The crackdowns, in a sense, feel like the same ol’ song and dance.
According to the center’s own Jim Lewis, “What they’ve done in the past is fail to enforce or, when they have to enforce, find somebody they don’t like, blame them, and then say to the Americans, ‘See?’”
|»||Old sticky fingers McGoo|
In the age of Alexa, Pindrop raises another $90m to prevent voice fraud
While everyone and their mother is building a smart voice assistant (Facebook’s Aloha and Salesforce’s Einstein Voice, to name a few newcomers), Pindrop is building the software they’ll all need to protect our vocal identities.
The company just raised a $90m Series D ($212m to date) to develop voice “fingerprinting” tech that analyzes “1,400 acoustic attributes” to verify a call or a voice command.
Why does this matter?
It’s not just to keep kids from ordering 10 lbs of gummy worms on their parents’ Alexas… it’s to stop hackers from ordering 10 lbs of gummy worms on our Alexas.
Pindrop claims that the rate of voice fraud grew 350% from 2013 to 2017. As we use phones and voice assistants to do more and more complex tasks — from opening a credit card to disabling a home security system — hackers have all the more opportunity to infiltrate our private info.
Pindrop currently works with call centers in eight of the top 10 US banks to identify phone scams using unique audio characteristics, and signifiers like type of device, carrier, and location to identify repeat callers — and repeat scammers.
The best part?
Not having to rattle off your mother’s maiden name, high school mascot, and Social Security number.
Ultimately, this kind of tech could allow us to use our voices in lieu of passwords or fingerprints — and that puts Pindrop in a pretty sweet position.
|@ Me Anything|
|Lindsey Quinn, Managing editor at The Hustle
In the voice assistant gold rush, Pindrop is the one selling shovels. Anyone else have examples of companies making their fortunes on tech that’s ‘trend adjacent’?
Show this thread
|»||If that is your real name…|
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