How Google quietly revved up its very own car company

Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal the tech giant created Google Auto LLC to help develop its self-driving cars even as it courted big car makers

Google has set up its own car company. The tech giant has flirted with major car firms as it explores driverless cars but has also quietly set up its own auto company, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

Google Auto LLC is headed by Chris Urmson, project lead for Google’s self-driving cars. Urmson has been on a charm offensive with the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers. At the North American International Auto Show in January, Urmson announced talks with General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Daimler and Volkswagen. In March, he told USA Today: “Making cars is really hard, and the car companies are quite good at it. So, in my mind, the solution is to find a partnership.”

Continue reading… …read more

Right to be forgotten: Swiss cheese internet, or database of ruin?

Posturing over Google and the ‘right to be forgotten’ detracts from larger issues about respect for individuals v overreaching economic rights in digital space

Imagine, 25 years ago, someone telling you: we really need to redress this massive social ignorance that, when you meet someone for the first time, you don’t know everything about them. What we ought to do is assemble a giant database. On everyone.

Brilliant idea. But there are a couple of provisos, they add. This database will be sourced from whatever scraps of information are lying around about you – whether carefully crafted, or pulled from the streets. The product of your life’s work; or just some odd thing you once said or did, long ago, somewhere that the database decides to rank highly and eternally.

Continue reading… …read more

On the road: Skoda Fabia – car review

‘It didn’t set my world on fire. It probably thinks setting things on fire is irresponsible’

I can seriously see the point of the Skoda Fabia. I can’t stand the convention that, as soon as you have a family, you have to start driving some lumbering bison of a car, destined to stick out in car parks and squeeze down urban roads. I would much rather drive something that looked like a hot hatch and just happened to have a bunch of people and animals in the back.

OK, the Fabia does not look like a hot hatch. It doesn’t look hot. It looks like your existing girlfriend. No, just kidding! That kind of sexist objectification has no place in car reviewing. It looks dependable and friendly, but not particularly invigorating. I’m not sure that it would wow the younger audience, but then I always think the young car buyer who has money is a figment of the industry’s imagination.

Continue reading… …read more

Ex-boss of MtGox bitcoin exchange ‘arrested in Japan’ over lost $480m

French-born Mark Karpeles has reportedly been held in connection with the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency

Mark Karpeles, the former head of defunct bitcoin exchange MtGox, has been arrested in Japan in connection with the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency, reports said.

The French-born Karpeles, 30, is suspected of falsifying data on the outstanding balance of the exchange, at one point the world’s largest hub for trading the digital currency, Japanese media reports added.

Continue reading… …read more

Zuckerbergs’ baby announcement immediately upstaged by their dog

Beast, a puli, is the newest internet celebrity thanks to his moppy hair and unusual heritage

When Pricilla Chan and her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announced they are expecting a baby girl, the internet showered them with praise. At last count, nearly 800,000 people had liked the Facebook announcement in which they shared the big news.

But this being the internet, the happy couple were almost immediately upstaged by their dog.

Continue reading… …read more

Uber valued at nearly $51bn after latest funding round

Online taxi-hailing app raises close to $1bn from investors including Microsoft and Indian media conglomerate Bennett Coleman & Co’s Times Internet

Uber Technologies Inc has closed a new round of funding that values the online taxi-hailing company at nearly $51bn, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Uber raised close to $1bn in the round, bringing its total funding to more than $5bn, WSJ reported on Friday, citing one of the people.

Continue reading… …read more

New York village paid ransom to keep its computers running, comptroller says

Ilion made payments of $500 and $300 last year after ‘ransomware’ infected municipal computers, while other US towns dealt with similar attacks

A village in central New York made ransom payments of $300 and $500 last year to keep its computers running after two official-looking emails released malware throughout its system, state auditors said.

The comptroller’s office, which has audited 100 municipal computer systems the past three years, said Ilion’s experience should warn others of the growing threat, which can infiltrate computers and make them inaccessible. The big problem for the village of 8,000 was its financial software.

Continue reading… …read more

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife expecting a baby girl

Facebook CEO and his wife Priscilla Chan, who married in 2012, have had three miscarriages, Zuckerberg writes on Facebook page announcing the pregnancy

Facebook Inc chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are expecting a baby girl, he said on his Facebook page on Friday.

The couple, who married in 2012, have been trying to have a child and had three miscarriages, he wrote. Zuckerberg, 31, did not say when their daughter is due but said the pregnancy was far enough along that the risk of miscarriage was low.

Continue reading… …read more