Driverless cars: Can you trust a robot to drive you home?

Policymakers and companies working on self-driving vehicles are just beginning to deal with roadblocks for blind drivers. Photo: iSTOCK

Uber and Ola are huge taxi companies but they own very few cars. However, their highly sophisticated systems of fleet management and GPS based navigation through city traffic make them so easily available and inexpensive. They have revolutionized personal transportation in nearly a thousand major towns worldwide with the result that many people don’t need to keep a car any longer. A small car with a driver can however only carry 3 passengers and if the driver can be eliminated it will increase its passenger capacity by 25%. Enough to greatly improve a taxi’s earning power or profitability.

The idea of a driverless car is, however, rather scary. It might be terrifying to see one speeding toward you but the ongoing revolution in electronics has achieved and is achieving many amazing things. A Robot on an automotive manufacturing line is, for example, many times faster and more efficient than a hundred workers and they do not make mistakes. They don’t also need medicare, welfare benefits and they never go on strike. Modern robots can even do highly sensitive things like playing music or intelligent things like playing a game of chess. Virtual reality is becoming very real. It was recently reported that some Japanese men even prefer a soft and pliable silicone sex doll to a real life wife or girlfriend who can often be critical or uncooperative.

Human error is also by far the largest cause of accidents so a tiny robot hidden somewhere in a car may actually be a lot safer than a mortal human driver who can get tired, drunk or distracted by his mobile or by a pretty girl on the road ahead. There are already a few driverless trains but the idea of a driverless car or a pilotless plane makes people feel very uncomfortable. People, however, get used to innovation quite quickly.

Over the past decade, most of the automotive engineering has been driven by electronics that not only make engine management much more efficient but they also make the suspensions and brakes much safer. They play a huge role in climate control, lighting, and security to make a car easier to drive, more reliable and efficient. A modern car, therefore, has more chips in them than there are in a packet of wafers.

Google firing sparks debate over sexism in Silicon Valley

Google, Google Inc, tech, engineers, women

A Silicon Valley culture war pitting liberal-leaning tech firms against a small conservative cohort took on new intensity on Tuesday after Google fired a male engineer for a memo that decried the company’s commitment to hiring women.

Memo author James Damore, 28, received jeers, cheers and a couple of job offers, while the debate raged on social media and some tech firms took steps to prevent similar episodes from embroiling their companies.Damore confirmed his dismissal from Alphabet Inc’s Google on Monday, after he wrote a 10-page memo that said the company was hostile to conservative viewpoints and that women on average have more neuroticism.

Many in Silicon Valley found his views, which argued that men in general may be biologically more suited to coding jobs than women, offensive and destructive. The manifesto was embraced by some, particularly on the political right, who branded him a brave truth-teller. The episode recalled past examples of the wide gulf between US conservative activists and the tech sector.

In 2014, Brendan Eich was forced out as Mozilla’s chief executive after his opposition to gay marriage became public. Most technology executives held the opposite view, and tech companies often gave benefits to same-sex couples well before gay marriage was legalized.

US may lose Indian talent, competitive edge due to H-1B clampdown

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Clampdown on H-1B visa programme will make it difficult for the US IT sector to attract open talent from countries like India and America might lose its competitive edge, a top American think-tank has said

Trump administration is carrying out a review of the non-immigrant visas, the Center for Global Development (CGD) in a report said that H-1B visa, the most sought after by Indian IT professionals, is beneficial for both India and the US.

“It is really important to make sure that the I-T sectors from both countries are allowed to attract the right kind of people, because they really allow for innovation and growth in both the countries,” Gaurav Khanna, fellow at the CGD and co- author of the research paper, said.

The report titled ‘The IT Boom and Other Unintended Consequences of Chasing the American Dream’ takes an in-depth look at how the H-1B visa programme affects both the US and Indian economies. “Both the economies have really benefited from the H-1B programme,” he told PTI. “What our paper is really trying to stress, is that on average the US is better off because of the H-1B programme. So clamping down on the H-1B programme will basically not allow the US IT sector to attract the open talent from places like India. The US might then lose its competitive edge in IT production,” he warned, adding that IT companies might move to countries like Canada in the event of large scale clampdown on H-1B visas.

GST provider Vayana Network raises Rs 26 cr in latest series A funding

GST provider Vayana Network

Goods and Services Tax Network provider Vayana Network has received over Rs 25.7 crore from IDG Ventures and Jungle Ventures in series A funding. Vayana facilitates trade between businesses and helps finance small and medium enterprises (SMEs) through electronic payments and partnerships with various financial institutions. It is one among 34 GST providers approved by the government to facilitate GST for businesses currently.

The company claims to be the country’s largest technology-led third party business-to-business (B2B) trade financing platform. It has processed over Rs 4,000 crore in financing via a number of lending partners like Axis Bank, Religare SME Loans, DBS and Tata Capital apart from payment facilitator MasterCard. The equity investment will be used to further strengthen its B2B trade financing network both in India and abroad.

Vayana had previously raised external funding largely through Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings. “This funding comes at an exciting time with GSTdriving a digital invoicing ecosystem in India and in the backdrop of increasing velocity for trade-based financing led by third party platforms globally. Our mission from day one has been to focus on designing the simplest possible process for corporate of all sizes and from different industries to avail short term financing for their buyers and suppliers,” said RN Iyer, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Vayana Network.

The company plans to roll out value-added services to utilise trade data for their clients. SMEs in India supply over 45 per cent of industrial production and employ over 50 million people…Read More

Indian techies are taking these online courses to get reskilled amid layoffs 

IT, automation, digital, digitisation, technology

Infosys, India’s second largest software exporter this year, has set a bet for graduates who are given campus offers. A graduate is asked to pick a paid course on front-end development (of website or an app) on Udacity,

Infosys is ensuring that it gets trained engineers in thousands who are ready to be put on digital projects — a segment that is disrupting the company and the Indian IT services industry. For a perspective, business from newer

digital technologies is growing at 25 per cent, while legacy business is shrinking at 2.5 per cent, according to Everest Group, a global technology consultancy.Infosys and its peers such as Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro and HCL Technologies have built applications for its customers that can be accessed on a personal computer.

This business is slowing and the clients now want these applications to be accessed on smartphones with a smooth customer experiece that comes while accessing Facebook app. Such expectations, bring in new challenges such as smaller form factor, better design and applications hosted on the cloud for IT firms. This also calls for addressing patchy internet access and ensuring that the network is secure.