Driving is a social act. Watch anyone drive for a day and you will see countless social interactions they have with other drivers. These myriad social interactions create a set of localized driving conventions which are not strictly described by the broader rules of the road. Sometimes the conventions even technically violate the rules of the road, but police do not act on the the violations (unless they are looking for an excuse to arrest someone) because they are accepted norms and allow smooth functioning of the road system.

Autonomous driving will likely initially consist of some sort of model AI for each model of vehicle. This AI driver model will be updated to the latest software version routinely, and that’s great. However, this AI driver model will likely lack regional variations, at least initially. Think of it as the standardized national accent used for broadcast television, instead of a bunch of regional accents. …


Here are some predictions about self-driving cars, pulled together from my tweets over 2016. They are based on the assumption that vehicles which can navigate public streets without a human driver are now technically feasible and will be deployed in many parts of the developed world over the next decade or two.

  1. Surge in private car purchases

There has been a common type of thought piece in startup-land which asserts that the widespread rollout of autonomous vehicles will cause people to use taxi-app services like Uber instead of owning cars. …


As the founder of a privacy-focused messaging service, people often ask if I am comfortable with the widespread use of encryption. Couldn’t encrypted messages be used by terrorists?

Many communication services are beginning to use end-to-end encryption which prevents them from reading the messages they deliver. [1] This encryption also prevents government security agencies from monitoring conversations as they are transmitted over the internet.

We certainly want to be able to prevent terrorists from organizing attacks on our society, so should we enact regulation requiring that all messages must be able to decrypted? …


An Android user who just switched to iPhone

I am an open-source software enthusiast. When touchscreen smartphones became popular, I naturally got an Android since it’s based on Linux. However, at the beginning of 2014 I acquired an iPhone 5S and experienced iOS for the first time. What follows are my reflections as an #iPhoneNewbie.

Luxury Object

When I purchased the phone at the Apple store the salesperson had me take it out of the box to activate it. I felt like I was holding a piece of silver jewelry; shiny polished metal with intricate detail work.

At home that evening, I was immediately impressed by the quality of the screen. I validated the screen’s appeal by playing a high-def video on the 5S and a Nexus 7 tablet (link). I watched this video with my girlfriend and we switched back and forth between the two devices a few times during the performance. We could easily see which screen we preferred to watch. Although the screen on the Nexus 7 is much larger, the 5S has deeper color saturation, sharper resolution and displays movements more smoothly (a result of the dedicated video acceleration chip) so that it is clearly preferable to watch the video on it. …

Jacob Robbins

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