Snapchat brings back GIPHY after removal due to racist GIF

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After a racial slur GIF caused Snapchat to remove its GIPHY sticker feature, Snapchat confirms to TechCrunch it’s reinstated its integration. GIPHY has apologized, fixed the bug that let the objectionable GIF slip through, and reviewed its GIF sticker library four times in an effort to guarantee that offensive content won’t end up in apps that embed it. Instagram had also removed GIPHY, but reinstated it last week with Snapchat saying it had nothing to share yet.

A Snap spokesperson told TechCrunch that over the past several weeks, the Snap team worked with GIPHY to revamp its moderation systems. Now Snap is confident that the fresh approach will protect users, so its brought the GIF stickers back. They let people embellish their photos and videos with overlaid animated illustrations and video clips.

So ends a month-long ordeal that started when a U.K. user spotted a GIF containing a racial slur for people of color. Snapchat removed the GIPHY feature as press backlash in the U.K. mounted. Instagram wasn’t aware of the issue until informed by TechCrunch, leading it to remove the GIPHY feature within an hour.

Warning: We’ve shared a censored version of the GIF below, but it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users.

The situation highlights the risks of working with outside developers that aren’t entirely under a platform’s control. Piping in external utilities lets apps quickly expand their offering to users. But if developers misuse people’s data, deliver broken functionality, or let objectionable content through, it can reflect poorly on the app hosting them. Facebook is currently dealing with this backlash surrounding Cambridge Analytica. Meanwhile, Instagram just severely restricted its APIs without warning, breaking many developers’ apps in what’s believed to be part of Facebook’s push to shore up data privacy.

Favoring news publishers, Snapchat historically never actively embraced developers, banning use of outside apps that require your Snapchat credentials. It’s more recently started letting devs build and promote their own augmented reality lenses. But after this set-back, we’ll have to see if Snapchat becomes any more reluctant to work with partners.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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The Morning After: Intel’s six-core laptop CPU

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Hey, good morning! You look fabulous. Welcome to your Tuesday. Apple might be replacing Intel's chips with its own in future Macs, the ISS is getting a new printer — exciting, we know — and Pizza Hut made some connected sneakers.
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Tesla slammed by safety board after latest autonomous fatality

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US carmaker Tesla has been slammed by the US road safety board after confirming details of a fatal crash involving one of its vehicles last week.

Walter (Wei) Huang, the driver of a Tesla Model X SUV, was killed on March 23 when his car hit a concrete barrier on Highway 101, which connects San Francisco with Silicon Valley. He was reportedly on his way to work at Apple.

The company has announced that the car was in autonomous mode, using Tesla’s Autopilot technology, when it hit the barrier, and that Huang’s hands were not on the wheel – as they should have been – when the accident happened.

In a blog post on Tesla’s website, the company said:

“In the moments before the collision, which occurred at 9.27 a.m. on Friday, March 23rd, Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. The driver had about five seconds and 150 metres of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.

“The reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is designed to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced. We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash.”

Tesla has been slammed by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for releasing this information without alerting the agency beforehand, as it is required to do in a signed agreement.

The NTSB, which is still investigating the accident, said, “We take each unauthorised release seriously. However, this release will not hinder our investigation.”

Increased safety

Tesla has been swift to defend the safety record of its autonomous technologies after the incident, which saw the value of its shares plunge in a sell-off.

“Over a year ago, our first iteration of Autopilot was found by the US government to reduce crash rates by as much as 40 percent. Internal data confirms that recent updates to Autopilot have improved system reliability.

“In the US, there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles from all manufacturers. For Tesla, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities, every 320 million miles in vehicles equipped with Autopilot hardware. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.

“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur. It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists.”

The fatality occurred just one week after a pedestrian was killed by an autonomous Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. However, it is not the first death involving a Tesla vehicle running on Autopilot. Two years ago, a driver was killed when an autonomous Tesla Model S drove into the side of a truck. It was reported that the driver may have been watching a Harry Potter movie in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

In the past Tesla has been criticised for talking about the safety of its technologies after serious accidents or fatalities. It addressed this point in its blog post, saying: “In the past, when we have brought up statistical safety points, we have been criticised for doing so, implying that we lack empathy for the tragedy that just occurred. Nothing could be further from the truth.

“We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us. However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer’s family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.”

Read more: Uber: Self-driving cars ordered off road by US, sells to Grab

Read more: Toyota halts autonomous car tests after Uber accident

Internet of Business says

This latest fatality puts US regulators in a difficult position. While Arizona authorities took Uber’s self-driving cars off the road after a pedestrian was killed by one during an autonomous test, this latest fatality involves a technology, Autopilot, that is already built into production models.

The accident reveals the core problem with driverless technologies at present: in the two most recent fatalities, the general thrust of arguments has been to imply that the human drivers were at fault for either not looking at the road or not having their hands on the wheel – a logical absurdity with autonomous technologies.

Waymo CEO John Krafcik explained the distinction. “Tesla has driver-assist technology and that’s very different from our approach. If there’s an accident in a Tesla, the human in the driver’s seat is ultimately responsible for paying attention.”

Nevertheless, in both recent fatalities the technologies were driving the cars, regardless of whether the human drivers should have been paying more attention. This cannot be ignored.

Huang’s brother Will told ABC7 news that Walter had complained “Seven to 10 times that the car would swivel toward that same exact barrier during autopilot. Walter took it into dealership addressing the issue, but they couldn’t duplicate it there.”

The core question, then, is simple: should the developers of a technology that is still in its infancy seek to blame human drivers for every death? Questions like this will become increasingly commonplace as AI and autonomous systems become more dominant in our lives, calling into question longstanding legal concepts, such as liability, and ethical concepts, such as responsibility.

The subtext, therefore, is all about trust: human drivers need to trust autonomous technologies, but doing so makes them focus on things other than the road. To suggest that human drivers should concentrate on the road and the wheel while their vehicles are in autonomous mode is tantamount to suggesting that they shouldn’t trust the technology.

As we move towards completely autonomous systems, including driverless trucks and road vehicles that are designed purely for passengers, the law urgently needs to catch up.

Read more: New Baidu, Jaguar Land Rover driverless cars take to the road

Read more: Waymo turns the ignition on self-driving trucks

Read more: Fetch launches world’s first autonomous AI smart ledger

Read more: Pure Storage, NVIDIA launch enterprise AI supercomputer in a box

Read more: AI regulation & ethics: How to build more human-focused AI

Read more: Cambridge Analytica vs Facebook: Why AI laws are inadequate


The post Tesla slammed by safety board after latest autonomous fatality appeared first on Internet of Business.

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Valve quietly hides Steam Machine section from its game store after years of neglect

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Valve has gone ahead and quietly hidden a link to its Steam Machines webpage from the Steam store itself, a move indicative of the ill-fated project to push a console-like transition for gaming PCs in the living room. The move, noticed by PC Gamer today, doesn’t mean Steam Machines can no longer be purchased. You can still find the live link here, and you can even purchase the recommended Alienware Alpha Steam Machine from Dell if so choose, as well as the Valve-designed SteamOS controller over on Amazon. But the “hardware” tab on Steam now only shows the Steam Controller, the HTC Vive headset, and Valve’s game streaming service Steam Link.

It’s clear Steam Machines are no longer a priority for Valve, which couldn’t overcome the product…

Continue reading…

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Fitbit is crashing after a pretty rough note from Wall Street

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Fitbit shaved off another roughly 10% of its value in trading today after a downgrade from a Wall Street firm, which will once again throw on more skepticism as to whether or not Fitbit can be a viable business in the smartwatch market.

The note came from Morgan Stanley this morning, which said it was “hard to see a floor” for the company. This comes amid an increased push from Apple to position its smartwatch as a health-oriented device through a myriad of updates for its health tools, as well as efforts to actually detach it from your smartphone with its own cellular chip. These kinds of notes often tend to send stocks soaring or tumbling depending on the direction they go in as investors look to better calibrate their positions in the market.

Fitbit is working on its next generation of smartwatches that look to go up against the Apple Watch, including the new Fitbit Versa, which my colleague Brian Heater said was the watch “the smartwatch the Ionic should have been” (Fitbit’s first foray into the smartwatch ecosystem, which was a bust). The company is also working on a fitness tracker for kids, and appears to be still doubling down on that health aspect of its wearables that first made it a popular choice among consumers in the first place. Fitbit also bought Twine, a cloud-based health management platform, in February.

Here’s another one of the rough excerpts from the note published by CNBC: “We think new smartwatches will be outweighed by declines in legacy products, while software opportunities in health coaching will take time to ramp.”

Fitbit made its name as a fitness tracker, but Apple increasingly has come out pitching itself not only as a fitness tracker, but one with a robust toolkit for health in general. In addition to a heart monitor, Apple has the ability to create a whole health software ecosystem tied directly into the iPhone, which apps like MyFitnessPal and others can use for data. So Apple will clearly be the biggest hurdle for Fitbit as it looks to figure out what its next-generation fitness wearable looks like, especially as Apple if Apple looks to continue to drop the price of the Apple Watch.

Mobile – TechCrunch

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Finisar Shares Down After Losing Key Apple VCSEL Deal

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Today brings some bad news for a major supplier of 3D facial scanning components critical to Apple’s TrueDepth camera. Reportedly, Finisar Corporation has lost out on a key deal to supply Apple with VCSEL sensors, according to a BlueFin Research report spotted by SeekingAlpha. Shares of Finisar are down 6.64 percent as of early Monday […]
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The Morning After: Huawei made a great smartphone camera

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Monday has landed. Over the last couple of days, we discovered a new contender king of smartphone photography, Tesla fixed one of our biggest issues with the Model 3, and European Netflix users got to stream from every corner of the EU without issue.
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After Math: This is a witch hunt

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It was a dangerous week for some of the biggest names in technology as they they were forced to face off against these new things called "consequences" which have come about due to their ongoing "actions." It's all so very unfair. Ashley Madison is s…
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Apple is aggressively hiring Siri engineers after widespread criticisms

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Following stinging criticisms of its poorly performing digital assistant, Apple has recently ramped up hiring for its Siri division, the data analysts at Thinknum discovered. Siri-specific hiring is currently said to be at an “all-time high,” with 161 open job listings — a jump of 24 percent in the last month. Starting in mid-Febr…Read More
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Recode Daily: Amazon stock rebounds — as it always does — after Trump’s early-morning tweet attack

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Plus, Facebook’s bad month keeps getting worse, the subject of the “Serial” podcast is getting a new trial, and the finest eggs tech money can buy.

Trump took to Twitter to attack Amazon, which he accused of paying “little or no taxes.” His tweet sent Amazon’s stock down about 4 percent, but it rebounded within a few hours, as it always does after a Trump tweet makes it fall. [Michael Sheetz / CNBC]

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Facebook’s bad month keeps getting worse — this time because of a leaked internal memo by one of the company’s top executives that suggests, among other things, that Facebook’s mission to connect people is more important than user safety. Yesterday, Facebook outlined a more detailed plan to fight election interference in the 2018 midterms. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Snap is undergoing its third round of layoffs this year, cutting around 100 more people, most of them in sales. The company, which went public just over a year ago, restructured its content teams in January and laid off around 120 engineers earlier this month. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

What do Donald Trump, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the owner of the National Enquirer have to do with each other? [New York Times]

The subject of the “Serial” podcast, Adnan Syed, has been granted a new trial in the case of the murder of his high school classmate Hae Min Lee. Syed was convicted in 2000 and has been in prison for 19 years; his case attracted international attention in 2014 when it was featured on the groundbreaking podcast. [Kevin Rector and Justin Fenton / The Baltimore Sun]

If the timeline Waymo rolled out this week is correct, autonomous vehicles will transform urban life by 2020. That’s the company’s way of saying, “Get ready, this is really happening.” This is autonomous driving at scale, and not in five years or 10 years or 50 years, but in two years or less. Meanwhile, carmakers Daimler and BMW are combining their car-sharing businesses into a joint venture to better compete with Silicon Valley companies out to upend the traditional automotive industry. [Alexis C. Madrigal / The Atlantic]

Top stories from Recode

China looked at investing in SoftBank’s $ 100 billion tech fund.

The Vision Fund has ratcheted back some of its ambitions in China due to political considerations.

Tim Cook’s advice to his younger self: “The joy is in the journey.”

“Our purpose is to serve humanity.”

What this Silicon Valley VC learned on the “Rust Belt Safari.”

There are plenty of ways for tech to play in the “comeback cities” of the U.S. heartland.

What will we do without Lauren Goode?

For her final Recode podcast as co-host, Goode counts down her favorite episodes of Too Embarrassed to Ask.

This is cool

The finest eggs tech money can buy.

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