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No one should ever buy a car again. Here’s why.

Editorial Team

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Thanks to the miracle of CGI, our culture has become used to imagining some pretty wild things: vast superhero battles, space armadas, planet-killing lasers. But I’m willing to bet you still have difficulty picturing a much more likely future scene: your neighborhood with zero parked cars in it.

Just imagine for a minute, how much visual clutter that would remove. No obnoxious SUVs at odd angles, half-on, half-off the sidewalk, squeezing out pedestrians. No driveways stuffed with vehicles in various states of rusting; heck, no need for driveways at all. Every so often you’d see a sleek driverless car pulling up at a neighbor’s house, or trundling along doing the speed limit. But as a constant visual reminder, cars would be gone.

In their absence, people might be more inclined to beautify their homes, expand their flowerbeds, revitalize their stoops. Maybe the concept of parklets will expand from city centers to suburbs. You’d actually get to see your neighbors when they’re not doing the re-parking dance on street-cleaning days. On the whole, the world will start to feel like it has more room to breathe in the streets.

This relatively auto-free utopia is closer than you think. Driverless cars are barreling down on us from all directions. Their business models are already clear. You’ll either subscribe to a car service or pay per use, because it makes no sense to sell you a vehicle that you don’t use 95 percent of the time when companies can make tons more money loaning the same inventory to everyone.

To be clear, consumers will still be able to buy a Tesla, but the clearing price will rise significantly, as a fully autonomous car that can function as a robotaxi is several times more valuable than a non-autonomous car

Ever-growing fleets of smart vehicles will eventually make ownership obsolete. The wait for a car to be hailed will keep going down, until it becomes almost always faster and cheaper to get a ride anywhere than to bother with parking and walking to your destination. In many city centers, that tipping point has already been reached. Even now, buying a car makes little economic or environmental sense, and it will make less sense with each passing year.

So why would you ever do it again?

The shift to autonomous vehicles does not just rely on those innovative headline-grabbing upstarts, Waymo (which already has a live robotaxi service in Chandler, Ariz.) and Tesla (Musk likes to boast that his cars are mostly autonomous, and just a few software updates away from being fully autonomous). Ford is testing driverless cars in cities like Pittsburgh, Miami, and D.C., and Volkswagen has self-driving Golfs zipping around Hamburg, Germany. General Motors is just waiting for the government’s permission to unleash a driverless Bolt.

The driverless car will change society as profoundly in the 21st century as the horseless carriage did in the 20th, in ways we’re only just starting to see. For one thing, around 1.35 million people around the world per year will not lose their lives, which in itself is a cause for celebration. (That number includes people killed in auto accidents; it doesn’t count asthma deaths caused by car pollution, which will also come down as the use of electric cars rises.)

We can look forward to the autonomous driving era as we would look forward to a ceasefire in humanity’s most destructive war. In some parts of the world, the public is already thinking that way, as shown in this new London survey:

The speed at which public sentiment is turning negative on car use in cities is mind-blowing. This is the new smoking. 3/4 now think we should reduce car use and road building. Double digits percentage points changes to most questions in only two (!) years. Cc @london_cycling

There are studies that suggest using autonomous vehicles makes us nicer and more selfless. More honest, too: We can finally spend our drivetimes legitimately gawping at our phones instead of being hypocrites who pretend that we’d never do such a thing.

As urban planners catch up with the new reality, cities will become way more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists. Lanes don’t need to be 12 feet wide when human drivers aren’t swaying all over them. We’ll only need a few strategically-placed parking lots of appropriate density, probably owned in common by the car service companies. Their vehicles can drive themselves there to charge up.

You’ll choose from a wide variety of rides dependent on your needs (Party bus for a boozy night out with friends? Sturdy sedan for a chauffeured and suddenly fashionable Sunday drive in the country?) as easily as you currently hail a Lyft or Uber. Freed from the constraints of drivers, cars will evolve into new and unrecognizable forms, rather like the vehicle just unveiled by GM subsidiary and brash San Francisco robotaxi company, Cruise:

With rivals like Cruise and San Francisco robot startup, Zoox, promising to eat their lunches on ever-lower fares, the ride-sharing giants are planning to ditch their human drivers as soon as possible. Lyft already has autonomous vehicles in Las Vegas (although a safety driver is still in the car). Uber’s self-driving program tentatively went back on the road nine months after a fatal crash in Arizona. With the future of the company riding on it, Uber couldn’t afford not to.

Basic economic pressures will make the shift to robotaxis, sadly for drivers. But the upside is that basic economics will also make car ownership even more unattractive than it currently is.

Why buy?

Already, the rideshare-hailing generation sees less need to own. The average monthly car payment in the U.S. is $545, and that doesn’t factor in paying for parking. It doesn’t work for you, and it doesn’t work for the automaker, which will make more money on subscriptions or per-use services.

Future generations will think us nuts for plowing so much of our paychecks into paying off five-year loans on dangerous hunks of metal that lose their value every minute. (Most vehicles already depreciate by as much as 40 percent after 5 years; as a nation’s fleet grows increasingly autonomous, the resale value of non-autonomous cars seems like it might collapse completely.)

Future generations will be right. Especially when the fuel that powers most of those hefty hunks of metal does incredible harm to the planet, what on Earth were we thinking, encouraging manufacturers to make more of them? Not all autonomous vehicles currently being tested are electric, but none are ever going to fill themselves up with gas — so, over time, it makes sense that they’ll all go electric for self-charging purposes.

In the U.S., dealerships make money on servicing your vehicle as well as selling it to you in the first place, which may help explain why the percentage of electric vehicles they sell is currently declining: There’s less incentive for salespeople to push cars with fewer parts that require less maintenance overall. Another factor is that there’s a lull in government subsidies for EVs in the U.S. right now; China is not making the same mistake.

In short, something is rotten in the state of car ownership. It is a dinosaur business that will die out in the same way that owning media on CDs and DVDs died out in the 2000s: slowly, then all at once.

So in the meantime, even in a pre-autonomous world, why participate in the system at all? That $545 average monthly payment breaks down to about $27 per weekday (again, not factoring in parking costs, or vacation time, or work from home days).

Even if you have no public transit options whatsoever, you can probably already get to the office and back in a rideshare for less than that (especially if you’re actually, y’know, sharing the ride).

And if it costs a little more…well, isn’t it worth a few bucks to avoid the hassle of driving at the crankiest hour of the morning, expending your precious caffeinated mental energy on judging which lane of slow-moving traffic is the slowest? Or the hassle of having to limit your intake at after-work drinks to a beer or two?

When it comes to car rentals for weekend trips, your options are multiplying. We’re not just talking companies like Hertz or Dollar, or their 2000s counterparts like Zipcar and Car2Go. All require you to go through the hassle of picking up your rental at a specific location.

The near-term future of car rental probably looks more like Kyte, a startup that will deliver a vehicle to your front door. For now, Kyte still needs a driver to make the delivery and make her own way home — but as with all else in the world of cars, humans will not be required for long.

No one is pretending this brave new world won’t come at a cost in terms of employment. We can only hope for a transition smooth enough to allow for the retraining of professional drivers, which governments should make a priority. But the benefits are incalculable: millions of fewer deaths, less road infrastructure, more livable cities. The future will offer us all the chance to inhabit a cleaner, greener, nicer neighborhood — no CGI (or CO2) required.

Adopted from Mashable’s Don’t @ me

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Media

These are the countries with the biggest number of Twitter users

Editorial Team

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The social network Twitter is particularly popular in the United States, where as of October 2019; the micro-blogging service had 48.35 million active users.

Japan and the United Kingdom were ranked second and third with 35.65 and 13.9 million users respectively. Global Twitter usage as of the first quarter of 2019, Twitter had 330 million users, according to Statista, a site that tracks global business data.

This represents a notable decline from the 336 million monthly active users in the first quarter of 2018. The most-followed Twitter accounts include celebrities such as Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and former US President Barack Obama.

 

Twitter has become an increasingly relevant tool in domestic and international politics. The platform has become a way to promote policies and interact with citizens and other officials, and most world leaders and foreign ministries have an official Twitter account.

US President Donald Trump is known to be a prolific Twitter user, but opinions are divided on the appropriateness of his behavior on the platform. During an August 2018 survey, 61 percent of respondents stated that Trump’s use of Twitter as President of the United States was inappropriate.

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Science and Technology

Why Aden Duale doesn’t allow his family to use phones at home

The National Assembly Majority Leader also says he won’t buy his friend lawyer Ahmednasir tea if he keeps on using his phone in restaurants

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Aden Duale, the Leader of Majority in the National Assembly, has said he does not allow members of his family to use their mobile phones from 7.00 pm to 9.00 pm.

For these two hours, it is a family matter, Duale says.

“Every time I go to my house, I see everyone; my wife and children preoccupied with their phones. I introduced this rule so that we can have quality time together,” he said.

However, Duale says he is the only one allowed to check his phone after very thirty minutes if he missed a call.

“If it’s the president and his deputy or ambassadors, I return the call,” he says.

“I set the president’s and the deputy president’s phone numbers as my favourite, so they will be the only ones that can get through.”

The Majority Leader in the National Assembly also joked he won’t buy his friend Lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi tea anymore if he does not stop using his phone while in having teas together.

“Ahmednasir is my friend and he is always busy with his phone whenever we enjoy our tea. If he doesn’t stop I won’t buy him tea anymore,” Duale says.

Ahmednasir Abdullahi, a senior counsel and constitutional Nairobi-based lawyer, is one of the most followed and active Kenyans people on Twitter.

On average, he tweets 20 times a day and has more than 800,000 followers.

Duale was speaking at the launch of Kenya in Arabic website – a site that promotes tourism and investments from the Arab world – at Laico Regency in Nairobi.

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Science and Technology

Five Somali startups to watch out for in 2020

Editorial Team

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Somalia is defined by a complex mix of challenges and opportunities and was once described as the world’s most dangerous country.

Despite political instability and economic struggles, people in Somalia are using technology to solve their problems.

Each year, the Somali youth create new startups determined to resolve local problems.

The Frontier highlights five startups to watch out for in 2020 and beyond.

Gulivery

Gulivery- a door-to-door delivery service. Its founder, Deeq Mohamed, says he got the idea after moving with his wife from London to the northwestern city of Hargeisa and noticed that many of the things they bought for their home couldn’t be delivered.

While hanging out with friends, he also noticed their families would ask them to buy foodstuff they would otherwise have ordered themselves.

Gulivery provides third party delivery services for restaurants, groceries, shops & e-commerce platforms. The service enables individuals and small businesses to trade and connect with the drivers to request on-demand or scheduled delivery.

The startup was first launched in Hargeisa, the capital of breakaway Somaliland, before it expanded to Mogadishu in February 2018. Its founders are Deeq Hassan and his wife Sado Baroot, who started the delivery service after returning to the country from London. There were no delivery companies or e-commerce in Somalia but Deeq and his wife took advantage of the gap in the market and came up with the idea of developing a delivery app.

Most Somalis depend on traditional taxis, donkey-carts or Indian-styled three-wheeler rickshaws, mostly used in Mogadishu, to deliver commodities from markets to their homes. The hiring of taxis is an expensive affair and sometimes, you do not get exactly what you ordered.

Go!

The Go! app promises affordable and convenient options in the city’s bustling transport sector.

The e-hailing service is starting out with 20 motorcycles, allowing customers to order their rides online or hail them on the street after identifying the drivers with their yellow helmet and bikes.

The platform was launched by Gulivery, a delivery startup that provides third-party door-to-door services.

The motor-taxi service makes the company the first in Somalia to venture into and digitise the motorcycle business.

While Uber-style taxi apps have existed before, those firms only used cars.

The increase in digital transportation options comes as life in Mogadishu regains a semblance of normalcy after decades of war. That has led to increased traffic in the city. The city also has a fragmented transportation system, with three-wheeled motorized tuk-tuk and hundreds of dilapidated buses servicing a fast-growing population that currently stands at almost three million people.

Getting around African cities like Mogadishu can be demanding given the poor infrastructure, insufficient street addresses, the absence of reliable public transportation, and increasing urbanization that is fueling congestion. As such, motorcycle taxis have grown over the last few years.

Saami Online

Saamionline is a Somali e-commerce company established in August 2014 in Hargiesa, it is one-stop shop that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business.

Saami Online, a one-stop shop that sells and delivers everything from books and cosmetics to clothing and home appliances.

Since the founder didn’t have the funds to buy the goods at first, he had to show product owners that he could take their wares and deliver them to customers away from major cities.

Clients were mostly inquiring about electronics and phones, so Saami started serving underserved cities in Somalia including Kismayo and Adado, and then went as far eastern Ethiopia and Djibouti.

Samawat Energy

Samawat Energy is a female-founded renewable energy company that provides affordable, off-grid, solar home solutions to residents in Somalia through the use of a micro-leasing, rent-to-own system.

The discourse around gender and energy often focuses on women as under-served end-users. Samawat Energy sees women as vital actors within the energy sector at large.

The company does not only focus on electrifying communities, but empowering women within those communities to be more efficient in their household duties, make further gains in education, enter the workforce, and start businesses.

Not only will this provide opportunities for those often disenfranchised, but it will also help accelerate economic growth in Somalia.

Zapi

Zapi is an online payment system built on top of Telesom’s Zaad mobile payment service that will allow businesses to setup their websites to process payments. Zapi’s instant payments verification solution hopes to fill the missing link necessary to make running an e-commerce business in Somaliland as simple as it would be anywhere else in the world.

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