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.
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
10 things you should never do on Twitter
Whether you’re strictly business or getting personal on Twitter, keeping your Tweets attractive and followable requires a little attention to detail. And gaining followers isn’t as easy as losing them. Socialbakers has listed ten common Twitter mistakes you should avoid.
1. Don’t overdo it.
Excessive tweeting and self-promotion are among the many faux pas that will get you unfollowed or reported for spam. They come in three all too typical varieties:
Binge posting: There’s nothing more annoying than a column of Tweets all from the same person (or brand) posted in three minutes.
The multi-tweet: Remember this is a microblogging service. Being brief is the name of the game. If you need more than 140 characters to get your point across, then write it out in a blog and Tweet the link.
Pointless Direct Messaging (DM): There’s no need to send direct messages to new followers thanking them for their interest. Especially if you use this opportunity to direct their attention to your website or blog, you’ll see that follow quickly revoked.
2. Don’t keep the default profile photo.
On the Internet as in real life, first impressions are almost always visual, and your profile photo can set the tone for your content. So don’t stick with Twitter’s default profile image. Whether you’re Tweeting for your personal or professional brand, your profile image and cover photo should be well lit, cropped and optimized for web use.
3. Don’t abuse the hashtag.
The # symbol has had its own little renaissance thanks to Twitter. Hashtagging keywords or topics in your tweets is an effective means of tracking and participating in events, conversation and disaster recovery. But before you publish that Tweet, search your hashtags to make sure the results, if any, are consistent with your message.
And don’t add too many! A litter of hashtags will just cloud your message and make your tweet difficult to read. Lastly, avoid using the hashtag merely for #emphasis or #context. #Itsdumb.
4. Don’t just auto-tweet.
If you’re on several social networks, change up your message and technique for each one, especially since they offer different formatting options. When Tweeting from another website (to share their content on your timeline) you’ll often have the Tweet written for you. Edit that Tweet and give it a bit of your own style before publishing.
5. Don’t forget your is not you’re.
Grammar and spelling mistakes significantly reduce the impact of your content. Take a minute to proof read your Tweet. It’s not just your content’s readability and attractiveness at stake, but repeated errors can get you ignored or reported for spam; not to mention being ridiculed by Twitter’s grammar police.
6. Don’t get involved in debates.
You won’t have the last word on Twitter, because there is no last word on Twitter! So don’t get involved in drawn out, heated debates. Make your point (concisely!) and disagree amicably if needed.
Tweeting your brand can be tricky when tempers flare. But one directive is to never, ever go on the offense. And never use abusive, threatening language (that should really go without saying). If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to draw up some social media guidelines for your team to follow.
7. Don’t be shy.
The more you Tweet, the more likely you’ll be Retweeted and replied to, building your audience on the social network. (Just avoid the habits discussed in point 1.) Keep your profile complete, accurate and updated. Tweeting regularly (with great content, of course) will attract more followers faster.
8. Don’t beg.
If you’re going to ask for a Retweet, do it right.
9. Don’t pretend your account has been hacked.
There have been some moderate (and debatable) success stories, like Chipotle’s fake hack. But follower backlash can generate a whirlwind of negative PR. It’s a risky move especially with today’s cyber sensitive headlines. So if you’re going to do it, at least be creative enough to give it a concept, or some clue that it’s a prank.
10. Don’t Facebook on Twitter.
Every social network has its own etiquette, terminology and sub cultures. If Facebook is one big living room, Twitter is one big cocktail party. So strive to be personable but avoid overly personal topics. Just stay on your beat and write (and Retweet) relevant and interesting content. This and the preceding don’ts should keep your followers multiplying and anticipating your next Tweet.
Ethiopia is building its own social media platforms to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp
Ethiopia will soon launch its own social media platform to rival Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, the state communications security agency said on Monday.
In June, days before national elections, Facebook said it had removed a network of fake accounts in the country of 112 million that targeted domestic users, according to a report by Business Insider.
Facebook said the fake accounts were linked to individuals associated with the Ethiopian government. Facebook, however, refused to comment on Shumete’s accusations.
Speaking on the development, Shumete told Reuters that the agency wants to reduce reliance on foreign technology firms that meddle in the country’s politics. However, it does not plan to block the global services. He added that Ethiopia drew inspiration from China, which bars US social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, encouraging citizens to use homemade alternatives.
Ethiopia’s cracking down in Tigray.
On November 4th, 2020, the observatory NetBlocks released network data from Ethiopia confirming an Internet disruption in the Tigray region. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the launch of a military campaign against Tigrayan rebels on Facebook and Twitter, and in the hours that followed, phone lines and Internet access across the country were shut down.
With the start of the war, it was in the government’s interest to maintain total control over the narrative. However, several human rights groups have criticised the Ethiopian government for unexplained shutdowns of Internet services. They cited many economic and humanitarian concerns contributing to the gradual worsening of the situation on the ground, adding that the war has destabilised the populous country in the Horn of Africa, leaving thousands of people dead with 350,000 others living in famine conditions.
Shumete declined to comment on a timeline, budget and other details about the country’s progress on the social media platforms. However, he told Reuters, “The rationale behind developing technology with local capacity is clear … Why do you think China is using WeChat?”
He also said Ethiopia had the local expertise to develop the platforms and would not hire outsiders to help.
Apple will fix iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro phones with sound issues for free
A phone that doesn’t play sound properly during calls isn’t much of a phone at all. This is unfortunately happening to some iPhone 12 devices, but Apple will fix it for free.
The company posted a new page to its support website advertising a free service to fix phones with busted sound hardware. Specifically, it’s for a “small percentage” of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models manufactured between Oct. 2020 and April 2021. Apparently, some phones fitting that description have faulty components causing sound to not come through the receiver during phone calls, and Apple is offering to fix it without touching your bank account.
This can be arranged through a local Apple Store, an authorized service provider, or just by mailing your phone in and waiting for aPPLE to mail it back. There are a couple of important things to note here, though.
First, iPhone 12 Max and Mini models aren’t eligible for this service, so if you have this issue with one of those prepare for a fight to get it serviced for free. Second, “damage that impairs the ability to complete the repair” like a cracked screen needs to be fixed separately before you hand the faulty phone over to fix the sound issue. That might cost money, depending on the problem and where you get it repaired.
It’s obviously pretty lousy if your iPhone can’t properly make phone calls, and these repairs could take time. Ideally you’d have a backup option available, but you may have to live without that phone for a little while before Apple fixes it again. At least it won’t cost you anything.
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