U.S. probing Huawei for possible Iran sanctions violations: sources

NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutors in New York have been investigating since at least last year whether Chinese tech company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] violated U.S. sanctions in relation to Iran, according to sources familiar with situation.

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The prosecutors have been investigating alleged shipping of U.S.-origin products to Iran and other countries in violation of U.S. export and sanctions laws, two of the sources said on condition of anonymity.

The probe, first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, is being run out of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, the sources said. John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the investigation.

The Department of Justice in Washington declined to comment.

Huawei, which makes handsets and telecommunications network equipment, said it complies with “all applicable laws and regulations where it operates, including the applicable export control and sanction laws and regulations of the UN, US and EU.”

News of the Justice Department probe follows a series of U.S. actions aimed at stopping or reducing access by Huawei and Chinese smartphone maker ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) to the U.S. economy amid allegations the companies could be using their technology to spy on Americans.

In February, Senator Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, cited concerns about the spread of Chinese technologies in the United States, which he called “counterintelligence and information security risks that come prepackaged with the goods and services of certain overseas vendors.”

Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have introduced legislation that would block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecommunications equipment from Huawei or ZTE, citing concern the Chinese companies would use their access to spy on U.S. officials.

U.S. authorities last week banned American companies from selling to ZTE (000063.SZ) for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement related to Iran sanctions with repeated false statements – a move that threatens to cut off ZTE’s supply chain.

The ZTE ban was the result of its failure to comply with an agreement with the U.S. Commerce Department reached last year after it pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.

In 2016, the Commerce Department made documents public that showed ZTE’s misconduct and also revealed how a second company, identified only as F7, had successfully evaded U.S. export controls.

In a 2016 letter to the Commerce Department, 10 U.S. lawmakers said they believed F7 to be Huawei, citing media reports.

In April 2017, lawmakers sent another letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross asking for F7 to be publicly identified and fully investigated.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru, Karen Freifeld in New York, Eric Auchard in London; Editing by Frances Kerry and Paul Simao

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

NYSE glitch forces Amazon and Alphabet traders elsewhere

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The New York Stock Exchange said on Wednesday that trading was suspended on its exchange in five stocks, including Amazon and Alphabet, for the rest of the day due to a technical glitch involving trade reporting.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The exchange, which is owned by Intercontinental Exchange Inc (ICE.N), said the suspension was due to a “price scale code” issue and any open orders in those securities would be canceled.

The securities can still be traded on other exchanges, including those run by Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O), where the affected stocks are listed, Cboe Global Markets (CBOE.O) and IEX Group.

Aside from Amazon.com (AMZN.O) and both Alphabet share classes (GOOGL.O)(GOOG.O), affected symbols included Booking Holdings (BKNG.O) and Zion Oil and Gas Equity Warrants ZNWAA.O.

A spokeswoman for the NYSE, Kristen Kaus, said the issue affected a small subset of clients whose trading reports in the affected symbols were being returned in an unexpected format, so the exchange suspended trading in the five securities to minimize customer impact.

There are 13 U.S. stock exchanges, around 40 private trading venues known as dark pools and dozens of single-dealer platforms. The NYSE trading suspension highlights the complexity of the fragmented market, but also its resiliency, given that stocks can trade elsewhere when one exchange has a problem.

The NYSE is one of last U.S. exchanges to have a physical trading floor, and prior to April 9, only securities that were listed on the exchange could be traded there. But following a recent technology upgrade, the NYSE said it would begin trading securities listed on other exchanges as well.

The trading suspension was not likely related to the technology upgrade, Kaus said.

In March, the NYSE and two of its affiliate exchanges were fined $14 million by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, partly in response to a nearly four-hour trading halt in July 2015 that was the result of a flawed software roll out.

Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and John McCrank; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

WhatsApp raises minimum age in Europe to 16 ahead of data law change

LONDON (Reuters) – WhatsApp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook Inc (FB.O), is raising its minimum age from 13 to 16 in Europe to help it comply with new data privacy rules coming into force next month.

FILE PHOTO: The WhatsApp app logo is seen on a smartphone in this picture illustration taken September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

WhatsApp will ask European users to confirm they are at least 16 years old when they are prompted to agree new terms of service and a privacy policy provided by a new WhatsApp Ireland Ltd entity in the next few weeks.

It is not clear how or if the age limit will be checked given the limited data requested and held by the service.

Facebook, which has a separate data policy, is taking a different approach to teens aged between 13 and 15 in order to comply with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law.

It is asking them to nominate a parent or guardian to give permission for them to share information on the platform, otherwise they will not see a fully personalized version of the social media platform.

But WhatsApp, which had more than 1.5 billion users in January according to Facebook, said in a blog post it was not asking for any new rights to collect personal information in the agreement it has created for the European Union.

“Our goal is simply to explain how we use and protect the limited information we have about you,” it said.

WhatsApp, founded in 2009, has come under pressure from some European governments in recent years because of its end-to-end encrypted messaging system and its plan to share more data with its parent, Facebook.

Facebook itself is under scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers around the world since disclosing last month that the personal information of millions of users wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, setting off wider concerns about how it handles user data.

WhatsApp’s minimum age of use will remain 13 years in the rest of the world, in line with its parent.

GDPR is the biggest overhaul of online privacy since the birth of the internet, giving Europeans the right to know what data is stored on them and the right to have it deleted.

Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and some other tech firms have said they plan to give people in the United States and elsewhere the same protections and rights that Europeans will gain.

European regulators have already disrupted a move by WhatsApp to change its policies to allow it to share users’ phone numbers and other information with Facebook to help improve the product and more effectively target ads.

WhatsApp suspended the change in Europe after widespread regulatory scrutiny. It said on Tuesday it still wanted to share the data at some point.

“As we have said in the past, we want to work closer with other Facebook companies in the future and we will keep you updated as we develop our plans,” it said.

Other changes announced by WhatsApp on Tuesday include allowing users to download a report detailing the data it holds on them, such as the make and model of the device they used, their contacts and groups and any blocked numbers.

“This feature will be rolling out to all users around the world on the newest version of the app,” it said.

The blog post also points to safety tips on the service, such as the ability to block unwanted users, and delete and report spam.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Adrian Croft

Researcher in Facebook scandal says: my work was worthless to Cambridge Analytica

LONDON (Reuters) – A researcher at the center of a scandal over the alleged misuse of the data of nearly 100 million Facebook users said on Tuesday the work he did was useless for the sort of targeted adverts that would be needed to sway an election.

Aleksandr Kogan, who worked for the University of Cambridge, is at the center of a controversy over Cambridge Analytica’s use of millions of users’ data without their permission after it was hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 election campaign.

Kogan said it was unlikely Cambridge Analytica had used the data in the Trump campaign, although he also said that its suspended CEO Alexander Nix had lied to a committee of British lawmakers about how the two worked together.

Kogan said that even if the dataset he compiled was used in a political campaign, it would be little use for targeted advertising.

“Quite frankly, if the goal is micro-targeting using Facebook ads, (the project) makes no sense. It’s not what you would do,” he told a parliamentary committee, adding that Facebook itself had better tools for such adverts and that the work was worth “literally nothing”.

“If the use case you have is Facebook ads, it’s just incompetent to do it this way.”

Facebook has said that the personal information of about 87 million users may have been improperly shared with political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, after Kogan created a personality quiz app to collect the data.

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have blamed Kogan for alleged data misuse, but he has said that he was being made a scapegoat by the companies for the scandal.

Kogan said that former Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, who was also a director of the consultancy’s parent firm SCL Group, had previously lied to lawmakers when he said he had not received data from Kogan.

“We certainly gave them data, that’s indisputable,” Kogan told lawmakers. Asked if Nix had lied, Kogan answered: “Absolutely.” A spokesman for Cambridge Analytica declined to comment on Nix’s testimony, noting that he was suspended pending an investigation.

Kogan said Facebook provided him data in an email, and he had not needed to sign an agreement to use it. However, he said that he did not sell the data provided to him by Facebook.

Instead, Kogan said he collected new data through an app for work with SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company.

He hired a market research firm called Qualtrics to recruit 200,000 to 300,000 people to take the quiz to collect the data, resulting in expenses of $600,000-$800,000. Kogan’s company was paid 230,000 pounds ($320,643.00) by SCL for its predictive analysis based on the findings, Kogan said.

In written evidence to parliament, Kogan said that all of his academic work was reviewed and approved by the University’s ethics committees.

However, a letter from 2015, published by the Guardian, shows that the ethics committee rejected one of Kogan’s projects in 2015 and said that Facebook’s privacy project was “not sufficient protection” to address concerns.

Kogan said that the data he collected had now all been deleted, to the best of his knowledge, but he would double check that none remained. Cambridge Analytica also said that it had deleted the data when asked to by Facebook.

“We’re extremely sorry that we ended up in possession of data that clearly had breached Facebook’s terms of service,” spokesman Clarence Mitchell told reporters.

“That’s something that we wouldn’t have wanted to happen. But we have put in place the procedures to begin to rectify it.”

Mitchell also said that the data was not used in the Trump campaign after it had been demonstrated to be ineffective.

“Any suggestion that the GSR Kogan data was used in that campaign is utterly incorrect. Its effective uselessness had already been identified by then,” he said.

Kogan said that he never drew a salary from GSR, the company that he founded to do the research that was wound up last year. Most of the money received from SCL was spent on coding work, acquiring data and legal fees. He was allowed to keep the data he gathered on the project.

Kogan said that GSR had a close relationship with Facebook, and one of his partners at the firm, Joseph Chancellor, now worked for the social media giant.

“This has been a very painful experience, because when I entered into all of this, Facebook was a close ally,” Kogan said.

“I was thinking this would be helpful to my academic career and my relationship with Facebook. It has very clearly done the complete opposite”

($1 = 0.7173 pounds)

Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher at Cambridge University who created a personality quiz to collect users data on Facebook, gives evidence to Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committe in Westminster, London, Britain, April 24, 2018. Parliament TV handout via REUTERS

Reporting by Alistair Smout and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Apple sensor supplier AMS warns of second-quarter slowdown

ZURICH (Reuters) – Chipmaker AMS reported first-quarter sales toward the lower end of its guidance range on Monday and warned of a downturn owing to weaker orders from one of its main customers.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the multinational semiconductor manufacturer AMS (Austria Mikro Systeme) is seen during a annual news conference, in Zurich, Switzerland February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Moritz Hager

AMS did not name the customer, but the Austrian company is a big supplier to Apple, making components for the U.S. technology giant’s iPhone.

“We are not able to discuss the specific customer, but we are seeing significantly lower business from a large smartphones program and that is having a strong impact on the consumer business and the company as a whole,” said AMS head of investor relations Moritz Gmeiner.

For its second quarter, AMS said it expected sales to drop to between $220 million and $250 million, down from the $452.7 million in sales it reported for the first three months of 2018.

The downturn was based on weaker orders and lower forecast orders in the months ahead, Gmeiner said.

AMS added that changes in upcoming products, which prevented the pre-production of parts, mean that it also expects reduced utilization of factory capacity, which will hit profit margins.

The company, which also makes sensors used in cars and industrial gear, said the problem would be temporary and that preparations for ramping up production in the second half of the year remain on track.

FILE PHOTO: An iPhone X is seen on a large video screen in the Apple visitor centre in Cupertino, California, U.S., November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

The Swiss-quoted company also confirmed its mid-term growth and profitability guidance, aiming for a 60 percent compound annual growth rate between 2016 and 2019, combined with an adjusted EBIT margin target of 30 percent from 2019 onwards.

First-quarter net profit rose to $99.9 million from a loss of $19.9 million a year earlier.

AMS shares have gained 8.1 percent this year, outpacing a Stoxx 600 Technology Index that has gained 0.7 percent.

The company’s stock has struggled of late, however, amid fears that Apple increasingly plans to use its own chips rather than buy them from third parties.

Weak results from Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) this month also spread concern about softer demand for smartphones.

Analysts have said that AMS obtains about 35 percent of its revenue from Apple, with mobile phone components making up the vast majority of its business with the U.S. company.

AMS supplies optical sensors that play a key role in facial recognition – one of the most distinctive features of Apple’s flagship iPhone X, which was introduced late last year and appears to have helped to drive AMS’s recent results.

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by David Goodman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Why So Many People Make Their Password 'Dragon'

Each year since 2011, the security firm SplashData has released a list of the most commonly used passwords, based on caches of leaked account credentials. The annual list, intended as a reminder of humanity’s poor password practices, always includes predictable entries like “abc123,” “123456,” and “letmein.” But one entry, finishing in the top 20 every year, has stood out since the beginning: “dragon.”

But why? Is it because of the popularity of the television adaption of Game of Thrones, which first premiered the same year as the popular passwords list? Is it because so many Dungeons & Dragons fans got their accounts pwned? Well, maybe, in part. But the most convincing explanation is simpler than you might think.

Chasing the Dragon

The “dragon” phenomenon does not appear to be a quirk of SplashData’s password analysis methodology. The creature took the 10th spot last year on another top passwords list, this time created by WordPress platform WP Engine, using data compiled by security consultant Mark Burnett. Dragon doesn’t show up on a 2016 list created by Keeper Security, but that one took into consideration accounts likely created by bots. And the top 100 passwords have stayed relatively stable through the years, largely ruling out a Game of Thrones spike.

“I believe in my book I even listed hundreds of passwords that contain the word ‘dragon,'” says Burnett, whose Perfect Passwords came out in 2005. “People often base their passwords on something that’s important to them; apparently dragons fall into that category. And between D&D, Skyrim, and Game of Thrones, dragons have played a big part in our culture.”

The way researchers examine password data in the first place may also contribute to dragon’s popularity. While tens of thousands of people likely really use it, the kind of password data that researchers have access to comes with some inherent biases. Academics can’t call up a company and ask it to hand over customer passwords, so they instead largely rely on credentials that get hacked and leaked to the public.

That often means sites that have poor overall security—and weak password requirements. “The sites that have the most complicated password policies don’t get leaked as often,” says Lorrie Faith Cranor, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who has studied password creation in her lab for over eight years. “Dragon” might be disproportionately popular because hacked sites are less likely to require users to include, say, a number or special character in their password.

The type of site a password data set comes from can also skew results. WP Engine examined 5 million passwords believed to be associated with Gmail accounts, for example. The company looked at the associated email addresses and tried to estimate the gender and age of the people who created them. For example, “[email protected]” would be assumed to be a male born in 1984. Using this method, the researchers found that the dataset skewed both male, and toward people born in the 1980s. That’s likely because many of the credentials came from eHarmony and an adult content site.

You can imagine how, in a dataset like this, “dragon” theoretically might appear more often, given how relatively popular The Lord of the Rings, Dungeons & Dragons, and *Game of Thrones are among men in their early-to-mid-30s.

Other kinds of password data bias can be more obvious. In 2014 for example, Burnett helped SplashData compile its annual common passwords list. When he first ran the numbers, he noticed that “lonen0” appeared incredibly high on the list, taking the seventh spot. That happened not because tens of thousands of people suddenly thought of the phrase, but because it was the default password for a Belgian company called EASYPAY GROUP, which had suffered a hack. Ten percent of users had simply failed to change the default password.

Cracking Up

Another reason that “dragon” appears so popular, along with other passwords like “123456,” is that they’re both incredibly easy to unmask. Companies often “hash” the credentials that they store, so that in the event a hacker does access them, they’re harder to access than they would be if they were just sitting out in plaintext. Hashed data is mathematically obscured to look like random strings of characters that humans can’t parse. Some hashing schemes have weaknesses that allow hackers to crack them, but even if hackers can’t expose every password, they can still run scripts to figure out the hashes for the most common passwords. “They are using computer programs that are using the most popular passwords first,” says Cranor.

Despite potential biases, careful researchers like Cranor and Burnett take time to construct their databases as carefully as possible. At this point, so many websites have been breached that they also have very robust datasets to analyze. Still, Burnett says, figuring out the “most commonly used” passwords across the web probably cannot be called a genuine science, due to biases and lack of controls.

Cranor’s research has shown that people choose passwords like “dragon” for the same reason they use common names, like Michael and Jennifer, or beloved activities, like baseball. “One of the things we’ve seen is that people tend to create passwords about stuff they like,” says Cranor. “‘iloveyou’ is one of the most common passwords, in every language.”

In her research, Cranor also wondered why so many people gravitate specifically toward animals and mythical creatures in creating passwords—particularly “monkey,” which like dragon, always ranks highly. During one study she conducted, Cranor actually asked participants who chose the primate to explain why they picked it.

“Basically people said they like monkeys, monkeys are cute,” says Cranor. “Some people said they had a pet named monkey, they had a friend whose nickname was monkey, it was all very positive.”

It turns out many people have chosen dragon for similar reasons. “I started with ‘dragon’ back in the early 90s, and it morphed over time,” one person who uses that password explained to WIRED. “The inspiration for it was a mixture of having played Dungeons & Dragons for 10 years at the time and having just installed Legend of the Red Dragon.” (They have been granted anonymity for obvious, password-related reasons.)

“Passwords, I was told, were supposed to make it hard for other people to get into your accounts, and dragons are big and scary and less common in real life than, like, bears,” another “dragon” user said. “Admittedly I was mostly using very nerdy forums and games and stuff.”

Sometimes, though, the reason you choose “dragon” as your password is just because you’re young, and dragons are, well, really cool. As one “dragon”-user put it: “I was 13 at the time.”

Password Party

After Uber's Fatal Crash, Self-Driving Cars Should Aim Lower

More than a month after a self-driving Uber struck and killed a pedestrian crossing the street in Arizona, it’s still not clear what sort of failure might explain the crash—or how to prevent it happening again. While the National Transportation Safety Board investigates, Uber’s engineers are sitting on their hands, their cars are parked.

The crash and its inconclusive aftermath reflect poorly on a newborn industry predicated on the idea that letting computers take the wheel can save lives, ease congestion, and make travel more pleasant. An industry dashing toward adulthood—Google sister company Waymo plans to launch a robo-taxi service this year, General Motors is aiming for 2019—and now, suddenly, on the verge of being rejected by a public that hasn’t even experienced it yet.

In other words, AV makers are clearing the technological hurdles and tripping over the psychological ones. And it’s important to recognize there are lots of stakeholders here. If these vehicles are to proliferate and change the world for the better, they’ll need support: from the public, politicians, and from regulators.

In defending their technology, the self-driving promoters always resort to the same set of facts. Every year, 40,000 people die on American roads. Worldwide, it’s about 1.25 million. Millions more are left with serious injuries. Robot drivers, who don’t get tired, distracted, or drunk, could stop the bleeding.

It’s a compelling and worthy objective, but one that’s almost impossible for regular drivers to relate to. Road deaths are a problem for society, not for the vast majority of people who aren’t personally affected. Driving is such a quotidian and often necessary task, it’s easy to ignore the risk that comes with every moment behind the wheel. At the same time, crashes are so common, they become background noise—and they get tuned out. Moreover, putting a serious dent in road death numbers would take decades, since robots could have to gradually replace more than a billion vehicles worldwide.

Knocked onto its heels by the Uber crash and the death of a Tesla driver using Autopilot a week later, the robo-car industry needs a win—and a new playbook.

“Trying to boil the oceans, and solve the complete problem all at once, has a high failure rate,” says Timothy Carone, a business professor at Notre Dame and author of Future Automation—Changes to Lives and Businesses. “One key reason that project leaders lose stakeholder support is because they don’t see the benefits clearly.”

Rather than promising to save millions, the developers in Silicon Valley, Detroit, and elsewhere should offer immediate, tangible proof of their value. And no, Waymo, launching a real-deal robo-taxi service doesn’t cut it. “All they’ve proven is that a car can drive itself around Phoenix,” says Carone. “So what? They haven’t demonstrated the value.”

Community Service

Even if Waymo’s service does make roads safer, the problem is that people are no good at recognizing the upsides of things that don’t happen. If it wants to win over a population rattled by Uber’s crash—which surely hurt the reputation of this technology as a whole—it should offer not just a high-tech taxi, but a solution to a discrete, noticeable problem. Take teenage drunk driving: Why not offer a free service for people aged 16 to 25, between 10 pm and 2 am? You’re giving parents peace of mind, knowing their kids have an easy, convenient, way to get home if they’ve been drinking. And maybe collecting some positive statistics in the process.

Here’s another idea for Waymo, Uber, Cruise, and everyone else working on computer driving: Start a shuttle service for people in suburban towns, taking them home from the local train station. It’s an easy to way to solve the last mile issue, especially for people who don’t have cars—and will make the people in neighboring towns eager to have the tech, too.

“If the goal is specific, targeted, and it resonates with your customers or important stakeholders, then they buy into it,” says Stephanos Zenios at Stanford’s Center for Entrepreneurial studies, who teaches successful launch techniques at a “Startup Garage” MBA course. “It has to solve a real problem that someone has, and which is a pain for them.”

The small, driverless, pod-like shuttles which companies like May Mobility are trialing are a sensible solution to mobility in downtown cores. They can pootle around at a safe 25 mph. But to a car driver, used to speed, and flexibility to choose a route, they’re hardly irresistable. What if they made their services more attractive by negotiating with cities to use bus and HOV lanes to save riders time? The results don’t have to be glorious—just tangible and relatable. If commuters save 20, even 10 minutes a day because they get to make part of their trip in an autonomous shuttle, they’re likely to think better of the tech—and vote for the politicians and regulators who support it.

Rocket Science

Carone cites the the SpaceX Falcon rocket program as an example of where this step-by-step tactic has worked to build support. Elon Musk’s company now has launched 53 Falcon rockets, with 51 full mission successes (including one Falcon 9 Heavy), one partial failure, and one total loss of spacecraft.

It has booked more than 100 future launches, signaling that confidence in its tech is strong. That’s because each launch slowly but surely demonstrated the benefits of the SpaceX approach to improve the cost and reliability of access to space. When failures did happen, there were previous successes to confirming the benefits of the approach.

Uber has also seen the benefits of a phased approach in its core business, ridesharing. The app started in 2009 as a way for people to book rides in fancy black cars. It evolved into a peer-to-peer service, a useful alternative to lacking public transit and expensive, hard-to-find taxis. Over the years, it added special features for large groups, kids, people with pets, and riders in wheelchairs. And so when London threatened to withdraw Uber’s licence to operate in the city, more than 850,000 people signed a petition to keep the company around. That’s the kind of support Uber could use now, for its autonomous driving program.

Same goes for Tesla, and other automakers offering semi-autonomous systems that take over the driving task, with human supervision. Last month, a Model X driver using Autopilot hit a highway barrier and died. In response, Tesla wrote a blog post that said, “If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident.” It added that there is one automotive fatality every 86 million miles across all vehicles. In cars with Autopilot, it claims, that plunges to one every 320 million miles.

Those are impressive numbers, sure, but they’re also hard to comprehend. Hardly anyone drives a million miles in their life, so the difference between 86 million and 320 million feels academic. But if Tesla could break down the stats, and told you hey, on this road you drive everyday, cars with Autopilot crashed, say, 20 percent less often than those without, the tech seems a lot more relevant—and more worth the extra $5,000.

Even if it won’t save your life, it could keep you out of a fender bender that makes you miss that meeting and sees your insurance premium skyrocket. “If you do that, it provides policy makers with information and data that says we’re going in the right direction and we’ve saved 50 or 100 lives this year,” Carone says.

Writing in the journal Nature Human Behavior, researchers from UC Irvine say “as with airplane crashes, the more disproportionate—and disproportionately sensational—the coverage that autonomous vehicle accidents receive, the more exaggerated people will perceive the risk and dangers of these cars in comparison to those of traditional human-driven ones.” You don’t win those people back with lofty promises of crash-free roads and millions of lives saved. You do it by making their lives better, one helpful ride at a time.


Driving on My Own

Shadow-boxing tough guy should protect home-alone Japanese women

TOKYO (Reuters) – Behind the apartment’s curtain, a tough guy is boxing, throwing left and right hooks and jabs, and lunging forward, enough to make any passing criminal think twice before breaking in.

Leopalace 21 Corp employee, Mai Shibata, poses with her mobile phone during a demonstartion of the company’s security system ‘Man on the Curtain’ in her room in Tokyo, Japan, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kwiyeon Ha

The image is nothing more than a projected shadow but one that a Japanese apartment management company hopes will help protect and reassure women living by themselves.

Still in the prototype stage, “Man on the Curtain” uses a smartphone connected to a projector to throw a moving shadow of a man doing various energetic activities onto a curtain.

Leopalace 21 Corp employee, Mai Shibata, poses in front of a window, on which the company’s security system ‘Man on the Curtain’ projects a man’s shadow, in Tokyo, Japan, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kwiyeon Ha

Customers can choose from a dozen different scenarios that show their man boxing, doing karate and even swinging a baseball bat.

A man’s shadow is projected on the window by ‘Man on the Curtain’ security system developed by Leopalace 21 Corp, in Tokyo, Japan, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kwiyeon Ha

To mix things up a bit, the man can calm down and do more mundane things like get dressed, chill out with a guitar or even do some vacuuming around the flat.

The system was developed for security at buildings run by Leopalace21 Corp,, said Keiichi Nakamura, manager of the firm’s advertising department.

Queries from the public prompted the company to think bigger and consider offering it for sale. But some people have had doubts about how effective it might be, said Nakamura.

In particular, criminals might sooner or later work out that a “man behind the curtain” who spends his whole time shadow boxing, actually means a woman is alone inside.

“If projecting a shadow makes a woman an easy target by showing criminals there’s nobody home, that would put the cart before the horse,” he said.

“So we’d like to commercialize it once we add variety, such as releasing a new video every day.”

Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by Robert Birsel

The Ridiculously Revealing, Toxic Phrases That Facebook and Other Tech Companies Use to Entice Recruits

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Tech companies are no longer the next big thing.

They’re now focused on being the only big thing.

Which means they need more bodies to augment their bigness.

So they turn to enticing job candidates with mellifluous words. 

And what words.

A study performed by Textio, a company that claims “the art of writing is also science” — Lordy, I hope not — looked at the words that predominated in the job ads of various celebrated tech companies.

Reported by the Daily Mail, the study, which examined 25,000 job listings over the last year, offered some delicious results. 

At Google for example, the top three phrases in job listings were first-rate, prove that and tackle.

And there you were assuming it would be feelingless, robotic and always right.

Apple offered something of a contrast.

Its top 3 were comfortably, maintaining control and empathetic.

Which seems quite magical, given that the company comfortably maintains control over its ecosystem while sprinkling empathy upon it to make you feel good.

At Salesforce, on the other hand, the three top phrases were work hard play hard, hungry for and building alliances.

Which makes it sound like a place where people don’t eat enough, have drunken parties and play politics all day.

Wait, is that true?

Amazon also seemed to reveal something of its inner soul.

It’s three leading phrases were wickedly, fast-paced environment and maniacal.

Wicked maniacs going at breakneck speed? That’s what the New York Times once suggested. And somewhere, Donald Trump mulls immediate action against these lunatics.

I confess that my greatest chuckle, though, came when I read Facebook’s three leading phrases.

I was imagining world domination, total control and the only place you can learn everything about everybody would win handsomely.

Instead, the results were our family, ruthlessly and storytelling.

Yes, darling. Our family went up to Congress a couple of weeks ago to ruthlessly do some storytelling. I think we got away with it.

Of course, it’s hard to write job ads.

Companies know they’re trying to sound interesting. Candidates know that these companies are trying to sound interesting, but the job on offer might not be. 

In the end, it’s meeting the people that matters. 

But if the interviewer starts telling you that he’s going to ruthlessly tell you a story about his family, listen politely. 

Then get up and walk out.

China's ZTE slams U.S. ban on sales, says company's survival at risk

HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s ZTE Corp (0763.HK) (000063.SZ) said on Friday that a U.S. ban on the sale of parts and software to the company was unfair and threatens its survival, and vowed to safeguard its interests through all legal means.

The inside of a ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration

The United States this week imposed a ban on sales by American companies to ZTE for seven years, saying the Chinese company had broken a settlement agreement with repeated false statements – a move that threatens to cut off its supply chain.

“It is unacceptable that BIS insists on unfairly imposing the most severe penalty on ZTE even before the completion of investigation of facts,” ZTE said in its first response since the ban was announced, referring to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

“The Denial Order will not only severely impact the survival and development of ZTE, but will also cause damages to all partners of ZTE including a large number of U.S. companies,” ZTE said in a statement.

ZTE said it regards compliance as the cornerstone of its strategy, adding it invested $50 million in export control compliance projects in 2017 and plans to invest more this year.

A senior U.S. Commerce Department official told Reuters earlier this week that it is unlikely to lift the ban.

“We’re going to have to see how this unfolds. But there is no provision currently for that to occur,” the official said, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

The Commerce Department has an appeals process for companies to try to get off the list, but it is unclear whether that would be available to ZTE because the case had been previously subject to a settlement, according to people familiar with the matter.

Even so, ZTE would have little recourse in the near term because appeals would have to be approved by the Bureau of Industry and Security, the same agency that issued the ban.

Companies must submit appeals to a committee that would issue a ruling within 30 days, according to the agency’s website.

ZTE said it will not give up efforts to solve problems through communication, and it is determined to take judicial measures to protect the legal rights and interests of the company.

TRADE WAR

The ban has ratcheted up tensions between China and the United States at a time when they have already threatened each other with tens of billions of dollars in tariffs, fanning worries of a full-blown trade war that.

In China, there has been a patriotic backlash with an outpouring of support for ZTE on social media and most domestic newspapers have chosen to put the lion’s share of the blame for ZTE’s troubles on the country’s heavy reliance on foreign semiconductors.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is considering using an emergency law to restrict Chinese investments in sensitive U.S. technologies, a senior Treasury official said on Thursday.

Trade in ZTE shares has been suspended since Tuesday. As of Monday’s close, they were worth some $19 billion.

Reporting by Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Christopher Cushing