When Liu Yang started his current job, he found it very difficult to return to his own driving: “Instinctively, I went to the passenger seat. Or when I’m driving, I would expect the car to brake on its own,” said the 33-year-old Beijing man, who joined Chinese tech giant Baidu in January 2021 as a said robotaxi controller.
Robotaxi driving is an occupation that exists only in our time, the result of a technology that evolved advanced enough to eliminate the driver — most of the time, in a controlled environment — but not good enough. to convince the authorities that they could eliminate human intervention altogether.
Liu is one of hundreds of safety operators employed by Baidu who “drive” five days a week in Shougang Park. But even though he’s only been with the company for 19 months, he’s already thinking about his next career move, as his job will likely be scrapped within the next few years. Read full story.
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Things to read
I scoured the internet to find you today’s most interesting/important/scary/fascinating stories about tech.
1 US news app ByteDance is said to have promoted pro-China messaging
Former employees say they were also instructed to moderate criticism of Beijing. (Buzzfeed)
+ Smartphone sales in China are at their lowest level in a decade. (Register)
2Mark Zuckerberg is overgrowing
To make the metaverse work, he needs his employees to work even harder. (NYT $)
+ He has every right to worry — Meta may report a drop in revenue for the first time today. (Reuters)
+ Facebook workers hoping for more days off can think again. (The Verge)
+ Meta is also increasing the price of its VR Quest 2 headset. (ZDNet)
+ A metaverse security update is frustrating its early adopters. (Motherboard)
3 AI convincingly pretends to be a philosopher
That can be extremely dangerous if it falls into the wrong hands. (Motherboard)
+ New version of GPT-3 works much better (and will be less malicious). (MIT Technology Review)
4 How Ticketmaster’s Dynamic Pricing Algorithm Test Works
Charging Bruce Springsteen fans up to $5,000 per ticket is not a good move. (Diversity $)
+ How valuation algorithms learn to collude. (MIT Technology Review)
5 The new psychedelic drug renaissance is here
But critics warn that it is promoting psychedelic capitalism. (Wired $)
+ How do hallucinogens affect our brains? AI can help us find out. (MIT Technology Review)
6 Russia announced it will withdraw from the ISS partnership by 2024
NASA says it has yet to be officially announced. (The Verge)
+ Spacetime revolving around the Sun may hold the key to discovering extraterrestrial life. (Motherboard)
8 Plastics floating in the ocean are harboring nasty bacteria
Urinary tract, skin and stomach infections are just some of the unpleasant ailments they can cause. (Hakai Magazine)
+ A pseudo-parasite that eats kidney stones seems to have given up the parasite. (Atlantic $)
9 Undersea internet cables can soon detect tsunamis
And monitor them in real time to help address future disasters. (New Yorkers $)