> Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, has admitted that a self-driving car that can drive in any condition, on any road, without ever needing a human to take control—usually called a “level five” autonomous vehicle—will basically never exist. At the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference, Krafcik said that “autonomy will always have constraints.” It will take decades for self-driving cars to become common on roads. Even then, they will not be able to drive at certain times of the year or in all weather conditions. In short, sensors on autonomous vehicles don’t work well in snow or rain—and that may never change.
Or read https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/07/the-dream-of-driverless-... or any number of "sobering up" articles from last year.
I find it curious that we are going to hold autonomous vehicles to a perhaps impossibly high standard while we also hold people to barely any standards at all.
Think about this: If you are in an advanced autonomous vehicle and you get a warning that conditions are so bad that the sensors can no longer see well enough to drive and that you should take over, should you really take over or should you stop driving?
This is why level five autonomous cars will never exist. It's not a technical problem; it's a political one.
Its easy for someone on hackernews to say "maybe you shouldn't be driving if the car can't"; try saying that to a single mother working as a third-shift nurse, just trying to make ends meet, who's patients will suffer if she doesn't get to work. Try saying that to a technician who needs to get to a downed electric line in the middle of a torrential downpour to restore power to 20,000 people sitting comfortably in their homes. Try saying that to a Marine deployed in Nangarhar, under fire from enemy combatants.
Level Five autonomy could exist, but what we'd end up discovering is that humans let Jesus take the wheel far more often than the engineers in sunny Silicon Valley think. Level Five might mean seeing five feet in front of you and horrible traction, operating on your knowledge of the road, and just driving forward. Until an organization is willing to program a car to still drive forward in those conditions, level five won't happen. Uber practically shut down their entire program after one person died; over 100 people die every day in traditional vehicle accidents.
Which isn't acceptable either. To some degree, people look towards autonomous vehicles as a way of reducing the number of fatalities/injuries on the road. If they're not better than humans & the other benefits don't add up, they won't be accepted.
Based purely on the evidence at hand, our society deems it not only acceptable but not even noteworthy.
The real figure is around 3.2k 
This is all US-centric obviously, but my 2c: We can blame individuals for bad behavior, it's harder for us to reason about complex systems breaking and that scares us.
When an accident happens currently, we immediately rush to judgement: You're a bad driver, you were going too fast, there's order in the universe and you made a conscious choice to disrupt that. We'll really reach sometimes too (I've heard this in real life): You had a stroke and lost control of your car? The crash is still your fault, you should've lived a healthier lifestyle. Or it's your spouse's fault, they should've noticed you were acting funny and not let you drive the car.
When people screw up, it's almost always someone's fault even if we have to really reach for it. We rarely consider the system that led to the failure and absolve the individual. When computers screw up, it's unclear who to blame and it's much scarier as a result, so we hold computers to a much higher standard.
Is that true? I just did some very cursory research, but:
Where do you live where this is socially acceptable (the blame the weather part, not the drive in adverse conditions part)?
People on the internet love to say you shouldn't drive in inclement conditions, but this ignores reality. Not everyone is lucky enough to work from home. It has snowed 3 times in the last week in Denver. My wife works in healthcare. She has to show up for work unless it is a blizzard.
What are you going to if it is snowing hard with limited visibility when it's time to leave work? Sleep under your desk or deal with a miserable commute that takes 2-3x as long to get home?
Basically when people say the term self-driving car, they mean a human brain like entity driving the car. Humans don't exactly panic and expect a person sitting next to them control a car in case they can't handle it. Sure in those situation a human would get into accidents too. But in case of a machine, such an accident is already programmed to happen. Its like fixed. Which is a very different thing. In fact its even wrong to call it an accident if you know a panic will happen. Its more like programmed manslaughter.
When your engineers say the problem is "too hard to solve" you need to hire better engineers, because those engineers are lying to you. Just because everyone is racing towards a technology and some teams are doing it poorly doesn't mean the problems are insurmountable.
Once I just saw someone coming in a little too hot and was able to pull forward a bit to make room as they were standing on the brakes. Not a big deal.
The lifesaving situation was different though, I was the only car in the right lane and one of those massive F250 trucks was barreling up behind me, not appearing to slow down at all. I was kind of boxed in because the cross street had heavy, fast traffic, and I couldn't pull forward or to the left since there was another car stopped next to me there. So I just quickly scanned the sidewalk to my right to make sure there were no pedestrians, and hopped up the curb to drive on the sidewalk/grass. I wasn't sure if this would work in my tiny car with small wheels, but I figured it would be better than dying.
Worked great. The truck blew through the light and T-boned a Tesla. The guy had 37 empty Coors Light cans scattered around the floor of his truck.
Have any of the self driving car companies even gotten started on the "when should I drive on the sidewalk" subroutine? No, of course not, they are still mired in the bad, early days of the tech where they can't deal with a missing double yellow. It's laughable, the engineers can do much better instead of just repeatedly lowering the bar.
The goofy robot things Waymo is larping at building do not have obvious or well known break down conditions.
Let's pull it back a little and say by 2021, they release level 4.
If any automaker is going to do Level 5 in the snow. It's going to be Volvo. Being a Swedish company (albeit owned by a Chinese firm now), they have a particular track record when it comes to prioritising safety in terrible driving conditions.
I'm pretty sure that they are going to work it out.
But they are doing the smart thing:
- they keep these things separate and always under driver's control
- they downplay the significance of these systems and don't market as THE BEST EVER THING ULTRA POWERFUL UNBELIEVABLE BREAKTHTROUGH UNRIVALLED BY COMPETITION ©™ They are simply adding these features one by one to all their line-up
- they have a specific goal called Vision 2020 : "Vision 2020 is about reducing the number of people that die or are seriously injured in road traffic accidents to zero." This is a way more powerful and important goal than the self-serving goal of creating autonomous cars.
- oh. And yes, they work in conditions that are way more different than California. Sweden has such things as constant low sun, snow, rain, sleet, active wildlife etc. etc.
So yes, all things considered I'd root for Volvo, not for Tesla or any other American company.
+ During a dark and wet night a few weeks ago, I used Pilot Assist (lane/speed/steering control) and it genuinely saw the lane lines better than I was able to during major unexpected downpours. I was in control the whole time, but it was a great help along the way and made the drive a lot more comfortable.
- Some of these systems work together rather poorly. For instance, the Pilot Assist system seems to identify white lane lines better than yellow ones, and on US highways (where the left-most edge is often yellow) it will drift left. However, the lane keeping system seems to see the yellow line just fine, so it will vibrate the steering wheel to warn that I'm getting too close, while Pilot Assist continues to insist on moving left. The solution is to get out of the left lane.
But I'm very optimistic and supportive about Volvo's trajectory in this area, to all of your points above.
The Volvo's system is very clearly about 70% there. Sometimes on sharp curves it just misses the lines and drifts into another lane. Sometimes it seems to basically just follow the car in front, which means that it will blindly follow a bad driver in doing stupid things. However, the upside of this is that its weak behavior (and willingness to yield to driver input) makes it so obviously an "assist" system that I would never really put a lot of faith in it, or trust it entirely. Thus to me it's just sort of a better version of the lanekeeping system.
The Tesla, on the other hand, really wants to drive the car. It hates taking feedback from me, and will often boot me out of autopilot mode if I disagree over, say, my position within a lane. It does a much better job seeing lanes and handles lane changes automatically. But: because it's so forceful and doesn't like my input, I find it much more stressful to drive. I don't trust it enough to let it have the absolute control it wants, and find myself missing Volvo's pretty-dumb-but-not-demanding system.
Sweden has such things as constant low sun, snow, rain, sleet, active wildlife etc. etc.
Obviously it helps that they're already a leading truck manufacturer, but it's interesting to note how many other ventures have gone for the "eliminate the taxi sector and reinvent car ownership" over the low hanging fruit for [semi]-autonomous vehicle markets.
"While IIHS and dozens of other private industry groups around the world have methods and motivations that suit their own subjective purposes, the most objective and accurate independent testing of vehicle safety is currently done by the U.S. government, which found Model S and Model X to be the two cars with the lowest probability of injury of any cars that it has ever tested, making them the safest cars in history.""
Oy. "that suit their own subjective purposes"? Really?
"So, why the difference between the two crash tests? NHTSA's evaluation does not include small overlap front-end collisions, which the IIHS blames for about a quarter of the injuries and fatalities in front-end crashes."
"Ford Mustang hits the wall with 2-star Euro NCAP score [...] Lack of modern safety technology and other flaws mark Ford's sports car down in the latest round of tests. That's the lowest score a brand new vehicle has achieved in quite some time. [...] In NHTSA tests the Mustang scored five starts in every metric."
Volvo XC90 is
Teslas are safest for the NHTSA tests, but not the European tests, which, IIRC are better measures of safety
> In short, sensors on autonomous vehicles don’t work well in
snow or rain—and that may never change.
With that attitude, you are stuck in the past and don't want to make progress with technology.
The statement you quoted is qualified, not an assertion of impossibility.
Your claim is silly; the alternative to breathless hype isn't Luddism, it's getting educated about a field and proceeding, if possible, in an informed way. Claiming delusional enthusiasm (with a side of hucksterism and a strong odor of financial incentives) is the only way to advance the state of the art encourages the very worst kinds of pseudo-innovation and chicanery.
If acknowledging the difficulty (or impossibility) of something means someone is stuck in the past and is anti-progress, well, then I guess every safety board in existence is anti-progress.
But that's not what's important. What's import is DC, LA, and many other metro cities that can't build more roads, but still need population and economic growth. For these cases, we're looking at something entirely different. If self-driving cars ever come to be a large share of the cars on the road, they become and unignorable option to lift the congestion ceiling on growth.
For major thoroughfares, you're looking at something close to a controlled environment. Even if there's rain or snow, you could have precision car location, relative to static beacons, and relative to other cars. There's no question where the lanes are, because all of these extremely major routes have detailed 3D models that all the algorithms have access to. I'm not saying we have that now, but compared to the other resource expenditures in self-driving technology, it's practically a trivial thing to do.
People don't need a car to drive them anywhere at any time. They need a reasonable option to get to work in the places where the jobs are. I would say that we're losing that right now, and self-driving cars are a solution, rain or no rain.
> People don't need a car to drive them anywhere at any time. They need a reasonable option to get to work in the places where the jobs are.
Mass transit. We know it works, and works well in circumstances you described. We know it increases in effectiveness in response to investment and added resources. Why bet on a long shot, if we know what works?
The requirements seem pretty clear to me. The system has to be on-demand, able to accommodate sprawl, and lose little in terms of average speed compared to old expectations of personal car transit, and most importantly, it can't demand new physical roadway infrastructure.
I see how it's dubious that autonomous vehicles will fit this bill. Or it may be very challenging and take many decades. But let's be honest about the situation - it's the only option on the table.
There will always be a set of conditions that overwhelm your sensors. It sounds like the definition is bad. but we can probably develop an autonomous car that is satisfactory nevertheless.
To be honest, my biggest issue with it is that often those who use it don’t realize that the burden of proof falls on their shoulder. And it just happens that it’s much harder to proof that something is impossible than the opposite. In one case you to prove you’re right once. In the other, you have to exhaust all possibilities.
When I hear an expert say, “...and that may never change,” I interpret it to mean, “I don’t know how to solve it.”
Our eyes are pretty terrible cameras, it's our post processing that makes us able to drive and unless I'm mistaken I'm making relatively straightforward judgements when I'm driving. That processing and logic is really hard right now but I don't see any reason to believe it is impossible.
I feel like at Some point we have to have enough computing power to just stick Multiple Cameras behind glass with wipers and dehumidifiers and alarms if they are obstructed. Basically just humans but better?
My point is I have never heard about self-driving cars having an understanding of crosswinds. I just hope they aren't as oblivious as my friend.
Krafcik's a world leader in the field of autonomous cars, so we have good reason to weight his opinions more heavily than those of random HN users. On the other hand, his "may never change" verdict on sensor tech is vague to the point of uselessness. Whatever happens, he will have had a point.
A contrived example, yes, but the point is there may well be conditions in which, given a wider context, a human would do things a computer can't because it doesn't have the wider context. The thing is these contexts come up all the time in real life. A human can take responsibility, but a computer can't and a human that doesn't in detail know exactly how the computer is designed and will deal with different situations can't make a reasonable judgement about how far to trust the computer in such situations anyway.
and there in lies the problems for companies developing these systems. with current law they would be liable for any negative outcome. logs would be required to be kept and every decision would surely be pulled apart by whatever paid experts each side can find.
so without legislation, legislation the consumer must be very wary about, comes about limiting liability to such systems they will have to side with caution and even then every event is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
finally, would you or anyone you know trust a system which states it can do something you find adversely risky to actually do with you or your loved ones at risk? what would that take? it might simply be a decision of local values
While a computer can't judge that situation and doesn't "care" if it is destroyed it very well can keep driving no matter what.
It's these out of context situations that are my long term issue with losing the steering wheel. A typical example would be arriving at a country fair and parking in a field. I want to park on the side of the field that's currently in sunlight, but over the next hour will be shaded by those trees, near the gate but not too near the toilets, but not next to that patch of wet ground.
What kind of UI does the car need to have for me to specify exactly how and where I want it to park, without me actually driving it? Frankly I think this is level 6+. Level 5 is usually described as a self driving taxi, but family vehicles are used for things no taxi would ever have to deal with.
Growing up in a land with 4-5 months of winter, I was very comfortable in the snow and ice. Still scary as hell at times but the human body is remarkably adaptable to the environment. 30 feet visibility with snow and ice on the roads engages all the senses (except smell). Listening to the sound the tires are making helps know what they’re encountering. Inner ears helping know if a slide is starting. Sight constantly doubting itself and peering into the barely distinguishable road. All the nervous system helping with steering and the pedals. The road has a feel to it in such conditions that any man made system has quite a ways to go before engaging in it.
I do think it can get there. But it may need something better than our current AI tech, as well as some more sensors than lidar.
I agree that I think it'll get there. But, like air travel there are limits and limits ground flights. When we drive a car we don't have a rigid pre-drive checklist, people in ATC watching out for weather and other aircraft, and then a company behind the scenes making the call on risk of life, money and brand reputation. Sure, weather is probably the hardest to deal with in knowing ahead of time if the trip can be completed with 100% success rate. I think the bigger problem is that as cars start to drive themselves, for people with little drive time throwing those people in the mix to take over will result in a very bad outcome. I have over 20 years of driving in ice and snow and still run across situations that are challenging or catch me off guard. But... What about that 17 year old who's car just told them to take over and they've never had to deal with driving in a storm ever? As we stop the task we lose the skill. Ultimately I feel that's the bigger issue holding things back until the manufacturers can get to Level 5.
+1 - And I feel like this is really what Waymo was saying.
Like... cameras behind some kind of glass with special heaters and moving wipe thingies to keep the glass clean? I am sure I have seen something like this working somewhere.
It's always a sad spectacle watching AI fans disparage humans when one looks at the miserable results of the various self-driving efforts. They should at least wait until they have something working decently.
I find it amusing that AI vs Human is actually 'A group of humans working on a technology' vs Humans. If we say AI sucks it actual that we probably aren't good at making certain type of software. Its funny when we talk about AI like it has some Sentience -- when all the onus on improving it and why it sucks is because of humans. Guess someone should start a 'AI shaming' hashtag! :D
There are sensors that can see through snow. They are very expensive, and only in the lab right now, but in the very near future there will (not "may") be processing packages that can fuse optical, radar, and other data into a coherent picture that will allow a computer to see a snow-covered road, through falling snow, better than a human could ever hope to.
I have seen a synthetic aperture radar system that can see through several inches of snow with such a resolution that it can detect paint lines beneath the snow and create a real-time picture of what the road looks like (potholes and all) that a human could never see.
It is too expensive today, but tomorrow?
Not only that, but with gyroscopes, rotation sensors, and real-time communications between vehicles, an automobile that can see through the snow like it is not there that can also talk to other cars will (not can) be able to know ahead of time what road and grip conditions are like based on vehicles that have previously and recently gone through the area. It will be able to adjust its driving to match conditions that are impossible for even the best human driver who has ever existed to detect.
Having 360-degree multi-band RADAR coverage, fused with optical, LiDAR, ultrasonic, and other technologies will result in systems that can: see that it is snowing, see how much snow there is, see the road through the snow, see ice beneath the snow, predict what the road conditions will be in a certain amount of time based on current and forecasted conditions, inform other cars about current conditions, know what conditions are at points on its route in the future and plan accordingly, and ultimately not care that it is snowing so long as it can cope with the conditions.
Today, hooking up some cameras and LIDAR to an Nvidia Jetson doesn't result in a car that can drive in the snow better than a human.
Tomorrow isn't today.
A human driving in heavy rain at night, hunched over the steering wheel squinting out into the distance, radio silenced to minimize distractions, hazard lights on to warn other drivers, never sure of the depth of any puddle that may be on the road, maybe a little tipsy from dinner and tired from a long day's work, will one day be seen as a wildly dangerous and unreasonable risk compared to automated systems with sensor suites that don't care if it is dark and raining and which can map the depth of any standing water with millimeter precision.
Just a matter of time.
They knew EXACTLY what compromises needed to be made regarding self-driving cars all along. Any real product roll-out needs compromises, and this seemingly moralistic apology for layoffs doesn't cut it. They laid off because they wanted to, because their corporate aims didn't align, and that's that.
Autonomous cars can only treat the symptom, not the disease. The real problem is traffic due to suburban sprawl. People need to quit commuting into cities every day, put $50 tolls on the streets during rush hour into major cities, make bus service free.
Then the author wrote a line saying they won't work in the snow or rain (implying any snow or rain at all). To me, that assertion doesn't follow from the quote.
Where did Krafcik say that they won't be able to deal with light to medium rain? Where did he say that they won't be willing to deal with light to medium snow? There are a lot of other articles asserting these things, but few detailed quotes.
Make sense, they'd rather concentrate on health. There's an obvious inroad there with wearables.
If you visualize technology progressing through time, there is an obvious merging of human and machine. Computers were large, now they are so small, you leave your Air Pods in your ears for hours because you forget they are still in.
Imagine another 50 years. Computers will most certainly be seamlessly connected to us in some way.
Imagine a device that can read your mind and give you what you want before asking? What if you're more intelligent just because you buy a specific product? What about a device that is proven to lengthen your life just by using it?
Biological research and health are what's necessary to get there.
The interesting things happen at the intersections. Who could compete?
Steve seemed like a smart guy. Maybe if he saw things this way he would bet the company as you say.
Or, take a look at Apple Music's recommendation system in comparison to Spotify's discover weekly.
Now, take a look at Amazon and Google. They both have their own cloud infrastructure (which ironically Apple uses) with machine learning built right into it. Both have state of the art image recognition systems (proprietary) for various applications (Eg. Google Image search, Amazon shopping, etc.)
I am not saying Apple can't do it, I just think they're lagging behind and this move totally makes sense.
Currently the harvesting data for models look to be working better for Google / Amazon with current technology. The question is how will Apple progress long term and given time can they achieve AI with some level of privacy. I don’t know enough to have any comments but like Apple’s public stance on this.
I'd be excited if Apple found a way to trustlessly aggregate data and perform homomorphic training of their ML models, but they seem to be laying off that flavor of talent..
This appears to be slowing them down compared to their competitors, but it's not clear how much as against them being a bit behind for other reasons.
You can obtain training data from sources other than your customers. Apple have employees driving vans around with cameras and LIDAR.
Er.... that's not how it works. As a Valve employee put it (a talk about ML recognising cheaters), machine learning is just an equation:
y = f(x)
where you can actually derive the FUNCTION f if you have enough x/y pairs. Without those pairs then most of the successful techniques in machine learning fail to function.
Yes you can generate your own data but generating realistic stuff is a huge can of worms.
Data is a substitute for doing engineering by hand. If you do the latter, you require less data.
So that's wrong and untrue, as you recognize in this latest comment by saying you can partially define F. To make a concrete example, the convolution operator, the number of layers, their connectivity--all of that partially defines F. Finding a structure is what allows you to learn from the x/y pairs instead of just storing them in a look-up table.
It makes sense, then, that finding a better structure may allow you to learn from fewer x/y pairs. This is Apple's purported approach.
It also means that if you have a huge number of x/y pairs, you might benefit from (or get away with) using a simpler structure. This is Google's approach in the domains where they have a lot of data.
It is true that an important lesson has been "when designers build structure into machine learning systems, they often build in the wrong things, and they end up making commitments that the data cannot undo". But there's still a lot of structure that we put into machine learning system, and we're still learning about what good structures are for different applications, and different regimes of data.
That said, a dynamical system may exhibit chaos for one setting of the parameters, and may not exhibit chaos for other settings of the parameters. It may be true that the equations governing traffic flow have the potential to exhibit chaos, and do exhibit chaos when 1. humans drive, or 2. the drivers have only local sensing. But that doesn't mean it would still be true for driverless cars.
But again, that's not the issue at play. We wouldn't fault an driverless car for getting stuck in traffic. It's more like it has to work when it's snowing, when you can't see the lane markers, when a kid in a trashbag costume jumps into the street, etc. Those are the edge cases that we care about right now.
But in the more general case, the optimal solution for humans and the optimal solution for machines is not necessarily the same. So in driving, for instance, it may be the case that operating a vehicle in one way is safest for a human - yet not necessarily so for a machine. It's not hard to come up with examples. We are awesome at intuition and awful at microsecond reactions. Computers are awful at intuition and awesome at microsecond reactions. The optimal style of 'play' is likely going to differ. Yet if the machine is trained based on human data it would end up trying to shoehorn itself into replicating human behavior which may be suboptimal for it.
All that said, this sounds more like marketing talk. My guess is that Apple simply decided that self driving is extremely difficult and is going to come with some major growing pains which could negatively affected their crafted brand image, making it generally a poor investment of time and resources.
Presumably the anonymization needs to happen prior to collection for it to be effective?
It's more likely lacking infrastructure, which OP alluded to. ML requires infrastructure that companies like FB/Amazon/Google naturally possess. Apple is playing catch-up.
Other comment also mentioned that Google et al anonymize data, and have options to opt-out of data collection. We don't have evidence that they are necessarily worse at privacy than Apple (they could be, we just can't know for sure unless you work there and happen to know exactly how it all goes down).
Apple has data on you too. They're just worse at making use of it (and you can argue less incentivized but I don't know -- getting people to use apple-only products is a pretty strong incentive to make things work well, and Siri/Apple Maps don't work that well).
That shows they don't understand how AI work. That literally like code for traditional programming. It's literally impossible based on how modern ML works.
The other thing is, it's really tiring to see "Apple is a privacy first company" narrative on HN. Because, nobody knows exactly what Apple is doing behind the scenes with your data. There's literally no way to know what Apple is upto other than trusting their marketing material that claims to be privacy centric.
For all you know, they could still be doing stuff what other companies are doing secretly and nobody can prove nor disprove that. Next, iOS is closed source. Without access to source code, this privacy narrative is nothing more than just a marketing gimmick. We're a tech crowd and we should definitely take it a step ahead, investigate and then conclude, rather than blindly believing marketing posters that Apple puts out.
Once your data moves to a private cloud like iCloud, there's no way to guarantee anyone's privacy or safety for that matter other than blindly trusting the vendor. Don't believe me? Ask Jennifer Lawrence.
You are aware that the attack was a spear phishing attempt, rather than an inherent weakness in iCloud?
IMO they need to be investing a LOT more on the software side of things if they intend to stay competitive, especially since iPhone sales are already drying up.
Apple has always had problems with their online services, but iOS security is a problem? Compared to what, the dumpster fire over in Android?
In other words, people are buying phones less often, because phones for 3-4 years ago are still quite capable of meeting the needs of most users, so people are naturally going to start buying phones less often.
I suspect Apple was very aware of this trend, and the price increase was an effort to increase margins to make up for an expected decrease in unit sales. After all, Samsung also indicated lower guidance on their Smartphone numbers for this year, so Apple is not the only company affected by this trend.
Maybe they missed the mark a bit, and a significant number of potential customers chose not to upgrade this year, but I seriously doubt those customers turned around and bought an Android instead. I suspect they will just get plan to get another year out of their 6S and wait for what comes out this year.
This is the situation I'm in. Have a 6s that I'm not in a rush to upgrade until something appealing appears. It's plenty fast enough for everything I do. I actually started looking at Android alternatives thinking I could get a high-end phone with a removable battery but learned that's not a real thing anymore. Plus I don't like the idea of using too many Google services.
Still not sure what my upgrade path with be yet. Maybe an iPhone 8 but it feels like I'm just getting the same phone as I've got but without a headphone jack.
Android still has a horrible permission system after all of these years and privacy is laughable.
And as far as “iPhones sells are drying up”. They are still predicted to report the second highest revenues this quarter of any company in history - only surpassed by their previous record.
Profits, perhaps, but not revenues.
I had a temp iphone and it took over a lot of my texts by redirecting it toward apple's server first. When I got my android back I receive no text msgs from my friends who have iphone.
It also seem like they're making cheaper stuff so they can increase their margin via tech support and peripherals.
I agree they should invest more in software so they don't have to resort to these crappy tactic.
Also they should make a cheaper iphone region lock it to china and india only if they want to increase their margin. Their current strategy for these markets is stupid.
Siri has gotten a lot better especially at natural language recognition. The HomePod for example is exceptionally good at detecting Hey Siri commands while loud music is playing. That’s all local machine learning processing coupled with a great mic array. It’s more the breadth of services that are the issue, but that’s not machine learning.
The music recs.. well you don’t cite anything. I can say the weekly For You new music mix works good for me.
For example, how can it screw up something as simple as enabling alarms: https://ibb.co/vkYpGcq (this has happened multiple times to me).
Why most of the questions are answered with a google search link? Why it keeps randomly forgetting context (example: I tell her to wake me up at 1pm, then repeat just 1:01pm, and so on to add more alarms. Most of the times, it works, but sometimes it stops understanding what I want, even though the speech recognition is right and I’m saying the request in the same format as my previous requests, just with an incremented time).
I’m not saying other Apple products can’t use AI, just that Siri seems to be very low on their priority list (and I don’t blame engineering, this is something that comes from management).
Having said that, I think Siri is better at NLR than it's often given credit for, and Alexa is much worse than it's often given credit for; Alexa's NLR seems less akin to its competitors than that of a 1980s text adventure, i.e., "use exactly this precise phrasing or you won't be able to [get the treasure | turn on your living room lights]". Amazon's real strength is in making it so damn easy to write Alexa skills and to forge deals with hardware/appliance vendors, which goes back to your "breadth of services" observation.
Training set for driving is more readily available.
Doesn't look like the layoffs will be ending soon either. If it was just one or two that would be one thing, but this is forming a pattern. What do all these companies know?
I keep hearing word of a potential recession or downturn. Is anybody here more keyed in than myself and can provide an explanation?
However, I firmly believe the autonomous driving bubble will pop eventually, and you will have layoffs across that entire segment of the tech industry.
I don't think there's a pattern, companies lay off and rehire people all the time due to changed goals and/or requirements
The scale of autonomous has been misleading. Either something is autonomous or it isn't. 'Level x' autonomy is marketing speak.
I am quite happy with incremental improvements in driving aids, e.g. how Intel MobilEye is advertised. Spaceboy Elon sold it all to us as an impossible future. I reckon that Apple probably got on board the electric autonomous driving bandwagon but can't perform the required magic. You can hire all the engineers you want to build magic things but after a while there is no point paying them if the magic is not going to happen. They may well have pivoted to a car type of thing that has great UX instead of 'magic'.
It’s simply impossible to account for all the corner cases, especially when you have to factor in manual drivers who can behave arbitrarily (what if they purposely drive weird just to mess with the autonomous cars?).
In fact, autonomous cars may increase danger rates as human drivers become quite peeved at sharing the road with them, and try to derail them at all cost.
Maybe these are the reasons they gave up.
I got a car about 6 months ago with Level 2 Autonomy and I'd say it's even more than just trying to mess with them. Now that I know the subtleties of how my car behaves, it's easy to spot other drivers who have theirs engaged too. I can use that to my advantage when appropriate and it takes some ethics not to abuse them. For example, if I have to merge I'll merge in front of one of those cars, purely from a safety standpoint -- I know that car is going to respond and give itself lots of space. Of course, people could use that much more maliciously to take advantage of those cars "niceness".
I've never had anyone mess with my car just for the sake of it, but you can see the seasoned Tesla owners taking the opportunities that they spot. It changes the way other drivers drive if they can identify the behavior.
The truth is that Apple hasn't promised anything and delivered nothing.
Google on the other side, has promised everything and delivered nothing.
And they promissed it "in five years" in 2012...
And, yes, as usual, tech company way over-promising on timelines. But that's no different from anyone else trying to generate hype and garner investments/public partners.
> And starting very soon, the company plans to invite regular people for rides in these fully self-driving vehicles.
What happened since 2017?
>Other employees who were impacted by the restructuring of Project Titan are staying at Apple, but moving to different parts of the company.
A lot of these companies also do layoffs, then pay severance, and possibly some time where you're technically an employee and are free to look around the org for a new job. But honestly, after being told you're laid off, your loyalty to that employers is pretty low, and you're better off looking elsewhere.
One doesnt have to realy on the most amazing sensors in a car if the city can be responsible for driving the vehicles down its pathways.
Let the car enter a given area and relinquish a certain amount of control from the car to the environment it is in.
Let the traffic light system dictate what cars are movingg in which direction.
Ensure that the cars never enter a crosswalk or bike lane etc.
once you leave the area - you then have whatever control of the car you would normally.
What city would take on the risk of their infrastructure failing causing economic, or even worse physical, harm?
What balance of control do you allow? Can a driver still stop their car? If they can and fail to, are they liable?
How much are the auto makers responsible for the behavior of the car? Will there be a universal standard of signals that yield similar behavior in all cars? Sam the other way, will all municipalities work the same with navigation systems in cars?
I hope a city tries this, and I hope it goes well, and I hope it happens soon. But what I want to see most is answers to these concerns around liability. That's what will spur real progress.
But a company could support making a "Smart Curb" which monitors all traffic infomation around it, acts as a beacon, and does other things...
Lots of "iot" ideas could happen from that - like all the Scooters replying to the curbs stating their location.
People could choose a ble beacon tag for their traditional bikes and could have it always visible. Effectively a BLE beacon fabric in an urban environment is an interesting idea to me.
Spending a lot of money and trying to catch up to Waymo/Zoox/Cruise etc is also kinda hard, even for Apple, because of all of the pieces of the stack they need to work on and access to a very competitive/small talent pool.
Driverless is such a foundational tech it makes sense to have lots of efforts pursuing it.
Of course it's Apple, so they are going to make it as much fake as they can without getting sued.
200 out of 210 is a killer, 200 out of 4000 might just be a re-balancing of skills/priorities.
If a company decides not to produce wireless routers (which were class leading) or monitors etc anymore, all because they're non "core" to a computer/mobile hardware company then I don't see how building automotive AI is core to a computer/mobile hardware computer company that has zero core competency in either car manufacturing or AI.
It's left for the market to validate whether it was the correct decision or not.
But I guess the keyboard design is a managment problem not a engineer problem.
"The mythical man month" should not be interpreted dogmatically.
The unstated truth in the "mythical man month" is that you can't rescue a project by throwing people at it if the project is out of control because of poor management.
Stellar management can do almost anything.
Mediocre management bumbles around creating failures.
Eventually. At first it makes matters worth. And that's assuming your predicate is correct, that the department is understaffed.
Maybe I'm missing something.
(Or did you mean the keyboard doesn't happen if number of engineers is doubled? I don't think it can be that bad.)
Automotive AI meanwhile is a future and they have to think about future with all the money they have now.
I'd argue the wholesome user experience will prove be more important for Apple in the long run than having a big profit margin on every product.
autonomous cars are so obvious and will eventually be so commodity
Automotive "AI" is not a future, more than so than the automotive "cloud." It does not even takes one to have a computer science background to figure out that claims of artificial "intelligence" there are a joke.
The technology is 90% there, perhaps more, but the last percentages that it will required for this to be a mass market product is going to take 20 or 30 years to reach. The current solutions are built using ideas and research grounded in the field of "Artificial Intelligence", but they are not "true AI".
There's also no AI in your Huawei phone. There's software using machine learning, which is a discipline under the umbrella of "artificial intelligence" as a computer science discipline.
The idea of Mac was always “it just works”. You could go to the Apple Store and get everything you needed and know that while it wasn’t cheap, it was amongst the best you could buy. You pay the premium for that experience and you remember how nice it was and come back next time.
Now that experience is broken, you need to shop around and make it work yourself. And if you need to do that then the experience is no better than anyone else’s.
I don't see why Apple needs to stay within the bounds what what you think their "core" products are.
Apple does have the money to pull it off, if they want to. I would just question if they'd profit from the project.
Former CEO of Palm.
Autonomous Vehicle, is basically a Giant Mobile iPhone that you can sit in it. There will be lots of custom silicon doing software calculation, LiDAR making 10s to million of input every second, a gigantic battery, and lots of softwares.
Although I still think AV is at least another 5 - 10 years away in real world usage.
Ugh. What's next? It seems in the future everything will look like an iPhone and is built by one company. Why can't we have more modularization in the economy, i.e. smaller companies that do 1 thing well, which sell to potentially multiple other companies that do 1 thing well too? Perhaps we should set a hard limit on the number of employees working for a single company, e.g. 1k.
I wonder what is taking Tesla so long to get their factory up and running.
When work started on the iphone, phone weren't core, but there was a vision that it could be. Routers were killed because there was no future where routers would ever be core.
Apparently Apple sees (saw) a future where automotive AI might be core.
Particularly when they make $200 billion per year in revenue.
I think the reason why they don't rev their hardware as frequently as they could is because it doesn't pay to. The number of people choosing between a Mac and a Dell who go for the one with the newest processor has to be vanishingly insignificant.
In my view, people have a clearer picture of how much disk storage they want--the usage meters on their phones help drive that home. Other than that, they are confident that the machine they get today will be faster than the one they bought 4 years ago. But I suspect usage patterns have changed (e.g., more time in the browser; games are played on phones; etc.) so that speed bumps aren't the primary reason why people upgrade, anyway.
They are charging the same for almost two years old hardware than they would if It had been updated, but the user gets a worst product, and in the long run, experience.
Seriously, the GPU is the only thing you're likely to get a big win from at the consumer level, and you're restricted to intel's shitty IGP until you get to the top end MacBook Pro. Again: you are exceedingly unlikely to get a real day-to-day performance increase from the high end intel mobile cpus on a core-for-core basis, and adding a tonne of cores just eats your battery life (hell, ram alone is a significant power drain for laptops, hence the last gens 16gig limit)
Very often "cheaper alternatives" have stability issues like crashing. Or plug / unplug problems. Stability is more valuable than the quiet although silence matters when the entire rest of your workspace is silent.
The build quality for these enclosures is obviously cheap and low quality. You can tell by when you work with the ports on them.
Also, none of these builds have been supported by Apple. This product was cooperatively designed with Apple so the support is excellent. You have one Thunderbolt 3 cable for all of the things to the mac.
So the price is actually good for what it is.
Yes you don't want to be a total one trick pony, but if you do everything, you do nothing well.
Sometimes that's true, but I think that most often, these kind of transactions (M&A, spin-offs etc) are the result of political gaming on top of companies, rather than driven by actual business or financial needs. Top managers play their own game very well, and at the end of those transactions usually there is a bonus paid out, no matter the results 5 years down the road. It's not as if verticals within a large company hadn't their own specialized staff, focusing on their own products.
Is this absolutely the reason the laptops are a bit crap? No, but it is plausible that the lacklustre offering in hardware comes from the lack of it being a priority for the company. It certainly doesn't feel like a priority for them, and the offering doesn't feel like a lot of strategy has gone in to how it has evolved over the last few years - contrast that with the iphone.
I wouldn’t touch a Mac laptop with a ten foot pole except for maybe the Air if I was desperate, but the iMacs and Mac Minis are tempting. I don’t do development anyway without at least two external monitors and my favorite keyboard/mouse combo.
Sell me a £1k phone that can’t connect to the £3.5k laptop you sold me because the phone comes with a USB-A cable and the laptop only has USB-C sockets.
This is precisely the sort of garbage Stveve was very much against yet Apple seem to now think ‘it’s ok’.
It’s not ok. To the down voters, the fanaticism only emboldens Apple to become more mediocre. Think about that a moment.
(unless perhaps you didn't hold it properly.)
> Sell me a £1k phone that can’t connect to the £3.5k laptop you sold me
Of course they can connect, via Bluetooth and WiFi and AirDrop...
If you mean your iPhone can't charge off a MBP, well, OK: MBPs are admittedly not the best charging hubs.
> This is precisely the sort of garbage Stveve was very much against
Yeah, that's baloney. Steve would ask why the iPhone still has any ports at all.
If so, the Chinese have Steve beat with a product like that ready to launch.
Still, I wonder why Apple hasn't changed the connector from the iPhone to USB-C when it seems like the obvious choice. Maybe trying to avoid controversy like when they changed the old 30-pin adapter?
Steve Jobs is now gone. And your MBAs run the product management now. And those people have OKRs and targets to meet. And they seem to think if they make something that looks cute, utility be damned, as long as they meet sales and whatever targets, it must be ok. Then Apple also has enough loyal customers and brand they can milk. Eventually the public will tire out and move to something else. And so will they. There are enough companies to work at.
Having seen enough of this kind of sausage made. I can tell you no one cares. There are companies full of upper management whose sole purpose is optimizing for their careers. They survive because their kind, get hired by their own kind.
Eventually every one moves on.
Only real people who can make any change at all are the stock investors who hold big chunks of stocks. But even those guys care about 'percentage' of profits, and once they get it. They move on.
So no one cares really.
But I didn't try to block calls with no disclosed id. Those disappeared from my view a while ago, so either it does block them by default or something changed on the part of the callers.
I mean, usb C has issues, but not being able to connect to an iphone isn't one of them.
However, it's a small thing, I think, compared to the cost of the mac laptops. If paying $20 for a cable is a big deal, then the macbook pro laptops and high end iphones are not for you.
People pay that kind of money with the expectation that everything works out of the box, not that they have to get extra adapters, which is usually only noticed after the fact. That isn't just extra costs, it's also the extra effort that people didn't want to have, that's why they paid the "premium price" in the first place.
In that context, $20 might not be "that big if a deal", but it would be even less of a deal for Apple to just include that stuff, while also making for a generally more customer-friendly experience without making them feel like being nickle&dimed every step of the way.
Depending on what I was buying the laptop for and the variety of batteries available, that seems totally reasonable.
I mean, not for the mac model of "you pay a lot extra but it works out of box, without having to make too many decisions" of course.
But if I was buying an expensive laptop 'cause it was powerful and customizable? yeah, it would be totally reasonable and even desirable to let me buy the battery I wanted; I'm a big fan of the old thinkpads, and they often come used with the giant battery that sticks out, which I dislike, because they make the laptop bigger and heaver. My buddy who is also a fan just bought a 'low profile' battery for his, which is even smaller and lighter than the regular battery I use.
I usually buy my desktops and servers entirely as parts, because I want to choose the parts I want.
But that's not really Apple's market. (of course, I do also have a non-pro macbook and an iphone; but in a lot of ways, I have different expectations for those than I have for my old thinkpads.)
>In that context, $20 might not be "that big if a deal", but it would be even less of a deal for Apple to just include that stuff, while also making for a generally more customer-friendly experience without making them feel like being nickle&dimed every step of the way.
right my point is that it's not the $20 that is the big deal there, it's the fact that you've gotta go order another thing, when you paid apple big money for it to work out of box.
Apple started its slide the first time around 1989 - that was when Mac models started proliferating, when System 6 came out, and when its first sales decline happened. Jobs didn't return until 1998. That's almost a decade in between.
It's similar for other dominant companies - the writing was on the wall for IBM when Compaq & Dell started selling PC clones in 1983/1984, but they didn't need a turnaround until 1993. Sun Microsystems hit its zenith at the top of the dot-com boom in 2000, but its stock price didn't start sliding until 2007 and it wasn't purchased until 2010.
Apple has a ton of cash and the best HW/SW/Design on the planet. The company is not done making new things.
On the other hand, the declining quality, sloppier design, increased prices on already highly priced products, multiple conflicting product lines - all of those decisions will eventually have consequences.
Apple used to be about doing a handful of things really well and having a loyal customer base that would happily pay a premium for the quality/brand/premium-feel/coolness of their products - all of that has been slowly going away over the past 5-7 years.
Is this about iPad v MacBooks?
The MacBook and MacBook Air are also confusing - despite its name the MacBook is smaller, it’s more expensive, but lacks touchID.
Apple don’t make that many more products than they used to, but they are getting into these snarls for no apparent reason.
I actually don't agree about the XR v XS. Apple's in a situation where much of the market sweet spot for new iPhones exists within that $700-1200 range with a set of preferences around a 5.8"-6.5" size and expectations of certain features and capabilities. The smartphone market is gigantic and if you want to be a player in it at some point you need to differentiate the demand into two or more products, which means drawing the line somewhere in terms of price and features.
XS is 33% more expensive than XR, and the XR drops the dual camera and OLED, while being roughly the same size as the XS, plus a few things to lower cost. I don't know if there are other features you'd realistically want to cut, so it seems to cover the low-end of that sweet spot. The only thing Apple could do with it is maybe lower the price to $699. Meanwhile, I'm not sure what other tech the XS could add to move it further upmarket from the XR. I'm not sure I would have done it differently this year, given the available tech.
My guess from reading lots of peoples thoughts on this is there's a confusion in the relationship between size vs price. It'd be clean and easy if demand for larger phones correlated with willingness to spend more, but that really isn't the case for a lot of segments of that market. E.g. in China there's a preference for larger devices at lower price points. And there's also the quarter miss which is bringing a lot of these discussion up, which was mostly driven by China's massive recession, but fingers are I think unfairly pointing at the XR/XS lineup.
I've been watching the Apple product lineup closely for many years with a particular eye to market segmentation, and my take-away is that while Apple always strives to make it as easy as possible for consumers to choose their preference in product lineups, the fact is both the shifting cluster of preferences consumers have and the technology available to ship means most years they're off the mark by a bit.
Shifting a product line is a multi-year exercise and it creates anachronisms along the way - for instance, see the transition to iPad Pro in 2016-2018. It took a few years to sufficiently move the consumer iPad downmarket ($329) and the Pro upmarket ($799) to have meaningful distinction, and that had to be done incrementally both in testing the market's interest and in delivering on the key tech to do so. The iPad lineup during those years wasn't as ideally distinct as it could have been, e.g. the 9.7" iPad Air 2 and 9.7" iPad Pro both being sold in 2016 wasn't a big distinction, and the 12.9" was far afield from both. Then the next year the 10.5" Pro selling alongside the prior year's 9.7" Pro was also a bit weird, but made sense from a clearing out the inventory perspective.
When they were a smaller company, it was easier to distinguish market segments (e.g. Jobs' famous 2x2 of pro/consumer and desktop/laptop in 97), in part because they had to simply ignore many parts of the market, and because the tech was simpler and changed more quickly. I think the situation we're in now is in part because they went all-out on the X last year to create a distinction between regular and 'pro' models, and because rate of change in tech in general is slowing down. My guess is if they keep this going, in the next few years they will try to draw a bit more distinction between the two lines. The challenge to that going forward is much of the tech differentiation possible is now in software rather than hardware, and the whole zero marginal cost of software actually makes product segmentation harder.
None of which are Apple's problems.
Regarding CPUs, I'm personally much more interested in being able to run macOS on my computer, iOS on my phone, and tvOS on my TV and have them all work together in ways that make me happy. If Apple could add a car to that, I'd be thrilled. I'm always willing to try other options, but I've just never found a setup that worked quite as well for me.
For example, I have a computer I built from parts from NewEgg and Nvidia about a year ago. It has a Threadripper 1950X processor, 128GB of RAM, and an Nvidia Titan V card in it. I used it for about a week and then went back to my MacBook Pro. The custom-built computer is gathering dust in the corner of my office. My point is that different things are important to different people.
> It has a Threadripper 1950X processor, 128GB of RAM, and an Nvidia Titan V card in it.
Yes, you are, you're rich. An Nvidia Titan V card on Amazon costs about $3k!
I had a 2006 MBP and every 3 - 5 years since, but after a few months with the latest line I jumped to a Dell XPS running Ubuntu, and I never looked back. Had to find new tools and learn new shortcuts, but after a month or so I adjusted, and I never have to endure that hellish keyboard again.
edit: punctuation exists.
EDIT: the worst MB I had was the white one... the case broke open, the color was yellow-ish in the end
What I really miss are the HDMI port and SD card slot.
At Microsoft, the head of Xbox marketing reports to the head of Xbox and the head of Azure marketing reports to the head of Azure.
At Apple, there is no divisions, every Apple marketer is responsible for the success of every Apple product and reports to the head of Apple marketing. But the only way this is possible is if every single Apple employee is able to hold every single Apple product line in their head at the same time.
This is an enormous constraint but it's also foundational to Apple mythos because it allowed them to kill the iPod. Divisional orgs have an enormously hard time with disruptive innovation because it upends the power structures of those with the most power. At Apple, there wasn't any person with the title "Head of iPod" whose job would have been in danger if the iPhone overtook the iPod. This was the reason Apple and pretty much only Apple have ever aggressively obsoleted their very best selling product and emerged even stronger out the other side.
You can argue the merits of functional vs divisional all day long and many have but none of those arguments will gain any traction inside of Apple. Apple will remain functional until the day it dies because functional is what allowed Apple to kill the iPod.
Just to clarify: every public product line. If Apple is working on autonomous vehicles, there's no way that every (or even most) employees at Apple know about it.
Ridiculous. Apple has an incredible amount of secrecy across its different departments. Functional orgs don't require the hoi polloi to know everything, as long as mgmt does.
In 18th-century, "trade companies" (V.O.C., British East India Company, etc.) are strong enough to own a country.
Also, effectively, in the twentieth century, post-antitrust. Hence, why we have the term “banana republic”.
And why should I trust them with an iPhone or car then, when the simpliest products were run into the ground.
Swift is a huge and thankless work totally invisible to the userbase and heavily targeted to improve development on Mac/iOS.
You just can’t brush it off to fit your narrative.
Jesus, calm the hell down.
It’s okay to have complaints about aspects of Apple’s products, but this wild exaggeration isn’t doing anybody any favours.
Cars are computers with wheels these days, and there will be to some extent a merger of initiatives.
Steve Jobs did several BD deals with feature-phone manufacturers like Motorola before the iPhone specifically to learn and internalize issues from that space.
When you're sitting on $100B in cash, your cost of capital is probably cheap, and existential risks abound.
It makes a lot of sense to be working on trends which are nearly 100% guaranteed to have a massive impact. Since we know self-driving cars are coming one way or another, it makes sense for them to be there.
In 20 years, 'MacOS' could be powering your car and other devices and we might have forgotten about this iPhone thing.
It sure did, to some people:
And with multiple product lines, company can have multiple focus.
It's just stupid people like us that buy their computers...
Stupid people like engineers at actual first tier tech corporations. First tier arts and entertainment companies and individual artists.
And has been shrinking since 2010... must be a coincidence as Apple introduced the iPad that year...
Apple is the most reliable computer manufacturer of all, according to ConsumerReports actual statistics.
Now according to BS fake news that is paid by Apple competition, yes, there are lots of problems with Apple computers (like 3 or 5 people that complained on Twitter), and nothing with Apple competitive products ever (unless it's a widespread recall like with Samsung...)
Also, what's your problem? If you have any problem, Apple will fix it for free. It's called WARRANTY.
God have mercy on your soul.
Really, is that the best that Apple competitors can do!?
You are all ridiculous, there are MILLIONS of MBPs out there, must all those millions live in a enclosed dome where no dust can get in.
Seriously, nobody has time for your anti-Apple nonsense, I don't know why I even replied.
Nowhere in that POS "article" the author justifies the title.
You probably shouldn't have :)
What is the "vanity project" in this case? I think it's pretty clear that Mac sales won't last forever, and it's not like Apple is strapped for cash and can't afford to pay for both teams.
So, in scale, it might seem like a vanity project, but Apple obviously knows something we don't. For example, Tesla hired a couple of chip engineers from Apple and designed their own chip (to replace the NVidia gpu they were using). Maybe Apple has something unique in the pipeline that would be applicable to machine vision or something else useful to cars and it makes sense to market that to OEMs (I highly doubt they're building an entire car with so few engineers, makes more sense that they would be supplying a component and/or software).
I believe Apple has significantly more employees disclosed on this project than that. This is clearly not a "vanity project".
They are crushing the competition, their profits show that and profits are the ultimate goal.
The word 'they' suggests some kind of hive mind at work. In reality it's more like 1 - 2 people at the top making decisions.
If those people drag their heels for ever, or just don't care it won't happen.
The real question is why should they care. I mean even if you give them stocks, by the time they vest, they would have got their money. After that you can go work for whomever you like.
So why should these people care?
Apple’s executive team is not known for ditching the company the moment their stocks vest.