情非得已 发表于 2016年10月18日 04:45
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Why Apple isn't so hot on building a car anymore
Project Titan, the not-so-secret name of Apple's not-so-secret initiative to build a car (probably), is reportedly bleeding staff and shifting focus.
Hundreds have left the team in recent months, according to an article published on Bloomberg.com Monday. The report also claims Apple may pivot from constructing an actual car and instead develop self-driving software. Such a move would allow the company to shop a new kind of operating system to existing car manufacturers. That actually makes a lot more sense than the iPhone maker constructing a sedan.
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Self-driving cars are an alluring prospect for the world's largest tech companies. Google has been developing one for years, and Uber deployed aself-driving fleet in Pittsburgh last month (with some glitches ). There's an obvious appeal to cars that can drive themselves, theoretically making our streets safer and freeing people up to do whatever they want during commutes.
Apple has no vested interest in you getting from point A to point B more efficiently.
But look past the razzle-dazzle of a vehicle that can make its own three-point turn without pancaking anyone. A company like Apple has no vested interest in you getting from point A to point B more efficiently. It cares more about what happens along the way.
"When you control cars, you might also be able to collect... data about people who are in the streets," Raja Chatila, a robotics expert and former president of the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society , told Mashable in an interview about autonomous cars on Monday.
"You have mobile cameras going on there — it's like CCTV in cities, but it's on the car," he added. "It's another way to observe people and to know about their habits."
In other words, self-driving cars will collect a lot of data about their surroundings, and that data will be fed to whatever tech giant powers the vehicles to begin with. Sure, Apple could theoretically revolutionize the auto industry with a self-driving electric car that rivals Tesla's — so easy! — but it could also make really kick-ass autonomous car software that gets the data it wants anyway.
News flash: You're already being watched
To live in 2016 means ceding some privacy. Companies like Google and Facebook are adept at targeting online advertising based on user behavior. And there are billboards now that can communicate with your mobile phone to understand who you are and where you're going.
Autonomous cars may represent an extension of that idea. They'll be able to take in a lot of data via their sensors and cameras , and you'll probably tell them a lot about your day: an autonomous car will have to know where your home is, where you like to stop for coffee, which school your kid needs to be dropped off at, et cetera.
While the concerns aren't new, they're closer to becoming reality. Google is days away from releasing Google Home — an internet-connected device powered by Google Assistant that sits in your home and fields your questions — and Apple is supposedly developing asimilar product powered by Siri.
Tech companies are interested in developing platforms for people to live on, not just one-off devices.
All this is to say: The most powerful tech companies are interested in developing platforms for people to live on, not just one-off devices. It's not much of a stretch to consider that, in the near future, you'll communicate with your phone, computer, wristwatch and car using Siri — with data generated and processed every step of the way.
It is perhaps for that very reason that Apple introduced "differential privacy" in iOS 10. The company needs to collect a lot of information to make its AI work for users, but Apple says it's not targeting individuals. Instead, the company aggregates a lot of information and uses it to understand groups of people.
It's "the statistical science of trying to learn as much as possible about a group while learning as little as possible about any individual in it," as Wired put it earlier this year.
So, while Apple might be killing its car, it's almost certainly interested in building software that can power cars. To do so will keep it at parity with rivals like Google and allow it to understand customers — and their surroundings — even better.
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