What’s new in tech
Stuck in the slow lane
Driverless cars are “arriving en masse in the streets of Silicon Valley neighborhoods,” said Faiz Siddiqui in The Washington Post, and residents aren’t pleased. As the tech giants try to sell the rest of the world on self-driving cars, their own neighbors are crowding community meetings to express their concerns. They say the software that controls the cars still “needs to be trained on real-life situations: left-hand turns, bikers, children running out into the streets.” Residents complain that the slow-moving self-driving vehicles continually clog up traffic. “They drive like either geriatrics or 17-year-olds who have very limited experience,” said one.
EU allows global speech bans
The European Union’s highest court ruled that Facebook can be forced to remove material contained in posts worldwide, said Owen Bowcott in The Guardian. The decision by the EU’s Court of Justice stems from a complaint by Austrian politician Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek, who sued Facebook in an effort to remove online comments that called her a “lousy traitor” and a fascist, arguing the posts violated Austrian defamation laws and should be erased globally. The ruling was widely criticized by free speech advocates, who question how the material to be deleted “will be identified by Facebook or other social media sites without searching through the posts of all its users.” Facebook also slammed the decision, saying it “undermines the long-standing principle that one country does not have the right to impose its laws on speech on another country.”
‘Smart homes’ for the observant
A very modern smart-home system is helping one Orthodox Jewish family observe some very old traditions, said Cecilie Rohwedder in The Wall Street Journal. Orthodox Judaism bans handling lighting or electronics on religious holidays and Shabbat, so Jay and Lauren Hofstatter of Boca Raton, Fla., have adapted their smart-home technology. For instance, every Friday night, “all televisions automatically shut down, ground-floor lights come on, and bedroom lights switch off,” except for bathroom lights and a reading lamp that goes out at midnight. An Australian company developed software for the Hofstatters’ house that automatically syncs its features to the schedule of Jewish religious observances; the firm “also offers a version for Muslim homeowners who want to program their homes to notify them of the call to prayer five times a day.”