The Future Will See You Now

‘Can You Turn It Off??’ Sergey Brin’s Mother-in-Law Flips Out in Google’s Driverless Car

Ms. Wojcicki (Photo: Flickr)

Back in 2011, Google introduced the world to driverless cars through a launch party at the TED conference. Esther Wojcicki, the mother of 23 and Me founder Anne Wojcicki and mother-in-law to Google cofounder Sergey Brin, was in attendance. Though being an in-law to a pair of tech geniuses undoubtedly has its quirks, Esther was rather unprepared for her first wild (driverless) ride. Read More

Planet GOOG

There’s No Such Thing as Free Google Glass, But Scammers Will Try to Convince You Otherwise

Glass, why did I fall for this? (Photo: screencap)

Congrats to Sergey Brin, who’s been wearing his Google Glass around town for so long (does he sleep in them?!) that the devices are starting to seem totally normal and even desirable. But us mere mortals have to wait months. And you know what that means: Where there’s demand, there’s black marketeers looking to make a quick buck. Just last week, a fishy listing popped up on Ebay, and bidding reached $15,900 before the plug was pulled.

But what if you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars lying around? Well then you might start poking around the search results for “free Google Glass.” And, as TrendMicro’s security blog points out, you might find a YouTube video titled, [{FREE}] Google Project Glass [[FREE GOOGLE GLASSES]. It’s simply Google’s own “One Day” video under a new name. We suppose that looks promising, if you’re really eager to be persuaded. Read More

Linkages

Booting Up: Is Your Smartphone Emasculating You Right Now?

Pfft, American. (Photo: Google)

Speaking at TED, Sergey Brin called the smartphone user experience “emasculating,” on the basis that “You’re standing around and just rubbing this featureless piece of glass.” Maybe Google that word when you get home, Sergey. [CNET]

Could perennial concerns about cancer keep Google Glass from realizing its full potential as a wearable communication device? [Quartz]

Groupon didn’t do so hot in Q4, causing a big drop in the company’s stock in after-hours trading. “The forecast is underwhelming,” said one analyst. No kidding. [Reuters]

Time Warner Cable is pretty sure you don’t even want gigabit Internet. Because when you think “attentive to customer desires,” you think Time Warner Cable.  [Verge]

I.B.M. is still figuring out money-making uses for the supercomputer Watson. Besides all the big data applications, he apparently makes a mean croissant. [New York Times]

Planet Google

Google Reportedly Enlists Warby Parker to Make Glass Look More Hipster, Less Neckbeard

Who cares about fashion, you're in a hot-air balloon! (Photo: Screencap)

Google Glass certainly isn’t lacking in the whiz-bang factor. The gadget was publicly introduced with a skydiving stunt; just yesterday, the company released a video from the point of view of a user, demonstrating how seamlessly the spectacles can capture your exciting life of hot-air ballooning and snake charming.

But now comes the hard part: Getting normals to want the damn things. Unlike many software developers and/or Betabeat reporters, most of America isn’t likely to be sold on the pitch that hey, it’s just like what Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge wore on Star Trek TNG!

Hence, step one is to make the things a little sleeker. The New York Times reports today that sources say, as part of a stab at style, Google is currently in negotiations with Warby Parker to get some design help with the project. If the company plans to start selling Glass to the wider world later this year, such a partnership would come not a moment too soon. Read More

Make It Rain

Mark Zuckerberg and Sergey Brin Cut Big Checks to Reward ‘Extending Human Life’

You can't sit with us.

Here’s the thing about philanthropy: There’s always plenty of people more than happy to accept a generous cash donation. Hence, Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize, which he launched back in August as his very own version of the Nobel Prize for Physics, is branching out. The prize will no longer go to just physicists doomed to toil in obscurity, as Mr. Milner has enlisted several Silicon Valley heavyweights to contribute to a new Life Sciences franchise.

Art Levinson (former Genentech CEO, Apple chairman) has signed on as chairman, while Mr. Milner, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki (of 23andMe and also wife to Mr. Brin), Mark Zuckerberg, and Priscilla Chan are all founding sponsors, as well. (Though it’s not clear who coughed up how much.) They plan to dole out five $3 million prizes annually going forward, with alums selecting the honorees.  Read More

Visiting Dignitaries

Mark Zuckerberg, the State of California Would Like You to Pick Up Your Unclaimed Checks

Happy Holiday$! (Photo: ITechBook.net)

However broke the state of California may be, it’s also sitting on a treasure trove of unclaimed property that’s valued at over $6 billion. Holders like “corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies” are required to report any unclaimed property annually to the state comptroller’s office. That means if you’ve forgotten about bank account contents or uncashed money orders, they’re sitting around with the comptroller. Read More

Goooood Morning Silicon Alley!

Best Tech Events This Week (The “Sponsor Gary’s Red Tie @ SXSW” Edition!)

sponsor_garys_red_tie_sxsw

This is a guest post from Gary Sharma (aka “The Guy with the Red Tie”), founder and CEO of GarysGuide and proud owner of a whole bunch of black suits, white shirts and, at last count, over 40 red ties. You can reach him at gary [at] garysguide.com.

Sooooo…it’s that time of the year again. SXSW (a.k.a. Spring Break for Geeks) is right around the corner, running March 8 to 12 in Austin, Texas. And you know what that means: Parties, parties ‘n more parties!! :) So, once again, we’re putting together what we hope will be THE definitive guide to all this year’s SXSW Interactive parties. We’ll be updating this list regularly, so check back often. And email me if you’re organizing an event or a party. Read More

Planet GOOG

Here’s Sergey Brin Chillin’ on the 3 Train in a Pair of Google Glasses

(Photo: Noah Zerkin, Twitter)

There have been several sightings of Googlers donning Project Glass in the wild, but it’s pretty rare to catch a glimpse of Google cofounder Sergey Brin just doing normal New York things. (Cofounders: they’re just like us!) Wearable computing enthusiast and hardware researcher Noah Zerkin had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Brin on the downtown 3 train, and snapped a pic–perhaps so all his friends would believe him. Read More

the robots are coming

If We’re All Getting Robot Chauffeurs, We Need Robot Ethics

(Source: Steve Jurvetson via Wikipedia)

Get ready for the day when you sip mimosas and curl your eyelashes as you commute, because the driverless car revolution is upon us. These futuristic machines are now legal in three states, and Google’s working hell-for-leather to make them part of regular life. But, as this essay in the New Yorker points out, such a technology raises thorny implications.

When we turn our shiny metal death machines over to computers, how are they going to make the right decisions? Read More