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Steven Levy
1,676,600 followers -
Still writing after all these years
Still writing after all these years

1,676,600 followers
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Chris Urmson, director of Google's self driving car program, reports that after 1.7 million miles (over a million driven by the car itself), there were 11 accidents, all minor, no injuries.  And not one was Google's fault.  The problem is that human driver are pretty crappy (my reading of what he says between the lines here).  He illustrates the post with amusing graphics that show that Mountain View drivers must have Boston DNA.  HIs big message is that the sooner we drive by wire, the better.  I was happy to let him present this data on Backchannel.

 https://medium.com/backchannel/the-view-from-the-front-seat-of-the-google-self-driving-car-46fc9f3e6088

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Delighted to publish in Backchannel this piece by historian Leslie Berlin nailing the elements of Silicon Valley that made it the center of our economy -- and looking forward to see what threats may or may not prevent its sustaining dominance. Some fascinating stuff on east coast companies versus west, as well as a cameo by Steve Jobs, who during discussion about the Valley with Leslie, came up with a quote from Schopenhauer!

https://medium.com/backchannel/why-silicon-valley-will-continue-to-rule-c0cbb441e22f

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60 years ago, Albert Einstein died.  His brain was removed before cremation, ostensibly for study.  And then it disappeared.  Until I found it, over 20 years later.  Here is that story.


https://medium.com/backchannel/yes-i-found-einstein-s-brain-c3834429e4d5

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Fascinating look inside DoctorX's Barcelona drug testing labs, which vets the chemical purchases made on the blackmarket deep web, no questions asked.  Its purpose is health, but dealers want to use it to brand their wares for purity. 

https://medium.com/backchannel/inside-the-deep-web-drug-lab-9718cd0fe504

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I belong to a very small club of reporters who had a close relationship -- sometimes contentious but I believe ultimately one of respect on both sides -- with Steve Jobs.. Brent Schlender was one of those (you could count us on one hand) and maybe knew Jobs the best. Now he has co-written a book on Jobs, and it benefited mightily from the cooperation of Apple and Jobs's widow--because those who knew Steve best were outraged at the Isaacson biography and wanted, in their view, to set the record straight. Here's my take on the new book and the controversy.

https://medium.com/backchannel/the-war-over-who-steve-jobs-was-92bda2cd1e1e

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I met Marissa Mayer in the early 2000s and got to know her as she became a key part of Google.   I thought she was a great choice for Yahoo and ever since she became CEO in 2012 have been waiting to do a big story on what she's up to there.  Today, on Yahoo's 20th anniversary, I got that story.   Marissa says that there has been real progress at Yahoo, particularly on mobile.  But this is only Step One.  And investors are pushing a different direction.

  https://medium.com/backchannel/marissa-mayer-has-completed-step-one-71dc31912855

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I've been following the fortunes of Pebble ever since meeting its CEO Eric Migicovsky at Y Combinator in early 2011.  A blowout Kickstarter campaign put the smart-watch company to an early lead in the wrist war but giants Apple and Google are assumed to take control.  Not so fast, says Eric, introducing a watch called Time--on Kickstarter again.  Here's the first of an occasional series on Pebble as it takes on the big guys.

https://medium.com/backchannel/time-bandit-pebble-s-new-weapon-in-its-battle-with-apple-and-android-watches-6e6f4cc6d372

We all hate data charges on our phones, right? So what if certain apps offered to cover those charges if we used them? Is this an evil back-door kind of attack on net neutrality? Or a way to avoid those burdensome fees that's good for all? Like it or not, a company with serious muscle behind it is pushing this model -- and of course you can read it in Backchannel

https://medium.com/backchannel/should-your-smart-phone-have-congestion-pricing-153b4f7b6ba9

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For a special issue of their magazine commemorating Moore's Law, the Computer History Museum asked me to write an essay.  I chose to address how the phenomenon Moore described made Google possible--and continues to make the impossible not only possible but inevitable. Those like Larry Page who feel this in their bones have a huge advantage, especially when they are able to brush off criticisms that their ideas are "crazy." 

https://medium.com/backchannel/how-moores-law-made-google-possible-93d52457c5c9

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Here's a tale that reads like a thriller.  The team that won a 2007 DARPA contest hoped its crowdsourcing model would win the tougher 2011 challenge--but a lone hacker fatally disrupted them.  Here's how they painstakingly recreated what happened. And for the first time we hear from the hacker. Big lessons about crowdsourcing, espionage and human nature.

https://medium.com/backchannel/how-a-lone-hacker-shredded-the-myth-of-crowdsourcing-d9d0534f1731
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