Tech Digest daily roundup: Human ‘drivers’ not accountable in self-driving cars


Human drivers should not be legally accountable for road safety in the era of autonomous cars, a report says. In these cars, the driver should be redefined as a “user-in-charge”, with very different legal responsibilities, according to the law commissions for England and Wales, and Scotland. If anything goes wrong, the company behind the driving system would be responsible, rather than the driver. And a new regime should define whether a vehicle qualifies as self-driving. In the interim, carmakers must be extremely clear about the difference between self-drive and driver-assist features. BBC

Priti Patel has been ordered to make a decision within 48 hours on extraditing Mike Lynch, the alleged Autonomy fraudster, to the US after he lost a legal attempt to delay the ruling. On Wednesday morning Mr Justice Swift dismissed a legal attempt to extend the Home Secretary’s deadline for approving the British businessman’s extradition until March. The ruling is a blow to the Autonomy founder’s chances of fighting extradition to the US, where he could face a decades-long prison sentence if found guilty. Telegraph

Google has overhauled a central piece of technology it is building to replace advertising cookies, after complaints that it has not done enough to protect users’ privacy and could end up further entrenching its own power in the advertising world. The change comes more than two years after the search company first proposed a way for publishers to target online adverts in place of cookies, the small text files inserted in users’ browsers to track their online behaviour….On Tuesday, Google conceded that a part of its replacement for cookies, known as Floc, might not do enough to protect the identity of individuals online, and did not make it easy enough for web users to understand or control how their data are being used. FT

Call of Duty’s next three titles will reportedly still be making their way to PlayStation consoles, despite Microsoft’s recent acquisition of series publisher Activision Blizzard. Following last week’s buyout news, many questions still remain – not least how Activision Blizzard’s current roster of multi-platform titles will be affected by the purchase, with many predicting that Xbox exclusivity might soon be on the cards for the publisher’s biggest franchises under Microsoft’s stewardship. In an interview with Bloomberg last week, Xbox head Phil Spencer touched upon the issue, telling the publication, “I’ll just say to players out there who are playing Activision Blizzard games on Sony’s platform: It’s not our intent to pull communities away from that platform and we remained committed to that.” Eurogamer

Demand for Microsoft’s cloud-computing services and work software helped boost its quarterly profits by 21% as the pandemic continued to keep many office workers at least partly at home. The Redmond, Washington company on Tuesday reported fiscal second-quarter profit of $18.8 billion. It posted revenue of $51.7 billion for the October-December period, up 20% from a year earlier. In a call with investors, CEO Satya Nadella said the company is transitioning from a period of pandemic-fueled demand to one in which digital technology can help overcome economic constraints to “drive productivity while keeping costs down.” AP News

SpaceX rocket that launched almost seven years ago is on a collision course with the Moon, experts have warned. The Falcon 9 booster, which launched in February 2015 as part of an interplanetary mission, has been following a chaotic orbit since running out of fuel following its mission. The four-tonne rocket is expected to hit the Moon at a velocity of 2.58km/s at some point in the coming weeks. The space junk is being tracked by Bill Gray, the creator of the Guide software used to monitor near-Earth objects, asteroids, minor planets and comets. Independent

Chris Price
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