2018/11/15: There was little question in the reporting on autonomous vehicles that they were safer than human drivers, despite the complete lack of evidence. The tech visionaries had spoken, and as is too often the case, the media fell in line.
However, around the turn of the new year, criticism of the previous optimism was emerging. In January, I was among those pointing to the delayed timelines, growing number of collisions, and the slowing progress in reducing the number of times that human test drivers had to take over from the computers. As the year has played out, critics have been proven right, and a much more inspiring vision for the future of transportation has emerged.
However, even Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, now admits that the self-driving car that can drive in any condition, on any road, without ever needing a human to take control — what’s usually called a “level 5” autonomous vehicle — will never exist. At the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live conference on November 13, Krafcik said that “autonomy will always have constraints.” It will take decades for self-driving cars to become common on roads, and even then they will not be able to drive in certain conditions, at certain times of the year, or in any weather. In short, sensors on autonomous vehicles don’t work well in snow or rain — and that may never change.
It’s still surprising to hear such a statement by someone leading a self-driving vehicle company, but given what has happened throughout 2017, it shouldn’t be.
In urban planning, there’s a concept called induced demand which says that when the supply of a good increases, so will its demand. This is typically applied to roads and explains why even when highways are widened, congestion rarely improves: the additional lanes simply attract more drivers. However, the same is happening with micromobility. As dockless bikes and scooters are added to cities, they’re creating demand that didn’t previously exist. New cyclists and scooter users then create pressure for better parking and bike lanes, which results in a positive feedback loop by attracting more users, who create more pressure for infrastructure, and on and on.
The self-driving car was a reflection of the future imagined by car-loving boomers, but micromobility is the future that millennials want — and the one that has the best chance of succeeding.
2018/10/26: of all the types of antique furniture his auction house sells, the bureau had perhaps suffered the most dramatic falls in value. “Twenty years ago, mahogany examples would regularly sell for between £1,000 and £2,000,” he said. In September, Gorringe’s sold a George III inlaid mahogany bureau for £85 with fees, or about $110.
The humble bureau is emblematic of the way that lifestyle changes have transformed collecting culture. For three centuries or so, this piece of furniture was routinely used to write and store letters. But who needs that in an age of emails, text messages and FaceTime chats?
Arguably, it is not so much “taste” that determines the value of collectibles, but more the way that human beings actually live their lives. Economists have noted how the wealth of the middle class in developed countries has declined over the last 30 years. This has inevitably had an impact on the value of lower-range collectibles. So, too, has the way that members of the middle class use their homes.
In 2012, the Center on Everyday Lives of Families at the University of California, Los Angeles, published “Life at Home in the 21st Century,” a pioneering anthropological study of the domestic habits of 32 Californian families between 2001 and 2005.
A diagram from the 2012 U.C.L.A. anthropological study, “Life at Home in the 21st Century.” The red dots indicate the positions of family members every 10 minutes in a California home.CreditCotsen Institute of Archaeology Press, U.C.L.A.
Representing a range of professions and incomes, the families all contained two working parents and at least one child. Their movements and interactions were meticulously monitored for four years by teams of ethnographers.
The data revealed two major findings. First, these families lived with formidable amounts of domestic clutter. Second, they spent most of their waking and non-working hours in their kitchens, even though only one meal in six was eaten together. A diagram charting the movements of one family showed a tendency to congregate around the kitchen table, with another major concentration in the den. The living and dining rooms were little used.
“Everything transpires in kitchens. Activities are organized, schedules are coordinated, plans are made for the next day. Meals are cooked, kids are doing homework in kitchen spaces,” Anthony Graesch, one of the authors of the study, said in “A Cluttered Life: Middle Class Abundance,” a follow-up TV program made in 2013 by University of California Television. The kitchen is “the logistical center of everyday family life,” Mr. Graesch added.
2018/09/26: fellows have been charged with waging what the group calls a “massive youth intervention in the 2018 midterm elections.”
Sunrise isn’t the only youth-led group pushing for a green wave this election season.
she was determined to get voters thinking about the impact they can have on the planet where we all live.
“Their individual decisions as voters affect the rest of the world,” Chua said. “I’m part of the rest of the world.”
2018/09/25: The Better Business Bureau reports that 69 percent of scam victims are under the age of 45. Young adults heading off to college are especially gullible, the group says. "College students can be easy targets for scammers and identity thieves. They are old enough to have money, young enough to be vulnerable and are likely unsupervised as many are away from home for the first time," writes Heather Massey of the Better Business Bureau. Phishing scams now target cell phones as well as email and social media.
"Millennials spend a lot of time on Facebook or other social media sites, where they can target them with these messages," said Jim Hegarty, Better Business Bureau president and CEO. College students also use sensitive information frequently, like student IDs, Social Security numbers, and banking information.
2015/02/02: "You can get a particular skill in a particular field and make more than a college graduate," he says. For example, he says the average electrician makes $5,000 a year more than the average college graduate. And the country is going to need a lot more skilled tradespeople.
"The baby-boom workers are retiring and leaving lots of openings for millennials," Carnevale says. He says there are 600,000 jobs for electricians in the country today, and about half of those will open up over the next decade. Carnevale says it is a big opportunity for that millennial generation born between 1980 and 2000.
With so many boomers retiring from the trades, the U.S. is going to need a lot more pipe-fitters, nuclear power plant operators, carpenters, welders, utility workers — the list is long. But the problem is not enough young people are getting that kind of training.
Not Enough Training
Hughes says she chose to work in the trades, in large part, because she went to a vocational high school. A lot of her friends are going into the trades. She got comfortable there with wiring light switches and doing basic electrical work and learning about the industry. But there aren't nearly as many of these types of programs in high schools as there used to be.
We used to buy DVDs or video cassettes; now viewers stream movies or TV shows with Netflix. Even the company's disc-mailing service is falling out of favor. Music lovers used to buy compact discs; now Spotify and YouTube are more commonly used to hear our favorite tunes.rnrnThe great American teenage dream used to be to own your own car. That is dwindling in favor of urban living, greater reliance on mass transit, cycling, walking and, of course, ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft.rnrnEach of these changes is beneficial, yet I worry that Americans are, slowly but surely, losing their connection to the idea of private ownership. The nation was based on the notion that property ownership gives individuals a stake in the system. It set Americans apart from feudal peasants, taught us how property rights and incentives operate, and was a kind of training for future entrepreneurship. Do we not, as parents, often give our children pets or other valuable possessions to teach them basic lessons of life and stewardship?rnrnWe're hardly at a point where American property has been abolished, but I am still nervous that we are finding ownership to be so inconvenient. The notion of "possessive individualism" is sometimes mocked, but in fact it is a significant source of autonomy and initiative. Perhaps we are becoming more communal and caring in positive ways, but it also seems to be more conformist and to generate fewer empire builders and entrepreneurs.rnrnWhat about your iPhone, that all-essential life device? Surely you own that? Well, sort of. When Apple Inc. decides to change the operating software, sooner or later you have to go along with what they have selected.rnrnrnDoes that sound like something our largely agrarian Founding Fathers might have been happy about? The libertarian political theorist might tell you that arrangement is simply freedom of contract in action. But the more commonsensical, broad libertarian intuitions of the American public encapsulate a more brutish and direct sense that some things we simply own and hold the rights to.rnrnThose are intuitions which are growing increasingly disconnected from reality, and no one knows what lies on the other side of this social experiment.
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