• “THE RELENTLESS MARCH OF TECHNOLOGY has brought us to a point where machines & software are not just outworking us, but starting to outthink us.” Tesla’s latest software enables a driver to see two cars ahead on the road and actually ‘predict’ an accident [see https://electrek.co/2016/12/27/], “software has started writing poetry, pop hits, sports stories and business news… What we’re experiencing today bears striking similarities in size and implications to the scientific revolution that began in the 16th century …forcing us as humans to rethink our place in the world, as it was our ability to ‘think’ that most distinguished humans from all other animals.” [THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN – Jan 4, 17]
  • ANOTHER TECHNOLOGICAL MILESTONE IS THE WORLD’S FIRST 3D-PRINTED BRIDGE IN CONCRETE, now open in Spain with the process being considered for an entire village. Other buildings and bridges have been 3D-printed in steel, but concrete is a sustainable structure which is “flexible and adaptable to any shape, geometry & architectural design of great resistance; minimizes waste by recycling the raw material used in manufacturing; and does so with reduced resources & energy needed for construction without molds or formwork.” [https://3dprint.com – Dec 15, 16]
  • FEDERAL CONSUMER AGENCIES AREN’T GREAT AT FOLLOW-THROUGH, but some signs of hope: (1) The FCC, which has totally failed to enforce ‘Do Not Call’ regulations, last month announced “rigorous enforcement of limits” with penalties up to $19,000 per violation for pre-recorded voice or text robocalls unless marketers have obtained “express prior consent of the called party (exception for emergency or solely to collect debts owed to or guaranteed by the U.S.)” (2) The FTC has filed complaints against two ‘smart toy’ manufacturers for violating the ‘Children’s’ Online Privacy Protection Act’ by producing toys which subject kids to “ongoing surveillance without any meaningful protection standards… Activated toys converted children’s statements into text, and were then used by the app to retrieve answers to questions for appropriate responses” including undisclosed product placements for Disney parks & products. [MANATT ADVERTISING LAW and TCPA CONNECT – Dec 20 & 22, 16]
  • NON-COMFORTING IRAN UPDATE: (1) Last week Iran’s lawmakers expanded their 2017 military budget by 250% to include development of “armed drones, cyber-war capabilities, and long-range ballistic missiles” – previously test-fired in contradiction of the ‘Nuclear Deal’ and already resulting in U.S. Treasury sanctions plus Trump’s “pledge to halt”. (2) Russia has committed to providing Iran further shipments of ‘natural uranium’ pursuant to the Nuclear Deal – presently “restricted to non-enrichment use for the next decade… but which could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than ten simple nuclear bombs” according to the Institute of Science and International Security.  [REUTERS WORLD NEWS and USA TODAY – Jan 9, 17]
  • CAUTION: AROUND-THE-CLOCK USE OF ELECTRONIC SCREENS – computers, tablets, smartphones, TVs – which emit a level of ‘blue-violet rays’ that research has shown to be more dangerous than sunlight in causing “age-related macular degeneration for the baby-boom generation… Light-emitting diodes (LEDs from screens contain about 35% of ‘blue’ light which induces photochemical stress that directly damages retinal cells and indirectly leads them to self-destruct… Interior lighting LEDs produce even higher proportions. (Sunlight only contains about 25% blue light but can be protected with outdoor UV sunglasses.)” Research suggests that carotenoid nutrients are protective, but decreased screen use is advisable. [LIFE EXTENSION – Feb 17]
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK: According to U.S. Census Bureau, the net impact of American births, deaths and migration is that our population (323.3 million as of 1/1/17) will increase next year by one person every 17 seconds.

        Current obsession with ‘elitist’ groups has evolved from Oxford’s definition: the “choice part of society or class of persons,” to a more pejorative version of “people with unearned privileges who keep honest folks from getting a fair shake,” to the current application of “merely anyone in a position of influence which someone else thinks they do not deserve.”

     “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”  – Bertrand Russell