•  SOON, A SOFT ROBOT THAT IS ABLE TO CURL & CLIMB JUST LIKE A PLANT! Utilizing the hydraulic principles of ‘osmosis,’ researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology have developed a robot with capability to recognize surfaces to which it attaches, or supports to which it anchors, just like real climbing plants do… Possible applications will range from wearable technologies to the development of robot arms for exploration, such as soft braces able to actively morph their shape.” This is a major step on robotic development.   [EUREKALERT.ORG – 1/24/19]
  •  ‘DISRUPTIVE’ TECHNOLOGIES CONTINUE TO ‘KNOCK-OUT’ LEGACY COMPANIES whose Executives laughed-off and opted to woefully dismiss the newcomer risks. Earliest examples of catastrophes from that failure include (1) the iPHONE and iPOD which Microsoft’s CEO said “doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard which makes it not a very good email machine”; Rim’s CEO who said “It’s kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers. In terms of a sort of sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that’s overstating it”; and Motorola’s CEO declared “Screw the Nano. What the hell does a Nano do? Who listens to 1,000 songs?” (2) Responding to the entry of AMAZON, Footlocker’s CEO announced “there is no indication that any of our vendors intend to sell premium athletic product, $100+ sneakers that we offer, directly via that sort of distribution channel”; SAK’s 5th Avenue President said “We don’t need A.I. in our stores. We have ‘I’ – living, breathing, 4,500 style advisors”; and Walgreens CEO who announced “The pharmacy world is much more complex than just delivering certain pills or certain packages.” More recently Block-chain, Bitcoin, and many innovations have initially been met with derision by big company Execs whom History has often proved wrong.  [CB INSIGHTS – 9/13/18]
  • IRS tax Audits are at an all-time low, the result of budget and corresponding staff cuts. While focus is still on areas where taxpayers are ‘traditionally noncompliant’ – small businesses and high-wealth individuals – the likelihood of audit is minimal. Of some 150 million filed returns last year, IRS audit ratio was one in 184. For partnerships, S-Corps, and Corps with below $10M revenue, under .7% were examined. For sole-proprietors reporting under $1M, the audit rate was just over 1.5%; below $200K the rate was just over 2%; for W-2 employees earning under $200K, only .3% were selected. However, triple the number of assessments also result from Automated Matching Programs which target discrepancies between taxpayer reported income and documents supplied directly by payers (particularly 1099 and K-1 forms), so ensuring that all such data is included & accurate is critical.   [ACCOUNTING TODAY – 1/29/19]
  • AMERICAN WORKERS OPT FOUR-TO-ONE FOR A JOB WITH BENEFITS over an identical job offering 30% higher salary but no benefits. According to a Harris Poll of more than 2000 adults, 56% cited priorities being health insurance or 401K retirement plan matching, and 33% cited paid-time-off, but flexible work hours, working remotely, and (for millennials) skills training plus student loan forgiveness rank significantly. Other Poll findings are that workers expect a fully-competitive salary, but are increasingly motivated by more than just the a paycheck to be recruited and retained; also 63% said they “are confident the freedom being their own boss would be worth more than the job security that comes with working for an employer… while one-in-five said they are likely to start or continue their own business next year. [AICPA.ORG – 11/28/18]
  • COFFEE CONSUMPTION LOWERS MORTALITY RISK. A ten-year study conducted by UK BioBank involving a half-million men and women found that one cup daily was linked with 8% lower risk of premature mortality, graduating to 16% reduced risk for those drinking six to seven cups daily, for both regular and decaffeinated coffee. [LIFE EXTENSION – Mar 19]
  •  FOR DIVORCED OR WIDOWED SPOUSES born thru 1953, ‘Social Security Spousal Benefits’ can be substantial, and do not impact any accruing benefit based on personal earnings. https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/applying6.html
  • THOUGHTS FOR THE WEEK:  Over26 BILLION Robo-calls were placed in the U.S. last year, a 50% increase over 2017 with no end in sight!     

      UCLA is a sprawling campus for some 45,000 students. As the trend to ‘screen time’ activity widens, every week a quarter of them – over 11,000 students – now call Uber and Lyft for rides to and from classes.

      Cryptocurrency thefts, after an average of 5,000 global bank account transfers, have converted over $1.7 billion of stolen Bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Investigators attribute the crime to mostly two “highly sophisticated cybercriminal hacker groups.”