Great post by Ross at TROUSERED APES blog, this one covering the economic challenges preseneted to the U.S. by "developing" nations. Very smart, insightful and detailed exposition.
Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist, explains and, in so doing, shatters the myths of the "glass half fullers" and the naysayers who are driven by grants rather than truth. We're doing very, very well!
Apple made a number of significant announcements and product launches today, including a "phatblet" iPhone and its own version of the smartwatch. For the most part, we'll need to wait a little while to actually see and experience these new additions. Until then, the Wall Street Journal's technology staff provides some short videos that give us an idea of why waiting in those ridiculous lines may be worth it.
It's been slowly inching its way towards us. It is the inexorable push of technology, another small leap ahead, and it's the beginning of some very big changes in the way we live. (I'd posted a TED presentation on this last year, that's worth another look: Driverless Cars Are Coming.)
Cadillac has just announced that it will introduce what it calls "Super Cruise Technology" on one of its models for the 2016 year. It's not a full-blown self-driving vehicle but it will be situational:
With Super Cruise, when there’s a congestion alert on roads like California’s Santa Monica Freeway, you can let the car take over and drive hands free and feet free through the worst stop-and-go traffic around,” Barra said in the speech at Cobo Center in Detroit. “If the mood strikes you on the high-speed road from Barstow, California, to Las Vegas, you can take a break from the wheel and pedals and let the car do the work. Having it done for you -- that’s true luxury.
Mercedes Benz already has a model with technology that brings it very close to the full "driverless" experience. Hyundai has introduced an array of features that monitor road dangers, including full-stop cruise control. Driverless technology will substantially remove the human component in driving, making our roads safer and more efficient. It will take some getting used to and an embrace of technology on an almost-emotional level. In fact, in the extensive road tests over the last few years the only accidents arose because the human behind the wheel reacted in an inappropriate way. Technology reacts faster, smarter, more reliably. Certainly, technology can break down. So, too, can a driver's attention, reaction time and ability behind the wheel.
So, what's in the way of rolling out "real" driverless technology. Basically, the federal government. It is taking a slow, plodding approach to allowing introduction of life-saving vehicles. The National Highway Safety Administration has refused to give a green light to driverless cars, except for limited test purposes. It wants to study it. Never mind that it has been extensively studied by Google and auto makers. And, in true bureaucratic fashion, that study will take until at least 2017! (Gordon Crovitz in the August 24, 2014 Wall Street Journal: "The Feds Stall Self-Driving Cars".)
In the meantime, accidents that could have been avoided will happen. There is something almost demonic in a system that places control of an accident-reduction technology under the control of a bureaucracy that survives--and even thrives--on our fear of highway accidents. If driverless technology expands as it should, accidents will decline, hopefully precipitously. And it will be entirely attributable to our free enterprise system. Government will have proven, yet again, to be little more than an unneccessary speed bump on the road to progress and benefit.