A Dangerous Trend

Grind for April 27th, 2019
“Self-pity in its early stage is as snug as a feather mattress. Only when it hardens does it become uncomfortable.”

– Maya Angelou

Out Of The World

The Headline

Oxford philosopher calls for mass government surveillance

The Grind

Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom is convinced that humanity destroy itself unless we implement mass government surveillance.

Last week during a TED talk in Vancouver, he described an Orwellian society in which every human on the planet wears a monitor that tracks what he or she is doing at all times.

Keep in mind this is the same philosopher who in 2003 suggested we could all be living inside a computer simulation created by a “posthuman” civilization – and that we should not try to break out of it.

The Details

Bostrom frames his newest argument in terms of a giant bowl filled with balls. Each ball represents a new idea: white balls are harmless, grey balls could be harmful, and black balls have the potential to destroy humanity.

Humanity is constantly pulling balls out of the bowl; we just haven’t picked a black one yet.

“If scientific and technological research continues,” said Bostrom. “We will eventually reach it and pull it out.” The natural solution, according to Bostrom, is to implement a global surveillance system that keeps watch on those balls.

“Obviously there are huge downsides and indeed massive risks to mass surveillance and global governance,” he admitted. “I’m just pointing out that if we are lucky, the world could be such that these would be the only way you could survive a black ball.”


The Headline

As car prices increase, fewer teenagers are getting their driver’s license

The Grind

When I was in high school, my friends and I couldn’t wait to get our driver’s licenses. We gave up sports for summer jobs just so we could save money to buy a car.

“That freedom of getting your own wheels and a license – and that being the most important thing in life – is gone,” says Brent Wall, who teaches drivers’-ed in Michigan. “It used to be the day they turned 14 years and 8 months, everybody was lining up at the door. Now I’m starting to see more 15- and 16-year olds in class.”

Since 1983, the number of 16-year-olds with a license has dropped from about 50% to just 25%.

Factors in the decline include video chat, Uber and Lyft, student debt, and the ever-increasing price of vehicles and auto insurance.

The Details

Related to the decline in teenage drivers is a dip in auto sales. As reported by CNN last month, auto sales during the first quarter are expected to drop nearly 2.5% (compared to last year).

The average price of a new car is about $33,000, which puts your average monthly payment at about $535 – that’s more than 10% of the median household income in the US.

JD Power estimates that “Generation Zers” (kids born after 1997) will buy 120,000 fewer vehicles this year than millennials bought in 2004.

According to auto experts in Detroit, Gen Zers will purchase their first cars after they start careers and/or families; and at that point, they will buy an SUV or a truck.

“It’s a gamble,” says auto consultant Mark Wakefield. “With urbanization and the cost of ownership going up, those two things combined with the fact that it’s a mature market certainly could put a damper on sales.”

Did you know… The first TV commercial showed a Bulova watch ticking onscreen for exactly 60 seconds.