Thursday, August 10, 2017

Would you fly in a pilotless plane? 

Pilotless planes could save the airline industry over $30 billion a year — but no one wants to fly in one, even though they could result in fare reductions of up to 11%. Just as driverless cars are thought to reduce accidents related to human error, pilotless planes could ultimately make aviation safer, and they’re already being tested. But a UBS survey of 8,000 people surveyed for the report, more than half said they were unwilling to travel in a pilotless plane, even if the price was cheaper. Overall, only 17 percent said they would be likely to take an uncrewed flight, but that percentage rose to 27 percent when reducing the sample size to those aged 18–24, and 31 percent with those aged 25–34. Acceptance to fly pilotless also varied by country. German and French respondents were the least likely to take a flight with no pilot (13 percent), while US respondents were the most likely (27 percent). (The Verge)


Typing may soon be a thing of the past

Typing may not be integral to future mobile internet products, writes The Wall Street Journal, as low-end smartphones and cheaper data plans bring the next wave of consumers online. These digital newcomers, often less-educated, are “avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images,” forcing tech’s power players to rethink their products as local rivals cater specifically to these communities. It’s a huge opportunity: In India alone, only some 400 million of the country’s 1.3 billion are currently online. (Wall Street Journal)


US household credit card debt jumped to over $1 trillion in June

According to the Federal Reserve, Americans now have the highest credit-card debt in U.S. history, surpassing the peak set in 2008 just before the financial crisis. One reason for this is that more banks are issuing cards to consumers with below average credit scores, albeit with lower spending limits. But defaults have risen, too: Analysts warn that the steady pace of rising interest rates combined with credit card debt could end up in a “potentially volatile mix.” (Market Watch)


More Reasons To Cut The Cord?

Disney will stop distributing new movies on Netflix, instead launching two streaming services in 2019: an ESPN online service with 10,000 live events per year, and a family-focused offering with Disney and Pixar programming. Disney’s move could open the floodgates: “Its move into streaming services could encourage other conglomerates to consider direct-to-consumer models, further weakening a cable industry already hit by cord-cutting,” says The Wall Street Journal. Disney (particularly its cash cow ESPN) faces declining ad and subscription revenue as consumers abandon traditional TV. (Bloomberg)


There are 7 million unemployed and 6.2 million job openings

There’s nearly one job for every job seeker — so why aren’t positions being filled? Seven million people in the US are unemployed, despite there being a record 6.2 million job openings, according to an NFIB Small Business Survey. As CEOs complain that they can’t find qualified applicants, workers explain why they’re not applying: They want to be paid more. They also want employers to be less picky when it comes to hiring people ready and willing to work, and be open to training new hires instead of writing them off. It’s an environment that should be a win for workers, but these issues are proving difficult to solve. (Washington Post)


Uber’s downsizing

Uber plans to wind down its US subprime car-leasing division to reign in losses, The Wall Street Journal reports. Leasing cars to drivers through its subprime Xchange Leasing program costs the company an average of about $9,000 per vehicle, instead of the $500 originally anticipated. The report said 500 jobs — roughly 3% of its 15,000 employees — could be affected. Uber’s rapid expansion has led to a greater effort to control losses, which totaled more than $3 billion last year. (Wall Street Journal)


Justice Department Reverses Position in Ohio Voting Rights Case

Earlier this week, the Justice Department switched its stance on an Ohio voting rights case. Ohio takes people off the state’s official voter roll if they don’t vote, or respond to confirmation notices after six years. Supporters say this preserves election integrity by making sure people aren’t still on the list who’ve moved away or died. Critics say it unfairly targets people – especially poor and minority voters – who aren’t as active at the polls. Last year, civil rights groups sued Ohio over the policy, saying it violates the federal voter registration laws. The Justice Dept under President Obama said ‘agreed.’ And after a lot of legal back and forth, Ohio appealed the case to the Supreme Court. Now, the Justice Dept is singing a different tune. It says Ohio’s rules are just fine, since the state gives people a heads up several years before it actually removes anyone from voter lists. The Supremes will weigh in during the next term. (NBC News)


It’s a Thirsty-Thursday. It’s also:

*National Duran Duran Appreciation Day 
*Paul Bunyan Day 
*Skyscraper Appreciation Day
*Smithsonian Day 

*S’mores Day 

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