Caterpillar bets on self-driving machines impervious to pandemics

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Jason Ramshaw, Commercial Manager for Caterpillar Construction Digital & Technology, demonstrates the Cat Command remote control console to operate a 320 excavator at Caterpillar’s Construction Industries

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Question: How can a company like Caterpillar CAT.N try to counter a slump in sales of bulldozers and trucks during a pandemic that has made every human a potential disease vector?

Answer: Cut out human operators, perhaps?

Caterpillar’s autonomous driving technology, which can be bolted on to existing machines, is helping the U.S. heavy equipment maker mitigate the heavy impact of the coronavirus crisis on sales of its traditional workhorses.

With both small and large customers looking to protect their operations from future disruptions, demand has surged for machines that don’t require human operators on board.

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COVID-19 has changed the housing market forever. Here’s where Americans are moving (and why)

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 Amid all the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19 over the past six months, one thing is assured: the pandemic has re-ordered real estate markets across the board on an unprecedented scale.

Some of this may be irreversible. Real estate’s re-sorting this time isn’t just based on markets crashing (the Great Recession), political turmoil (the 1979 oil embargo), or financial speculation (the first and second dot.com busts)—after which there’s generally confidence that overall consumer demand and buyer preferences will sooner or later snap back to normal.

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more deep-seated, tectonic-sized questions beyond markets and interest rates are being asked this time around that no one really has the answers to yet—like will people feel safer living in the south and southwest where they can spend all year social distancing outside? What if companies let workers work remotely for the rest of their lives? Why go back to retail shopping when I’m already ordering everything online? What’s the point of living “downtown” if half of the restaurants, bars, and museums never open back up?

How these questions get answered will fundamentally re-order how Americans live in the “new” pandemic normal, and as a result will play a huge X-factor in which cities and states will experience growth, demand, and price appreciation over the next 3-5 years, and which ones will stagnate and lose out. More broadly for large metropolises like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia, the answers risk slowing or even reversing a wave of gentrification and wildly profitable downtown revitalization that’s been accelerating since before the Great Recession.

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6 future trends everyone has to be ready for today

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I had the pleasure of talking with futurist and the managing partner of ChangeistScott Smith recently about some of the biggest macro trends everyone should be aware of today. While these trends had already begun prior to the coronavirus pandemic, in many ways, they accelerated as the world fought to deal with the pandemic and now as we begin to build our post-COVID-19 world. Here are the six future trends he believes everyone should be ready for.

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10 tech predictions that could mean huge changes ahead

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CCS Insights published 100 tech predictions for the next few years, and the COVID-19 pandemic lurks behind many of them.

An ongoing health crisis and a global recession: even for the most attuned of analysts, the past months have brought in a load of unexpected events that have made the coming years especially difficult to envision.

Yet research firm CCS Insights has taken up the challenge and delivered a set of 100 tech predictions for the years 2021 and beyond. The exercise is an annual one for the company, which last year anticipated, among many other things, that the next decade could see the rise of deep fake detection technology, or the adoption of domestic robots in some households.

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Pandemic accelerated cord cutting, making 2020 the worst-ever year for pay TV

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The pandemic has accelerated adoption of a number of technologies, from online grocery to multiplatform gaming to streaming services and more. But one industry that has not benefited is traditional pay TV. According to new research from eMarketer, the cable, satellite and telecom TV industry is on track to lose the most subscribers ever. This year, over 6 million U.S. households will cut the cord with pay TV, bringing the total number of cord-cutter households to 31.2 million.

The firm says that by 2024, the number will grow even further, reaching 46.6 million total cord-cutter households, or more than a third of all U.S. households that no longer have pay TV.

Despite these significant declines, there are still more households that have a pay TV subscription than those that do not. Today, there are 77.6 million U.S. households that have cable, satellite or telecom TV packages. But that number has declined 7.5% year-over-year — its biggest-ever drop. The figure is also down from pay TV’s peak in 2014, the analysts said.

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More Korean women live alone

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More than 3.09 million Korean women live alone, with growing numbers engaged in economic activities, government statistics showed.

 

According to Statistics Korea, one-woman households accounted for 50.3 percent of the total 6.14 million single-person households this year.

The statistics agency expects the number to continue to rise to reach 3.23 million by 2025 and 3.65 million by 2035.

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The top 4 artificial intelligence trends for 2021

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Before the global pandemic struck in 2020 and the world was turned on its head, artificial intelligence (AI), and specifically the branch of AI known as machine learning (ML), were already causing widespread disruption in almost every industry.

The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many aspects of how we do business, but it hasn’t diminished the impact AI is having on our lives. In fact, it’s become apparent that self-teaching algorithms and smart machines will play a big part in the ongoing fight against this outbreak as well as others we may face in the future.

AI undoubtedly remains a key trend when it comes to picking the technologies that will change how we live, work, and play in the near future. So, here’s an overview of what we can expect during what will be a year of rebuilding our lives as well as rethinking business strategies and priorities.

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The 5 biggest technology trends in 2021 everyone must get ready for now

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It might seem strange to be making predictions about 2021, when it’s far from certain how the remainder of 2020 is going to play out. No-one foresaw the world-changing events of this year, but one thing is clear: tech has been affected just as much as every other part of our lives.

Another thing that is clear is that today’s most important tech trends will play a big part in helping us cope with and adapt to the many challenges facing us. From the shift to working from home to new rules about how we meet and interact in public spaces, tech trends will be the driving force in managing the change.

In many ways, Covid-19 will act as a catalyst for a whole host of changes that were already on the cards anyway, thanks to our increasingly online and digital lives. Things will just happen more quickly now, with necessity (long acknowledged as the mother of invention) as the driving force. And should it be the case that – as certain US presidents have predicted – Covid-19 “magically disappears” – the changes it has brought about will not, as we will have learned to do a lot of things more efficiently and safely.

Here’s my overview of how the major tech trend that I identified in my most recent book Tech Trends in Practice, are likely to play out during the next year. Some will play their part in helping us to recover “normality” (whatever that means), while some of them will make it easier for us to understand and navigate a changed reality.

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Momentum for basic income builds as pandemic drags on

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A man shows off an Andrew Yang “Freedom Dividend” $1,000 bill sign on a street in San Francisco. Amid the pandemic and a global recession, basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum.

When the idyllic upstate city of Hudson, New York, launches its basic-income pilot program in late September, it will become one of the smallest U.S. cities to embrace a policy once seen as far-fetched or radical.

“Basic-income” programs — designed to dole out direct cash payments to large swaths of people, no strings attached — were, until earlier this year, largely the realm of Washington, D.C., policy wonks and West Coast futurists.

But amid the pandemic and a global recession, both basic income and a basket of related policies have gained unprecedented momentum, surfacing everywhere from Capitol Hill to community Zoom meetings in cities like Hudson.

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‘Do I really need this much office space?’ Pandemic emptied buildings, but how long?

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Empty offices sit above empty retail stores on Broadway in downtown Manhattan.

As commercial real estate continues to lie vacant around the U.S., it may contribute to a vicious economic cycle that reshapes our cities.

Adam Johnson enjoys going into the office. It helps that he works in one of the nicest buildings in Midtown Manhattan: a 35-story art deco high-rise at the corner of 58th Street and Fifth Avenue, overlooking Central Park and the Plaza Hotel.

Johnson’s a stock picker — he writes an investment newsletter called Bullseye Brief — and, ostensibly, he shares the sixth floor with a real estate showroom and an assortment of hedge funds. They all left months ago.

“I am the only person who’s been coming in here since April 1st,” he says.

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As telemedicine replaces the physical exam, what are doctors missing?

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Virtual medical appointments are more common since the coronavirus pandemic began. But without physical exams, doctors may miss certain diagnoses and miss out on building relationships with patients.

Despite a foothold in medicine that predates Hippocrates himself, the traditional physical exam might be on the verge of extinction. The coronavirus crisis has driven more routine medical appointments online, accelerating a trend toward telemedicine that has already been underway.

This worries Dr. Paul Hyman, author of a recently published essay in JAMA Internal Medicine, who reflects on what’s lost when physicians see their patients almost exclusively through a screen.

A primary care physician in Maine, Hyman acknowledges he’d already begun second-guessing routine physicals on healthy patients as insurance requirements pushed doctors away from them.

But while Hyman is now providing mostly telemedicine, like many doctors during the pandemic, he writes that he has gained a clearer sense of the value of the age-old practice of examining patients in person. He notes the ability to offer reassurance, be present for his patients and find personal fulfillment as a doctor.

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