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How Self-Driving Cars Will Transform Urban Living for the Better
10 million cars with autonomous features will be on the road by 2020. But they won't just change the way we get around, they'll transform our cities and our lifestyle preferences, from the morning commute to the suburbs we choose to live in.
More than half of the world’s population live in urban areas and most Americans live in cities. These complex clusters of civilization are carved up by tunnels, highways and the thousands of parking lots that we casually overlay upon paradise. In cities like New York, London and Sydney, property prices are sky high and inner city living is in ever-growing demand. New developments create more congestion as more vehicles take to the road. With finite space and growing infrastructure burdens, something eventually has to give.
Enter self-driving cars! For decades they’ve been a sci-fi dream and now they’re becoming a reality. By 2020, it is estimated that 10 million cars with autonomous features will be on the road.
By 2030, completely autonomous vehicles will be pervasive and will transform our cities and lifestyles. They’ll change the nature of businesses, reshape the urban landscapes, affect which suburbs we choose to live in, and help us to save time and money. Even better, they could substantially improve our health and wellbeing.
We often hear that self-driving cars could eliminate almost all road related accidents and fatalities. While this would be an amazing boon for humanity, they could do much else besides. Below we explore some other potential benefits suggested in the first instalment of Stanford University’s One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100), titled, “Artificial Intelligence and Life in 2030.”
No More Traffic, No More Carparks
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic. Sadly it’s a daily occurrence for many. But the authors of the Stanford report predict that by 2030, “traffic jams and parking challenges [will] become obsolete.” What’s the logic?
For starters, far fewer people will own cars in the future. They won’t need to because:
“AI applications are likely to transform transportation toward self-driving vehicles with on-time pickup and delivery of people and packages.”
It will be more cost effective to hail autonomous vehicles on demand in a taxi-like model, with options for group-sharing autonomous shuttles and buses, rather than individuals owning a car that sits inert 95% of the time and has expensive maintenance costs.
The result? There will be fewer cars being put to much more efficient use. Factor in the networked capabilities of the cars, which will know the best routes in advance, in combination with the growing trend of working from home, and the peak hour rush really could start to become a thing of the past.
Fewer cars and less idle time also means less parking space will be needed. A lot less! It also means no more time wasted circling around backstreets and parking lots to find a space. The car will simply drop you off and go. You get to save the money you would have spent on parking and avoid the stress of finding somewhere to leave your car.
More Housing, More Parks
According to the Stanford report:
“As cars will become better drivers than people, city-dwellers will own fewer cars, live further from work, and spend time differently, leading to an entirely new urban organization.”
Car companies like Volkswagen, Mercedes, Toyota and General Motors agree, and they are swiftly transforming their business models on the basis of this prediction. Specifically, they are investing in artificial intelligence technologies and buying up, or partnering with, ride-sharing services like Lyft and Uber.
While ride-sharing alone has the potential to change the dynamics of our roads and public transport networks, Ford is taking the idea even further by spruiking a revolutionary urban vision of smart cities that harness autonomous vehicles, called The City of Tomorrow.
As we redesign cities around new autonomous transport networks, a lot of space that is currently used for things like parking (roughly 14% of land in LA is used for this purpose) could be put to better use. Sure we’ll still need parking space, but the carparks of the future will be ‘smarter’ and use far less space. A smart storage solution that is already in use in some carparks today is a robotic car stacking system.
It's like valet parking, but more efficient. Just drive up to the entrance of the automated parking lot and drive your car into one of the terminals. Lock it and off you go! As you head outside and go about your business your car will get lifted up and inserted into one of the hundreds of empty stacked spaces. When you want it back the automated retrieval system brings it down to ground level and conveniently positions it with the nose to the exit so you can drive straight out.
When the cars park themselves the carparks can also be built in locations where land is cheaper and in lower commercial and residential demand. What will we do with all those newly obsolete concrete slabs? The world’s your oyster. More housing can be built where it’s needed, and more parks and other usable public spaces could be incorporated into the mix.
What about all that on-street parking? It could be replaced with anything from dedicated cycleways, to express autonomous bus-lanes, or more pedestrianized streets. Every city will have a unique approach, but one thing’s for sure, city planning is set to get a whole lot more interesting!
Beijing is the poster-child for apocalyptic air pollution and a big contributing factor is the number of cars on the road. But car-related pollution is also a significant problem in the US. In 2016, WIRED quoted a report by the American Lung Association of California which claims that in 10 American states combined, including California, "cars are responsible for $37 billion in health and climate costs each year" and that "every tank of gasoline you combust adds $18.42 to public health and climate bills."
If self-driving fleets go all-electric, air pollution could be massively reduced and associated healthcare costs would decline. Even though that's mostly a benefit of electric cars, it's worth noting that most self-driving fleets in the future will be electric. The auto industry's ongoing evolution from a business centered around human-piloted cars to one focused on autonomous vehicles is occurring simultaneously with the societal transition from gas guzzlers to electric cars.
But self-driving cars can be more efficient in their own right too, particularly when they operate in a networked fashion. When the cars know where to park in advance, less fuel gets expended circling around parking lots looking for a space. Networked cars will also take the shortest viable route without exception and can avoid having to brake suddenly. Couple that with smarter traffic lights and stop-start times can be significantly reduced. A win for both the taxpayer and the environment!
Back to the Burbs
Speaking of clean air... With less congestion and easier commutes, the Stanford report suggests that “self-driving cars and shared transportation may affect where people choose to live.” It is not yet clear whether autonomous vehicles will promote more city living, or urban sprawl. But they could certainly help make up for the drawbacks of living in outer suburbs by making commuting faster and more pleasant, which is good news for those who can't afford to live closer in.
As more people work from home, suburbs outside city centers but close to beaches, national parks and other attractions may also become more popular for the lifestyle options they can offer.
Cars are expensive, and not just as a one-off large purchase. The average monthly cost of parking in New York City is around $400/month, while car spaces sell from $45,000 to $1 million. A small dark structure with no windows is hardly the most exciting way to spend a big wad of cash. Then there’s the ongoing costs of owning and running a car, which in the US average around $9,000/year, or roughly $25/day.
Get rid of the car and the garage and there’s more money in your pocket. Or, if you choose to own a self-driving car, you can lease it out as a taxi and earn money when you’re not using it. At least if it’s a Tesla, though other companies with self-driving fleets will surely follow suit.
As the Stanford report points out:
“On average, a commuter in US spends twenty-five minutes driving each way. With self-driving car technology, people will have more time to work or entertain themselves during their commutes."
The authors of the report also remark on the "increased comfort and decreased cognitive load" that self-driving cars can facilitate. Whether it’s work, meditation, or kicking back and watching Game of Thrones, you can get a lot more done when you're not spending an hour a day piloting a fast moving vehicle. With more time for relaxation and entertainment the 's-word' that plagues so many of us every day (stress!) could also be reduced.
In addition, autonomous vehicles could eliminate a lot of time currently spent on shopping and errands. As the report points out, “changes won’t be limited to cars and trucks, but are likely to include flying vehicles and personal robots.” An existing example is Amazon’s Prime Air drone delivery service, which has already made a successful trial delivery in the UK.
The software architect and entrepreneur Brad Templeton is quick to point out the implications:
“The whole nature of retailing is going to change because we're also going to build delivery robots that never carry a person and they're small and they're very, very cheap. And they can get you anything in 30 minutes, not just a pizza... [W]hat if you can get anything cheaply in 30 minutes? What does that mean for shopping, for retailing, for how we use goods, how we own goods? It's going to change a lot more of our lives then people think to have cars that are smart in this way.”
No doubt. Think about it. Marry the increasingly popular pursuit of online shopping with automated factories factories, 3-D printed products on demand, and drone delivery services, and we might never have to hop into a car to buy goods again. If so, it's conceivable that many shopping malls would also be redeveloped for new ends.
Without a doubt self-driving cars will bring about many new legal, regulatory and administrative challenges. But by most accounts they're coming whether we like it or not. On the plus side it looks as if there'll be some pretty cool lifestyle perks to look forward to, including more free time and a better use of coveted urban space!
Northwell Health is using insights from website traffic to forecast COVID-19 hospitalizations two weeks in the future.
- The machine-learning algorithm works by analyzing the online behavior of visitors to the Northwell Health website and comparing that data to future COVID-19 hospitalizations.
- The tool, which uses anonymized data, has so far predicted hospitalizations with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
- Machine-learning tools are helping health-care professionals worldwide better constrain and treat COVID-19.
The value of forecasting<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTA0Njk2OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMzM2NDQzOH0.rid9regiDaKczCCKBsu7wrHkNQ64Vz_XcOEZIzAhzgM/img.jpg?width=980" id="2bb93" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="31345afbdf2bd408fd3e9f31520c445a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1546" data-height="1056" />
Northwell emergency departments use the dashboard to monitor in real time.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One unique benefit of forecasting COVID-19 hospitalizations is that it allows health systems to better prepare, manage and allocate resources. For example, if the tool forecasted a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations in two weeks, Northwell Health could begin:</p><ul><li>Making space for an influx of patients</li><li>Moving personal protective equipment to where it's most needed</li><li>Strategically allocating staff during the predicted surge</li><li>Increasing the number of tests offered to asymptomatic patients</li></ul><p>The health-care field is increasingly using machine learning. It's already helping doctors develop <a href="https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/early/2020/06/09/dc19-1870" target="_blank">personalized care plans for diabetes patients</a>, improving cancer screening techniques, and enabling mental health professionals to better predict which patients are at <a href="https://healthitanalytics.com/news/ehr-data-fuels-accurate-predictive-analytics-for-suicide-risk" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevated risk of suicide</a>, to name a few applications.</p><p>Health systems around the world have already begun exploring how <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315944/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">machine learning can help battle the pandemic</a>, including better COVID-19 screening, diagnosis, contact tracing, and drug and vaccine development.</p><p>Cruzen said these kinds of tools represent a shift in how health systems can tackle a wide variety of problems.</p><p>"Health care has always used the past to predict the future, but not in this mathematical way," Cruzen said. "I think [Northwell Health's new predictive tool] really is a great first example of how we should be attacking a lot of things as we go forward."</p>
Making machine-learning tools openly accessible<p>Northwell Health has made its predictive tool <a href="https://github.com/northwell-health/covid-web-data-predictor" target="_blank">available for free</a> to any health system that wishes to utilize it.</p><p>"COVID is everybody's problem, and I think developing tools that can be used to help others is sort of why people go into health care," Dr. Cruzen said. "It was really consistent with our mission."</p><p>Open collaboration is something the world's governments and health systems should be striving for during the pandemic, said Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's president and CEO.</p><p>"Whenever you develop anything and somebody else gets it, they improve it and they continue to make it better," Dowling said. "As a country, we lack data. I believe very, very strongly that we should have been and should be now working with other countries, including China, including the European Union, including England and others to figure out how to develop a health surveillance system so you can anticipate way in advance when these things are going to occur."</p><p>In all, Northwell Health has treated more than 112,000 COVID patients. During the pandemic, Dowling said he's seen an outpouring of goodwill, collaboration, and sacrifice from the community and the tens of thousands of staff who work across Northwell.</p><p>"COVID has changed our perspective on everything—and not just those of us in health care, because it has disrupted everybody's life," Dowling said. "It has demonstrated the value of community, how we help one another."</p>
"You dream about these kinds of moments when you're a kid," said lead paleontologist David Schmidt.
- The triceratops skull was first discovered in 2019, but was excavated over the summer of 2020.
- It was discovered in the South Dakota Badlands, an area where the Triceratops roamed some 66 million years ago.
- Studying dinosaurs helps scientists better understand the evolution of all life on Earth.
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We had to be really careful," Schmidt told St. Louis Public Radio. "We couldn't disturb anything at all, because at that point, it was under law enforcement investigation. They were telling us, 'Don't even make footprints,' and I was thinking, 'How are we supposed to do that?'"</p><p>Another difficulty was the mammoth size of the skull: about 7 feet long and more than 3,000 pounds. (For context, the largest triceratops skull ever unearthed was about <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02724634.2010.483632" target="_blank">8.2 feet long</a>.) The skull of Schmidt's dinosaur was likely a <em>Triceratops prorsus, </em>one of two species of triceratops that roamed what's now North America about 66 million years ago.</p>
Credit: David Schmidt / Westminster College<p>The triceratops was an herbivore, but it was also a favorite meal of the T<em>yrannosaurus rex</em>. That probably explains why the Dakotas contain many scattered triceratops bone fragments, and, less commonly, complete bones and skulls. In summer 2019, for example, a separate team on a dig in North Dakota made <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">headlines</a> after unearthing a complete triceratops skull that measured five feet in length.</p><p>Michael Kjelland, a biology professor who participated in that excavation, said digging up the dinosaur was like completing a "multi-piece, 3-D jigsaw puzzle" that required "engineering that rivaled SpaceX," he jokingly told the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/26/science/triceratops-skull-65-million-years-old.html" target="_blank">New York Times</a>.</p>
Morrison Formation in Colorado
James St. John via Flickr
|Credit: Nobu Tamura/Wikimedia Commons|
A new study proposes mysterious axions may be found in X-rays coming from a cluster of neutron stars.
Are Axions Dark Matter?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5e35ce24a5b17102bfce5ae6aecc7c14"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/e7yXqF32Yvw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
New research suggests you can't fake your emotional state to improve your work life — you have to feel it.
What is deep acting?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTQ1NDk2OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTY5MzA0Nn0._s7aP25Es1CInq51pbzGrUj3GtOIRWBHZxCBFnbyXY8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=333%2C-1%2C333%2C-1&height=700" id="ddf09" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9dc42c4d6a8e372ad7b72907b46ecd3f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Arlie Russell Hochschild (pictured) laid out the concept of emotional labor in her 1983 book, "The Managed Heart."
Credit: Wikimedia Commons<p>Deep and surface acting are the principal components of emotional labor, a buzz phrase you have likely seen flitting about the Twittersphere. Today, "<a href="https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/5ea9f140-f722-4214-bb57-8b84f9418a7e" target="_blank">emotional labor</a>" has been adopted by groups as diverse as family counselors, academic feminists, and corporate CEOs, and each has redefined it with a patented spin. But while the phrase has splintered into a smorgasbord of pop-psychological arguments, its initial usage was more specific.</p><p>First coined by sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild in her 1983 book, "<a href="https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520272941/the-managed-heart" target="_blank">The Managed Heart</a>," emotional labor describes the work we do to regulate our emotions on the job. Hochschild's go-to example is the flight attendant, who is tasked with being "nicer than natural" to enhance the customer experience. While at work, flight attendants are expected to smile and be exceedingly helpful even if they are wrestling with personal issues, the passengers are rude, and that one kid just upchucked down the center aisle. Hochschild's counterpart to the flight attendant is the bill collector, who must instead be "nastier than natural."</p><p>Such personas may serve an organization's mission or commercial interests, but if they cause emotional dissonance, they can potentially lead to high emotional costs for the employee—bringing us back to deep and surface acting.</p><p>Deep acting is the process by which people modify their emotions to match their expected role. Deep actors still encounter the negative emotions, but they devise ways to <a href="http://www.selfinjury.bctr.cornell.edu/perch/resources/what-is-emotion-regulationsinfo-brief.pdf" target="_blank">regulate those emotions</a> and return to the desired state. Flight attendants may modify their internal state by talking through harsh emotions (say, with a coworker), focusing on life's benefits (next stop Paris!), physically expressing their desired emotion (smiling and deep breaths), or recontextualizing an inauspicious situation (not the kid's fault he got sick).</p><p>Conversely, surface acting occurs when employees display ersatz emotions to match those expected by their role. These actors are the waiters who smile despite being crushed by the stress of a dinner rush. They are the CEOs who wear a confident swagger despite feelings of inauthenticity. And they are the bouncers who must maintain a steely edge despite humming show tunes in their heart of hearts.</p><p>As we'll see in the research, surface acting can degrade our mental well-being. This deterioration can be especially true of people who must contend with negative emotions or situations inside while displaying an elated mood outside. Hochschild argues such emotional labor can lead to exhaustion and self-estrangement—that is, surface actors erect a bulwark against anger, fear, and stress, but that disconnect estranges them from the emotions that allow them to connect with others and live fulfilling lives.</p>
Don't fake it till you make it<p>Most studies on emotional labor have focused on customer service for the obvious reason that such jobs prescribe emotional states—service with a smile or, if you're in the bouncing business, a scowl. But <a href="https://eller.arizona.edu/people/allison-s-gabriel" target="_blank">Allison Gabriel</a>, associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management, wanted to explore how employees used emotional labor strategies in their intra-office interactions and which strategies proved most beneficial.</p><p>"What we wanted to know is whether people choose to engage in emotion regulation when interacting with their co-workers, why they choose to regulate their emotions if there is no formal rule requiring them to do so, and what benefits, if any, they get out of this effort," Gabriel said in <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200117162703.htm" target="_blank">a press release</a>.</p><p>Across three studies, she and her colleagues surveyed more than 2,500 full-time employees on their emotional regulation with coworkers. The survey asked participants to agree or disagree with statements such as "I try to experience the emotions that I show to my coworkers" or "I fake a good mood when interacting with my coworkers." Other statements gauged the outcomes of such strategies—for example, "I feel emotionally drained at work." Participants were drawn from industries as varied as education, engineering, and financial services.</p><p>The results, <a href="https://psycnet.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fapl0000473" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">published in the Journal of Applied Psychology</a>, revealed four different emotional strategies. "Deep actors" engaged in high levels of deep acting; "low actors" leaned more heavily on surface acting. Meanwhile, "non-actors" engaged in negligible amounts of emotional labor, while "regulators" switched between both. The survey also revealed two drivers for such strategies: prosocial and impression management motives. The former aimed to cultivate positive relationships, the latter to present a positive front.</p><p>The researchers found deep actors were driven by prosocial motives and enjoyed advantages from their strategy of choice. These actors reported lower levels of fatigue, fewer feelings of inauthenticity, improved coworker trust, and advanced progress toward career goals. </p><p>As Gabriel told <a href="https://www.psypost.org/2021/01/new-psychology-research-suggests-deep-acting-can-reduce-fatigue-and-improve-your-work-life-59081" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PsyPost in an interview</a>: "So, it's a win-win-win in terms of feeling good, performing well, and having positive coworker interactions."</p><p>Non-actors did not report the emotional exhaustion of their low-actor peers, but they also didn't enjoy the social gains of the deep actors. Finally, the regulators showed that the flip-flopping between surface and deep acting drained emotional reserves and strained office relationships.</p><p>"I think the 'fake it until you make it' idea suggests a survival tactic at work," Gabriel noted. "Maybe plastering on a smile to simply get out of an interaction is easier in the short run, but long term, it will undermine efforts to improve your health and the relationships you have at work. </p><p>"It all boils down to, 'Let's be nice to each other.' Not only will people feel better, but people's performance and social relationships can also improve."</p>
You'll be glad ya' decided to smile<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="88a0a6a8d1c1abfcf7b1aca8e71247c6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/QOSgpq9EGSw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>But as with any research that relies on self-reported data, there are confounders here to untangle. Even during anonymous studies, participants may select socially acceptable answers over honest ones. They may further interpret their goal progress and coworker interactions more favorably than is accurate. And certain work conditions may not produce the same effects, such as toxic work environments or those that require employees to project negative emotions.</p><p>There also remains the question of the causal mechanism. If surface acting—or switching between surface and deep acting—is more mentally taxing than genuinely feeling an emotion, then what physiological process causes this fatigue? <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2019.00151/full" target="_blank">One study published in the <em>Frontiers in Human Neuroscience</em></a><em> </em>measured hemoglobin density in participants' brains using an fNIRS while they expressed emotions facially. The researchers found no significant difference in energy consumed in the prefrontal cortex by those asked to deep act or surface act (though, this study too is limited by a lack of real-life task).<br></p><p>With that said, Gabriel's studies reinforce much of the current research on emotional labor. <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2041386611417746" target="_blank">A 2011 meta-analysis</a> found that "discordant emotional labor states" (read: surface acting) were associated with harmful effects on well-being and performance. The analysis found no such consequences for deep acting. <a href="https://doi.apa.org/doiLanding?doi=10.1037%2Fa0022876" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Another meta-analysis</a> found an association between surface acting and impaired well-being, job attitudes, and performance outcomes. Conversely, deep acting was associated with improved emotional performance.</p><p>So, although there's still much to learn on the emotional labor front, it seems Van Dyke's advice to a Leigh was half correct. We should put on a happy face, but it will <a href="https://bigthink.com/design-for-good/everything-you-should-know-about-happiness-in-one-infographic" target="_self">only help if we can feel it</a>.</p>
Archaeologists discover a cave painting of a wild pig that is now the world's oldest dated work of representational art.