Friday, November 20, 2015

Self-drive cars within the decade; Shock deficit figures for UK; Gratitude is an inside job

1 Self-drive cars within the decade (Christian Science Monitor/Khaleej Times) If the several companies already testing their self-driving automobile technology are to be believed, the future is now. Driverless cars could be integrated into traffic within the decade.

Ford announced last week that it will begin testing self-driving cars at a new compound called Mcity, a 32-acre fake metropolis in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Detroit car company won't be the only manufacturer to use the MCity compound; it is one of many automakers that have poured $1 million into the testing grounds, which include traffic lights, pedestrian zones, storefronts, and other real-life elements.

Meanwhile 2,400 miles away, the Web giant Google is testing its own line of self-driving cars. Google has been testing autonomous cars for more than seven years, mostly in Mountain View, California but also recently in Austin, Texas.

Google's driverless cars made the news a week ago when one was pulled over by police. No, it wasn't speeding - it was going 24 miles per hour in a 35mph zone. Fortunately for Google, no citation was issued, and the company's driving record remains pristine.

"Driving too slowly? Bet humans don't get pulled over for that too often," the company wrote in a Google Plus post. "After 1.2 million miles of autonomous driving (that's the human equivalent of 90 years of driving experience), we're proud to say we've never been ticketed!"

A number of reports suggest that Apple is also getting into the autonomous car business. Tesla, Elon Musk's electric car venture, just unveiled an autopilot feature in its cars' software that steers and changes lanes without human intervention. It seems undeniable that the driverless cars are coming, and soon. Google claims its self-driving cars will be on the market in five years.

2 Shock deficit figures for UK (Katie Allen in The Guardian) George Osborne’s deficit-cutting drive has been dealt a blow ahead of next week’s spending review after official figures showed the worst October for UK public finances in six years.

The deficit, or the gap between what the government spends and takes in, swelled by 16% from a year earlier to £8.2bn in October, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It was a larger shortfall than the £6bn forecast by economists.

The chancellor wants to eliminate the deficit on the public finances by the end of the decade. As part of that push, he will unveil plans in his spending review on 25 November to cut government department spending by around £20bn over the next four years.

Economists said the latest public finances suggest Osborne will miss his deficit-cutting goals for this year and that he will redouble austerity measures in next week’s spending review and accompanying budget update, known as the autumn statement.

The prolonged squeeze on wage growth since the recession has repeatedly led to disappointing tax receipts. But with the latest official figures showing pay increasing at an annual rate of 3%, income-related taxes are recovering. However, economists warn that a recent slowdown in economic growth could bode ill for future government income.

3 Gratitude is an inside job (Kim Thompson in San Francisco Chronicle) When you count blessings it’s easier to name the positive ones. However being thankful for your problems can have an added benefit as well. Research backs up the notion that being aware of gratitude in the midst of turmoil helps give you a different perspective.

Developing a grateful mindset is an equal opportunity habit that will help you work through some challenging situations in life such as an unexpected career transition as well as increase your overall happiness.

Here are some ways to help you build a thankful attitude: • Keep a gratitude journal. • Choose someone whom you should thank or someone who has been helpful to you and write them a letter, a gratitude visit. Tell the person how they have been helpful to you.

• Acknowledging things you are grateful for changes your brain chemistry in a positive way. • You function best when you are in a good mood and when you are grateful and appreciative you create “likeability”.

While every day might not be a national holiday dedicated to giving thanks, it can be a good reminder that showing gratitude is a powerful way to cultivate a positive attitude. The next time you encounter a difficult climb or obstacle, consider that it might be your chance to grow.

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