Social media exploits the dark side and parrots, avoid idiots, El Niño, Dubai zero emissions highway, and ChatGPT
May 8, 2023 - The Nett Report
ChatGPT on the purpose of The Nett Report
We asked ChatGPT, the popular AI natural language processing tool, how to navigate life in a changing world. Here’s the answer: “Navigating a changing world requires adaptability, resilience, effective communication, and staying informed. By developing these skills and mindset, you can better prepare yourself for the challenges and opportunities ahead.” Not bad! Although we think it should have included “critical thinking.”
Future of Work / The Economy
“To be rich in today’s America means never having to come in contact with anyone who isn’t. To be poor in today’s America means being trapped on islands of poverty from which escape has become more and more difficult.” - Robert Reich, former U.S. Labor Secretary
Is a recession on the way? Three views and what do you think?
Talk of recession has been circulating for many months now. Here are three views of the current status:
The most predicted recession of modern times has been delayed … again. Yesterday’s GDP report showed the economy grew at an annual rate of 1.1% in the first quarter—slow, but still positive. And while economists continue to see a downturn on the horizon, I’ve yet to encounter a single CEO who sees signs of it in his or her own numbers.” - Alan Murray, CEO, Fortune
“For the last 14 months, we have been sitting around saying the recession is going to come. Fourteen months later, we keep saying the same thing, over and over again. Companies are still doing well…There are a lot of layoffs, but if you look at where they are coming from, it is very high-tech-centric. Not everyone is doing layoffs. People are still hiring.” Carl Eschenbach, co-CEO, Workday
Even as traders grapple with a slowing economy, banking turmoil, and geopolitical worries, stock market volatility in the U.S. is hovering around its lowest level in more than 20 months. The decline is partly due to surprisingly buoyant economic data. While investors are concerned about the risk of a U.S. recession, current data reveals a sound economy: Employment and consumer spending have been strong, and historical modeling shows that the health of the labor market is a key determinant of financial market volatility.” - Christian Mueller-Glissmann, head of asset allocation research, Goldman Sachs.
Shortage of skilled workers requires retraining and rethinking strategies
The shortage of workers is so large that nearly half of workers will need to retrain this decade. A “skills gap” is driving the need for rethinking how to fill vacant positions. Retraining is part of the solution. These are the top 10 skills that employers say are rising in importance over the next five years, according to a May 1, 2023, article in Fortune:
Curiosity and lifelong learning
Resilience, flexibility, and agility
A.I. and big data
Motivation and self-awareness
Service orientation and customer service
The World Economic Forum, in an April 27, 2023, post, says “a skills-first hiring approach can offer companies a means to fill critical skill gaps and stay competitive in a challenging labor market, as it broadens the range of candidates they consider.” “Skills first” means to eliminate degree requirements which, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, automatically disqualify 64% of people that might otherwise be qualified for jobs based on their skills rather than their education.
Real interest rates of major world economies
Visual Capitalist on May 4, 2023, provided an interesting view of real interest rates in the major economies of the world. Rather than just reporting on the actual interest rate, Visual Capitalist adjusted the rates “to remove the effects of inflation.” Image credit: Visual Capitalist
What’s the real cause of inflation - social welfare programs or price gouging?
“Interestingly, while Republicans are blaming Democrats for creating inflation by pumping too much money into the economy through social welfare programs, The Wall Street Journal yesterday embraced the argument that a key factor in inflation has been price gouging by corporations. A piece by WSJ Reporter Paul Hannon noted that businesses are boosting their profit margins, confident that consumers will blame supply chain issues and higher energy prices rather than the companies padding their profits.” - From Heather Cox Richardson’s May 3, 2023, newsletter, Letters from an American.
The Political Divide
“The Democrats love to spend. The Republicans love to spend, The Republicans just feel guilty.” – John Kasich, former Republican governor of Ohio
The public is divided on who is at fault if the government goes into default
Inflation is one subject of political division, and defaulting on the national debt is another. A Washington Post-ABC News poll found 39% would blame Republicans in Congress and 36% would blame President Biden. 78% of Republicans would blame Biden, and 78% of Democrats would blame congressional Republicans.
A perspective: social media preys on the darkest aspects of human nature
“Social media is the majority of media consumption. And people have lost control. The algorithms are in control of everything you see. And the algorithm has been told to maximize your view time. For thousands of years as human beings, the progress of the species has been about overcoming our basest instincts. And what the algorithm has figured out is how to play to your primal instinct. It’s anger, greed, all those things that for thousands of years we’ve tried to basically work to suppress and support the better angels of our nature. And now, we have one of the biggest, most profitable business models in the world, and it is deeply embedded in this business model to prey upon the darkest aspects of human nature.” - Bill Ready CEO, Pinterest, from CEO Daily on May 4, 2023
Journalism was partisan at the beginning of the American republic
Another thoughtful piece related to the political divide comes again from Heather Cox Richardson in her May 1, 2023, Letters from an American newsletter. She points out that “the power to control what citizens can publish about the government would give leaders the power to destroy democracy. A free press is imperative to keep people informed about what leaders are doing. Lose it, and those in power can do whatever they wish without accountability. From the beginning of the American republic, though, the press was openly partisan. This meant the president worked quite closely with newspaper reporters from his own party, while ignoring, or sometimes even trying to silence, his opponents. By the 1880s, the country had begun to turn against the partisan press and to “independent” newspapers, and the number of papers took off.”
“The Global North should not think we can do an energy transition without the Global South. The energy transition can be the biggest inclusion program in the world if we do it right.” - Markus Müller, ESG Chief Investment Officer, Deutsche Bank
Rails, walkways, and bike paths embrace solar and kinetic energy
Solar panels and innovative kinetic energy solutions are being installed on the pathways for trains, people, and bicycles. According to a March 22, 2023, post by the Good News Network, Switzerland is rolling out a pilot project to place solar panels between railway tracks, a world first. In Germany, Europe’s first solar-covered bike path has debuted, according to Elektrek in a May 1, 2023, story. Another May 1, 2023, post, this one by Yanko Design, reports that Dubai will build The Loop, “a 93 km sustainable urban highway. Designed to be a zero-emission transport system, it aims to connect more than 3 million residents using a healthy mode of transportation – one that involves walking and cycling. The Loop utilizes kinetic energy to run on 100% renewable energy, and it is also irrigated with 100% recycled water.” Image credit: Yanko Design
Solar industry seeks circularity
The total amount of defunct solar panels could reach one million metric tons by 2030 and 10 million metric tons by 2050. Solarcycle is a company designed to recycle those panels, according to a Utility Dive story on April 21, 2023. The goal is to extract “high-value materials” as the solar industry seeks circularity.
El Niño is coming, what you need to know
An April 25, 2023, Weather Channel post does a good job of explaining El Niño and what this oceanic pattern means for the coming year.
Mental health telehealth visits reach 20 million
“Mental health is a huge issue in the U.S., particularly in children. We are seeing an enormous increase in the suicide of young adults. We’ve put counselors in some CVS locations, and we have vastly increased our telehealth services. There were 9,000 telehealth mental health visits a year pre-pandemic. Now we are up to 20 million … Your head is connected to your body. Until we think about this holistically, we are not going to be able to address the full issue.” - Karen Lynch, CEO, CVS
Covid emergency is over, says WHO, but the potential exists for a comeback
A May 5, 2023, story in the Washington Post reported on the World Health Organization’s declaration that Covid-19 is no longer a health emergency. But hold on to your masks, a Harvard immunologist in another Post story on the same day suggests there is “a 40 percent chance of an omicron-like wave.”
Avoid idiots to reverse aging, and stuck stem cells make gray hair
We weren’t sure if this story belonged in “Health” or “The Nett Light-Side,” so take it for what it’s worth. If you want to reverse aging, a Harvard University molecular biologist says there are four steps he has taken, according to a May 1, 2023, story in the Jerusalem Post:
Run three times per week
Drink green matcha tea twice a day
Reduce stress and avoid idiots
Another story, this one in Popular Mechanics, on May 2, 2023, says “stuck melanocyte stem cells” can’t make the protein needed to pigment hair, resulting in gray hair. No solution is in the works to make them unstuck just yet.
The Nett Light-Side
“I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” - Lucille Ball
Decision paralysis: what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Feeling paralyzed when a decision looms? This Inc.com story has this answer to moving forward, and the role emotion plays in your decision. “When you're faced with indecision, ask yourself what's the worst that can happen. Then, look for the indications that (perhaps) it's not your fear of the outcome that stops you from acting, but instead, your fear of how you might feel if that worst-case scenario comes to fruition.”
Parrots request video calls and make social connections online
An April 21, 2023, story in the New York Times documents, with video, how a team of scientists researched if video calls could provide social connections and mental stimulation for parrots. Image credit: New York Times.
About Carl Nettleton
Carl Nettleton is an award-winning writer, speaker, thought partner, facilitator, and subject-matter expert regarding water, climate, sustainability, the ocean, and binational U.S.-Mexico border affairs. Nettleton Strategies, the consultancy he founded in 2007, is a trusted source of analysis and advice on issues at the forefront of public policy, business, and the environment. He helps people and organizations to think strategically about their options for change. He is also the founder of OpenOceans Global, a nonprofit addressing the ocean plastic crisis in a new way.
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