JohnPatrick.com

Thanks for stopping by. My name is John Patrick and Attitude LLC is the name of my company. My activities include writing, speaking, investing, and board service. My areas of focus include healthcare, Internet and mobile voting, and technology. As you will see in the books I have written, I believe most big problems and big solutions involve Attitude. My latest book is Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better (2019). Robot Attitude and all the prior books are part of a Series called “It’s All About Attitude“. You can find all the details about each book here.


My blog below has more than 2,000 stories about technology, music, motorcycles, travel, business, Internet voting, robots, AI, healthcare, and more. Every Saturday morning, I publish an e-brief which contains an easy to read post or two about new developments in my areas of interest. Please sign up and give it a try. If you don’t like it, you can make one click and you will not receive it again. You can find me on social media on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. You can also find my background in Wikipedia.

John R. Patrick

I added the following Disclosure to my post about the Iowa caucus, Internet voting, MIT researchers, and Voatz:

Disclosure: I am not an investor in Voatz or any other Internet voting company. I do not receive any fees of any kind for what I say or write about Internet voting.

As predicted, the press has jumped on the idea of Internet voting and pointed out how insecure it is. I could not resist writing another post to get a more balanced point of view entered into the mix. I have also given some interviews and participated on panels about the subject. Following are some links to videos of what I had to say. There is some redundancy in the New York interviews. The links are:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLsHkes9-qQ&t=95s Pepperdine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxUm30YdYbw NYC 11/2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVajKvM4sco&t=32s NYC full interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdsZI-2ipes NYC August 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NWqWSY8z9k&t=303s Internet voting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Um4wnMZ1-s NYC August 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cJGsvfWyaw NYC August 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SfT6ENx-jg&t=3s NYC August 2016


Data Fact of the Week

Each of our body’s 10 trillion or so cells contains about six feet of DNA, the enormously long molecule that contains all the genetic information which makes us a person. If laid end to end, the DNA would reach to the sun and back dozens of times. An equally amazing comparison is with the size of each of our cell’s nucleus, the container which holds our DNA. The diameter of a typical nucleus is about 1 ten-millionth of an inch, making it 400,000 times smaller than the DNA which has to fit inside it. The compression factor is equivalent to folding 20 miles of string perfectly into a tennis ball.


Tesla has now reached a market capitalization of more than $160 billion. This is remarkable but just a fraction of the MAGFA group. See the table below. The five giants market cap has pulled back a bit but is nearly five and a half trillion dollars. All five companies are global, but to put their massive valuation into perspective, it represents 20% of the market cap of the U.S. S&P 500. Shareholders are happy, but government regulators and politicians are licking their chops. The pressure on big tech will continue to mount.

MAGFA Market Cap (02/21/20)
Microsoft $1.370 Trillion
Apple $1.390 Trillion
Google $1.030 Trillion
Facebook $0.602 Trillion
Amazon $1.050 Trillion
     
Total $5.442 Trillion
     
S&P 500 1/31/20 $26.720 Trillion
     
MAGFA 20%  

The next author event will be on March 19th at AdventHealth in Palm Coast, FL. The event is open to the public. The first 65 to register will get an autographed copy of
Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better

Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA

On Thursday morning, The New York Times ran a story about how MIT researchers found alleged flaws in the Voatz software used to support overseas military voters from West Virginia. Voatz has great success with mobile voting in multiple precincts around the country with no security problems. The terrible way in which the Iowa caucus vote reporting app was implemented with woefully inadequate testing and training was a rallying cry to researchers to find something wrong with Voatz. Researchers can be very helpful, but only if their approach to the research is itself beyond critique. It is not always the case.

Like many negative stories about Internet voting, the Times cited an experience with TrustTheVote software used by Washington, D.C. in 2010. The city technology team which implemented the voting system found a problem with the router which connected the voting server to the Internet. Perhaps because of time constraints, the router was replaced with a new one without setting a strong password. Protection of the voting server was limited to a default, out of the box, password which a high school kid could easily guess. When the voting server was turned on to the public for testing, with no security testing, researchers from the University of Michigan were able to break in to the server within minutes. Rather than quickly and discreetly work with the Washington technology team to fix the problems, the researchers caused the voting system to play the University of Michigan fight song each time the voting system’s integrity failed.

Is that research? Was the goal to help advance Internet voting for the benefit of the millions of voters who are disenfranchised by our 150 year old system, or was it to gain notoriety and bragging rights by taking down a poorly implemented voting server?

In the case of the MIT researchers and Voatz, there is much to question about their “research” approach. Suppose Apple found some bugs in release 10.0 of its software which they fixed in release 10.1. Suppose researchers decided to evaluate Apple’s software and, to do so, they elected to test the release 10.0, and then reported the bugs Apple had already fixed. Is that helpful research? In the case of Voatz mobile Internet voting software, the MIT researchers analyzed an Android version of the Voatz app that was at least 27 versions old. The software they reported on was never used in an election. The researchers did not have access to the Voatz server, so they created one which they believed would work like the Voatz server.

Research? Had the researchers taken the time, like nearly 100 other researchers who evaluated Voatz software, to test and verify their claims using the latest version of the Voatz platform, the outcome of the research would have been quite different. The MIT researchers did not inform Voatz of their testing nor offer to collaborate for the benefit of disenfranchised voters. Instead, they chose to remain anonymous and seek media attention around their findings. 

The leadership of the Democratic caucus did a terrible disservice to American democracy. With people already skeptical of Internet voting, the experts are now piling on saying “See, we told you so. Don’t even consider Internet voting”. The anti-Internet voting activists do not seem to be interested in the 100 million people in 2016 who could have voted but did not. 

West Virginia has not received much press coverage on the great leadership it has provided in this area. The state wants to make it easy for military and disabled citizens to vote wherever they may be. Rather than roll it out at the last minute with no testing, West Virginia worked with Voatz to thoroughly test the mobile voting system. Voter satisfaction with Voatz Internet voting was high, and the vote was accurate and secure.

Voatz has been very progressive and open in their testing approach. They established a public bug bounty program two years ago. Nearly 100 researchers helped the company find bugs. They were paid a bounty for bugs they found. The MIT researchers could have joined the public bug bounty program. Instead they chose a sneaky approach and tested out of date software and gave the results to The New York Times.

America has the best researchers in the world. They can help make Internet voting a great success which would strengthen our democracy. The goal should be enabling people to vote conveniently, securely, privately, accurately, and with verifiability. This can be done as Voatz has demonstrated. Come on researchers, let’s collaborate to make it even better.

Disclosure: I am not an investor in Voatz or any other Internet voting company. I do not receive any fees of any kind for what I say or write about Internet voting.

A Meet the Author event was held on Friday at a monthly meeting of the Senior Provider Information Network. The meeting was at the beautiful Market Street Memory Care Residence in Palm Coast, Florida. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow. Questions to [email protected]


As predicted, the press has jumped on the idea of Internet voting and pointed out how insecure it is. I could not resist writing another post to get a more balanced point of view entered into the mix. I have also given some interviews and participated on panels about the subject. Following are some links to videos of them. There is some redundancy in the New York interviews. The links are:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLsHkes9-qQ&t=95s Pepperdine
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxUm30YdYbw NYC 11/2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVajKvM4sco&t=32s NYC full interview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdsZI-2ipes NYC August 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NWqWSY8z9k&t=303s Internet voting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Um4wnMZ1-s NYC August 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cJGsvfWyaw NYC
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SfT6ENx-jg&t=3s NYC


Data Fact of the Week

Each of our body’s 10 trillion or so cells contains about six feet of DNA, the enormously long molecule that contains all the genetic information which makes us a person. If laid end to end, the DNA would reach to the sun and back dozens of times. An equally amazing comparison is with the size of each of our cell’s nucleus, the container which holds our DNA. The diameter of a typical nucleus is about 1 ten-millionth of an inch, making it 400,000 times smaller than the DNA which has to fit inside it. The compression factor is equivalent to folding 20 miles of string perfectly into a tennis ball.


Tesla has now reached a market capitalization of $145 billion. This is remarkable but just a fraction of the MAGFA group. See the table below. The five giants have now reached a market cap of five and a half trillion dollars. All five companies are global, but to put their massive valuation into perspective, it represents 21% of the market cap of the U.S. S&P 500. Shareholders are rejoicing, but government regulators and politicians are licking their chops. 

MAGFA Market Cap
Microsoft $1.400 Trillion
Apple $1.420 Trillion
Google $1.040 Trillion
Facebook $0.610 Trillion
Amazon $1.060 Trillion
     
Total $5.530 Trillion
     
S&P 500 1/31/20 $26.720 Trillion
     
MAGFA 21%  

 

Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA

A lot of knowledgeable experts will be weighing in with their points of view about what went wrong with the Iowa caucus vote counting. There were many problems but it is clear as can be the core problem was the lack of testing. I learned decades ago about the importance of testing anything involving software. The other thing I learned is software always does exactly what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do. The only way to get software to do what you want it to do is testing, and you can never test too much.

My team at IBM built a website for the Atlanta Olympic Games of 1996. In 1995, there were not many people who knew a lot about how to build really large websites or, for that matter, any kind of website. The Olympic site was the largest in the world back then, and we learned a lot in building it. We were humble with our expectations. We didn’t know how many people would come to the site, when they would come, or what they might do when they got there. We learned many lessons, but I can summarize it in a simple mantra: Think big, act bold, start simple, iterate fast (with testing). Another way to say it is to take a lot of baby steps.

The Olympic Games website was successful. For the first time, people around the world had real-time access to the individual and country results from the Olympic Games. We had a lot to share about how the site was developed but, unfortunately the story was overshadowed by a glitch in an unrelated application (the word app had not yet been invented) developed in Atlanta. The application was designed to distribute news and results to the press. A software developer made a change to the application but failed to test it. The result was a disaster. If an application was to have a failure for a customer, the last place you would want it to happen is with the press. 

In software development parlance, testing happens in phases. First is the alpha test to see if the concept works. Then comes beta testing where you bring in a small number of users and get their feedback. Sometimes software can be in the beta phase of testing for months or even years. When it is finally ready to go live for all users, the software is released. As an extreme example, Google introduced gmail in 2004 and kept it in beta for five years, signaling the company was still making feature changes and testing them. As of 2019, there are 1.5 billion users.

Development of a test plan is at least as important as the plan for the product or service itself. In the innovation group at IBM, my team would develop a new application and conduct the alpha test among just our own team. When everybody was happy, we would roll it out to a small subset, by invitation. When the team was satisfied with the testing progress, more beta users would be added. When it was clear the application was working properly and the users were happy, the application would be released for all users. 

Almost 20 years later I heard about the impending launch on October 1, 2013 of healthcare.gov. I knew it would be a failure from the get go. A project as massive as healthcare.gov which intends to serve all types of insured citizens in all 50 states can have many possible points of failure. It reminded me of the mantra I learned in 1996. It appeared the mantra for healthcare.gov was “think big, act big, start big, fail big”. The healthcare.gov site could have been introduced in one state for one type of insured. After successful testing, another state could be added. Then another type of insured. The proper testing would have spanned at least a year, in my opinion.

Clay Shirky, an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies, analyzed the failure in “Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality“. He concluded the developer’s idea that “failure is not an option” but, with no testing, was a fantasy. The developers feared if they openly tested the system before releasing it to the public, politicians would attack the purpose and efficacy of the site. The lack of testing caused catastrophic results.

And now, in 2020, after a vast accumulation over decades of experience with the Internet, the leaders of the Democratic caucus released an app which had virtually no testing. People in 1,700 precincts were told to download the app for the first time on the night of the caucus. The app was not available in the app store because it had not had proper testing. The users in the precincts had to follow a special download process which was daunting for many. In interviews before the caucus, leaders said they had a backup plan if things did not go well. The backup plan was a call center which also served as the technical support center for users having trouble with the app. Some users were on hold for hours and finally gave up. 

How difficult would it have been to have an alpha/beta test plan? It would have been relatively easy. It could have started with 17 of the 1,700 precincts. If successful, another 17, then 170, and after all were happy, released to all. A solid test plan would have taken months. It is clear from the various news reports the Democratic leadership had little or no technical competency and the vendor who developed the app had little experience with apps. 

The leadership of the Democratic caucus did a terrible disservice to American democracy. With people already skeptical of Internet voting, the experts are now piling on saying “See, we told you so. Don’t even consider Internet voting”. The Internet had nothing to do with this massive failure. It all came down to one simple concept: Testing. 

Another root cause of the Iowa disaster is the lack of technical skills. Voting was delegated by the Constitution to the Secretaries of State most of whom are lawyers. The administration of voting takes place at the county level, 3,000 of them. The staff and volunteers are hard working and dedicated to enabling people to vote. Unfortunately, the system they have to work with is a 150-year-old paper based system, the staffers are not technical, and budgets to upgrade are limited. 

In 2016, 100 million people who could have voted did not. Why? There is a long list of reasons. Absentee and vote early paper-based voting is not the answer. In Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy, I described how our smartphones with biometric authentication and blockchain technology can automate the voting process with security, privacy, accuracy, and verifiability. If we can land a robot on Mars, we certainly can automate voting. We just need the right attitude politically and technologically and a lot of testing.

West Virginia has shown great leadership in this area. They have been working with a Boston based technology company called Voatz. Voatz has a team of technology and voting experts. They designed a mobile blockchain app which has proven to be secure and easy to use. Rather than roll it out at the last minute with no testing, West Virginia worked with 144 overseas military voters residing in 31 countries. Ballots were submitted via the app for the November 2018 election. Before that, there was a smaller pilot of the system in two West Virginia counties in May 2018. Voter satisfaction with Voatz Internet voting was high, and the vote was accurate and secure.

We should not let the mismanaged Iowa experience diminish the vision to enfranchise the 100 million people who didn’t vote in 2016. We need Internet voting to have a strong democracy. As Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet said, “We can do this.” 

On Thursday afternoon I made a presentation to about 50 members at the Hammock Dunes Club, where I am a member. The topics I discussed included 5G, augmented reality (AR), Bitcoin, Blockchain, CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing for cancer treatment, facial recognition, home automation, Internet voting, mHealth, robots, and AI. All of these have been and will continue to be topics of my weekly blog posts.


Tesla has now reached a market capitalization of $138 billion. This is remarkable but just a fraction of what I call the MAGFA group. See the table below. The five giants have now reached a market cap of five and a half trillion dollars. All five companies are global, but to put their massive valuation into perspective, it represents 21% of the market cap of the U.S. S&P 500. Shareholders are rejoicing, but government regulators and politicians are licking their chops. 

MAGFA Market Cap
Microsoft $1.400 Trillion
Apple $1.420 Trillion
Google $1.040 Trillion
Facebook $0.607 Trillion
Amazon $1.040 Trillion
     
Total $5.507 Trillion
     
S&P 500 1/31/20 $26.720 Trillion
     
MAGFA 21%  


The next Meet the Author event will be February 14 in Palm Coast, Florida. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow. Questions to [email protected]


Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA

Picture by Active Implants LLC

There are many posts in this blog about knee surgeries and replacements. One of the problem areas is the meniscus, a C-shaped piece of rubbery yet tough cartilage which acts as a shock absorber between your shinbone and thighbone. A meniscus tear can occur if you suddenly twist your knee while bearing weight on it. The knee is the largest joint in the body, and a meniscus tear can result in swelling, popping, limping, giving way, and a lot of pain. Like many issues, age can be an issue contributing to meniscus tears.

A privately held medtech company with headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, Active Implants LLC, develops orthopedic implant solutions designed to complement the natural biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system. The company’s goal is to allow patients to maintain or return to an active lifestyle. The current focus of Active Implants is to gain clinical validation for its NUsurface® Meniscus Implant, the first artificial meniscus. The target market is to replace a meniscus which is damaged or deteriorating.

The NUsurface meniscus implant is designed for patients with persistent knee pain following medial meniscus surgery. The artificial meniscus is made from medical-grade polymer and other unique materials. Because of the composite structure and design, the artificial meniscus does not require fixation to bone or soft tissues. The NUsurface Implant design mimics the function of the natural meniscus and redistributes loads which are transmitted across the knee joint.

The NUsurface device is already being marketed in Belgium, Germany, Israel, and Italy. The U.S. FDA has designated the NUsurface implant as a “breakthrough device”. According to the Active Implants website, two clinical trials of the NUsurface® Meniscus Implant were fully enrolled as of June 2018. One trial is called SUN (Safety Using NUsurface®) and the other VENUS (Verifying the Effectiveness of the NUsurface® System). Final approval by the FDA is expected this year. If approved, it will be the first artificial meniscus in the United States.

As I wrote in Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better, we are continuing the journey where more and more non-biological items are being inserted in humans. At the same time, biological-like items are going into robots. When we reach the singularity, it will be very difficult to tell the difference between human and non-human beings. 

Source: First ‘Artificial Meniscus’ Wins FDA Breakthrough Device Designation | MDDI Online

Another of Elon Musk’s companies, spaceX, continues on a roll like Tesla. Wednesday morning there was a beautiful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket’s nine Merlin engines put 60 more StarLink satellites in orbit to expand the Internet service goals of the company. We will hear much more about this in coming months. After the stage 1 booster separated, it returned to Earth and made a perfect landing on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. I was able to see the rocket from my terrace which is about  80 miles north. Atop the rocket were the 60 satellites and two fairing pieces, like a clam shell, which protect the satellites during the trip to space. A fairing is 43 ft long and 17 ft in diameter. It weighs approximately 4,000 pounds. After the two fairing halves tumbled back to Earth, a spaceX ship in the ocean with a huge net was able to catch one of the fairings. Truly amazing. The other fairing had a near miss at a second ship. A fairing costs about $6 million, so the attempts are  worthwhile. Isn’t it amazing American and Russian space agencies have not thought of re-using booster rockets and fairings after their many decades at space launches?


Tesla has now reached a market capitalization of $103 billion and Apple now exceeds $1.4 trillion. Microsoft is almost at $1.3 trillion. Amazon and Google are north of $900 billion and Facebook is approaching $600 million. Who would have thought these numbers would be possible?


The next Meet the Author event will be February 6 in Palm Coast, Florida. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow. Questions to [email protected]


Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA

VotingSeveral House members have introduced a bipartisan resolution to modernize how Congress operates. It includes the ability to vote remotely or take part in hearings online. A California Congressman said, “Across the nation we see the development of new, innovative ways of conducting business to improve communication and connectedness. It’s time for Congress to learn to be more mobile and adapt to the times in which we live.” Amen.

What a great idea, although long overdue. Consider how the Senate votes. On January 21, the Senate held 11 votes related to amendments to a pending resolution. First, let me say I am not going to make a political pronouncement about whether the 11 votes should or should not have been passed. I want to comment on the mechanics of how they voted, not the politics. In the House, when a vote is called, it is over in a few minutes. The count is shown in real-time and members can modify their vote up to an announced cutoff. In the Senate, they vote the same way they did 150 years ago.

Our Senate uses the NBC (No buttons or clicking) method. The roll call is the controlling technology. Each vote starts with “Mr. Alexander”. Mr. Alexander then stands up and casts his voice vote. “Ms. Baldwin”, “Mr. Barrosso”, “Mr. Bennet, “Ms. Blackburn”, and the same for the other 95. After Mr. Young stands and casts his voice vote, there is a very long silence. Not sure what somebody is doing. I would hope all the votes were entered into some kind of app which then showed the totals, but it would not surprise me if they manually counted the votes and then had a second person double check. A long document is then presented to whoever is in charge, in this case the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

As I have written in Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy and in numerous posts, mobile blockchain voting is very doable. All we need to do is impose the political and technological will to overcome the fear and the protection of the status quo. It can be done and be secure, private, accurate, and verifiable. Much more so than paper ballots. In a closed chamber where all the 100 voters are in the room, a simple wired keypad application could easily handle the voting task. It would be a near instant vote count.

Every month I get an email from a software company called Smile. It includes a report telling me how many minutes I saved for the month as a result of using an app called TextExpander. I have the app on all my devices. When I type eatl, my device types on its own “Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy”. The time savings are up to an hour a month. Imagine how many hours the Senate could save if it had electronic voting.

Our Congress is the body of politicians who the tech industry is urging to develop regulations for artificial intelligence, facial recognition, cryptocurrency, and other critical and highly technical issues. Are the politicians, especially the Senate, up to it? You can guess how I would cast my vote on that question. The latest survey shows a job satisfaction of 9% for Congress. No surprise.

Hobby Attitude is the one! The final tally came in with 63% of the votes for Hobby Attitude. I have started an outline for the book and will update you from time to time on my plans and progress. Thanks for your interest.


One of Elon Musk’s companies, Tesla, continues on a roll. Tesla overtook Volkswagon as the world’s second most valuable carmaker behind Japan’s Toyota. Tesla’s stock has more than doubled in the last three months, with its market capitalization at $103 Billion as of the close on Thursday, exceeding that of Ford and GM combined. No stock can go straight up forever, but the short sellers have lost billions betting Tesla would stumble. Apple has now reached a market capitalization of $1.4 Trillion. Who would have thought Apple would become worth more than ten times the market cap of IBM?


The King Conservation District is a state environmental agency that encompasses Seattle and more than 30 other cities. The District is rolling out new technology will be used for a board of supervisors election. More than one million people will be able to vote from their smartphones. This is an historic event and, hopefully, will inspire other jurisdictions to begin pilot projects to enable Internet voting in 2022.


The next Meet the Author event will be February 6 in Palm Coast, Florida. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow.


Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA


Virtual image of human heart with cardiogram

Heart failure has been in the news a lot lately. It used to be the disease of older people, but younger ones (40-50) are gaining. The negative trend for younger people is mostly related to lifestyle. For us older (and wiser?) people, nearly 10 percent of those over 65 are afflicted with some form of congestive heart failure (CHF). As a side note, my mother died from CHF. Inspired by memories of what she went through, I did some research on using home telemonitoring to prevent readmissions to the hospital, a phenomenon which, unfortunately, accompanies CHF. My doctoral dissertation about the research is here.

More than 25 million people around the world have CHF. It is a costly chronic disease. CHF has a variety of causes but it is usually the result of the heart being unable to pump blood effectively through the body. Detecting the disease early and efficiently can have a large impact on the total cost of healthcare. A lot of the cost is associated with tests. In the long run, I believe the solution will revolve around AI and data.

The good news is there is a growing amount of data. The introduction of Apple Watch and other mobile/wearable health devices are collecting continuous streams of data from millions of people. If the data is anonymized, meaning stripped of any personally identifiable information, and accumulated in publicly available databases, great progress can be made.

Medical research in Europe gives a clue as to the potential. If you read Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better, you know about artificial intelligence (AI). A subset of AI is machine learning (ML), which I explained in the book. One of the algorithms used in the field of ML is called convolutional neural networks (CNN). What the researchers have demonstrated with CNN is mind boggling. They have been able to identify CHF almost instantly by applying the algorithm to just one heartbeat from ECG data. The accuracy of the detection was measured across a very large database of known CHF patients and those without. The accuracy was 100%.

New Atlas, a nearly 20 year old technology website, reported,

Even more interesting is the possibility of wearable health monitoring devices being able to help doctors identify at-risk patients without having to examine them in clinical contexts. Using short ECG recordings to detect CHF, could pave the way for health wearables that constantly monitor patients in real-world conditions.

The research I have described was published in the journal Biomedical Signal Processing and Control and reported in New Atlas as “100% accurate AI detects heart failure from single heartbeat“.

I mentioned at the beginning of the article detecting CHF early and efficiently can have a large impact on the total cost of healthcare. In my opinion, AI tools are going to have a huge impact. Some studies have suggested the cost of unnecessary tests and procedures in American healthcare is as much as $1.5 trillion. Visit the waiting room at a Florida cardiology practice or a radiology imaging center and you will see rooms full of seniors waiting to get tests.

Consider the impact. If there are 50 million people without healthcare insurance or who are under-insured, and if the cost per year of their care would be $10,000 (the average for a Medicare patient), the cost to give them healthcare, would be $500 billion or just one third of the unnecessary cost. This does not include the cost of fraud, the billions spent on TV advertising which add no benefits to our health, the over-charging of medications, and other inefficiencies.

I am not suggesting we give free healthcare. I believe everyone should pay some fair portion of the cost, if possible. I am simply making the point the real problem with our healthcare system is not the insurance, who is in and who is out, etc. The #1 problem is the excessive cost of our healthcare compared to other developed countries. AI is coming to the rescue.

Two topics I have gotten a lot of feedback on in the medical field have been arthritis and hearing impairment. Hearing can be impaired for various reasons. In my case, I vividly recall using a backpack leaf blower in November 1995 at our summer home in Pennsylvania. Hearing protectors were not as common then as now. After blowing leaves for a couple of hours, the leaf blower ran out of gas. When it stopped, both of my ears were ringing. They have been ringing ever since, 24×7. I have learned to live with the ringing, and annual hearing tests confirm I am able to hear adequately.

Another reason for hearing impairment is aging. An article published by The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) reported, “Hearing impairment has long been accepted as a fact of life for the aging population – an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss.” Count me and most of my friends in.

I have written here about various technology solutions such as cochlear implants and advanced technology to replace conventional hearing aids. Another bright spot is the Apple Research app. In partnership with the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors which impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing. The study data will be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contribution toward its Make Listening Safe initiative.

An alternative to new electronic technology may turn out to be biological. Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neuroscience. In a new study published in the European Journal of Neuroscience, scientists have been able to regrow the sensory hair cells found in the cochlea. This critical part of the inner ear converts sound vibrations into electrical signals which enables us to hear.

Scientists have known for a long time other animals such as birds, frogs, and fish have been shown to have the ability to regenerate lost sensory hair cells. For some unknown reason, humans cannot perform this regeneration. However, researchers are now discovering it is possible to activate and proliferate stem cells to become new sensory hair cells.  Repairing hearing is a complex problem and requires a series of events at a cellular level, but researchers now believe it is possible.

Despite the complexity, the progress seems stunning to me. I visited an expert in tinnitus (from the leaf blower) at Yale some years ago. He said, “There is no cure and there never will be.” I am 100% certain he is dead wrong. The progress in all aspects of medical research is stunning. I have been saying for years the medical progress in the next ten years will exceed what has been accomplished in the last 100 years. I continue to believe this.

Source: Study Points to Possible New Therapy for Hearing Loss – Newsroom – University of Rochester Medical Center

I hope everyone had happy and healthy holidays with friends and family. I look forward to sharing stories in the weekly e-brief beginning next week. One of my goals this year is to expand readership of the e-brief. Feedback is very positive and I hope you agree it would be nice to share it with more people. I will be making some changes to the e-brief format to make it easier to share. Happy New Year!

Key in Lock

One of my friends had his AOL account hacked this week. Unfortunately, I have had many friends to whom this has happened. Some people say it is weak security at AOL, but most experts would say the problem is a weak and or old password.

Make a New Year’s Resolution to get a password manager and clean up and organize all your passwords. You will sleep better and avoid the hassle of being hacked. There are many password managers available. I recommend 1Password. I have been using it for more than seven years.

1Password creates, stores, remembers, and automatically logs you into your websites. All of my passwords and those of my wife, more than 600 in total, are stored in the 1Password cloud. They are encrypted so if someone broke into the 1Password cloud and stole the passwords, the thief would not be able to use them. Our passwords are long, ugly, and impossible to remember.


Here is an example of one of my passwords:

jz#Ky68vJavWF*iAH#DbkepRUGavGy6L

I don’t think anyone will be guessing it. 


1Password will identify any passwords which are old and those which are duplicates. It is best to have no duplicate passwords. If one of the sites you use gets hacked and the bad guys get your password, you want to be sure it can’t be used at any of your other websites. It is easier to have a simple password like abc123 or something equally trivial. However, if you can remember it, it is not secure. I wrote a post about my experience with passwords five years ago you might find interesting (see Password Hell). Please put getting a password manager high on your list of New Year’s resolutions. If you want to compare some of the best password managers, take a look at PC Magazine‘s nice comparison chart called The Best Password Managers for 2020.

Hobby Attitude is the one! The final tally came in with 63% of the votes for Hobby Attitude. I have started an outline for the book and will update you from time to time on my plans and progress. Thanks for your interest.


One of Elon Musk’s companies, Tesla, is on a roll. There have been many skeptics and short sellers of the Tesla stock. 2019 was predicted by many to be a disastrous year for Tesla, but it wasn’t. Shares of the electric-car maker have gained almost 30 percent year to date. The market capitalization of Tesla is $78 Billion, more than twice that of Ford. Model 3 consumer demand and profitability are looking good. When I first drove my wife’s Model 3, I was sure it would be a winner. It accelerates like a jack rabbit and has a range of more than 300 miles. The amazing thing about it is all the things it doesn’t have. No transmission. No fluids except for windshield wiper. No engine with hundreds of parts. No muffler or tailpipe. Etc. The profitability of a $50,000 Model 3 has got to be impressive. Analysts are now saying Tesla should easily make its target of between 360,000 and 400,000 vehicles for 2019. That would mean a 45 percent to 65 percent increase from last year.


Apple has now reached a market capitalization of $1.3 Trillion. Who would have thought Apple would become worth ten times the market cap of IBM?


The next Meet the Author event will be February 6 in Palm Coast, Florida. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow.


Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA


The gift giving season is over but still a good time to buy books from the attitude series. All are available on Kindle and Paperback. Health Attitude and Election Attitude are available as Audible. Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

Solar power has achieved continuous improvement in efficiency. The demand is strong as consumer and business interest grows. I would love to implement Elon Musk’s vision at my summer home in Pennsylvania. The vision would include Tesla roof shingles which look like regular shingles but which contain solar cells. they are now available for sale. The second part of the vision is the Tesla Powerwall, a 4 foot by 3 foot by 6 inch battery or two in the garage or on the back terrace. Also available for sale. The sun would produce electricity to power the house and any left over would go to the batteries. If there is a power failure or if the sun is not shining, the battery provides limited power for a limited time. All this is controlled by setting various parameters on a smartphone app. The final part of the vision, of course, is to have a Tesla car plugged into the house and be powered by the sun.

The one catch is where the summer home is located there are a lot of trees. Tesla did an analysis using High Definition satellite imagery and concluded there would be a 20% shortfall of the needed energy for the house produced by the roof. Not enough sun, whether caused by too many trees or too many cloudy days, is a major limitation for the solar power vision. Shingles with solar cells built in are getting more efficient and may soon be adequate for a majority of homes. However, what to do about rainy days and cloudy skies? The Powerwalls can cover part of the problem but not entirely.

The answer may be sending sunshine harvested by a satellite down to Earth. Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov had a vision of space solar power in the early 1940s. Now, 75+ years later, his vision may become a reality. A Naval Research Lab has done a proof of concept where a laser beam was able to transmit 400 watts of power, enough for several small household appliances, across thousands of feet of air. The Navy believes this could lead to sending power to drones during flight.

A series of technological breakthroughs and a new government research program suggest Asimov’s vision may be closer to reality than previously thought. The basic idea is a giant satellite in orbit would collect energy from the sun and convert it to microwaves or laser beams and then transmit them to Earth where the microwaves or laser beams would be converted into electricity. Because the sun never sets in space, a space solar power system could supply renewable power to anywhere on Earth, day or night, rain or shine.

Space solar power has been one of those 30 year out predictions which kept moving further out. But, things are changing. NASA and the Defense Department have gotten behind the idea. In October, the Air Force Research Lab announced a $100 million program to develop hardware for a solar power satellite. The time is right. The military would like to be able to electrify forward operating bases rain or shine. California wildfires have forced PG&E to kill power for thousands of residents on multiple occasions. Solar space energy could provide renewable energy through the clouds and smoke. 

Naval Research Lab electronics engineer Paul Jaffe has been leading the charge on this exciting opportunity. He nicely summarized the geopolitical implications when he was quoted in Wired saying, “With GPS, we sort of take it for granted that no matter where we are on this planet, we can get precise navigation information. If the same thing could be done for energy, it would be revolutionary.”

Earlier this year China announced its intention to become the first country to build a solar power station in space. Japan has considered space solar power a national priority for more than a decade. Now that the U.S. military has gotten behind the solar space power idea and put funding in place, the U.S. may pull ahead. My house in PA vision is going nowhere, but as a country, we may be getting close to a solar farm in the solar system.

Source: How to Get Solar Power on a Rainy Day? Beam It From Space | WIRED

The vote continues to favor Hobby Attitude at more than 60% with Algorithm Attitude at less than 40%. If you have not yet done so, please cast your one-click choice here. You will see a brief summary of what each book would be about. I will continue the survey until yearend, and then update you on my plans.


SpaceX continues to be on a roll. On Monday, December 16 at 7:10 p.m, SpaceX launched a communications satellite made by Boeing from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The satellite weighs 15,335 pounds, making it one of the heaviest satellites ever launched by SpaceX. The satellite was deployed approximately 33 minutes after liftoff. The launch actually included two satellites launched together. This is called a condominium launch. The satellites belong to Japanese operator Sky Perfect and a Singaporean startup called Kacific. The satellites will provide dramatically improved Internet and voice communications in much of Asia. Just minutes after the launch, the stage 1 booster of the Falcon 9 landed on a barge off the Atlantic coast. Really cool stuff. In Q1 2020, SpaceX plans to launch a “Crew Dragon” capsule with humans aboard. Exciting times ahead. We will all soon have a Space Attitude. If you want to watch a video of the launch, click here.


Don’t believe everything you read about Wisconsin dropping 200,000 people from voter rolls. This is not voter suppression. When people move from one voting jurisdiction to another, they often don’t remember to notify the appropriate people. The state gains access to a number of databases from government agencies and can detect that someone has moved. A judge then mandated the state remove such people from the voter registration database. A lot of the issue has to do with outdated online systems and reliance on paper forms where misspelled names and birthdates are not detected. In Florida where I live, they have a Moter Voter law. If you make a change to your driver license or car registration, they ask you if you are registered to vote and, if not, they do it on the spot. One other point in a much misunderstood topic of voting is any Wisconsin voter who has been dropped from the voter list improperly can register to vote on election day. All they have to do is show a proof of residence, like a utility bill.


Another Meet the Author event has been scheduled for May 15 in Connecticut. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow.


Date

Event

Time

Location

June 11, 2020

Meet the Author

7:00 PM

Ridgefield Library
472 Main Street, Ridgefield, CT 06877

May 15, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

Founders Hall
193 Danbury Rd, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Arpil 15, 2020

Origins of the Internet   with Doug Maine and John Patrick

7:30 PM with Zoom

Virtual Playhouse
by Bedford Playhouse 
Bedford, NY

March 19, 2020 (to be rescheduled)

Community Forum

11:30 AM

AdventHealth Palm Coast 
60 Memorial Medical Pkwy
Palm Coast, FL 32164

February 14, 2020

Health Attitude with John Patrick

8:30 AM

Senior Provider Information Network
2 Corporate Dr.
Palm Coast, FL

February 6, 2020

Tech Talk 9 with John Patrick

1:00 PM

Hammock Dunes Club
Palm Coast, FL
Private event: Request invite
Mail to [email protected]

November 14, 2019

Meet the Author

1:00 PM

New Fairfield Senior Center
33 CT-37
New Fairfield, CT

October 9, 2019

Housatonic Habitat for Humanity Robotics Night

5:30 PM

Crowne Plaza Hotel
18 Old Ridgebury Rd
Danbury, CT

August 29, 2019

Meet the Author

5:30 PM

The Boiler Room
Hawley Silk Mill
8 Silk Mill Drive
Hawley, PA


The gift giving season is upon us. The attitude series presents a number of choices for parents, teenagers, and grandchildren. All are available on Kindle and Paperback with gift wrapping. Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

Picture by Biobeat Technologies LTD

The Apple Watch was introduced in April 2015. Skeptics came out of the woodwork and said the product was going nowhere. Since then sales of the Watch have skyrocketed. Estimates vary, but the latest forecast I have seen estimates 2019 sales will be more than 30 million watches, certainly way more than the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry shipments.

One of the drivers for Apple Watch since the Series 4 was introduced in September 2018 has been the electrocardiogram (ECG) feature. The ability to get the FDA approved equivalent of a lead 1 ECG in 30 seconds has appealed to many people, especially those who have atrial fibrillation or would like to be able to know if it appears.

A question I am often asked is when will be able to check our blood pressure on our watch. There are numerous wireless blood cuffs which can take your blood pressure and save the results on your iPhone (I recommend Qardio). I suspect Apple will expand the Health app on the Watch so you can see all health-related data on your Watch. However, the Watch cannot (at least yet) take your blood pressure. Biobeat Technologies LTD (not to be confused with Biobeats, another healthcare startup), is a Tel Aviv, Israel startup about to be changing the game. The company is promoting a new watch which includes blood pressure monitoring with no blood cuff.

Biobeat’s sensors are based on plethysmography technology. Plethysmography measures changes in volume in different areas of your body. It is typically used to test how much air is in your lungs after you take in a deep breath. Biobeat’s watch has sensors which can detect how much blood is in the veins under your wrist. The company also has a version of the watch technology which you can stick on your chest and measure your blood pressure.

The company said its products are now FDA approved and feature a cloud connectivity capability which allows your blood pressure to be sent electronically to a caregiver or healthcare provider. But wait, there’s more!

In addition to Continuous Blood Pressure, Biobeat claims its watch sensors can detect Mean Arterial Pressure, Pulse Rate, Respiratory Rate, Blood Saturation, Stroke Volume, Cardiac output, Cardiac Index, Heart Rate Variability, Pulse Pressure, Systemic Vascular Resistance, One Lead ECG (patch only), Sweat, Movement, Skin Temperature, Sleep Lab, Calories, and Time. Details are a bit sketchy, but the company claims they have FDA approval for blood pressure, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation vital signs. They further claim they have approval for all nearly twenty measurements in Europe.

Battery life for the watch is 3 days and, for the patch, 10 days.  Time will tell if Biobeats is the breakthrough in passive and continuous vital sign tracking it claims to be. The watch has a one year warranty but, if you read the BIOBEAT TERMS OF USE, you will see there is no warranty on the accuracy of its measurements.

Biobeats may be a bit ahead of itself, but I am a believer. I wrote a journal article about mobile health (mHealth) called “How mHealth will spur consumer-led healthcare” published in July 2015. I believe mHealth options will continue to expand and will ultimately lead to lower healthcare cost and improved health for those who are chronically ill.

Disclosure: I am not an investor in any company mentioned in this article.

The vote continues to favor Hobby Attitude at more than 60% with Algorithm Attitude at less than 40%. If you have not yet done so, please cast your one-click choice here. You will see a brief summary of what each book would be about. I will continue the survey until yearend.


SpaceX continues to be on a roll. On December 5, they launched CRS-19. This is the Commercial Resupply Services’ 19th mission to the International Space Station. The payload included 5,700 pounds with dozens of research packages. The research will be valuable and can benefit humanity. The types of research to be conducted cannot be done on Earth. The Falcon 9 rocket put the Dragon capsule in orbit and it docked to the ISS a few days later. Just minutes after the launch, the stage 1 booster of the Falcon 9 landed on a barge off the Atlantic coast. Really cool stuff. In Q1 2020, SpaceX plans to launch a “Crew Dragon” capsule with humans aboard. Exciting times ahead. We will all soon have a Space Attitude.


Yoshua Bengio, Revered Architect of AI, Has Some Ideas About What to Build Next. You can read this very interesting article here. You can find other articles and videos about AI on the Robot Attitude companion site at robotattitude.info.


Another Meet the Author event has been scheduled for May 15 in Connecticut. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow.



The gift giving season is upon us. The attitude series presents a number of choices for parents, teenagers, and grandchildren. All are available on Kindle and Paperback with gift wrapping. Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

Every day, there are stories in the media about climate change. I have seen none which would make one feel the problem is not real. Based on a new UN report, Axios wrote “Nothing is happening remotely fast enough to save humanity from facing the self-inflicted disaster of runaway climate change”. The issue is how real is the threat exactly and how soon will we see a catastrophic effect? The challenge is the subject consists of incredibly complex and interconnected parts. We really need better ways to understand the full picture and how various policy decisions and goals would affect the situation.

An independent, not-for-profit think-tank which grew out of MIT Sloan in Cambridge, Massachusetts, called Climate Interactive has a solution which allows us to see what is really going on. Their PhD researchers and experts in climate and in information technology have a long history of creating system dynamics models. I studied modeling many years ago in grad school, but the capabilities of computers today were not dreamed of back then. Today, Climate Interactive can create simulations and insights which can help people see the connections between variables and play out scenarios. The models can help us see what works to affect climate change and what the impact would be on issues such as energy, health, and food.

The name of the model created by Climate Interactive is En-ROADS. They have used it to brief dozens of US Senators, Representatives, and their staffers from both sides of the aisle using the simulation. The power of En-ROADS is two-fold: it is accessible and free to all, and simultaneously is grounded in cutting-edge climate, energy, and land science. The En-ROADS simulator has been under development for more than 10 years co-developed by system dynamics modelers at Climate Interactive and MIT. 

The En-Roads tool can test climate interventions and see the effect on mitigating global warming. Users can explore the dynamics in energy supply, land-use, transportation, carbon removal, and other variables. The idea is to take the emotion out of the discussion and focus on the driving forces and the policies which dictate their behavior. To see a two-minute video of En-Roads in action, click here and play the video. To interact with the model yourself, click here. It is pretty slick. You can apply the policies you believe in and see the actual impact.

 

A recent survey of a few thousand people showed concern about the environment is inversely proportional to age. Another way to say it is young people care more about it than older people. Maybe some older folks figure if, in 50 years, we run out of food and our cities are underwater, it won’t matter. Just kidding. I think we all care and would like to see a concerted effort by policy makers to take action and work together. Tools like En-Roads can elevate the discussion.

 

Reginald Merilus is an Air Force veteran and a communication studies Major at The University of Tampa in Florida. He says, “Smartphone voting is coming, let’s embrace it”. I could not agree more. The key question is when? The current strategy of the Secretaries of State, who control how we vote, most politicians, and a cadre of academics, who I call anti-Internet voting activists, are all convinced it is not possible to have secure elections without paper. I could not disagree more. Reginald offers a simple analysis,

Election Day 2020 is less than a year away and imagine that you’re sitting on your couch working on a research paper and it hits you: You forgot to vote today. In the midst of your hectic schedule, you forgot to drive over to the federal building to cast your ballot. Does that make you a bad person? Of course not. More and more has been added to your plate.

Our everyday lives have been transferred completely onto our smartphones. When was the last time you used a bank teller versus the ATM? Today’s youth are digital natives and expect technology to improve most aspects of their lives. In our workplaces, the line between work and home has been completely blurred. We send emails after office hours. We work on group projects away from one another. We livestream class discussions using Periscope. If we can use smartphones for just about anything, why not for voting in presidential elections?

Election Day in the United States typically falls on a Tuesday and is not a federal holiday. Holding elections at the beginning of the work week limits the amount of voters who can make it to the polls. We have an obsession with work in this country that deters some people from asking for time off to vote. Being able to cast a secure vote over an app would drastically increase voter turnout. 

Reginald believes the problem holding us back from a more modern way to vote is fear. I agree and did research into this for my book, Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy. I have been predicting the move back to paper will introduce new kinds of fraud, like someone bribing postal carriers to pick up ballot envelopes from certain neighborhoods and put them in a dumpster. Our smartphones can authenticate we are who we say we are. Properly implemented, they can provide elections which are secure, private, convenient, easy, error free, and verifiable. Reginald wraps it up really well,

The 2018 midterm elections have been recognized for its high voter turnout. In 2018, 40% of voters used either voting by mail or early voting. Showing again that a large percentage of voters find it more convenient not to head to the polls. Not due to disinterest but more so due to inconvenience. Young voters just starting a career might be afraid to ask for time off from work to vote. Here at The University of Tampa, we have students from all over the country who quite frankly, probably never had to mail in anything. This doesn’t mean that they’re lazy. “Honestly, it seemed like a huge hassle between classes and fraternity stuff,” said Alia Strukel, a student at UT. “If it’s safe and done right, yeah why not.” 

I understand the fears of mobile voting, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.” So I’m taking the positive approach believing that what allows us to progress in innovation is learning from our mistakes in the pursuit of perfection.  Hopefully, we decide to pursue smartphone voting and not acquiesce to fear. So on Election Day in the near future, instead of stressing over making it to your polling location, you’ll be able to cast a vote from the comfort of your couch. 

Congress should pay more attention to what students have to say. They are very much in touch with many of the world’s key issues. Among them is voter participation for a stronger democracy, and how people vote.

Source: Smartphone voting is coming, let’s embrace it – Est. 1933

Picture from apple.com

In 2010, at age 65, after serving on a hospital board of directors for some years, I decided to go back to school and study healthcare. I received a doctoral degree four years later. During the final year, a requirement of the doctoral program was to conduct research and publish a dissertation. The title of my dissertation was Cardiac telemonitoring for the reduction of hospital readmissions for congestive heart failure patients.

One of the key elements of any research study is the size (referred to as the N) and statistical validity of the sample you study. For my study, in conjunction with a teaching community hospital, I identified 344 congestive heart failure patients who were assessed for inclusion in the cardiac telemonitoring study. Two hundred and eighty-eight patients were excluded for various valid reasons mostly involving nursing homes, 30 declined to participate, and 10 withdrew after having been included in the study. The result was an N of 16 patients who completed the study.

The result of the study provided significant insight to healthcare leaders. It provided a basis to develop new standards of care and lead to improved patient safety and a higher quality of care. The research could also result in improved quality of life for patients and their families. However, the goal of the study was to determine if home telemonitoring could reduce the number of hospital readmissions. My hypothesis was it could. Unfortunately, the N was not large enough to provide a statistically valid conclusion.

Millions of studies and articles occur. One study of studies said 85% of the studies were not helpful. There are numerous reasons why a study may be flawed. Bias can be introduced in the way study participants are selected. For example, one reason is a study may be trying to prove something and the study participants are paid. Another major reason a study may not have valid conclusions is the lack of a big N.

A federally funded, international study, with results released this past week, found no evidence patients with severe but stable heart disease who underwent heart procedures experienced lower rates of major, disease-related events compared to those treated with medications and lifestyle changes alone. The study randomly assigned 5,179 patients at 320 sites in 37 countries to receive one of the two treatment strategies. The study was more than twice as large as any previous study of its kind. Studies with a big N can be more valid, but they are expensive to conduct.

Enter Apple, showing its appetite for keeping us healthy (and selling lots of iPhones and Watches), which has announced a new model for research. This past week, Apple introduced three unprecedented medical studies, in partnership with leading academic and research institutions, which will reach more participants than has ever been possible. The studies will be available on the new Research app, which democratizes how medical research is conducted by bringing together academic medical institutions, healthcare organizations, and Apple iPhone users. Since hundreds of millions of people have already made iPhone apps a part of their everyday life, enabling them to participate in medical research is a natural. Participants will contribute to potential medical discoveries and help create the next generation of innovative health products. The Research app is free and available in the App Store.

With the Apple Heart Study conducted a year ago, the company demonstrated it could positively impact medical research in ways which help patients today and make research contributions which may benefit future generations. Instead of an N of a dozen or hundreds or even thousands, the potential now will be N = millions. There will likely be many studies which will appear in the Research app over time. The three new studies just announced include the following.

  • Apple Women’s Health Study: In partnership with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), Apple has created the first long-term study of this scale focused on menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions. This study will inform screening and risk assessment of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), infertility, osteoporosis, pregnancy and menopausal transition.
  • Apple Heart and Movement Study: Apple is partnering with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the American Heart Association on a comprehensive study of how heart rate and mobility signals — like walking pace and flights of stairs climbed — relate to hospitalizations, falls, heart health and quality of life in order to promote healthy movement and improved cardiovascular health.
  • Apple Hearing Study: Alongside the University of Michigan, Apple is examining factors that impact hearing health. The Apple Hearing Health Study is the first of its kind to collect data over time in order to understand how everyday sound exposure can impact hearing. The study data will also be shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) as a contribution toward its Make Listening Safe initiative.
Scientist replacing part of a DNA molecule

About three years ago, I wrote about CRISPR technology, not exactly a household name. CRISPR stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. If you read the details about CRISPR, it might make your head hurt. It is really complex. CRISPR was discovered in 2007 when a yogurt company found a bacteria which could eliminate viruses. The technology has evolved dramatically over the last few years into a gene editing technique which may become a powerful tool for the cure of cancer. You will be seeing the term CRISPR more and more in the months ahead.

Laboratory experiments have shown it is possible to literally eliminate cancer tumors. Today’s chemotherapy treatments are aimed at killing the cancer cells. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. The side effects can be severe. The gene editing approach is designed to modify our DNA and have our body fight the cancer instead of the chemo. I think of CRISPR technology like video editing. A video clip consists of a series of video frames. A video editor enables you to remove frames which might be irrelevant or unappealing. You then save the modified video.

Some top experts are very optimistic CRISPR may become the cure researchers have been seeking for decades. Chinese scientists have performed CRISPR gene editing on humans and have claimed some success, but have revealed very little information about what they did and what the results were. The U.S. has been more cautious and concerned about patient safety. The concern is the editing may correct a defective gene mutation but, in the process, solve one problem and create some new unanticipated problem.

This week, researchers released data from the first study involving U.S. cancer patients who received cells genetically modified with CRISPR. The highly anticipated results are very preliminary, but scientists say the results are encouraging. The study focused on safety, not efficacy. NPR reported “This is a very important first step,” says Dr. Edward Stadtmauer, a professor in oncology at the University of Pennsylvania and the study’s principal investigator. “We hope this is the beginning of the next generation of engineering cells to help many different diseases and many different tumors.”

When I first wrote about CRISPR three years ago, it was very early in development. A gene-editing trial with a volunteer teenager in 1999 ended in his tragic death. This was a setback of years, but much has been learned. The University of Pennsylvania, where the trial took place, is being very cautious but is advancing the technology. Plans include a trial with 18 participants who have sarcoma, melanoma or myeloma. The end goal of the CRISPR technology is to create living drugs which can be put in our bodies to eradicate tumor cells. Although not imminent, what I have read and heard from experts suggests it is not far away to say cancer has finally been eliminated.

Read earlier story about Chinese Scientists To Perform First Ever CRISPR Gene-Editing Trial On HumansRead more about the role of genetics in the future of healthcare in Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare.

Book #7: The response to the Survey Monkey so far is 4%. That is a very good response rate for surveys. Thank you for that. You are helping me select the next book in the “It’s All About Attitude” Series. So far, the vote favors Hobby Attitude at 57% with Algorithm Attitude at 43%. Thanks again to all those who cast their vote. If you have not yet done so, please cast your one-click choice here. You will see a brief summary of what each book would be about.

The OCLC board meeting took place in Dublin, Ohio during Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. From there my wife and I flew to Boston and had dinner with one of our sons who works in Boston and our oldest granddaughter who is a student at Northeastern University. The following night we enjoyed the Boston Symphony Orchestra concert and then nearly froze walking back to the hotel. The next day we drove back to Connecticut.


Another Meet the Author event was held on Thursday at the New Fairfield Senior center. Audience participation was great and I was pleased to donate 100% of the book sale proceeds to the Senior Center. Additional author events will be held in Florida during the 1st quarter of 2020 and then more back in Connecticut in the Spring. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events will follow.


Later that evening, I was fortunate to attend a Singularity University event at Ridgewood Country Club. Bob Reby, founder, president and CEO of Reby Advisors, a financial planning firm in Danbury hosted the event. Founded in 2008, the Santa Clara, California-based Singularity University promotes itself as a “global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build a better future for all.” Mr. Reby had a fireside chat with Dr. Sam Gandy, an international expert in the metabolism of the sticky substance called amyloid which clogs the brain in patients with Alzheimer’s. The discussion was very encouraging. I’ll write a future post about it.


Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett last January announced they were teaming up to tackle rising health-care costs. In the year the nonprofit company has been without a name, people have started calling it “ABC.” It’s now called Haven. Source: Amazon, JP Morgan, Berkshire Hathaway health-care venture named: Haven

In August 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported major tech companies had signed a commitment to “share the common quest to unlock the potential in health care data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.” The companies, convened at a White House event focused on healthcare technology. The group included Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce. Apparently, Apple was not at the meeting, but is quite active in healthcare, much of it centered around its cardiac monitoring program with the Apple Watch and the Apple Health app.  

The promise the companies made should help accelerate the emergence of a data-driven revolution in healthcare. Patients, providers, payers, and researchers all need easier and more compatible access to health records in order to enhance patient safety and lower the cost of healthcare. Unfortunately, healthcare data today is stored in silos at providers and payers. In large part, our healthcare data is locked up.

In theory, patients have access to their health data since the Obama administration distributed $30+ billion in incentives for the creation of patient portals and electronic health records (EHRs). The reality is quite different. Most people over 65 have multiple providers. Consolidation has occurred and many hospital networks have a range of services. However, some of the sub-specialty providers, such as urology and dermatology, remain outside of the networks. In addition, standalone practices in orthopedics and radiology have their own EHRs and portals. Another factor adding to the complexity is many people choose to get a second opinion or comparison shop on services such as radiology. The result of all this fragmentation is patients don’t have one patient portal, they have multiple. I have 15. Nobody in the team of providers has a total view, including the patient.

Healthcare records are incompatible between providers. Even worse, you can look at test results at one provider, but you can’t easily download or email information from a record to another provider. You also cannot sort or search your health data. The bottom line is EHRs have become a train wreck. It is a tie between patients and providers as to who dislikes EHRs the most. EHRs are a failed promise. We can’t live without them, we can’t live with them.

G. W. Bush hired a Chief Information Officer to fix this problem more than ten years ago. The CIO knew how to fix the problem but could not pierce the armor of special interest groups who wanted government to stay away from the issue. The CIO resigned in frustration. The current head of HHS, Alex Azar, is saying all the right things but is also having trouble getting past the special interest groups. The bottom line is government has been completely ineffective in solving the healthcare data and related cost problems. Now it is time to see what the tech giants can do.

I am optimistic the promise made by the companies mentioned above will be successful. There are a number of reasons for my optimism. First is healthcare cost has risen out of control to the point where it is nearly 20% of the economy. The tech companies are not startups. They have hundreds of billions in revenue and millions of employees which cost the companies billions of dollars for healthcare. They are motivated to solve the healthcare problem. The second reason for my optimism is technology. Cloud computing and AI have risen like a rocket ship. I believe they will be able to bridge the silos and make data access easier for all. Apple, for example, is making great strides to incorporate EHR data into its Health app.

Security technology has evolved to provide anonymity and protection of the data. Equifax and others have shown their incompetence in this regard, but the tech giants know how to do it. Lastly, mobile technology has advanced rapidly. With finger prints and face prints, they offer strong authentication. Mobile apps are easier to use. Banks, travel companies, food services, and many other segments have developed mobile apps which are easy to use and way better than their websites, except in healthcare. I expect Atul Gawande, CEO of the new Amazon/JP Morgan/Berkshire Hathaway healthcare company Haven, to become a shining light to help rally all the tech companies to work together. They are fierce competitors, but the motivation to solve the healthcare cost problem is huge. 

The Wall Street Journal said, “The Trump administration sees better use of health-care data as a key to unlocking savings and holding down costs while improving outcomes.” Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said, “We want to lean into technology and use it as a potent force to create more efficiencies in our system.” I believe the tech giants will help make this happen.

Another reason for my optimism is Atul Gawande. I first met Atul in 2012 at an event in New York held by The New Yorker. He gave a brilliant and inspiring talk. I have read all his books and follow him on Twitter. He is an incredible physician with superb communications skills. The following are the guiding principles Dr. Gawande stated for Haven:

  • We will be an advocate for the patient and an ally to anyone — clinicians, industry leaders, innovators, policymakers, and others — who makes patient care and costs better.
  • We will create new solutions and work to change systems, technologies, contracts, policy, and whatever else is in the way of better health care.
  • We will be relentless. We will insure our work has high impact and is sustainable. And we are committed to doing this work for the long-term.

Most of the politicians talk about healthcare coverage, but few talk about healthcare quality and cost, which are the real problems, especially cost. Congress continues to stand in the way of addressing the cost problem. Haven has the right vision and I believe others will join the effort.

Book #7: The response to the next book in the “It’s All About Attitude” Series survey has been very good. So far, the vote favors Hobby Attitude, but not by much. Algorithm Attitude is very close. Thanks to all those who cast their vote. If you have not yet done so, please cast your one-click choice here. You will see a brief summary of what each book would be about.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.


Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign continues to gain momentum. The first customer of Wifigen has now made an investment! One early investor of $10,000 has invested an additional $5,000. There are just shy of 80 investors, and the total invested is very close to the $50,000 minimum goal. Investments have ranged from $250 to $15,000. Wi-Fi is great but, for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment, Wifigen can make it even better. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.
Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

(file photo) ( Getty/iStock )

Research scientists at the University of California San Diego have created a robotic lens which can be controlled by small eye movements. For example, a double blink can cause the lens to zoom in. This amazing innovation was made possible by the discovery of a natural electrical charge in the eye called an “electro-oculographic signal”. The new lens is made from polymers which can expand when an electrical current is applied. The lens has five tiny electrodes surrounding the eye which can act like muscles. When the eye blinks, the signal is applied to the lens and the lens responds by becoming more convex. The result is the lens in effect zooms in. 

Researchers hope this breakthrough technology will have the potential to lead to prosthetic eyes, adjustable eyes, an eye camera which could be controlled using just the eyes, or even controlled remotely. 

Source: Robotic contact lens that allows users to zoom in by blinking eyes revealed by scientists

I read The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil in 2006 and started writing about it in 2013. Robot Attitude has a section about the Singularity and Ray Kurzweil and describes how robots are becoming more like humans and we are becoming more like robots. The robotic lens is one more of many examples. If you are curious about the Singularity, read Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better.

I have been thinking for some time about the next book in the “It’s All About Attitude” Series. I have two ideas and would love to know your reaction, so I made a simple one-question SurveyMonkey. I would appreciate it if you take a minute and cast your one-click choice here.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.


Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign continues to gain momentum. The first customer of Wifigen has now made an investment! There are more than 70 investors, and the total invested is approaching $50,000. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. Wi-Fi is great but, for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment, Wifigen makes it even better. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.
Amazon now has two Series pages featuring “It’s All About Attitude”. The Kindle page is here and the paperback page is here. Take a look!

Photo by the University of Maine

The University of Maine has printed a 25-foot, 5,000-pound, fully seaworthy boat using the world’s largest 3D printer. The 70 feet long printer uses plastic polymer pellets to form the “ink” for printing. It consumes up to 500 pounds of it per hour. The boat was printed in one solid piece resulting from non-stop printing over 72 hours. It cost about $40,000 to produce.

The university’s Advanced Structures & Composite Center printed the boat but, more importantly, has demonstrated how the huge printer can create large prototypes which can be valuable for product development at companies in many industries. The printer can spur innovation and decrease time to market compared to older methods.

3-D printing is becoming ubiquitous. From a 25-foot boat to human implants, the technology is leading to lower costs, better products, and even longer human lives.

Source: You’re gonna need a bigger boat? UMaine has printer for that

The cruise with Silversea was really great. We met a lot of very interesting people and learned a lot from them. I proposed an author chat to the cruise director. She promoted the idea, and nine authors attended the event in the ship’s observatory. Each author talked about what they have written and we exchanged Q&A. Everyone seemed to enjoy the time. We spent a night in Montreal at the end of the cruise and then drove to Lake George, New York for a night at The Sagamore Resort. Just down the road from the resort was a group of homes on the lake which are part of the Westover Homeowners Association. When I was a kid, my parents took my brothers and I on summer vacations at the Westover Lodge, which was owned by my mother’s brother and his wife. I stopped by and asked one of the homeowners if he remembered my Uncle’s lodge and cabins, all of which have been replaced or revamped as part of the private homeowner association. He said no and asked how long has it been since I visited. I said about 65 years! I will post some pictures of the two great weeks when I find time.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.


Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign is gaining some momentum. There are now more than 70 investors, and more than $40,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make Wi-Fi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.

Robot Attitude is available in Paperback and Kindle. You can see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

It was time for a break. The cruise with Silversea departed from New York City on Friday evening. The first stop was in Newport, Rhode Island. The next day we arrived in Boston and had lunch with our son and granddaughter who live there. The next day we arrived in Saint John, Canada and then the next day in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We arrived in Sydney, Canada or Thursday morning. The next stop will be Charlottetown, and then on to Quebec City, and finally in Montreal. After a stop at the Sagamore on Lake George, we will be back in Danbury, and I will resume my regular blog posts. I will post some cruise pictures sometime after I return.

Below is another picture from the Meet the Author benefit for Housatonic Habitat for Humanity which took place on October 9. The nationally acclaimed League of Extraordinary Roboticists was appreciated by all. Also, take a look at robotattitude.info for an assortment of robot videos. Thanks to all for a great night in support of Habitat.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.

Robot Attitude is available in Paperback and Kindle. You can see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

Marc Raibert believes the impact of robots will be greater than the Internet. He is one of the few who has the credibility to make such a statement. In 1980, Marc founded the Carnegie Mellon University Leg Lab. He is a professor at CMU and MIT. In 1992, he founded Boston Dynamics, a world leader in mobile robots with a reputation for tackling some of the toughest robotics challenges. The company combines the principles of dynamic control and balance with sophisticated mechanical designs, advanced electronics, and next-generation software. They create robots equipped with perception, navigation, and, yes, intelligence.

Knowing a lot about how legs work, Dr. Raibert developed the first self-balancing, hopping robot, a significant step forward in robotics. Raibert’s dream is to advance bipedal and quadrupedal robotics to a supernatural state. I am not so sure about the supernatural part, but I am convinced his dream about robotic dogs is a winner. Watch the mind-blowing video above and see a glimpse of the future, which is already here.

As you can see, Spot, the four-legged robotic assistant “dog” has surprising dexterity, can open doors, and handle tasks in industrial or construction settings which humans may not want to do. It climbs stairs, navigates irregular terrain, and is immune to rain and dust. Using a built-in camera and sensors. the robot can trot at up to 3 miles an hour.

Now that Spot is becoming available for sale or lease, the most useful applications for it will be determined by the customers. One likely possibility is performing visual inspections in workspaces which may not be safe for humans. Future options will no doubt include an appendage which can pick up and grasp objects.

Boston Dynamcis has not announced a price, but a technology magazine wrote it might “cost as much as a luxury car.”

I hope you enjoyed the Dog Robot and Tesla Software stories. You can always browse johnpatrick.com and see nearly 2,000 postings. You can also search or select by category or tag. If you are not receiving my weekly e-brief, just click here. Please click on the envelope below to share this with friends and family. Following are some updates on other items.

The Meet the Author benefit for Housatonic Habitat for Humanity took place on Wednesday night. Seventy-five people attended and they bought a lot of Attitude books. All of the proceeds were donated to Habitat. Practical Robotic Services, Microsoft, and the nationally acclaimed League of Extraordinary Roboticists were there and educated all of us about robots. See below for some pictures and a short video of one of the robot attendees. Also, take a look at robotattitude.info for lots more robot videos. Thanks to all for a great night in support of Habitat.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.

Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign is continuing. There are 64 investors and growing, and more than $36,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make Wi-Fi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.

Robot Attitude is available in Paperback and Kindle. You can see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

A Tesla owner, fan, and commentator

Tesla delivered 97,000 new cars in the quarter just ended on 9/30. Most of them were the Model 3 (which my wife has). Whether model 3, model S, or Model X, they all use basically the same software, just like different models of the iPhone all use iOS. When a new version of the Tesla software becomes available, a message appears on your Tesla’s huge flat panel display (17″ on the Model S and 15″ on the Model 3). It tells you how long the update will take (usually 25 minutes), and enables you to pick what time you want to have the update take place.

The software is downloaded using the Wi-Fi access point I have in the garage which easily reaches the Model 3 and the Model S. I usually select late at night and, in the morning, I can read the release notes on the flat panel to see what is new. The September update was to Version 10.0 and, in the course of a week, Tesla owners around the world will have the new software. V10 is Tesla’s biggest software update ever. The company says,

We’re raising the bar for what people have come to expect from their cars with new entertainment, gaming, music, and convenience features designed to make your car much more capable, as well as making time spent in your car more fun.

At the end of last year, Tesla had nearly 50,000 employees. They have had some layoffs to become more streamlined and cut some costs, but I doubt if they laid off any engineers. I could not find out how many software engineers they have, but I am sure it is thousands. It is clear to me the Tesla cars are as much a software platform as a transportation vehicle. Here’s a look at what’s new in V10:

Tesla Theater
You can now connect your flat panel display to your Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu accounts to watch your favorite shows, movies and content on your Tesla’s display while you are parked. Another new feature is access to Tesla tutorial videos to learn more about the car.

Smart Summon
With Smart Summon, for customers who have purchased the Full Self-Driving Capability or Enhanced Autopilot option, you can enable your car to navigate a parking lot and come to you as long as your car is within line of sight. Tesla says, “It’s the perfect feature to use if you have an overflowing shopping cart, are dealing with a fussy child, or simply don’t want to walk to your car in the rain.”

Karaoke
The new “Car-aoke” feature lets you sing your heart out with friends on a road trip, or by yourself. Caraoke comes with a huge library of music and song lyrics. I don’t see myself using this feature very much.

Restaurants & Destinations
The new “I’m Feeling Lucky” and “I’m Feeling Hungry” navigation features will lead you on an adventure to a local restaurant or point of interest within your car’s range. Tesla said in its testing, “We’ve been taken to hole-in-the-wall restaurants, gourmet meals, national parks, city landmarks and more.”

V10 also improved maps so search results are sorted based on distance to each destination. You can also tap on highlighted points of interest, businesses, or search results to see business ratings, start a phone call, or begin navigating to the location.

Music & Podcasts
This is the biggie for me: V10 now has Spotify Premium account access. I have used Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, and a few others. In my opinion, Spotify is hands down the best. It is super easy to download an unlimited amount of music from the many millions of tracks available and then play them on a plane or ship with no Wi-Fi connection. The Slacker and TuneIn music services on the Tesla are good but not nearly as good as Spotify.

Tesla Arcade
I am not a gamer, but I can see how the Tesla Arcade will be very popular for people who like to play games while waiting in their car. The Arcade has a full menu of games to choose from.

Security & Convenience
The Dashcam and Sentry Mode features are now easier to manage. Sentry Mode continuously monitors the environment around your Tesla when it’s left unattended. Like many home alarm systems, it uses the car’s external cameras to detect potential threats. If someone hits or messes with your car, you will have video clip evidence which is stored automatically on your USB drive.

V10 has a number of user interface changes to make things easier. One of my favorites is the new “Joe Mode,” which lowers the cabin volume for select alerts such as parking chimes and direction signaling. The Tesla app for iPhone or Android now includes opening and closing your garage door via HomeLink, defrosting your vehicle’s cabin at the maximum temperature, and remotely controlling your Model 3 and Model X windows.

All new cars lose value beginning the minute you take ownership. Mechanical parts eventually begin to break or wear out. Tesla says its drivetrain has about 17 moving parts compared to about 200 in a conventional internal combustion drivetrain. The Tesla system is virtually maintenance-free. Version 10.0 validates how Tesla’s software updates enable the car ownership to actually get better over time.

I hope you enjoyed the Tesla Software story. Following are some updates on other items. If you are in the Connecticut or Westchester County, NY area, please consider coming to the “Meet the Author” night to support Housatonic Habitat for Humanity.

Robot running
Last call to reserve a spot at the upcoming “Meet the Author” night on October 9 at 5:30 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Danbury, CT. Come for the appetizers and cash bar. Stay for the lecture and enjoy robotic demonstrations by local high school students, the nationally acclaimed League of Extraordinary Roboticists, Microsoft Corporation, and Practical Robotic Services. 100% of the book sale proceeds will go to Housatonic Habitat for Humanity. Reserve now!
The Capitol Report panel ran on WTNH-TV abc 8 on Sunday morning. Emanuela Palmares took the group selfie. L-R, John McKinney, Jen Schneider, JRP, Rob Blanchard, and host Tom Dudchik. Although on a political program, the panel was non-partisan. We discussed the impact of robots and AI. You can watch the 8-minute program here.

Meet the Author events will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows events scheduled so far. Details on upcoming events are below.

Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign is continuing. There are now more than 60 investors and more than $35,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make Wi-Fi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.

Robot Attitude is available in Paperback and Kindle. You can see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

Illustration by Eviation

The era of electric airplanes is closer than you may think. The initial focus of this nascent market is for short flights. For example, European EasyJet is working with American start-up Wright Electric to build electric planes for regular services flying distances of less than 300 miles. Coast to coast flights on electric airplanes is years away but getting started in regional markets is important.

The global airline industry spent $180 billion on fossil fuel last year. For 2019, the fuel bill is forecast to rise to $206 billion. With the recent volatility in oil prices, the bill may go higher. At current levels, fuel accounts for 25% of airlines’ operating expenses.

Reducing the cost of flight is desirable, but even more important is electric planes would have zero emissions. The aviation industry produces around 2% of all human induced carbon dioxide emissions. Ancillary benefits of electric airplanes will be less vibration and lower noise.

Cape Air is based in Barnstable, Massachusetts. The employee-owned company made it’s first flight of about 50 miles between Boston and Provincetown in 1989. Now, Cape Air operates a fleet of 88 Cessna 402s and 4 Britten-Norman Islanders, and makes up to 400 flights per day during high season. Cape Air offers service across southern New England to Hyannis, Nantucket, New Bedford, Martha’s Vineyard and Providence, RI. They also fly between South Florida and the Keys and between Guam, Rota and Saipan.

Last year, Cape Air carried over 500,000 passengers, making it one of the largest regional airlines in the United States. The 9-passenger Cessna 402 aircraft flies at 240 miles per hour to some of the most beautiful destinations in the world. The routes Cape Air flies is a perfect fit for electric airplanes.

In June of this year, Cape Air announced it had placed its first order for an all-electric passenger airplane called The Alice. The three-engine battery powered airplane is designed to fly 650 miles on a single charge. The Alice was developed by an Israel-based startup company called Eviation Aircraft Ltd. The aircraft has not yet been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The company says the plane is ready for certification, and delivery to Cape Air is slated for 2022. The Eviation CEO predicts in a few years it may not be able to keep up with orders. He said, “We’ll have a supply issue, not a demand issue.”

The Alice will be powered by a 900 kilowatt-hour (kWH) lithium ion battery manufactured in South Korea. For comparison, my Tesla Model S has a 100 kWH battery. As a pilot with experience waiting for FAA certification of a new airplane (not electric), I suspect the 2022 target may turn out to be optimistic. However, the concept is a great one, and the plane sounds perfect for a regional airline like Cape Air. Meanwhile, on the ground, development and delivery of electric cars, trucks, and buses is continuing at a rapid clip.

The iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Series 5 Watch offer many new features. I like the new camera with ultra view and the Compass app on the Watch. The update to iOS 13.1 and MacOS 15 will bring the software up to date and provide many new features. Stay tuned for further comments. In the meantime, following are some updates on other items.

Meet the Author nights will be held during the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2019 and the 1st quarter of 2020. The table below shows details. Details on upcoming events are below.


A “Meet the Author” night is coming up on October 9 at 5:30 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Danbury, CT. Come for the appetizers and cash bar. Stay for the lecture and enjoy robotic demonstrations by local high school students, the nationally acclaimed League of Extraordinary Roboticists, Microsoft Corporation, and Practical Robotic Services. 100% of the book sale proceeds will go to Housatonic Habitat for Humanity.

Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign is continuing. So far, there are about 60 investors and nearly $35,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make WiFi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.

The Westchester County Business Journal in NY and The Fairfield County Business Journal in CT published an article on Tuesday after an interview last week. See Danbury author examines how robots can be our friends in new book
In other news, I will be appearing on The Capital Report, a political panel on WTNH-TV | News 8 and WCTX-TV | MyTV9 on Sunday morning at 10 AM.

Robot Attitude is now available in Paperback and Kindle. You can also now see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” Series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

Researchers at the Allen Institute have hit an artificial-intelligence milestone: a machine that is ready for high school science. Maybe even college.

Source: A Breakthrough for A.I. Technology: Passing an 8th-Grade Science Test – The New York Times

Five years ago, the late Seattle billionaire Paul Allen, the 1975 co-founder of Microsoft alongside Bill Gates, challenged researchers to come up with an artificial intelligence program smart enough to pass an eighth-grade science test. He offered an $80,000 prize for the best AI, and 700 computer scientists accepted the challenge. They all flunked. That was then.

On September 4, The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, announced its AI software, called Aristo, scored better than 90% on an eighth-grade multiple-choice test. The AI also scored better than 80% on a test for high school seniors. The achievement represents a dramatic increase in AI capabilities in just the last few years. Looking into the details, the result, although amazing, is not quite as perfect as it seems. The exam was based on the New York Regents aptitude test. The test excluded questions which depended on interpreting pictures or diagrams. Those questions would have required visual interpretation skills the Aristo software does not have. Yet. The test also excluded questions requiring an essay.

Putting aside the exclusions, the solution showed how far AI has come since the 700 computer scientists’ AIs flunked. The Allen Institute CEO Oren Etzioni told GeekWire,

“This is a breakthrough because it’s a remarkable result on standardized test questions which require a degree of natural language understanding, reasoning, and even common sense. This is very different from both standard research benchmarks and board games like Go. Even a year ago, no one would have anticipated such rapid progress on 8th and 12th grade science questions!”

There is a lot of controversy about how an AI compares to human intelligence. Some feel it will be quite a few years before an AI can equal the reasoning capabilities of a human. Others are more optimistic. The next challenge, and a very big one, is to enable an AI to pass the Graduate Records Exam (I remember taking it in 1969), which is required for admission to graduate school.

The important thing I see in the 8th grade testing is the potential for AI use in business and healthcare. Consider the hours we spend on the phone with customer service people. I hate to say it, but many of them I have talked to could probably not pass the 8th grade test. We are getting close where we can talk to an AI who will understand us and solve our problems quickly. I have written a lot about net attitude, lack thereof, at so many websites. AI is our best hope to make many things in our lives easier and more efficient.

If you are curious about how AI can make things better in healthcare, grab a copy of Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better.

In addition to all the new goodies from Apple, there are some other things to update you on. I love the iPhone 11 Pro Max and the Series 5 Watch. More to say about those next time.


Wifigen’s crowdfunding campaign is continuing. So far, there are more than 50 investors and more than $30,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make WiFi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign and how to invest at Wefunder.

Another great event for Housatonic Habitat for Humanity — building homes for local families. Don’t miss Crafts N’ Drafts at 6 PM Saturday September 21 at Danbury Elk’s Lodge on Route 7. Nod Hill Brewery will be on tap with locally brewed beer. Food will be catered by local restaurants. See local crafts people in action including a 3-D printer. Please RSVP here to make sure they have plenty of drafts and food.
A “Meet the Author” night is coming up on October 9 at 5:30 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Danbury, CT. Save the date if you live in the area. 100% of the book sale proceeds will go to Housatonic Habitat for Humanity. Please RSVP here so the hotel has enough wine & cheese.

Robot Attitude is now available in Paperback and Kindle. You can also now see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” Series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.

The picture above shows the new Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York which will open on September 20. No doubt, the line will be long for consumers anxious to get the new Apple Watch Series 5 and the new iPhone 11. People love Apple products. It remains to be seen if people will love Apple services as much but I suspect they will.

Apple made a very aggressive move by pricing its new streaming video service at $4.99 per month. Anyone buying a new iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV will get the new streaming service free for one year. People will not cancel Netflix to get the new service but, after a year of Apple building up its video portfolio, perhaps some will. Others may be willing to keep Netflix and keep the new Apple TV+ streaming service. Apple has made a bold and strategic move to lock more people into its ecosystem. There are more than one billion Apple iPhones and iPads out there. If only 10% of them end up paying $4.99 per month, the annual revenue will be $6 billion. Likewise, if another 10% go for the new Apple Arcade streaming game service, there will be another $6 billion. The ecosystem is ramping up to become a major element of Apple’s business.

For now, the hardware products remain the heart of the company. If you watch Tuesday’s Keynote (highly recommended), you will find it was done with great marketing aplomb. Apple has it down pat. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. The mantra works every time. What has changed in very recent years is Tim Cook has shared the stage with a diverse team of senior and upcoming executives from Apple’s team of 132,000 full time employees. The bench is impressive, and so are the products they presented. Analysts tend to downplay the technology. They call it “tweaks” to what was there before. I view what they announce as breakthrough technology. It might go in the same case, but inside is incredible technology. The iPhone 11 Pro is called Pro for a reason. It is so powerful film makers will be using it.

The other significant thing I took from the announcements is the pricing of prior generation iPhones and Watches. They dropped the price of Watch Series 3 to $199. The lower price will bring in millions of new Apple Watch users. The users will get hooked and then want the longer batter life and new features of Series 5, and they will upgrade. Likewise for the lower priced iPhone models. More people coming into the ecosystem to sign up for services, upgrade to other new hardware, etc. The hardware platforms and services strengthen the ecosystem and keep users locked in and loyal. That is why AAPL is valued at roughly a trillion dollars, nearly 4% of the total for the S&P 500 stocks.

In addition to all the new goodies from Apple, there are some other things to update you on….


Wifigen is entering week #3 of its fund raising campaign. So far, there are 52 investors and more than $30,000 has been raised. Investments have ranged from $250 to $10,000. The funding will enable Wifigen to expand into the U.S. and make WiFi great for owners of a cafe, deli, pub, coffee shop, restaurant, hotel, or other retail establishment. Check out the status of the campaign at Wefunder.

Robot Attitude is off to a great start. It is now available in Paperback and Kindle. You can also now see the entire “It’s All About Attitude” Series pages on Amazon. One for Paperback and one for Kindle.
Another “Meet the Author” night is coming up on October 9 at 5:30 PM at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Danbury, CT. Wine & Cheese. Save the date if you live in the area. 100% of the book sale proceeds will go to Housatonic Habitat for Humanity.

Radar, which stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging, started with experiments by the German physicist Heinrich Hertz in the late 19th century. The experiments showed radio waves were reflected by metallic objects. The discovery led to widely used detection systems which use radio waves to determine the range, angle, and velocity of objects. Radar can detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain.

Wifigen, a technology startup company, has developed a technique to use WiFi as a detection system in small retail establishments such as coffee shops, cafes, or small hotels. The Wifigen technology does two things. First, if a new customer walks into Jane’s Cafe and looks at their smartphone WiFi setting, they see Jane’s Cafe. When they click on it, a welcome page appears and allows the customer to enter his or her email address in return for the free WiFi. If the customer had been in Jane’s Cafe before, the page says Welcome back! Having the email address enables Jane to use Wifigen tools to better understand how many people are using the free WiFi. She can also send marketing emails thanking customers for their business, making special offers, and telling them about another Cafe which Jane owns across town.

The newest feature of Wifigen is the ability to see how many customers in the Cafe are not using the free WiFi. The Wifigen “radar” sees the devices in a purse or pocket. It does not know who the smartphone owners are, but it knows they walked in. The technology is called foot count. This is great for Jane. If she learns there are a significant number of people who come into the Cafe but do not use WiFi, she can address the opportunity. For example, she could put an invitation on a poster on the wall or on the menu saying something like, “Welcome to Jane’s Cafe. Please feel free to take advantage of our free WiFi. Go to your settings and click on Jane’s Cafe.”

A test of the new technology is underway at Cocoon Coffee House in Hawley, Pennsylvania. Wifigen is currently raising investment funds to expand its operations to more locations. Wifigen is using the SEC-approved Wefunder.com crowdfunding platform. Learn more at wefunder.com/wifigen.

Cocoon Coffee House, Hawley, Pennsylvania.

August is supposed to be a slow month but it has turned out to be a busy one for me. The new book, published on August 1, has led to a lot of marketing activities. Following are a few things I would like to make you aware of:

  • Terry Brock, an Orlando based professional speaker, interviewed me about Robot Attitude. The YouTube video of the interview is here (or just click on the play button above.
  • Amazon has created two new series pages for “It’s All About Attitude”. If you visit any of my book pages on Amazon, you will see a link to the Series page. You may be curious to take a look. The Kindle series page is here and the paperback series page is here.
  • The first “Meet the Author” – “Book Signing Party” was held at The Boiler Room in the Hawley Silk Mill on Thursday evening in Hawley, PA. This is near our summer home and where we have many friends. It was a nice turnout. I explained AI and machine learning in a way I hope all will remember. The topic seemed to hold the interest of the audience and they had a lot of great questions. A donation of $300 to the Wayne County Library was made with the entire proceeds of book sales. There will be more book events in Connecticut and Florida over the next six months.
  • The Crowdfunding campaign for Wifigen going on at Wefunder.com went public this week. Wefunder sent an announcement about this to its 250,000 members on Thursday morning. Status of the campaign is at wefunder.com/wifigen.

Now, I would like to switch gears to the world of electronic voting. There continues to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the subject. Secretaries of State are petrified about the possibility of being hacked by foreign actors. There are reasons to be concerned, but there are ways to make elections by mobile devices safe, secure, private, and verifiable. Only one of the 20+ presidential candidates (Andrew Yang) to date have had the knowledge and strength to talk about mobile voting. I am not advocating for Mr. Yang (or any political candidate), but I am advocating for mobile voting.

The real issue which only Mr. Yang has talked about is the huge number of people who could have voted in 2016 and 2018 but did not. That number is 100 million people. Perhaps 10-15% of those eligible voters were apathetic or did not like any candidate. However, most of the remaining 85-90 million people had difficulty with our 150 year-old voting system. They were sick, too frail to go out in the weather, on assignment overseas, busy taking care of parents or children, given last minute work assignment, or any of a long list of reasons.

The solution is not to revert to paper forms and the USPS. Especially for overseas soldiers, they have learned paper ballots are not reliable and they believe their ballot may not get counted unless there is a tie. West Virginia, Denver, and Utah have conducted pilots with mobile voting. Participation increased and voter satisfaction was high. It can be done and it can strengthen our democracy.

Some recent coverage offered strong criticism of Senators who were also presidential candidates, and who missed 30-40% of the votes taking place on the Senate floor. In one case, a Senator missed 90% of the votes during a quarter. The reason they missed these votes is obvious; they were on the campaign trail. The question to be asked is not why they didn’t vote? The question should be why can’t Senators vote from their smartphone while on the campaign trail? (or if they are bedridden with illness)

Enabling mobile voting for 100 million people has many technical challenges, although I believe it can be done. Implementing mobile voting for 100 Senators should be very easy. The Senators’ identities are known. There are no privacy issues since their votes are made public anyway. Each Senator’s smartphone identification # can be uniquely recorded in a Senatorial voting database. The problem is not technical. The problem is Attitude. Requiring the Senate votes to take place “on the floor” is old-fashioned to put it mildly.

Bill Gates famously said in a 1994 speech at a Bank Administration Institute conference, “Banks are dinosaurs, they can be bypassed.” … “Ninety-four percent of bank boardrooms,” he explained, “have never had any professional experience with technology in their career.” In a world which is increasingly all about technology, we should demand our Senators get with it.

This is an update to the Startup Investments story from last week. I find the concept of Crowdfunding very interesting. Until now, it was often difficult for a startup company to get the funding it needed to carry out its idea and create a successful business. Angel investors who could each invest $100,000 or more in a startup are out there, but for the startup founders, it was not always easy to find ones who would be interested enough to invest. For those who did decide to invest, the process required a lot of paperwork, agreements, legal reviews, etc. to put things in place.

Crowdfunding has turned the model upside down. A Connecticut-based company called LiquidPiston had an idea for a revolutionary design of a rotary engine based on the company’s patented thermodynamic cycle and engine architecture. The company needed $2 million to bring its idea to market. Rather than following the traditional model of seeking a small number of angel investors or venture capitalists, it decided to use crowdfunding at Wefunder.com. The company launched its campaign and in a relatively short period of time raised $2,188,466 from 1,183 investors. That is $1,850 per investor. The entire process was conducted online at Wefunder.com.

It has become clear through the Pennsylvania coffee house test that Wifigen has a solid value proposition for small retailers. The founder, Bilal, plus the other investor and I have decided to raise $250,000 to fund the company well into next year to build out the product offering and put a U.S. effort in place to acquire and support customers. To raise the money, Wifigen is using the Wefunder crowdfunding platform.

In addition to the efficiency of online investment, fund raising can experience the social media effect. The Wifigen crowdfunding began less than a week ago. During the first few days, 22 investors from 12 States and 3 Countries invested a total of more than $20,000. The investment size ranged from $250 to $10,000. An additional investor has pledged $25,000.

Social Media advertising will commence soon. So far, about half of the investors have been friends or family of the the other board member and me. The other half discovered the Wefunder crowdfunding campaign as Wefunder members or through networking. Some learned about it as subscribers to my weekly e-brief. Others may have received a copy of the e-brief from a friend. We see the names of the investors, but more than half are people we do not know. They may be friends of friends of friends. We welcome them! The power of social media is already evident as a key component of crowdfunding.

If you have an interest, take a look at https://wefunder.com/wifigen and you can see a video of the Wifigen founder and the board explaining the strategy, plus a lot of information about what Wifigen is and how it works, why it can be a good investment, what are the risks, and how to invest as little as $250 or thousands. Please share this with any friends you think might be interested.

It’s time for another book party! There will be a “Meet the Author” event on Thursday, August 29 at 5 PM in The Boiler Room at the Hawley Silk Mill. The theme will be the name of my book Series, “Its All About Attitude”. As you know from reading this blog, I believe many large opportunities and problems in the world have their roots in attitude. I also believe the solutions and ways forward to the future are based on attitude. My newest book, just published on August 1, is Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better.

I hope to deliver a revealing talk. I will make a brief reference to the prior books and how an attitude change can reap major improvements in key areas which affect all of us, including the evolution of the Web, our healthcare system, how we will use mobile voting in the future, and the emergence of the smart home. I will then focus on robots and artificial intelligence. They are coming and coming fast. Should we fear them or embrace them. That is what I will discuss.

A Q&A and discussion session will follow. Books will be available for sale and 100% of the proceeds will go to the Wayne County Library. Thanks to the Genzlinger Family for providing wine and cheese and The Boiler Room. Admission is free. Please register here

Any questions, send me email: [email protected]

When I retired from IBM at the end of 2001, I joined a number of boards, some for profit, some not-for-profit. I also got involved in a number of startup companies. Some of the startups were just an investment, and in others I took an active role.

Startups are exciting. Most of them don’t make it, but some change the world and provide great returns to the investors. Startups get their initial funding in a number of ways. In some cases, it is a founder and friends who had a successful exit from another startup and put their gains to work in another one. Such founders are often called “serial entrepreneurs”. In other cases, the startup is funded by a venture capital firm. Some VCs are small, but some invest billions of dollars in a portfolio of startups. Other startups are funded by Angel investors. A small number of “angels” make a significant investment and then make a profit when a VC comes along and invests after the startup has shown good progress.

I have been an angel investor in a number of startup companies, and I would like to tell you more about one of them and how you might participate. About four years ago, I was looking for some assistance on a technical question. I visited an online freelancer website and posed my question. I got many responses from people who said they could help, but one, Bilal Athar in Lahore, Pakistan, impressed me with his technical knowledge and his outstanding communications skills. He solved my problem, and then he asked if I would be his mentor. I agreed and later became an investor in his company, Wifigen. Bilal’s idea was to make WiFi service more reliable and manageable. He proved the technology in Pakistan and more than three million people used the publicly available service.

I was not sure where the investment would lead, but I could tell Bilal’s expert knowledge of WiFi and networking would lead to something. Over the three years which followed, I funded a development team Bilal had recruited, and the technology became more refined. A friend in Connecticut joined me as an investor and Wifigen refined its strategy. We established Wifigen as a U.S. company based in Delaware, Wifigen LLC.

Millions of small U.S. retailers such as coffee shops, gyms, hotels, pubs, etc. offer free WiFi to their customers. However, the proprietors are blind to how many of their customers use it and who uses it. Wifigen solves that problem by collecting an email address in return for the free WiFi. A pilot installation in Northeast Pennsylvania has had more than 16,000 customers login in through Wifigen. New users are automatically entered into the retailer’s marketing communications database so the proprietor can reach out to them, thank them for stopping by, offer a free cup of coffee to come back, etc.

It has become clear through the PA test that Wifigen has a solid value proposition for small retailers. Bilal plus the other investor and I have decided to raise $250,000 to fund the company well into next year to build out the product offering and put a U.S. effort in place to acquire and support customers. To raise the money, Wifigen will be using a new crowdfunding platform called Wefunder. Instead of a few angel investors making large investments, Wefunder enables a large number of investors to make smaller investments.

The crowdfunding approach was introduced as part of the Jobs Act 3.0 which the House passed 406 to 4 in 2018. Wifigen filed the Form C (C for crowdfunding) documentation with the SEC on Wednesday night and the official fund raising has begun. Anyone can participate. Take a look at https://wefunder.com/wifigen and you can see a video of Bilal and the board explaining the strategy, plus a lot of information about what Wifigen is and how it works, why it can be a good investment, what are the risks, and how to invest as little as $250 or thousands. Please share this with any friends you think might be interested.

Robot Attitude Now Available

The “It’s All About Attitude” Series just grew by one. I am working with Amazon to create a Series page with links to all the versions of all the books. Getting everything linked properly may take a week or so. In the meantime, I would like to share the Robot Attitude Preface with you. This may help you decide if you want to read the book. The red medallion above will take you directly to the Kindle version special at just $4.99. The print version is available there too.


Preface

If you are a pessimist and revel in the gloom and doom the future may hold, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) can add a lot of fodder. Robots are mostly in manufacturing plants today, but their presence is growing in many other places, including hospitals, restaurants, retail stores, and homes. Millions of jobs will be replaced by robots. AI will become pervasive in finance, insurance, and legal companies, healthcare, and educational institutions replacing lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, radiologists, teachers, and professors. As robots and AI get smarter, some believe there may not be much left for humans to do. Ultimately, the robots and AI could merge, and form a new population of super strong and super intelligent beings. The new beings may look back at history and see how humans have wiped out numerous species over time.[i] Then, they may conclude humans are no longer needed. The End.

The End is Near

Some experts believe what I describe in the opening paragraph is a very real threat. They believe humanity is at great risk. The late Stephen Hawking, an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author, and Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence. He told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”[ii] Elon Musk, Founder of Tesla and SpaceX, said, “If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea. In the end the machines will win.”[iii]

Musk and other thought leaders have formed a billion-dollar non-profit company called OpenAI to work toward safer AI.[iv] OpenAI’s mission is to provide guidelines to build safe AI and help ensure AI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible. OpenAI expects AI technologies to be hugely beneficial in the short term, but in the long term, if not created properly and with appropriate regulation, it sees the potential for great harm. OpenAI is working to develop principles which can prevent damage to society.

The Future is Bright

I believe the opening paragraph is a pessimistic view. I have an optimistic view, at least in the near term, about robots and AI. I believe the future is bright. This belief is the subject of Robot Attitude: How Robots and AI Will Make Our Lives Better. A robot attitude is one with which we embrace the new technology, not fear it and fight it. The new technology is coming. I will describe how it can improve productivity, make things easier, make our homes incredibly smart, add convenience, improve safety in dangerous jobs, enhance all aspects of healthcare, and much more.

Every segment of our business and personal lives will experience transformations. For example, with the introduction of robots and AI into the home, we will see healthcare rise to a higher level as robots and AI will assist with clinical services such as stroke rehabilitation. A humanoid robot will be a welcome companion to chronically ill homebound patients.

I have been thinking about writing this book for several years. Research for the book has been enlightening but also has reminded me of many of my early technology based hobbies. I started with toys and blocks, but they were much more than toys and blocks to me. They had practical purposes. The earliest building experience I can recall was with Lincoln Logs. Then came Erector Sets. There were no Lego construction sets when I was a child but, if there had been, I would surely have been an enthusiastic builder. Chemistry sets, junior scientist kits, and amateur radio piqued my interest. In my adult years, the trend continued with GPS, digital cameras, personal digital assistants, personal computers, home automation, 3-D printing, virtual reality goggles, airplanes, motorcycles, electric cars, and now robots and AI.

Currently, robot and AI technologies are different from each other. I treat them as two separate topics. My overarching goal in the book is to make robots and AI understandable. The technology is incredibly powerful but extremely complicated. I did my best to avoid using technical jargon. The extraordinary growth of storage and computational power in the cloud, combined with reliable high-speed Internet service and ubiquitous connectivity, have made things possible which were science fiction a few years ago. I will break down the technology to the component level, describe how it works, what it can do for businesses, homes, and organizations of any type, and share my vision about implications for the future.

New developments in Robot and AI technologies are happening every day. The topics are expansive and cannot be covered comprehensively in one reasonably sized book. I have done my best to provide a robust bibliography and links in the Notes section near the end of the book. If some of the things I have written about aroused your interest, you can fire up your favorite search engine and dig as deeply as you would like. You can also visit robotattitude.info, the companion website to this book. The site has videos, articles, and courses where you can explore, learn more, and find important developments after Robot Attitude was published. You will find references to the site throughout the book. I hope Robot Attitude whets your appetite to learn more.


[i] Elijah Wolfson, “Humans Comprise Just 0.01% of the Total Weight of Life on Earth, but Have Destroyed Far More,”  Quartz (2018), https://qz.com/1290434/human-comprise-0-01-of-the-total-weight-of-life-on-earth-but-are-responsible-for-killing-nearly-all-wild-mammals/
[ii] Rory Cellan-Jones, “Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could End Mankind,”  BBC (2014), https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-30290540
[iii] Lisa Marie Segarra, “Elon Musk: AI Poses ‘Vastly More Risk Than North Korea’,”  Fortune (2017), http://fortune.com/2017/08/12/elon-musk-ai-poses-vastly-more-risk-than-north-korea/
[iv] Maureen Dowd, “Elon Musk’s Billion-Dollar Crusade to Stop the A.I. Apocalypse,”  Hive (2017), https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/03/elon-musk-billion-dollar-crusade-to-stop-ai-space-x

I am pleased to announce Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better was released on Amazon early Friday morning with an official publishing date of August 1. Kindle and print versions are available. Everyone on the alert list was notified as promised, and I would like to thank all those who read early drafts and made suggestions.

One new thing is all of my books are now officially part of a Series called “It’s All About Attitude”. Amazon will be creating a Series page showing all the books. I have believed for many years many large opportunities and problems have their roots in attitude. I also believe the solutions and ways forward to the future are based on attitude. All the books in the Series address significant problems and opportunities. I have tried to offer a positive perspective on how an attitude change can reap major improvements in key areas which affect all of us. Many examples related to this are in the books.

Now, for your reading pleasure, here is the Series with links directly to the Amazon pages. The Kindle version of Robot Attitude has a special launch price of $4.99.

TitleFormat
Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better (2019)Kindle
Paperback
Home Attitude: Everything You Need To Know To Make Your Home Smart (2017)Kindle
Paperback
Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy (2016)Kindle
Paperback
Audible
Net Attitude: What it is, How to Get it, and Why it is More Important Than Ever (Version 2) (2016)Kindle
Paperback
Health Attitude: Unraveling and Solving the Complexities of Healthcare (2015)Kindle
Paperback
Audible
Net Attitude: What It Is, How to Get It, and Why Your Company Can’t Survive Without It (Version 1) (2001)Kindle
Hard Cover

The other exciting development is that Wifigen, a startup where I am Executive Chairman, is about to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder. I know some readers are interested in investing in this, and I will have a more complete update next week.

AI becomes useful in an industry where there is a lot of data available. In the insurance industry, there are no factories, warehouses, or retail stores, but there is an abundance of data. Insurance companies thrive when they properly estimate the risks involved when insuring people or assets against losses. For example, car insurance premiums are generally greatly influenced by the age of the insured driver. Consider the premium for liability coverage of $100,000 bodily injury per person per accident, $300,000 total bodily injury for each accident, and $100,000 property damage per accident. The average premium for drivers aged 16 to 19 is $2,999. [i] The same coverage for persons aged 40 to 44 is $1,603 and for persons aged 60 to 64 the premium is $1,169.[ii] One might think older people pose a greater risk, but the data does not support that view. An online insurance broker put it this way,

The elderly get in less high-speed accidents, and it’s not only because they drive 35 miles per hour on the highway. Their experience on the road gives them a huge advantage. Studies show that once you get old, you start to learn more about your limitations on the road, and therefore take fewer risks. As a result, car accidents involving the elderly tend to be much less serious in nature.[iii]

Historically, setting premiums based on age and geography has been the most reliable data available to the insurance company risk departments. With today’s technology, it is possible data could become available directly from cars, including what routes the driver takes, how fast he or she drives, how hard they brake, how often they swerve, and even how often they had to take control of the vehicle away from any semi-self-driving modes. The result could be car insurance premiums which are set up based on how safely you drive, not how old you are. Elon Musk, CEO of electric car maker Tesla, said that the company plans to enter the insurance business. He said on an April 2019 earnings call, “If a driver uses his or her vehicle in a crazy way, Tesla could raise the customer’s insurance rate”.[iv] Jared Shelly, a journalist, wrote, “Imagine life insurance on a pay-as-you-live basis, where rock climbing will increase your premium and a yoga class will decrease it.”[v]

On the claims side of the insurance business, new automotive technology could use onboard sensors to determine the damage from an accident. Onboard cameras can provide evidence of exactly what happened and what other pedestrians or vehicles were involved. A smartphone app with an AI driven assistant could step the car owner through a simple claims process.

A New York based startup called Lemonade, a property and casualty insurance company, is using AI to transform the business model of insurance. The company boasts,

By injecting technology and transparency into an industry that often lacks both, we’re creating an insurance experience that is fast, affordable, and hassle free. Unlike any other insurance company, we gain nothing by delaying or denying claims (we take a flat fee!), so we handle and pay as many claims instantly as possible. Lemonade has targeted the market of home and renter insurance for urban dwellers. Using AI, the company boasts it makes everything instant with 90 seconds to get insured and 3 minutes to get paid for a claim.[vi] Lemonade has an artificial intelligence bot named Maya which the company says, “will craft the perfect insurance for you. It couldn’t be easier, or faster.”[vii]

You can read more about AI in insurance, banking, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and much more in Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better. If you are not on the list to get notified when Robot Attitude is published, click here. I will be sending an email to everyone on the list as soon as the book is available on Amazon.


[i] “How Age Affects Auto Insurance Rates,”  4AutoInsuranceQuote.com (2017), https://www.4autoinsurancequote.com/learning-center/how-age-affects-auto-insurance-rates/
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Michael Martinez, “How Tesla Plans to Cut Customers’ Insurance Costs: Tap into Autopilot,”  Automotive News (2019), https://www.autonews.com/finance-insurance/how-tesla-plans-cut-customers-insurance-costs-tap-autopilot
[v] Jared Shelly, “What Insurance Will Look Like in 2030,”  Risk&Insurance (2019), https://riskandinsurance.com/what-insurance-will-look-like-in-2030/
[vi] “Forget Everything You Know About Insurance,”  Lemonade (2019), https://www.lemonade.com/
[vii] Ibid.

Utah County has joined Denver and West Virginia as the latest jurisdiction in the U.S. to implement blockchain-based mobile voting. The County will make voting much easier for military and dependents overseas in the upcoming municipal primary. Data from the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) shows in 2016 there were 3 million U.S. citizens living abroad who cast approximately 208,000 ballots. The overseas voter turnout was just 7%. It is just too difficult and unreliable to vote with paper ballots, especially for the military.

In 2012, 2016, and 2018 there were approximately 100 million people who could have voted but did not. Some were apathetic, maybe 10-15%, but most could not get to the polls or had unexpected last minute healthcare issues or duties of care or employment. The Boston based Voatz startup has demonstrated it can facilitate safe, secure, private, and verifiable voting using the mobile Internet combined with face or finger recognition and blockchain technologies.

Solutions such as provided by Voatz will be the default method of voting at some point. When I wrote Election Attitude – How Internet Voting Leads to a Stronger Democracy in 2016, I thought there was a good chance we would have widespread use of mobile voting by 2018. The various scares and resistance from anti-Internet voting activists slowed things down. The sooner we have modern mobile voting the sooner we can enfranchise tens of millions of voters and gain a stronger democracy. 

Source: Utah Becomes The Third U.S. Jurisdiction To Offer Blockchain-Based Mobile Voting

In Robot Attitude: How Robots and Artificial Intelligence Will Make Our Lives Better, you will read about many different types of robots. One which may become of increasing interest to older consumers is robo-pup. If you haven’t signed up yet to get an alert when the new book is published, please click here.

Sony has been making robotic pets for more than 20 years.  The latest version of Sony’s Aibo, pronounced eye bo, became available in the United States at the beginning of 2019. Aibo could be perceived as a home automation device when you consider all of its sensors and cameras. In reality, it is nothing at all like a smart home device. The giveaway is the wagging tail and the way Aibo trots around your home. Aibo’s goal is not home security or automating your lights. In Japanese, Aibo means “pal” or “partner”, and its sole mission is companionship. A two year-old child will likely find Aibo a delightful addition to the family. Aibo may cause chronically ill seniors to think less about their aches, pains, and loneliness. Reports from reviewers of the robo-pup say a real dog or cat may not find Aibo at all interesting.

A companion Apple or Android mobile app enables you to set Aibo’s gender to male or female. This affects the pitch of Aibo’s voice and how he or she walks. You can also set the color of Aibo’s eyes, teach it new tricks, and even take photos with the camera in its nose. He or she can understand more than 50 voice commands. All of this and more is made possible by a plethora of technology components inside of the 12 inches tall, 12 inches long, 7 inches wide, 5 pound robot including a super-fast computer chip, OLED displays (eyes), sound speaker, four microphones, two cameras, a dozen sensors, and Wi-Fi. 

In terms of movement, Aibo has 22 degrees of freedom (DOF). The human body has 244. For example, our hands have 27 DOF. Each of our four fingers can move in four different ways. The thumb has five DOF, and the wrist has six. Aibo stands out versus any toy or consumer robot with its 22 DOF. Its head can move along three axes, one for the mouth, neck, and waist. Each leg (front and back paws) has three axes. Each ear has one DOF and the tail has two. 

The purpose of all the technology is to make Aibo seem like a real puppy. Reviewers all say that mission was accomplished. A review in TechCrunch said,

A long press of the power button on the collar wakes him up. He stirs slowly, from a near fetal position, his paws extending outward with a stretch. He acknowledges his limbs with a yawn and slowly stands, shaking himself out as though he’d just run through the sprinklers in the yard.

Aibo uses artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to remember 100 friends and family. He remembers what makes different people happy based on their reactions. As Aibo learns its environment and develops relationships, its personality becomes unique. As an owner, Aibo becomes uniquely your Aibo. A reviewer at c|net spent a week with Aibo at home. She said,

Aibo loves praise with a nice rub on the head, chin and back — or give him some positive verbal feedback. (“Good boy!”) Teach him tricks and watch him respond to voice commands. Cameras and sensors on his front side help the dog sense nearby people, as well as find his signature pink toy ball, bone and charging station. A camera near his bum points to the ceiling to map the layout of your home, so over time he learns how to get around.

Aibo connects to the Sony cloud which uses artificial intelligence to help Aibo become more and more real. The nice thing is you don’t have to take him for a walk several times a day. The flip side is the cost – Aibo sells for $2,900.

 
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