Most frightening stories:
- Larry Summers says we have a better than even chance of recession in the next three years. Sounds bad, but I wonder what that stat would look like for any randomly chosen three year period in modern history.
- The United States is involved in at least seven wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan. Nuclear deterrence may not actually the work.
- Cape Town, South Africa is in imminent danger of running out of water. Longer term, there are serious concerns about snowpack-dependent water supplies serving large urban populations in Asia and western North America.
Most hopeful stories:
- There are some new ideas and practical examples of urban green infrastructure planning that take full advantage of ecological and social science to maximize benefits. Also, there are some advances in the idea of using gamification in urban planning. Biophilic Cities is a new (to me) group trying to create “cities of abundant nature in close proximity to large numbers of urbanites.
- There is new evidence that reading is really good for the developing brain.
- Practical wireless charging may finally be getting close. End the tyranny of the cord!
Most interesting stories, that were not particularly frightening or hopeful, or perhaps were a mixture of both:
- Sales of electric vehicles may take off in 2018. Sales of autonomous vehicles will eventually take off, but 2018 may not be the year.
- Just when people on the street might have heard of CRISPR, there are already newer and more powerful gene editing techniques coming online, including the idea of gene circuits. There is some doubt about whether CRISPR will ultimately work in humans. And in other biotech news, brain scans have reached the point where they can reveal an image you are picturing in your mind.
- If you are a white supremacist, it’s okay to have an Asian girlfriend according to the New York Times. The unfortunate corollary would seem to be that if someone is accusing you of being a white supremacist, you can’t just get an Asian girlfriend and expect that to be a sufficient defense.