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1st Quarter 2024

April 09, 2024

Inside Financial Connections Newsletter

 

  • MUCH ADO ABOUT  SELF-DRIVING
  • IMPORTANT: REVIEW YOUR ADVANCE DIRECTIVE
  • OBSTACLES AROUND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)
  • THE CHANGING PHILOSOPHY OF WORKERS

MUCH ADO ABOUT SELF-DRIVING

Jill fell in love with the above cartoon so she had to write an article to use it.

We think a car is something we all relate to. Autonomous Vehicles or AVs use Artificial Intelligence (AI). It conceptually works like a wheel. The “hub” is the AI or nerve center. It has sensors that run to all parts of the car including but not limited to:

  • Cameras
  • Radar
  • Light detection

Using the sensors for input, the car creates a comprehensive picture of its surroundings. The AI also learns. How is too technical but the algorithms allow this evolution. Using the patterns developed by the learning, rolling in other variables such as weather, traffic laws, hi-definition maps, etc., decisions are made.

There is much debate on the pros/cons of self-driving cars. While it may not be ready to go main stream, Jill is a firm believer that it will be beneficial. For instance, she isn’t thrilled to drive at night. Why not order a self-driving car to take her out?

If you can no longer drive, why reduce your socialization potential when you can order a self-driving car to take you somewhere. While Uber/Lyft are options, many people aren’t comfortable getting in a car with strangers or there may be reduced availability later in the evenings.

Stay tuned, Jill may find another cartoon that prompts another such article.

IMPORTANT: REVIEW YOUR ADVANCE DIRECTIVE

Jill usually writes in the third person in newsletters and blogs but this article needs to be in the first person.

It was a typical work day. Danielle told me I had a phone call from Kaiser. I’m a worrier so I immediately thought something happened to Bonnie. No, it was Kaiser in Vallejo. What could they want with me?

The woman on the phone said she was in the Palliative Care Department and I was a backup on the Advance Directive for Connie Foster (not her actual name). I said are you sure? She said yes. Well, they did have the office number. The name rang a bell and then I realized I had known a Connie Foster almost 20 years ago. Was she from Hercules? Yes, she responded.

I didn’t know what to do. How can I make decisions about potential life and death when I knew nothing about her circumstances? Where was her wife? I apologized and said I don’t feel that I can help as I know nothing about this and have no idea about her wishes.

After hanging up, I got in touch with the person who had introduced me. She had no idea Connie was in the hospital. Her last contact was 2019. Her wife apparently died in 2018.

The next day I was out of the office in the morning. Again, another call came in from Kaiser. This time the woman told Danielle I was the emergency contact for Connie Foster and wanted Danielle to provide my personal number. Danielle, correctly, said she was not at liberty to give out this information but would take her number and I could call back. Also, she told her what time I would return to the office.

No number was left and I never heard back.

I don’t know how to communicate what an upsetting experience this was. I could not get it off my mind. You want to help someone at the end of their life but if you don’t know anything about their wishes and beliefs, how can you morally do so? I figured out the last time I saw her was 2005.

MORAL TO THE STORY – please review your Advance Directive to make sure you have the people you want listed. And talk to them so they know they are listed and what your thoughts are about decisions they might need to make on your behalf.

Thanks for “listening.”

OBSTACLES AROUND ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)

We know there are a multitude of articles ranging from people losing jobs to new job opportunities to improving the world. Where the speculation ends and the reality settles, we don’t know. However, there are a few very practical problems that may inhibit, in the near term, the future of AI.

 

ENERGY

Artificial intelligence is a software application. It needs hardware that uses an incredible amount of energy. According to Alex de Vries, PhD candidate at the VU Amsterdam Schools of Business and Economics and founder of the digital-sustainability blog Digiconomist, current AI machines are almost at the point of using 29.3 terawatt-hours – as much electricity as the entire country of Ireland uses in a year. Others in this field believe this number is conservative.

AI uses what is called large language model (LLM). This is the technology behind ChatGPT. John Mauldin, author of “Thoughts from the Frontline” provided a good example. He wrote: “Think of it as building a sandcastle one grain of sand at a time. It’s possible in theory but not in reality because you can’t move fast enough to do it in one lifetime. The newest computer chips can… but only if they have a sufficient power source.”

Increased demand from Data Centers running AI is expected to grow at 13-15% per year until 2030 (McKinsey). Amazon is purchasing power plants and recently purchased 40% of the output from the Susquehanna nuclear power plant.

Add to AI requirements – crypto uses an extreme amount of energy too. New ways to generate electricity are needed. Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI said, “I think we still don’t appreciate the energy needs of this technology without a breakthrough. We need fusion or cheaper solar and storage.”

 

COOLING

David Berreby, in YaleEnvironment360 (2/6/24), wrote “generative artificial intelligence uses massive amounts of energy for computation and data storage and millions of gallons of water to cool the equipment at data centers.”

Siemens is building thermal cooling for data centers.

So behind the scenes, it seems there are practical inhibitors to generative AI growing unrestrained. Having said that, we wanted to share some items from “Eye on the Market – 4/2/24” by Michael Cembalest of JP Morgan on successes and restraints.

 

SUPPLY CHAIN

According to the US International Trade Commission, 90% of the manufacturing for the advanced chips designed by NVIDIA, Apple and Broadcom are made in Taiwan by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Commerce Secretary Raimondo indicated the U.S. will manufacture 20% of advanced chips by 2030. How much do we currently manufacture – 0%.

What if there is a conflict with China? What if there is a blockade? Doesn’t look good, does it?

 

SUMMARY

While generative AI is not going away, there are some practical difficulties of it growing uninhibited. The practical restraints may lead to the discovery of more effective uses of energy, cooling and manufacturing. All this takes time.

So we don’t lose sight of some of the benefits, below are a couple of discoveries using millions of pieces of data on generative AI with positive results in the area of biomedicine offered by Cembalest.

  • First new class of antibiotics discovered in decades being tested
  • Ability to detect early diabetic retinopathy

THE CHANGING PHILOSOPHY OF WORKERS

When the pandemic hit, most office workers were relegated to working at home. Some people found it wonderful and at the other end of the spectrum, some found it isolating.

Viewed another way, it allowed many of us to re-evaluate the role work plays in our life and to alter our perception in favor of a more balanced work-life. With this change of attitude, many workers prefer a hybrid model of employment.

According to Pew Research, 61% work at home by choice even though they have offices available. Greg Ip, journalist for the Wall Street Journal wrote in “Americans Don’t Care as Much About Work” on 3/11/24 that workers are more likely to take vacation days owed, take sick days to maintain their health and use a mental health day if they need it.

Economist Yongseok Shin at Washington University (St. Louis) found men worked 30 hours less in 2023 than 2019. The decline was among upper-income college graduates.

Shin said, “With the pandemic, you realize, ‘I’m getting burned out, I want better work-life balance.’” Shin went onto say, “If you’re the only one trying to do this, you worry about being left out for promotions and bonuses. But with the common shock of the pandemic, if you realize everyone around is doing the same thing, including your boss, you feel more comfortable about reducing hours, and restoring work-life balance.”

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