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Attention Deficit

A second, related effort would focus on setting longer-term goals and speeding the introduction of autonomous-driving technologies that many safety experts say have the potential to prevent accidents by removing distracted humans from the driving equation.

One concern so far, though, is that current generations of automated driver-assistance systems, like the Autopilot feature offered by Tesla Motors, may be lulling some drivers into a false sense of security that can contribute to distracted driving. ...
Technology in some new cars is meant to reduce driver distractions or compensate for them.

Dr. William Chandler, a retired neurosurgeon in Ann Arbor, Mich., just bought a 2017 BMW X5 sport utility vehicle that warns him if he drifts out of his lane on the highway or if a car is in his blind spot. ...
Insurance companies, which closely track auto accidents, are convinced that the increasing use of electronic devices while driving is the biggest cause of the rise in road fatalities, according to Robert Gordon, a senior vice president of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
- Neal Boudette, Biggest Spike in Traffic Deaths in 50 Years? Blame Apps, NYT, Nov. 15, 2016


“When traditional advertising was first invented, there were 16 or so waking hours in a day. That baseline hasn’t changed, but the number of things frenetically competing for our attention at any given moment has, we all know, increased exponentially.”
- Andrew Essex, quoted in SAPNA MAHESHWARI, Toasting the Ad Industry and a Book Predicting Its Doom, NYT, JUNE 11, 2017


There should have been lookouts on watch on the port, starboard and stern of the destroyer Fitzgerald — sailors scanning the horizon with binoculars and reporting by headsets to the destroyer’s bridge. At 1:30 a.m. last Saturday, off the coast of Japan south of Tokyo, they could hardly have failed to see the 730-foot freighter ACX Crystal, stacked with more than 1,000 containers, as it closed in.

Radar officers working both on the bridge and in the combat information center below it should have spotted the freighter’s image on their screens, drawing steadily closer. And under standard protocol, the Fitzgerald’s captain, Cmdr. Bryce Benson, should have been awakened and summoned to the bridge to assure a safe passage long before the ships could come near each other.

But none of that happened. ...
Under strict orders not to talk about what they saw that night, the crew of the Fitzgerald is mostly keeping its counsel.... But one sailor, contacted via social media, offered what may endure as an epitaph for the accident.

“All I can say is,” the sailor wrote to The New York Times, “somebody wasn’t paying attention.”
- SCOTT SHANE, Maritime Mystery: Why a U.S. Destroyer Failed to Dodge a Cargo Ship, NYT, JUNE 23, 2017


“What’s really scarce is attention,” and people are being more selective with it, the YouTube managing director Debbie Weinstein told reporters. Six seconds, her colleague Tara Walpert Levy said, was “just short enough and yet long enough” to get a story told.

The message is clear. Content costs money, and marketers will continue to subsidize it if it allows them to pitch their wares effectively. But people don’t want to spend time watching 30-second ads, not when information moves at the speed of Twitter. ...

But where does that leave messaging for far more complex issues like health care...?

The race to grab your attention and hold it is leading to a new era of informational hedonism that’s doing more than shortening attention spans. It has given rise to the online silos that allow people to live in vastly different realities. If you enjoy and engage most with news that supports your worldview — no matter its veracity — algorithms will naturally want to give you more of it.
- Jim Rutenberg, At Cannes, the Great Gusher of Content Comes With Warning Signs, NYT, JUNE 25, 2017


There was no good time for Donald Trump to be president. But this is a uniquely bad time for us to have a race-baiting, science-denying divider in chief. He is impossible to ignore, and yet reacting to his daily antics only makes us stupid — only makes our society less focused on the huge adaptation challenges at hand.
- Thomas L. Friedman, Folks, We’re Home Alone, NYT, SEPT. 27, 2017


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