Symptoms of Dementia and Early Warning Signs

From age 50 on, it’s not unusual to have occasional trouble finding the right word or remembering where you put things.

Dementia Symptoms at a Glance

  • Difficulty with everyday tasks
  • Repetition
  • Communication problems
  • Getting lost
  • Personality changes
  • Confusion about time and place
  • Troubling behavior

But persistent difficulty with memory, cognition and ability to perform everyday tasks might be signs that something more serious is happening to a loved one’s brain.

Dementia isn’t actually a disease, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s a catch-all term for changes in the brain that cause a loss of functioning that interferes with daily life. Dementia can diminish focus, the ability to pay attention, language skills, problem-solving and visual perception. It also can make it difficult for a person to control his or her emotions and lead to personality changes.

Roughly 6.5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the “2022 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures” report from the Alzheimer’s Association. Alzheimer’s disease is the leading cause of dementia, accounting for 60 percent to 70 percent of cases, but a range of brain illnesses can lead to the condition (see sidebar, “Diseases that cause dementia”).

Diseases that cause dementia

These conditions are the leading causes of dementia. Many patients have mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s is characterized by amyloid plaques and tangled fibers in the brain and by a loss of connections between nerve cells. Damage initially appears in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in memory formation, and gradually spreads.

Vascular dementia. The second most common type of dementia results from damage to the vessels that supply blood to the brain. It tends to affect focus, organization, problem-solving and speed of thinking more noticeably than memory.

Lewy body dementia. Abnormal protein deposits in the brain, called Lewy bodies, affect brain chemistry and lead to problems with behavior, mood, movement and thinking.

Frontotemporal disorders. Degenerative damage to the brain’s frontal and temporal lobes is the most common cause of dementia in people age 65 and younger. Symptoms might include apathy; difficulty communicating, walking or working; emotional changes; and impulsive or inappropriate behaviors.

A loved one showing symptoms of dementia needs to see a medical expert who can conduct tests and come up with a diagnosis. If a loved one has dementia, you’ll want to plan how you will manage that care, especially as the condition progresses.

But it’s also important to rule out other medical conditions with dementia-like symptoms that may disappear with treatment such as infections and side effects of medications.

Dementia symptoms to watch for

Here are some of the warning signs identified by dementia experts and mental health organizations:

• Difficulty with everyday tasks. Everyone makes mistakes, but people with dementia may find it increasingly difficult to do things like keep track of monthly bills or follow a recipe while cooking, the Alzheimer’s Association says. They also may find it hard to concentrate on tasks, take much longer to do them or have trouble finishing them.

• Repetition. Asking a question over and over or telling the same story about a recent event multiple times are common indicators of mild or moderate Alzheimer’s, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

• Communication problems. Observe if a loved one has trouble joining in conversations or following along with them, stops abruptly in the middle of a thought or struggles to think of words or the name of objects.

• Getting lost. People with dementia may have difficulty with visual and spatial abilities. That can manifest itself in problems like getting lost while driving, according to the Mayo Clinic.

• Personality changes. A loved one who begins acting unusually anxious, confused, fearful or suspicious; becomes upset easily; or loses interest in activities and seems depressed is cause for concern.

• Confusion about time and place. Loved ones who forget where they are or can’t remember how they got there should raise alarms. Another worrisome sign is disorientation about time — for example, routinely forgetting what day of the week it is, says Jason Karlawish, M.D., a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine and co-director of the Penn Memory Center.
• Troubling behavior. If your family member seems to have increasingly poor judgment when handling money or neglects grooming and cleanliness, pay attention.

Some people who experience memory loss or have difficulty with attention, decision-making language or reasoning may have a condition known as mild cognitive impairment. The condition causes a noticeable decline, but the changes are less severe than with dementia and a person can still perform normal daily activities, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

People with mild cognitive impairment are at an increased risk of developing dementia.

Signs of dementia? Where to find help

When your loved one is displaying troubling symptoms, a trip to a primary care physician is often the first step. But to get a definitive diagnosis, you’ll need to see a specialist such as a neurologist, geriatrician or geriatric psychiatrist.

If you can’t find one, the National Institute on Aging recommends contacting the neurology department of a nearby medical school. Some hospitals also have clinics that focus on dementia.

Ailments can mimic dementia

Any number of treatable conditions can cause dementia-like symptoms. Some of the most common:

• Alcohol abuse
• Anxiety, depression or stress
• Blood clots, brain infections or tumors
• Delirium
• Head injuries
• Kidney, liver or thyroid problems
• Side effects of medication
• Vitamin deficiencies

Source: National Institute on Aging

Specialists will want to know about the patient’s personal and family medical history. A close relative or relatives having had Alzheimer’s is a major risk factor.

Recent research suggests that a prevalence among even members of your extended family can increase your dementia risk. Doctors also will conduct physical and neurological exams to rule out other treatable causes for dementia symptoms.

Some of the methods that doctors use to diagnose dementia:

• Cognitive and neuropsychological tests assess language and math skills, memory, problem-solving and other types of mental functioning.

• Lab tests of blood and other fluids, including checking levels of various chemicals, hormones and vitamins, can help rule out nondementia causes for the symptoms.

• Brain scans such as CT, MRI or PET imaging can spot changes in brain structure and function. These tests also can identify strokes, tumors and other problems that can cause dementia.

• Psychiatric evaluation can determine whether a mental health condition is causing or affecting the symptoms.

• Genetic tests are important, especially if someone is showing symptoms before age 60. The early onset form of Alzheimer’s is strongly linked to a person’s genes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Talk with a genetic counselor before and after getting tested.

Editor’s note: This article was published on October 22, 2019. It has been updated with more recent information.

By: Patrick J. Kiger

Patrick J. Kiger is a contributing writer for AARP. He has written for a wide variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times Magazine, GQ and Mother Jones, as well as the websites of the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.​​

Source: Symptoms of Dementia and Early Warning Signs

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Critics:

Having trouble with memory can be an early symptom of dementia. The changes are often subtle and tend to involve short-term memory. A person with dementia may be able to remember events that took place years ago, but not what they had for breakfast.

Another early symptom of dementia is difficulty with communicating thoughts. A person with dementia may have a hard time explaining something or finding the right words to express themselves. They may also stop in the middle of a sentence and not know how to continue.

Having a conversation with a person who has dementia can be challenging, and it may take longer than usual for them to express their thoughts or feelings.

A change in mood is also common with dementia. If you have dementia, it may not be easy to recognize this in yourself, but you may notice this change in someone else. Depression, for instance, is common in the early stages of dementia.

Someone who has dementia may also seem more fearful or anxious than they were before. They could get easily upset if their usual daily routine is changed, or if they find themselves in unfamiliar situations.

Apathy, or listlessness, is a common sign in early dementia. A person with dementia may lose interest in hobbies or activities that they used to enjoy doing. They may not want to go out anymore or have fun.They may also lose interest in spending time with friends and family, and they may seem emotionally flat.

Someone in the early stages of dementia may often become confused. They may have trouble remembering faces, knowing what day or month it is, or figuring out where they are. Confusion can occur for a number of reasons and apply to different situations. For example, they may misplace their car keys, forget what comes next in the day, or have difficulty remembering someone they recently met.

But dementia is not one single condition. It’s essentially an umbrella term that covers a wide range of cognitive disorders. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, which accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases, according to the Alzheimer’s Association…

More contents:

Caregiving for dementia: Helping your loved one stay connected

Healthy lifestyle, not supplements, prevent dementia

Staying Sharp: Take control of your brain health

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Invest For Progress: Which Type Of Sustainable Investor Are You?

In 2020, inflows into sustainable funds increased to $360 billion, up from just $30 billion in 20161—and this trend is showing no signs of slowing. “We’re starting to see an evolution in how investors think about sustainability,” says Sarah Kjellberg, head of U.S. sustainable ETFs at BlackRock. “It’s gone from niche to necessary, and we’re seeing growing interest from investors around the world.

[According to] our 2020 Global Sustainable Investing Survey, 50% of respondents—across 425 clients with $25 trillion in assets—plan to double their sustainable assets under management in the next five years.”

Sustainable investing combines traditional investment approaches with environmental, social and governance (ESG) insights. And one of the simplest ways to create a more sustainable portfolio is through exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, which are more accessible than ever.

“Sustainable investing used to cater to larger investors and was often considered to have high fees with high minimums, and be only values-focused and indifferent to performance,” says Kjellberg. “But ETFs are helping to upend these perceptions by delivering choice, value and access to all investors—and at a fraction of the cost of traditional mutual funds.”

Why invest sustainably? Consider performance—three in four sustainable equity funds beat their Morningstar category average in 2020.2 And the ability to meet sustainable objectives. Just consider that $1 million invested in iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF implies an annual reduction of carbon emissions equivalent to 43,441 miles driven by an average passenger car.3

SOURCES:

1. BlackRock Sustainable Investing, with data from Broadridge and Simfund. January 1, 2016–September 30, 2020.

2. Morningstar, “Sustainable Equity Funds Outperform Traditional Peers in 2020.” Based on an analysis of 200 U.S. mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Morningstar, as of December 31, 2020. Comparison of sustainable equity ETFs and mutual funds versus their respective Morningstar categories using rankings based on total return.

Morningstar defines sustainable funds as those that emphasize the use of environmental, social and governance criteria to generate financial return and broader societal impact. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

3. iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF (ESGU) Impact Report. Source for carbon emissions: MSCI ESG Fund Ratings provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC as of July 19, 2021, based on holdings as of May 31, 2021. The carbon emissions reduction for ESGU (98.71% carbon coverage by MSCI ESG Fund Ratings) is calculated relative to the carbon emissions of its parent index, the MSCI USA Index (99.84% carbon coverage by MSCI ESG Research). ESGU’s total carbon emissions are 33.61 tons CO2 per million dollars invested; MSCI USA’s total carbon emissions are 51.11 tons CO2 per million dollars invested.

Total emissions reduction is 17.51 tons CO2 per million dollars invested. Source for equivalents: MSCI ESG Fund Ratings with data from U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator for CO2 and energy measures. Carbon coverage is the percentage of a portfolio’s market value with Carbon Intensity data. Please refer to the MSCI ESG Fund Ratings Methodology for more information. There may be material differences between the fund’s index and the parent index including without limitation holdings, index provider, methodology and performance.

4. The business involvement screens are based on revenue or percentage of revenue thresholds for certain categories and categorical exclusions for others. Please read the definition for each screen here.

5. Screens are based on revenue or percentage of revenue thresholds for certain categories (e.g., $500 million or 50%) and categorical exclusions for others (e.g., nuclear weapons). MSCI, the fund’s index provider, screens companies with involvement in fossil fuels by excluding any company in the energy sector as per GICS methodology and all companies with an industry tie to fossil fuels such as thermal coal, oil and gas—in particular, reserve ownership, related revenues and power generation.

Companies that meet the fossil fuel involvement screen but that derive more than 50% of revenues from alternative energy and do not have an industry tie to thermal coal or oil sands or have fossil fuel reserves used most likely for energy applications, as determined by MSCI, will be added back.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: 

Carefully consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors, and charges and expenses before investing. This and other information can be found in the Funds’ prospectuses or, if available, the summary prospectuses, which may be obtained by visiting http://www.iShares.com or http://www.blackrock.com. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

A fund’s environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) investment strategy limits the types and number of investment opportunities available to the fund and, as a result, the fund may underperform other funds that do not have an ESG focus. A fund’s ESG investment strategy may result in the fund investing in securities or industry sectors that underperform the market as a whole or underperform other funds screened for ESG standards. In addition, companies selected by the index provider may not exhibit positive or favorable ESG characteristics.

International investing involves risks, including risks related to foreign currency, limited liquidity, less government regulation and the possibility of substantial volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments. These risks often are heightened for investments in emerging/developing markets and in concentrations of single countries.

Fixed income risks include interest-rate and credit risk. Typically, when interest rates rise, there is a corresponding decline in bond values. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the bond issuer will not be able to make principal and interest payments. The iShares Global Green Bond fund’s green bond investment strategy limits the types and number of investment opportunities available to the Fund and, as a result, the Fund may underperform other funds that do not have a green bond focus.

The Fund’s green bond investment strategy may result in the Fund investing in securities or industry sectors that underperform the market as a whole or underperform other funds with a green bond focus. In addition, projects funded by green bonds may not result in direct environmental benefits. 

When comparing stocks or bonds and ETFs, it should be remembered that management fees associated with fund investments are not borne by investors in individual stocks or bonds. Buying and selling shares of ETFs may result in brokerage commissions. Diversification and asset allocation may not protect against market risk or loss of principal.

Funds that concentrate investments in specific industries, sectors, markets or asset classes may underperform or be more volatile than other industries, sectors, markets or asset classes and than the general securities market.

The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and are not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. There is no guarantee that any strategies discussed will be effective. The information presented does not take into consideration commissions, tax implications, or other transaction costs, which may significantly affect the economic consequences of a given strategy or investment decision.

This material contains general information only and does not take into account an individual’s financial circumstances. This information should not be relied upon as a primary basis for an investment decision. Rather, an assessment should be made as to whether the information is appropriate in individual circumstances and consideration should be given to talking to a financial advisor before making an investment decision.

Prepared by BlackRock Investments, LLC, member FINRA.

Certain information ©2021 MSCI ESG Research LLC. Reproduced by permission; no further distribution. Certain information contained herein (the “Information”) has been provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC, a RIA under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, and may include data from its affiliates (including MSCI Inc. and its subsidiaries (“MSCI”)), or third party suppliers (each an “Information Provider”), and it may not be reproduced or disseminated in whole or in part without prior written permission.

The Information has not been submitted to, nor received approval from, the US SEC or any other regulatory body. The Information may not be used to create any derivative works, or in connection with, nor does it constitute, an offer to buy or sell, or a promotion or recommendation of, any security, financial instrument or product or trading strategy, nor should it be taken as an indication or guarantee of any future performance, analysis, forecast or prediction. Some funds may be based on or linked to MSCI indexes, and MSCI may be compensated based on the fund’s assets under management or other measures.

MSCI has established an information barrier between equity index research and certain Information. None of the Information in and of itself can be used to determine which securities to buy or sell or when to buy or sell them. The Information is provided “as is” and the user of the Information assumes the entire risk of any use it may make or permit to be made of the Information.

Neither MSCI ESG Research nor any Information Party makes any representations or express or implied warranties (which are expressly disclaimed), nor shall they incur liability for any errors or omissions in the Information, or for any damages related thereto. The foregoing shall not exclude or limit any liability that may not by applicable law be excluded or limited.

iSHARES and BLACKROCK are trademarks of BlackRock, Inc., or its subsidiaries in the United States and elsewhere. All other marks are the property of their respective owners.

By : Suchi Rudra

Source: Invest For Progress: Which Type Of Sustainable Investor Are You?

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More Contents:

Eco Investor Guide” (PDF). Eco Investor Guide, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.

“What is green finance and why is it important?”. World Economic Forum. Retrieved 2020-12-28.

The Green Advisor: SRI & Green Investing Grow Up”. Investment Advisor. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2010.

“New Global Climate Prosperity Scoreboard Finds Over $1 Trillion Invested in Green Since 2007”. Green Money Journal. 2010. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved 11 June 2010.

“Firms brace for climate change”. European Investment Bank. Retrieved 2021-10-12.

EIB Investment Report 2020/2021: Building a smart and green Europe in the COVID-19 era. European Investment Bank. ISBN 978-92-861-4811-8.

“Socially Responsible Investing”. Investor Glossary. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2010.

“ESG 101: What is Environmental, Social and Governance?”.

“How to navigate the world of sustainable investing ratings”. CNBC. Retrieved 28 January 2021.

Sustainable Funds Continue to Rake in Assets During the Second Quarter”. Morningstar.com. Retrieved 18 August 2020.

A Broken Record: Flows for U.S. Sustainable Funds Again Reach New Heights”. Morningstar.com. Retrieved 29 January 2021.

Sustainable fund assets hit record $1.7 trln in 2020: Morningstar”. Reuters. Retrieved 28 January 2021.

Coller Capital Global PE Barometer – Winter 2016–17 | Coller Capital”. Collercapital.com. Retrieved 30 October 2017.

“Finding Your ESG Mindset with Invest Europe | Navatar”. Navatar. Retrieved 30 October 2017.

G7 Pensions Roundtable : Les ODD (‘SDGs’) Désormais Incontournables”. Cahiers du Centre des Professions Financières. CPF. SSRN 3545217. Retrieved 17 March 2020.

Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be the primary goal of corporations”. Washington Post. WP. Retrieved 17 March 2020.

Green Technology & Alternative Fuels”. Demand Media, Inc. Retrieved 11 June 2010.

How Vision Loss Can Affect the Brain

A growing body of evidence suggests that when older people’s brains have to work harder to see, declines in language, memory, attention and more could follow.

Medical practice tends to divide its clients — you and me — into specialties defined by body parts: ophthalmology, neurology, gastroenterology, psychiatry and the like. But in fact, the human body doesn’t function in silos. Rather, it works as an integrated whole, and what goes awry in one part of the body can affect several others.

I’ve written about the potential harm of hearing loss to brain health, as well as to the health of our bones, hearts and emotional well-being. Untreated hearing loss can increase the risk of dementia. Even those with slightly less than perfect hearing can have measurable cognitive deficits.

Now, a growing body of research is demonstrating that vision loss can affect the brain’s function, too. As with hearing, if the brain has to work extra hard to make sense of what our eyes see, it can take a toll on cognitive function.

The latest study, published in JAMA Network Open in July, followed 1,202 men and women aged 60 to 94 for an average of nearly seven years. All were part of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, and had vision and cognition tests every one to four years between 2003 and 2019.

The researchers found that those who scored poorly on initial tests of visual acuity — how well, for example, they could see the letters on an eye chart from a given distance — were more likely to have cognitive decline over time, including deficits in language, memory, attention and the ability to identify and locate objects in space.

Other vision issues, like with depth perception and the ability to see contrasts, also had deleterious effects on cognitive ability. The lead researcher, Bonnielin Swenor, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Wilmer Eye Institute, said that the new study “adds to mounting longitudinal data showing that vision impairment can lead to cognitive decline in older adults.”

Lest you think that the relationship is reversed — that cognitive decline impairs vision — another study that Dr. Swenor participated in showed that when both functions were considered, vision impairment was two times more likely to affect cognitive decline than the other way around.

This study, published in 2018 in JAMA Ophthalmology and led by Diane Zheng from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, included 2,520 community-dwelling adults ages 65 to 84, whose vision and cognitive function were periodically tested. She and her co-authors concluded that maintaining good vision as one ages may be an effective way to minimize the decline in cognitive function in older adults.

“When people have vision loss, they change the way they live their lives. They decrease their physical activity and they decrease their social activity, both of which are so important for maintaining a healthy brain,” Dr. Swenor said. “It puts them on a fast tack to cognitive decline.”

But identifying and correcting vision loss early on can help, Dr. Zheng said. She suggested regular eye checkups — at least once every two years, and more often if you have diabetes, glaucoma or other conditions that may damage vision. “Make sure you can see well through your glasses,” she urged.

There are “vision impairments that glasses won’t fix,” Dr. Swenor said, like age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. Retinal disease began to compromise Dr. Swenor’s vision in her mid-20s. Those with problems like hers can benefit from something called low vision rehabilitation, a sort of physical therapy for the eyes that helps visually impaired people adapt to common situations and help them function better in society.

Dr. Swenor, for instance, can see objects in a high-contrast situation, like a black cat against a white fence, but has trouble seeing the difference between similar colors. She can’t pour white milk into a white mug without spilling it, for example. Her solution: Use a dark-colored mug. Finding such accommodations is an ongoing task, but it enables her to continue to function well professionally and socially.

Society, too, needs to help people with visual impairment function safely outside the home. Most things in hospitals are white, for example, which creates safety hazards for people with diminished contrast sensitivity. As a driver of 50 years, I’ve noticed that road barriers that used to be the same color as the road surface are now more often rendered in high contrast colors like orange or yellow, which undoubtedly reduces crashes even for people who can see perfectly.

“We need to create a more inclusive society that accommodates people with vision impairment,” Dr. Swenor said.

People who have trouble with depth perception can also incorporate helpful design features into the home. Placing colored strips on stair risers, varying textures of furniture and color-coding objects can all improve the ability to navigate safely. People who can no longer read books may also listen to audiobooks, podcasts or music instead, Dr. Swenor said.

The link between visual impairment and cognitive impairment “is not a doomsday message,” she added. “There are many ways to foster brain health for people with vision loss.”

Step one may be getting a Medicare extension bill through congress, which in turn might prompt private insurers to also cover vision care and rehabilitation. The Democrats’ current proposal to extend Medicare benefits to cover vision care would more than pay for itself in the long run by diminishing already-covered medical costs for cognitive and physical decline.

Case in point: The cost of a single hip replacement resulting from a vision-impaired fall would exceed the cost of many hundreds of eye exams and needed vision corrections.

Portrait of Jane E. Brody

Source: How Vision Loss Can Affect the Brain – The New York Times

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Related Contents:

Facts About Retinal Detachment – Facts About Glaucoma

Fast Facts: Ophthalmology

Facts About Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Eye Strokes: CRAO, BRVO And Other Retinal Artery And Vein Occlusions

Vitreous Hemorrhage: Diagnosis and Treatment

Branch retinal vein occlusion

Giant-Cell Arteritis and Polymyalgia Rheumatica

A review of central retinal artery occlusion: clinical presentation and management

Branch retinal vein occlusion

Pediatric, Adult Glaucoma Differ in Management: Patient Populations Not Same

Childhood blindness in the context of VISION 2020–the right to sight

Approach to the diagnosis of the uveitides

American Optometric Association web site

Neural correlates of natural human echolocation in early and late blind echolocation experts

The prevalence of low vision and blindness in Canada

Visual impairment and blindness Fact Sheet

Causes of blindness and visual impairment”. Archived

National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

Free and Appropriate Public Education and the Personnel Crisis for Students with Visual Impairments and Blindness

High Eye Pressure and Glaucoma

Eye Trauma Epidemiology and Prevention

Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder

A comparison of the causes of blindness certifications in England and Wales in working age adults

Optical reading aids for children and young people with low vision

A Critical Piece Of The Machine Economy: The People

Over the shoulder view of young Asian businesswoman using AI assistant on smartphone

70% of GDP growth in the global economy between now and 2030 will be driven by the machines, according to PwC. This is a near $7 trillion dollar contribution to U.S. GDP based around the combined production from artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and embedded devices. This is the rise of a new machine economy.

For those not familiar with the machine economy, it’s where the smart, connected, autonomous, and economically independent machines or devices carry out the necessary activities of production, distribution, and operations with little or no human intervention. The development of this economy is how Industry 4.0 becomes a reality.

Visionary leaders will implement new technologies and combine them with capital investments in ways that help them grow, expand, diversify, and actually improve lives. These machine economy leaders will operate in a new intelligent systems world in thousands of companies that will drive new economic models globally.

Sounds good so far, but all of that autonomous machinery isn’t going to build and operate itself.

Not enough people to do the work

While most people would agree that manufacturing is an important part of our economy, they aren’t recommending their children pursue that line of work. It’s expected that 4.6 million manufacturing jobs created between now and 2028 will go unfilled. Key drivers for this change include the fact that 10,000 baby boomers retire every day without people to replace them.

The workforce is quickly losing the second-largest age group, and millennials (the largest group) have so far not been attracted to manufacturing jobs at large. Instead they tend to be drawn toward technology, engineering, finance. The underlying issue may be one of perception, as the future of manufacturing will in fact include a much higher degree of technology, engineering, and finance in order to function.

Different skills are needed

Manufacturing jobs are changing. The number of purely manual, repetitive tasks are shrinking as technology advances to handle those jobs with robots and automation. Fifty percent of manufacturers have already adopted some form of automation, and now they need people with critical thinking, programming, and digital skills. Tomorrow’s jobs have titles such as Digital Twin Engineer, Robot Teaming Coordinator, Drone Data Coordinator, Smart Scheduler, Factory Manager, Safety Supervisor, and so on.

The shifts in productivity are happening so quickly, humans can’t keep up with them

An unskilled position can be filled relatively quickly as the prerequisite qualifications are limited. It typically takes months to fill a skilled position, and in most cases much longer for an individual to develop the requisite skills before they even think to apply. One alternative is to lower requirements in terms of education, skill, and experience in order to get someone new in the position, but then companies have to absorb the entire expense of training them.

Meanwhile there is increased pressure to utilize existing people’s and teams’ times and skills as much as possible, which can lead to burnout. This is a tenuous cycle that needs to be fortified by making sure our workforce has the skills training they need, when and where they need it.

In order to thrive in the machine economy, we need to invest significantly in people as well as in infrastructure. Focusing purely on infrastructure might lead to short-term and maybe mid-term profits, but ultimately it is not sustainable, and everyone loses. One can’t simply say, “We couldn’t fill the positions,” while there are people who need work.

Level-up our workforce

The human capacity to learn is basically limitless when individuals are motivated and have access to something to learn. There are several ways to tap into that capacity. First, we need to capture the knowledge and experience of the employees we have, so that those relevant skills can be passed on to the next wave of workers. We also need to ensure relevant training is available for people at every level of the company so that new people get up to speed and tenured employees don’t get left behind.

While some technologies need to be learned on the job, there is a level of foundational skill to understand in the machine economy, in addition to the technical and vocational skills required within a given field. An investment in, and possibly partnerships with, local schools could be a wise move for many companies. Lastly, while college is a great path for many people, it’s not the only form of higher education. Investments in vocational training and apprenticeship programs will be critical for our society to thrive in the machine economy.

Just as workers need to rethink and develop new skills, employers need to rethink and develop new ways of nurturing and attracting talent. To fully realize the promise of the machine economy, it is incumbent upon us to ensure people have access to the training and the tools they need in order to not only be successful but thrive. After all, what’s the point of all this technology if it doesn’t make life better for everyone?

PRESIDENT AND CEO

With more than 25 years of experience driving digital innovation and growth at technology companies, Kevin Dallas is responsible for all aspects of the Wind River business globally. He joined Wind River from Microsoft, where he most recently served as the corporate vice president for cloud and AI business development. At Microsoft, he led a team creating partnerships that enable the digital transformation of customers and partners across a range of industries including: connected/autonomous vehicles, industrial IoT, discrete manufacturing, retail, financial services, media and entertainment, and healthcare.

Prior to joining Microsoft in 1996, he held roles at NVIDIA Corporation and National Semiconductor (now Texas Instruments Inc.) in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East in roles that included microprocessor design, systems engineering, product management, and end-to-end business leadership. He currently serves as a director on the board of Align Technology, Inc. He holds a B.S.c. degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England.

Source: A Critical Piece Of The Machine Economy: The People

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Critics:

Digital economy refers to an economy that is based on digital computing technologies, although we increasingly perceive this as conducting business through markets based on the internet and the World Wide Web. The digital economy is also referred to as the Internet Economy, New Economy, or Web Economy.

Increasingly, the digital economy is intertwined with the traditional economy, making a clear delineation harder. It results from billions of everyday online connections among people, businesses, devices, data, and processes. It is based on the interconnectedness of people, organizations, and machines that results from the Internet, mobile technology and the internet of things (IoT).

Digital economy is underpinned by the spread of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) across all business sectors to enhance its productivity.Digital transformation of the economy is undermining conventional notions about how businesses are structured, how consumers obtain services, informations and goods and how states need to adapt to these new regulatory challenges.

Intensification of the global competition for human resources

Digital platforms rely on ‘deep learning‘ to scale up their algorithm’s capacity. The human-powered content labeling industry is constantly growing as companies seek to harness data for AI training. These practices have raised concerns concerning the low-income revenue and health-related issues of these independent workers. For instance, digital companies such as Facebook or YouTube use ‘content monitor’-contractors who work as outside monitors hired by a professional services company subcontractor- to monitor social media to remove any inappropriate content.

Thus, the job consists of watching and listening to disturbing posts that can be violent or sexual. In January 2020, through its subcontractor services society, Facebook and YouTube have asked the ‘content moderators’ to sign a PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) disclosure after alleged cases of mental disorders witnessed on workers.

See also

References

America’s Failure To Build Is Driving Home Prices Ever Higher

Some progressive groups oppose rezoning New York's wealthy Soho area to allow more housing

Another month, another explosive rise in home prices.  May’s median annual housing price rose 23.6%, a new monthly record.   Buyers are still buying, helped by low interest and mortgage rates.  But since housing construction hasn’t kept pace with demand and economic growth, it will take more housing production to reduce long-term pressure on prices.

The buying pressure in housing markets is setting records.  Although home sales fell slightly in May compared to April, houses aren’t sitting very long on the market.  According to the National Association of Realtors, total housing inventory is down 20.6% from a year ago.  Properties only last on the market for an average of 17 days, and 89% of sales in May “were on the market for less than a month.”

Given this high demand, we’d expect supply to respond.  Ronnie Walker at Goldman Sachs notes housing starts are rising, hitting their highest levels since 2006.  But it isn’t cooling the market off.  But Walker says despite these higher starts, “red-hot demand has brought the supply of homes available for sale down to the lowest level since the 1970s.”

Walker expects a “persistent supply-demand imbalance in the years ahead.”  New construction will come online, and more sellers eventually will enter the market, but his model foresees “home prices grow(ing) at double digit rates both this year and next.”

Tight future markets are confirmed by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS).  In their 2021 report, these experts say “the supply of existing homes for sale has never been tighter,” and is at its lowest level since 1982.

So where are the houses?  What happened to supply and demand?  JCHS notes several reasons for underproduction, but the primary blame goes to restrictive local policies such as single-family zoning, minimum lot sizes, parking requirements, etc.  A 2018 survey of over 2700 communities found “93 percent imposed minimum lot sizes” with 67 percent requiring lots of at least one acre in size and sometimes more, many in suburban towns.

What about big cities?  Despite perceptions that there’s a lot of development in many cities, not much housing has been built in some.  Between 2010 and 2018, jobs in New York City increased by 22% “while the housing stock only increased four percent.”  Jobs in San Francisco and San Mateo counties rose by over 30% between 2010 and 2019, while new housing permits only rose by 7%.

There are strong political biases in these cities against more construction, but other liberal places are re-examining their housing policies, especially single-family zoning.  A New York Times 2019 analysis confirmed that many cities’ land area is dominated by single-family zoning —70% in Minneapolis, 75% in Los Angeles, 79% in Chicago, 81% in Seattle, and 94% in San Jose.  Combined with excessive parking requirements, zoning policy effectively takes land out of production while pushing its price sky-high and preventing multifamily options.

Cities’ anti-development policy means new housing is pushed further out in the metropolitan area, adding to suburban sprawl, longer commute times, and environmental damage.  Ironically, some progressive environmental groups have allied with anti-development forces, with the net result of fostering suburban sprawl.

In New York City, the left Sunrise Movement has joined with many other groups to oppose “upzoning” for higher density and more development in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, one of the wealthiest in the nation.  In contrast, Berkeley California, one of the most liberal cities in the nation, has voted to end single family zoning, persuaded by the argument that such policies result in racially segregated neighborhoods and lack of affordable housing for people of color.

But it isn’t just liberal cities that face this problem.  Even though red states like North Dakota, Utah, and Texas lead the nation in home building, a recent study found that only four of America’s 25 largest metropolitan areas “built enough homes to match local job growth.”  And much of that growth was in outlying suburbs, adding to sprawl and pollution.

Urban economist Ed Glaeser locates a good deal of the problem in the rising power of local citizen groups, especially existing homeowners.  Their housing investments often rise in value with scarcity, and they usually like the existing neighborhoods where they reside and don’t want new residents.

This creates an “insider/outsider” problem that limits housing. As Glaeser notes, current homeowners don’t “internalize the interests of those who live elsewhere and would want to come to the city…their political actions are more likely to exclude than to embrace.”  These anti-housing groups often are labelled “NIMBYs”, for “Not In My Back Yard.”

In response, so-called “YIMBYs” (Yes In My Back Yard) are pushing for policies such as relaxed zoning, allowing multi-family housing (at least duplexes to quadplexes) on single family lots, and allowing denser housing near mass transit stops (“TOD”, for “Transit Oriented Development.”).  They are having some success, but anti-development forces are deeply entrenched and politically powerful in many places around the country.

But would more development create not just housing, but add to affordable housing?  What about the impact on low-income and non-white families, who could face rising rents or displacement from gentrification while still not being able to buy a house?  In my next blog, we’ll look at the tangled racial history of housing development and home ownership. Unless renters and lower-income people can be mobilized to support development, NIMBY opposition to more housing will be hard to overcome.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I’m an economist at the New School’s Schwartz Center (https://www.economicpolicyresearch.org), currently writing a book for Columbia University Press on cities and inequality.  I have extensive public sector experience studying cities and states.  I’ve served as Executive Director of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy, Deputy Commissioner for Policy and Research at New York State’s Department of Economic Development, and New York City Deputy Comptroller for Policy and Management.  I also worked as Director of Impact Assessment at the Ford Foundation.

Source: America’s Failure To Build Is Driving Home Prices Ever Higher

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Critics:

The United States housing bubble was a real estate bubble affecting over half of the U.S. states. It was the impetus for the subprime mortgage crisis. Housing prices peaked in early 2006, started to decline in 2006 and 2007, and reached new lows in 2012. On December 30, 2008, the Case–Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop in its history. The credit crisis resulting from the bursting of the housing bubble is an important cause of the Great Recession in the United States.

Increased foreclosure rates in 2006–2007 among U.S. homeowners led to a crisis in August 2008 for the subprime, Alt-A, collateralized debt obligation (CDO), mortgage, credit, hedge fund, and foreign bank markets. In October 2007, the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury called the bursting housing bubble “the most significant risk to our economy”.

Any collapse of the U.S. housing bubble has a direct impact not only on home valuations, but mortgage markets, home builders, real estate, home supply retail outlets, Wall Street hedge funds held by large institutional investors, and foreign banks, increasing the risk of a nationwide recession. Concerns about the impact of the collapsing housing and credit markets on the larger U.S. economy caused President George W. Bush and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke to announce a limited bailout of the U.S. housing market for homeowners who were unable to pay their mortgage debts.

In 2008 alone, the United States government allocated over $900 billion to special loans and rescues related to the U.S. housing bubble. This was shared between the public sector and the private sector. Because of the large market share of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) (both of which are government-sponsored enterprises) as well as the Federal Housing Administration, they received a substantial share of government support, even though their mortgages were more conservatively underwritten and actually performed better than those of the private sector.

See also

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