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Leaders Let Problems Mount at Brutal SEAL Course, Navy Finds

The New York Times (NYT) (05/25/2023)
  • A US Navy report revealed serious issues at the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.
  • While historically 3/10 sailors passed Navy Seal training, fewer than 10% passed until recently.
  • Young instructors with less training viewed their jobs as enforcers to “weed out” the weak by keeping students in frigid water, sleep deprivation, and denial of medical attention.
  • SEAL candidate Kyle Mullen’s February 2022 death (pneumonia, didn’t receive medical intervention) sparked reforms.
  • Recent changes include increased instructor oversight and closer medical oversight (pass rate back above 30%).

How the technology behind ChatGPT could make mind-reading a reality

CNN (05/23/2023)
  • Using ChatGPT creator Open AI’s first language model GPT-1 (released in 2018), UT Austin scientists developed a method to translate brain scans into words.
  • The AI was trained on volunteers’ brain scans as they listened to specific audio content, enabling it to predict words they were hearing by observing brain activity.
  • While impressive, the early stage technology still requires many hours of training on an individual before making accurate predictions.
  • This could potentially help those unable to speak communicate in the future.

U.S. Surgeon General: I am concerned about social media and youth mental health

The Washington Post (05/23/2023)
  • In a Washington Post OpEd, US Surgeon General Dr.
  • Vivek H.
  • Murthy raises concerns over the potential harms of social media on youth mental health.
  • Noting we lack evidence that social media is “sufficiently safe” for youth, Murthy highlights the risk of harm to mental health from exposure to extreme content, cyberbullying and excessive use.
  • Studies show that 95% of American teens use social media for 3.5 hours (avg) everyday.
  • Murthy urges policymakers to establish age-appropriate standards and technology companies to design protections.

How mosquitoes use your body chemistry to pick you for their next meal

The Washington Post (05/19/2023)
  • A recent Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute study found that malaria-carrying mosquitoes are lured by specific skin chemicals.
  • The study involved constructing an open-air ‘mosquito perfumery’ in Zambia to investigate why mosquitoes are attracted to certain people.
  • While mosquitoes use visual cues and body warmth to find prey at close range, they rely on carbon dioxide and other chemicals found in body odor and breath to find long-range victims.
  • One mosquito victim found less appealing based on scent suggests diet might influence attractiveness.

Drug Shortages Near an All-Time High, Leading to Rationing

The New York Times (05/17/2023)
  • Drug shortages in the US are nearing record highs, impacting treatment availability for patients suffering from life-threatening diseases, particularly cancer.
  • Ryan Dwars (pictured) couldn’t receive his final four doses of chemotherapy.
  • Factors contributing to this shortage include disrupted supply chains, quality concerns, and manufacturing shutdowns.
  • The scarcity of generic drugs (90% of US prescriptions) has created delays in treatment and is prompting Congress to act.
  • There is debate over potential remedies including tax incentives for generic drug makers and increased transparency around drug quality.

Americans Have Never Been So Unwilling to Relocate for a New Job

Bloomberg (05/16/2023)
  • A recent survey of 3,000 job seekers nationwide found that Americans are increasingly unwilling to relocate for a new job.
  • The share of job seekers moving for a new role fell to a record low of 1.6% in Q1 2023, much lower than nearly 1/3 in the 1980s and 90s.
  • The rise in remote and hybrid roles post-pandemic and higher interest rates making house purchases more expensive have contributed to this trend.
  • Diminishing long-term job security has made workers less willing to relocate.

Workers Have High Hopes for Pay Raises, Companies Not So Much

WSJ (05/03/2023)
  • A new survey of nearly 1,000 major employers revealed that pay raises in response to inflation are less than projected last Fall.
  • According to a survey by benefits-advisory firm Mercer, employers are giving average annual merit raises of 3.8% and total compensation increases of 4.1%, the highest since 2008 but lower than surveyed workers expect (+6.7%).
  • Companies are moderating raises due to rising recession fears.
  • “Unless you have rare skills that are in demand, you are unlikely to get a special increase”.

Workers Now Spend Two Full Days a Week on Email and in Meetings

The Wall Street Journal (05/09/2023)
  • Researchers analyzed Microsoft business applications data and found that workers spend roughly two days per week in meetings and managing e-mails.
  • The 25% most active users spend 8.8 hours per week on emails and 7.5 hours in meetings.
  • The study also found that nearly two-thirds of people struggle finding time and energy to perform their actual job.
  • In response, several companies have started designating specific times for meetings and focused work.
  • Microsoft is also integrating AI productivity features into its workplace tools.

What Happens to Your Body on No Sleep?

Outside (04/02/2019)
  • Scientists have found that the effects of acute sleep deprivation, or all-nighters, kicks in after being awake for 16-18 hours straight.
  • The first sign is a sluggish mind, with reaction times lagging to the equivalent of being legally drunk by the 24th hour awake.
  • After 24 hours, your brain starts forcing you into 10-20 second periods of “micro-sleep”.
  • After 35 hours, the brain’s emotion-emitting amygdala becomes 60% more reactive and the ability to regulate emotions declines.
  • Hallucinations are common after 48 hours awake.