Ethan Explains White House Visits 5/18/16

Google employees made over 425 White House visits, with 128 of them by their lobbyist, since President Obama was inaugurated. Plus large funders of the Obama Foundation participated in small, private meetings with the President. Money buys access in D.C. so if you don’t like the system will you vote to change it this year?

From the Maplight Foundation article by Andrew Perez:

Some of the other visitors to the White House residence that evening were titans in their own industries. 
One couple in attendance, private equity executive Mark Gallogly and his wife Lise Strickler, had recently contributed $340,000 to the Barack Obama Foundation. 
Tom Campion, founder of the surf wear clothing chain Zumiez, and his wife, Sonya, donated $500,000 to the foundation in the months before the event.

Obama has frequently opened the White House doors to the wealthy donors who have financed his political campaigns, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Organizing for Action, a nonprofit the president created to mobilize grassroots supporters to advocate for his agenda. 
Those doors have also been opened to those making substantial contributions to Obama’s private foundation, as it seeks funding for the construction of a monument to his presidency.

Altogether, 15 of the 39 named donors to the Obama Foundation have been invited to small meetings with the president at the White House, according to a MapLight review of visitor logs, the foundation’s website, and its tax returns to the IRS. 
Four of those people were first invited to small meetings with Obama at the White House following their foundation donations. 
Nearly three-quarters of the contributors the foundation has disclosed have been invited to the White House for events with Obama, including every donor whose family or foundation has contributed more than $100,000.

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Autonomous Cars Still Need Drivers

Google Driverless Car image via Google
Google Driverless Car image via Google

Autonomous Cars, Say No To Software As People

I’ve been writing about, and been supportive of, autonomous or self-driving cars for years now (see HERE). This move I do not support.

In airplanes, the auto-pilot controls the aircraft, but the pilot or co-pilot is still at the controls. I have always seen autonomous cars in the same light. We still sit behind the wheel and have the capability to take over at any time.

While the auto-pilot in the car drives, we can safely talk on the phone, eat food, shave, put on makeup, text away, all while listening to our favorite personalities on the radio or podcasts.

Once you remove the human from the picture, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now going to allow, we are solely dependent on a piece of software from a corporation who will get the government to grant them immunity from their failures, much to the detriment of all of us in the end.

I have insisted that autonomous vehicles NOT be Johnny Cab from Total Recall, and this move is in that direction.

Individual humans still need a level of control on our roadways as long as other humans are driving, since we are the ones who behave in unexpected and erratic ways.

I reject this move by the NHTSA and see it as a move to undermine California where are proposing a law requiring a human driver behind the wheel.

Further, making software algorithms equivalent to a person has some really problematic potential outcomes. Our robots will demand rights as people.

Are you ready for a human-less future?

It Costs Too Much

The Ethan Bearman Show

Tune In To Today’s Show!

– What happened to the health exchange websites?
– Why does healthcare cost SO much in the United States?
– Interview with David Wiegand, television critic with the San Francisco Chronicle on the current season
– Homeowners strategic defaulting continues
– Google privacy heading to a new low

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Interview on the Glen Biegel Show July 19 2013

Ethan Bearman

I was pleased to join the Glen Biegel show with guest host Kevin Hite this morning on KBYR AM 700 in Anchorage, AK. We discussed Google’s move into streaming television, what that market looks like, how it will affect your viewing habits, and why free market competition is a good thing for consumers. Click the link below for the interview.

Glen Biegel Show July 19, 2013


Interview on the Glen Biegel Show June 11, 2013

Ethan Bearman


KBYR AM 700, Anchorage, Alaska invited me on the Glen Biegel show again this morning. He and I have been discussing a variety of technology topics and today we covered the latest news from Apple, competition in the marketplace, and the low-down on the NSA and spying. Click the link below to listen to the 11 minute interview.

Glen Biegel Interview June 11, 2013

Humans Should Not Drive Cars


There is a common misconception that there are too many cars on the road and the roadways simply do not have the capacity so we need to build more lanes.

Not true and studies led by Professor Yuki Sugiyama of Nagoya University which were published in the New Journal of Physics in 2008 show that it is human propensities for variable speeds that cause major chain reactions resulting in traffic jams. Mathematician Dr. Gábor Orosz of the University of Exeter says, “Many researchers believe that the effect of spontaneous jam formation (caused by tiny fluctuations above a critical traffic density) is the main reason for traffic jams and this view is supported by Professor Sugiyama.”

Some of my friends and family have heard me discussing the now defunct DARPA Grand Challenge competition and the need to get humans away from driving. We wasted a total of $115 billion in 2009 in the United States while stuck in traffic. Human “errors” have caused an average of 37,104 deaths per year in the U.S.A. from 1994 through 2009 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Think about that, what kind of uproar would occur if there were 200 plane crashes in one year causing that many deaths? Every single year. People would go ballistic. Constituents would call and write their elected officials demanding action, Bill O’Reilly would aggressively talk through the bullet points, John King would be using some cool interactive, digital map to analyze the data, Dan Rather would do a hour-long special, Rachel Maddow would politely interrogate an industry official, and people would go off the deep-end on Internet blogs.

Google has decided to address this problem with an internal project, funded entirely by themselves. I applaud them and wish them only the best in this endeavor. Seriously, I look forward to the day that I can read the news or eat a bagel while hurtling toward my destination. Americans can avoid driving today using mass transit but that only works when you live in a dense urban area or within a block or two of a bus stop. Anything else requires driving to the mass transit parking lot first and that requires the driver to be skilled and paying attention, which we are apparently terrible at doing.

The state of Nevada has become the first in the nation passing a law allowing autonomous vehicles. From the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles comes this statement: “Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” Department of Motor Vehicles Director Bruce Breslow said. “These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future.”

California Senator Alex Padilla of Pacoima has proposed similar legislation for that car-centric state.  According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “If we can utilize state-of-the-art technology to make cars and therefore our roads safer, I think we have an obligation to pursue that,” Padilla said. I applaud his efforts and our state should be leading the nation, not trailing.

For as much as I look forward to handing over the driving responsibility to a series of computers (don’t worry, it appears the direction is that we can always override the computer unlike the Johnny Cab), most others are not ready. Dig deep down, are you really ready to hand over the wheel? I suspect this technology will take a full generation or maybe two before it can become ubiquitous.

Major Geothermal Opportunities in U.S.


According to a news report that just came out from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, a study was completed in conjunction with Google that has measured a massive amount of geothermal energy available in the United States. So much so that ten times the amount of energy is available from geothermal than is currently produced by coal burning plants.

If you want to see what tapping geothermal on a large scale can do for a country, take a look at Iceland. Alcan, Century Aluminum, and Alcoa have actually built huge aluminum plants in Iceland simply because of the cheap energy and shipping capability.

The U.S. could benefit greatly by embracing this opportunity and becoming a leader in the world for geothermal. Plus, how could you possibly have a problem with reducing sulfur and mercury emissions?

More from the report:
Sophisticated mapping produced from the research, viewable via Google Earth at, demonstrates that vast reserves of this green, renewable source of power generated from the Earth’s heat are realistically accessible using current technology.
The results of the new research, from SMU Hamilton Professor of Geophysics David Blackwell and Geothermal Lab Coordinator Maria Richards, confirm and refine locations for resources capable of supporting large-scale commercial geothermal energy production under a wide range of geologic conditions, including significant areas in the eastern two-thirds of the United States. The estimated amounts and locations of heat stored in the Earth’s crust included in this study are based on nearly 35,000 data sites – approximately twice the number used for Blackwell and Richards’ 2004 Geothermal Map of North America, leading to improved detail and contouring at a regional level.