Israel’s appetite for high-tech weapons highlights a Biden policy gap

Within hours of the Hamas attack on Israel last month, a Silicon Valley drone company called Skydio began receiving emails from the Israeli military. The requests were for the company’s short-range reconnaissance drones — small flying vehicles used by the U.S. Army to navigate obstacles autonomously and produce 3D scans of complex structures like buildings.

The company said yes. In the three weeks since the attack, Skydio has sent more than 100 drones to the Israeli Defense Forces, with more to come, according to Mark Valentine, the Skydio executive in charge of government contracts.

Skydio isn’t the only American tech company fielding orders. Israel’s ferocious campaign to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip is creating new demand for cutting-edge defense technology — often supplied directly by newer, smaller manufacturers, outside the traditional nation-to-nation negotiations for military supplies.

Already, Israel is using self-piloting drones from Shield AI for close-quarters indoor combat and has reportedly requested 200 Switchblade 600 kamikaze drones from another U.S. company, according to DefenseScoop. Jon Gruen, CEO of Fortem Technologies, which supplied Ukrainian forces with radar and autonomous anti-drone aircraft, said he was having “early-stage conversations” with Israelis about whether the company’s AI systems could work in the dense, urban environments in Gaza.

This surge of interest echoes the one driven by the even larger conflict in Ukraine, which has been a proving ground for new AI-powered defense technology — much of it ordered by the Ukrainian government directly from U.S. tech companies.

AI ethicists have raised concerns about the Israeli military’s use of AI-driven technologies to target Palestinians, pointing to reports that the army used AI to strike more than 11,000 targets in Gaza since Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on Israel on Oct 7.

The Israeli defense ministry did not elaborate in response to questions about its use of AI.

These sophisticated platforms also pose a new challenge for the Biden administration. On Nov. 13, the U.S. began implementing a new foreign policy to govern the responsible military use of such technologies. The policy, first unveiled in the Hague in February and endorsed by 45 other countries, is an effort to keep the military use of AI and autonomous systems within the international law of war.

But neither Israel nor Ukraine are signatories, leaving a growing hole in the young effort to keep high-tech weapons operating within agreed-upon lines.

Asked about Israel’s compliance with the U.S.-led declaration on military AI, a spokesperson for the State Department said “it is too early” to draw conclusions about why some countries have not endorsed the document, or to suggest that non-endorsing countries disagree with the declaration or will not adhere to its principles.

Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the CSIS International Security Program, said in an interview that “it’s very difficult” to coordinate international agreement between nations on the military use of AI for two reasons: “One is that the technology is evolving so quickly that the description constraints you put on it today may no longer may not be relevant five years from now because the technology will be so different. The other thing is that so much of this technology is civilian, that it’s hard to restrict military development without also affecting civilian development.”

In Gaza, drones are being largely used for surveillance, scouting locations and looking for militants without risking soldiers’ lives, according to Israeli and U.S. military technology developers and observers interviewed for this story.

Israel discloses few specifics of how it uses this technology, and some worry the Israeli military is using unreliable AI recommendation systems to identify targets for lethal operations.

Ukrainian forces have used experimental AI systems to identify Russian soldiers, weapons and unit positions from social media and satellite feeds.

Observers say that Israel is a particularly fast-moving theater for new weaponry because it has a technically sophisticated military, large budget, and — crucially — close existing ties to the U.S. tech industry.

“The difference, now maybe more than ever, is the speed at which technology can move and the willingness of suppliers of that technology to deal directly with Israel,” said Arun Seraphin, executive director of the National Defense Industrial Association’s Institute for Emerging Technologies.

Though the weapons trade is subject to scrutiny and regulation, autonomous systems also raise special challenges. Unlike traditional military hardware, buyers are able to reconfigure these smart platforms for their own needs, adding a layer of inscrutability to how these systems are used.

While many of the U.S.-built, AI-enabled drones sent to Israel are not armed and not programmed by the manufacturers to identify specific vehicles or people, these airborne robots are designed to leave room for military customers to run their own custom software, which they often prefer to do, multiple manufacturers told POLITICO.

Shield AI co-founder Brandon Tseng confirmed that users are able to customize the Nova 2 drones that the IDF is using to search for barricaded shooters and civilians in buildings targeted by Hamas fighters.

Matt Mahmoudi, who authored Amnesty International’s May report documenting Israel’s use of facial recognition systems in Palestinian territories, told POLITICO that historically, U.S. technology companies contracting with Israeli defense authorities have had little insight or control over how their products are used by the Israeli government, pointing to several instances of the Israeli military running its own AI software on hardware imported from other countries to closely monitor the movement of Palestinians.

Complicating the issue are the blurred lines between military and non-military technology. In the industry, the term is “dual-use” — a system, like a drone-swarm equipped with computer-vision, that might be used for commercial purposes but could also be deployed in combat.

The Technology Policy Lab at the Center for a New American Security writes that “dual-use technologies are more difficult to regulate at both the national and international levels” and notes that in order for the U.S. to best apply export controls, it “requires complementary commitment from technology-leading allies and partners.”

Exportable military-use AI systems can run the gamut from commercial products to autonomous weapons. Even in cases where AI-enabled systems are explicitly designed as weapons, meaning U.S. authorities are required by law to monitor the transfer of these systems to another country, the State Department only recently adopted policies to monitor civilian harm caused by these weapons, in response to Congressional pressure.

But enforcement is still a question mark: Josh Paul, a former State Department official, wrote that a planned report on the policy’s implementation was canceled because the department wanted to avoid any debate on civilian harm risks in Gaza from U.S. weapons transfers to Israel.

A Skydio spokesperson said the company is currently not aware of any users breaching its code of conduct and would “take appropriate measures” to mitigate the misuse of its drones. A Shield AI spokesperson said the company is confident its products are not being used to violate humanitarian norms in Israel and “would not support” the unethical use of its products.

In response to queries about whether the U.S. government is able to closely monitor high-tech defense platforms sent by smaller companies to Israel or Ukraine, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said it was restricted from publicly commenting or confirming the details of commercially licensed defense trade activity.

Some observers point out that the Pentagon derives some benefit from watching new systems tested elsewhere.

“The great value for the United States is we’re getting to field test all this new stuff,” said CSIS’s Cancian — a process that takes much longer in peacetime environments and allows the Pentagon to place its bets on novel technologies with more confidence, he added.



Source link

#Israels #appetite #hightech #weapons #highlights #Biden #policy #gap

Revolutionising remote assistance within the oil and gas sector with video enhancement technology

Niclas Elvgren, Head of the Professional Solutions Business Unit at Imint, considers how new video enhancement software is poised to unlock the full potential of remote assistance devices used within the oil and gas sector by addressing video quality issues.

Imagine a bustling oil exploration site, where on-site workers are engaged in complex drilling operations, geological surveys, and ensuring top-notch safety protocols. Equipped with advanced body-mounted cameras, headsets, or smart glasses, they seamlessly transmit high-definition live video feeds to remote oil experts, geologists, and drilling engineers. This technology empowers the wearer to make precise decisions, significantly reducing errors and enhancing overall efficiency.

These types of devices are already being deployed across the upstream oil and gas sector, where precision and real-time communication are paramount. Often referred to as remote assistance devices, these modern technological breakthroughs serve as an invaluable link connecting on-site workers with off-site experts, enabling instant communication in demanding and high-stress upstream oil and gas sector environments.

The picture isn’t perfect, yet…

Regardless of the type of camera or headset, two crucial elements of remote assistance devices still need to be perfected in order for the technology to reach widespread adoption in the oil and gas sector: reliable, high-quality video, and intuitive control of the onboard camera.

While remote assistance device manufacturers have made strides in connectivity and camera resolution, they have yet to address the inherent challenge of maintaining stable video feeds from cameras that are constantly in motion, and therefore may deliver blurry or shaky video.

In fast-paced oil and gas exploration and production scenarios, particularly ones involving equipment troubleshooting and complex drilling operations, on-site workers are constantly making head movements unconsciously. This is not a problem for on-site workers – as their eyes can quickly adjust to see exactly what they want to see.

That said, the video quality for remote oil and gas experts viewing the feeds has, to date, been far from a real-life experience. Feeds from body-worn cameras can appear shaky or dark to remote viewers, greatly reducing their effectiveness and even causing viewers to experience motion sickness.

Cutting-edge technology to the rescue

Fortunately, a new era of technology is emerging to confront this challenge head-on. Imint has developed a new suite of software solutions called Vidhance for Remote Assistance that helps organisations eliminate shaky video, greatly improving the value and outcomes of their remote initiatives.

These new technological advancements allow remote viewers to select an object on the live feed to lock onto it as the camera’s focus point, using automatic tracking and zooming to centre the object regardless of how it or the camera wearer moves. The suite also empowers remote viewers to adjust the camera’s exposure settings so they can ensure properly-lit imagery in even the most challenging high contrast conditions.

Hands-free is the way to be

Some organisations and remote assistance solutions have attempted to integrate stabilised hand-held smartphone or tablet cameras as the primary video input device, but they have a major inherent flaw – they require the on-site user to hold the device the entire time, leaving them with only one free hand.

In the upstream oil and gas sector, where workers often need both hands for critical tasks, this limitation is a significant drawback. While video stabilisation is a common feature in smartphones, it cannot safely be mounted for hands-free use in challenging environments, and it is typically limited to the device maker’s camera app, making it unavailable for third-party apps used to stream live video for remote assistance like Teams and Zoom.

Head-worn cameras and smart glass device manufacturers are now beginning to implement video stabilisation that is always active – even in live video scenarios. The tuning differs from that of smartphones, as the primary goal is not artistic video creation, but rather ensuring a clear and steady video stream for remote experts.

Moreover, this technology grants remote experts control over features like zoom, object tracking, and exposure adjustments, crucial tools for effective communication and decision-making in upstream oil and gas operations. Achieving this requires collaboration with solution vendors to enable remote assistance software to effectively manage the headset camera.

The best of both worlds

To fully realise the potential of remote assistance devices in the oil and gas sector, it is vital to converge cutting-edge wearable camera technology with sophisticated software solutions that prioritise video quality for raw videos being streamed. This approach enhances the functionality of these devices, granting greater autonomy to remote participants.

Now, with new video enhancement technologies available to oil and gas sector companies using remote assistance devices, systems can be built that deliver incredible results. Not only will these new software developments enhance the capabilities of any camera they are paired with, but they offer greater control to the remote participant so the on-site wearer does not have to fidget with settings or focus. Recording solutions add even greater value, offering the ability to re-watch live events and use them for training or analysis to improve future responses.

As we witness the growing adoption of remote assistance devices in the oil and gas sector, fostering a collaborative ecosystem becomes increasingly important. By providing access to advanced technologies and embracing flexible subscription models, oil and gas sector organisations can ensure that remote assistance devices stay current and remain equipped with the latest features, driving further improvements in upstream oil and gas exploration efficiency and safety.

Read the article online at: https://www.oilfieldtechnology.com/digital-oilfield/25102023/revolutionising-remote-assistance-within-the-oil-and-gas-sector-with-video-enhancement-technology/



Source link

#Revolutionising #remote #assistance #oil #gas #sector #video #enhancement #technology

Harnessing innovation in robotic-assisted surgery


For nearly three decades, Intuitive has been developing innovative approaches in the field of minimally-invasive care. We are guided by the belief that minimally-invasive care can be life changing, that patient outcomes can be profoundly improved and that enhanced clinical outcomes can sustainably lower the total cost of comprehensive care.

Our focus is on helping customers in Europe and around the world achieve better outcomes, better surgeon and care team experiences, better patient experiences and lower cost of care. Positive impact in these areas requires a holistic effort that includes not only leading-edge, integrated systems and software, but also an ecosystem of education and support that extends across the patient care pathway and the broader health care system.

What is robotic-assisted surgery?

27 years ago, Intuitive launched the da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical system, transforming the field of minimally-invasive surgery.

Robotic-assisted surgery is a form of minimally-invasive surgery performed by a surgeon using a computer-assisted system to operate through small incisions using tiny, wristed instruments. Robotic-assisted surgical systems do not perform surgery on their own and they do not replace surgeons. Surgeons completely control da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical systems, while seated at an ergonomic console that uses high-definition, 3D vision to magnify the patient’s anatomy. The surgical system translates the surgeon’s hand movements in real time to bend and rotate the instruments with greater flexibility, precision and range of motion than the human hand. This approach can augment a surgeon’s skills and capabilities while allowing them to continue to apply their judgment and experience.

To date, more than 12 million da Vinci robotic-assisted surgical procedures have been performed worldwide — including more than 1.2 million in Europe — across a range of procedures including urology, gynecology, colorectal, thoracic, general surgery and more.

Robotic-assisted surgery is a form of minimally-invasive surgery performed by a surgeon using a computer-assisted system to operate through small incisions using tiny, wristed instruments.

A growing body of research, including more than 34,000 peer-reviewed studies, suggests that minimally-invasive, robotic-assisted surgery can offer patients benefits in many cases, depending on the procedure, including one or more of these benefits: less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter hospital stays, and less chance of hospital readmission.[i]

The added value of robotic-assisted surgery for European health care systems

Since the first robotic-assisted da Vinci prostatectomy was performed in Germany nearly 20 years ago, more than 1,500 da Vinci systems have been installed in Europe, highlighting Europe’s strong demand for this innovative technology. But, while Europe has helped drive this technology forward, more can be done to help hospitals in Europe become world leaders in the 21st century.

Similar to health care systems around the world, Europe faces challenges including rising health care costs, a pressured workforce, aging populations and increasing burdens of disease. At the same time, patients across Europe are seeking equitable access to innovative, high-quality care.

Using our more than two decades of experience working with hospitals and health care systems across Europe, we strive to offer solutions to these multifaceted challenges that are aligned with our customers’ clinical and economic capabilities and goals. A key insight from our experience is that we must provide more than a “robotic-assisted surgical system”; we must be a “technology-enabled solutions partner and provider”. Robotic-assisted surgery as a modality can help drive better patient outcomes; robotic-assisted surgical programs as a key part of a hospital’s care pathway can help optimize the cost and efficiency and advance the delivery and quality of care.

As one example, we collaborate with hospitals to examine opportunities to sustainably increase throughput and introduce efficiencies that can allow them to treat more patients and reduce patient backlogs. Solutions that our customers have enacted as a result of these engagements include improving operating room set up time, scheduling optimization, standardizing pre-operative planning for care teams, and starting surgical days earlier.

In all cases, we work to assure that any effort is seamlessly integrated into the workflows of our hospital customers and their broader patient care pathways, and that our success is defined and measured in alignment with their goals.

Training

Central to our holistic approach is our technology training, which is essential to maximize patient safety and a vital part of any successful robotic-assisted surgery program. Our four-phase training pathway combines skills and technology training with opportunities for health care professionals around the world to learn from their peers. Our robust training offerings include a combination of simulation, virtual learning, in-person observation and hands-on training, with high-quality tissue models and peer-to-peer mentoring, proctoring and advanced learning opportunities. The training tools and technologies we offer are informed by our unique understanding of best practices and can help users build their skills by targeting individualized areas for improvement.

We believe that our robust training programs are contributing to the development of the next-generation health care workforce.

Last year, we became the largest provider of robotic-assisted surgical technology training to have our full global training portfolio accredited by The Royal College of Surgeons. And, our industry-leading offerings are more available than ever across both virtual and in-person opportunities; we now have more than 25 training centers and partnerships across Europe.

Looking forward, we believe that our robust training programs are contributing to the development of the next-generation health care workforce and motivating existing surgical staff to stay within our health care systems. We will continue to evolve and innovate our training offerings by listening to and learning from surgeons and teams to identify the practices that lead to better results and hone our efforts to offer meaningful interoperative guidance.

Total cost to treat

While there is an upfront investment in robotic-assisted technology, the experience of hospitals across Europe shows that da Vinci systems can help realize a return on this investment. The benefits of minimally-invasive care — fewer complications and readmissions, less blood loss, less pain — help to avoid higher ‘downstream’ costs and resource use associated with traditional, or “open” surgery, which typically requires longer hospital stays and presents a greater risk of post-operative complications.[ii] Robotic-assisted approaches, like the da Vinci system, can therefore help to reduce the costs and resources associated with a complete patient journey, or ‘episode of care’.

An important indicator of the economic value of this cost avoidance can be found in hospitals’ investment decisions in recent years. Based on their own medical records, financial data, and unique reimbursement and cost structures, hospitals are increasingly choosing to commit to robotic-assisted technology. Our own data shows that the number of hospital Integrated Delivery Networks, or IDN’s, with more than seven da Vinci systems has increased by more than 150 percent in the past five years.[iii] We believe this demonstrates a trend from cautious adoption to standardization based on recognized value. This trend brings the benefits of minimally-invasive care to an increasingly larger number of users, helping to accelerate and compound the potential savings to the health care system over time.

A vision for 2030: a future of European health care excellence

The next European Commission term will almost reach the end of this decade, serving as a useful marker for us to imagine where Europe could be in health care delivery by 2030.

Looking ahead, it will be essential that policymakers create an environment where advancements in robotic-assisted tools and technology, digital health and patient-focused innovation can be seamlessly integrated in a way that prioritizes patient safety and facilitates equitable access to and adoption of innovative technology.

The infrastructure and tools needed for future success are already present. Europe can lead the way in creating this environment, in part by avoiding policies which inhibit this kind of integration and innovation through duplicative or conflicting regulatory structures. We look forward to contributing to an ambitious agenda to bring cutting-edge health care, training, and innovations to European patients and health care professionals.

This material may contain estimates and forecasts from which actual results may differ.


[i] Bhama, A. R., et al. (2016). “Comparison of Risk Factors for Unplanned Conversion from Laparoscopic and Robotic to Open Colorectal Surgery Using the Michigan Surgical Quality Collaborative (MSQC) Database.” Journal of Gastrointestinal Surgery: 1-8

Oh, D. S., et al. (2017). “Robotic-Assisted, Video-Assisted Thoracoscopic and Open Lobectomy: Propensity-Matched Analysis of Recent Premier Data.” Annals of Thoracic Surgery 104(5): 1733-1740.

Ran, L., et al. (2014). “Comparison of robotic surgery with laparoscopy and laparotomy for treatment of endometrial cancer: a meta-analysis.” PLoS ONE 9(9): e108361.

Speicher, P. J., et al. (2014). “Robotic Low Anterior Resection for Rectal Cancer: A National Perspective on Short-term Oncologic Outcomes.” Annals of Surgery.

Tam, M. S., et al. (2015). “A population-based study comparing laparoscopic and robotic outcomes in colorectal surgery.” Surgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques.

Pilecki, M., et al. (2014). „National Multi-Institutional Comparison of 30-Day Postoperative Complication and Readmission Rates Between Open Retropubic Radical Prostatectomy and Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy Using NSQIP (National Surgical Quality Improvement Program)“ Journal of Endourology, 430 – 436.

Tewari A, et al. “Positive Surgical Margin and Perioperative Complication Rates of Primary Surgical Treatments for Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing Retropubic, Laparoscopic, and Robotic Prostatectomy,” Eur Urol. 2012 Feb 24.7.

Carbonell, A. M., et al. (2017). “Reducing Length of Stay Using a Robotic-Assisted Approach for Retromuscular Ventral Hernia Repair: A Comparative Analysis from the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative,” Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Lim, P. C., et al. (2016). “Multicenter analysis comparing robotic, open, laparoscopic, and vaginal hysterectomies performed by high-volume surgeons for benign indications,” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.

O’Neill, Michelle, et al. “Robot-assisted hysterectomy compared to open and laparoscopic approaches: systematic review and meta-analysis,” Archives of gynecology and obstetrics 287.5 (2013): 907-918.

Geppert B, Lönnerfors C, Persson J. “Robot-assisted laparoscopic hysterectomy in obese and morbidly obese women: surgical technique and comparison with open surgery.”  Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 90.11 (2011): 1210-1217. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2011.01253.x. Epub.

[ii] Id.

[iii] Intuitive internal data measuring from year end 2017 to year end 2022.



Source link

#Harnessing #innovation #roboticassisted #surgery

Here’s what Wall Street’s most bullish analyst heading into the year thinks of the stock market now

It’s back to business on Monday, but there’s a bit of nervousness after the near coup/rebellion/cage fight in one of the world’s biggest nuclear powers over the weekend.

Questions remain over a possible power struggle in Russia, as it continues to wage war on Ukraine. But barring bigger developments, investors are returning their focus on whether aggressive central banks will spark a recession and market fallout.

Read: What’s next for markets after aborted Wagner mutiny leaves Russia’s Putin weakened

Wall Street has been growing more bullish after entering 2023 in a fearful state, following the S&P 500’s
SPX,
-0.77%

worst year since 2008. One analyst who led bullish views headed into 2023 was Deutsche Bank’s chief U.S. equity and global strategist, Binky Chadha, who sees a 4,500 finish, and others have been playing catch up to him.

In our call of the day, Chadha spoke to MarketWatch about why he’s not budging from that bullish call and what, if anything, could derail his optimistic view.

He said the year has been playing out as the bank had forecasted — strong rallies led by a squeeze on markets due to underweight positioning, with tech in the driver’s seat — the Nasdaq
COMP,
-1.01%

is up 16% so far this year. The path higher will be more of a grind as some of that positioning has caught up, he says.

Investors underweight in equities from late last year have largely caught up with their exposure, while others stay wary, says Deutsche Bank’s Binky Chadha.


Deutsche Bank

Read: Why the ‘easy money’ has been made in the stock-market rally — and what comes next

Chadha said he’d rethink his more bullish outlook on “signs of corporate risk aversion. Companies pulling back and going back into the bunker.” That is corporates becoming risk averse, cutting working capital, hoarding cash, and paring capital expenditure, he said. For now, he doesn’t see that.

The strategist also weighed in on narrow market leadership, where S&P 500 gains are led by just a handful of names. “Keep in mind that the selloff of last year was also narrow,” he said, when energy stocks soared on higher prices.

But this year the reversal has seen techs rally and now he sees indeed the gains spreading to more names. He said the bank recently removed its overweight on mega-tech stocks because earnings are rebounding, but markets have priced in a lot more than they expect.

As for where to put money now? “I wouldn’t be long financials here. The events of March have painted financials with a very broad brush. Most of the large -cap financials are really beneficiaries of what happened in March, but the market has put a risk premium on them,” said Chadha

As for cyclical consumer stocks, the risk/reward is asymmetrical because so much is priced in for the downside. “Everybody in the market has been waiting so long for the recession and some things are priced for even more than an average recession,” he said.

“And so I think you want to be long the cyclical parts of the consumer, and I think you want to be underweight defensives, because rates stay here and that’s where everybody has been hiding,” he said.

And what would make Chadha lift that 4,500 S&P 500 target? “Better prospects for the economy, better prospects for gorwth. In the event of a soft landing, and to be clear that is not our house view, but that would not be a terrible thing.” And that would eventually lead to upside for markets, he said.

The markets

Stock futures
ES00,

YM00,
+0.01%

are marginally lower, with Treasury yields
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.691%

and oil prices
CL.1,
+0.48%

dipping, and silver
SI00,
+1.97%

making some strides. Lots of weakness across Asia, led by the Shanghai Composite
SHCOMP,
-1.48%
,
while Europe stocks
SXXP,
-0.07%

are lower after a newsy Russia weekend, and natural gas futures
NG00,
+1.17%

are higher both in the U.S. and Europe. The ruble
USDRUB,
+0.91%

is down 1.7% against the dollar
DXY,
-0.27%
,
which is a little softer overall.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily.

The buzz

Goldman Sachs became the third Wall Street bank in a week to downgrade Tesla shares
TSLA,
-3.03%

to neutral, saying the stock has had a strong runup and competition grows for the EV maker. The stock is down 2% in premarket.

PacWest shares
PACW,
+0.56%

are up 8% after the regional bank said it sold its loan portfolio to Ares Management
ARES,
-2.37%

in deal that will generates $2 billion ‘to improve liquidity.’

Lucid
LCID,
-4.54%

stock is up 7% after the EV and battery pack maker agreed a deal to provide Aston Martin with powertrain and battery system technology for luxury EVs.

IBM
IBM,
-1.33%

has confirmed a $4.6 billion all-cash deal for privately held software group Appio. IBM shares are down slightly.

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge — the personal consumption expenditures price index — is a big economic highlight, due Friday. Durable goods and some housing market data is coming Tuesday, with appearances by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell on Wednesday and Thursday.

German business sentiment fell in June Fell in June as the country’s manufacturing outlook worsened.

Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu was spotted visiting troops in Ukraine on Monday — his first public appearance since the weekend rebellion pushing for his ouster. Not heard from — President Vladimir Putin or Belarus-bound Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Best of the web

We asked a language model to write career advice based on caterer-turned-coup leader Yevgeny Prigozhin. Here’s what it generated.

Second-quarter corporate profits are set for their biggest drop since the start of the pandemic. But then the worst could be over.

Here’s to not traveling, which turns us into the worst version of ourselves as it convinces us we’re at our best.

Octupus farming — a symbol of what humans should not be doing

The chart

“If this is still a bear market rally it will end up being the longest bear market rally in history (which probably means it isn’t a bear market rally!),” says the Weekly S&P 500 Chartstorm blog by Callum Thomas, head of research and founder @topdowncharts, referring to the below chart:


@joosteninvestor

Top tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-3.03%
Tesla

GME,
-2.55%
GameStop

AMC,
-3.84%
AMC Entertainment

NVDA,
-1.90%
Nvidia

LCID,
-4.54%
Lucid

NIO,
-5.49%
Nio

AAPL,
-0.17%
Apple

SPCE,
-18.42%
Virgin Galactic

MULN,
-4.83%
Mullen Automotive

AMZN,
-0.63%
Amazon.com

Random reads

Man bought lifetime United Airlines pass three decades ago, has “lived like a sultan” ever since.

Kylie Minogue’s “Padam Padam’ single is fast-tracking its way to gay classic status.

Naples tells billionaires to park their superyachts somewhere else.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Listen to the Best New Ideas in Money podcast with MarketWatch reporter Charles Passy and economist Stephanie Kelton.



Source link

#Heres #Wall #Streets #bullish #analyst #heading #year #thinks #stock #market

Bank of America execs blew $93.6 billion. Here’s how they did it.

In several notes to clients this month, Odeon Capital Group analyst Dick Bove has pointed out that Bank of America’s big spending on stock buybacks over the past five years has been a waste for its shareholders, with the bank’s stock price declining slightly during that period.

The idea behind repurchasing shares on the open market is that they reduce a company’s share count and therefore boost earnings per share and support higher share prices over time. This doesn’t seem to be a bad idea, especially for a company such as Apple Inc.
AAPL,
+1.01%
,
which has generated excess capital and has appeared to be firing on all cylinders for a long time. For a company that is continuing to expand its product and service offerings while maintaining high profitability, buybacks can be a blessing to shareholders.

But for banks, for which capital is the main ingredient of earnings power, a more careful approach might be in order. The data below show how buybacks haven’t helped the largest banks outperform the broad stock market over the past five years. And now, banks face the prospect of regulators raising their capital requirements by 20%, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Before showing data for the 20 companies among the S&P 500 that have spent the most money on buybacks over the past five years, let’s take a look at how share repurchases are described in a misleading way by corporate executives — and by many analysts, for that matter. During Bank of America’s
BAC,
-0.79%

first-quarter earnings call on April 18, Chief Financial Officer Alastair Borthwick said the bank had “returned $12 billion in capital to shareholders” over the previous 12 months, according to a transcript provided by FactSet.

Borthwick was referring to buybacks and dividends combined. Neither item was a return of capital. In fact, Bove summed up the buybacks elegantly in a client note on June 9: “The money that the company uses to buy back the stock is simply given away to people who do not want to own the bank’s stock.”

It is also worth pointing out that the term “return of capital” actually means the return of investors’ own capital to them, which is commonly done by closed-end mutual funds, business-development companies and some real-estate investment trusts, for various reasons. Those distributions aren’t taxed and they lower an investor’s cost basis.

Dividends aren’t a return of capital, either, if they are sourced from a company’s earnings, as they have been for Bank of America.

One more thing for investors to think about is that large companies typically award newly issued shares to executives as part of their compensation. This dilutes the ownership stakes of nonexecutive shareholders. So some of the buybacks merely mitigate this dilution. An investor hopes to see the buybacks lower the share count, but there are some instances in which the count still increases.

How buybacks can hurt banks

Banks’ management teams and boards of directors have engaged in buybacks because they wish to boost earnings per share and returns on equity by shedding excess capital. But Bove made another industry-specific point in his June 9 note: “If the bank buys back stock it must sell assets that offer a return to do so; it lowers current earnings.” Buybacks can also hurt future earnings. Less capital can slow expansion, loan growth and profits.

According to Bove, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who took the top slot in 2010 and saw the bank through the difficult aftermath of its acquisition of Countrywide and Merrill Lynch in 2008, “is one of the brightest, most capable executives for operating a banking enterprise.”

But he questions Moynihan’s ability to manage the bank’s balance sheet. Bove expects that Bank of America will need to issue new common shares, in part because rising interest rates have reduced the value of its bond investments.

In a June 5 note, Bove wrote: “Mr. Moynihan indicated twice [during a recent presentation] that the bank has excess cash that apparently could not be invested profitably. Possibly he is unaware that the cost of deposits at the bank in [the first quarter of] 2023 was 1.38% while the yield in the Fed Funds market can be as high as 5.25%.” In other words, the bank could earn a high spread at little risk with overnight deposits with the Federal Reserve.

That is a very simple example, but if Bank of America had grown its loan book more quickly over recent years while focusing less on buybacks, it might not face the prospect of a near-term capital raise, which would dilute current shareholders’ stakes in the company and reduce earnings per share.

Top 20 companies by dollars spent on buybacks

To look beyond banking, we sorted companies in the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.51%

by total dollars spent on buybacks over the past five years (the past 40 reported fiscal quarters) through June 9, using data suppled by FactSet. It turns out 11 have seen prices increase more quickly than the index. With reinvested dividends, 12 have outperformed the index.

Company

Ticker

Dollars spent on buybacks over the past 5 years ($Bil)

5-year price change

5-year total return with dividends reinvested

Apple Inc.

AAPL,
+1.01%
$393.6

279%

297%

Alphabet Inc. Class A

GOOGL,
+0.84%
$180.6

116%

116%

Microsoft Corporation

MSFT,
+0.87%
$121.5

221%

239%

Meta Platforms Inc.

META,
+1.58%
$103.4

42%

42%

Oracle Corp.

ORCL,
+6.11%
$102.6

140%

161%

Bank of America Corp.

BAC,
-0.79%
$93.6

-2%

10%

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPM,
-0.18%
$87.3

27%

47%

Wells Fargo & Co.

WFC,
-1.01%
$84.0

-24%

-13%

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class B

BRK.B,
-0.80%
$70.3

70%

70%

Citigroup Inc.

C,
+0.09%
$51.4

-29%

-16%

Charter Communications Inc. Class A

CHTR,
+1.09%
$48.5

20%

20%

Cisco Systems Inc.

CSCO,
+1.00%
$46.5

15%

34%

Visa Inc. Class A

V,
+0.75%
$45.6

66%

72%

Procter & Gamble Co.

PG,
-1.26%
$42.1

89%

116%

Home Depot Inc.

HD,
+1.01%
$41.0

51%

71%

Lowe’s Cos. Inc.

LOW,
+1.92%
$40.8

111%

131%

Intel Corp.

INTC,
+4.67%
$39.0

-40%

-31%

Morgan Stanley

MS,
+1.04%
$36.7

67%

93%

Walmart Inc.

WMT,
+0.33%
$35.6

82%

99%

Qualcomm Inc.

QCOM,
+2.12%
$35.1

101%

130%

S&P 500

SPX,
+0.51%
55%

69%

Source: FactSet

Click on the tickers for more about each company or index.

Click here for Tomi Kilgore’s detailed guide to the wealth of information available for free on the MarketWatch quote page.

The four listed companies with negative five-year returns are three banks — Citigroup Inc.
C,
+0.09%
,
Wells Fargo & Co.
WFC,
-1.01%

and Bank of America — and Intel Inc.
INTC,
+4.67%
.

Don’t miss: As tech companies take over the market again, don’t forget these bargain dividend stocks

Source link

#Bank #America #execs #blew #billion #Heres

AI news is driving tech ‘building blocks’ stocks like Nvidia. But another ‘power’ area will also benefit, say these veteran investors

Kneel to your king Wall Street.

After forecasting record revenue backed by a “killer AI app,” Nvidia has teed up the Nasdaq
COMP,
-0.61%

for a powerful Thursday open. Indeed, thanks to that chip maker and a few other generals — Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet, etc.— tech is seemingly unstoppable:

Elsewhere, the Dow
DJIA,
-0.77%

is looking rattled by a Fitch warning over debt wranglings ahead of a long weekend.

But our call of the day is accentuating the positive with some valuable insight on tech investing amid AI mania from a pair of seasoned investors.

Inge Heydorn, partner on the GP Bullhound Global Technology Fund and portfolio manager Jenny Hardy, advise choosing companies carefully given high valuations in some parts of tech that could make earnings vulnerable.

“But looking slightly beyond the volatility, tech has the advantage of being driven by many long-term secular themes which will continue to play out despite a weaker macro,” Hardy told MarketWatch in follow-up comments to an interview with the pair last week. GP Bullhound invests in leading global tech companies, with more than $1 billion in assets under management.

“We try to make sure we’re exposed to these areas that will be more resilient. AI is the perfect example of that –- none of Microsoft, Amazon or Google will risk falling behind in the AI race -– they will all keep spending, and that will continue to drive earnings for the semiconductor companies that go into these servers higher,” said Hardy, who has worked in the investment industry since 2011.

“The way that we think about investing around [AI] is in the building blocks, the picks and shovels infrastructure, which for us is really the semiconductor companies that go into the training servers and the inference servers,” she said.

Nvidia
NVDA,
-0.49%
,
Advanced Micro Devices
AMD,
+0.14%
,
Taiwan Semiconductor
TSM,
-0.34%

2330,
+3.43%
,
Infineon
IFX,
-0.33%
,
Cisco
CSCO,
-1.02%
,
NXP
NXPI,
-4.88%
,
Microsoft
MSFT,
-0.45%
,
ServiceNow
NOW,
+0.48%

and Palo Alto
PANW,
+7.68%

are all in their portfolio. They also like the semiconductor capital equipment industry — AI beneficiaries and tailwinds from increasingly localized supply chains — with companies including KLA
KLAC,
-1.40%
,
Lam Research
LRCX,
-1.33%
,
ASML
ASML,
-2.15%

and Applied Materials
AMAT,
-1.96%
.

As Hardy points out, “lots of big tech has given us lots of certainty as it relates to AI, lots of certainty as it relates to the amount they are going to spend on AI.”

Enter Nvidia’s results, which Hardy said are proof the “AI spend race has begun…Nvidia’s call featured an impressive roster of companies deploying AI with Nvidia – AT&T, Amgen, ServiceNow – the message was that this technology adoption is widespread and really a new normal.” She said they see benefits spreading across the AI value chain — CPU providers, networking infrastructure players, memory and semicap equipment makers.

Heydorn, who traded technology stocks since 1994 and also runs a hedge fund with Hardy, says there are two big tech trends currently — “AI across the board and power semiconductors driven by EV cars and green energy projects.”

But GP Bullhound steers clear of EV makers like Tesla
TSLA,
-1.54%
,
where they see a lot of competition, notably from China. “Ultimately, they will need semiconductors and the semiconductors crucially are able to keep that pricing power in a way that the vehicle companies are not able to do because of the differences in competition,” she said.

Are the tech duo nervous about anything? “The macro economy is clearly the largest risk and further bank or real-estate problems,” said Heydorn, as Hardy adds that they are watching for second-order impacts on tech.

“One example would be enterprise software businesses with high exposure to financial services, which given those latest problems in that sector, might see a re-prioritization of spend away from new software implementations,” she said.

In the near term, Heydorn says investors should watch out for May sales numbers and any AI mentions from Taiwan via TSMC, mobile chip group MediaTek
2454,
-0.42%

and Apple
AAPL,
+0.16%

supplier Foxxconn
2354,
-0.74%

that may help with guidance for the second half of the year. “The main numbers in Taiwan will tell us where we are in inventories. They’re going to tell us if the 3-nanonmeters, that’s a new processor that’s going into Apple iPhones, are ready for production,” he said.

Read: JPMorgan says this is how much revenue other companies will get from AI this year

The markets

Nasdaq-100 futures
NQ00,
+1.90%

are up 1.8% , S&P 500
ES00,
+0.55%

futures are up 0.6%, but those for the Dow
YM00,
-0.34%

are slipping on debt-ceiling jitters. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
TMUBMUSD10Y,
3.756%

is up 4 basis points to 3.75%.

For more market updates plus actionable trade ideas for stocks, options and crypto, subscribe to MarketDiem by Investor’s Business Daily. Follow all the stock market action with MarketWatch’s Live Blog.

The buzz

Fitch put U.S. credit ratings on ‘ratings watch negative’ due to DC “brinkmanship” as the debt-ceiling deadline nears. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told investors not to worry as an agreement will be reached.

Best Buy
BBY,
-0.49%

stock is up 6% after an earnings beat, while Burlington Stores
BURL,
+3.19%

is slipping after a profit and revenue miss. Dollar Tree
DLTR,
-0.50%

and Ralph Lauren
RL,
+0.24%

are still to come, followed by Ulta
ULTA,
+0.17%
,
Costco
COST,
-0.44%

and Autodesk
ADSK,
+0.06%

after the close.

Nvidia is up 25% in premarket and headed toward a rare $1 trillion valuation after saying revenue would bust a previous record by 30% late Wednesday.

Opinion: Nvidia CFO says ‘The inflection point of AI is here’

But AI upstart UiPath
PATH,
-1.74%

is down 8% after soft second-quarter revenue guidance, while software group Snowflake
SNOW,
+1.13%

is off 14% on an outlook cut, while cloud-platform group Nutanix
NTNX,
-0.55%

is rallying on a better outlook.

Elf Beauty
ELF,
+1.69%

is up 12% on upbeat results from the cosmetic group, with Guess
GES,
-0.80%

up 5% as losses slimmed, sales rose. American Eagle
AEO,
+4.50%

slid on a sales decline forecast. Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
RRGB,
+3.51%

is up 5% on the restaurant chain’s upbeat forecast.

Revised first-quarter GDP is due at 8:30 a.m., alongside weekly jobless claims, with pending-home sales at 10 a.m. Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin will speak at 9:50 a.m., followed by Boston Fed President Susan Collins.

A Twitter Spaces discussion between presidential candidate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Elon Musk was plagued by glitches.

The best of the web

Before Tina Turner died at 83, she gave us these 5 retirement lessons

Can WallStreetBets’ spectacular short-squeeze be repeated?

Paralyzed walks naturally again with brain and spine implants

The tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:

Ticker

Security name

NVDA,
-0.49%
Nvidia

TSLA,
-1.54%
Tesla

GME,
+0.47%
GameStop

BUD,
-1.94%
Anheuser-Busch InBev

AMD,
+0.14%
Advanced Micro Devices

PLTR,
-3.24%
Palantir Technologies

AAPL,
+0.16%
Apple

AMZN,
+1.53%
Amazon.com

NIO,
-9.49%
Nio

AI,
+2.54%
C3.ai

Random reads

“No way.” Abba says it won’t perform at 50th anniversary Eurovision win

The Welsh harbor that looks like a dolphin from high above.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Listen to the Best New Ideas in Money podcast with MarketWatch reporter Charles Passy and economist Stephanie Kelton.

Source link

#news #driving #tech #building #blocks #stocks #Nvidia #power #area #benefit #veteran #investors

Tindered out? How to avoid creeps, time wasters and liars this Valentine’s Day

Michelle has had her fair share of bad dates.

A divorced mother of four children, Michelle, 52, resolved to maintain her sense of humor when she returned to the dating market, and signed up for Hinge, an online dating service that includes voice memos, in addition to audio and video functions that enable two interested parties to talk to each other without sharing their phone numbers.

Given that she had not dated since she was in her 20s, Michelle, who asked for her surname to be withheld, was thrown into the world of online dating, right swipes, ghosting, men who were actually living overseas, married men, men who lied about their age and men who posted photos that were 10 years old. She split from her husband of nearly two decades in 2014.

Hinge is part of Match.com’s
MTCH,
+1.22%

group of apps along with OKCupid, Tinder, Bumble, and Christian Mingle, among others. The company promotes itself as the app that is designed to be deleted by its users. It’s a bold statement in the era of online dating, when people scroll through profiles — swiping right for yes and left for no — in search of their perfect mate.

But Hinge, like many other dating apps, introduced a video function in 2020 to help push people to “meet” during the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic. Dating experts advise applying the same rules you would to a Zoom
ZM,
+3.06%

call: dress smartly, use an overhead light rather than a backlight that casts you in shadow, and don’t sit in front of yesterday’s pile of dirty laundry.

‘It’s amazing how many guys use a picture from 10 years ago. You can barely recognize them when you meet them.’


— Michelle, 52, a divorced mother of four who searched for love online

A video date will reveal a lot more than a profile picture. “It’s amazing how many guys use a picture from 10 years ago,” Michelle said. “You can barely recognize them when you meet them. I discovered that someone who is very quick to ask for your email address or your number is more likely to be a scammer. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of scamming on dating apps.”

She’s not wrong. Nearly 70,000 Americans lost $1.3 billion to romance scams through social media and dating apps last year, up from 56,000 the year before, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That’s broadly in line with the amount of money lost the previous year, but up significantly from the $730 million lost in 2020.

Through her work as a social worker, Michelle has learned to evaluate people and look for red flags. She has used those skills when online dating. She watches out for “goofy stuff” like a man who is writing like a character from a romance novel. “The Lifetime Channel Christmas Love Story is not happening on Hinge,” she said. “Those are the things that I kind of find funny.”

Other red flags: Someone who lies about their age, is unwilling to meet, won’t turn on the video chat function — what have they got to hide? — and a man who is cheap. “Why did I drive 45 minutes to meet you and you can’t even buy me a cup of coffee? I don’t want someone who is stingy. Either they’re really miserly, have poor judgment, or poor people skills.”

The perilous side of handheld love machines

Dating apps are the ultimate love machine, churning out potential partners every two seconds, someone who is taller, younger, hotter, richer, broader, slimmer, sexier, kookier, weirder — and the list goes on. All of life’s parade is a swipe away. Millions of people use dating apps — from Grindr for gay men to Facebook Dating for pretty much everyone.

There is a balance between keeping people swiping and helping them find love. It’s a numbers game, and can be as addictive as playing the slots. EHarmony promotes its Compatibility Score, while OKCupid asks users to answer an almost limitless number of questions in order to match with more appropriate people. But critics say it leads to the gamification of people’s love lives.

Jenny Taitz, author of “How to Be Single and Happy: Science-Based Strategies for Keeping Your Sanity While Looking for a Soul Mate,” said one of the most common complaints about dating apps is the constant game of cat and mouse. Each user is probably talking to several people at the same time, and it’s tough to get people off the apps and into the real world.

If you like someone, she says, move to a video chat to test the chemistry. “It’s time-consuming, but you need to move from a pen pal to an in-person meetup,” she said. “It could be something that you do all the time, so you really have to have limits. If you’re having four dates a week, does that mean you’re not making time for friendships where you have an investment?”

‘The same person who volunteers at a soup kitchen might easily ghost someone. There is so much detachment.’


— Jenny Taitz, author of ‘How to Be Single and Happy’

Anonymity can often lead to ghosting, when people just disappear or stop answering messages. “We need to treat people like they would treat their future child or best friend,” Taitz said. “Bad behavior is so pervasive, and people are not held accountable for their actions. The same person who volunteers at a soup kitchen might easily ghost someone. There is so much detachment.”

Some studies have linked dating apps with depression, while other studies have found that online dating has led to a string of robberies through hook-ups on Grindr, and can also make it easier for sexual predators to find victims. These problems obviously exist in the real world, but social media and dating apps can provide an easier path for bad actors.

Julie Valentine, a researcher, sexual-assault nurse examiner, and associate dean of Brigham Young University’s College of Nursing, analyzed 1,968 “acquaintance” sexual assaults that occurred between 2017 and 2020. She and her fellow researchers concluded that 14% of these sexual assaults resulted from a dating-app’s first in-person meeting.

“One-third of the victims were strangled and had more injuries than other sexual-assault victims,” the study found. “Through dating apps, personas are created without being subjected to any criminal background checks or security screening. This means that potential victims have the burden of self-protection.”

All those coffees take time and money

A spokeswoman for Match.com said it does not release data on how many people have actually used the video chat function. If people did use the function more often without sharing their phone number, it would in theory provide a layer of protection, help weed out bad actors, and help people decide whether a prospective date is compatible early in the process.

Cherlyn Chong, the Las Vegas-based founder of Get Over Him, a program to help women get over toxic relationships, does not believe the video chat function is as widely used as it should be. Chong, who describes herself as a dating coach and a trauma specialist, encourages her clients to use every method available to screen dates, in addition to meeting in a public place.

So what if a man did not want to video chat? “If they didn’t want to video, that’s fine,” Chong said. “But their reaction to the request would be a litmus test. We would know he is probably not someone to date, as he is not flexible. It’s also very telling if a woman explains that it’s a safety issue. The response of the guy in that situation would also be another litmus test.”

“Once you give someone their phone number, you don’t know what they are going to do with it,” Chong said. She said one of her clients encountered a man who shared her phone number with others, and sent it to a spam site on the internet. “You want to believe in the best of people,” she said, “but there are people who misuse your number because they can’t handle rejection.”

‘A couple of cocktails in New York City? You’re looking at $60 to $100, or a few hundred dollars for a pricier meal.’


— Connell Barrett, author of ‘Dating Sucks, But You Don’t’

Connell Barrett, author of “Dating Sucks, But You Don’t,” said video dates are a good first step. “You can see your date, and read their body language,” he said. “Because physical contact is off the table for a video date, it can free both singles to let go and not worry about the pressure about moving in for the first kiss. Good chemistry happens when there’s less pressure.”

Video dating also saves you time and money, especially if you’re the one who picks up the tab. “A couple of cocktails in New York City? You’re looking at $60 to $100, or a few hundred dollars for a pricier meal,” he said. Regular daters could end up spending up to $1,500 a month in bigger cities, if they’re dating a lot and eating out, Barrett added.

How much you spend will clearly depend on your lifestyle. Members of The League, a dating app that’s geared towards professionals, spend up to $260 a month on dates, followed by $215 a month for singletons using Christian Mingle, $198 for people signed up to Match.com, and $174 for Meta’s
META,
+3.03%

Facebook Dating subscribers, according to a recent survey.

A video call allows people to get a sense of the person’s circumstances and personality, and can avoid wasting an hour having coffee with someone you will never see again. Be fun, be playful, don’t ask about exes or grill the other person “60 Minutes”-style, Barrett said. “A big mistake people make in dating is trying to impress the other person,” he said.

Video dating goes back to the 1970s

Jeff Ullman created the first successful video-dating service in Los Angeles in 1975 called Great Expectations. People recorded messages direct-to-camera. “We started with Betamax, moved to VHS, and upgraded to CD-ROMs,” he said. “As long as there are adults, there will be the hunt for love, and there will be the longing for ‘I’m missing someone, I’m missing something,’” he told MarketWatch.

“The best and the brightest did not go into dating services in the 1970s and 1980s,” he said. “I only went into it because I wanted to change the world. What I wanted to do was turn pity to envy. Our videos were 5 or 6 minutes long. There were no stock questions. They had to be ad-libbed. The only similar question was the last one: ‘What are the qualities that are most important in a relationship?’”

He turned Great Expectations into a national franchise where customers paid $595 to $1,995 a year for membership ($1 in 1975 is around $5 today). “We did not hard sell you. We did a ‘heart sell.’ We had all kinds of Type As — doctors, lawyers, studio production chiefs, who all thought they were God’s gift, or God’s gift to womankind, but when they talked about their loneliness, they cried.”

People will always be searching for that perfect mate, Ullman said, whether it’s through videos, words, photos, psychological compatibility, A.I., or through arranged marriages or matchmakers. “But there is no perfect match. My wife Cindy and I are well matched. She’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. The moment either one of us begins to think we’re perfect is the moment we introduce negative forces.”

‘What I wanted to do was turn pity to envy. Our videos were 5 or 6 minutes. There were no stock questions.’


— Jeff Ullman, created Great Expectations, a video-dating service in Los Angeles in 1975

Before TikTok and Skype, people were not as comfortable in front of the camera, particularly if they had to talk about themselves. “We always hid the camera,” Ullman said. The 1970s decor of dark wood and indoor plants made that easier. “When we were finished, they’d say, ‘When are you going to start?’” But they were already on tape. They were, he said, happy with the first take 95% of the time.

Ullman required his franchisees to give members a three-day right to cancel for any reason — including “I’m not going to tell you” — if they changed their terms of service. “They just had to mail us or fax us their notice. Half of my franchisees were about to revolt.” Until, he said, they realized they could not afford to have a bad reputation in an industry where people were putting their hearts on the line.

It all started with a Sony-Matic Portable Videocorder gifted to him by his parents when he graduated from UC Berkeley in 1972. “They were very expensive, but they were portable. Whenever I went anywhere, whether it was a parade or a demonstration, which were common back then, they always let me in because they thought I was from “60 Minutes.” It gave us a sense of power.”

Fast forward to 2023: That power is in the hands of the $3 billion online dating industry and, perhaps to a lesser extent, in the hands of the singletons who are putting their own messages out into the world through words and pictures. In the 1970s, most people were still meeting in person. These days, your online competition is, well, almost every single person within a 50-mile radius.

Watching out for those ‘green flags’

Video dating has come in handy for singletons like Andrew Kneeshaw, a photographer and publican in Streete, County Westmeath, a small town in the Irish midlands. He’s currently active on three dating sites: Plenty of Fish, Bumble and Facebook Dating. In-app video calls have saved him — and his potential dates — time, gasoline and money spent on coffee and lunch.

“Even someone local could be 15 or 20 miles away,” he said. He’s currently talking to a woman in Dublin, which is more than an hour away. “Hearing someone’s voice is one thing, but seeing that they are the genuine person they are supposed to be on the dating site definitely does help.” He could spend upwards of 20 euros ($21.45) on coffee/lunch, excluding gasoline.

He did go on a dinner date recently without having a video call, and he regretted it. “Neither of us felt there was a spark,” Kneeshaw said. So they split the check as they would likely never see each other again? “That sounds terrible, but yes,” he said. “I go on a date at best once a week. If you’re doing it a few times a week, it does add up very quickly.”

Ken Page, a Long Beach, N.Y.-based psychotherapist and host of the Deeper Dating podcast, is married with three children, and has compassion for people like Kneeshaw who live in more remote areas. In New York, he said, some people won’t travel uptown if they live downtown, and many more people won’t even cross the river to New Jersey.

‘If it’s a video chat, you have the opportunity to get to know them more, and have that old-fashioned courtship experience.’


— Ken Page, a psychotherapist and host of the Deeper Dating podcast

He said green flags are just as important as red flags when deciding to move from a video date to an in-person date. “Is their smile warm and engaging? Are you attracted to the animation they have in their face? You just get tons more data when you see the person. You save money, and you save time before you get to the next step.”

In-person first dates can be brutal. “Your first reaction is, ‘they’re not attractive enough, I’ve got to get out of here,’” Page said. “If it’s a video chat, you have the opportunity to get to know them more, and have that old-fashioned courtship experience where attraction starts to grow. The ‘light attractions’ have more opportunity to grow without the pressure of meeting in person.”

Dating apps are a carousel of romantic dreams. The focus is on looks rather than personality or character. “There are so many people waiting online,” Page said. “That does not serve us. Unless the person really wows us, we swipe left. If you do a video chat, you will be more likely to get to know that person — instead of only getting to know the ‘9s’ and ‘10s.’”

And Michelle? The divorced Californian mother of four said she finally met a guy on Hinge last October, and they’ve been dating since then. “He’s just a fabulous guy. He actually moved slower than what I had experienced with other guys I had dated.” She kept her sense of humor and perspective, which helped. “He said, ‘You’re so funny.’ I didn’t have anything to lose.”

“It’s almost going to Zara
ITX,
+1.55%
,
” she said. “Nine times out of 10 you may not find something you like, but one time out of 10 you do.”

Source link

#Tindered #avoid #creeps #time #wasters #liars #Valentines #Day