A recent quarterly report on federalreserve.gov indicates that in November 2017, credit card debt hit an all-time high of $1.023 trillion, surpassing that of April 2008, just before the Great Recession. Of course that doesn’t include any increases that Americans may have racked up for those holiday gifts in December, and for those sales in January, given that the National Retail Federation has reported that holiday sales during November and December increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016.

As promised in the last column, here are some common credit card myths from the 2014 updated book "Debt-Proof Living." By the way, I always tell students in my CARE presentations that picking up a book on personal finances and reading it (yes people still read books) can never hurt you. It is a small investment, (pun intended) in time, and it can only help you and your family in the long run.

Common myths:

• Credit card companies want to make my life better.

• Consumer credit is a socially acceptable way to bridge the gap between my inadequate income and the amount of money I need to live on.

• A credit card company would not give me a credit limit I could not afford.

• My credit limit is my money. I am entitled to spend it any way I choose.

• I trust the company to deal fairly with me, so I don’t need to understand the terms and conditions of my credit card account.

• An increase in my credit limit is a reward for good behavior. It is a merit increase.

• It is not possible to live without consumer credit.

Whether everyone agrees or disagrees with these statements, thinking about them and analyzing them is helpful. For example, I think it is clear that most people today do need a credit card. You can’t rent a car or check into a hotel for the most part without one. You need a "responsibly" handled one to build and improve your credit, and most of us use them for big-ticket purchases and other convenience items. However, as you know, I don’t believe that you need credit card debt. Having a credit card and having credit card debt is not the same thing.

Let’s continue with some further food for thought from "Debt Proof Living" on credit cards and credit card debt. This time, it’s what is the ideal customer.

The ideal customer:

• Has a perpetually revolving balance and considers that monthly payment an ordinary and necessary expense.

• Carries a balance that is higher than they could reasonably repay in a single month.

• Makes only the minimum required payment each month.

• Always pays on time.

• Accepts and then spends up to any credit limit increases.

On a totally different subject, but one that can really impact the personal finances of Americans in the future, there is the whole issue of automation and Artificial Intelligence ("AI"), which is something we have touched on only superficially in this column.

I was listening to a discussion on the subject recently on the Glenn Beck radio program. I have to admit that it got my attention, got me thinking, and convinced me that I have to read up more on this.

Here are two things that I heard, but can’t verify. First, 5 percent of our employment in this country is in the transportation industry —  truck drivers, delivery people, school and transit bus drivers, etc. — who could be substantially put out of work with the perfection of self-driving vehicles. I do know from some research that in 2014, according to NPR, driving a truck was the number-one job in many parts of the country, because, up until then, it was immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization (foreign workers can’t drive a truck in New York) and automation.

Second, here are three things we will really like as AI advances, which may make us want more, regardless of some of the consequences, like short-term job losses. Self -driving vehicles will relieve us of driving, something many of us don’t really like. Goods and services may become cheaper as the result of AI, and medical diagnosis will improve.

From Google, here are the definitions of some key terms. It would serve us well if we all follow any major developments in these areas. Artificial Intelligence, which has been much used since the 1970s, refers to the ability of computers to mimic human thought. Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) is the intelligence of a machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can. Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) is a term referring to the time when the capability of computers will surpass humans. ASI posits a world in which a computer's cognitive ability is superior to a human's.

John Ninfo is a retired bankruptcy judge and the founder of the National CARE Financial Literacy Program. Find his previous weekly columns at http://www.mpnnow.com/search?text=Ninfo or at http://www.monroecopost.com/search?text=Ninfo