“The technology is going to beat the law.” (Doesn’t it always?)

Original Content

Earlier this week, I talked to David Rolf & Nick Hanauer about their new paper, “Shared Security, Shared Growth.” Check it out here. And if you like our original content? Support us on Patreon.

Geeking Out

“The technology is going to beat the law.” (Doesn’t it always?) For all my “I can’t believe self-driving cars are a threat” readers—here’s a magazine pitched to drivers, telling you that you’re right.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Can face-scanning robots someday replace TSA agents?

I think I’m just going to get a tattoo that says, “You can program for tone,” so I can just show it to people who think that computers can’t replace human interaction. Like, for example, the kind that happens in customer service centers.

Pretty thoughtful discussion about the prospect of driverless trucks at mines in Canada—includes a long interview with a union truck driver.

It seems that NYU’s Arun Sundararajan agrees with Nick Hanauer & David Rolf—the on-demand economy needs to get better at providing benefits, but in its own way.

Can a bot help automate your meetings, so they can be more efficient? Please, let the answer be “yes.”

Organizing Theory

Did you change your Facebook profile to a rainbow-colored picture last Friday, or over the weekend? If so, you may have helped FB learn more about how online activism moves and spreads.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

When the sharing economy actually does… Here are three sharing economy apps that allow you to donate profits (yours and theirs) to charity.

Coops in the UK have developed a dashboard to track the cooperative economy in all of the UK’s countries.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Demographic microtargeting: or how Facebook might be influencing your credit score, in ways that would be illegal offline.

And your church might be tracking your attendance through facial recognition. If you attend a megachurch. Which is unlikely, for readers of this blog, but not impossible I suppose. Facebook, meanwhile, is working on figuring out how to recognize your face in photos, even if it’s hidden or obscured.

Final Thoughts

I would argue that “free trade” is the wrong lens through which to view offshoring. Instead, it is much more akin to virtual immigration. Suppose, for example, that a huge customer service call center were to be built south of San Diego, just across the border from Mexico. Thousands of low-wage workers are issued “day worker” passes and are bused across the border to stay the call center every morning. At the end of the workday, the buses travel in the opposite direction. What is the difference between this situation (which would certainly be viewed as an immigration issue) and moving the jobs electronically to India or the Philippines? In both cases, workers are, in effect, “entering” the United States to offer services that are clearly directed at the domestic US economy. The biggest difference is that the Mexican day worker plan would probably be significantly better for the California economy. There might be jobs for bus drivers, and there would certainly be jobs for people to maintain the huge facility located on the US side of the border. Some of the workers might purchase lunch or even a cup of coffee while at work, thus injecting consumer demand into the local economy. The company that owned the California facility would pay property tax. When the jobs are off-shored, and the workers enter the United States virtually, the domestic economy receives none of these benefits. I find it somewhat ironic that many conservatives in the United States are adamant about securing the border against immigrants who will likely take jobs that few Americans want, while at the same time expressing little concern that the virtual border is left completely open to higher-skill workers who take jobs that Americans definitely do want.

Martin Ford, Rise of the Robots

“…privacy is worth protecting even if it turns out most people don’t care about their own privacy.”

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“…privacy is worth protecting even if it turns out most people don’t care about their own privacy.” Yup.

It feels like there are more and more folks trying to figure out how to make a social network that allows users to share in the profits of their contributions to the community—first Tsu, then Reddit, now Reveal. Will one of them ever get to the point of user profitability?

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“It’s like drawing in the air.” Robots may get disoriented during testing, but they aren’t getting the prevailing wage. Watch this 3D printer, which is about to “print” a bridge in Amsterdam.

“There’s no economic law ensuring that as technological progress makes the pie bigger, it benefits everyone equally.” Great interview with Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, authors of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress & Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies. No law, until we make one, of course.

Geeking Out

Yup, it’s 2015, and the only way we know how many Americans are killed by law enforcement every year is through crowdsourced data and incredible volunteerism.

“Oh my God, I can pinch again!” How a robotic glove is helping restore dexterity to people with limited mobility.

It’s certainly possible that Los Angeles has the coolest dashboard for any big city mayor in America.

Organizing Theory

Is all your think tank’s content locked up on non-mobile friendly delivery systems like PDFs? You might want to read this piece from digital strategist Mike Connery on how to get more page-views for your work.

Do you really know where you stand, when it comes to the distribution of wealth? If not, Harvard’s Wealthometer’s got your back. And while we’re measuring things that maybe make you happy, how was your week at work?

From Partners

David Rolf and Nick Hanauer wonder how workers in the on-demand economy can ever get ahead—and propose a Shared Security Standard that would help replace the benefits that people lose when they don’t have traditional employment.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“It is clear that the transition to a post-capitalist, sustainable economy will not happen overnight, or even in a few years.” What he said. Michel Bauwens, grandfather (?) of the peer-to-peer movement, on what he sees happening first.

Organizing + apps = a bigger, better union?

Organizing Theory

Could organizing a union be done by an app? It seems like there’s a lot of interest in it, both here and across the pond.

Five Nation writers take on the task of envisioning new ways to structure tech work platforms like AirBnB, TaskRabbit or Uber. Think coops?

Geeking Out

There’s been a lot of talk about civic tech on this blog—some researchers from the World Bank recently took a look at whether it is impacting the people who need it most.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

Bots can’t practice law in North Carolina…yet. h/t to friend of the blog Thomas Beckett for this one.

“All of these suppliers are desperately trying to find ways to cut costs. The only thing they have substantial control over is labor.” And that, my friends, is why we can’t have nice things. Like clothing that was produced without human trafficking.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Bike sharing is an area of public policy that feels good all around. Here are some up and coming trends.

Interested in planning local alternative economies? This one-day conference in July could help you connect with like-minded folks.

Are micropayments the wave of the future for news services? One Dutch startup just signed up every national newspaper in Germany, on that premise.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

What’s the most embarrassing thing your search history might reveal? The folks at Nice 2 Hack You want you to know.

how-much-does-inequality-cost-you-1-638

“Change is hard and we shouldn’t be naive about it.”

Original Content

Last week, I was on Al-Jazeera’s The Stream, talking about the oncoming robot apocalypse (joking! kind of), along with Vivek Wadhwa from Stanford, the founder of Automated Insights (aka, the robot journalist platform), and a man who wrote a book comparing humans in the digital age to cockroaches… You know you NEED to watch this.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“Change is hard and we shouldn’t be naive about it.” Will software bots result in large scale white collar unemployment?

Last week, Tesla software principal—this week, partner at Union Square Ventures (a VC firm) tells you why this time, technological unemployment is real. Key point: “The question is can you get *paid* for whatever it is that you do.”

The problem with the techno utopians…is they have no plan for the messy problems between now and Xanadu.”

Do 40% of US workers have contingent jobs? It’s not just the Freelancers’ Union that thinks so. It’s also the US Government.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“In order not to be tracked, you have to be constantly paying attention to what every page is doing.” The ineffable Quinn Norton, on how every journalist is contributing to surveillance. On you.

I’ve been known to not be the biggest fan of Facebook. So I thought I’d give them credit for doing something good—enabling Open PGP encryption, for user emails.

Organizing Theory

Don’t say the system is broken. The Knight Foundation has a new report, studying why millennials don’t vote in local elections.

Geeking Out

“Any time you put your phone into your pocket, you have a smart jacket…the only problem is they don’t talk to each other.” I dunno, if my phone starts talking to my bra, we’re going to have issues. Google, I’m not in favor of wearables with underwire. Just sayin’.

“They’ve got this great stuff sitting in the can that they can’t use…”

Organizing Theory

“They’ve got this great stuff sitting in the can that they can’t use.” So you want to kickstarter a Republican ad? Have we got a new superPAC site for you…

Change.org is revising their data collection to capture more information about voters—so they can better target elected officials, not just companies.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Tech coops are on the rise in Silicon Valley.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Do you use Facebook Messenger? Maybe you want to turn off the location data. Or maybe you’re a really big Harry Potter fan, in which case, don’t.

Geeking Out

Finnish computer scientists write an algorithm that can compose rap lyrics. What’s up with that, West Coast?

h/t to reader & friend of the blog, Matt Richards, for this new website, which tracks robotics projects in the developing world.

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

A lesson about what happened to working class America, through the lens of Windows and Onions.

Interesting debate about whether we need to create a new legal class of workers that are neither independent contractors nor traditional employees.

Hospital bots deliver pills, linens, food and more.

The first test of Uber’s self-driving car has been spotted in Pittsburgh.

Here’s Tesla’s principal software engineer, making the case that this time, it really IS different, when it comes to technological unemployment.

Al-Jazeera has a new two-part documentary series out about The Tech Threat—watch it here.

“My belief is that ‘union 2.0’ will be a platform, more than an organization…”

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“My belief is that ‘union 2.0’ will be a platform, more than an organization, and its power will derive from the data leverage it’s able to attain over the platforms that employ its workers.” Nick Grossman has some interesting ideas about how to source the sharing economy—with venture capital, or community capital? Or maybe both?

The Standing O wants to be the Spotify that pays its artists (& songwriters!) fairly. Check out their video about why they pay songwriters and artists per play, on their new music streaming service.

Can you pick up where the math leaves off? Harvard Biz Review thinks that augmentation will be the next wave of humanity’s employable future.

Organizing Theory

As a union organizer, I have known some workers with interesting workplace issues. But this one kind of takes the cake.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

“People have a really hard time articulating their feelings. And sometimes there is a subtle fleeting little emotion that people aren’t even aware is happening.” Good thing we’ve got ad companies using facial recognition software, so we can see how we really feel about their ads.

“…a computer model with 250 “likes” (to compare) is better than your own wife or husband at judging your personality.” What can a kind of algorithm I can’t even spell figure out about you from your FB profile? And who is that information useful to? Check out this new video to find out.

Geeking Out

One step beyond making campaign finance data more accessible? Getting it in the hands of journalists that can use it to make public the connections between money & legislative votes. Kick in to this Kickstarter.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…a bossless organization is a burden of itself.” But these Turkish textile workers wouldn’t go back to a non-coop life, after occupying their plant when the owners left them jobless.

Don’t buy face wash with little floating things in it. If you need to know why, watch this.

“I could be in control of my life.”

Original Content

Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo!

And if you haven’t heard it yet—last week, friends-o-the-blog Sarah Jaffe & Meshell Chen had me on their weekly podcast, Belabored, to talk about why the labor movement should support Universal Basic Income.  BTW, hello new readers! It’s so lovely to meet all of you!

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“I could be in control of my life.” Laura Flanders from GRITtv takes a look at the success of the New Era Windows cooperative, 3 years after workers occupied their plant in Chicago.

Some urban neighbors already trade books informally through free libraries—this effort in Geneva lets neighbors share other kinds of stuff, through a neighborhood exchange box.

Santa Monica just put a dent into AirBnB’s business there, by banning short-term rentals of full units for anything less than 30 days.

From Partners

In NYC and want to learn more about UBI? Go listen to another FOB, Natalie Foster, at Civic Hall next week.

Organizing Theory

Live-streaming has been a powerful tool in the activist toolbox since at least 2011. But as live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat make it even more accessible, this activist wonders how we can better use it to promote justice.

Geeking Out

This week’s new favorite tumblr…hi-tech jobs drawn as characters from a children’s book…welcome to Business Town!

What’s Going on in the Workforce?

“There are a growing number of observers who do not fear or hate technology but fear the negative effects technology can have on the individual and society if used inappropriately.” Preach, brother.

Public officials are teaming up with local unions to help driving organizing wins in Silicon Valley & the Bay Area.

If self-driving cars destroy the jobs of almost six million drivers, but save the rest of us over $1 trillion (because we no longer need to own a car), what’s the net cost or benefit to our economy?  Blogger Scott Santens recently looked at this very issue, and uses it as another example of why we’re going to need Basic Income sooner, rather than later.

Can I get a robot to sell me another robot? Yes, but (so far) only in Palo Alto.

The Open Society Institute has launched a new Future of Work website, where you can see links to all their commissioned research.  It includes this awesome map of 95 future of work projects.

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“Automate or perish”…or maybe there’s a third way?

Original Content
Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo! And thanks to all of you who have supported us so far.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
“Automate or perish” Perhaps there’s a third option? The job of deboning chickens does seem like it would be advantaged by machines—but surely there’s still some role for human butchers to play?
If I’d had more coffee, I could probably think of a pithier joke. But honestly, banks need to rent robot suits, because their employees can’t carry all the money? I’m not sure there’s a better use for the #firstworldproblems hashtag.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Well OF COURSE I want the maker of my car to provide Amazon with my location, so they can deliver to me by drone. No, wait…
It’s one thing to let your boss track your movements while you’re at work—lots of workers have to put up with that. It’s a wrong thing, but it is a thing. But getting fired because you wouldn’t let them track you 24/7? That’s a #bossfail.
Organizing Theory
If you’re a social media campaigner, you probably have fought in a hashtag war, at some point. (@banditelli, I’m looking at you!) But what’s the value of a hashtag campaign?  On a related note, new service Protestify aims to help citizen journalists get paid for photos they take that get picked up by the MSM, using the hashtag #protestify.
Podemos seems to have made the world’s first hologram protest. No, really.
From Partners
In NYC? Why not check out the Workers Unite Film Festival? Now through May 27th.

“We hit our goals! We lost…but we hit our goals!”

Original Content
This week’s original content was not preserved for posterity…but a big HtU thank you to all the folks who participated in last Friday’s video chat on Universal Basic Income: Meshell Chen, Alex Denny, Stephan Edel, Ryan Johnson & Joseph Phelan.
Do you like the stuff that gets posted in this section? Wish there was more of it? Guess what—you can help make that happen, either by supporting us monthly through Patreon, or one time with Indegogo!
Organizing Theory
“We hit our goals! We lost… but we hit our goals!” If this sounds familiar, maybe you’re measuring the wrong things.
Reputation, reputation, reputation
Lots of people post tweets with pictures. Sometimes, those tweets get retweeted. Other times, the pictures are used in completely out-of-context ways. How can you tell the difference?
Did you post your picture to that new Microsoft site, How Old? If you did, did you mean to give them permission to use your photographs in advertising?
Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability
Worker coop advocates in California are supporting a bill to make it easier to form coops in that state, in part to fight against income inequality.. .
Would you buy a t-shirt for $2.25, if it made you watch a video about textile factories first?
Geeking Out
You don’t know what you need to know about artificial intelligence of the future? Read this. Amazing.
The slow death of the one-hour photo processing lab.
What’s Going on in the Workforce?
As more cities and states raise their minimum wage requirements, one author wonders—how much does that wage growth impact other low-wage workers?
What ethical challenges does drone journalism spark, and who if anyone is training new journalists to think about them?