Tuesday, March 03, 2020

When AI Can’t Replace a Worker It Watches Them Instead

AAP newswire to close on June 26, jobs lost

The national newswire will close after two of its biggest clients cut ties.

Coronavirus updates LIVE: Global death toll passes 3000 as Australian cases of COVID-19 rise

The virus has continued its march around the globe, infecting more than 89,000 people and causing more than 3000 deaths, as the OECD warned the world economy faced its "greatest danger" since the GFC.

The problem with digital skills - Medium – Kati Price: “I say ‘problem’, of course I mean problems. Lots of them. (And not just in the cultural sector either.) So it’s interesting that last week saw the launch of number of initiatives that might just help improve digital skills and literacy within the UK cultural sector. (In case you missed it, the UK Museums Computer Group did a handy round up.) It’s reassuring to see some practical (funded) responses to some of the issues that Daf James and I uncovered in our research on Structuring for Digital Success back in 2018. That research saw us survey around 60 organisations across the globe to find out how they structure and resource their digital activity. It revealed a number of challenges, many of which are linked to digital skills and — more specifically — a lack of them…”

Dear public service grads, welcome to a job where truth and integrity matter 

WORLD ROUNDUP: We cut through the noise with short, succinct coverage of everything from daily data to research breakthroughs to media screw-ups.

Tim Cook and Apple Bet the Farm on China, But Then Coronavirus Hit

WSJ examines the consequences of the decision by Apple to become so dependent on China – what looks to be a catastrophic mistake in the age of coronavirus

  NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to prepare for a viral epidemic

We visited a Hutong (inner city – where the locals live) and saw raw chickens, skinned and bleeding, just laying on the floor, waiting to be thrown on a restaurant grill…for public consumption. No FDA or USDA or food inspectors or “codes” to comply with, here. But why? This is the last purely communist country on earth. You’d think there would be red tape everywhere. What was happening here?
Then, my wife and I had to rush our newly adopted, 8-month-old daughter to the public hospital…and suddenly it all started making sense.
As we stepped in more urine, took our number from the print-out machine, walked past the line of children whining and crying from the scalp IVs in their heads, then rushed to clean up blood and mucus (left by the last patient) on the plastic table they were now laying our baby on, then waited on the ONE overworked doctor (attending to no less than three hundred people) try to round up a basic anti-biotic to administer to my daughter (right there on site – no refills) it dawned on me what I was seeing and what I had been seeing this whole time. I wasn’t watching a “backward” culture or a third-world society. These people weren’t genetically inferior to first-worlders. They weren’t “less-evolved” than I was.
I was witnessing the kind of maximum, almost brutal efficiency a society must develop when the state is the master and the individual is merely a subject. Why would a Communist country not have an effective FDA? Because who are you going to complain to if you get tainted food? The government? They don’t answer to you. The press? They are owned by the government. And again, they don’t answer to you.
So what if you don’t like the conditions in the hospital? Where else are you going to go? This hospital is the last (and only) stop. You can’t opt for another place and then just pay out of your own pocket. The government has capped financial upward mobility. There is now “income equality.” And that means nobody has the means to buy their way into a different (or better) situation. And even if you could, one doesn’t exist. The state provides it all. You’re stuck.

The Economist, Japan’s GDP Shrinks Dramatically After a Tax Rise and a Typhoon:
The EconomistEconomists still argue about the merits of Abenomics, the experimental mix of policies introduced by Japan’s prime minister, Abe Shinzo, seven years ago, in an effort to chase away deflation and stagnation. But two lessons are beyond debate. Japan’s bond market is remarkably docile despite the government’s towering debt. Japanese households, however, are painfully sensitive to increases in the consumption tax, a broad value-added tax imposed on most of their purchases. After the government raised the tax from 8% to 10% on October 1st, the economy shrank at an annual pace of 6.3% in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to figures released on February 17th (see chart ).
No Facebook is not protecting your privacy Privacy International: “…Privacy International recently tested the feature to download all ‘Ads and Business’ related information (You can accessed it by Clicking on Settings > Your Facebook Information > Download Your Information). This is meant to tell users which advertisers have been targeting them with ads and under which circumstances. We found that information provided is less than accurate. To put it simply, this tool is not what Facebook claims. The list of advertisers is incomplete and changes over time…

  • Despite Facebook claim, “Download Your Information” doesn’t provide users with a list of all advertisers who uploaded a list with their personal data
  • As a user this means you can’t exercise your rights under GDPR because you don’t know which companies have uploaded data to Facebook
  • Information provided about the advertisers is also very limited (just a name and no contact details), preventing users from effectively exercising their rights
  • Recently announced Off-Facebook feature comes with similar issues, giving little insight into how advertisers collect your personal data and how to prevent such data collection..”

People in mosh pits behave just like gas particles suspended in equilibrium. (“Collective motion of humans in mosh and circle pits at heavy metal concerts”)
  GOOD HOBBY TO TAKE UP WHILE YOU’RE QUARANTINED: Home-Brewing Isn’t a Science—It’s an Art. Here’s How to Make Your Own Masterpiece. Just don’t brew up any . . . Corona.

Healthcare Online Resources 2020US Bias - Marcus Zillman’s guide is especially timely and pertinent as librarians, researchers, health professionals, government officials and the public are seeking accurate, reliable and up-to-date information on the coronavirus. The discovery tools referenced include: healthcare databases, directories, indices, data and analytics, subject guides, apps, forums and search engines providing access to a wide range of information from the healthcare and medical sectors that also encompasses open access papers, analysis, registries, images and reference sources.

A guide to responsible coronavirus reporting

People wearing face masks wait at a pedestrian crosswalk in Hong Kong on Saturday. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Remarkable that we’ve come across a bigger story than the presidential election, even as we approach a pivotal primary this weekend and Super Tuesday next week.

Yet the lead story on each of the network evening news broadcasts on Thursday — as well as the websites of The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — was the coronavirus.

So where is the best place to get coronavirus news?

Let’s start with this: It’s a science story, not a political one. So listening to spin on the coronavirus from the Democratic presidential nominees or the Fox News primetime hosts or, especially, from someone such as Rush Limbaugh, who compared it to the common cold, is not the smart place to go.

Instead, the outlets dealing in facts should be your go-to sources.

The New York Times is offering constant live updates on one webpage, including a particularly useful FAQ section with questions such as “What is coronavirus?” and “How worried should I be?” The site also includes an interactive map that's tracking where the coronavirus has been confirmed and where travelers should avoid. It has dozens of well-sources stories with no political agenda or opinion —just fact-based reports.

Like the Times, The Wall Street Journal has a live coverage coronavirus page, including its possible impact on the stock market.

NPR has a guide on how to prepare your home for the coronavirus. And, of course, the Washington Post’s coverage is superb.

There are plenty of other places as well — NBC.com, CBS.com, CNN.com and the Associated Press to name a few — with coronavirus-specific pages providing constant updates. All appear to have responsible, straight-forward coverage that deals in facts.

There will be time enough later to evaluate the politics of this story, but for now, information is what’s critical. Start there. And stay there.

More bad news about the news

(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, file)
Another rough week for print journalism with layoffs at Gannett, which come after a rough earnings call on Thursday morning. Revenues were down about 10% and print advertising was down 18.4% compared to a year ago.
Print advertising also led to issues at the Tampa Bay Times. In a memo to staff this week announcing a three-month 10% pay reduction, the Times said, “While we anticipated declines in print advertising, they are deeper than we expected, primarily in display advertising for some large accounts.”
After news started spreading about the Times and then Gannett, Twitter had a run of tweets from people encouraging others to subscribe to their local newspapers. While those sentiments are well-intentioned (I, too, would encourage subscribing to your local paper), HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen tweeted:
“People keep urging citizens to subscribe to newspapers, but the real collapse here is advertising. As I wrote last year, businesses have perhaps an even bigger responsibility to support a stable information ecosystem.”
What Polgreen was referring to was a piece for The Guardian in November of 2019.

And there’s more

Gannett and the Tampa Bay Times weren’t the only ones to have a rough week. There were more changes at the Chicago Tribune. Publisher and editor-in-chief Bruce Dold is being pushed out after 42 years. Dold, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for editorial writing, will be replaced by Colin McMahon, the Tribune company’s chief content manager. In addition, Peter Kendall, one of the Tribune’s two managing editors, is also out and won’t be replaced.
One Tribune source told the New York Post’s Keith J. Kelly, “The Trib folks are pretty shaken up. They are interpreting this as very bad news.”
In the past few weeks, dozens of Tribune staffers have taken buyouts, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

IT’S LIKE BEFORE A BLIZZARD: Coronavirus fears empty store shelves of toilet paper, bottled water, masks as shoppers stock up. “Local health officials told us not to panic buy and not to freak out, and that was enough to get us to go out and buy everything.”

Here's why this simple hygiene technique is top of the list when it comes to effective ways to fight coronavirus

Experts say there's something each of us can focus on as Australia prepares for a potential COVID-19 outbreak. Here's what you need to know about how your hands can spread the virus and the steps you can take to reduce the risk.

When AI Can’t Replace a Worker It Watches Them Instead Wired – Whether software that digitizes manual labor makes workers frowny or smiley will come down to how employers choose to use it….”Many jobs in manufacturing require dexterity and resourcefulness, for example, in ways that robots and software still can’t match. But advances in AI and sensors are providing new ways to digitize manual labor. That gives managers new insights—and potentially leverage—on workers. Some workers say the results are unpleasant. Last year, Amazon warehouse employees in Minnesota staged a walkout to protest how the company uses inventory and worker-tracking technology. They allege that Amazon uses it to enforce a punishing working pace that causes injuries. The company has disputed those claims, saying it coaches employees on how to safely meet quotas…”

New database aims to expose companies that make employees arbitrate sexual harassment claims - Washington Post – “Using the same spreadsheet-style activism she did with #GrabYourWallet, Shannon Coulter emailed some 500 companies, asking detailed questions about their forced arbitration policies for sexual harassment, which require employees to resolve complaints out of court. She and her partners, social impact investor Rachel Robasciotti and principal Iris Kuo, then published their answers — or lack thereof — on a public site, listing contact details for company representatives. So far, Coulter said, more than 100 companies including U.S. Bancorp and Delta Air Lines have said they don’t currently use the practice or never have. A handful of others, including Pfizer and Morgan Stanley, have said they mandate it for U.S. employees or have an opt-out policy. (Nearly 370 companies have not responded.) The idea is that forcing companies to go public about forced arbitration could create accountability and push more employers to end the practice…”
Besides Coulter’s efforts, investors have filed at least 11 shareholder proposals this year to get companies such as Tesla and Dollar General to disclose more on the issue, according to Whistle Stop Capital principal Meredith Benton. On Feb. 12, Wells Fargo said it was ending mandatory arbitration for sexual harassment claims following feedback from stakeholders, including Clear Yield Asset Management, which had submitted a proposal…”

RENT PRESSURE: After demonstrations and data showing Germans were leaving Berlin for cheaper suburbs, rents are freezing for the next five years.