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Paul Krugman Has Been Writing A Lot About The Ominous Threat Posed By Robots

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/paul-krugman-articles-about-robots-2012-12

Paul Krugman

The focus of a few of Paul Krugman’s recent blog posts and his most recent New York Times column is robots and how they are fundamentally changing the U.S. labor market.

The upshot of Krugman’s argument is this: income inequality has been increasing for years in the United States, but one of the major drivers that no one talks about is the increasing use of robotics in manufacturing and other industries to do jobs traditionally done by human laborers.

One conclusion Krugman reaches is that even the highly-paid, highly-skilled workers who have dominated the share of income growth in the U.S. over the past several years will be increasingly affected going forward by the rise of the machines:

About the robots: there’s no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. For example, one of the reasons some high-technology manufacturing has lately been moving back to the United States is that these days the most valuable piece of a computer, the motherboard, is basically made by robots, so cheap Asian labor is no longer a reason to produce them abroad.

In a recent book, “Race Against the Machine,” M.I.T.’s Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee argue that similar stories are playing out in many fields, including services like translation and legal research. What’s striking about their examples is that many of the jobs being displaced are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn’t limited to menial workers.

Indeed, we’ve seen this taking shape even on Wall Street, where investment banks like UBS are laying off credit derivatives traders and replacing them with computers that trade off signals generated by internal algorithms.

That example reflects another of Krugman’s assertions: the robotics revolution may be a major driver of increasing income inequality.

Krugman writes in another post:

If this is the wave of the future, it makes nonsense of just about all the conventional wisdom on reducing inequality. Better education won’t do much to reduce inequality if the big rewards simply go to those with the most assets. Creating an “opportunity society”, or whatever it is the likes of Paul Ryan etc. are selling this week, won’t do much if the most important asset you can have in life is, well, lots of assets inherited from your parents. And so on.

I think our eyes have been averted from the capital/labor dimension of inequality, for several reasons. It didn’t seem crucial back in the 1990s, and not enough people (me included!) have looked up to notice that things have changed. It has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism — which shouldn’t be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is. And it has really uncomfortable implications.!

Finally, Krugman offers a few alternative explanations for the increasing shift of income distribution toward capital and away from labor that don’t feature robots so prominently. One is the idea that monopoly power – made more ubiquitous by growing business concentration in the United States which allows big producers to control prices more effectively – may be a bigger culprit.

Krugman thus concludes by writing that “the starting point is to realize that there’s something happening here, what it is ain’t exactly clear, but it’s potentially really important.”

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Monday, December 10th, 2012 news No Comments

How To Become A Thought Leader In Your Industry

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-become-a-thought-leader-in-your-industry-2012-12

Dan Waldschmidt

To become an expert, you need to have a voice that sets you apart from others in your field, but first, you need credibility to achieve this level of respect. 

There are plenty of bloggers out there who have thousands of followers listening to their tips and ideas. They have become thought leaders in their industries and their names appear alongside the title “expert.”

Dan Waldschmidt is a speaker, author, consultant and researcher. He’s been profiled in Business Insider, Business Week and Inc., and his book Edgy Conversations is scheduled to be published in March 2013.

But he doesn’t consider branding a part of his success, because it’s more of “a lifestyle than anything else,” Waldschmidt told us.

“I still reject this whole idea of branding. It’s branding when it’s on the side of a piece of beef,“ he said. “It’s hard to change. But life changes.”  At the age of 12, Waldschmidt started a lawn mowing business and by 19, he was the youngest sales manager for Sears when “Sears used to be Walmart.”

We recently caught up with Waldschmidt for his tips on how to be recognized as a thought leader in your industry. Here’s his advice:

1. Maintain a blog. “In 2005, I started blogging as a CEO,” Waldschmidt says. “I wrote about how lonely it was to be CEO.”

“When I wa! s in sal es, I was a hotshot and everybody loved me. When I became CEO, it was lonely so I started writing about some of these radical thoughts.”

Waldschmidt writes in his blog a few times a week and told us that he’s usually writing 15 posts at a time. If someone ticks me off, I write about it,” he said. “I’ll write the title, then I’ll think up the contents.”

2. Choose a voice—and stick to it. “Usually when I write something, it’s the exact opposite of what the other experts are saying,” he said.“And I see if I can back up the exact opposite of what they say.” At first, you will let the people who doubt you affect your own work, but after awhile, if you’re doing something right, those people will eventually need you, he maintains.

“They need the guy like me who puts everything out there and finds the solution for everyone else.” To set yourself apart, you need to have a specific voice, but don’t stress too much on holding on to this voice, because at some point, you voice will change.

3. Work really, really hard. “There’s a lot of ways to brand yourself,” Waldschmidt said. “For me, I have a relentless pursuit of getting it right.” And to become successful, he said that people need to stop thinking that the world owes them, because “no one owes you anything.”

“Get out there and make something of yourself. When you get knocked down, get back up.”

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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 news No Comments

The Windows 8 Sales Data Is In, And It’s Horrible News For Microsoft (MSFT)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-windows-8-sales-data-is-in-and-its-horrible-news-for-microsoft-2012-11

Steve Ballmer facepalmNPD research published some horrible news for Microsoft yesterday.

  • Despite releasing an entirely new operating system on October 22 of this year, Windows PC sales shrank 21% between 10/21 and 11/17 versus the same period last year.
  • Windows 8 tablet sales during that period were “almost nonesistent” – just 1% of all Windows 8 sales.

“It hasn’t made the market any worse, but it hasn’t stimulated things either,” Stephen Baker, an analyst at NPD, told the New York Times. “It hasn’t provided the impetus to sales everybody hoped for.”

No kidding.

Yesterday, we reported other bad news:

  • Asus CFO David Chang’s comments that “demand for Windows 8 is not that good right now.”
  • Microsoft cut its order of Surface tablets for the year to two million units, down from four million.

This is a very scary time for Microsoft.

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Friday, November 30th, 2012 news No Comments

Here’s The Excuse For Why Black Friday Sales Were DOWN Nearly 2% This Year

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/black-friday-sales-down-18-2012-11

macy's black friday

Expect to hear a lot about “pulled forward demand” in the coming weeks.

The firm ShopperTrak reported yesterday:

ShopperTrak, the world’s largest counter of retail foot traffic, estimates that, when compared to Black Friday last year, retail foot traffic rose 3.5 percent, to more than 307.67 million store visits. Retail sales decreased 1.8 percent, however, with shoppers spending an estimated total of $11.2 billion yesterday.

But then it added:

“Black Friday continues to be an important day in retail,” said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak founder. “This year, though, more retailers than last year began their ‘doorbuster’ deals on Thursday, Thanksgiving itself. So while foot traffic did increase on Friday, those Thursday deals attracted some of the spending that’s usually meant for Friday.”

One analyst, who preferred to remain anonymous, who was hanging out at a mall on Black Friday told BI:

…the pulled forward promos (starting weds and midnight openings) does seem to have pulled some traffic from Black Friday. Mall traffic seems thinner.

So this week, when the analysis is done, that will be the explanation.

SEE ALSO: Black Friday photos from around the nation >

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Sunday, November 25th, 2012 news No Comments

What Facebook’s Biggest Advertisers Say About ‘Invalid Clicks’ (FB)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-facebooks-biggest-advertisers-say-about-invalid-clicks-2012-11

zuckerberg

Facebook’s larger advertisers, unsurprisingly, aren’t willing to say much — on the record, at least — about the proposed class action lawsuit which claims up to 20 percent of pay-per-click advertising on the site comes from “invalid” clicks.

Facebook says the suit is bogus, and is fighting an appeal in the case.

One key issue in the case is Facebook’s refusal to allow its clicks to be audited by a third party like the IAB, the Media Ratings Council or Ernst & Young.

Speaking privately, the company’s clients and competitors tell us they are aware that Facebook is non-transparent when it came to its advertising business.

None of them believed Facebook was acting improperly. And none sympathized with the suit. One said, “We trust Facebook and know that they are always working to refine their filters and to identify invalid clicks.”

Another added, “I don’t think they’re ripping people off.”

However, they also said that because Facebook is so big it is able to play by its own rules in a way that might not be healthy .

“They don’t let you audit,” said one client. “It’s a little bit suspect. A bit of a conflict of interest. … You have to trust Facebook’s numbers.”

Another added, “They’re not playing by the rules everyone else is playing by. It’s definitely an issue that there’s this 800 pound gorilla out there that isn’t playing by the rules.”

One major issue for advertisers is that they can only observe Facebook’s clicks independently if they send traffic off the site! to thei r own web sites. As most campaigns are designed to send traffic to the advertisers’ Facebook page, those clicks remain inside Facebook – and thus invisible to outside analytics.

“A lot of campaigns are not sending traffic off site so there’s no way to check,” one client told us.

Another said, “If we are driving users to a Facebook page — then we rely on Facebook metrics (impressions, clicks, conversions, engagement …) as the click goes directly to the Facebook page and not through a redirect AND we can’t fire pixels on Facebook pages like we can on external sites.”

Shuman Ghosemajumder, Google’s former click fraud czar who is now vp/strategy at Shape Security, told us that he knows many of the team members at Facebook who are working on click validation. “They are investing heavily in this area,” he says. A third-party audit of clicks, however is a “non-trivial” event at a company, he says. It requires time and resources, and an outside company must come in and perform experiments with the internal engineers. Nonetheless, “they need to take this very seriously,” he says.

Related:

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Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 news No Comments

Zara Has Fundamentally Changed Fashion And There’s No Going Back

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-zara-is-changing-fashion-forever-2012-11

zara clothing

Fast-fashion retailer Zara is on a mission to take over the world, and in the process it has changed the whole fabric of the industry. 

Zara’s strategy involves stocking very little and updating collections often. Instead of other brands that only update once a season, Zara restocks with new designs twice a week, reported Suzy Hansen at the New York Times

That strategy works two ways, according to Hansen. First, it encourages customers to come back to the store often. It also means that if the shopper wants to buy something, he or she feels that they have to in order to guarantee it won’t sell out. 

As a result of its massive success, Zara is making luxury retailers pretty nervous. Zara tries to build their stores as close as possible to the luxury boutiques like Stella McCartney and Chanel. Meanwhile, those retailers are trying to stay far away from the fast-fashion company. 

“They broke up a century-old biannual cycle of fashion,” an analyst told Hansen. “Now, pretty much half of the high-end fashion companies” — Prada and Louis Vuitton, for example — “make four to six collections instead of two each year. That’s absolutely because of Zara.”

Another important way that Zara has impacted the fashion is by negating the idea that expensive clothes are more desirable. Kate Middleton has often been photographed in the brand, and getting something chic for a steal is something to brag about. 

Zara also fits in with another trend: today’s demanding consumer. 

Now that shoppers can get what they want from virtually any channel for a variety of prices, they’re becoming much more discerning about what they want.

That means that a company that sells high fashion for low prices and offers constant new merchandise is set to do well in today’s marketplace, and other retailers should be rushing to emulate Zara’s model.

DON’T MISS: 19 Years In The Evolution Of The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show >

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Saturday, November 10th, 2012 news No Comments

Even Gruber Says Apple Passed Up ‘A Sure Thing’ Charging So Much For The iPad Mini (AAPL)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/gruber-apple-passed-up-a-sure-thing-with-ipad-mini-pricing-2012-10

ipad mini official

A lot of people are upset about the iPad Mini’s price.

Even John Gruber of Daring Fireball says that Apple passed on a “sure thing” making the iPad so much more expensive than Google’s Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire

“Better but costs more” is a gamble. “Better and costs the same or less” is a sure thing. And the iPad is hard to compare to any previous Apple product other than the iPod. The iPod and iPad didn’t enter mature markets — they entered nascent markets with no strong competitors and established themselves as unquestioned market leaders. The iPad Mini’s $329 starting point leaves a price umbrella in tablets that Apple never left for MP3 player competitors.

Don’t Miss: Don’t Buy An iPad Mini (Yet)! >

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Thursday, October 25th, 2012 news No Comments

Amazon To Hire 50,000 People For The Holiday Season (AMZN)

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/729JYuS9ltY/how-cool-is-this-amazon-to-hire-50000-people-for-the-holiday-season-2012-10

Amazon is going to hire 50,000 seasonal workers for the holidays. Pretty awesome.

The press release:

Amazon is Hiring for 50,000 Seasonal Positions in the U.S. This Holiday

SEATTLE–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 16, 2012– Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is hiring for more than 50,000 seasonal positions at its fulfillment centers across the U.S. this holiday season.

“In addition to the thousands of people we’ve hired for full-time jobs this year, we’re proud to be adding more than 50,000 seasonal jobs this holiday,” said Dave Clark, vice president, Global Customer Fulfillment. “We’re hiring at our sites across the U.S. for talented individuals to help us deliver a great experience for our customers this holiday season. Temporary associates play a critical role in meeting increased customer demand during the holiday season, and we expect thousands of temporary associates will stay on in full-time positions.”

Amazon employs more than 20,000 people across its 40 U.S. fulfillment centers and pays its full-time, permanent employees 30 percent more than what traditional retail store employees earn—and that doesn’t even include the stock grants that full-time employees receive, which over the past five years have added an average of 9 percent to base pay annually.

For its full-time, permanent positions, Amazon offers competitive hourly wages, Amazon stock grants, and comprehensive benefits, including medical and dental coverage, company-paid vision, company-paid life insurance, company-paid disability insurance, paid vacation, a 401(k) plan with a company match and discount programs. This year, Amazon launched Career Choice, an innovative program designed to expand the choices available to associates in their future career, whether that’s at Amazon or in another industry. The Career Choice Program provides associates with a resource for building the job skills needed for today’s most in-demand and well-paying careers, such as aircraft mechanics, computer-aided design, machine tool technology, medical laboratory science, dental hygiene, and nursing by offering to pre-pay 95 percent of tuition and fees at accredited schools.

Interested applicants can apply online at http://www.amazonfulfillmentcareers.com

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Tuesday, October 16th, 2012 news No Comments

Five Months Later, GM Still Isn’t Buying Facebook Ads (FB, GM)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/general-motors-facebook-ads-carolyn-everson-2012-10

Facebook Carolyn Everson

General Motors dealt a heavy blow to Facebook when it announced it would be pulling the $10 million a year it had been spending on ads with the social network days before Facebook’s IPO.

In July, the companies were talking about a rapprochement.

 It turns out that, five months later, GM still isn’t back on Facebook.

Inside Facebook reports that sales chief Carolyn Everson has reorganized her team around specific sectors, including a dedicated automotive team.

Facebook has also launched an ad exchange, which lets advertisers use third-party data to target users on the site—a feature General Motors wanted back in May.

But those efforts haven’t been enough, according to Inside Facebook:

When a reporter asked about GM pulling its ad spend, Everson confirmed that the auto company is still not advertising on Facebook but the two companies are “working incredibly closely.” She said Facebook has a team in Detroit meeting with GM every week. Until Facebook can deliver results for GM, Everson says, she doesn’t want them to spend money on advertising.

“When they spend, I want them shouting from the mountain tops that we’re their best marketing partners and they can’t live without us.”

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 news No Comments

Amazon Has Nothing To Worry About. Oracle Will Never Win The Cloud Without Developers

Source: http://techcrunch.com/2012/10/01/amazon-has-nothing-to-worry-oracle-will-never-win-the-cloud-without-developers/

Amazon has nothing to worry about. Oracle will never win the cloud without developers.

No matter what Larry Ellison says on stage at Oracle Open World, Oracle will never match Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) first-class treatment of the developer community. Nor will Oracle even try: it’s a vertical iron machine that Ellison believes has the power to be the new “cloud” for IT. It is not a horizontal distributed, self-service environment that you get when you use AWS.

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Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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