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.”
Groupon is on tear today for some reason.
The stock was up as much as 24%, and we’re not sure why.
The only thing we can think of is that there’s new news about CEO Andrew Mason, but we haven’t heard anything.
This is ridiculous.
A Wells notice is a warning that the SEC is likely to bring charges against an individual or company. Typically, it’s done for a viable reason. In this case, the SEC is totally over-reaching, acting like a idiotic overly bureaucratic organization.
It’s moves like this that make it seem like government bureaucracy really does smother businesses.
Here’s what happened.
In July, Hastings posted to his Facebook page that Netflix had had 1 billion hours of streaming in June. The stock jumped that day.
If Hastings had just shared this information with a small circle of friends, you could make an argument that the information wasn’t publicly disseminated. But Hastings has 200,000 subscribers on Facebook, including journalists and analysts.
If the SEC wants to use this case to make a new rule about social media and what’s acceptable disclosure and what’s not, that’s fine. It should do that.
But to punish a company and executive for taking advantage of a new service to publicly disseminating information in a way that is vastly more public than SEC filings or press releases is unfair. Not to mention a waste of resources.
Since about September, Facebook has offered its advertisers a powerful new way to track its users as they surf the web: It’s called “phone number retargeting.” The move came after Facebook made a big effort to collect its users’ mobile phone numbers to prevent security breaches.
More recently, according to AdExchanger, Facebook has combined phone retargeting with a new “conversion pixel” — a type of tracking device, basically — within ads displayed on Facebook.
The combination of phone retargeting and conversion pixels allows advertisers to target you directly with ads and then measure exactly how you respond to them, whether by clicking, ignoring or buying something from the advertiser’s site.
Some advertisers have been doing this kind of thing on other web sites for years.
But most Facebook users don’t know it’s going on within Facebook. Instead, they believe the primary reason Facebook prompts them for a mobile phone number is to prevent account hacking, and to allow users to upload photos and make status updates from their phones.
In fact, earlier this year, Facebook began asking every user for a phone number for “security” purposes. Here’s what Facebook says about that:
But Facebook has since made those phone numbers available t! o advert isers as part of its new Custom Audience targeting product. “Audiences can be defined by either user email address, Facebook UIDs, or user phone numbers,” the product states.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are a member of your local gym. You probably gave the gym your phone number. But then you let your membership lapse, and now the gym wants to persuade you to come back. The gym can cross-reference its list of members’ phone numbers with users’ phone numbers on Facebook, and serve an ad on the page of any user with a matching number. Suddenly, you’re seeing ads that say, “Get 10% off if you rejoin your local gym!”
If you click on that ad, a conversion pixel will enable a “cookie” to track what you do so that the gym can see how successful its campaign was.
There’s a level of privacy built in to the system: Although your phone number will be targeted by ads, the number will be “hashed,” meaning that the system disguises it by replacing it with random code, making you anonymous. So the gym might target 100 phone numbers, but it won’t know which of those specific people actually responded to the ad (until they pay for a membership online, of course). All the gym will know is that a certain number responded to the ad, and that those users must have been on the original phone list.
Facebook launched the system to make its ads more effective for advertisers. The company believes they lower cost-per-acquisition (of users) for advertisers by 40 percent.
Disclosure: The author owns Facebook stock.
Following that iFixit teardown of the Nexus 4, it looks like LG and Google did kit out their new flagship with LTE after all—at least, there’s a Qualcomm multi-band LTE chip in there—it’s just not active. But why whack in a 4G chip and not bother to use it?
There are a couple of theories. The first is network restriction: perhaps one or more mobile carriers have called dibs on an LTE-equipped version to be “released” at a later date. Another theory, as suggested by Ars Technica is that LG’s just left the chip in there as a throw over from the Optimus G, on which the Nexus 4 is based, to reduce manufacturing streams. That’s possible, but why put a chip in there that costs you extra cash if you weren’t going to use it?
On the bright side, perhaps now we’ll have a reason for people to actually root stock Android. Maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to activate that dormant LTE chip and gift the Nexus 4 with 4G. That really would make Google’s flagship absolutely killer. [iFixit via Ars Technica]
Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.
Barclays put out a note on the eight reasons Apple’s stock has been cratering. In the note is this handy table laying out each concern, and what Barclays thinks is the reason people shouldn’t over react.
Games are the most frequently used apps on both smartphones and tablets.
According to mobile analytics company Flurry, games account for 39 percent of time spent in apps on smartphones, and 67 percent of app time on tablets. Games’ ability to engage users is one reason they are the biggest moneymakers in Apple’s App Store.
Flurry also found that smartphone owners use more apps per week, but tablet owners’ app sessions are twice as long. This is why many in mobile believe that tablets are a more promising advertising platform than smartphones, as we discussed in our mobile advertising report.
When we last checked in on one of Sandvine’s traffic studies, Netflix had just edged past BitTorrent as the largest source of internet traffic in North America while YouTube was still a small-timer. A year has made quite the difference. Netflix is up to 28.8 percent in a new study, while YouTube has moved up to second place with 13.1 percent and demands even more than ordinary web requests. Rivals like Hulu don’t register in the top 10, and YouTube is by far the ruler of mobile with nearly 31 percent of smartphone traffic headed its way. Overall usage is moving up rapidly, no matter what kind of network the continent uses — the typical North American chews up 659MB per month when mobile and a hefty 51GB through a landline. There’s little reason to dispute worries of the impact on bandwidth-strained internet providers, although we suspect most would disagree with Sandvine on what’s to be done. The company naturally sees the study as a chance for business with carriers wanting to curb usage or charge extra through its tools; a generation that grew up with internet access, however, would likely see it as a better excuse to roll out more capacity for all those streaming videos.
Sandvine: Netflix up to 29 percent of North American internet traffic, YouTube is fast on the rise originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 08 Nov 2012 04:54:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.
Amazon is using its heavily trafficked front page to trash the iPad mini.
As you can see below, Amazon does a head to head comparison with the Kindle Fire HD and the iPad mini. The Kindle Fire HD comes out on top.
A few things about this ad. Amazon says it can play HD movies. In his review of the Kindle Fire HD, David Pogue said, “Incidentally, despite the name ‘HD,’ the screen can’t actually show you movies in hi-def. It may have the requisite number of pixels, but most of them are dedicated to black letterbox bars; the screen is the wrong shape for movies. And you can’t enlarge the playback to fill the screen, as you can on an iPad.”
And Walt Mossberg in his review said, “The Fire HD isn’t as polished, fluid or versatile as the iPad.”
The reason for that is iOS, Apple’s mobile software which is vastly superior to Amazon’s tablet software.
The real question for people looking at buying a tablet is whether or not it’s worth paying an extra $130 for an iPad mini which has better software and a bigger library of apps. Also, we should get official reviews of the iPad mini this week, which will give us better independent comparisons.
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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