artificial intelligence
There’s an Automation Crisis Underway Right Now, It’s Just Mostly Invisible

What actually happens to workers when a company deploys automation? The common assumption seems to be that the employee simply disappears wholesale, replaced one-for-one with an AI interface or an array of mechanised arms. Read More >>

amazon
Two Weeks After Amazon Made Its ‘Climate Pledge,’ It Joined Big Oil for Its ‘Accelerate Production 4.0’ Event

Just two weeks after Amazon pledged to radically reduce its company-wide carbon emissions, the head of its oil and gas web services subsidiary travelled to the US city of Houston, Texas, to participate in the oil industry’s “Accelerate Production 4.0” event. The event was part of a conference put on by Weatherford, a major oilfield services provider, and was billed as “the U.S. oil and gas industry’s only Production 4.0 forum.” Per Weatherford, its aim was “to discuss the role of digitalisation in the near and long-term future of oil and gas production.” Read More >>

amazon
Amazon’s Sweeping Climate Plan Is Full of Gaping Holes

On Thursday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that he was committing the world’s largest online retailer to meeting the terms of what he christened “The Climate Pledge.” Broadly outlined, signing the pledge, which Bezos hopes others will do as well, commits a company to meeting the emission reduction targets set forth in the Paris Agreement a decade early – in other words, becoming carbon neutral by 2040 – and regularly reporting its own greenhouse gas output. Read More >>

technology
Why Fast Food Is the Ticking Time Bomb of Job Automation

Earlier this month, the automation-focused US presidential candidate Andrew Yang tweeted, “Fast food may be first.” He was commenting on a new CNBC report that reported annual employee turnover rates of 100 per cent at Panera Bread, an American cafe chain – a figure that is low for the fast food industry, which can see annual turnover of up to 150 per cent. Those figures may seem ridiculous, but they’re a reality: Fast food restaurants regularly see more than their entire workforce turn over every year. And that is why industry experts – and Andrew Yang – warn that it’s ripe for automation and may be the first field to become entirely automated. Read More >>

microsoft
Just Days Ahead of Employee Climate Strike, Microsoft Announces Partnership with Chevron to Accelerate Oil Extraction

Mere days before Microsoft workers are set to walk out of their jobs and publicly call on their employer to reduce carbon emissions and sever its ties with fossil fuel companies, the tech giant has announced a major partnership with two of the biggest corporations in the oil industry. Microsoft employees have responded with a fiery statement condemning the partnership and calling on fellow employees to join them in walking out on September 20th. Read More >>

automation
Gen Z Is Already Afraid Automation Will Eat Their Jobs

A middle-aged man, holding a tool from the machine shop, looking forlorn and wistful. That’s what we might call the stock image of automation fears. It’s the picture that graces the news story about grim job-loss forecasts or think pieces about whether the robots are ‘coming for our jobs.’ (It’s either that or a menacing android.) This is who the robot threatens, who is afraid of the robot: older, semi-skilled, probably uneducated men in the manufacturing industries. Read More >>

facebook
The Great Failure of Facebook’s AI Content Moderation System

When 21-year-old Brandon Andrew Clark posted a series of graphic images on Sunday of the slain corpse of 17-year-old Bianca Devins to Instagram and Discord, users immediately began spreading the gory pictures online, often alongside brutal, misogynist commentary. Some said the victim, an ‘e-girl’ who was popular on 4Chan, deserved it, and others called for even more violence against women. Clark, who appears to have live-posted the murder itself on Instagram—a series of posts reportedly showed the body, the road near the crime scene, and an act of bloody self-harm—took the time to change his bio to hint at his forthcoming suicide attempt, and to attempt to craft a multi-platform narrative around the killing as it unfolded. Read More >>

amazon
Amazon Says It Will Retrain Workers It’s Automating Out of Jobs. But Does ‘Upskilling’ Even Work?

Amazon made waves when it announced earlier this month that it planned to spend $700 million (£558 million) to retrain one-third of its US workforce—100,000 employees—as part of its ‘Upskilling 2025’ initiative. The sizeable commitment, which the Wall Street Journal notes is “among the biggest corporate retraining initiatives” yet announced, will fund pilot programmes, classes, and tuition fees for employees. “The American workforce is changing,” Amazon’s announcement proclaims, and “there’s a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before.” Translation: We will be automating your job soon, and if you want to keep a decent paying gig here, study up. Read More >>

automation
This Report Makes It Perfectly Clearly Who Automation Is Working For

If you want to get a sense of who, exactly, automation is working for right now, well, there’s a study for that. Spoiler – it’s the c-suite executives doing the automating. Read More >>

technology
Automated Call Menus Are the Epitome of Shitty Automation

Like self-checkout kiosks—perhaps even more so—automated phone menus are a prime example of shitty automation. They are exemplars of the kind of automated system that no user asked for, that are deployed solely in an effort to pad corporate bottom lines by cutting labour costs, and that ultimately make everyone who encounters them worse off. Read More >>

robots
The Robots Are Coming for Our Jobs, Seller of Automation Equipment Says

Sometimes the pitch-perfect example that just totally proves your argument falls directly into your lap approximately two days after you need it to. Read More >>

automation
‘Robots’ Are Not ‘Coming for Your Job’—Management Is

Listen: ‘Robots’ are not coming for your jobs. I hope we can be very clear here—at this particular point in time, ‘robots’ are not sentient agents capable of seeking out and applying for your job and then landing the gig on its comparatively superior merits. ‘Robots’ are not currently algorithmically scanning LinkedIn and Monster.com with an intent to displace you with their artificial intelligence. Nor are ‘robots’ gathered in the back of a warehouse somewhere conspiring to take human jobs en masse. A robot is not ‘coming for’, or ‘stealing’ or ‘killing’ or ‘threatening’ to take away your job. Management is. Read More >>

Tesla
There Is Absolutely No Reason to Trust the Safety Record of Tesla’s Autopilot System

Tesla has long lurked in a category of its own in the self-driving car race; where Uber and Google’s Waymo are building fully autonomous vehicles essentially from the ground up, Elon Musk’s electric car company is slouching towards autonomy through a series of increasingly sophisticated updates to its semi-autonomous Autopilot system. Because Teslas are not totally self-driving, and because they are already on the roads, this puts the company in a sort of grey area—even greyer than the already grey area where standard autonomous vehicles dwell—when it comes to regulation and oversight. Read More >>

amazon
Jeff Bezos Wouldn’t Even Come On Stage to Listen to His Employees Who Want Amazon to Address Climate Change

At Amazon’s shareholder meeting last week, employees and investors voted on a wide-ranging spate of proposals, from banning the practice of selling facial recognition technology to adopting a serious plan to address climate change. Each of the proposals ultimately failed, but they were undeniable signs of a paradigm shift underway at the online retail giant, and perhaps the tech industry at large. Few, if any, such shareholder proposals have been made before. And CEO Jeff Bezos all but refused to acknowledge them. Read More >>

ai
This Company Is Betting the Future Is Personal AI Avatars, So It Made Me One

In January 2019, when China Central Television, the largest broadcast network in the most populous nation in the world, aired a special to celebrate the Lunar New Year, the hosts welcomed four life-sized “personal artificial intelligences” to share the stage with them. Called PAIs, they were three-dimensional holographic replicas of the presenters that moved, spoke, and sang to the delight of the cheering live audience. The program was viewed some 1.8 billion times. One of the most-watched TV shows in the world had been hosted by AI avatars. Read More >>