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  • Robots To Take 20 Million Jobs, Worsening Inequality, Study Finds
    A new study by Oxford Economics, a private British-based research and consulting firm, says robots are expected to take over some 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide by 2030, extending a trend of worsening social inequality while boosting overall economic output. "The forecast set to be released Wednesday highlights growing concerns that automation and robots, while offering economic benefits, are disproportionately killing low-skill jobs and aggravating social and economic stress," reports France 24. From the report: Robots have already taken over millions of manufacturing jobs and are now gaining in services, helped by advances in computer vision, speech recognition and machine learning, the study noted. In lower-skilled regions, job losses will be twice as high as those in higher-skilled regions, even in the same country, the study concluded. According to the latest study, the current wave of "robotization" is likely ultimately to boost productivity and economic growth, generating roughly as many new jobs as it destroys. At the high end of the forecast, the researchers see a $5 trillion "robotics dividend" for the global economy by 2030 from higher productivity.

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  • US Tech Companies Sidestep a Trump Ban, To Keep Selling To Huawei
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: A number of the United States' biggest chip makers have sold millions of dollars of products to Huawei despite a Trump administration ban (alternative source) on the sale of American technology to the Chinese telecommunications giant, according to four people with knowledge of the sales. Since the Commerce Department enacted the ban in May, American companies including Intel and Micron have found ways to sell technology to Huawei, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to disclose the sales. The components began to flow to Huawei about three weeks ago, the people said. Goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made, and the suppliers are taking advantage of this. The sales will help Huawei continue to sell products such as smartphones and servers.

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  • Smartphones and Fitness Trackers Are Being Used To Gauge Employee Performance
    A new system to assess the performance of employees is claimed to be more objective and thus more accurate by utilizing smartphones and fitness trackers. New Atlas reports: The passive system incorporates an app known as PhoneAgent, which was developed by Prof. Andrew Campbell at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College. Using the smartphone's own sensors, that app continuously monitors factors such as the worker's phone usage, physical activity level, geographical location, and the ambient light levels of their environment. PhoneAgent is also Bluetooth-linked to a fitness bracelet worn by the employee, which transmits data including their heart functions, sleep quality, stress levels, and calorie consumption. Additionally, Bluetooth locational beacons in the person's home and workplace monitor how much time they spend at each place, and how often they leave their workstation. All of the phone, bracelet and beacon data is transmitted to a cloud-based server, where it's processed via machine-learning algorithms that were "trained" on the habits of people already known to be high- or low-level performers. When tested on 750 workers across the U.S. over a one-year period, the system was reportedly able to distinguish between individuals' performance levels (in a variety of industries) with an accuracy of 80 percent. That number should rise as the system is developed further.

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  • Lightyear One Debuts As the First Long-Range Solar-Powered Electric Car
    The new Lightyear One is a prototype electric car from a Netherlands startup that gets all it needs to run from the sun. It features a sleek, driver-friendly design and also boasts a range of 450 miles on a single charge. TechCrunch reports: The startup says that it has already sold "over a hundred vehicles" even though this isn't yet ready to hit the road, but Lightyear is aiming to begin production by 2021, with reservations available for 500 additional units for the initial release. You do have to pay around $136,000 USD to secure a reservation, however. Lightyear One isn't just a plug-in electric with some solar sells on the roof: Instead it's designed from the ground up to maximize performance from a smaller-than-typical battery that can directly grab sun from a roof and hood covered with 16 square feet of solar cells, embedded in safety glass designed with passenger wellbeing in mind. The car can also take power directly from regular outlets and existing charging stations for a quick top-up, and again because it's optimized to be lightweight and power efficient, you can actually get around 250 miles on just one night of charging from a standard (European) 230V outlet.

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  • YouTube Looks To Demonetization As Punishments For Major Creators, But It Doesn't Work
    YouTube is looking to send a message to content creators who step out of line by disabling ads on videos that infringe on the site's policies. The punishment is meant to revoke a key source of income, presenting a strong incentive for users to change their behavior. But, as Julia Alexander writes via The Verge, many creators make money through other platforms, rendering YouTube's punishment largely ineffective. From the report: Selling merchandise and subscriptions through other platforms isn't just a way for creators to make more money, it's also a way for creators to insulate themselves from YouTube's ever-mercurial rules and algorithms. And it means that if a creator's ads are cut off for whatever reason, they'll still have a source of revenue. Taking away a channel's ability to run ads is supposed to send a message that YouTube is punishing creators who severely step out of line. The company stated as much in a June 5th blog post, reiterating that channels repeatedly brushing up "against our hate speech policies will be suspended from the YouTube Partner program, meaning they can't run ads on their channel." Creators also won't be able to use alternative monetization techniques like Super Chat or channel memberships, according to YouTube. For up-and-coming YouTubers reliant on that revenue, it can pose a huge problem. Many people just entering YouTube's Partner Program, a threshold that signifies a creator can start earning ad revenue, may rely on that advertising money as they start their career. Channels that face day-to-day monetization issues, one of the biggest issues within the community, are struggling to understand what works and what doesn't. But for larger creators, who still keep their ability to reach a huge number of subscribers, the punishment doesn't necessarily accomplish YouTube's goals. "YouTube isn't likely to ban high-profile channels, either," Alexander writes. "If a channel's content is borderline, meaning that it doesn't violate YouTube's rules but is considered harmful, moderators will allow videos to remain up. Demonetizing a channel's videos allows YouTube to appear to have taken a strong action, even if that action isn't always effective."

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  • Two-Thirds of American Employees Regret Their College Degrees
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: A college education is still considered a pathway to higher lifetime earnings and gainful employment for Americans. Nevertheless, two-thirds of employees report having regrets when it comes to their advanced degrees, according to a PayScale survey of 248,000 respondents this past spring that was released Tuesday. Student loan debt, which has ballooned to nearly $1.6 trillion nationwide in 2019, was the No. 1 regret among workers with college degrees. About 27% of survey respondents listed student loans as their top misgiving, PayScale said. College debt was followed by chosen area of study (12%) as a top regret for employees, though this varied greatly by major. Other regrets include poor networking, school choice, too many degrees, time spent completing education and academic underachievement. "Those with science, technology, engineering and math majors, who are typically more likely to enjoy higher salaries, reported more satisfaction with their degrees," the report adds. "About 42% of engineering grads and 35% of computer science grads said they had no regrets." Those with the most regrets include humanities majors, who are least likely to earn higher pay post-graduation. "About 75% of humanities majors said they regretted their college education," report says. "About 73% of graduates who studied social sciences, physical and life sciences, and art also said the same." Somewhere in the middle were 66% of business graduates, 67% of health sciences graduates and 68% of math graduates who said they regretted their education.

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  • Spotify Wants a Refund On Overpaid Royalties To US Songwriters, Report Says
    Spotify is reportedly seeking a refund for overpayments made to songwriters and publishers last year, according to a report from Music Business Worldwide. CNET reports: Last year, a royalty rate-setting panel in the U.S., called the Copyright Royalty Board, ruled that a particular kind of royalty paid to songwriters and publishers should rise 44% or more for 2018 through 2022. The board finalized that rate -- called a mechanical royalty -- earlier this year. Then streaming services like Spotify, Amazon, Google and Pandora appealed the payment increases in March. Now Spotify is saying it paid too much last year and wants a refund, according to Music Business Worldwide. The CRB rules say the annual streaming royalty rate for US songwriters and publishers between 2018 and 2022 should be set by choosing the highest outcome of three different models, with one model based on a flat fee per subscriber, Consequence of Sound noted. But Spotify's student discount and family plan bundles add a layer of complexity. The Copyright Royalty Board's rules say a family plan is be worth 1.5 subscribers per month and a student plan is equal to half a subscriber per month. The family plan lets six people subscribe for $15 a month, while students pay $5 a month. (A regular subscriber pays $10.) The argument by Spotify seems to be that it didn't take some subscribers into account and overpaid publishers. It's not seeking the 2018 money back immediately, but "offered to extend the recoupment period" until the end of 2019, according to Music Business Worldwide.

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