When Coronavirus Quarantine Is Class Warfare

from NYTs It’s been a big week for what I refer to as “Hermit Tech.” Stock in technology companies that facilitate working from home have soared in a spiraling market otherwise anxious by an impending coronavirus pandemic. Netflix is preparing for the server strain of the bored but quarantined masses. Expensive Peloton stationary bikes and streaming workout services are seeing substantial spikes in interest. Tech guides are popping up suggesting everything from noise-canceling headphones, Wi-Fi signal boosters, and productivity hacks for families who’ll need to make close quarters work and life livable. As a Hermit Tech aficionado, this makes sense. […]

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The Guy Who Wrote Facebook’s Content Rules Says Its Politician Hate Speech Exemption Is ‘Cowardice’

from Wired Last Tuesday, Facebook vice president Nick Clegg announced that Facebook was going to give politicians more leeway than other users in using offensive speech, and their assertions would not be fact-checked. That set Dave Willner over the edge. Two nights later, Willner posted a long explanation—on Facebook, of course—attacking the policy. The 35-year-old tech worker described the social network’s new stance as “foolish, wrong, and a significant betrayal of the original democratizing ideals of Facebook.” That essay is notable not just for its well-argued points but for who wrote it: Dave Willner is Facebook’s former head of content […]

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Shareholder Value Is No Longer Everything, Top C.E.O.s Say

from NYTs Nearly 200 chief executives, including the leaders of Apple, Pepsi and Walmart, tried on Monday to redefine the role of business in society — and how companies are perceived by an increasingly skeptical public. Breaking with decades of long-held corporate orthodoxy, the Business Roundtable issued a statement on “the purpose of a corporation,” arguing that companies should no longer advance only the interests of shareholders. Instead, the group said, they must also invest in their employees, protect the environment and deal fairly and ethically with their suppliers. “While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, […]

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Yale University Doubles Down On Female Entrepreneurs With Social Ventures

from Forbes On a recent Tuesday evening, while most people were leaving the Market Street area of downtown San Francisco, more than 100 executives, investors, and entrepreneurs headed to Google for the Women at the Forefront of Social Change conference. Centered on women transforming the world of responsible investment and entrepreneurship, events like this are part of a growing movement to recognize the voices of women who are challenging conventional paradigms. Since the beginning of 2016, women-led companies have received only 4.4% of all venture capital, according to PitchBook Data. Furthermore, while teams led by men receive an average of […]

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Google’s New Tool to Fight Climate Change

from The Atlantic In the next decade or so, more than 6,000 cities, states, and provinces around the world will try to do something that has eluded humanity for 25 years: reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, which warm the atmosphere and cause climate change. The city-level leaders overseeing this task won’t have the same tools available to their national peers. Most of them won’t have an Environmental Protection Agency (or its equivalent), a meteorological bureau, a team of military engineers, or NASA. So where will they start? Never mind how to reduce their city’s greenhouse-gas emissions; how will they […]

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Letter from Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963 MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I […]

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The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself To Death

from The New Yorker Last September, a very twenty-first-century type of story appeared on the company blog of the ride-sharing app Lyft. “Long-time Lyft driver and mentor, Mary, was nine months pregnant when she picked up a passenger the night of July 21st,” the post began. “About a week away from her due date, Mary decided to drive for a few hours after a day of mentoring.” You can guess what happened next. Mary, who was driving in Chicago, picked up a few riders, and then started having contractions. “Since she was still a week away from her due date,” […]

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Letter from Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963 MY DEAR FELLOW CLERGYMEN: While confined here in the Birmingham city jail, I came across your recent statement calling my present activities “unwise and untimely.” Seldom do I pause to answer criticism of my work and ideas. If I sought to answer all the criticisms that cross my desk, my secretaries would have little time for anything other than such correspondence in the course of the day, and I would have no time for constructive work. But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and that your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I […]

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Those Jobs Are Gone Forever. Let’s Gear Up For What’s Next.

from freeCodeCamp Manufacturing jobs were a huge part of America’s post-World War II economic miracle. In the early 1980’s, 20 million Americans worked in factories, assembling consumer products like cars and appliances. Well, what happened after that? There are two narratives here. The shorter story arc is about globalization. American corporations moved all the old manufacturing jobs off-shore to relatively poor countries that still had OK education systems (like China). This is the story that most people think of when they realize that, as of 2017, your average high school graduate can no longer own a home and raise a […]

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The AI Threat Isn’t Skynet. It’s The End Of The Middle Class

from Wired IN FEBRUARY 1975, a group of geneticists gathered in a tiny town on the central coast of California to decide if their work would bring about the end of the world. These researchers were just beginning to explore the science of genetic engineering, manipulating DNA to create organisms that didn’t exist in nature, and they were unsure how these techniques would affect the health of the planet and its people. So, they descended on a coastal retreat called Asilomar, a name that became synonymous with the guidelines they laid down at this meeting—a strict ethical framework meant to ensure […]

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What Are Corporations For?

from Seth’s Blog The purpose of a company is to serve its customers. Its obligation is to not harm everyone else. And its opportunity is to enrich the lives of its employees. Somewhere along the way, people got the idea that maximizing investor return was the point. It shouldn’t be. That’s not what democracies ought to seek in chartering corporations to participate in our society. The great corporations of a generation ago, the ones that built key elements of our culture, were run by individuals who had more on their mind than driving the value of their options up. More […]

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Defining ‘Employee’ in the Gig Economy

from NYTs There is a long history of businesses that try to deprive workers of the protections and benefits they are entitled to under the law by wrongly treating them as independent contractors, rather than employees. Now, some workers and regulators are accusing companies like Uber, which connects cars with passengers on mobile apps, of doing the same thing to the thousands of drivers, couriers and others who work for them. Agricultural businesses, textile mills, construction firms and other enterprises have often classified workers as contractors to lower their costs by, for example, not paying workers the statutory minimum wage […]

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Why a Harvard Professor Has Mixed Feelings When Students Take Jobs in Finance

from NYTs This is a bittersweet time on campus. Seniors are beginning to find jobs, and while their enthusiasm is infectious, some of their choices give me pause. Many of the best students are not going to research cancer, teach and inspire the next generation, or embark on careers in public service. Instead, large numbers are becoming traders, brokers and bankers. At Harvard in 2014, nearly one in five students who took a job went to finance. For economics majors, the number was closer to one in two. I can’t help wondering: Is this the best use of talent? Of course, […]

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Socrates in Silicon Valley

from Project Syndicate If Socrates’s gadfly was in Silicon Valley, it would have a lot of lazy horses to sting. The citizens of the techno-polis appear oblivious to how the outside world’s perception of them has changed, and radically so. Once universally revered as a hotbed of innovation, the world’s premier technology hub is increasingly viewed with suspicion and resentment. Yes, Silicon Valley is still admired as a source of invention and creative destruction; but it is also widely viewed as having lost its ethical compass. With proliferating reports of lax attitudes toward data privacy, wanton disregard for the dignity of the […]

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Go Digital By All Means, But Don’t Bring The Venture Capitalists In To Do It

from the guardian It’s brutal out there for public service institutions. They are under relentless pressure to conform to a bizarre form of market logic that requires them to turn a profit, even if the only way to do so is at the expense of the public that has supported them for all these years. Whether that’s archives that are being told to make up their budget shortfalls by selling digital access or the BBC being told to expect a much-reduced license fee and to make up the difference by figuring out how to grow Worldwide, its commercial arm. Even when it’s […]

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