What Amazon’s HQ2 plan gets right: Move the jobs to the workers

: washingtonpost – excerpt

One disconnect in the American economy these days involves the thousands of high-paying jobs in cities such as New York, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco without workers to fill them. One culprit: housing shortages caused by zoning and other restrictions that make it impossible, or too expensive, for workers to move to these cities to take those jobs.

According to one widely cited study, this housing shortage has reduced economic output by 9 percent, costing the average American household $6,700 in forgone income.

The “zoning is strangling the economy” story has caught the attention of conservatives who dislike regulation, liberals who care about affordable housing, and environmentalists who want everyone to live in walkable cities. Not surprisingly, it has also been embraced by the technology sector, where most of the unfilled jobs are found, as well as by construction and real estate industries eager to build and sell more housing…

Before we rush to turn every San Francisco into a Houston, however, we need to ask ourselves whether the better strategy wouldn’t be to move the jobs to workers rather than move the workers to the jobs…

That seems to be the approach taken by one of the country’s most successful companies, Amazon.com, which announced this past week that it would spend $5 billion to create a second, “equal” headquarters campus somewhere other than its home base in Seattle. Rather than wait for Seattle to solve its housing and congestion problems, Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive (and the owner of The Washington Post) decided to help create another Seattle someplace where his company’s spectacular growth can be more easily and inexpensively accommodated…(more)

This is the best idea we have heard in a long time and one we have been suggesting for a while. Move the jobs to the people where they live and where the work in needed instead of crowding people into dense over-crowded small uncomfortable units. What happened to personal space?

Big cities have major problems that will not be solved by increasing property values and to raise property taxes as many civic leaders are attempting to do. The current rush to build and invest in capital improvements has left no funding for operation and  maintenance of those systems that are falling apart. We need another to feed the economy and maintain the infrastructure that is falling apart.

Advertisements

Four Quitters Walk Into a Bar…

Interview by Lydia Polgreen : huffpost – excerpt

To swap war stories from an administration they couldn’t serve for one more minute.

have met Trump haters before, lots of them, the kind who seize upon every conspiracy theory and refuse to give him any benefit of any doubt. The four people I recently spent the morning with at Solly’s Tavern in D.C. (sans booze, don’t worry) were not Trump haters. They were, however, Trump quitters.

All of them, at some point over the course of the last nine months, had left their posts within the current administration, having decided that they could better serve their country from outside the government than from within. They weren’t happy about quitting, either. They were civil servants who wanted to remain civil servants, who, except for one, had worked under presidents of both parties. They had disagreed with superiors over the years, they had been fearful of new regulations and wary of political appointees, but they stayed on because that’s the nature of career work in government. This was different…. (more)

San Francisco: now with more dystopia

By mhudack

I visited San Francisco for the first time in a year last week. Someone turned up the dystopian dial 20% while I was away.

I stayed in a hotel downtown. At about ten on the night I arrived I decided to walk to a wine bar for a glass of California Pinot Noir. I walked six blocks to get there.

On that six block walk I witnessed multiple homeless people crawling on the streets. Crawling. Someone shot up heroin right in front of me. Three separate women dressed like ’70s LA street prostitutes propositioned me. Then I got to a very nice wine bar where I had an unreasonably expensive glass of Russian River Valley Pinot. It was great but the juxtaposition not great at all.

The next morning I noticed that there are more self-driving cars on the street than there had been a year ago. There are also more people living in tents and in shanty towns. More people shooting up on the street. There are also more companies reinventing the world than ever before. Many of them are investing heavily in automation and eliminating human workforces.

I witnessed the worst of human destitution as self-driving cars rolled past.

One evening I had meetings in Palo Alto and dinner in San Francisco. I took a Lyft from Palo Alto to the Mission for dinner. It was cheap, easy, convenient. A little piece of the future.

Once we got off the highway we turned into the Mission. At around 19th and Folsom we were blocked by a house in the street. The house was a one room shanty built out of 2x4s and Plywood. It had a door and windows. It was on dollys and someone was pushing it down the street.

My driver flashed his headlights and pulled around the house. He dropped me off a few minutes later at Tartine Manufactury, which served my friend and I a very good but unreasonably expensive meal. The man pushing his house could have used the money we spent on that meal. The juxtaposition, again, was uncomfortable.

William Gibson will tell you that “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

San Francisco is in the future. San Francisco’s future isn’t pretty. It’s cold, hard, technological. It’s fueled by both extreme poverty and extreme wealth. By technology and heroin. It is the future of dystopian novels. It is the future of Gibson and Philip K. Dick. It is the future of Blade Runner.

Someone needs to take hold of the dystopia dial and turn it back down. Quickly. Before it becomes too late. The city needs to take better care of its poor and seriously examine what’s happening in its midst. It’s not enough to say that other cities hide these problems at their peripheries. There is something seriously disturbing about the situation in San Francisco that must not be ignored. Everyone has to come together, take responsibility, and move forward… (more)

A goo description of a look into our country’s future if we don’t stop the “progressive future ” being crammed down our throats by our government. Believe me you don’t want to go there.

Why Artificial Intelligence Should Terrify You

By Nicole Clark : bolditalic – excerpt

Our resident Silicon Valley CEOs are feuding over A.I. They’re both wrong.

Two days ago, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, an outspoken proponent of artificial intelligence regulation, dished out a sick burn via Twitter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Musk called Zuckerberg’s knowledge of AI “limited.” Sounds benign to you or me, but in the rarefied world of the tech world, them’s fightin’ words.

Every tech-news outlet has jumped on this story; it’s another course du jour in the saga of two tech leaders embroiled in a fight over whose opinion of AI — opinions that cannot be substantiated anywhere in the near future — is more correct…

This sort of coverage builds comedy and mystique as a buffer around a technology that should honestly be regarded as scarier. I’m not talking about I, Robot, in which machines take violently to the streets and populate the earth like human proxies — according to Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine, machines possess really shitty motor skills. No one actually knows how the brain works, so it’s doubtful we’ll be able to build something that truly emulates it. I’m referring to the explicit knowledge that AI and automation in general will steal jobs and, even more seriously, stagnate social mobility in the near future — to name just two downsides…

Equally troubling is the potential for AI to poorly manage things like “driving cars, curing diseases…[and] understanding media,” as Zuckerberg stated in 2016 after completing Jarvis, an AI that runs his home. We already know that AI can pick up bias. Because these data sets come from human subjects, the biases implicit in these subjects get baked into the software. In this particular study, the machine-learning program associated “wedding” with females versus “professional” and “salary” with males — among other infractions….(more)

Scary AI Stories: There were reports this week of a couple of computers that started chatting with each other in a language that their “human handlers” could not understand when tasked with negotiating with each other. The program was allegedly discontinued, but, knowing that two computers are capable of making up a language of their own, is rather disconcerting and why I chose to run this story.

 

 

Should Uber be shut down?

By Tim Redmond : 48hills – excerpt

2015 press conference on the steps of SF City Hall before the corporate culture before the Uber’s corporate profile was revealed –  photo by zrants

Harvard business professor says the real problem in the tech industry is a “contagious” culture of lawbreaking that society shouldn’t tolerate

Everyone’s talking about Uber’s latest problems with management style, sexual harassment, company culture … and CEO Travis Kalanick, who embodied all of that, has been forced out.

Big investors hope Kalanick’s resignation and a deep internal investigation will help position the company for an IPO. They want Uber to go public pretty soon, and all of these scandals are tamping down the stock price.

But there’s another interesting perspective on Uber (and Lyft, and some of the other tech disrupters) that has appeared not in The Nation, or Mother Jones, or 48hills but in the Harvard Business Review, the voice of the eminently establishment Harvard Business School.

Harvard Associate Professor Benjamin Edelman presents what sounds like a radical hypothesis, but it actually makes perfect sense. He says that Uber can’t be fixed, that the corporate culture was poisoned from the start – and that the only solution is for regulators to shut it down.

The company’s cultural dysfunction, it seems to me, stems from the very nature of the company’s competitive advantage: Uber’s business model is predicated on lawbreaking. And having grown through intentional illegality, Uber can’t easily pivot toward following the rules (more)

What a coincidence that a Harvard scholar picks the “Summer of Government Overreach”, to acknowledge “Corporate Overreach” and lawless disruptive behaviors. When corporate “shared-property” schemes proved popular with the public, politicians helped pave the way. Now, they are trying to clean up the mess they created by disrupting communities and displacing millions of law-abiding citizens to make way for visions of a perfect future in 2040. Et is must be easier to fix the future than the present.

Closures, overcrowding, rats: New York City commuters face ‘summer of hell’

By Tom McCarthy : theguardian – excerpt

Being trapped is a common thread in fictional future forecasts. Our urban planners’  future perfect plans for tiny crowded units with public transport ride-shares feel a lot like the futuristic city depicted in the 1985 Terry Gilliam movie, “Brazil”. where there is no easy way out.

The city’s aging subway has been declared ‘a state of emergency’. Combined with closures on other rail lines, riders are bracing for the worst

There was a time – somewhere between the 1990s exorcism of violent crime from much of New York City and Thursday, when a “state of emergency” was declared for the city’s transit system – when a nightmare scenario on the subway meant a rat crawling up your leg, over your chest and nearly into your hoody.

That remains a vividly awful prospect. But in the summer of 2017, rats are competing with a ballooning number of alternative potential torments for commuters (the term is used optimistically) who venture into the city’s aging underground.

Dangerously overcrowded platforms. Chronically delayed trains. Terrifying and injurious derailments. Tunnel strandings. Signal malfunctions. Fisticuffs. Electrical outages. Garbled announcements. Knockout stenches. Non-rat wildlife. Stairs, shoulders, backups, backpacks, bad attitudes and bad breath.

A particularly unlucky group of rush hour F-train riders last month were stuck inside overheating train cars for so long that video of their desperate fingers prying open fogged-up doors looked not so much like the scene from a commute as footage from a zombie movie… (more)

Anti-protest bills would ‘attack right to speak out’ under Donald Trump

By Adam Gabatt :  theguardian – excerpt


This, it is a “Declaration of Dependence” written by Thomas Bruce Reese and a few other artists in 1976, who understood the necessity of proclamations and drama when it comes to protecting the planet.

The ACLU says more than 30 bills have been introduced amid a huge swell of activism, prompting UN intervention over criminalization of peaceful protest

More than 20 states have proposed bills that would crack down on protests and demonstrations since Donald Trump was elected, in a moved that UN experts have branded “incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law”.

The proposed laws would variously increase the penalties for protesting in large groups, ban protesters from wearing masks during demonstrations and, in some states, protect drivers from liability if they strike someone taking part in a protest… (more)

In this context of confused facts and suspect news articles, I am starting to explore the meaning of truth and the importance of placing trust in one’s own reality and experience above all else. Where does our basis for truth and trust come from?