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Bleeding Edge Roundup

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Good news: automation already destroyed most of the jobs
By Timothy B. Lee

Vox

A lot of people worry that robots will take everyone's job. One study found that almost half of US jobs are capable of being automated over the next two decades. But to a large extent, automation is something that already happened. Today, just 8 percent of American workers work in the manufacturing sector—less than a third of the share 50 years ago. Another 6 percent work in industries like construction, mining, and agriculture that are involved in producing physical goods. At the start of the past century, these jobs accounted for a bulk of the work Americans did. But after decades of automation, they've been reduced to a small sliver of the US economy.

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Will Tesla Model 3 Be the First Self-Driving Car?
By Levi Tillemann and Colin McCormick

The New Yorker

Elon Musk capped the night of the Model 3 unveil on Twitter, with a cryptic thank-you message that promised more: “Thanks for tuning in to the Model 3 unveil Part 1! Part 2 is super next level, but that’s for later...” It’s worth noting: Musk has previously said that people should be able to summon their cars from across the country by the beginning of 2018, which happens to coincide with the Model 3’s planned release date.

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China’s realistic robot Jia Jia can chat with real humans
By Mariella Moon
endgaget

The University of Science and Technology of China has recently unveiled an eerily realistic robot named Jia Jia. While she looks more human-like than that creepy ScarJo robot, you'll probably still find yourself plunging head first into the uncanny valley while looking at her. Jia Jia can talk and interact with real humans, as well as make some facial expressions -- she can even tell you off if she senses you're taking an unflattering picture of her.

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SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT

Is Nuclear Power A Renewable Or A Sustainable Energy Source?
By James Conca

Forbes

It might be time to reconsider nuclear power in America.  It’s possible it could be a huge source of renewable energy.  Instead of mining uranium ore, uranium can be extracted from seawater, which is naturally replenished.  The biggest problem, (other than the fear of a nuclear meltdown situation, like in Japan in 2011) is the price.  

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Flint’s Latest Conundrum? People Aren’t Using Enough Water
By David Eggert

Associated Press

People living in Flint Michigan are now being advised to turn on the tap. They are understandably hesitant, but cleaning efforts are being stymied because not enough water is running through the pipes.  People think using less water will cause less corrosion.  According to an expert from the Virginia tech research team, that’s not the case.  More water flowing through the pipes actually helps rid the system of lead deposits.  

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LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY

San Francisco wants to collect from Uber, Lyft drivers
By Cyrus Farivar
ArsTechnica

On Friday, the treasurer for the City and County of San Francisco announced that he had begun mailing out business registration notices to the "nearly 37,000" people who drive for "Transportation Network Companies," the formal name in California for such on-demand companies. The city says that these drivers are required to pay an annual business registration fee of $91 per year for operating a business in the city—which includes being a driver for a company like Uber or Lyft.

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10 labor strikes bigger than Verizon’s 36,000-worker walkout
By Zachary Crockett

Vox

Earlier this week, 36,000 Verizon workers — most of whom work in the company's ailing landline phone sector — went on strike. A jaunt through the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' work stoppage archive tells us this strike is the largest in the United States since 45,000 workers (also Verizon employees) walked off the job in 2011. But going back even further, to the heyday of union membership, history yields hundreds of even bigger worker uprisings: Between 1890 and today, there were over 500 strikes with 50,000 or more participants.

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We should be worried about job atomization, not job automation
By Jon Evans
TechCrunch

Dwight Eisenhower once said: “If you can’t solve a problem, enlarge it.” I submit that the real problem we face is not that robots will produce more than people while freeing us from mind-numbing, back-breaking toil. I submit that the actual problem is that full-time jobs are assumed as the fundamental economic building blocks of our society, and that we lack the flexibility or imagination to consider, much less move towards, any alternative structure. Don’t blame the robots. Our brave new economy is already winnowing jobs as we knew them, while the great tsunami of automation still gathers on the horizon.

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GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT

Castro hardens rhetoric, warns of US intentions
By Frank Jack Daniel and Nelson Acosta

Reuters

President Raul Castro warned Cubans on Saturday that the United States was determined to end Cuba's socialist revolution despite restoring relations and a visit by US President Barack Obama, saying one-party Communism was essential to defend the system. "We must be alert, today more than ever," Castro said, speaking in front of a giant portrait of his brother Fidel Castro at the inauguration of the Communist Party's first congress in five years. Speaking for over two hours, Castro used a defiant tone that belied the breakthrough between the Cold War enemies. He said Obama's desire to end U.S. sanctions was welcome but just a change of "method", in reference to efforts by Washington to bring political change to Cuba ever since the Castro brothers toppled a pro-American government in 1959.

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Smartphone use on the refugee trail
By Nathan Finch
ArsTechnica

What role do smartphones play in the refugee crisis that has left almost 60 million people displaced from their homes because of violence and war in places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq? Technology has made this crisis “very different than any other refugee crisis before," says Brian Reich, managing director of The Hive, a special US-based project of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. "They have access to the Internet. They are using Facebook and Whatsapp to communicate with each other, to share information about the safest route.”

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5 ‘big ideas’ to guide us in the Long War against Islamic extremism
By David Petraeus

The Washington Post

Petraeus explains five strategic lessons for defeating transnational jihadists. 1) Ungoverned spaces in the Middle East and North Africa are exploited by extremists to establish sanctuaries. 2) Attacks won’t be confined to those areas that extremists occupy--operations will “spew instability, extremism, violence, and refugees far beyond their immediate surroundings.” 3) US leadership is imperative, due to its influence and capabilities. 4) The United States and coalition partners must pursue a comprehensive path, not a narrow counterterrorism approach. 5) A United States-led effort will have to be sustained for extended periods of time.

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AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Embattled NC Governor Calls Gay Rights Group ‘More Powerful Than The NRA’
By Dave Jamieson
The Huffington Post

Under attack for signing the controversial anti-LGBT law known as HB2, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said Sunday that a gay rights advocacy group is more powerful than the National Rifle Association.“The Human Rights Council. My gosh, they’re more powerful than the NRA,” McCrory told Chuck Todd on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” alluding to the nation’s premier gun lobby. “And they have millions of dollars, which makes me want to overturn [Citizens] United, because I don’t know who their donors are, either. But they are putting on a lot of pressure, instead of having good dialogue.” Despite the group’s power, McCrory didn’t have its name right; it appears he was alluding to the Human Rights Campaign, which lobbies on civil rights for the LGBT community. The group has been a leading critic of the new law.

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What Caused the Great Crime Decline in the US?
By Matt Ford
The Atlantic

In the early 1990s, US crime rates had been on a steep upward climb since the Lyndon B. Johnson presidency. Politicians embraced tough-on-crime platforms and enacted harshly punitive policies. Experts warned the worst could be yet to come. Then crime rates went down, and they kept going down! By decade’s end, the homicide rate plunged 42 percent nationwide. Violent crime decreased by one-third. What turned into a precipitous decline started later in some areas and took longer in others. But it happened everywhere: in each region of the country, in cities large and small, in rural and urban areas alike. The trend kept ticking downward from there, more slowly and with some fluctuations, to the present day. Theories abound among sociologists, economists, and political scientists about the causes, with some hypotheses stronger than others. But there’s no real consensus among scholars about what caused one of the largest social shifts in modern American history.

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Deadlock Over the Federal Budget Made the Affordable-Housing Crisis Worse
By Kritson Kapps
Citylab

The Budget Control Act of 2011 imposed mandatory caps on defense and non-defense spending. Those austerity measures went into effect in 2013 and expire in 2021, unless Congress removes them. Housing assistance falls under the non-defense discretionary spending side. A small fraction of non-defense discretionary spending goes toward a category called economic security. It’s only a small fraction of the total (14 percent), but a big chunk of economic security involves housing assistance (55 percent). These funds include vouchers, rental aid, assistance for the homeless, and other forms of housing aid. Since the sequester, non-defense discretionary spending has fallen to its lowest level since the Kennedy era. That means big cuts in federal housing expenditures.

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Bleeding Edge Roundup

Bleeding Edge Roundup