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Member since: Thu Feb 14, 2008, 11:58 AM
Number of posts: 31,732

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Cartoon: Trump's federal employment questionnaire


How hard will the robots make us work?

In warehouses, call centers, and other sectors, intelligent machines are managing humans, and they’re making work more stressful, grueling, and dangerous

On conference stages and at campaign rallies, tech executives and politicians warn of a looming automation crisis — one where workers are gradually, then all at once, replaced by intelligent machines. But their warnings mask the fact that an automation crisis has already arrived. The robots are here, they’re working in management, and they’re grinding workers into the ground.

The robots are watching over hotel housekeepers, telling them which room to clean and tracking how quickly they do it. They’re managing software developers, monitoring their clicks and scrolls and docking their pay if they work too slowly. They’re listening to call center workers, telling them what to say, how to say it, and keeping them constantly, maximally busy. While we’ve been watching the horizon for the self-driving trucks, perpetually five years away, the robots arrived in the form of the supervisor, the foreman, the middle manager.

These automated systems can detect inefficiencies that a human manager never would — a moment’s downtime between calls, a habit of lingering at the coffee machine after finishing a task, a new route that, if all goes perfectly, could get a few more packages delivered in a day. But for workers, what look like inefficiencies to an algorithm were their last reserves of respite and autonomy, and as these little breaks and minor freedoms get optimized out, their jobs are becoming more intense, stressful, and dangerous. Over the last several months, I’ve spoken with more than 20 workers in six countries. For many of them, their greatest fear isn’t that robots might come for their jobs: it’s that robots have already become their boss.

In few sectors are the perils of automated management more apparent than at Amazon. Almost every aspect of management at the company’s warehouses is directed by software, from when people work to how fast they work to when they get fired for falling behind. Every worker has a “rate,” a certain number of items they have to process per hour, and if they fail to meet it, they can be automatically fired.


Every Amazon worker I’ve spoken to said it’s the automatically enforced pace of work, rather than the physical difficulty of the work itself, that makes the job so grueling. Any slack is perpetually being optimized out of the system, and with it any opportunity to rest or recover. A worker on the West Coast told me about a new device that shines a spotlight on the item he’s supposed to pick, allowing Amazon to further accelerate the rate and get rid of what the worker described as “micro rests” stolen in the moment it took to look for the next item on the shelf.

People can’t sustain this level of intense work without breaking down. Last year, ProPublica, BuzzFeed, and others published investigations about Amazon delivery drivers careening into vehicles and pedestrians as they attempted to complete their demanding routes, which are algorithmically generated and monitored via an app on drivers’ phones. In November, Reveal analyzed documents from 23 Amazon warehouses and found that almost 10 percent of full-time workers sustained serious injuries in 2018, more than twice the national average for similar work. Multiple Amazon workers have told me that repetitive stress injuries are epidemic but rarely reported. (An Amazon spokesperson said the company takes worker safety seriously, has medical staff on-site, and encourages workers to report all injuries.) Backaches, knee pain, and other symptoms of constant strain are common enough for Amazon to install painkiller vending machines in its warehouses.

The unrelenting stress takes a toll of its own. Jake recalled yelling at co-workers to move faster, only to wonder what had come over him and apologize. By the end of his shift, he would be so drained that he would go straight to sleep in his car in the warehouse parking lot before making the commute home. “A lot of people did that,” he said. “They would just lay back in their car and fall asleep.” A worker in Minnesota said that the job had been algorithmically intensified to the point that it called for rethinking long-standing labor regulations. “The concept of a 40-hour work week was you work eight hours, you sleep eight hours, and you have eight hours for whatever you want to do,” he said. “But [what] if you come home from work and you just go straight to sleep and you sleep for 16 hours, or the day after your work week, the whole day you feel hungover, you can’t focus on things, you just feel like shit, you lose time outside of work because of the aftereffects of work and the stressful, strenuous conditions?”


My god.

Viral 'skull breaker challenge' circulating on social media puts children in danger

DETROIT – Kathleen DeJesus had no idea when she got hurt that she was an unknowing participant in the latest social media challenge.

“I was thinking -- I feel like I was going to die,” DeJesus said.

DeJesus, 13, of Massachusetts, was rushed from her middle school to the hospital after an incident in her gym class.

“I was paralyzed,” she said. “I felt I had a concussion. I was numb. I couldn’t feel my legs, my foot, my hands, nothing."

The challenge she found herself a part of is called the “skull breaker challenge,” and it’s circulating on social media platforms such as Tik Tok. In the challenge, three people jump, except the two on the outside don’t actually jump, instead they try to kick the legs out from under the middle person.


Mike Bloomberg's campaign is polluting the internet

From doctored videos to fake quotes, the presidential candidate is muddying the water online – and it’s working

If a dumpster is already on fire, is there any harm in throwing some more trash into it?

Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has spent the last month unapologetically performing the digital equivalent of dumping buckets of fresh garbage into the trash fire that is internet discourse in 2020, apparently with little or no concern for the toxic side effects.

It’s a cynical approach, and if left unchecked, it threatens to poison the atmosphere for good.

The first sign that the Bloomberg campaign was prepared to test the unwritten rules around digital campaigning came in mid-February, when a coordinated “influencer” campaign flooded Instagram with paid content promoting the image of the 78-year-old billionaire as a bumbling but lovable dad just trying to get down with the kids. The Bloomberg “memes” conveniently sidestepped the transparency rules Facebook and Instagram put in place after the 2016 election, while attracting huge amounts of attention and media coverage.

Next came the campaign’s infamous post-debate video, which used editing tricks to fabricate a moment of triumph for Bloomberg out of decidedly less triumphant raw material. The video showed Bloomberg’s Democratic rivals struck dumb for 20 seconds after Bloomberg asserted that he was the only person on stage to have started a business; Bloomberg did make that statement, but the extended silence was faked.


Heh... when I searched the title, I came upon this post: https://www.democraticunderground.com/10142058603

Michael Bloomberg calls 'epidemic of dishonesty' bigger threat than terrorism

Americans are facing an “epidemic of dishonesty” in Washington that is more dangerous than terrorism or communism, according to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

In a commencement speech on Saturday at Rice University in Houston, the billionaire said “an endless barrage of lies” and a trend toward “alternate realities” in national politics pose a dire threat to US democracy.

The 76-year-old, who flirted with an independent presidential run in 2016, did not call out any politicians by name. Although he derided Donald Trump as “a con” and a “dangerous demagogue” before his election, in an interview before the speech at Rice Bloomberg refused to comment specifically on the president. Fact checkers have determined that Trump has made hundreds of false and misleading statements since entering the Oval Office.

“This is bigger than any one person,” Bloomberg said. “It’s bigger than any one party.”


MSNBC Benches Contributor Who Smeared Bernie Sanders Staffers

Following MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson’s inflammatory remarks about supporters and campaign staffers of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the academic has been temporarily benched by the network, sources confirmed to The Daily Beast.

In recent months, Johnson—a regular fixture of the network’s Democratic primary analysis—has drawn considerable heat for his relentlessly anti-Sanders commentary on MSNBC, which has also come under fire from the left for its skeptical and largely negative coverage of the democratic-socialist senator.

During an interview last week on SiriusXM’s The Karen Hunter Show, Johnson claimed “racist white liberals” support Sanders and that the senator has done “nothing for intersectionality.”

The MSNBC contributor then took aim at the women of color who work for Sanders. “I don’t care how many people from the island of misfit black girls you throw out there to defend you,” Johnson exclaimed.


HMMM: Six House Democrats are asking the World Bank president (a Trump pick) about his Aug. 23-24...

HMMM: Six House Democrats are asking the World Bank president (a Trump pick) about his Aug. 23-24 visit to Ukraine‚ which they call "the apex" of Trump's pressure campaign.

They note that no new World Bank projects have been approved lately and worry about "at least the optics."


She's the only friend I'd skip school for.

What a great pic!

This is how you deal with a toddler, not a grown-ass "man":

This is the powerful speech by a mother who lost her 19-year-old daughter to femicide in Mexico.


Just... damn!

9-year-old asks Buttigieg how to be strong and tell people he is gay too

A 9-year-old boy at a rally for Pete Buttigieg in Denver asked the Democratic presidential candidate for advice on how to be brave and tell the world he is gay.

“I don't think you need a lot of advice from me on bravery, you seem pretty strong,” Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., responded. “It took me a long time to figure out how to tell even my best friend that I was gay, let alone go out there and tell the world. And to see you willing to come to terms with you who you are in a room full of thousands of people you never met, that’s really something.”

The question was from Zachary Ro, who told the Colorado Sun it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to write down his question as he entered the rally Saturday night.


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