Cataloging the problems facing AI researchers is a cross between a parenting manual and a management book

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Concrete Problems in AI Safety, an excellent, eminently readable paper from a group of Google AI researchers and some colleagues, sets out five hard problems facing the field: robots might damage their environments to attain their goals; robots might figure out how to cheat to attain their goals; supervising robots all the time is inefficient; robots that are allowed to try novel strategies might cause disasters; and robots that are good at one task might inappropriately try to apply that expertise to another unrelated task. Read the rest

Not robots: youth unemployment caused by late retirement, driven by pension precarity

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If youth unemployment -- and the lack of good entry-level jobs for college grads -- was being driven by workplace automation, American productivity (value created per hour worked) would be soaring, rather than stagnating. Read the rest

The winners in today's economy work worse hours than yesterday's losers

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Last month's research report on work-hours for high-paid salaried workers from the Washington Center for Equitable Growth paints a picture of a nation where even the winners are losers. Read the rest

Massachusetts bill would force employers to pay half-salary to laid off employees for duration of noncompetes

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Massachusetts is one of the few places in high-tech America where non-compete agreements are enforceable, a factor that scholars have pointed to in explaining why the state's tech industry has stayed so small relative to California, where the best workers can always move to the best companies. Read the rest

Microsoft will buy Linkedin for $26.2B

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The all-cash deal is expected to close by the end of the calendar year, and will be one of the largest acquisitions in tech business history. Read the rest

It's getting harder and harder to use gag clauses to silence laid off workers in America

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In America, it's common practice to make severance pay for laid-off workers contingent on signing a "nondisparagement clause" that prohibits workers from ever speaking ill of their former employers -- some contracts I've seen even prohibit revealing the existence of these clauses, combining silence with secrecy. A winning combination if you're a rapacious corporation engaged in legally questionable labor practices. Read the rest

GOP officials won't let the FEC stop bosses from forcing employees to give to PACs

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The Federal Election Commission has deadlocked on a complaint about an employer who coerced his salaried employees into donating to a PAC he had started; the three Democratic commissioners voted to take action, the three GOP commissioners voted against, and that means that nothing will happen. Read the rest

A software developer's version of the CIA's bureaucratic sabotage manual

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The Simple Sabotage Field Manual was published in 1944 by the Office of Strategic Services, the agency that came to be the CIA: it outlined simple tactics for putting bureaucratic grit in the wheels of occupied countries, for example, by referring key decisions to committees and then obstructing the work of those committees. Read the rest

Banker implicated in one of history's biggest frauds says boss beat him with a tiny baseball bat

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Jonathan Mathew is one of the bankers at Barclays who participated in the Libor rigging fraud, which cost people all over the world trillions of dollars in higher payments on mortgages, government bonds, student loans, and other assets totalling $350 trillion. Read the rest

Some U.S. poultry factory workers wear diapers at work because they're denied bathroom breaks

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People who work in chicken and turkey processing plants run by America's biggest poultry producers are routinely denied bathroom breaks. Because of this, some resort to wearing diapers while they're at work on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report released Wednesday.

`They are in danger of serious health problems,' says the report.

Read the rest

Three pieces of statistical "bullshit" about the UK EU referendum

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Economist Tim Harford attacks three of the statistics being widely cited in the campaigns over the upcoming referendum on the UK remaining in the EU, two from the "leave" camp and one from the "stay" camp. Read the rest

New York public employees union will vote on pulling out of hedge funds

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The New York City’s Employees Retirement System has $51B in assets, $1.5B of which is lodged with hedge funds -- but maybe for not much longer. Read the rest

Bernie Sanders responds to CEOs of Verizon and GE: "I welcome their contempt"

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Bernie Sanders denounced the CEO of GE for the company's tax-dodging practices and the CEO of Verizon for doing the same and exploiting its workers, 40,000 of whom are out on strike. Read the rest

Universities could use PhDs to do administrative work

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The modern university offers no stable employment for scholars, and ballooning, secure, long-term employment for a gigantic, top-heavy cohort of administrators who know little about scholarship and scholarly endeavors. Read the rest

California and New York raise state minimum wage to $15

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California governor Jerry Brown today approved a mandatory minimum wage of $15 an hour by 2022. The bill's enactment came within hours of a similar bill signing in New York by governor Andrew Cuomo.

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Qatar's World Cup stadium is being built by modern slaves

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Qatar, one of the worst places in the world to be a worker (even the flight attendants experience human rights abuses), was picked to host the 2022 football world cup by the famously corrupt FIFA organization, despite the physical danger to spectators (and athletes!) from the incredible temperatures. Read the rest

After we make peace with robots doing all the work, will our lives have meaning?

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Philosopher John Danaher's new paper "Will life be worth living in a world without work? Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life" assumes that after the robots take all our jobs, and after the economic justice of figuring out how to share the productivity games can be equitably shared among the robot-owning investor class and the robot-displaced 99%, there will still be a burning question: what will give our life meaning? Read the rest

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