Laura’s off today so, instead of her clever wit, you get me, who’s a little off every day.
1. The US Labor Department has released the September jobs report showing the addition of 156,000 new jobs as well as a small jump in the unemployment rate, which in this case is a good thing because it’s the result of an increase in labor force participation last month. According to the New York Times, this an indication that Americans who’d given up on finding a job are beginning to look for and find work again. Free from the crushing demoralization that accompanies eight years of your mom asking “have you tried looking on Monster?,” robots continue to have a labor force participation rate of 100 percent. Add to that the fact that they don’t get sick, ask for vacation time, or collect a wage and you might need a better answer to “what’s your biggest weakness” in order to get the job.
Heartening is an article from Reuters this week which reports that automation has and will likely continue to have little negative impact on the employment of restaurant workers, even if there is a significant increase to the mandatory minimum wage. Rather than displacing human workers, automation is shifting and reshaping the work that humans do, resulting in cost-saving efficiencies that can then be used to support higher wages.
Still concerned that you might lose your job to a robot? Check out this nifty calculator from NPR that will tell you how likely it is that your job will be automated in the next 20 years. It told me that social scientists only have a 4 percent chance of being replaced by machines, which means we have a 96 percent chance of remaining thanklessly underemployed for at least two more decades!
(come on, admit you were already thinking of this)
2. As Hurricane Matthew wreaks havoc on the Caribbean and southeastern United States, predictions are that we can expect a significant increase in the number and intensity of storms in the future. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s due to two century of unmitigated climate change as is the position of NOAA and thousands of scientists or because of divine retribution for two men being able to register at Pottery Barn together as is the explanation from Mike Pence’s environmental adviser. Either way, technology is playing an increasingly significant role in helping us better understand hurricanes and manage their effects. The Atlantic reports on work to develop unmanned drones to carry out the highly dangerous but very important job of NOAA’s “Hurricane Hunters,” a fleet of pilots whose responsibility it has been to literally fly into the eyes of hurricanes to gather data for modeling and forecasting. And to think, you get annoyed when your work sends you to Fargo.
3. Maybe you’d be less annoyed if you could kick back and let the car chauffer you there. An article yesterday from the Washington Post reports on a new survey by the Consumer Technology Association that says 70 percent of people are ready for self-driving cars. Then it goes on to say that a University of Michigan study from April found that less than 16 percent of people are ready for self-driving cars. According to Kelley Blue Book last month, it’s less than 50 percent. We’ve done our own meta-analysis of these surveys and our conclusion is that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ percent of people are ready for self-driving cars, but that it doesn’t matter because the federal government is going to force you to be ready because, to paraphrase NHTSA Chief Mike Rosekind, you are an under-rested, texting, makeup-applying lump of imperfect judgement equipped a two ton steel weapon.
4. Curtis Silver at Forbes has my vote for best article of the week for positing that Google has discovered that we’re all stuck in the Matrix and has developed its new Daydream View VR headset to let us what reality actually looks like. But to get us sufficiently rattled to realize that this world is a sham, Google has had to send in the clowns….the really really creepy clowns. Curtis, if you’re reading this, we are not worthy of the inductive reasoning you’ve gifted us on this one.
5. Now that I’m already fangirling, I sat parked in the driveway for 45 minute yesterday because I was riveted by an interview with Ravi Norman of THOR Construction on MPR’s “Conversations on the Creative Economy.” Then I came inside and listened to it twice more. Normal provides an incredibly elegant case for how disruptive forces to our natural, social, and built environments are creating amazing opportunities to correct the immense underutilization of minorities and other marginalized individuals and communities, whose perspectives can be game-changing for addressing some of our most persistent societal challenges.
Have a good weekend, everyone. Watch out for clowns. And, don’t worry, Laura will be back next week.