Bezos says Amazon workers aren’t treated like robots, unveils robotic plan to keep them working

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in his final letter to shareholders as CEO that the e-commerce giant has to “do a better job for our employees.” The letter comes amid ongoing reports of untenable conditions for Amazon workers. And it outlines a strategy that seems odd for a company that has been accused of treating workers like robots: a robotic scheme that will develop new staffing schedules using an algorithm. . . . .

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union that led the Bessemer unionization drive, said in a statement Thursday that the impact of the union drive, regardless of the outcome, has been “devastating” for Amazon’s reputation. 

“We have initiated a global debate about the way Amazon treats its employees,” Appelbaum wrote. “Bezos’s admission today demonstrates that what we have been saying about workplace conditions is correct. But his admission won’t change anything, workers need a union  not just another Amazon public relations effort in damage control.” full story here at Verge


88 Cities Summit 2021 – April 14, 2021

3rd Annual One Day Economic Development Conference for Los Angeles County Cities: April 14, 2021, 9:00am to 11:30am

MAYORS + CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, CITY MANAGERS, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TEAMS, PLANNING TEAMS, COUNTY OFFICIALS + AGENCIES, COMMUNITY BASED ORGS, EDUCATORS

The 88 Cities Summit provides a CONVERSATION SPACE for stakeholders of the 88 cities and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. One of the Summit goals is for participants to create actionable solutions to the economic development challenges of our cities.

Sponsored by the LAEDC: https://laedc.org

Register for summit here

The Future of the Green Economy: A Path to Recovery

LAEDC Presents A Zoom Virtual Conference: Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 11:00am–12:15pm

The green economy has been gaining traction over the last decade as municipalities and governments worldwide have re-evaluated how they “do business” in respect to the environment. From the Paris (Climate) Agreement to “Green New Deals” that have been adopted to policy platforms, the green economy is shaping the future of local, state, and global economies. Now, nearing a year into this pandemic, the green economy is being positioned as part of the solution to an economic recovery. However, the question still remains, “Is the green economy THE path to recovery?”

We’ll take a look at how the move to a more sustainable and renewable economy and environment is impacting the opportunities of tomorrow. And, address concerns on whether it will be enough as we try to jumpstart economic development in our region. more and register


The DOJ says Google monopolizes search. Here’s how.

What America’s biggest antitrust lawsuit in 20 years has to say

The US Department of Justice and attorneys general from 11 Republican-led states filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Tuesday, alleging that the company maintains an illegal monopoly on online search and advertising.

The lawsuit follows a 16-month investigation, and repeated promises from President Trump to hold Big Tech to account amid unproven allegations of anti-conservative bias. But reports suggest the department was put under pressure by Attorney General William Barr to file the charges before the presidential election in two weeks’ time.

The idea of regulating Big Tech isn’t itself partisan, however. Earlier this month, House Democrats published a 449-page report looking at all the ways in which Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are monopolistic, and arguing for increased enforcement of antitrust legislation against them. Letitia James, the attorney general of New York, has indicated that seven additional states—including her own—were close to filing their own lawsuit and might join the DOJ’s action later. 

The case centers on Google’s tactics and market dominance in search. It currently receives 80% of all search queries in the United States, and the DOJ says it uses the tens of billions of dollars of annual profits from search advertising to unfairly suppress its competition.

Here’s a breakdown of how the DOJ alleges that Google has maintained its illegal monopoly –  1. Making Google Search the Default: The suit says Google maintains its advantage through exclusionary agreements worth billions of dollars that make its search engine the default on web browsers, mobile devices, and . . . . full story


The Future of the Green Economy: A Path to Recovery? – Zoom FREE Virtual Conference – Dec 15, 2020, 11am

Through 2020, there’s been a hope for a “silver lining” and a “light at the end of the tunnel.” As we attempt to look beyond the pandemic, the question arises, “What is the path to recovery?” – Tuesday, December 15, 2020, 11:00am–12:15pm

Register Here

The green economy has been gaining traction over the last decade as municipalities and governments worldwide have re-evaluated how they “do business” in respect to the environment. From the Paris (Climate) Agreement to “Green New Deals” that have been adopted to policy platforms, the green economy is shaping the future of local, state, and global economies. Now, nearing a year into this pandemic, the green economy is being positioned as part of the solution to an economic recovery. However, the question still remains, “Is the green economy THE path to recovery?” We’ll take a look at how the move to a more sustainable and renewable economy and environment is impacting the opportunities of tomorrow. And, address concerns on whether it will be enough as we try to jumpstart economic development in our region. The LAEDC is focusing on timely research to provide updated regional insights that will inform the green economy’s decisionmakers about the state of the industry and where the opportunities are; and, how recovering from the current pandemic will affect future growth. During these unprecedented times, the future can be intimidating, but the green economy may serve as the “light at the end of the tunnel” as we look ahead.


Opinion Piece : New Technologies Should Be Regulated by Government — Not by Those Who Profit

by historian and journalist Peter Montague

Between 1972 and 1995, Congress supported its own in-house think tank called the Office of Technology Assessment, or OTA. The Congress defunded OTA in 1995, thus causing it to lose much of its capacity to foresee and forestall environmental and social harm that could be avoided or mitigated by sensible government policies and actions. During its brief existence, OTA produced 750 high-quality reports on a wide range of problems that Congress was trying to understand and resolve, such as job loss from automation, the benefits and costs of mammograms, the feasibility and cost of the Strategic Defense Initiative to shoot down incoming nuclear-armed missiles, and the accuracy and reliability of lie-detector tests.

Now Congressmen Mark Takano (D-California) and Sean Casten (D-Illinois) have proposed legislation to restore OTA . . . .

. . . The market is not going to solve the lasers-pointed-at-airplanes problem. Wall Street is not going to fix the climate emergency or control the proliferation of nuclear weapons or require that plastics be made biodegradable so they do not accumulate in the environment. Corporate managers may personally desire to be “socially responsible,” but so long as they answer to shareholders expecting a hefty return on investment, they will pursue technologies that increase their profits, regardless of their ill effects on workers, community and the natural world.

[some complain that] OTA reports are biased against the rapid introduction of new technologies, which many believe are essential for growing the economy  to avoid recession or depression. . . . technology corporations may not find it in their interests to have Congress well-informed about the pros and cons of various regulatory possibilities, so restoring OTA would almost certainly require a coordinated citizen  to make it happen.

full article


How Are Manufacturers Holding Up During the Pandemic?

Both reshoring and the deployment of automation have become more interesting to respondents. The survey reveals that 64% of manufacturers say they are likely to bring manufacturing production and sourcing back to North America, which is a 10% increase from the same sentiment reported in Thomas’ March survey of manufacturers. Another key finding shows that 25% of US manufacturers are considering expanding industrial automation as a result of COVID-19. . . . . full story click here

Tech Companies Still Fighting COVID-19

Technology companies are bringing their expertise to the fight against coronavirus. This week we saw even more companies contributing to the effort.

Optima: The need for specific consumer goods and hygiene products, pharmaceuticals and medical technology has increased exponentially. The broad-based Optima Group has responded to this development by supporting customers with special machine solutions which can be flexibly adapted to suit the new market requirements. A new website provides information about the portfolio. Anchor Harvey, an aluminum forging company with more than 30 years of experience forging products for the medical industry, has announced the expansion of the company’s medical industry forging capabilities to meet the increasing demand for emergency medical supplies during COVID-19. MaskForce Consortium: Recently, a consortium of Milwaukee-area manufacturers teamed up to help alleviate the shortage of N95 masks that hospital workers desperately need today. The group, which calls itself MaskForce, has accomplished a lot in only three weeks. They collaboratively designed an innovative mask with a replaceable filter that can be worn for hours without discomfort. One partner helped to speed regulatory approvals and sourced filter media. And another has set up a manufacturing cell to produce at least 50,000 masks. Stratasys, Inc. and Origin have signed an agreement in which Stratasys will market and promote Origin 3D-printed nasopharyngeal swabs to healthcare providers and other testing centers in the U.S. Origin plans to increase production from 100,000 per week to over a million per week in May.. more and details at link

Science and Technology Online Video Lectures

Joseph Stiglitz lecturing at Columbia University: The Great Divide

The annual Linus Pauling Memorial Lectures Series takes place in Portland Oregon (Linus’s home town). The presenters each season address topics ranging over all of the sciences, engineering and related philosophies of science and engineering. the focus has been on leading-edge thinkers.

Click here to go to series of lectures on. YouTube:

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for strong US privacy law, rips “data-industrial complex”

Cook: Tech companies should de-identify customer data or not collect it at all.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on the US government to pass “a comprehensive federal privacy law,” saying that tech companies that collect wide swaths of user data are engaging in surveillance.

Speaking at the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC) in Brussels, Cook said that businesses are creating “an enduring digital profile” of each user and that the trade of such data “has exploded into a data-industrial complex.”

“This is surveillance,” Cook said. “And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable.”

Profits over Privacy . . . . full article: