2/3 of new manufacturing jobs are thanks to foreigners - Axios
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2/3 of new manufacturing jobs are thanks to foreigners

A significant majority of the 656,000 new manufacturing jobs created between 2010 and 2014 can be attributed to investment from countries like Japan, the U.K., and Germany, according to a Reuters analysis.

Why it matters: President Trump and some of his advisers are "hell-bent on imposing tariffs — potentially in the 20% range — on steel, and likely other imports," Axios reported Friday morning, though the majority of his cabinet opposes the plan. Trump's complaints about unfair trade practices are not unfounded, but there's a reason why trade arrangements are hard to reform: Attempts to gain advantage at the expense of trade partners risks upsetting cross-border supply chains that support millions of jobs. And it's states in Trump's southeast stronghold, like South Carolina, that have the most to lose economically from disrupted global supply networks.

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

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China bought a third of the world's robots last year

Eugene Hoshiko / AP

China bought 90,000 robots and took a third of the market share in 2016, according to an International Federation of Robotics estimate. By 2019, they'll buy nearly 40% of new robots, the organization projects.

  • Why it matters: China could become an even larger force in the export economy, per Bloomberg's analysts.
  • Robots haven't lowered wages in China yet. Manufacturing workers saw raises of more than 50% between 2010 and 2014. But "the rising use of robots ... threatens to exacerbate domestic income inequality" by shifting gains to the owners of capital, Bloomberg reports.
  • Due to its massive population, China still has a relatively low number of robots per humans. There are about 50 robots for every 10,000 workers, compared to the global average of about 75. Beijing wants 150 robots for every 10,000 workers by 2020, the Federation reports.
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Google and Walmart in a joint offensive against Amazon

Google's Home device. (Walmart)

Walmart and Google are escalating a fierce battle to own virtual assistant shopping, jointly challenging Amazon's towering dominance over the already-lucrative new space in retail, per the WSJ's Jack Nicas and Laura Stevens.

Google is offering up its Home virtual assistant (photo above) and Walmart its vast inventory. As of next month, they will team up on Google Express, the internet giant's e-commerce marketplace. In doing so, they are going against Amazon's Echo.

  • The mountain is steep: As of July, Amazon raked up 45 cents of every dollar spent on-line, up from 43 at the start of the year. Walmart earns just 2 cents. Google's House personal assistant is 26% of the market; Echo is the rest.
  • But the prize is too large to ignore: Amazon has already decimated whole swaths of brick-and-mortar retail, and now has an early grip on the new voice-activated virtual assistant market. Walmart does not want to end up like Macy's and Barnes & Noble, and Google is not satisfied to be an also-ran in e-commerce.
  • So big players are aligning: Walmart is also doing test runs using Uber and Lyft in an attempt to speed the delivery of fresh produce bought through Google Home.

How it works: Pioneered in China, sophisticated voice-activated devices are one of the next waves of technology. Before you know it, you will use virtual assistants for much of your shopping, household chores and office work.

  • It's easier after you get started: Once you've bought a certain brand of toothpaste or toilet paper, you can simply tell your assistant, "toothpaste," and it will have the same brand shipped to you.
  • Free shipping: Amazon has chalked up much of its gains through its $99-a-year Prime program, which offers free shipping. Against that, Google and Walmart are dropping their annual fee entirely if your order hits a minimum, like $25 or $35. The jury is out whether that will prove more effective than Amazon Prime.
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How Netflix knows what you want

Matt Rourke / AP

Four out of five shows watched on Netflix were found by subscribers thanks to recommendations offered them, AP's Frazier Moore reports:

  • "Most every row of program suggestions (even generic-seeming categories like "Comedies" and "Dramas") is tailored for each subscriber."
  • "[A] legion of Netflix 'taggers' screens every program, tagging different elements that compose it."
  • "Viewer habits gathered by Netflix from its 100 million accounts worldwide add more grist to the mill."
  • An example of the secret sauce: "[F]ans of the 2015 film 'The Big Short,' which deals with Wall Street dirty tricks, have been found to respond to the money monkeyshines that animate 'Ozark.'"
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Uber adds new options for driver flexibility

Eric Risberg / AP

Over the last few months, Uber has been on a campaign to repair its relationship with drivers via changes to its policies and service. This time, it's trying to make their driving more flexible thanks to new options in their mobile app, such as setting a trip arrival time if they need to be done by a certain time to pick up their kids from school, and notifications before long trips, for example.

  • In the last six months, it's become clear to the company that it needs to take a friendlier approach in many aspects of its business, including its relationship with drivers.
  • Driver turnover is a big problem for ride-hailing companies, and Uber has to compete for them with rival Lyft, which has cultivated a driver-friendly image.
  • Uber published a paper on time and income flexibility for drivers to support its new policies.
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FTC may take a deeper look at artificial intelligence

AP / Susan Walsh

Acting FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen said the agency hopes to take a closer look at artificial intelligence "because it has a consumer protection element to it but also has a competition element to it."

Why it matters: In a split from the Obama years, the federal government in the Trump era has done very little to look at the policy questions posed by AI. That's starting to change — at a time when Silicon Valley is pouring more money than ever into the technologies.

The bigger picture: Ohlhausen acknowledged there's promise in using artificial intelligence to process massive amounts of data. "They may say that you're at risk for cancer you didn't realize you were at risk for, or here's a product that would suit you really, really well," she said. "But it also could be used to harm consumers."

Ohlhausen argued that the FTC — which focuses on whether the consumer has been harmed — is equipped to address these challenges.

On a related note: The regulator was also asked about whether she would continue the efforts of the Obama administration to look at how algorithms can be biased. "We do enforce laws that are to protect consumers from discrimination, and I think that's appropriate for us to continue to think about and to continue to be vigilant for," she said.

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Ellen Pao is the talk of Silicon Valley, again

Jeff Chiu / AP

Ellen Pao's lawsuit may have been ahead of its time, but her book could hardly come at a more critical time.

  • Pao made headlines a few years back with her groundbreaking, if unsuccessful, sexual discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins. Issues of how women in Silicon Valley are treated were little talked about at the time, one of the reasons her case attracted so much attention.
  • In recent months, though, such issues have at last been getting discussed amid newly reported issues at Uber and a number of prominent venture capital firms.
  • And it is against that backdrop that Pao's book "Reset" is being released, with an excerpt published online and in the latest issue of New York magazine.

Social media was flooded with reactions to the excerpt from Ellen Pao's book. To me, the most poignant one summed it up in three words. Gartner's Augie Ray called it "painful, infuriating and necessary."

Other takes:

  • Google's Ravi Narasimhan said it was "taut and courageous" writing. "My daughter @natasharavinand and future techie girls owe you." he said.
  • Wired's Nitasha Tiku: "Even after covering the trial for weeks, I learned from & was taken aback by (Pao) telling her story in her own words," Tiku wrote. "It takes guts to address not just the facts, but all the whispers and ways people dismiss you."
  • Thomas Bukowski: "I will always have tremendous respect for (Pao) taking on what no one should ever have to, with a steadfast resolve."

Pao told Login the most meaningful response has been the support from those with similar experiences:

"Unfortunately, there is a set of people who don't understand and possibly will never understand or empathize with my and others' experiences as women or people of color, or, doubly removed, as women of color," she said. "I hope they change over time. I share my experiences for people who are looking for support and validation of their own experiences and for people who are looking to learn."

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Startup aims to be a LinkedIn for job seekers with a criminal record

David Goldman / AP

We attended the first leg of Y Combinator's "demo day," its twice-a-year event at which startups participating in its accelerator program present their businesses in front of a room of investors and journalists. One startup that stood out was 70MillionJobs: a job-placement service for folks with a criminal record.

The opportunity: 70 million Americans have criminal records, according to the company (hence its name). Most of the current organizations helping them with employment are small non-profits. 70MillionJobs founder and CEO Richard Bronson believes there is an opportunity to build a large for-profit service. "This population is having their moment," Bronson told Axios.

The startup addresses a number of issues for job seekers, employers and cities aiming to cut back on recidivism by ensuring former inmates can find work:

  • Good job candidates might not pass background checks: 70MillionJobs can connect these candidates with employers that may hire them despite their background, says Bronson.
  • Bronson says that in some cases these candidates are even better suited for certain jobs because they're used to working hard and following directions.
  • In addition to helping employers find candidates (they're currently paying the company $250 when they hire a candidate),it's also in the best interest of municipalities for convicts to get jobs. 70MillionJobs ran a test program with the City of Los Angeles recently.
The backstory: For Bronson, his company's mission is a personal one. Once living the high life on Wall Street (including some time working for the infamous Stratton Oakmont firm portrayed in Wolf of Wall Street ), he found himself in prison for securities fraud after founding his own firm. Since getting out, he's spent time working with organizations that helps convicts get back on their feet, including as a director at Defy Ventures. A year ago he left to start working on 70MillionJobs.
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Lithuania challenges Russia with U.S. natural gas shipment

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite with U.S. soldiers east of Vilnius in July. (Mindaugas Kulbis / AP)

Lithuania, among the bravest of the former Soviet states surrounding prickly Russia, has poked a finger directly in the Kremlin's eye by buying a shipment of American liquefied natural gas, defying Moscow's energy stranglehold on the region. The shipment Monday could not have been economically advantageous, given that Russian gas supplies are right next door, but Lithuania calculated that the political dividends made it a shrewd deal.

Why it matters: The move suggests that, three years after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Baltic states remain resolved to putting up a strong front against Moscow.

  • A geopolitical move: In an interview with Reuters, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius explicitly described the LNG shipment as part of his country's political calculus. "We want to cement our relationship with the United States in many aspects in addition to defense and security, [and the] energy trade is one of the strategic areas for cooperation," he said.
  • The shipment comes almost exactly a month after NATO military exercises were held just east of the capital of Vilnius, also intended to convey as a message of resolve against Russia.
  • Savoring the moment: On Monday night, a map on marinetraffic.com showed the LNG tanker Clean Ocean still moored at the Lithuanian LNG port, just southwest of Banginis, suggesting no rush to stop aggravating Moscow.
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Google economist: tech will help workers get new skills

AP

Google's chief economist says that technology will help people transition into new roles, even as it changes the nature of jobs. Hal Varian noted that technology has made it easier for people to learn crucial job skills — while on the job. Drivers, he noted, no longer need to have a perfect grasp of a city's geography; they can learn as they go because technology exists to help with navigation. Online content, such as Khan Academy, can help teach new skills.

"This cognitive assist is really a big deal because it allows for the kind of on the job training you're talking about," he said Monday at the Technology Policy Institute's annual conference.

Why it matters: Some argue that the tech industry has a responsibility to help workers who are impacted by automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. Varian told Axios that helping people pick up new skills is also good for business.

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Companies are losing $700 million as workers watch the eclipse

AP

The cost of lost productivity as American workers turn their attention to the solar eclipse for just 20 minutes Monday afternoon is $700 million, per Reuters.

But that's nothing compared to the price companies pay for Cyber Monday or March Madness. Outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimated that 87 million people will be working during the eclipse. They multiplied that figure by the approximate viewing time and the U.S. average wage to generate their cost ballpark. Here are the events that cost companies big money, along with their price tags:

  • March Madness Opening Week: $615 million per hour spent fixing brackets
  • Monday after the Super Bowl: $1.7 billion per hour spent debriefing
  • Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving: $1.9 billion per hour spent online shopping
  • James Comey's testimony: $3.3 billion for viewing the whole event
  • Amazon Prime Day: $10 billion for the day of deals