Online and Self-Employed

30. September 2015

Date: 28-09-2015

Source: Technology Review

 

New technologies give employers access to a world of workers while offering freelancers more ways to build a career.

Recently Megan Guse has been fielding questions from her former classmates about the atypical path she has taken since graduating from the University of Illinois law school. Three and a half years ago, after finishing a fellowship in the Champaign County state’s attorney’s office, Guse didn’t take the expected next step of joining a law firm or getting a government job.

Instead she became an independent contractor. She does legal work, mostly on contracts, for a company called Versata, which specializes in acquiring and restructuring struggling software companies. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, Versata operates globally with almost no full-time employees. Like Guse, most of its workers are contractors. Read the rest of this entry »

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Many offices are finding they have plenty of leaders but not enough followers. And it isn’t easy to follow well

30. September 2015

Date: 30-09-2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Subject: The Joy of Following

We hear a lot of talk promoting leadership in the workplace. But few people aspire to be followers.

Most offices are populated with too many leaders and too few followers as a result. Now, some employers are training people in “followership.” That doesn’t mean being a doormat or a docile sheep, but taking responsibility for shared goals, being a self-starter and telling leaders the awkward truth when they mess up.

It isn’t an easy sell. When consultants Marc and Samantha Hurwitz arrive to hold corporate-training programs in followership, some employers ask them not to use “the F-word,” says Ms. Hurwitz, co-author with Mr. Hurwitz of “Leadership Is Half the Story.” Employers, Mr. Hurwitz adds, say “Can you call it something else, like ‘leader support?’ ”

Countless employers, authors and coaches promote leadership skills, but what if there’s nobody to follow? WSJ’s Sue Shellenbarger discusses the traits of a good follower with Tanya Rivero. Read the rest of this entry »


The number of workers over 65 is growing fast.

29. September 2015

Date: 28-09-2015
Source: Technology Review
Subject: Aging Workers, New Technology

Technologists see a big business in helping the aging workforce.

The American tradition of retirement at age 65 is crumbling. As older workers stay on the job longer, challenges ranging from eyestrain to aching joints become increasingly prevalent. In response, technologists and ergonomics experts are rethinking working conditions.

As recently as 1992, less than 3 percent of the American workforce consisted of people age 65 and over. Today that proportion has nearly doubled, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it’s expected to reach 8.3 percent by 2022. Most of these 13.5 million older workers will be between 65 and 74, but nearly 2.6 million will be 75 and over.

One reason for this demographic shift is improved longevity. American men who reach 65 can expect to live another 17.9 years on average, the National Center for Health Statistics calculates, while women can count on 20.5 years. Both figures are up more than a third from the norms of the 1950s. With so much life still ahead, high-status workers may not want to be idle, while low-paid workers often find that meager savings won’t let them quit. At the same time, thanks to the service sector’s steady ascendancy over manufacturing, many jobs require less physical stamina. Read the rest of this entry »


Work in Transition

28. September 2015

Date: 28-09-2015
Source: Technology Review

Digital technologies are changing the nature of the jobs we do. What does that mean for the future of work?
About five years ago, machine learning reached a point where software could, with guidance from senior lawyers, effectively take over the time–intensive task of legal discovery, in which one party in a lawsuit combs through its documents to determine what it must show to the other side before trial.

This is a job that junior lawyers, paralegals, or—increasingly—less expensive contract lawyers had traditionally done, and some fretted that the change might be just the first step in the computerization of the law. But while machine learning does well with structured tasks like searching for relevant words, handling documents similar to others already identified, and even reconstructing simple summaries of a baseball game, it is far less adept at constructing something like a legal memo, where persuasiveness can rely on developing novel arguments, explains economist Frank Levy, an MIT professor emeritus who, with Dana Remus, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, is researching computers’ impact on the practice of law. Read the rest of this entry »


On the Edge of Automation

28. September 2015

Date: 28-09-2015
Source: Technology Review

Jurvetson CCFive hundred years from now, says venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson (pictured), less than 10 percent of people on the planet will be doing paid work. And next year?

Production at Ford Motor Company’s new engine plant in Elabuga, Russia, will be 95 percent automated.

As a founding partner at the venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson and a board member at SpaceX and Tesla Motors, Steve Jurvetson spends a lot of time thinking about the future, often the distant future. One of Elon Musk’s biggest backers—Jurvetson boasts that he owns the first Tesla production Model S—he was also a founding investor in Hotmail, the precursor to Microsoft Outlook, and sits on the board of Craig Venter’s Synthetic Genomics, the constructor of the first synthetic cell.

His firm claims to have funded companies that have created more than 20,000 jobs in the past five years, and to have brought nearly two dozen companies to $1 billion in value before exiting. Jurvetson spoke to Business Reports senior editor Nanette Byrnes about why he thinks 90 percent of people will be unemployed in 500 years and how we might transition to that sharply different future.

Are today’s new digital technologies destroying or creating jobs?

I absolutely believe in the near to medium term there is going to be net job creation, as there always has been. Think of all the Uber jobs. The opportunity is not yet fully tapped to, in a sense, distribute [over the Internet] the service economy. The service economy is bigger than the goods economy, so the online equivalent should be even bigger and more powerful than the online marketplace for physical goods.

“Five hundred years from now everyone is going to be involved in some kind of information or entertainment … There will be no farmers, there will be no people working in manufacturing.”

Many of these new jobs, including those at Uber, are taking shape on what you call the “edge of automation.” Do you fear that these jobs might quickly disappear as technology keeps evolving?

Everything about Uber has been automated except for the driver. The billing, the fetching—every part of it is a modern, information-centric company. Interestingly, what that means is as soon as automated vehicles arrive, that driver is easily removed. You don’t have to restructure any part of that business.

What you’re farming out to humans today are those things that computers just barely can’t do. We know from Moore’s Law and improvements in computing that in two or three years [much of this] work will be automated.

If a startup or new business venture has created a job that involves human labor, it probably has done so in a way that is pretty marginal. Whether you’re a technology enthusiast or a detractor, the rate at which this will shift is probably going to be unprecedented. There will be massive dislocation.

Which jobs will survive?

In the long run, 500 years from now, everyone is going to be involved in some kind of information or entertainment. Nobody on the planet in 500 years will do a physically repetitive thing for a living. There will be no farmers, there will be no people working in manufacturing. To me it is an impossibility that people would do that. People might do it for fun. You might have an organic garden in your backyard because you love it. Five hundred years from now I don’t know if even 10 percent of people on the planet have a job in the sense of being paid to do something.

It’s hard to imagine what that life would be like.

It pretty much will be what life was like for most of human history—just without the gruesome servitude. The concept of a “job” is pretty recent. If you go back a few hundred years, everyone was either a slave or a serf, or living off slave or serf labor to pursue science or philosophy or art. We’ll live off the production of robots, free to be the next Aristotle or Plato or Newton. Unless we’re miserable without doing busy work.

Is there some way, some government policies or strategies, to minimize the pain of such a dramatic shift?

I don’t think that anyone in Washington is going to get their head around this and make meaningful change. No politician has a 50-year horizon. I see zero chance that long-term thinking will govern policy.

The knock on Silicon Valley today is that it’s not taking on big problems either.

I do lament how many investors focus on all the short-term sugar buzz of some marginal improvement in something—nothing history books are ever going to be written about. In many cases these are quick and easy ways to make money. I do think there are more and more entrepreneurs all the time that think big. Those are the people we should be finding and funding. Most of them will fail, but the ones who succeed will change the world, and that is progress.


Carsten Maschmeyer als Untergangs-Prophet für die FinTechs

22. September 2015

Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten  | 

Viele Start-Ups bedienen den neuen Trend, Bankgeschäfte online abzuwickeln. Sie erfreuen sich hoher Bewertungen. Als Prophet hat sich auch der ehemalige AWD-Chef Carsten Maschmeyer unter die Goldgräber gemischt.

Carsten Maschmeyer, selbst Teilhaber an dem Fintech barzahlen.de, prophezeit den Untergang der meisten Fintechs.

Immer mehr junge Online-Unternehmen greifen mit ihren Angeboten Banken und Versicherungen an. Fintechs heißen die Herausforderer, die digitale Bankgeschäfte aller Art und andere Anwendungen anbieten. Doch auch beim Thema Transparenz beanspruchen sie für sich, der klassischen Finanzbranche voraus zu sein. Die Werbebotschaften suggerieren Einfachheit und Kundenorientierung. Fintechs zeichnen sich durch eine direkte Sprache in ihren Marketingbotschaften aus.

Wie es in der Praxis beim Thema Transparenz um die Jungunternehmen bestellt ist, hat kürzlich das „Institut für Transparenz“ (ITA) untersucht und dabei 18 erfolgreiche deutsche Fintechs aus dem Bereich Versicherung und deren Internetseiten auf den Prüfstand gestellt. Die Tester vergaben gleich sechsmal die Bestnote: Neben Community Life, Friendsurance, Knip, Schutzklick und Treefin gehört auch das Finanztechnologieunternehmen Clark dazu. Zu den Eigentümern des ITA zählt im Übrigen das Fintech Finleap, das an Clark als Partner beteiligt ist.

So gut die Bewertungen auch sein mögen, nicht alle der derzeit in Deutschland registrierten rund 200 Fintech Start-ups werden die nächsten Jahre überleben. Dies dürfte spätestens nach dem Platzen der New Economy-Blase allen bewusst sein. Read the rest of this entry »


UPS Tests a 3-D Printing Service

21. September 2015

Date: 21-09-2015
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Delivery giant wants to know if new technology can help or hinder its business

UPS  3DA United Parcel Service worker scans a package from a 3-D printing venture at the delivery company’s Louisville, Ky., hub.

At its hub in Louisville, Ky., United Parcel Service Inc. recently rolled out 100 industrial-grade 3-D printers to make everything from iPhone gizmos to airplane parts. Read the rest of this entry »