Every workplace can be a place of continual learning

While businesses in every sector have been working toward a digital transformation for the past several years, covid-19 accelerated this shift across industries. New technologies are advancing at a pace that requires employers to continuously retrain their workforce to stay current. Organizations must become places of learning if they are to prepare workers for jobs of the future.

Joe Schaefer is Chief Transformation Officer at Strategic Education.

The World Economic Forum has published one estimate suggesting that technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) could displace 75 million jobs by 2022 but may also create 133 million new roles, and a study by IBM’s Institute for Business Value predicts as many as 120 million workers in the world’s 12 largest economies may need to be retrained in the next three years as a result of an increasing shift toward and embrace of automation and AI. This scale of retraining and workforce preparation … Read the rest

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Lina Khan will be chair of the Federal Trade Commission

Lina Khan, an expert in antitrust and a critic of Amazon’s power, is joining the Federal Trade Commission. | Graeme Jennings/Getty Images

Democrats and Republicans came together to confirm the antitrust expert to the FTC.

The Senate has voted to appoint Lina Khan, an antitrust law expert and a major critic of Big Tech’s power, to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The vote was 68 in favor and 28 opposed, which represents a stunning level of bipartisanship in a highly polarized, Democrat-controlled Senate.

Even more significantly, news came later on Tuesday afternoon that Khan will be the chair of the FTC. During an afternoon hearing focused on smart home speakers and competitiveness, Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced that Khan would be taking on the FTC’s leading role. A source familiar with the White House’s plans confirmed the news, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren celebrated Khan’s appointment in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Khan’s … Read the rest

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Taxing digital advertising could help break up big tech

For the past several years, economists, and government leaders have regularly sounded alarms about the dangers of big tech monopolies. On her 2020 campaign website, for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren said “big tech companies have too much power, too much power over our economy, our society, our democracy.” In the months since the election, politicians on both the left and right have expressed concerns over how to encourage competition and innovation among the big tech leaders, and even how to hold onto democratic ideals in the face of digital misinformation and conspiracy theories.

The challenge with a company like Facebook is that its business model actively encourages tribalism and anger, which is not the way markets usually work, says Paul Romer, an economics professor at New York University who previously served as the chief economist of The World Bank and was the co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economics … Read the rest

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The controversy over Bill Gates becoming the largest private farmland owner in the US

Bill Gates has bought a surprising amount of farmland in recent years. | Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images

People are drawing connections between Gates’s vast farmlands and climate change advocacy.

Bill Gates might be a tech billionaire — but he and his wife Melinda French Gates, who are in the process of divorcing, are also two of the largest private farmland owners in the United States.

Recent reports detailing the extent of Gates’s land ownership have prompted criticism from some environmental advocates and farmers, who say there seems to be a contradiction between his public environmental advocacy and his personal investment strategy.

Others have speculated the farmland purchases may be a part of the billionaire’s overall climate efforts. Bill Gates has said there’s no connection, either way. But the new details on the purchases — and the discussion surrounding them — serve as an important reminder that billionaires can store … Read the rest

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What makes the Delta covid-19 variant more infectious?

Covid cases are on the rise in England, and a fast-spreading variant may be to blame. B.1.617.2, which now goes by the name Delta, first emerged in India, but has since spread to 62 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

Delta is still rare in the US. At a press conference on Tuesday, the White House’s chief medical advisor, Anthony Fauci, said that it accounts for just 6% of cases. But in the UK it has quickly overtaken B.1.1.7—also known as Alpha—to become the dominant strain, which could derail the country’s plans to ease restrictions on June 21.

The total number of cases is still small, but public health officials are watching the variant closely. On Monday, UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock reported that Delta appears to be about 40% more transmissible than Alpha, but scientists are still trying to pin down the exact number—estimates … Read the rest

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What are you legally allowed to say at work? A group of fired Googlers could change the rules.

Google workers protesting sexual harassment issues at the company in November 2018. | Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The NLRB is expanding its complaint against Google for allegedly retaliating against employee activists in what could turn out to be a precedent-setting decision.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the US’s top enforcer of labor rights, just expanded its complaint against Google to include three more fired Google workers. Those former employees say the company retaliated against them for protesting its work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Now that these workers have been added to the complaint, which will be heard before an administrative judge in August, the outcome of the case could result in a shift in what employees can talk about at work without fear of repercussions from their employer.

The NLRB first filed its complaint against Google in December 2020, saying the company was “interfering with, … Read the rest

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Anti-vaxxers are weaponizing Yelp to punish bars that require vaccine proof

On the first hot weekend of the summer, Richard Knapp put up a sign outside Mother’s Ruin, a bar tucked in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. It had two arrows: one pointing vaccinated people indoors, another pointing unvaccinated people outdoors.


The Instagram post showing the sign (above) quickly went viral among European anti-vaxxers on Reddit. “We started receiving hate mail through the Google portal,” Knapp says, estimating he’d received about a “few dozen” emails: “I’ve been called a Nazi and a communist in the same sentence. People hope that our bar burns down. It’s a name and shame campaign.” It wasn’t just the emails. Soon, his bar started receiving multiple one-star reviews on Yelp and Google Reviews from accounts as far away as Europe. 

Spamming review portals with negative ratings is not a new phenomenon. Throughout the pandemic, the tactic has also been deployed to attack bars and restaurants that enforced … Read the rest

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What you need to know about the House’s opening bid to rein in Big Tech

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies before a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in July 2020. | Graeme Jennings/Washington Examiner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The bills have the beginnings of bipartisan support, but will likely need even more to actually pass.

These days, it’s hard to get Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree on anything.

So it’s notable that Democrats on the Antitrust Subcommittee announced a slew of antitrust legislation today aimed at limiting the power of the tech giants — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, specifically — with some bipartisan support from their Republican colleagues. Collectively called “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, and Choice,” each of the five bills introduced has multiple co-sponsors, including at least one from either side of the aisle.

Broadly, the bills aim at curbing Big Tech’s power by limiting their roles as gatekeepers and their domination of digital markets. The bills also represent the culmination … Read the rest

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These creepy fake humans herald a new age in AI

You can see the faint stubble coming in on his upper lip, the wrinkles on his forehead, the blemishes on his skin. He isn’t a real person, but he’s meant to mimic one—as are the hundreds of thousands of others made by Datagen, a company that sells fake, simulated humans.

These humans are not gaming avatars or animated characters for movies. They are synthetic data designed to feed the growing appetite of deep-learning algorithms. Firms like Datagen offer a compelling alternative to the expensive and time-consuming process of gathering real-world data. They will make it for you: how you want it, when you want—and relatively cheaply.

To generate its synthetic humans, Datagen first scans actual humans. It partners with vendors who pay people to step inside giant full-body scanners that capture every detail from their irises to their skin texture to the curvature of their fingers. The startup then takes … Read the rest

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The Trump administration forced Apple to turn over lawmakers’ data. Democrats are outraged.

Device metadata from Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, was obtained by the Department of Justice. | Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some say it’s an attack on the separation of powers.

Democratic lawmakers are calling for an investigation into the Trump administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) and its use of subpoenas to obtain device metadata belonging to at least two members of Congress. They say it’s a disturbing attack on the separation of powers, the principle of keeping the operations of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches generally separate from one another.

The calls for oversight follow a New York Times report revealing that the DOJ made Apple turn over records from several people associated with the House Intelligence Committee — including Rep. Adam Schiff, Rep. Eric Swalwell, their staff and family, one of whom was a minor — in the midst of an investigation into … Read the rest

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