Workforce Tech Digest

Workforce Tech Digest: Edition XI

IS TAXING ROBOTS THE RIGHT MOVE?

We’ve all heard that the only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Well, that may not be the case in the not too distant future. I’m not talking about finally fulfilling Ponce De Leon’s dream of discovering the fountain of youth, but rather the elimination of taxes. Bill Gates recently proposed the idea of taxing robots that automate away jobs typically done by humans, and in San Francisco, the idea seems to have been taken seriously.

Not everybody is convinced by this plan. Some have pointed out the issue that taxing robots would be an innovation killer, and we’re currently innovating too slowly, not too rapidly, despite the seeming constant talk about AI. Additionally, there are logistical issues that accompany this plan. How would we define what a robot is, and further, how would we prove a correlation between net loss of jobs and implementation of new robots?

THE GIG ECONOMY IS NOT ALL GOOD

When I sit on my couch waiting for UberEats to deliver my empanadas, I have nothing but positive thoughts for the gig economy. It seems like a win-win proposition. I am easily able to request the services of someone who is looking to provide them for a little extra cash. But when looking a little deeper, there are some real problems with the state of the gig economy. The lack of worker protections and benefits deflates the perceived income of the workers to sometimes paltry wages.

In the past, when I’ve considered joining the gig economy, I looked at freelance platforms to get an idea of what I might be able to make. It was often discouraging, and I decided that while it seemed great on the surface, it would ultimately be a backwards step.

THE BIG PICTURE

It’s important we don’t miss the for the trees, so each week I pick one piece that offers a macro view on how technology will impact the future economy. This week, you might consider trading in your physical wallet for a digital one because cryptocurrencies can’t be ignored for long.

Here’s another look at Bitcoin’s persistence.

WEEKLY LONGFORM

In case you wanted to take an extra-long lunch … Andrew Weaver of Technology Review takes on the myth of the skills gap in America.

REC OF THE WEEK

I have one recommendation this week, and it is simple. The key to creating wealth: invest less in your house and more in financial assets in the economy.

I am not a financial advisor. Don’t take your financial advice from me. Please do not. 

QUICK HITS

  • Contingent workers face a dilemma in today’s labor market (Forbes)
  • Oracle is hiring 5,000 skilled workers in the US this year (Fortune)
  • Telcos move to shared economy in Europe (Bloomberg)
  • Rebuilding America’s manufacturing workforce with veterans (Forbes)
  • Why not to be a Luddite (The Hill)
  • Considering the reputations of tech freelancers (HuffPost)
  • Higher minimum wages will boost tech (Bloomberg)
  • Transitioning from a knowledge economy to a knowledge society (The Hill)

The Tech and the Economy Digest is written and curated by Kevin Armstrong. Follow him on Twitter, where he tweets infrequently and nonsensically, @karmstronger

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