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Axios Future

Axios Future

1 big thing: The new sharecroppersIllustration: Aïda Amer/AxiosInvisible to most of us, an underclass of labor has evolved behind the artificial intelligence revolution — thousands of low-wage workers in the U.S. and across the globe who painstakingly inventory millions of pieces of data and images, giving power to AI programs. Some critics call them the new “sharecroppers.” Kaveh and I report: These workers — people who affix labels to data so computers can understand the information — are starting to attract the interest of social scientists and other experts. They say labelers may at least in part explain the nagging conundrum of American income inequality — and perhaps how to fix it. Background: AI seems all-knowing, but actually it’s only partly so. When it comes to the AI behind driverless technology, for instance, sensors can take fantastically granular pictures of streets and hazards of all types, and AI can be fed with the experience of every type of driving situation. But autonomous technology companies still need humans to inform the AI what it’s looking at — to circle things like trees, stop signs and crosswalks. Without human labeling, AI is dumb. It doesn’t know a skyscraper from a spider. But that doesn’t mean companies pay labelers well. Instead, they are compensated like bottom-of-the-barrel workers. In the U.S., companies say they are paying such workers $7–$15 an hour, but that may be the top of the pay scale. Labelers also take on piecework from crowdsourcing platforms. In Malaysia, the pay can be around $2.50 an hour.The big picture: The winners are AI companies, which are mostly in the U.S., Europe and China. The losers are workers in both rich and relatively poor countries who are paid little.How the companies are managing the labelers: Nathaniel Gates, CEO of Alegion, a Texas-based crowdsourcing platform, said his firm intentionally reduces the job of labeling to the simplest, most routine task possible. While this narrows a worker’s chance to move up the skills — and wage — ladder, Gates argues that he is at least “opening new doors that were never available to them.”“We are creating digital jobs that didn’t exist before. Oftentimes, the folks doing this work are coming from farms and agriculture or factories that dried up because of automation,” Gates tells Axios.But some experts say such practices builds inequality into the AI economy. In a new book called “Ghost Work,” Microsoft Research’s Mary Gray and Siddharth Suri argue that workers such as labelers are a significant part of one of the most dynamic parts of the economy. “Economists don’t have a handle on how to price the market,” Gray tells Axios. “We’ve been pricing this labor as a durable good, but it’s the collective intelligence that’s the value proposition.” James Cham, a partner with Bloomberg Beta, the venture capital firm, thinks that AI companies are gaming the system. “The companies derive benefit over a long time, while workers are paid just once. They are paid like sharecroppers, making subsistence wages. The landowners get all the returns because of how the system is set up,” Cham tells Axios. “It’s one big arbitrage.” 2. The AI acquisitions warData: CB Insights; Chart: Harry Stevens/AxiosBig Tech has snapped up more than 50 AI companies since 2010, carving out another front in the nonstop war among the giants for AI talent, data and ideas, Kaveh writes.The clamor reflects a scarcity of AI expertise, as we’ve reported in the past. But it also allows Big Tech companies to reinforce their advantage over the upstarts, each time making it harder for a new entrant to strike gold.The big picture: Several of the top AI researchers and most lucrative products at leading tech firms came from acquisitions, according to data compiled by CB Insights.In 2010, Apple purchased Siri, the digital assistant that’s become a cornerstone in its phones, tablets, computers and speakers.In 2013, Amazon acquired British tech company Evi, which went on to contribute to its market-leading Alexa assistant.In 2014, Google bought up DeepMind, the pioneering research outfit behind the computers that beat humans at Go. And a 2013 acquisition brought Geoffrey Hinton, the father of deep learning, to Google.Between the lines: The more these large companies buy up AI talent and software, the larger they expand the buffer between them and everyone else.The acquisitions chart above “is certainly consistent with the theory that Big Tech companies are consolidating to expand their reach, talent pool and market share,” says Yoshua Bengio, a prominent AI researcher at the University of Montreal.Frantic company recruiting and acquisitions are just getting started, says Deepashri Varadharajan, lead analyst at CB Insights. “And Big Tech companies that are trillion-dollar conglomerates have an advantage here.”These companies haven’t swallowed up the whole AI field. There are still plenty of startups with smart people and innovative products.”The acquisitions reflect the strategic importance of AI — nothing more,” says Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI, a nonprofit.In December, we reported that 10% of the world’s AI talent works at 10 huge companies. That still leaves a long tail of talent to work at smaller shops around the world.The bottom line: The front-runners’ gravitational pull intensifies as they accumulate talent, data and computing power at a scale unattainable for academics or startups, such that the best minds in AI find it increasingly difficult to do boundary-stretching work elsewhere.Go deeper: An AI feud between corporate research labs and academia (Axios)3. The fate of a shuttered Sam’s ClubPhoto: Seth McConnell/The Denver Post/GettyIn an unmistakable sign of the times, Walmart has converted a closed, 139,000-square-foot Sam’s Club into a warehouse for online orders.Erica writes: The new space is in Worcester, Massachusetts, reports Supply Chain Dive. It’s a perfect place for a fulfillment center, as three major highways cross through the city.The big picture: Look for Walmart to bolster its warehouse network as it competes with Amazon on speedy shipping.Walmart today announced one-day shipping for 220,000 products in Las Vegas and Phoenix, with plans to expand to other places. There’s no hefty membership fee. Customers just need to order at least $35 worth of stuff.Worth noting: Amazon’s one-day shipping — though available only through Prime — is meant to eventually be available to all members across the world for 100 million products.Go deeper: Dead malls are turning into warehouses4. Worthy of your timePhoto: Adam Bettcher/GettyAI needs more “why” (Alexander Lavin — Forbes)Dig in for a much longer trade war (Jonathan Swan — Axios)In London, 96% facial recognition failure rate (Tim Cushing — Techdirt)German businessmen to voters: resist populists (Guy Chazan, Olaf Storbeck — FT)Nearly 20 years ago, cocaine washed up on this island (Matthew Bremner — The Guardian)5. 1 more pay gap: What influencers makeThe Kardashian clan at the 2019 Met Gala. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC ImagesIn the nascent social media influencing industry, women are paid less than men — even though they outnumber men 3 to 1.Erica writes: As younger consumers spend more and more time on social media apps, the power of influencers — models and celebrities with large followings — is also growing. And although influencers are 75% female, the industry has a wide gender pay gap, Quartz reports.On average, women charge $351 per post. That’s 23% less than the $459 per post that men charge.One explanation, per Quartz, is that the large pool of female influencers has driven prices down.The big picture: As we’ve reported, several U.S. industries are closing the pay gap. But in a few, including media and retail, the difference remains large.
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Everything 3lau needs to perform live

Everything 3lau needs to perform live

What’s in your bag? is a recurring feature where we ask people to tell us a bit more about their everyday gadgets by opening their bags and hearts to us. This week, we’re featuring music producer and record label owner 3lau.
Justin Blau, otherwise known as 3lau, is sitting with The Verge on the floor of a green room trailer at a festival. We’re directly behind the main stage, and the trailer’s wood-paneled walls are vibrating from the act currently playing. Blau himself is about to step on stage, but is letting us rummage through his briefcase beforehand, which contains all the things he needs to perform live.
Known for his melodic-leaning dance songs, along with other endeavors — like blockchain-powered festival OMF and non-profit record label Blume — Blau’s reach extends far beyond music itself. And he’s always forward-thinking. In the past year he’s collaborated with the likes of HYO from Girls’ Generation, worked on a track with Ninja for the gamer’s NINJAWERKS Vol. 1 compilation, and put out several lush and pop-forward singles on his own imprint, like “Touch” and “Would You Understand.” He has two albums planned for early 2020. On top of that, as evidenced by where we’re talking with Blau, he maintains a constant touring schedule.
It’s a lot for one person to juggle, but as we see in his bag, Blau’s able to do it all through being a very meticulous person. “Wow,” he says in admiration after The Verge has arranged his array of cables on the trailer’s carpet. “It looks really pretty. You guys did a great job, and I’m very detail-oriented.”

You have a briefcase?
There’s a lot of interesting things in here! You’re skeptical!
No! It’s just unexpected.
I just come to the show like this. Business. It is a Tumi. I do love Tumi. My luggage is also Tumi. I use this because I already have a backpack. If you see my full luggage setup, the briefcase makes more sense. It fits perfectly on one side of my luggage. I’m super efficient about how I pack.

And here I have my DJ controller.
Whoa! That’s the perfect size for your bag, and I love the color.
Thank you. It’s custom iridescent red.
Does it glow under black light?
It does. Part of the Ultraviolet idea. It’s made by a company called Livid. They’ve actually discontinued it, which is a nightmare for me because I only have two. If they break I’m literally screwed. I’ll have to reprogram one or ideally have somebody else design one. It’s basically a MIDI controller for Ableton. I’ve always DJed with Ableton. Everyone is like, well why don’t you DJ with CDJs? And the reason why is because when was in college I couldn’t afford CDJs. I learned on Ableton. A CDJ setup is like, four grand, and there were no clubs for me to go check it out. And this little thing is $500.
It was a way more affordable alternative. I stole Ableton at the time, totally did not buy it. But now I own Ableton and am a real licensor.
I had the APC 40 back in the day and this [Livid controller] was the replacement. It’s more customizable. There’s a lot more I can do with it. I can create my own custom MIDI scripts. It’s really cool.
Livid knew that I was using it from photos and they reached out to me and said they wanted to make me a custom one. My first one was black and they powder coated it this red. It’s one of a kind. And it’s discontinued. So this is my pride.

Let’s see what else you’ve got in here.
My backpack has my production laptop, and adapters, my headphones, all that stuff. This bag has the stuff I need live.
This is a good one. An extra battery.
Does that charge your laptop too?
Yes. It’s a newer Mophie. I love them. This battery can charge the laptop and the phone. I usually travel with three of them because on an international flight if there isn’t an outlet when my laptop dies, I know I have batteries I can use. Ideally that will eventually change. But international flights don’t always have adapters, and that’s why I travel with three.
Dongles. More dongles. And more cables. I keep extras because it’s so easy to lose them.
And then the trusty old earplugs. And a splitter. A splitter is especially good at festivals if I’m hanging out with another artist and we’re showing each other new music. It can be loud, and there can be a lot of people in the green room.

What do you use this laptop for?
So this is just the DJ laptop. Way less ports, which is why I have those extra dongles. Disaster. This is the 13 inch, and then I have a 15 inch as well.
What phone is this?
The iPhone X. Worst phone ever.
Why?
Well, actually the software update fixed a lot of problems. The Wi-Fi used to fucking close for no reason.
Is there a particular reason why you have an iPhone?
The ease of connecting everything. Because I’m all Mac it makes life easy. I communicate with everybody on iMessage.

And these earplugs and earbuds?
I have Westone custom earplugs because this is the first company that somebody told me about. At the time I ordered, it was like, $50 per extra mold. I got three molds and I’ve only lost one over the past eight years or so. I’m proud of that. I did lose one of the db filters, but you can order those on Amazon.
If you’re at festivals enough, it’s something to consider. Honestly, I’ll also use the dead plugs on airplanes sometimes, and it just cuts everything, even babies’ cries. It’s the best kind of earplug.
And then I have portable little Beats. I don’t particularly love them, but they’re great for when I’m in the green room and on the laptop. It’s nice to bring this little bag instead of the big headphones. I normally have the Bose QCs when I’m on airplanes.
What about these USBs?
These are fan songs that I probably haven’t listened to yet.
People gave you those?
Right. A lot fans give them to me and I say, listen, here’s my personal email, I promise I’ll check it but I’m sure I’m going to lose the USB. Those are two of the maybe 50 that I’ve kept. I have no idea what’s on them. Once a month I try to go through my demo folder and listen to as much as I can. And in some cases I wind up working with some of these artists.

Where did you get your wallet?
It’s my Margiela wallet. I ordered it online from a website called SSense where I order a lot of my clothes from.
Matthew Reeves: It’s sale season!
You know! I see the Y3 shoes over there. I see it.
Dani Deahl: Matt is one of Rick Owens’ primary photographers.
Wait, what? Hold up. No way! Oh my god. I normally have a Rick zip-up sweatshirt vest. But it’s so hot so I’m not wearing it now. I got it when I was in the Rick Owens store in Tokyo. He’s got a sculpture of himself in there that’s crazy.

Why do you have a Sharpie?
There’s always a fan that wants me to sign something. Signing someone’s phone is the most common request believe it or not. They want me to sign their phone cases. Some people let me sign straight on their phone. Hats are the second most common.
I think I know where the $2 bills are from.
They are from Steve… Two Dollar Hollar. Steve Reisman is a very successful entertainment lawyer. He gives all his favorite artists $2 bills whenever he sees them. He’s just loaded up with them all the time. He’s really close with Drake and a lot of big artists, and I’m honored that I’m a friend of his. I use the $2 bills for valet tips. I keep every $2 bill I’ve gotten from him in my car.
[Places card down] We’ll put that in there just for fun.
What is it?
It’s for a blockchain-powered festival I threw last year called OMF.
And last, the Listerine strips.
Listerine strips are always on my rider. It’s more efficient than gum. I don’t want to carry a pack of gum in my pocket, but I want that because it’s small. I wear tight jeans. It’s as simple as that. And if I forget and they get washed, it just dissolves and smells really good. That happens all the time.
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Max Keiser Says ‘Stack Satoshis,’ Bitcoin to Beat All Asset Classes

Max Keiser Says ‘Stack Satoshis,’ Bitcoin to Beat All Asset Classes

Max Keiser Says ‘Stack Satoshis,’ Bitcoin to Beat All Asset ClassesMax Keiser tells Crypto Trader that when an asset rises from $5,000 to his price prediction of $100,000, it is going to beat the returns of every other asset class. | Source: (i) Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE / Web Summit (ii) REUTERS / Dado Ruvic ; Edited by CCNBy CCN: Broadcaster Max Keiser is a noted bitcoin bull. The host of the Keiser Report on media channel RT is well-known for his $100,000 bitcoin price forecast, telling the world time and again to keep accumulating the digital currency because it is on its way to hitting six figures.Keiser doubled down on his $100,000 bitcoin price target earlier this month. Now he’s reiterating his ambitious outlook, suggesting in an interview with CNBC Crypto Trader that it’s only a matter of time for the bitcoin price to reach his target.“The timing is immaterial. It is still going to outperform every other asset you can possibly imagine owning over the next five, 10, 15 years. Forget about timing. Timing is for people who think that, ‘I’m going to wait and buy it at a better price.’ And that is a bad way to approach crypto. Stack Satoshis!”‘Best-Performing Asset’Keiser’s reasoning for bitcoin beating every other investment category is simple – when an asset rises from $5,000 to $100,000, it is going to beat the returns of every other asset class.While Keiser is willing to go out on a limb on the bitcoin price, he believes it’s a bad idea to try and time bitcoin’s rise. According to Keiser, one should keep accumulating the cryptocurrency instead of waiting for a better entry point because of the massive upside potential. He even recommended that people not waste their money buying Mother’s Day gifts. Instead, he says, investors “should have been stacking Sats.”All of this makes it evident that Keiser is a big-time bitcoin bull.Hyperinflation a Big Catalyst for the Flagship CryptocurrencyKeiser is critical of the Federal Reserve performing quantitative easing. He said during the interview that the Fed’s inclination toward permanent quantitative easing would lead to “money printing without end.”Keiser believes that such a move would lead to hyperinflation, and bitcoin – like gold – will thrive in such an environment. This is not the first time that a Wall Street veteran is comparing the digital asset to gold.Asset management firm Morgan Creek Digital recently said that bitcoin price could hit $500,000 because it is a better investment than gold.An increase in money supply is one of the two reasons leading to inflation. Hyperinflation occurs when a country’s government begins to print money to meet its spending and fails to tighten the money supply when needed. In a state of hyperinflation, the value of gold shoots up as it is a known hedge against volatility and inflation.As it turns out, bitcoin is displaying gold-like characteristics. The price of bitcoin has rallied at a time when there is volatility in the global markets.Fascinating interview between @maxkeiser and Harry Halpin, who is building the next level of privacy for the internet https://t.co/ZHumJHP9vE— John Smithies (@jdsmithies) May 25, 2019What’s more, just like gold, bitcoin is a finite asset; only 21 million coins can be mined. So the demand for bitcoin is expected to increase in the future, especially if the Fed keeps printing money and creates a hyperinflationary environment.As such, Keiser believes buying and holding bitcoin would be a great idea because you could enjoy gains of more than 1,100% even if you buy it at the current price of around $8,000 – if his price prediction comes true. About The AuthorHarsh ChauhanHarsh Singh Chauhan has a wealth of experience evaluating publicly-traded companies across several verticals, including technology, oil and gas, retail, and consumer goods. He is a syndicated author whose articles have been published on reputed online platforms across the U.S., Europe, and India since 2011.This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.
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