Will a Robot Take Your Job? It May Just Make Your Job Worse

The robot revolution is always allegedly just around the corner. In the utopian vision, technology emancipates human labor from repetitive, mundane tasks, freeing us to be more productive and take on more fulfilling work. In the dystopian vision, robots come for everyone’s jobs, put millions and millions of people out of work, and throw the economy into chaos.

Such a warning was at the crux of Andrew Yang’s ill-fated presidential campaign, helping propel his case for universal basic income that he argued would become necessary when automation left so many workers out. It’s the argument many corporate executives make whenever there’s a suggestion they might have to raise wages: $15 an hour will just mean machines taking your order at McDonald’s instead of people, they say. It’s an effective scare tactic for some workers.

But we often spend so much time talking about the potential for robots to take our jobs that we fail to look at how they are already changing them — sometimes for the better, but sometimes not. New technologies can give corporations tools for monitoring, managing, and motivating their workforces, sometimes in ways that are harmful. The technology itself might not be innately nefarious, but it makes it easier for companies to maintain tight control on workers and squeeze and exploit them to maximize profits.

“The basic incentives of the system have always been there: employers wanting to maximize the value they get out of their workers while minimizing the cost of labor, the incentive to want to control and monitor and surveil their workers,” said Brian Chen, staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “And if technology allows them to do that more cheaply or more efficiently, well then of course they’re going to use technology to do that.”

Tracking software for remote workers, which saw a bump in sales at the start of the pandemic, can follow every second of a person’s workday in front of the computer. Delivery companies can use motion sensors to track their drivers’ every move, measure extra seconds, and ding drivers for falling short.

Automation hasn’t replaced all the workers in warehouses, but it has made work more intense, even dangerous, and changed how tightly workers are managed. Gig workers can find themselves at the whims of an app’s black-box algorithm that lets workers flood the app to compete with each other at a frantic pace for pay so low that how lucrative any given trip or job is can depend on the tip, leaving workers reliant on the generosity of an anonymous stranger. Worse, gig work means they’re doing their jobs without many typical labor protections.

In these circumstances, the robots aren’t taking jobs, they’re making jobs worse. Companies are automating away autonomy and putting profit-maximizing strategies on digital overdrive, turning work into a space with fewer carrots and more sticks.

A robot boss can do a whole lot more watching

In recent years, Amazon has become the corporate poster child for automation in the name of efficiency — often at the expense of workers. There have been countless reports of unsustainable conditions and expectations at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Its drivers reportedly have to consent to being watched by artificial intelligence, and warehouse workers who don’t move fast enough can be fired.

Demands are so high that there have been reports of people urinating in bottles to avoid taking a break. The robots aren’t just watching, they’re also picking up some of the work. Sometimes, it’s for the better, but in other cases, they may actually be making work more dangerous as more automation leads to more pressure on workers. One report found that worker injuries were more prevalent in Amazon warehouses with robots than warehouses without them.

“It would have been prohibitively expensive to employ enough managers to time each worker’s every move to a fraction of a second or ride along in every truck, but now it takes maybe one,” Dzieza wrote. “This is why the companies that most aggressively pursue these tactics all take on a similar form: a large pool of poorly paid, easily replaced, often part-time or contract workers at the bottom; a small group of highly paid workers who design the software that manages them at the top.”

A 2018 Gartner survey found that half of large companies were already using some type of nontraditional techniques to keep an eye on their workers, including analyzing their communications, gathering biometric data, and examining how workers are using their workspace. They anticipated that by 2020, 80 percent of large companies would be using such methods. Amid the pandemic, the trend picked up pace as businesses sought more ways to keep tabs on the new waves of workers working from home.

This has all sorts of implications for workers, who lose privacy and autonomy when they’re constantly being watched and directed by technology. Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, warned that they’re also losing money. “Some of these new digital technologies are not simply replacing workers or creating new tasks or changing other aspects of productivity, but they’re actually monitoring people much more effectively, and that means rents are being shared very differently because of digital technologies,” he said.

He offered up a hypothetical example of a delivery driver who is asked to deliver a certain number of packages in a day. Decades ago, the company might pay the driver more to incentivize them to work a little faster or harder or put in some extra time. But now, they’re constantly being monitored so that the company knows exactly what they’re doing and is looking for ways to save time. Instead of getting a bonus for hitting certain metrics, they’re dinged for spending a few seconds too long here or there.

The problem isn’t technology itself, it’s the managers and corporate structures behind it that look at workers as a cost to be cut instead of as a resource.

“A lot of this boom of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship where venture capital made it very easy for companies to create firms didn’t exactly prioritize the well-being of workers as one of their main considerations,” said Amy Bix, a historian at Iowa State University who focuses on technology. “A lot of what goes on in the structure of these corporations and the development of technology is invisible to most ordinary people, and it’s easy to take advantage of that.”

The future of Uber isn’t driverless cars, it’s drivers

Uber’s destiny was supposed to be driverless.

In 2016, former CEO Travis Kalanick told Bloomberg making an autonomous vehicle was “basically existential” for the company. After a deadly accident with an autonomous Uber vehicle in 2018, current chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reiterated that the company remained “absolutely committed” to the self-driving cause. But in December 2020 and after investing $1 billion, Uber sold off its self-driving unit. A little over four months later, its main competitor, Lyft, followed suit. Uber says it’s still not giving up on autonomous technology, but the writing on the wall is clear that driverless cars aren’t core to Uber’s business model, at least in the near future.

“Five or 10 years from now, drivers are still going to be a big piece of the mix on a percentage basis [of Uber’s business], and on an absolute basis, they may be an even bigger piece than they are today even with autonomous in the mix because the business should get bigger as both segments get bigger,” said Chris Frank, director of corporate ratings at S&P Global. “In addition, drivers will need to handle more complex conditions like poorly marked roads or inclement weather.”

In other words, they’re going to need workers to make money — workers they would very much like not to classify as such.

Gig economy companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are fighting tooth and nail to make sure the people they enlist to make deliveries or drive people around are not considered their employees. In California last year, such companies dumped $200 million into lobbying to pass Proposition 22, which lets app-based transportation and delivery companies classify their workers as independent contractors and therefore avoid paying for benefits such as sick leave, employer-provided health care, and unemployment. After it passed, a spokesman for the campaign for the ballot measure said it “represents the future of work in an increasingly technologically-driven economy.”

It’s a future of work that might not be pleasant for gig workers. In California, some workers say they’re not getting the benefits companies promised after Prop 22’s passage, such as health care stipends. Companies said that workers would make at least 120 percent of California’s minimum wage, but that’s contemplating the time they spend driving only. Before the ballot initiative was passed, research from the UC Berkeley Labor Center estimated that it would guarantee a minimum wage of just $5.64 per hour.

Companies say they’ve been clear with drivers about how to qualify for the health care stipend, which is available to drivers with more than 15 engaged hours a week (in other words, if you don’t have a job and are waiting around, it doesn’t count). In a statement to Vox, Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers + Services Coalition, the lobbying group that championed Prop 22, said that 80 percent of drivers work fewer than 20 hours per week and most work less than 10 hours per week, and that many have health insurance through other jobs.

Gig companies have sometimes been cagey about how much their workers make, and they’re often changing their formulas. In 2017, Uber agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $20 million over charges that it misled prospective drivers about how much they could make with the app. The FTC found that Uber claimed some of its drivers made $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco, when in reality their median incomes were actually $61,000 and $53,000, respectively. DoorDash caused controversy over a decision to pocket tips and use them to pay delivery workers, which it has since reversed.

Even though Uber is charging customers more for rides in the wake of the pandemic, that’s not directly being passed onto their drivers. According to the Washington Post, Uber changed the way it paid drivers in California soon after Prop 22 passed so that they were no longer paid a proportion of the cost of the ride but instead by time and distance, with different bonuses and incentives based on market and surge pricing. (This is how Uber does it in most states, but it had changed things up during the push to get Prop 22 passed.) Uber’s CEO pushed back on the Post story in a series of tweets, arguing that decoupling driver pay from customer fares had not hurt California drivers and that some are now getting a higher cut from their rides.

In light of a driver shortage, Uber recently announced what it’s billing as a $250 million “driver stimulus” that promises higher earnings to try to get drivers back onto the road. The company acknowledges this initiative is likely temporary once the supply-demand imbalance works itself out. Still, it’s hard not to notice how quickly Uber and Lyft have been able to corner most of the ride-hailing app market and exert control over their drivers and customers.

“When a new thing like this comes on, there’s huge new consumer benefits, and then over time they are the market, they have less competition except one another, probably they’re a cartel at this point. And then they start doing stuff that’s much nastier,” said David Autor, an economist at MIT.

One of the gig economy’s main selling points to workers is that it offers flexibility and the ability to work when they want. It’s certainly true that an Uber or Lyft driver has much more autonomy on the job than, say, an Amazon warehouse worker. “People drive with Lyft because they prefer the freedom and flexibility to work when, where, and for however long they want,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to Vox.

“They can choose to accept a ride or not, enjoy unlimited upward earning potential, and can decide to take time off from driving whenever they want, for however long they want, without needing to ask a ‘boss’ — all things they can’t do at most traditional jobs.” The spokesperson also noted that most of its drivers work outside of Lyft.

But flexibility doesn’t mean gig companies have no control over their drivers and delivery people. They use all sorts of tricks and incentives to try to push workers in certain directions and manage them, essentially, by algorithm. Uber drivers report being bothered by the constant surveillance, the lack of transparency from the company, and the dehumanization of working with the app. The algorithm doesn’t want to know how your day is, it just wants you to work as efficiently as possible to maximize its profits.

Carlos Ramos, a former Lyft driver in San Diego, described the feeling of being manipulated by the app. He noticed the company must have needed morning drivers because of the incentives structures, but he also often wondered if he was being “punished” if he didn’t do something right.

“Sometimes, if you cancel a bunch of rides in a row or if you don’t take certain rides to certain things, you won’t get any rides. They’ve shadow turned you off,” he said. The secret deprioritization of a worker is something many Lyft and Uber drivers speculate happens. “You also have no way of knowing what’s going on behind there. They have this proprietary knowledge, they have this black box of trade secrets, and those are your secrets you’re telling them,” said Ramos, now an organizer with Gig Workers Rising.

Companies deny that they secretly shut off drivers. “It is in Lyft’s best interests for drivers to have as positive an experience as possible, so we communicate often and work directly with drivers to help them improve their earnings,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “We never ‘shadow ban’ drivers, and actively coach them when they are in danger of being deactivated.”

The future of innovation isn’t inevitable

We often talk about technology and innovation with a language of inevitability. It’s as though whenever wages go up, companies will of course replace workers with robots. Now that the country is turned on to online delivery, it can be made to seem like the grocery industry is on an unavoidable path to gig work. After all, that’s what happened with Albertsons. But that’s not really the case — there’s plenty of human agency in the technological innovation story.

“Technology of course doesn’t have to exploit workers, it doesn’t have to mean robots are coming for all of our jobs,” Chen said. “These are not inevitable outcomes, they are human decisions, and they are almost always made by people who are driven by a profit motive that tends to exploit the poor and working class historically.”

Chase Copridge, a longtime California worker who’s done the gamut of gig jobs — Instacart, DoorDash, Amazon Flex, Uber, and Lyft — is one of the people stuck in that position, the victim of corporate tendencies on technological overdrive. He described seeing delivery offers that pay as little as $2. He turns those jobs down, knowing that it’s not economically worth it for him. But there might be someone else out there who picks it up. “We’re people who desperately need to make ends meet, who are willing to take the bare minimum that these companies are giving out to us,” he said. “People need to understand that these companies thrive off of exploitation.”

Not all decisions around automation are ones that increase productivity or improve really anything except corporate profits. Self-checkout stations may reduce the need for cashiers, but are they really making the shopping experience faster or better? Next time you go to the grocery store and inevitably screw up scanning one of your own items and waiting several minutes for a worker to appear, you tell me.

Despite technological advancements, productivity growth has been on the decline in recent years. “This is the paradox of the last several decades, and especially since 2000, that we had enormous technological changes as we perceive it but measured productivity growth is quite weak,” Autor said. “One reason may be that we’re automating a lot of trivial stuff rather than important stuff. If you compare antibiotics and indoor plumbing and electrification and air travel and telecommunications to DoorDash and smartphones or self-checkout, it may just not be as consequential.”

Acemoglu said that when firms focus so much on automation and monitoring technologies, they might not explore other areas that could be more productive, such as creating new tasks or building out new industries. “Those are the things that I worry have fallen by the wayside in the last several years,” he said. “If your employer is really set on monitoring you really tightly, that biases things against new tasks because those are things that are not easier to monitor.”

It matters what you automate, and not all automation is equally beneficial, not only to workers but also to customers, companies, and the broader economy.

Grappling with how to handle technological advancements and the ways they change people’s lives, including at work, is no easy task. While the robot revolution isn’t taking everyone’s jobs, automation is taking some of them, especially in areas such as manufacturing. And it’s just making work different: A machine may not eliminate a position entirely, but it may turn a more middle-skill job into a low-skill job, bringing lower pay with it. Package delivery jobs used to come with a union, benefits, and stable pay; with the rise of the gig economy, that’s declining. If and when self-driving trucks arrive, there will still be some low-quality jobs needed to complete tasks the robots can’t.

“The issue that we’ve faced in the US economy is that we’ve lost a lot of middle-skill jobs so people are being pushed down into lower categories,” Autor said. “Automation historically has tended to take the most dirty and dangerous and demeaning jobs and hand them over to machines, and that’s been great.

What’s happened in the last bunch of decades is that automation has affected the middle-skill jobs and left the hard, interesting, creative jobs and the hands-on jobs that require a lot of dexterity and flexibility but don’t require a lot of formal skills.”

But again, none of this is inevitable. Companies are able to leverage technology to get the most out of workers because workers often don’t have power to push back, enforce limits, or ask for more. Unionization has seen steep declines in recent decades. America’s labor laws and regulations are designed around full-time work, meaning gig companies don’t have to offer health insurance or help fund unemployment. But the laws could — and many would argue should — be modernized.

“The key thing is it’s not just technology, it’s a question of labor power, both collectively and individually,” Bix said. “There are a lot of possible outcomes, and in the end, technology is a human creation. It’s a product of social priorities and what gets developed and adopted.”

Maybe the robot apocalypse isn’t here yet. Or it is, and many of us aren’t quite recognizing it, in part because we got some of the story wrong. The problem isn’t really the robot, it’s what your boss wants the robot to do.

Source: Will a robot take your job? It may just make your job worse. – Vox

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Critics:

The history of robots has its origins in the ancient world. During the industrial revolution, humans developed the structural engineering capability to control electricity so that machines could be powered with small motors. In the early 20th century, the notion of a humanoid machine was developed.

The first uses of modern robots were in factories as industrial robots. These industrial robots were fixed machines capable of manufacturing tasks which allowed production with less human work. Digitally programmed industrial robots with artificial intelligence have been built since the 2000s.

Concepts of artificial servants and companions date at least as far back as the ancient legends of Cadmus, who is said to have sown dragon teeth that turned into soldiers and Pygmalion whose statue of Galatea came to life. Many ancient mythologies included artificial people, such as the talking mechanical handmaidens (Ancient Greek: Κουραι Χρυσεαι (Kourai Khryseai); “Golden Maidens”) built by the Greek god Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans) out of gold.

Reference:

China’s Xtep Closes At New Record On Hillhouse Investment; Ding Clan’s Fortune Tops $2 Bln

Xtep

Shares in China sportswear supplier Xtep ended the week at a new record high today after the company announced investment hook-ups with China private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Management, one of China’s largest private equity firms.

Xtep’s Hong Kong-traded shares rose 5.6% to HK$13.16 today; they’ve more than doubled since mid-May.

Xtep said it would raise HK$500 million from the sale to Hillhouse of bonds that can be converted into its own underlying shares. In addition, subsidiary Xtep Global raised $65 million from Hillhouse from the sale of bonds that can be converted into that unit’s shares. (See announcements here and here.) Funds will help boost sales of Xtep-owned brands.

The doubling of Xtep’s stock price has lifted the fortune of company’s controlling Ding family to $2.3 billion.  Trusts held by chairman Ding Shui Bo, executive director Ding Mei Qing (his sister) and executive director Ding Ming Zhong (his brother) collectively own 1.3 billion shares that were worth $2.2 billion today. Xtep’s annual report doesn’t give a clear down of the ownership split among them. Shui Bo has another 60.7 million shares worth another $103 million.

Spending on sportswear in China has picked up amid a continuing economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Xtep, whose rivals include Anta and Nike, said in April first-quarter sales had a mid-50% increase compared with a year earlier. Nike has faced backlash in China after a statement in March expressed concern about alleged forced labor practices its Xinjiang region.

Hillhouse is led by billionaire Zhang Lei, who is worth $3 billion today on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.

See related story:

Hong Kong Is Gaining On The U.S. As An Alternative For Tech Listings

@rflannerychina

Send me a secure tip.

I’m a senior editor and the Shanghai bureau chief of Forbes magazine. Now in my 20th year at Forbes, I compile the Forbes China Rich List. I was previously a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Taipei and Shanghai and for the Asian Wall Street Journal in Taipei. I’m a Massachusetts native, fluent Mandarin speaker, and hold degrees from the University of Vermont and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Source: China’s Xtep Closes At New Record On Hillhouse Investment; Ding Clan’s Fortune Tops $2 Bln

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Critics:

Xtep International Holdings Limited (SEHK stock code: 1368) is a Chinese manufacturing company of sports equipment based in Kowloon Bay, Hong Kong.[2] Established in 2001, the company was listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on 3 June 2008.[3]

Xtep engages mainly in the design, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and brand management of sports equipment, including footwear, apparel, and accessories. Xtep is a leading professional sports brand with an extensive distribution network of over 6,300 stores covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the PRC and overseas.

In 2019, Xtep has further diversified its brand portfolio which now includes four internationally brands, namely K-Swiss, Palladium, Saucony and Merrell. Xtep is a constituent of the MSCI China Small Cap Index, Hang Seng Composite Index Series and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

In August 2019, Xtep signed on famous Asian basketball player Jeremy Lin as spokesperson, marking its foray into the basketball business realm. Xtep also unveiled its “Basketball Product Co-Creation Plan” to come up with basketball products via product co-creation.

After previously supplying then-Premier League side Birmingham City and La Liga side Villarreal in 2010 and 2014 respectively, Xtep left the major football scene in 2017 and focused on other sports, mainly in running. In mid-2018, Xtep returned again to the football scene by signing a contract with Saudi Professional League side Al-Shabab ahead of the 2018–19 season in a reported three-year contract. On 13 October 2019, Egyptian Premier League side Al Ittihad Alexandria announced Xtep as their new official kit supplier until 2022, replacing German company Uhlsport.

References

  1. “الاتحاد السكندري يُعلن عن الزى الجديد .. و يتعاقد حصرياً مع شركة سعودية للملابس الرياضية” [Al Ittihad Alexandria reveals new kits for the 2019–20 as they announce new deal with Chinese-Saudi Arabian company Xtep]. Al Ittihad Alexandria Club official website. 13 October 2019. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
  1. Xtep 2019 Interim Report [2019-08-21]
  2. XTEP INT’L Forms JV to Run Merrell, Saucony Brands – AASTOCKS [2019-03-04]
  3. Xtep buys E-Land Footwear to develop series – The Standard [2019-05-03]
  4. Xtep expands its sportswear portfolio into basketball shoes and apparel, signing on star Jeremy Lin as brand spokesman – South China Morning Post [2019-08-09]

The Wacky Meditation Tool That Serial Entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek Swears

Rob Dyrdek takes a measured approach to his daily activities. The serial entrepreneur and venture studio founder, who happens to also host MTV’s hit show Ridiculousnessa comedy show featuring famous guests like Kylie Jenner–says he schedules out nearly every minute of every day on his calendar, with the goal of maximizing his time and energy.

To wit, Dyrdek organizes his calendar by categories and subcategories, like time with his wife or kids, hitting the gym, brain training, and work. He also wakes up every day and rates from 0 to 10 how he slept, how motivated he feels, and how he felt about various aspects of the previous day, like his life, work, and health. All of this data gets scraped together and aggregated into dashboards, using a program that he paid someone to build.

With that insight, he says, you can move things out of your life you don’t like doing and focus on what makes you happy. “It’s all about how much can you automate and systematize in your existence in order to really live as light as possible,” he says.

What else helps? A little dome time. At 6:30 a.m. almost every day Dyrdek says he spends about 20 minutes time in a Somadome, a large meditation pod that uses colors and binaural beats that play through a headphone (essentially sound therapy) set to help you relax. You climb in, pull down the door, and then choose ambient noise or a specific meditation session like “love” or “heal.”

Dyrdek discovered the pod in January 2018, when a friend told him about it, and his children’s health specialist offered to connect him with the company’s CEO, Sarah Attia. At that time, Dyrdek was unsure of how to tackle a meditation practice, despite the long list of potential benefits. “It just was so ominous a mountain that I wasn’t ready to climb,” he says. “As soon as I wake up, I go. So it’s hard for me to even think, how am I ever going to get myself into a meditative state.”

The Somadome, along with Dyrdek’s other life optimization techniques, he says, makes it easier–especially when meditation has become so useful for helping him reach his goals. In 2018, Dyrdek was negotiating a TV deal for Ridiculousness and was hoping to bolster an eventual sale of his production company, Superjacket Productions, by maximizing the number of episodes slated for the show. During the negotiations, he would sit in his Somadome and visualize how it would feel to stand on stage and say, “Welcome to Season 30.”

He landed on a deal with an “unprecedented” 500-episode order that would mean he’d finish the show in season 30. “So I can’t tell you that the dome did it, but I had clarity,” he says, adding that entrepreneurs often underestimate the extent to which mental precision can help them both design their lives and evolve their businesses. In late 2019, Thrill One Sports & Entertainment acquired Dyrdek’s portfolio companies Superjacket Productions and Street League Skateboarding.

For Dyrdek, the best part about the Somadome is the various features that make difficult things, like remaining calm and clear about what you want out of life and meditating consistently, easy. He paid $25,000 for the device when he bought it and says he’s used it almost daily since. “It’s paid for itself a thousand fold,” he says. A smaller and less expensive version–about $4,000–will soon become available to consumers, according to the company.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Source: The Wacky Meditation Tool That Serial Entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek Swears By | Inc.com

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View on turning pages Spa Business headlines 04 Jun 2021

Rosewood planning fourth Asaya wellness destination in Mexico City for 2024

Expanding its strong footprint in Mexico, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been appointed by real estate development firm Grupo Sordo Madaleno to operate Rosewood Mexico City, a new hotel expected to open in 2024 in the Polanco district. More>>   03 Jun 2021

Jumeirah spends £100m revamping The Carlton Tower hotel with three-storey spa and health club

Global hospitality group the Jumeirah Group has reopened the 186-room The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, in the heart of London’s fashionable Knightsbridge area following an 18-month closure for refurbishment. More>>   03 Jun 2021

Ritz-Carlton Maldives opens with luxury overwater spa sanctuary designed by Kerry Hill Architects

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has opened its first Maldives resort with a tranquil overwater spa inspired by its natural surroundings, including the elements of swirling water and ocean breezes. More>>

02 Jun 2021

Patrick Huey and Lynne McNees share top highlights from ISPA summit

Throughout the pandemic, the International Spa Association (ISPA) has championed the strength of the spa community and strived to support, inform and inspire the industry as it grapples with the new challenges of operating in a COVID-19 landscape. More>> 02 Jun 2021

Major international business leaders spearhead initiative striving for better workplace mental health

A coalition of global organisations and business leaders from BP, BHP, Clifford Chance, Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce, Unilever and WPP have launched an international initiative to advocate for and accelerate positive global change for mental health in the workplace. More>>   01 Jun 2021

Davines enters new era following leadership reshuffle and reports stable 2020 results

Arnaud Goullin will join hair and skincare brand Davines Group in the role of global skincare division general manager, effective immediately. More>> 01 Jun 2021

Tibetan medicine specialist joins Velaa Private Island’s visiting practitioner series

Luxury resort and spa Velaa Private Island in the Maldives is welcoming back guests with a programme of visiting wellness practitioners to guide them on journeys of personal discovery. More>>   28 May 2021

Lake Garda’s newest spa draws inspiration from nature, Celtic mythology and minimalism

A new five-star hotel and spa named Eala has opened in the Italian town of Limone sul Garda. Set back into a cliff face, the new destination gazes out across the iconic Lake Garda. More>> 27 May 2021

Amazon’s flagship hair salon arrives in London complete with augmented reality technology

Tech giant Amazon has expanded its presence in the world of beauty and opened its first bricks and mortar hairdressers – named Amazon Salon – in London’s lively Spitalfields Market. More>> More news>> Product news Powered by spa-kit.net HydraFacial expands pop-up store concept with new Dubai and London locations

from spa-kit.net

Advanced aesthetic technology company HydraFacial has opened two pop-up locations in Dubai and London following a new initiative spearheaded by Lauren Clarke from the HydraFacial EMEA marketing team.
More>>   Cypriot spa set to debut world-exclusive Augustinus Bader spa treatments

from spa-kit.net

Part of the Cypriot family-owned hotel group Thanos Hotels & Resorts, Anassa resort will be the first hotel in the world to welcome Augustinus Bader at its Thalassa Spa.
More>>   Lemi introduces Bellaria – a new treatment table designed for outdoor use

Uber, Facebook, Instagram and Other Apps That are Slowly Killing Your Smartphone

Uber, Facebook, Instagram and other apps that are slowly killing your smartphone

What is the first thing you do when you launch a new smartphone ? Download all the apps you need, of course. After a few hours (or days) downloading applications, your entry menu ends up covered in colorful squares, giving you the satisfaction that you have everything: apps for social networks, transport, dating, online commerce, for video conferencing and fitness, for name the most popular.

However, recent research found that many of them are slowly killing your smartphone. The pCloud company, which offers cloud storage services, conducted a study to discover which applications are most demanding for our mobile devices.

The research looked at 100 of the most popular apps based on three criteria: the features each app uses (such as location or camera), the battery consumption, and whether dark mode is available. Thus they found which of these not only drain the battery of our phone, they also occupy the most memory and make it slower.

These are the apps classified as ‘smartphone killers’

According to the study, the Fitbit and Verizon apps turned out to be the biggest ‘smartphone killers. Both allow 14 of the 16 available functions to run in the background, including the four most demanding: camera, location, microphone and WiFi connection. This earned them the highest score in the study: 92.31%.

Of the 20 most demanding applications for mobile battery, 6 are social networks . Facebook , Instagram , Snapchat , Youtube , WhatsApp, and LinkedIn allow 11 functions to run in the background, such as photos, WiFi, location, and microphone. Of these, only IG allows dark mode to save up to 30% battery, just like Twitter , which did not enter the top 20.

Dating apps Tinder , Bumble and Grinder account for 15% of the top 20 most demanding apps. On average, they allow 11 functions to run in the background and none have a dark mode.

In terms of the amount of memory they require, travel and transportation apps dominated the list. The United Airlines app is the one that consumes the most storage on the phone, as it requires 437.8 MB of space. Lyft follows with 325.1 MB and then Uber , which occupies 299.6 MB.

Among the video conferencing apps, Microsoft Teams is the one that consumes the most memory, occupying 232.2 MB of space. In comparison, Zoom only requires 82.1 MB and Skype 111.2 MB.

The 20 apps that wear out your phone the most

The top 20 of the most demanding applications, based on the functions they execute and all the activity they generate, was as follows:

  1. Fitbit – 92%
  2. Verizon – 92%
  3. Uber – 87%
  4. Skype – 87%
  5. Facebook – 82%
  6. AirB & B – 82%
  7. BIGO LIVE – 82%
  8. Instagram – 79%
  9. Tinder – 77%
  10. Bumble – 77%
  11. Snapchat – 77%
  12. WhatsApp – 77%
  13. Zoom – 77%
  14. YouTube – 77%
  15. Booking – 77%
  16. Amazon – 77%
  17. Telegram – 77%
  18. Grinder – 72%
  19. Likke – 72%
  20. LinkedIn – 72%

Among the 50 applications that kill the battery and memory of the phone are also Twitter (no. 25), Shazam (30), Shein (31), Spotify (32), Pinterest (37), Amazon Prime (38), Netflix (40), TikTok (41), Duolingo (44) and Uber Eats (50).

If you are already considering doing a general cleaning of apps, you can consult the complete list here .

By: Entrepreneur en Español / Entrepreneur Staff

Source: Uber, Facebook, Instagram and other apps that are slowly killing your smartphone

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Our smartphones have become such an integral part of our lives that we can’t imagine life without it. Just like any object, phones are also subjected to wear and tear as well as our mishandling. Here are some things that you should stop if you want to prolong your phone’s life.

Draining your phone’s battery
Most smartphones have lithium-ion batteries with limited life cycles. If you’re constantly draining your phone to 1% before charging, it reduces the battery’s life cycles.

Exposing your phone to drastic temperatures
We understand that your phone can’t be left in your bag or pocket all the time. However, don’t leave it out in temperatures below 0 and above 35 degrees celsius as permanent damages may be done to the handset.

Maxing out your storage
Your phone needs extra storage space in order for the operating system to continue functioning. Maxing out your storage causes your phone to lag or crash. Avoid this by backing up your phone’s content regularly to either your computer or cloud storage.

Leaving your phone in the shower
Doesn’t a nice hot shower feels good at the end of the day? Not so much for your phone. Steam can seep into your phone and condense into water, which may short circuit the hardware.

Constantly dropping your phone
No matter how good the protective casing your phone is in, dropping it constantly will affect its internal hardware. Be thankful if it’s just a cracked screen; more often than not, the damages are more serious than that.

Too many background apps
Is it really necessary to keep Candy Crush, Facebook, Instagram, Calendar and Whatsapp all opened at the same time? This causes your phone to dedicate extra RAM to these apps and drains your battery.

Not turning your phone off
Like humans, your phone also needs a break once in a while. Leaving it on 24/7 can shorten the lifespan of the battery and decrease its performance.

Overnight charging
Most smartphones are clever enough to cut off the power supply to the battery once it’s fully charged. However, lithium-ion batteries don’t fare well against high heats. When you leave your phone plugged in overnight, especially with the casing on, overheating can occur and decrease the battery life.

Relying on cellular data
If you’re only using 3G/4G for internet connectivity, think again. Connecting to Wi-Fi consumes less energy than data network which helps make your battery lasts longer.

Cleaning your phone with household products
There’s a reason why cleaning agents exist specifically for phones. The chemicals in your household bleach or detergent can damage the protective layer often found on your phone’s screen.

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Millions of Electric Cars are Coming What Happens To All The Dead Batteries

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The battery pack of a Tesla Model S is a feat of intricate engineering. Thousands of cylindrical cells with components sourced from around the world transform lithium and electrons into enough energy to propel the car hundreds of kilometers, again and again, without tailpipe emissions. But when the battery comes to the end of its life, its green benefits fade.

If it ends up in a landfill, its cells can release problematic toxins, including heavy metals. And recycling the battery can be a hazardous business, warns materials scientist Dana Thompson of the University of Leicester. Cut too deep into a Tesla cell, or in the wrong place, and it can short-circuit, combust, and release toxic fume.

That’s just one of the many problems confronting researchers, including Thompson, who are trying to tackle an emerging problem: how to recycle the millions of electric vehicle (EV) batteries that manufacturers expect to produce over the next few decades. Current EV batteries “are really not designed to be recycled,” says Thompson, a research fellow at the Faraday Institution, a research center focused on battery issues in the United Kingdom.

That wasn’t much of a problem when EVs were rare. But now the technology is taking off. Several carmakers have said they plan to phase out combustion engines within a few decades, and industry analysts predict at least 145 million EVs will be on the road by 2030, up from just 11 million last year. “People are starting to realize this is an issue,” Thompson says.

Governments are inching toward requiring some level of recycling. In 2018, China imposed new rules aimed at promoting the reuse of EV battery components. The European Union is expected to finalize its first requirements this year. In the United States, the federal government has yet to advance recycling mandates, but several states, including California—the nation’s largest car market—are exploring setting their own rules.

Complying won’t be easy. Batteries differ widely in chemistry and construction, which makes it difficult to create efficient recycling systems. And the cells are often held together with tough glues that make them difficult to take apart. That has contributed to an economic obstacle: It’s often cheaper for batterymakers to buy freshly mined metals than to use recycled materials.

Better recycling methods would not only prevent pollution, researchers note, but also help governments boost their economic and national security by increasing supplies of key battery metals that are controlled by one or a few nations. “On the one side, [disposing of EV batteries] is a waste management problem. And on the other side, it’s an opportunity for producing a sustainable secondary stream of critical materials,” says Gavin Harper, a University of Birmingham researcher who studies EV policy issues.

To jump-start recycling, governments and industry are putting money into an array of research initiatives. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has pumped some $15 million into a ReCell Center to coordinate studies by scientists in academia, industry, and at government laboratories. The United Kingdom has backed the ReLiB project, a multi-institution effort. As the EV industry ramps up, the need for progress is becoming urgent, says Linda Gaines, who works on battery recycling at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory. “The sooner we can get everything moving,” she says, “the better.

Now, recyclers primarily target metals in the cathode, such as cobalt and nickel, that fetch high prices. (Lithium and graphite are too cheap for recycling to be economical.) But because of the small quantities, the metals are like needles in a haystack: hard to find and recover.

To extract those needles, recyclers rely on two techniques, known as pyrometallurgy and hydrometallurgy. The more common is pyrometallurgy, in which recyclers first mechanically shred the cell and then burn it, leaving a charred mass of plastic, metals, and glues. At that point, they can use several methods to extract the metals, including further burning. “Pyromet is essentially treating the battery as if it were an ore” straight from a mine, Gaines says. Hydrometallurgy, in contrast, involves dunking battery materials in pools of acid, producing a metal-laden soup. Sometimes the two methods are combined.

Each has advantages and downsides. Pyrometallurgy, for example, doesn’t require the recycler to know the battery’s design or composition, or even whether it is completely discharged, in order to move ahead safely. But it is energy intensive. Hydrometallurgy can extract materials not easily obtained through burning, but it can involve chemicals that pose health risks.

And recovering the desired elements from the chemical soup can be difficult, although researchers are experimenting with compounds that promise to dissolve certain battery metals but leave others in a solid form, making them easier to recover. For example, Thompson has identified one candidate, a mixture of acids and bases called a deep eutectic solvent, that dissolves everything but nickel.

Both processes produce extensive waste and emit greenhouse gases, studies have found. And the business model can be shaky: Most operations depend on selling recovered cobalt to stay in business, but batterymakers are trying to shift away from that relatively expensive metal. If that happens, recyclers could be left trying to sell piles of “dirt,” says materials scientist Rebecca Ciez of Purdue University.

The ideal is direct recycling, which would keep the cathode mixture intact. That’s attractive to batterymakers because recycled cathodes wouldn’t require heavy processing, Gaines notes (although manufacturers might still have to revitalize cathodes by adding small amounts of lithium). “So if you’re thinking circular economy, [direct recycling] is a smaller circle than pyromet or hydromet.”

In direct recycling, workers would first vacuum away the electrolyte and shred battery cells. Then, they would remove binders with heat or solvents, and use a flotation technique to separate anode and cathode materials. At this point, the cathode material resembles baby powder.

So far, direct recycling experiments have only focused on single cells and yielded just tens of grams of cathode powders. But researchers at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory have built economic models showing the technique could, if scaled up under the right conditions, be viable in the future.

To realize direct recycling, however, batterymakers, recyclers, and researchers need to sort out a host of issues. One is making sure manufacturers label their batteries, so recyclers know what kind of cell they are dealing with—and whether the cathode metals have any value. Given the rapidly changing battery market, Gaines notes, cathodes manufactured today might not be able to find a future buyer. Recyclers would be “recovering a dinosaur. No one will want the product.”

Another challenge is efficiently cracking open EV batteries. Nissan’s rectangular Leaf battery module can take 2 hours to dismantle. Tesla’s cells are unique not only for their cylindrical shape, but also for the almost indestructible polyurethane cement that holds them together.

Engineers might be able to build robots that could speed battery disassembly, but sticky issues remain even after you get inside the cell, researchers note. That’s because more glues are used to hold the anodes, cathodes, and other components in place. One solvent that recyclers use to dissolve cathode binders is so toxic that the European Union has introduced restrictions on its use, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency determined last year that it poses an “unreasonable risk” to workers.“In terms of economics, you’ve got to disassemble … [and] if you want to disassemble, then you’ve got to get rid of glues,” says Andrew Abbott, a chemist at the University of Leicester and Thompson’s adviser.

To ease the process, Thompson and other researchers are urging EV- and batterymakers to start designing their products with recycling in mind. The ideal battery, Abbott says, would be like a Christmas cracker, a U.K. holiday gift that pops open when the recipient pulls at each end, revealing candy or a message. As an example, he points to the Blade Battery, a lithium ferrophosphate battery released last year by BYD, a Chinese EV-maker. Its pack does away with the module component, instead storing flat cells directly inside. The cells can be removed easily by hand, without fighting with wires and glues.

The Blade Battery emerged after China in 2018 began to make EV manufacturers responsible for ensuring batteries are recycled. The country now recycles more lithium-ion batteries than the rest of the world combined, using mostly pyro- and hydrometallurgical methods.

Nations moving to adopt similar policies face some thorny questions. One, Thompson says, is who should bear primary responsibility for making recycling happen. “Is it my responsibility because I bought [an EV] or is it the manufacturer’s responsibility because they made it and they’re selling it?” In the European Union, one answer could come later this year, when officials release the continent’s first rule. And next year a panel of experts created by the state of California is expected to weigh in with recommendations that could have a big influence over any U.S. policy.

Recycling researchers, meanwhile, say effective battery recycling will require more than just technological advances. The high cost of transporting combustible items long distances or across borders can discourage recycling. As a result, placing recycling centers in the right places could have a “massive impact,” Harper says. “But there’s going to be a real challenge in systems integration and bringing all these different bits of research together.”

There’s little time to waste, Abbott says. “What you don’t want is 10 years’ worth of production of a cell that is absolutely impossible to pull apart,” he says. “It’s not happening yet—but people are shouting and worried it will happen.

By Ian Morse

Source: Millions of electric cars are coming. What happens to all the dead batteries? | Science | AAAS

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References

Best, Paul (19 November 2020). “GM doubles down on commitment to electric vehicles, increases spending to $27B”. FOXBusiness. Retrieved 20 November 2020.

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