economics

a jungle of love and debts and jangled through a jumble of life in doubts

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{ Overnight, Gem Spa was transformed into SchitiBank | more | ThanksTim }

‘They muddy the water, to make it seem deep.’ –Nietzsche

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We are connecting everything to everything.

[…]

In the network economy the winner-take-all behavior of Hollywood hit movies will become the norm for most products—even bulky manufactured items. Oil wells are financed this way now; a few big gushers pay for the many dry wells. You try a whole bunch of ideas with no foreknowledge of which ones will work. Your only certainty is that each idea will either soar or flop, with little in between. A few high-scoring hits have to pay for all the many flops. This lotterylike economic model is an anathema to industrialists, but that’s how network economies work. There is much to learn from long-term survivors in existing hits-oriented business (such as music and books). They know you need to keep trying lots of things and that you don’t try to predict the hits, because you can’t.

Two economists proved that hits—at least in show biz—were unpredictable. They plotted sales of first-run movies between May 1985 and January 1986 and discovered that “the only reliable predictor of a film’s box office was its performance the previous week. Nothing else seemed to matter—not the genre of the film, not its cast, not its budget.” The higher it was last week, the more likely it will be high this week— an increasing returns loop fed by word of mouth recommendations. The economists, Art De Vany and David Walls, claim these results mirror a heavy duty physics equation known as the Bose-Einstein distribution. The fact that the only variable that influenced the result was the result from the week before, means, they say, that “the film industry is a complex adaptive system poised between order and chaos.” In other words, it follows the logic of the net: increasing returns and persistent disequilibrium.

[…]

Because prices move inexorably toward the free, the best move in the network economy is to anticipate this cheapness.

{ Kevin Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy, 1998 | PDF | More: Wired }

meep meep

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More than a million customers signed up for Prime memberships in just the third week of December 2013. Sales hit a record high. But UPS couldn’t keep up.

Analysts and companies in the logistics industry think Amazon eventually will become a formidable competitor to UPS and to FedEx. […] The next spring, Amazon was testing contract couriers in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. And in 2015, Amazon introduced Flex, an app that allows people to sign up for delivery shifts using their own vehicles. (Amazon considers Flex drivers independent contractors, too.)

Amazon is only getting faster in delivering orders, and its competitors are racing to catch up. Last April, after reporting a record $3.6 billion quarterly profit, Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, told Wall Street analysts that the company was investing $800 million to make free overnight delivery the default for Prime members in the United States.

The next day, Walmart teased on Twitter: “One-day free shipping … without a membership fee. Now THAT would be groundbreaking. Stay tuned.” Walmart began offering free overnight delivery of 220,000 popular items in a few American cities, with a goal of expanding to 40 major metropolitan areas. […]

In its relentless push for e-commerce dominance, Amazon has built a huge logistics operation in recent years to get more goods to customers’ homes in less and less time. […] The retailer has created a network of contractors across the country that allows the company to expand and shrink the delivery force as needed, while avoiding the costs of taking on permanent employees. […]

Amazon requires that 999 out of 1,000 deliveries arrive on time, according to work orders obtained from contractors with drivers in eight states.

Amazon has repeatedly said in court that it is not responsible for the actions of its contractors, citing agreements that require them, as one puts it, to “defend, indemnify and hold harmless Amazon.” Just last week, an operations manager for Amazon testified in Chicago that it signs such agreements with all its “delivery service partners,” who assume the liability and the responsibility for legal costs. The agreements cover “all loss or damage to personal property or bodily harm including death.” […]

“I think anyone who thinks about Amazon has very conflicted feelings,” said Tim Hauck, whose sister, Stacey Hayes Curry, was killed last year by a driver delivering Amazon packages in a San Diego office park. “It’s sure nice to get something in two days for free. You’re always impressed with that side of it. But this idea that they’ve walled themselves off from responsibility is disturbing.”

{ ProRepublica | Continue reading }

‘The weak and ill-constituted shall perish: first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so.’ –Nietzsche

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Tesla is a car company whose stock trades like a tech company. Tesla might sell 400,000 cars this year. By contrast, Ford might sell 6 million, GM 8.5 million. Granted, the Tesla Model 3 looks and drives like a dream. But when you count salaries and overhead according to Tesla’s own quarterly statements, it costs more to make a Tesla than people are willing to pay for it. And that calculus includes the federal subsidies that will dry up on December 31 of this year. Ford is worth $35 billion and makes money on its cars. Tesla is worth $40 billion and doesn’t. How is this math possible?

Tesla’s stock trades at such a large multiple of its revenue because Musk has convinced shareholders that it’s not a car company, but an artificial-intelligence company that happens to use a fleet of 500,000 cars to collect and label data. It’s a clever sleight-of-hand, but it’s not fooling those who matter. As a fund manager on Wall Street once told me, “You’re not a hedge-fund manager until you’ve shorted Tesla at least once.” […]

We estimate that ninety percent of the startups in the autonomous-vehicle space today will not exist in five years. […] The big crunch is coming because, over the next year, all the major auto and trucking companies will decide on who will be the suppliers for their main production lines in 2022. This won’t be for full self-driving, but for something a little more modest if still vitally important: a car so safe it is incapable of crashing.

{ National Review | Continue reading }

What happens to $47 billion of lease obligations if there’s a recession?

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{ What makes WeWork worth more, the company seems to be saying, is that it’s a tech company + Everything about the company is over-the-top: its growth, losses, potential conflicts of interest and financial gymnastics + The company’s IPO prospectus is an exercise in ducking reality }

Just a whisk brisk sly spry spink spank sprint of a thing theresomere, saultering

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An artificial intelligence system should be recognised as the inventor of two ideas in patents filed on its behalf, a team of academics says.

The AI has designed interlocking food containers that are easy for robots to grasp and a warning light that flashes in a rhythm that is hard to ignore.

Patents offices insist innovations are attributed to humans - to avoid legal complications that would arise if corporate inventorship were recognised.

The academics say this is “outdated”.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

enamel on linen { Christopher Wool, Untitled, 2007 }

‘Reason not the need.’ –Shakespeare

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{ Rich get richer, everyone else not so much in record U.S. expansion }

HELP US VALIDATE THE HIGH OPINION WE HAVE OF OURSELVES

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YouTube’s most lucrative channel in the UK did not feature a pop superstar, a legendary rock band or the biggest TV show around . . . but a child from Lancashire.

Gabriella — or Gaby, as she is known to her 12m-plus subscribers […] could be pulling in between £2,100 and £40,000 a day, depending on daily views, with earnings of up to £1m a year. […]

To novices like me, YouTube’s advertising system is incredibly complex and opaque. Fundamentally, the more popular you are, the more advertisers are prepared to pay. But you need to clock up 4,000 hours of viewing time for your videos in a year and have at least 1,000 subscribers to qualify for the Google Partner Programme, which provides a share of ad revenue.

Vloggers who choose cost-per-month advertising get a share ranging from 5p to £7 for every 1,000 “monetised” views — that is after YouTube takes 45 per cent. Only 40 per cent to 60 per cent of overall views are deemed worthy of advertising spending, based on various factors such as the location of the viewers and their level of “ad engagement”, that is, how much they skip or click on ads. […]

Competition on YouTube is brutal, with more than 450 hours of video uploaded every minute. Most of the experts who spoke to the Financial Times agreed that one or two videos a week was the bare minimum now required for success. Dan Middleton, a British gaming star who earned £25m last year, recently admitted working 12-hour days to post daily videos and stay ahead of the algorithm, which was recently tweaked to reward busier creators. Just missing a day can drastically reduce your views, subscribers and overall revenue.

Small wonder that “influencer burnout” is on the rise. […]

One vlogger with about 80,000 subscribers, who wished to remain anonymous, told me: “My most popular videos get six-figure views but the maximum I earn is a few hundred pounds. When I think about all the research, time, skills and promotion I put into each video, I wonder just how sustainable it can be.” […]

But YouTube advertising is not the only game in town. Creators increasingly make extra cash from influencer marketing. […]

Successful vloggers, and the agents managing their careers, can be cagey about the sums earned from influencer marketing. However, prying some numbers from leading agencies, I found that someone with at least 7m subscribers could earn about £250,000 for a sponsored video, while someone notching up 1m subscribers would command about £100,000. Even so-called “micro-influencers”, defined as having between 3,000 and 100,000 followers on any given platform, can earn between £2,000 and £50,000 for sponsored posts or videos.

{ Financial Times | Continue reading }

concrete with beehive structure, wax, and live bee colony { Pierre Huyghe, Untilled (Liegender Frauenakt), 2012 }

‘Consciousness is nature’s nightmare.’ –Cioran

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Human-robot interaction in workplaces is a research area which remains unexplored.

In this paper, we present the results and analysis of a social experiment we conducted by introducing a humanoid robot (Nadine) into a collaborative social workplace.

The humanoid’s primary task was to function as a receptionist and provide general assistance to the customers. Moreover, the employees who interacted with Nadine were given over a month to get used to her capabilities, after which, the feedback was collected from the staff on the grounds of influence on productivity, affect experienced during interaction and their views on social robots assisting with regular tasks.

Our results show that the usage of social robots for assisting with normal day-to-day tasks is taken quite positively by the co-workers and that in the near future, more capable humanoid social robots can be used in workplaces for assisting with menial tasks.

{ PsyArXiv | Continue reading }

related { Is an Army of Robots Marching on Chinese Jobs? }

art { Hajime Sorayama }

he gone

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Romantic mouth-to-mouth kissing is culturally widespread, although not a human universal, and may play a functional role in assessing partner health and maintaining long-term pair bonds. Use and appreciation of kissing may therefore vary according to whether the environment places a premium on good health and partner investment.

Here, we test for cultural variation (13 countries from six continents) in these behaviours/attitudes according to national health and both absolute (GDP) and relative wealth (GINI).

Our data reveal that kissing is valued more in established relationships than it is valued during courtship.

Also, consistent with the pair bonding hypothesis of the function of romantic kissing, relative poverty (income inequality) predicts frequency of kissing across romantic relationships.

{ Nature | PDF }

photo { Garry Winogrand, New York, 1966 }

Why do men tell women to smile?

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If you wear designer glasses, there’s a very good chance you’re wearing Luxottica frames.

The company’s owned and licensed brands include Armani, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Chanel, Coach, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana, Michael Kors, Oakley, Oliver Peoples, Persol, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Valentino, Vogue and Versace.

Along with LensCrafters, Luxottica also runs Pearle Vision, Sears Optical, Sunglass Hut and Target Optical, as well as the insurer EyeMed Vision Care.

And Italy’s Luxottica now casts an even longer shadow over the eyewear industry after merging last fall with France’s Essilor, the world’s leading maker of prescription eyeglass lenses and contact lenses. The combined entity is called EssilorLuxottica. […]

“You can get amazingly good frames, with a Warby Parker level of quality, for $4 to $8,” Butler said. “For $15, you can get designer-quality frames, like what you’d get from Prada.”

And lenses? “You can buy absolutely first-quality lenses for $1.25 apiece,” Butler said.

Yet those same frames and lenses might sell in the United States for $800.

{ Los Angeles Times | Continue reading }

photo { Jeff Wall, Parent child, 2018 }

History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake

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Multidisciplinary studio curiosity has completed the flagship store of streetwear brand hipanda in omotesando, tokyo, combining digital and analogue features. The immersive retail interior brings together architectural elements with AR (augmented reality) and AE (augmented experience) technology in a sequence of spaces, inviting the visitor to look for the ‘host’ of the house, who is revealed through different interactive experiences, some digital and other analogue.

Curiosity has decked the hipanda store façade with the brand’s logo, which ‘jumps’ towards passersby with visual effects displayed through animations. inside, the main room features a play of light in constant motion, while the gallery space introduces products in a constant movement through AR, continually changing the presentation of the displays to bringing attention to the collection. The room’s walls are half-clad in mirrors, blurring the perception between digital and virtual.

{ designboom | Continue reading }

photo { Butcher shop specialized in game meat and poultry exhibiting a camel, Paris, 1908 }