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One promise of technology is that it is a great equalizer. But the reality is not quite so simple.
The infusion of technology into more industries is one factor that Meanwhile, you won’t have any problems.leading to a division of the US workforce between promising jobs with good wages and low paying jobs with less potential for advancement. My colleague Ben Casselman recently wrote about how the pandemic is causing more companies to use automation, which can eliminate jobs and erode bargaining power, especially for translation workers. lower paid service.
Remote work could widen the gap even further if it persists as another legacy of the pandemic. Professionals with desk jobs may have the option of untying themselves, at least part-time, from a physical workplace. But you can’t butcher livestock, care for children, or renovate highways with Zoom.
Apple has plans for a new pilot program that could show that there may be a more democratic path to remote work. The company said it would experiment with having its retail store employees partially work outside of stores, Bloomberg News reported last week. Even before the coronavirus, many customer service jobs moved from call centers to remote control at least part of the time.
It’s a compelling sign that technology can provide remote working options for more than just professionals, who make up a minority of the American workforce. Only about 1 in 6 US employees are working remotely during the pandemic.
I will admit that Apple may be an exception and that working for one of their retail stores is different from other types of in-person jobs. Apple store employees can give technical advice or handle sales online without having to face the customer in person. That’s not easy for people who work in most other retail jobs, or in healthcare, manufacturing, construction and restaurants.
But one thing we should steer clear of this pandemic is that it most likely won’t be the last crisis to disrupt normal life. It’s good if now many people, businesses, governments and technologists are thinking about how to be able to do more online activities temporarily – not a good thing to have for a few chosen people, which is essential for everyone.
That requires addressing America’s unequal and inefficient internet system and changing the mindset of employers and employees about working away from the workplace. And it may require technologies to reimagine remote work for a wider range of workers. Schools are forced to go online during emergencies, and it’s not going very well for many. But we may not have a choice if future pandemics, climate change-related wildfires or other emergencies disrupt schools, jobs and lives.
The good news is that technology has taken a leap like this before – from professional classes to everyone. Computers used to be confined to beige boxes placed on office desks. Now, almost every business and worker depends on technology in some form on a daily basis – for better and sometimes for worse.
To prepare for a future that could be ravaged by multiple crises that force us apart, we should focus on technologies that make it possible for people to be as far apart as possible while still being as integrated when online.
Tip of the week
This is not a good time to buy a new phone
Unless you accidentally broke your phone during the holiday celebrations, buying a new smartphone right now is not a great idea. Brian X. Chen, curator of The New York Times’ consumer technology column, explains why.
Now is the best time to wait to buy a shiny new phone. Similar to clothing, technology products are seasonal. Companies typically roll out their major phone upgrades in the fall, before the holiday shopping season.
That means if you bought the current iPhone 12 or Pixel 5 model today, you may be disappointed for a few more months as Apple and Google roll out successors and lower the prices of the models. previous phone.
There are some safer ways to buy right now. In general, anything released in the last six months may not have to be refreshed until next year. For example, Apple usually releases new models of its tablets in the spring, so now is a good time to buy a new iPad. But it might still be better to wait, as retailers often drop the price of tablets during Black Friday.
My advice: Keep your credit cards in your wallet. In the meantime, you can revisit my column on how to make your technology last longer by taking steps like inserting a new battery, deep cleaning, and declaring your data. You can completely change your mind about buying something new.
Before we go…
The Chinese government is the boss. Didi, the major on-demand ride-hailing company in China, was pulled from the country’s app stores as China’s internet regulator said it was concerned about how the company handled customer data . My colleague Ray Zhong writes that orders affecting Didi and two other tech companies that were recently made public in the US show that Chinese authorities are calling for explosions in the business. business.
When it comes to the will (and the money), there’s a way: My colleague, Erin Woo, reports on startups that are persuading companies with technology to make remote office tasks easier or more efficient. A startup makes an owl-shaped speaker to assist remote workers in a meeting and “automatically zoom in on who is speaking.”
Text snapshots on your phone aren’t all pointless clutter. “If memories are what make us who we are, our screenshots will tell a story about who we are in the digital age,” wrote Clio Chang for The New York Times Magazine.
Great catch, kid! Thanks to an On Tech reader – Scott Lewis of Ellensburg, Wash. – suggested this highlight from a recent baseball game in Pittsburgh. Here’s more on that talented fan, 11-year-old Christian Gale.
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