Friday Roundup: Retail disruption, a “third turning” in tech, Hirst decision, and pro-con on guaranteed income

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Associated Press: Retail workers feel disruption from shifting shopper habits

The retail industry is being radically reshaped by technology, and nobody feels that disruption more starkly than 16 million American shelf stockers, salespeople, cashiers and others. The shifts are driven, like much in retail, by the Amazon effect — the explosion of online shopping and the related changes in consumer behavior and preferences.

As tasks like checkout and inventory are automated, employees are trying to deliver the kind of customer service the internet can’t match.

Washington Post: There’s a serious proposal to give babies born in the U.S. $20,000 (or more)

here’s a proposal to give every newborn in the United States a “Baby Bond” account with somewhere between $500 to $50,000 in cash. Neither the kids nor their parents would be able to touch the money until the child turned 18. Then the young adult could spend the trust fund on attending college, buying a home or starting a business.

The whole point of Baby Bonds would be to dramatically lessen wealth inequality in the United States, according to the economists who came up with the idea, Darrick Hamilton of the New School and William Darity of Duke University.

City Journal: Against the Universal Basic Income

The fatal flaw of the universal basic income is the same one that hampers most existing anti-poverty programs: a lack of emphasis on encouraging work…

For [Charles] Murray, as for many in Silicon Valley, the need for a basic income lies in the crisis that they believe automation and globalization will soon bring to the job market, leaving millions of unskilled workers without employment prospects—at least, as is commonly believed. But plenty of evidence suggests that the projections of future mass unemployment may be greatly exaggerated. Eamonn Kelly, a futurist at Deloitte Consulting, points out that forecasts of tech-driven unemployment have been made for over a century but have never panned out because emerging technology has always eventually created more new jobs than it has destroyed. In every era, new types of machines and production methods converge to enable what Kelly calls “a new art of the people.” With this new art comes new forms of work.

Seattle Times (op-ed, Reps. Buys and Walsh): Rural Washington hardest hit by Hirst water ruling

We continue to work toward a permanent, bipartisan solution that would allow counties to rely on the state’s designated water resource manager to determine the legal availability of water for the purposes of the Growth Management Act. This solution would remove the double layer of bureaucracy imposed by the state Supreme Court and allow a family to build a home based on a well report, as has historically been the case, instead of expensive and unnecessary hydrology studies.

A simple, permanent Hirst solution is doable. It’s within reach.

New Geography: Tech’s New Hotbeds: Cities with fastest growth in STEM jobs are far from Silicon Valley

The most recent data on STEM jobs – in science, technology, engineering or mathematics – suggests that tech jobs, with some exceptions, are shifting to smaller, generally more affordable places.

What we may be witnessing, in fact, is a third turning in the tech world. The initial phase, in the 1950s, was mostly suburban – dominated by the still-powerful Bay Area, Boston and Southern California – and was heavily tied to aerospace and defense. The second phase, now coming to a close, refocused tech growth in two hot spots, the Bay Area and Washington’s Puget Sound, and largely involved social media, search and digital applications for business services.

The third tech turning, now in its infancy, promises greater dispersion to other markets, some with strong tech backgrounds, some with far less.