New Study Explores Whether Would We Rather Lose Our Jobs to Robots or to Humans?

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Dear Commons Community,

Advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are increasingly enabling organizations to replace humans with intelligent machines and algorithms. Forecasts predict that, in the coming years, these new technologies will affect millions of workers in a wide range of occupations, replacing human workers in numerous tasks, but potentially also in whole occupations. Despite the intense debate about these developments in economics, sociology and other social sciences, research has not examined how people react to the technological replacement of human labor.

Robots are already replacing people in some jobs. Apps take orders in chain restaurants, and supermarkets have started using self-checkout machines to replace checkers. This is the new reality. The Brookings Institution predicts that 36 million Americans face a “high exposure to automation” in the coming decades, meaning they will have more than 70% of their role at risk of being substituted by artificial intelligence.

If you had to choose between getting replaced in your job by a robot or by another human, which would you pick? That’s the hard choice that researchers at the Technical University of Munich and Erasmus University in Rotterdam posed to almost 2,000 respondents in a study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

Turns out, thanks to our egos, we take job loss harder when it’s our fellow human replacing us, not robots. Most of us would actually rather lose our jobs to robots than other humans if we were forced to choose.

Researchers Armin Granulo, Christoph Fuchs and Stefano Puntoni asked participants to imagine scenarios in which they were employees being replaced by modern software.

In one study scenario, a large manufacturing firm was reorganizing and some of the existing employees were going to lose their jobs. To achieve the reorganization goals, participants were told, the company had two options: Replace existing employees either with new employees or by robots that could do the tasks automatically.

When they were observers of this scenario, 67% of participants preferred to see the employees replaced by fellow humans rather than by robots. But when participants were told that their own job was at risk, the stakes got more personal. The majority (60%) said they would prefer getting replaced by a robot rather than a fellow human.

In another exercise, researchers measured how sad, frustrated or angry participants felt about the replacement scenario. People losing jobs to robots got a more negative reaction when participants were observers, but when it was their own fictional job on the line, participants said they were more upset about getting replaced by a human.

Why does getting replaced by a fellow colleague seemingly upset us more than getting replaced by a robot? The researchers suggest this contradiction makes sense once you consider human egos.

“It’s much harder to compare yourself to a robot than to another person,” Granulo, the study’s lead author, told the Huffington Post. “Your identity is really threatened if you are replaced by somebody else, because it’s easy to compare yourself to another person and think, ‘Hey, why is he better?’” In other words, when a colleague with similar human skills is picked to replace you, you may question your own abilities in a way that you would not if replaced by software.

Fuchs said we may have different motives when we are given the opportunity to give someone else employment over a robot, without risking our own role. From a safe observational distance, we tend to think, “Well, it’s better that humans have jobs,” Fuchs said.

“The technological replacement of human labor has unique psychological consequences, and these consequences should be taken into account,” Granulo said. “The psychological effects of people’s self-worth, how they think about their future and their skills… it matters why people lose their jobs.”

Research shows that we can handle hard business decisions like layoffs when we know that the process was fair and we could give input into the process and had ample notice. If you want to change someone’s job with automation, it shouldn’t just happen out of nowhere.

But, unfortunately, that’s what some workers who are actually experiencing automation feel is happening. A November report from the think tank New America was based on 40 in-depth interviews with grocery, food, retail and administrative workers on the frontlines of automation. For them, automation was not a faceless inevitability but a conscious decision made by human managers.

We are in the very early stages of a world that will become increasingly dominated by robots and artificial intelligence.  Workers will have a lot to be concerned with as they strive to retool their skills to find meaningful employment.




Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program Under Fire for Ineptness!

Dear Commons Community,

When Congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program in 2007, lawmakers wanted to draw people to vital but relatively low-paid careers with a promise: after a decade, if borrowers faithfully paid their debts and pursued their work, they would have the remainder of their student loans written off.  Occupations such as firefighting, teaching, nursing, public interest law, and the military would qualify

Since then, tens of thousands of graduates were led to believe by their student loan servicers that they would receive relief of their loans at the end of a decade, only to be shocked when their applications were rejected.   The New York Times has a featured article today focusing on the PSLF problems.  Here is an excerpt.

“The blame can be spread broadly — to loan servicers who at best failed to inform borrowers of what was needed to qualify, to the single company in charge of the program that has been repeatedly cited for shoddy service, mismanagement and poor record keeping, to lawmakers who wrote in a baffling list of requirements, and to the Education Department, which has failed to step in and correct the problem…

Fewer than 1 percent of those who have applied for relief under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program have been deemed eligible. Lawsuits are proliferating, along with dashed hopes…

More than 80,000 professionals have been denied the promised relief, through bureaucratic snafus, confusion over complex rules or just poor management. The first deadline came and went in 2017, and fewer than 1 percent of the 28,000 applicants received anything. Congress rushed to create an emergency “fix” fund last year — and it too had a dismal 99 percent rejection rate.”

The entire story of PSLF is a classic example of bureaucratic incompetence and much of the blame can be placed on the United States Department of Education under the inept leadership of Betsy DeVos.


Aleksander Kwasniewski, Ex-Polish President, Defends Hunter Biden and Burisma!

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Aleksander Kwasniewski

Dear Commons Community,

We have been inundated the past several months and especially during the impeachment hearings with Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden and his involvement with the Ukrainian gas company, Burisma.  Aleksander Kwasniewski, the former president of Poland, who is on the board of Burisma, said yesterday that  Hunter Biden was chosen to join its advisory board because of his name.   But Kwasniewski insisted in an interview that Biden was an active board member who helped the company, and that he never used his relationship with his father, Joe Biden, to further the company’s interests.  As reported by The Associated Press:

“I understand that if someone asks me to be part of some project it’s not only because I’m so good, it’s also because I am Kwasniewski and I am a former president of Poland,” he said. “And this is all inter-connected. No-names are a nobody. Being Biden is not bad. It’s a good name.”

Kwasniewski also said Burisma members never tried to use Hunter Biden to curry favor with the administration of Barack Obama when Joe Biden was vice president.

“He was a normal member of this group,” he said. “We didn’t ask him — and he never said anything — about his father.”

Only at dinners was Biden sometimes asked how his father was doing and on one occasion Biden spoke about the death of his brother, Beau, Kwasniewski said.

He said Hunter Biden carried out research and brought a unique American perspective to the company, including in the areas of corporate governance, capital markets and gas drilling equipment, where Americans are world leaders.

“He collected information,” Kwasniewski said. “He was useful for us because he knew something that we didn’t know.”

Biden’s time on the board from 2014 to 2019 has become a focus of the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump. Trump is under scrutiny for pressing Ukraine’s young new president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to carry out investigations into the Bidens and Burisma, withholding for a time nearly $400 million in military aid as a war drags on in Ukraine’s east against Russia-backed separatists.

Kwasniewski said requests made to Ukraine’s prosecutor by Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, seeking to obtain comments depicting Burisma as corrupt, created a dangerous situation for the company.

Asked to respond to Trump describing Hunter Biden as a “disgrace” due to his Burisma connection, Kwasniewski shot back: “This man is speaking about someone who is disgraced? Donald Trump? It should be forbidden for him.”

Nevertheless, some U.S. officials at the time thought it was inappropriate for Hunter Biden to be serving on the company’s board when his father, as vice president and Obama’s emissary to the region, was pushing Ukraine to clean up systemic corruption.

During the impeachment inquiry this fall, George Kent, a career diplomat overseeing Ukraine policy, testified that in 2015 he warned the vice president’s staff that his son’s position with the company “could create the perception of a conflict of interest” but nothing was done about it.

Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky, who had been the minister of natural resources under former President Viktor Yanykovych, ran into trouble after Yanukovych’s 2014 ouster. Prosecutors accused him of abusing his position to embezzle state money.

It was in that context in 2014 that Kwasniewski, Hunter Biden and others were invited onto the board as part of a strategy by Burisma to clean up its reputation.

His strategy worked and the company has continued operating. However, Zlochevsky, who lives abroad, is still facing a probe on suspicions of large-scale embezzlement.

Kwasniewski acknowledged that the company has a difficult past “because the past of all companies, all fortunes in Ukraine — diplomatically speaking — are very complicated.”

“But now the company is really well organized,” Kwasniewski said. “They want to work according to the rules. The role of this company is very important for Ukraine because the success of Burisma means less dependence of Ukraine on Russia.”

When Hunter Biden was tapped for Burisma, Kwasniewski had a short phone call with him in which he told him Burisma was determined to be well-managed and transparent.

Kwasniewski also recalled telling him that if Burisma succeeded in tapping into Ukraine’s gas deposits, it would help Ukraine gain energy independence from Russia, which is key to its broader struggle to exist as a sovereign nation.

Kwasniewski, who was Poland’s president from 1995 to 2005, explained that that was his own reason for signing on to Burisma’s advisory board.

He jokingly called Burisma “the most popular company in the United States,” but turning serious, said Burisma colleagues are upset at being dragged into a U.S. political affair and feel like “sailors on a small boat in the middle of a cyclone.”

“For the company it’s a difficult time,” he said. “And they are innocent in this situation.”

He said Burisma now produces about 25% to 30% of the gas on the Ukrainian market and Ukraine — where Russia in past winters has turned off the gas flow as a form of political pressure — is in fact becoming “less and less dependent on Russia.”

An insider’s view!


Tony’s Thoughts – Tenth Anniversary!

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Dear Commons Community,

As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want to give thanks to all those who have visited this blog over the last ten years.  It was in November 2009 that Matt Gold suggested to me in an elevator in the CUNY Graduate Center that I consider blogging on what was then the new CUNY Commons.  I gave it a try and never thought I would still be doing it in 2019.  But 6 million plus visitors later has encouraged me to keep up this activity.

My deep and humble appreciation to all!


Andrew Gillum sets sights on denying Trump victory in Florida!

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Andrew Gillum

Dear Commons Community,

Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Fla., and the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor in the state, says he knows why President Trump left his lifelong home of New York to take up residence in Florida and doubts his “antics” for reelection will work. 

“The president knows as well as anybody how critical Florida is …We are the only state on the map right now that could deny Donald Trump single-handedly a second term. So the president’s campaign manager nationally has relocated to the state of Florida. His national Hispanic outreach effort is based out of Miami, Fla., and now he has moved to the state of Florida as a way to further shore up his support.”   As reported by Yahoo News, Gillum said.

“People are going to see through those kinds of antics.. Florida is a highly competitive state, and I’ve committed that my job between now and November 2020 is doing everything that we can to flip Florida blue in the presidential race.”

Trump, who won Florida in 2016 by 1.2 percentage points, earlier this month cited high taxes and poor treatment from New York officials in his decision to relocate his permanent residence to Palm Beach. 

Trump’s reelection campaign intends to spend over $200 million in Florida alone, Bloomberg News reported, in its bid to raise $1 billion nationwide. Since becoming president, Trump has held nine rallies in Florida.  

“So goes Florida, so goes the country,” said Gillum, who lost his gubernatorial run last year. “If you take Florida, by and large you win the White House.” 

“I don’t think we’re going to run and win this race against Donald Trump by basically saying Donald Trump is a bad person or that he’s unqualified for his office. We know that. We’re gonna win this race by giving voters something to go out there and vote for and not just against,” the Florida native said, before offering advice to Democrats looking to win over his state and take the Oval Office. 

“Run towards the future, run towards painting a picture that we the regular Americans can see ourselves in. If this is about deposing Donald Trump, that doesn’t tell me enough about what you’re going to do for my life, for my family, for my children, for my future,” Gillum said. 

He added: “Elections are won on the future and not the past, and we need a nominee and a vice presidential nominee who are going to be concentrated on painting that kind of a futuristic vision and not one about whether Donald Trump is bad or not. I’ve already made my decision about that, and frankly, most voters have as well.”

Gillum, a proponent of protecting and expanding voting rights, revealed his fears that election interference will discourage voters from turning up at the polls next year. 

“I have the belief that at the end of the day, [Trump is] going to be held accountable for having accepted foreign resources in a domestic election,” he said, but “the way this plays out for everyday people is it rips away at the confidence that they have when they go to vote, that their intention, that their vote is actually going to be registered in the system and that it will count.”

“That is the long-lasting legacy of not just Russian involvement and intrusion in domestic elections,” Gillum added, “but also the lasting legacy of voter disenfranchisement, voter intimidation, the legacy of lives beyond any one election cycle. It plays with the psyche and it convinces people that maybe their votes don’t count, which we have to fight against every day.”

The Democratic Party can use a few more Andrew Gillums in places like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.


White House Budget Office held Ukraine aid on same day as phone call on July 25, 2019!

Dear Commons Community,

NBC News reported yesterday that the White House Office of Management and Budget made its first official move to withhold military aid to Ukraine on July 25, the same day President Donald Trump spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy by phone, according to a summary of OMB documents produced by the House Budget Committee.  As reported.

“The OMB documents also show that while that first letter to withhold the apportionment of the funds was signed by a career official, subsequent letters to freeze the aid were signed by a political appointee, Michael Duffey, the office’s associated director for national security programs. Duffey has refused to testify before House impeachment investigators despite being served with a subpoena on Oct. 25.

CNN first reported on the timing of the official hold on Ukraine aid.

The OMB documents were provided to the House Budget Committee after the panel’s chairman, John Yarmuth, D-Ky., and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., sent the administration a letter on Sept. 27 requesting information about the agency’s involvement in withholding of aid, including nearly $400 million in assistance for Ukraine.

The documents, which represent only a portion of the materials requested by the committee, have not been publicly released, but NBC News has reviewed a Budget Committee summary of their contents.

The summary says the review of the materials made the lawmakers “more concerned that the apportionment process has been abused to undermine Congress’s constitutional power of the purse,” specifically citing the timeline of the withholding of aid and the “seemingly unprecedented step” of having a political appointee handle the apportionments of funding.

OMB asserts in the documents that it first asked the Defense Department about the military aid to Ukraine on June 19, according to the summary — four weeks before the agency told an interagency group that included the Defense and State departments about the instruction to withhold all security assistance money.

The first letters signed by Duffey, on Aug. 3 and 6, withheld two tranches of money for Ukraine, one from the State Department and then another, larger amount from the Defense Department, according to the committee summary.

After Democrats on the House and Senate Appropriations committees wrote OMB and the White House on Aug. 9 to warn that the move could be illegal, Duffey signed another letter allowing the release of 2 percent of the State Department funds each day, but the Defense Department money continued to withheld, the summary said.

Democrats on the House and Senate Budget committees sent another letter to the administration on Aug. 19 urging the release of the aid, the summary says. On Aug. 29, one day after Politico published a story revealing the aid freeze, Duffey moved to release the State Department money at a more rapid rate, at 25 percent each week in September, but the Defense Department aid remained on hold.

Ultimately, a few days after three House committees launched a wide-ranging investigation into the allegations that Trump, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and possibly others tried to pressure the Ukrainian government to dig up dirt on Trump’s political rivals, the State Department told Congress on Sept. 11 that it would release the remaining Ukraine aid, and Defense Department aid was finally released on Sept. 12, the summary said.

The release of the Ukraine assistance came a month after the first whistleblower filed a formal complaint addressed to Congress on Aug. 12 that detailed concerns over the hold on aid and the July 25 phone call, in which Trump asked his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who had business dealings in the country, as well as a debunked 2016 conspiracy theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 election.

The complaint, however, was withheld from Congress until Sept. 25, a day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., launched the impeachment inquiry based on the whistleblower complaint.”

Republicans and the White House will probably comment on this revelation that there is no evidence that President Trump directly ordered the withholding of aid and has no bearing on his impeachment inquiry. Duh!



Federal Judge: Carl McGahn Must Comply with House Subpoena. But Will He?

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Carl McGahn

Dear Commons Community,

A federal judge has ordered Carl McGahn to appear before Congress in a setback to President Donald Trump’s effort to keep his top aides from testifying. The outcome could lead to renewed efforts by House Democrats to compel testimony from other high-ranking officials, including former national security adviser John Bolton.

Not even the president’s closest aides who receive a subpoena from Congress can “ignore or defy congressional compulsory process, by order of the President or otherwise,” Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson wrote in ruling on a lawsuit filed by the House Judiciary Committee. 

McGahn was a star witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, and Democrats wanted to question McGahn about possible obstruction of justice by Trump. That was months before the House started an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s effort to get Ukraine to announce an investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden. 

The administration will appeal Jackson’s ruling.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“This decision contradicts longstanding legal precedent established by Administrations of both political parties,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said. “We will appeal and are confident that the important constitutional principle advanced by the Administration will be vindicated.”

The Justice Department will seek to put the ruling on hold in the meantime, department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said.

William Burck, an attorney for McGahn, said the former White House counsel will comply with the subpoena, absent a court-imposed stay.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he hoped McGahn would “promptly appear before the committee.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement calling Jackson’s decision “yet another resounding ruling that the Administration’s claim of ‘absolute immunity’ from Congress’s subpoenas has no basis in the law or our democracy, and must immediately cease.”

The White House has argued that McGahn and other witnesses have “absolute immunity” from testifying.

But such immunity “simply does not exist,” Jackson wrote in a 118-page ruling. “That is to say, however busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her” from complying with a valid congressional subpoena, Jackson wrote. She is an appointee of President Barack Obama.

Whether McGahn has to provide all the information Congress seeks, though, is another matter, the judge wrote. The president may be able to assert “executive privilege” on some sensitive issues, she wrote.

McGahn was a vital witness for Mueller, whose April report detailed the president’s outrage over the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump’s efforts to curtail it.

In interviews with Mueller’s team, McGahn described being called at home by the president on the night of June 17, 2017, and being directed to call the Justice Department and say Mueller had conflicts of interest and should be removed. McGahn declined the command, deciding he would resign rather than carry it out, the report said.

Once that episode became public in the news media, the report said, the president demanded that McGahn dispute the news stories and asked him why he had told Mueller about it and why he had taken notes of their conversations. McGahn refused to back down.

It’s unclear if McGahn’s testimony would include any new revelations beyond what Mueller has already released. Mueller concluded that he could not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice, but also that there was insufficient evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

House Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry have yet to try to force Bolton to testify, and a subpoena for Bolton’s former deputy, Charles Kupperman, to appear was withdrawn. Democrats have said they don’t want to get bogged down in court fights over testimony.”

In all likelihood, McGahn’s testimony will get bogged down in the courts.


New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg: Republicans’ “big lie” that there was no collusion and Trump was exonerated!

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Michelle Goldberg has a piece today debunking the Republicans’ “big lie” that there was no collusion and Trump was exonerated.  She reviews how we got to now in the disgraceful way Trump and the Republicans have tried to steer the Russian meddling narrative. Here is an excerpt.

“There are two very big lies that Donald Trump and his sycophants have used, through aggressive, bombastic repetition, to shape the public debate about impeachment, and about Trump’s legitimacy more broadly.

The first big lie is that “the people” elected Trump, and that the constitutional provision of impeachment would invalidate their choice. In fact, Trump is president only because a constitutional provision invalidated the choice of the American people. Trump lost the popular vote and might have lost the Electoral College without Russian interference, and yet many Democrats and pundits have been bullied into accepting the fiction that he has democratic, and not just constitutional, legitimacy.

The second big lie is that Russia didn’t help elect Trump, and that the president has been absolved of collusion. It’s true that the report by Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, did not find enough evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russian state actors. But the Mueller report found abundant evidence that the campaign sought Russian help, benefited from that help and obstructed the F.B.I. investigation into Russian actions. His investigation resulted in felony convictions for Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal lawyer, first national security adviser, and longtime political adviser, among others.

Had public life in America not been completely deformed by blizzards of official lies, right-wing propaganda and the immovable wall of Republican bad faith, the Mueller report would have ended Trump’s minoritarian presidency.”

Below is the entire column.  Please read it!



New York Times

Michelle Goldberg:  Republicans’ Big Lie About Trump and Russia!

Collusion wasn’t a hoax and Trump wasn’t exonerated.

By Michelle Goldberg

Nov. 25, 2019


There are two very big lies that Donald Trump and his sycophants have used, through aggressive, bombastic repetition, to shape the public debate about impeachment, and about Trump’s legitimacy more broadly.

The first big lie is that “the people” elected Trump, and that the constitutional provision of impeachment would invalidate their choice. In fact, Trump is president only because a constitutional provision invalidated the choice of the American people. Trump lost the popular vote and might have lost the Electoral College without Russian interference, and yet many Democrats and pundits have been bullied into accepting the fiction that he has democratic, and not just constitutional, legitimacy.

The second big lie is that Russia didn’t help elect Trump, and that the president has been absolved of collusion. It’s true that the report by Robert Mueller, the former special counsel, did not find enough evidence to prove a criminal conspiracy between Trump’s campaign and Russian state actors. But the Mueller report found abundant evidence that the campaign sought Russian help, benefited from that help and obstructed the F.B.I. investigation into Russian actions. His investigation resulted in felony convictions for Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, personal lawyer, first national security adviser, and longtime political adviser, among others.

Had public life in America not been completely deformed by blizzards of official lies, right-wing propaganda and the immovable wall of Republican bad faith, the Mueller report would have ended Trump’s minoritarian presidency. Instead, something utterly perverse happened. Democrats, deflated by the Mueller report’s anticlimactic rollout, decided to move on rather than keep the focus on Trump’s world-historic treachery. Republicans, meanwhile, started screaming about a “Russia hoax” ostensibly perpetrated on their dear leader. Among them was the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, who in 2016 was surreptitiously recorded telling his congressional colleagues that he thinks President Vladimir Putin of Russia pays Trump. “Swear to God,” he said at the time.

This brings us to where we are now. Democrats understand that the Ukraine scandal is an outgrowth of the Russia scandal — as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last month, with Trump, “all roads seem to lead to Putin.” Yet they’ve made the political calculation that reopening the broader story of how Trump has been compromised by Russia is a political loser.

In her closed-door deposition last month, the former White House Russia expert Fiona Hill suggested that Putin may have targeted Trump well before he entered politics. Representative Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland, tried to clarify: “Why do you believe that Putin was targeting Donald Trump from his days as a businessman?” Hill responded, “Because that’s exactly what President Putin and others were doing.” No one followed up on this when Hill testified publicly.

Rather, it’s Republicans, with their heroic capacity for shamelessness, who want to talk about Russia. They’ve set out to investigate the investigators, trying to make efforts to uncover the truth about Trump’s Russia connections, rather than the connections themselves, into a scandal. And now they’re trying to expand their big lie about Russia to cover Ukraine as well. The president, McCarthy said last month, “was trying to get to the bottom, just as every American would want to know, why did we have this Russia hoax that actually started within Ukraine.”

Because Republicans have been so successful in shrouding the origins of the Russia investigation in a miasma of misinformation, I hope some talented filmmaker makes a movie out of the new book by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, “Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump.” Simpson and Fritsch are the co-founders of Fusion GPS, the research firm that investigated Trump during the 2016 campaign, first for the conservative Washington Free Beacon, and then for a lawyer for the Hillary Clinton campaign. It was Fusion GPS that hired the British ex-spy Christopher Steele to look into Trump’s Russia connections, and it sits at the center of countless pro-Trump conspiracy theories. When Republicans controlled the House, Fritsch told me on Monday, “The only bank records that were subpoenaed by the House Intelligence Committee were ours.”

“Crime in Progress” is the best procedural yet written about the discovery of Trump’s Russia ties. It demolishes a number of right-wing talking points, including the claim that the Steele dossier formed the basis of the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence inquiry into Trump. (The Justice Department inspector general’s report on the origins of the Russia investigation will reportedly disprove this canard once and for all.) But it also makes plain what many Republicans knew before the 2016 election, even if they’ve now pretended to forget it. For years, Trump was financially entangled with organized crime as well as with Kremlin-friendly oligarchs, and by keeping those entanglements secret, he gave Putin leverage over him from the moment he took office.

Write Simpson and Fritsch, “In the end, the Mueller probe sidestepped the question that so unnerved Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele in the summer of 2016: Was the president of the United States under the influence of a foreign adversary?” Republicans have used all the power at their command to defame people who’ve asked this question. Perhaps that’s because otherwise they’d have to take seriously all the evidence that the answer is yes.

A.I.’s Threat to White-Collar Jobs!

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Dear Commons Community,

Jamie Condliffe, a writer for the New York Times has an article this morning analyzing the the threat of artificial intelligence (A.I.) to white-collar jobs.  It is a bit scary. Some workers may be more exposed to artificial intelligence than previously thought. Here is an excerpt.

“The story usually goes like this: Automation is going to take our jobs.

But the reality is far more nuanced, and debate rages about which jobs will be automated, at what scale and where. For the most part, one thing is agreed on: Blue-collar workers who perform repetitive work are most exposed.

That might not be quite right, though. A study published by the Brookings Institution on Wednesday looks at the degree to which professions are exposed to A.I. by comparing job descriptions with patent descriptions of new A.I. technologies, a method developed by the Stanford researcher Michael Webb. It found that A.I. will be “a significant factor in the future work lives of relatively well-paid managers, supervisors and analysts,” including those in relatively technical roles.

Perhaps the most surprising finding: Holders of bachelor’s degrees would be exposed to A.I. over five times more than workers with only a high school degree.

“Lots of math, science, technology and business roles involve, say, operating a power plant to maximize energy efficiency, or running an ad campaign to minimize cost per click,” explained Mark Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings and one of the study’s authors. “And these are exactly the things that A.I. is best at.”

Previously, similar studies lumped together robotics and A.I. But when they are picked apart, it makes sense that A.I. — which is about planning, perceiving and so on — would hit white-collar roles.

Still, workers needn’t panic. Carl Benedikt Frey, an economist at Oxford University who specializes in technology and employment, said A.I. was “more likely to complement people in those jobs rather than replacing them.” And Mr. Muro points out that “these workers are frequently the ones that companies have already invested in” and are likely to have been consulted about their futures.

Mr. Muro added: “I for one am a bit less concerned about the white-collar folks than the less educated ones stuck in dead-end service work or the gig economy.”   r

I hope Mr. Frey and Mr. Muro are right but I see A.I. severely impacting white-collar jobs including the professions (teaching, medicine, law) in the not-too-distant future.