Early on the morning of October 12, 2020, 27-year-old Jang Deok-joon came home after working his overnight shift at South Korean e-commerce giantCoupang and jumped into the shower. He had worked at the company’swarehouse in the southern city ofDaegufor a little over a year, hauling crates full of items ready to be shipped to delivery hubs. When he didn’t come out of the bathroom for over an hour and a half, his father opened the door to find him unconscious and curled in a ball in the bathtub, his arms tucked tightly into his chest. He was rushed to the hospital, but with no pulse and failing to breathe on his own, doctors pronounced him dead at 9:09 a.m. The coroner ruled that he had died from a heart attack.
Jang’s story caught my eye because he was the third Coupang worker to die that year, adding to growing concern about the nature of the company’s success. And Coupang has been astoundingly successful: it has risen to become South Korea’s third-largest employer in just a few years, harnessing a vast network of warehouses, 37,000 workers, a fleet of drivers, and a suite of AI-driven tools to take a commanding position in South Korea’s crowded ecommerce market. Coupang is everywhere in South Korea: half of residents have downloaded its app, and its “Rocket Delivery” service—the company claims 99.3% of orders are delivered within 24 hours—has earned it a reputation for “out-Amazoning even Amazon.”
Coupang’s use of AI to shorten delivery times is especially striking: its proprietary algorithms calculate everything from the most efficient way to stack packages in delivery trucks, to the precise route and order of deliveries for drivers. Inwarehouses,AI anticipates purchases and calculates shipping deadlines for outbound packages. This allows Coupang to promise delivery in less than a day for millions of items, from a 60-cent facemask to a $9,000 camera. Such innovations are why Coupang confidently bills itself as the “future of ecommerce,” and were the driving force behind company’s recent launch on Nasdaq that valued the company at $84 billion—the biggest US IPO by an Asian company since Alibaba in 2014.
But what does all this innovation and efficiency mean for the company’s workers?
That was the question I had in mind last summer, before Jang’s death, when I met several of Coupang’s warehouse and delivery workers. Like Jang, who had told his mother that workers were treated like “disposable objects,” they had all experienced the dehumanizing effects of Coupang’s algorithmic innovations. Some talked about a bruising pace of work hitched to the expectations of superhuman delivery times. Others said it was difficult to even go to the bathroom at work. In 2014, when Coupang began offering Rocket Delivery, its on-demand delivery service, it had promised stable careers with above-average benefits even to bottom-rung workers. But somewhere along the way, it seemed, the workers had been reduced to what South Korean labor journalist Kim Ha-young has called the “arms and legs of artificial intelligence.”
It is no coincidence that much of this criticism mirrored reports of working conditions at Amazon. Although Coupang was founded in 2010 as a Groupon-like deals platform, it switched to Amazon’s vertically integrated fulfillment model in 2014, pledging to become the “Amazon of Korea.” In doing so, it ran into the exact same problems with labor.
Demanding work, on demand
What makes Rocket Delivery work is certainty—a promise that Coupang’s algorithms will determine exactly when a batch of deliveries needs to leave the warehouse in order to make it to you on time. In the company’s warehouses, these delivery deadlines come approximately every two hours.
“I realized when I started working there that the sole priority was meeting Rocket Delivery deadlines,” said Go Geon, one former warehouse worker I spoke to. “We were just robots.” Go went on medical leave from his job at Coupang in May 2020 after tearing his left hamstring while running to meet a deadline. He has since been let go by the company.
During the pandemic, the casualties of the obsession with hyperefficiency stacked up. From 2019 to 2020,
By: Max S. Kim
Title: This company delivers packages faster than Amazon, but workers pay the price
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2021/06/09/1025884/coupang-amazon-labor-costs-worker-death/
Published Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2021 09:00:00 +0000
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LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Bitso, a leading cryptocurrency platform operating in Latin America, and the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), today announced the joint launch of the first collectible NFT of the Mexico National Team’s jerseys that was acquired in cryptocurrencies.
This morning through their social media platforms, the FMF and Bitso announced the opportunity to acquire the new official National Team fan jerseys ahead of the team’s participation in the 2022 World Cup. In just 20 minutes, the entire collection sold out.
The NFTs of the jerseys have an exclusive design for the metaverse – each is unique on the blockchain and can be resold by its owner in subsequent transactions.
The collection consisted of 100 official physical jerseys, each with a corresponding NFT version of the jersey that fans’ avatars can wear within the Decentraland metaverse. Each physical and NFT jersey set sold for the equivalent of $1,800 MXN in ethers.
“Our mission is to make cryptocurrency useful in the everyday life of Mexicans; we are committed to spreading the technology through innovative opportunities that help people throughout the country familiarize themselves with this new world. We are very excited to offer the incredible, historic opportunity for the fans of our National Team so that through their Bitso account, they can wear the colors of the National Team on and ‘off’ the field in the metaverse.”
– Bárbara González Briseño, General Director of Bitso México
Created by Bitso, the virtual jersey sports the official colors of Mexico and the new National Team shield, characteristics that will make it stand out when users wear it in the virtual world of Decentraland.
The post LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: LATAM crypto exchange Bitso and FMF launch NFT of Mexico’s National Team jerseys
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/29/latam-crypto-exchange-bitso-and-fmf-launch-nft-of-mexicos-national-team-jerseys/
Published Date: Fri, 29 Jul 2022 15:19:02 +0000
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Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
EXMO, a crypto exchange platform operating since 2014, announced this week a rebranded visual identity with includes a new logo, brand colors, and design features. This new branding comes as EXMO continues to grow its crypto platform while also seeking to expand its presence in other jurisdictions.
Some new developments underway at EXMO:
Soon, users will be able to earn passive income from EXMO’s new staking platform.Plans to launch an EXMO crypto debit card.Expansion of its services in international markets with the opening of offices in Poland and Lithuania.
EXMO’s new logo
The rationale for the re-brand:
“At EXMO, we have a vision of a world where crypto is in every wallet. Hassle-free. We want to achieve this by making crypto as simple and accessible to everyone as possible. And we know that you already appreciate EXMO for offering user-friendly services and helpful support. Also for the opportunity to trade anywhere and anytime, closing deals in just a few taps. Such important changes required a rethinking of our corporate style, which has long needed a massive upgrade. So today we are introducing a new brand identity for EXMO with a completely new visual concept. We are launching a new logo, brand colors, and design elements. Our key design principles are simplicity, boldness, and a pinch of fun. But most importantly, we have changed our logo. Simple and easily recognizable, it represents the humanity of our brand. The logo stands out due to the wavy letter ‘m’ which symbolizes exchange rate charts and also resembles a spring that will launch you into the crypto world.”
– The EXMO Team regarding the re-branding
The post Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth appeared first on CryptoNinjas.
Title: Long-running crypto exchange EXMO unveils “lively” rebrand amidst growth
Sourced From: www.cryptoninjas.net/2022/07/26/long-running-crypto-exchange-exmo-unveils-lively-rebrand-amidst-growth/
Published Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2022 08:10:38 +0000
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Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
The blistering heat waves that set temperature records across much of the US in recent days have strained electricity systems, threatening to knock out power in vulnerable regions of the country.
The electricity has largely stayed online so far this summer, but there have been scattered problems and close calls already.
Heavy use of energy-sucking air-conditioners is the biggest problem. But intense heat can also reduce the output of power plants, blow transformers, and force power lines to sag. Severe droughts across large parts of the country have also significantly reduced the availability of hydroelectric power, according to the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC).
It’s unlikely to get better soon. A number of grid operators may struggle to meet peak summer demand, creating the risk of rolling blackouts, the NERC report notes.
The nation’s isolated and antiquated grids are in desperate need of upgrades to keep the lights, heat, and air-conditioning on in the midst of extreme weather events that climate change is making more common, severe, and dangerous. One clear way to ease many of these issues is to more tightly integrate the country’s regional grids, stitching them together with more long-range transmission lines.
If electricity generated in one area can be more easily shared across much wider regions, power can simply flow to where it’s needed at those moments when customers crank up air-conditioners en masse, or when power plants or fuel supply lines fail amid soaring temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes, or other events, says Liza Reed, a research manager focused on transmission at the Niskanen Center, a Washington, DC, think tank.
The problem is it’s proved difficult to build more long-range transmission and grid interconnections for a variety of reasons, including the permitting challenges of erecting wires through private and public lands across cities, counties, and states and the reluctance of local authorities to forfeit control or submit to greater federal oversight.
The case of Texas
The unreliability of the US grid is not a new problem. Severe heat and winter storms have repeatedly exposed the frailty of electricity systems in recent years, leaving thousands to millions of people without power as temperatures spiked or plunged.
One of the fundamental challenges is that the grids today are highly fragmented. There are three main electricity networks within the US: the Eastern Grid, the Western Grid, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). But there are numerous regional transmission organizations within those first two systems, including the California Independent System Operator, Southwest Power Pool, PJM Interconnection, New York ISO, and more.
These grids form a complex web of networks operating under different regulators, rules and market structures, and often with limited connections between them.
A variety of regional transmission organizations oversee different parts of the nation’s aging and fragmented grids, which operate under different rules and with often limited connections between them.
ERCOT is especially isolated, in part because of the desire among local politicians, citizens, and power companies to avoid added competition, the hassle of following other states’ rules, and oversight from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But the state offers a case study in why that can be a serious problem amid increasingly harsh climate conditions, Reed says.
The Texas grid operator pleaded with customers several times earlier this month to cut electricity use as blistering summer temperatures created demand surges that threatened to outstrip supply and require rolling blackouts. Low wind conditions, cloud cover, and outages at fossil-fuel power plants added to the strains.
Shutting off the electricity needed to run air-conditioning in triple-digit temperatures
By: James Temple
Title: Stitching together the grid will save lives as extreme weather worsens
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2022/07/28/1056483/stitching-together-the-grid-will-save-lives-as-extreme-weather-worsens/
Published Date: Thu, 28 Jul 2022 08:00:00 +0000
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