For now, these machines are helping workers, not competing with them. But that could change as faster processors and improved sensors enhance robots' capabilities.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 20, 2012 11:33AM

Robot in the workplace © Fred Froese/E+/Getty ImagesBy Sam Grobart, Bloomberg Businessweek Bloomberg Businessweek logo


The robots are coming. Resistance is futile. From car factories to microprocessor plants to fulfillment warehouses, a single robot can now handle tasks that once took hundreds of man-hours to complete. This relentless march of automation is causing economic upheaval. As time goes on, companies will become more productive and more efficient, but the amount of human labor required will decrease, as will paychecks. The sentient worker will be reduced to a relic of a simpler age.


This is what we've been told, anyway.


To some economists, stubbornly high unemployment rates in the United States and Europe are at least partly attributable to the rise of machines.

 

The photo-sharing site, which hoped to make money from pictures that users post, has dropped a plan to sell those images to advertisers.

By TheStreet Staff Dec 19, 2012 1:03PM

thestreet logoBy Chris Ciaccia,Illustration of an Instagram photo of the Facebook website app © Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesTheStreet

 

Facebook (FB), known for upsetting users with constant changes to its policies, has another headache to deal with.

 

Instagram, the photo-sharing site Facebook acquired earlier this year, planned to change its terms of service as of Jan. 16 to allow photos to be used in advertisements on Instagram and, potentially, on Facebook. Under the change, the photographer wouldn't receive compensation, while Instagram and Facebook would.

 

Instagram users were justifiably outraged, and some deleted their accounts. The backlash forced Instagram to beat a hasty retreat; it decided not to grant itself permission for royalty-free use of its users' images in advertisements.

 

Having cut the cord 12 months ago, a long-time subscriber answers the question: Is it possible to survive on Netflix and Hulu alone?

By MSN Money Partner Dec 18, 2012 1:57PM

NetflixBy Kevin Sintumuang, The Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal on MSN Money

 

Dear Cable:


How are you? Can you believe it's been a year since we last saw each other? I remember handing the cable guy my set-top box like it was yesterday.


So much has happened since then. The last of the remaining cool characters on "Boardwalk Empire" got offed. Zombies have officially overtaken vampires as the monster du jour thanks to "The Walking Dead." And Carrie on "Homeland" has consumed about 10 gallons of Pinot Grigio.


You see, Cable, breaking up with you didn't mean the end of my entertainment universe. I wanted to let you know that I'm happy. Me and Internet TV? We're getting along great. I spent 36 hours with her last weekend watching three seasons of "Damages," and she didn't mind that I never changed out of my sweatpants.


When I pressed "Off" on that 64-button remote of yours for the last time, I was relieved. No more $175 monthly bills! No more Honey Boo Boo! No more Guy Fieri!


But I was scared, too. Would I be OK with most of the American public watching "Bob's Burgers" a day before I could see it on Hulu? Would paying $35 for a season of "Mad Men" in HD sting as much as a cable bill? Would I be too ashamed to ask my parents for access to their HBO Go account?


I survived. But I'd be lying if I said I don't think about you every once in a while.


Don't misunderstand me. I'm glad we went our separate ways. You still act like such a jerk. When are you going to learn that it's wrong to force people to buy hundreds of channels they don't watch when they really only want a dozen or so? I know, I know -- that's just how the business works; it's how you've made money for decades. But have you ever thought about how that makes the people you're supposed to care about, i.e., your subscribers, feel?

Sometimes I think you're missing a sensitivity chip. You should watch more Oprah and fewer house-flipping programs.


Internet TV? It respects me. It's progressive. It lets me choose what I want to watch, when I want to watch, whether a show I buy through my Apple TV or some foreign movie I stream on Hulu Plus that makes me feel like an artsy college student again.


I can even watch live sports on Aereo. It'll never force me to subscribe to a channel with a show about pawnshop owners making customized bikes for ghost-hunting housewives.


No one's perfect, though. The "New Releases" section of Netflix (NFLX) seems to have the same selections week after week. The latest season of "The Walking Dead" in HD costs $43 on iTunes -- add subscriptions to a few more shows and I might as well be paying for cable. And whenever I'm interrupted halfway through a show by a buffering circle, I think about how quick and reliable you were.


That's the thing, Cable: You were boring to a fault, but you worked the way you were supposed to most of the time. At one point, you were a necessity, like water and electricity. But these days, I see you as a luxury product.


You do what you do exceedingly well -- but you charge way too much for the privilege.


I've seen you grow over the past year: Letting folks watch on their iPads. Giving access to primo content from HBO and ESPN on pretty much everything -- tablets, smartphones, laptops, an Xbox 360. This "TV everywhere" approach is a step in the right direction. It almost makes up for the fact that you're so expensive. Almost.


So where does that leave us? I've thought about you a lot. You don't make it easy to let go. Every few weeks I get something in the mail from you -- Triple Play! Double Play! It's sweet, but I find it hard to forget how awful you could be -- jacking up your rates out of the blue, charging me a monthly fee for a DVR that only worked half of the time.


When I quit you last year, I told you, "It's not you. It's me." Well, I lied. It was mostly you.


I'm learning to forgive you. But you have to change. It's easy, really: Let me pay for just the channels I want -- say, $100 a month for my choice of 20 instead of $175 for hundreds. If you do that, you can move your set-top box back to where my Apple TV now sits.


Do I miss you? Sometimes. Will we ever be together again? Perhaps. But not today. And not tomorrow. For now, let's just be friends. I'll still see you at my parents' place over the holidays, OK?


Your pal,


Kevin


More from The Wall Street Journal 

 

Recruiters are filling openings faster by relying on new tools that scour social networks and target workers who aren't necessarily looking for jobs.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 17, 2012 4:41PM

A LinkedIn logo © Brian Ach/Invision for Advertising Week/AP ImagesBy Olga Kharif, Bloomberg BusinessweekBloomberg Businessweek logo


In his more than 15 years as a headhunter, Jeff Vijungco has tried Monster, Craigslist, CareerBuilder and other online job boards. Lately the head of recruitment at Adobe Systems (ADBE) has scrapped most of them.

 

"I think job postings are such old news," Vijungco says. "Social is the hot new industry."

 

Recruiters are filling openings faster by relying on new tools that scour social networks and target workers who aren't necessarily looking for jobs. 

 

Of the millions from which to choose, these are among the most useful, recommended and interesting.

By MSN Money Partner Dec 14, 2012 6:08PM

smartphone userBy Michelle Price, The Wall Street Journal 


Microsoft Word and Excel are both applications, but these rather staid and well-established pieces of software are not what modern-day tech enthusiasts mean when they talk about "apps."


The emergence of Web or "cloud"-based IT services and super-smart mobile phone and tablet technology, as embodied by the iPhone and the iPad, has given birth to a universe of weird and wonderful pieces of software brimming with all sorts of information and tools.


Apps combine the unique features of the new wave of super-clever hardware -- including a camera, a global positioning system, a high-resolution screen and Wi-Fi capability -- with a bottomless pit of Web-based information and data to deliver some truly innovative and mind-boggling gizmos.

 

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