New Kind of Low

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Erica asked to only use her first name because, she says, she read on Reddit that speaking negatively about Amazon has led to account suspensions.

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Amazon did not reply to a request for comment about this alleged practice. The only other work she was able to find was a hour-a-week minimum-wage job training workers at a factory how to use computers.


In the county where Erica lives, only about half of people 16 years or over are employed, compared to 58 percent for the rest of the country. One-quarter of people there earn below the poverty line. But there are other reasons she makes so little that have to do with the nature of the platform. The tasks that pay the best and take the least time get snapped up quickly by workers, so Erica must monitor the site closely, waiting to grab them. Requesters use Mechanical Turk because they can farm out menial work on the cheap and get that work done quickly—with hundreds of workers each transcribing one minute of an audio file, for example, a final product can be returned in short order.

Other sites like Crowdspring, which is an online marketplace for graphic design and other creative services, and Snapwire, a photo-crowdsourcing site, allow companies to get creative work done at a low cost. On most of these sites, requesters hold more leverage.

Workers can choose to get paid every day, rather than waiting for a paycheck for two weeks.

New Kind of Low: Low/Coma

Amazon did not respond to multiple requests for comment about this article. A research paper published in December that analyzed 3. He says workers spend a lot of time looking for tasks, waiting for the interface to load, and trying to complete poorly explained tasks before deciding to return them. The paper did not research how many of the people it tracked depended on Mechanical Turk as their sole source of income.

How is it legal to compensate workers so poorly?

New Kind Of Low: Low/Coma Lyrics

But Erica and other crowdsourced workers do not have to receive the minimum wage because they are considered independent contractors, not employees. They are not covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees workers minimum wage and overtime protections, as well as a host of other benefits. Just as small-business owners are allowed to work for hours on their own and not earn any money, independent contractors like Erica can spend significant time seeking work and completing tasks, and receive very little in return for doing so.

But now, scientists have come up with a way of connecting to wi-fi that requires even less energy than a Bluetooth connection. At top performance, this new wi-fi system can actually use 10, times less energy than usual.

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Scientists at the University of Washington reimagined how radios work. Radio transmissions involve two operations: digital and analog. Over the last couple decades, the digital part has become much more energy efficient, but analog remains a nasty energy drain.

So the team simply separates the two functions.

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First, a single device plugged into a wall—this part uses most of the power in this whole process—sends analog waves to special passive wi-fi sensors. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy. This is a moderated blog; we review all comments before they are posted.

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New Kind of Low

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