The Anchorage School Board is discussing the possible ways to cut $29.4 million from their budget for next year. The $784 million budget passed last month but needs to be adjusted for proposed funding cuts from the state legislature.Download AudioSuperintendent Ed Graff presented a list of ways to reduce the budget. It includes everything from cutting early learning pilot programs to save $7.8 million to outsourcing sports programs to save $4.2 million. Another possibility cuts about 117 teachers and increases class sizes to save $11.7 million.School Board member Kameron Perez-Verdia stated the problem bluntly. “This sucks. And none of us want to do it.” However, “I think a practical exercise is necessary. We are going to be in a position where we need to make these decisions.”Board members Natasha Von Imhof and Tam Agosti-Gisler say they need more information on the specific impacts of the cuts, such as what different positions do, before making decisions.After further discussion, Board president Eric Croft concluded that most board members support protecting classroom instruction first.The conversation is ongoing and the board says they will not make a final decision until they know the full magnitude of the final state cuts. If they lay off teachers, they have to tell tenured teachers by May 15.
If you believe Secretary of The Treasury Steve Mnuchin, there’s no need to worry about artificial intelligence taking your job. If on the other hand, you pay attention to things like the news and tech blogs, you might want to check out the results of a recent study.Researchers from MIT and Boston U recently joined forces to figure out what kind of impact robots and other automation have had on local job markets. Not surprisingly, they discovered that an increase in automation tends to negatively impact local employment.Certain sectors tend to be more vulnerable. Manufacturing jobs are the most likely to be at risk. Over the period studied (1987 to 2014), the use of automation tech (including machines, vehicles, and software) vs. human labor shot up by as much as 668%. Workers who produced electronics, petroleum products, furniture, and apparel were most vulnerable.Also not shocking is what the impact of these changes looks like when applied to a map. Dark red areas show where there’s been the sharpest rise in robot deployments. Understandably, the Midwest — particularly Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, where automotive manufacturing accounts for anywhere between 4% and 10% of the GDP — has been ground zero. Other hard-hit areas include Wilmington, Delaware and Beaumont, Texas.Orders for industrial robots climbed around 20% last year, and apart from a slight hiccup last year they’ve been on the rise since 2010. Why? Because businesses have seen increases in productivity, which leads to higher output and a healthier bottom line.Interestingly, the study seems to show that increased automation doesn’t automatically lead to a more rapid reduction in the number of jobs. In the apparel business, for example, rates have stayed fairly normal despite a 300% hike in the use of automation tech.Clearly, there’s room for robots and humans to work side-by-side. At least until some crafty AI decides it’s going to make all the hiring decisions and robo-nepotism reigns supreme. Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech SuitsRobots to Compete in Underground Challenge in Mining Tunnels Stay on target