May 24, 2021

Bitcoin: New regulations and tax compliance affect trading

Technology
Bitcoin
Cryptocurrency
Data
2 min
It’s been a rocky week for cryptocurrencies after new announcements of regulations in China and tax compliance in the US

Bitcoin suffered a roller-coaster week of trading, as authorities in China and the US move to tighten regulation and tax compliance on cryptocurrencies.

According to Coin Metrics data, on Sunday Bitcoin fell roughly 16% to $31,772.43 by 12:27 pm ET, but by this morning it had slightly risen to $36,315.52 by 3:09 am ET. Ethereum, the second most popular cryptocurrency, regained some of its losses to trade 3.6% higher, reaching the $2,245 mark. Meanwhile, the dogecoin was down 3.5% to trade at $0.3214. 

All three currencies had suffered double-digit falls over the weekend, with Ethereum falling to around $1,750 at one point on Sunday. The global crypto market had lost 9% over the last 24 hours by Sunday afternoon in London, according to data provider CoinMarket

What caused crypto values to fall sharply?

These drops follow an unstable week for the market. On Friday, China emphasised its intent to crack down on digital assets and the US Treasury Department said it planned to enforce anti-money-laundering rules and request that crypto transactions of $10,000 be reported to the government. 

"Cryptocurrency already poses a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion," the Treasury said in a statement. "Despite constituting a relatively small portion of business income today, cryptocurrency transactions are likely to rise in importance in the next decade, especially in the presence of a broad-based financial account reporting regime."

On Friday, Chinese vice-premier Liu Hu said China would ‘severely crackdown on illegal securities activities and severely punish illegal financial activities.’He promised a ‘crackdown on bitcoin mining and trading’ as part of China's plans to ‘prevent and control financial risks.’ China currently accounts for around 70% of the world's cryptocurrency mining.

Lui's comments followed statements from three state-backed organisations earlier this week warning that digital currencies were not "real" and could face regulatory changes. The country's central bank issued a statement on its WeChat account reiterating that financial institutions should not accept or deal with cryptocurrencies.

In a thread on Twitter this weekend, Musk was comparing magic to technology when someone asked what he thought about people “who are angry at you because of crypto,” the Tesla CEO tweeted that the “true battle is between fiat & crypto. On balance, I support the latter.”

Earlier this month, Telsa boss Elon Musk sparked a sell-off after saying his business was abandoning plans to accept bitcoin as payment due to environmental concerns.

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Jun 14, 2021

Amazon test new technology to improve employee safety

Technology
Amazon
robots
Innovation
3 min
Amazon is testing new technologies in an effort to make handling packages safer for employees

At the Amazon Robotics and Advanced Technology labs in Boston, and Northern Italy, team members are testing and developing new technologies in order to help to make employees’ jobs safer, these include technologies that help move carts and packages through Amazon facilities.

Recently the safety of Amazon's warehouses has drawn scrutiny. On June 1, the Washington Post's Jay Greene and Chris Alcantara published findings from an analysis of Occupational Safety and Health Administration data showing Amazon's serious injury rates are nearly double those at other companies' facilities.

A spokesperson from Amazon said the company spent more than $1 billion last year on safety measures, and hired more than 6,200 employees to a group dedicated to workplace health and safety.

Motion-capture technology

One innovation being tested by Amazon, which is in early development, is the use of motion-capture technology to assess the movement of volunteer employees in a lab setting. These employees perform tasks that are common in many Amazon facilities, such as the movement of totes, which carry products through robotic fulfillment centers.

The motion-capture software enables Amazon scientists and researchers to more accurately compare data captured in a lab environment to industry standards rather than other modelling tools traditionally used by ergonomists.

“With this data, visualisations, and employee feedback, we are looking to identify relatively simple changes that can make a big impact,” said Kevin Keck, worldwide director of Advanced Technology at Amazon. “Something as simple as changing the position of handles on totes may help lower the risk of injuries to our employees at a massive scale.”

Autonomous Robots creating new paths to safety

In order to reduce the need for employees to reach up or bend down when retrieving items, Amazon is testing a new workstation system called “Ernie.” According to the company Ernie takes totes off of a robotic shelf and uses a robotic arm to deliver it to employees, so they can remain in a more comfortable and stable position.

“We’re known for being passionate about innovating for customers, but being able to innovate with robotics for our employees is something that gives me an extra kick of motivation each day,” said Keck. “The innovation with a robot like Ernie is interesting because while it doesn’t make the process go any faster, we’re optimistic, based on our testing, it can make our facilities safer for employees.”

“Bert” is one of Amazon’s first Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs), and is being tested to autonomously navigate through facilities with Amazon-developed advanced safety, perception, and navigation technology. In the future, it is thought that an employee would be able to summon Bert to carry items across a facility. 

‘Scooter’ and ‘Kermit’ are two other robots that also operate autonomously, and are both transport cars. The carts are used to carry empty totes and packages through our facilities. 

In a blog post the company said: ‘By having Autonomously Guided Carts (AGCs) like Scooter and Kermit perform physical tasks, we believe we can make our facilities safer and enable our employees to focus on jobs that require their critical thinking skills. In addition, using an AGC like Scooter to pull carts through our facilities reduces the risk of strains on our employees, or even collisions. We currently plan to deploy Scooter to at least one Amazon facility this year.’ 

Amazon began using robotics in its facilities in 2012, and since then they have added more than 1 million jobs worldwide while simultaneously deploying 350,000 mobile drive unit robots. 

“The role robotics and advanced technology can play in not only innovating for customers, but helping make our facilities safer, is a massive motivation for me and my team,” said Keck. “The health and safety of our employees is our number one priority. By listening to them, innovating on their behalf, and driving new technologies into our facilities over the coming months and years, I’m confident we’ll make a big contribution to our goal of reducing recordable incidents by 50% by 2025.”

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