(Tukwilla, WA) So here we are, having flown way more than halfway across America for meetings, eye surgery, and research and for some reason, it wasn’t until last night that it gob-smacked me that several whole industries are about to be hit with internet-driven automation that will further reduce the number of employed humans, and that this, in turn would increase the number of people on the government “dole” dramatically.
Oh, sure, over on the Peoplenomics side, we’ve already been discussing the arrival of things like 3D metal printing, and how what was once the rapid prototyping world was fast becoming the next arriving technology which has the potential to wipe out hundreds of thousands of jobs in CNC machining, tool, and die-making, and that list goes on an on.
In short, there are all kinds of old-school jobs which are about to go bye-bye, meaning there will be fewer and fewer jobs available.
Not that any of this surprised me. After all, I’d spent a couple of years in a computer software outfit helping to design and optimize software which has been replacing large numbers of humans in college financial aid offices, since a lot of that tedious work has to go into a computer anyway, and once there, who needs humans to run reports?
On top of that, a lot of accounting jobs (except for very small business) are disappearing into thin air because modern ERP (enterprise resource planning and production) software simply handles accounting chores in background – just what an ideal “staff” function should do in the conventional line/staff model.
OK, it’s going to further wreck human’s abilities to contribute to society through meaningful work, and yada, yada. But I had been thinking the changes would be slower coming than they are.
At least that was my thinking until dinner last night. Here’s what happened:
We went into a nice national restaurant adjacent to our hotel, which is scary-close to the South Center Mall, where I have to hold Elaine’s hand to keep her from having a full-on shopping disease attack.
As we sat down, along comes what used to be a waitress, but which has now turned into a food-service ordering computer instructor.
“Hi, I’m (name withheld) and you can order anything we have with the terminal there…” she explained. And, she pointed at what looked like an Androidy thing on the table before us:
Oh-oh! I felt a rising sense of panic as I looked at the device which peered back at me from between rounds of adult bevs. Hmmm…how do I structure my relationship with THIS thing?
We are not well off…but we live a kind of “spend it all” (or most of it) since one of the major goals of life seems to be buying as many adventures and experiences as possible, and then packing them into memory so in the after life, we’ll have plenty to do whatever afterlifing is – if there’s a library of experience carried forward, or essence, or whatever. This means as a matter of practice we tip nicely, pleased to be able to recycle money effectively and help other people have nice lives, too. Money at rest, or unspent on dreams, is pretty much wasted.
So the panic was building because I didn’t know how to “tip the machine.”
Look: They aren’t sentient beings (yet) and even when they get that way, we will still be arguing the point because whatever comes out of a machine (so far) is stuff put in to the machine.
As we watched the waitperson entering our drink order, the sinking feeling got even worse: Do I “tip the machine?” Do I tip the server the regular rate, and pretend the machine is not there? If the serverperson is not serving, but instead is being cajoled by the employer to help “train customers” to use machines, shouldn’t they make more than waitpersons? I mean like be compensated as business process reengineering implementation staff? The difference between a BPR/workflow trainer and a waitperson is $50K (and more) per year!
I managed to convince the waitperson that I was a complete idiot (easy) and that I had not clue one about how to use the fancy terminal. So she did the data entry work and got our food on the way. But even this bothered me. Maybe she was making far too much money under the corporate whiz-kid’s latest. After all, don’t data entry people in India, for example, make about 1/5th as much as here? And what is the right/moral path approach to that when tipping? Crap! Terribily complicated.
My first in-your-face experience with robowaitering held even more surprises. Part way into drinks round two, a new waitperson came over and said Waitperson #1 had been sent home.
“Huh?” (Was I that bad a customer?)
Turns out that thanks to a fancy computer system, the corporate owners of this chain (and we go there because we do like the food) had sent Waitperson #1 home because the computer projected that last night’s order flow wouldn’t justify having that many humans around pulling hourly wages. And, since Waitperson #1 had punched in first, she had the first option of going home early if desired.
With me as a customer, she did.
Then, I got to inspecting the Androidy thing more carefully. “Say, dear, they have some games like this couples triva game…wanna play?”
As usual, Elaine came through with sound advise for Ures truly: “Don’t you think that by playing any computer game, that could be tied-back to the credit card and that information bundled and sold?”
Oh-oh….hadn’t thought that one through. Not saying that they do this, but with consumer choicing being a hugely profitable industry, what not? Elaine’s point got me back to the main screen in no time.
Based on this experience, I figure within five years – or less – we will be ordering everything from machines and that as a result, humans will fade into the background of food service. All that remains is for a kitchen to table delivery system, and I just know some genius in the back room somewhere has to be working on that one.
And once that’s in play, it’s only a short distance to replacing the hash-slingers in the kitchen. I figure within 10 years, or less, we’ll be eating mass-manufactured super TV dinners, delivered on conveyors, ordered with the Androidy thing that greeted us last night.
I tried talking to the Robowaiter briefly, but they don’t yet have Dragoon Speak on the input, or NaturalReader for voice output, but that’s got to be coming, too.
I wonder if the folks at Hooter’s are worried? After all, with this robowaiter stuff in the works, it’s bound to be only a short time until the Androidy thing could be morphed into an explicit display letting people interact at any gender or any taste rating desired – all the way from PG-all ages to XXXX.
Or Nintendo: Turn the walls around your booth into a full-imersion video experience complete with tilting/vibrating, forced-feedback game chairs.
If we keep working at this stuff, we won’t need to be herded into The Matrix goo-pods. We’ll be lined up, remote chip reader ready, anxious to get in.
The only hope is that waitperson #2 – who declined to offer further computerized food-ordering lessons – will stand her ground. She obviously “got it” that by teaching (programming) us to play nicely with the Androidy thing, she was working herself out of a job long-term.
We’ll be lookingt for her in the consumer reducation camps. I wonder if those KBR designed camps will have robowaiters, too?
Looking Beyond HAARP
Ah, another fine reader note:
“A nice story related to HAARP. In 1980′s I was at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas. We had these A7 (navy planes) on the base. I was told by one of the airman the base commander said,”There are no A7′s on the base”. Of course we could see them taxiing back and forth. I really wouldn’t have paid them any attention if they were normal. We had all kinds of planes from all over coming to Nellis for exercises. These were odd though. They had what looked like a 3′ missile underneath the pilots cockpit. It had radiation hazard stickers on it and the front of the missile was large red flashing light. What??? Another strange thing. I worked on Inertial Navigation Systems and the shop had one person trained on A7 INS. She said she had no idea what for. They brought her parts and she repaired them. It was only years later I pieced together what it was all about.I read Ben Rich’s book on Lockheed Skunkworks and he said the INS and ejection seat for the F117 came from the A7. I immediately knew what happened. They go to great lengths to hide things. A thought. Maybe HAARP is covering up something bigger.”
I’d love to know the answer to that but it’s above my paygrade…but, come to think of it, almost everything is.
Another Niburu Rap
A couple of readers have asked what I think about the video online here…which claims military dependents are being briefed on Niburu coming.
Not to be excessively skeptical, but pardon me: I have been hearing the Niburu stuff for years and until I get several, independent reports from people who have actually been to such briefings, pardon me while I just have another cuppa…
While we have been collecting bits and pieces of stories here and there, seems About.com has an interesting collection of time travel stories here.
Keep the reports coming…and I will share them as they come in. Names and personally identifiable information withheld, of course.
Write when you break even…
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A Check on Our Trading System
This morning we’ll focus on how that trading system I developed a while back performed this week, which as it turns out was surprisingly well in one of the most difficult markets imaginable. But before we lay out the details, let’s start with a smattering of data points, realizing that there are many “balls in the air” this weekend, starting with what will happen next week in the EU mess…
Safer Computing: Swearing Off Cookies
It has been a while since I roared the praises of the Maxa Cookie Manager which you can download and install for a free test drive by clicking here.
To upgrade from the demo to full working is still less than $30 (During their Spring Sale) and one heck of a bargain at that, if I do say so.
A new version of Maa is due shortly (V. 6.0) and we’ll advise in due court when it is due for release, upgrade paths, and all that-there kinda like stuff.
“Live on $10,000″ A Year
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It’s an automatic download. . Click here for the index and details.
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