Are you a robot?

Automation is coming.

It is affecting nearly all industries.

And it would be stupid to ignore it.

But aren’t we taking the frenzy a tad too far?

(Disclaimer:

This article is a bit messy – I have tried my best to give it a decent shape – but if we are to be honnest, it needs some serious re-writing – which I  will probably do – but I wanted to get this out now anyway – so take it as a work in progress with maybe a few unfinished thoughts / sentence here and there…)

Human Need Not Apply

(Watch this one if you haven’t!)

 

AI will replace the human race

If we are to believe headlines :

AI will replace HR (MIT Tech Review)

AI will replace project managers (LPMO)

AI will replace the customer services (The Telegraph)

AI will replace CEO (Jack MA, Alibaba founder)

 

So basically, it sounds like the only one that AI will not replace are the customers (unless for B2B I guess… I mean if all the companies are made of AI employees and AI boss, then who run the purchasing department…)

And actually if we are to belive Elon Musk, Tesla CEO artificial intelligence poses an “existential threat” to human civilization. (NPR)

So, while we can clearly invision AI create serious redundancies in some industries – like for instance in logistics with self-driving trucks or containers management system like Amazon is using, but like many ports around the world as well – to claim AI will take over humanity like Elon Musk is kind of trying to say – is a bit far fetched.

 

Fear is a tool to influence public opinion

Actually, if we were to believe everything that is published, every working person will be a bot, no job is safe and we will all end up unemployed and therefore we have to introduce Universal Basic Income as a solution because we cannot work with each other anymore – all job have been taken – so now – your job is to be a customer – so here is your check and go buy what the AI has produced for you.

Yeah..

ok maybe I am over dramatizing the situation but honnestly, if you read what is being published, this is exactly the kind of future the press is  sort of painting for us.

The mantra seems to be:

All job will be replaced, therefore there will be mass unemployement, therefore we have to subsidize your existence to keep the economy going (i.e. so you can keep being a customer to a system that has replaced you).

 

Let’s pause to think for a moment

First, if machines can do these jobs for us, great, why not after all…

I mean – why would it be a bad thing inherently to have better means of production, cheaper and more efficient?

That would probably limit the amount of accidents in the workplace – especially in jobs like logistics.

So yeah, it will generate unemployement.

Well, clearly we will have the reassess a few things.

Seems like carreer management and personal developpment will be booming.

Some says these people cannot find a job elsewhere.

 

I dunno.

 

Why do we go to work on the first place?

Why do we need these specific jobs?

What will we do with our lives if most of todays’ jobs are gone? (Which is a much more frightening questions that I don’t think is discussed very often)

If this is such a bad thing, why did we introduced AI on the first place?

And it is good, why is everybody so worried?

 

I think we should consider a couple of things.

  1. Let’s make the difference between a “job” and “work”
  2. Let’s try to see what still make us human once machines are doing everything for us

Job vs Work

We all get the difference between value production and just getting busy.

At least on paper.

Because sometime even the most efficient people are caught into “getting busy” and are not accomplishing anything.

Just being employed – or being useful to those around you – to society – is how I see the major difference between jobs and work.

In a 12 min TED talk Rudy Karson make the point that in the future what matter is not to have a job but to be useful, to make an impact:

And I would argue that somehow this is connected to the fundamental element that we have and that machine cannot replace us.

The quest for purpose.

What makes us human?

 

 

 

When we have jobs we don’t like, we are looking for ways to improve them.

So we created Artificial Intelligence (among other things) so they would free us from the daunting task of doing boring shit.

In a nutshell, that’s how we got started with AI.

But then we started to realise it makes some (or all if you believe headlines) our fellow humans’ activities less relevant.

 

So there a couples of points we could and should think about:

  • These robots are tools in the hand of humans – so let’s not forget that AI makes anybody miserable in the end, that is still the result of an other human being making use of AI in a specific way that apparently doesn’t improve the life of everybody…
  • If the work we do is not efficient and we are wasting our lives – getting busy with a fucked up job – maybe mass unemployement – somehow is way to structure change how we occupy our lives – what are filling up our days with…
  • Headlines from 20’s or 30s or 60’s have always been fascinated by technology taking over humanity and so far, it hasn’t really happen.

 

All these are open points.

The conclusion I want to make here is maybe less down-to-earth – but not less important:

Robots exist because they work.

We work because exist …

Since, we are alive we work and create things around us, through this work.

We can create the smile on the face of customer or create a piece of engineering that will aleviate somebody else situation.

We work because deep down we want to feel part of society and of the world, we want to feel connect to them in a meaningfull way.

Robots just work – at best.

They can do many thing instead of us.

But they cannot live our lives instead of us.

As long as we exist, we will do things for one another.

The fact that we have quantified these interaction with money and categorised them it in jobs, doesn’t take from the fact that our activities are a way to express our connection with others.

That’s why we feel more alive in a job where we feel meaningful, useful, where we can contribute and our opinion can be taken in account, etc.

So,  yeah… this whole article is all over the place and not very well structure – I am totally aware of that – but I needed to put get it out so that’s kind of a first draft to be refined…

,

Everything is a remix

 

The quote above is a funny, yet very accurate introduction to the topic developed in the documentary by Kirby Ferguson : Everything is a Remix.

(side note: If you care who said this quote go check this link to figure out nobody really knows.)

Everything is a remix explores the concept of originality in creativity.

 

Never heard of it?

Please, take the time to watch it below.

In an era where content creation, and Internet are at the core of our culture and economy, understanding how creativity works is a must-have skill.

 

Here are the 4 episodes and some bullets points for those a bit lazy in a hurry.

 

Episode 1 – Music

Where you learn:

  • Heavy Metal was a term coined to remix text and not music
  • Daft Punk in “Around the world” is just a resampled version from “Good times“,  by Chic – a hit from the late 70’s.
  • Stairway to Heaven opening was not created by Led Zeppelin but was a cover from an other group, Taurus
  • Actually most of Led Zeppelin songs are covers and knock-offs
  • Most of Bob Dylan musics are also covers (explained in detailed in the TED Talk linked below)

 

Episode 2 – Films

  • 74% of hollywood major output are either remix, sequels or books adaptations
  • If you think Star Wars was a very original piece of film, well…  brace yourself, disappointments are coming (Flash Gordon rippoff to heavy Japanese film influence, and more…)
  • Kill bill is a complete mashup of other films, with nearly no piece of original elements

 

Episode 3 – Technology

  • The nature of creativity
  • Computing
  • Science

This episode is more interesting for its historical perspective – as today most of the facts presented about the Mac and computing in general are kind of common knowledge.

And in general, we are more culturally ready to see scientists and engineers build on the top of their predecessors.

 

Episode 4 – Copyrights, Patents

Because we can be as much assholes to each other as we can be great to each other.

Watch this one and educate yourself

Please.

Really.

 

If you want more from Kirby Ferguson:

A case study on the iphone – a clear and his TED Talk 

 

Still reading?

Well, just a few words to wrap this:

Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed, said Antoine Lavoisier – famous chemist from the 18th century

He talked about chemical transformation and how matter works.

Yet, the matter of ideas is pretty similar.

Some thinkers even go as far to say that nothing is ever invented but is only discovered (can’t remember their name – old memories from philosophy classes in high-school – if you have names, drop them in the comment section please).

So anyway – practical considerations :

  • Creativity imply we absorb models and patterns of creations
  • The nature of the transformation is up to us, each will manifest his / her own creativity by remixing the old into a kind of unique new thing that will help share his/her vision of the world.
  • Imposter syndrome is the result of our lack understanding of how creativity works.

Side note on copyright laws:

Copyright laws have long lost their initial purpose of protecting creators, and we cannot change this.

What we can however, is to join the collective effort of creation and that each add his/her own piece to the giant patchwork that is our human creative soul.

Good luck.

,

Do what you can’t

They did not know it was impossible so they did it
— Mark Twain

 

Rules,

somehow,

always,

seems to be a barrier to innovation.

 

 

Status-quo is cultural protectionism

The status-quo creates artificial scarcity.

Because it promotes the lack of initiative

It supports business as usual.

The status-quo is opposed to disruption, to change, to innovation.

It is opposed to improvement.

It is the systemic manifestation of the resistance.

It is the bystander effect of our collective intellectual accident.

The status-quo is a social agreement where we agree to live with some specific problem and to not fix them.

Artificial scarcity generated by the lack of action is benefiting somebody.

Side note:

Status-quo is not about things remaining the same.

It is things remaining the same when we have problems we don’t want to fix.

Status-quo into the culture

Creating a culture of conformism

Turning innovation into the realm of a few,

so nobody even question the existence of alternative options.

 

When we agree with the status quo, we agree to die.

Inside.

Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.

— Benjamin Franklin

 

A remedy

Action.

Creation.

Innovation.

Daily, to push to improve.

 

Some dance.

Some write.

Some films.

Some draw.

Some build.

Some code.

Some paint.

 

Every one has a different version.

Find yours.