Here They Come – and I Ain’t Talking About Immigrants

markku-lahdesmaki-robots

image credit: Markku Lahdesmaki’

If y’all think these immigrants are nefarious, stealing our lawn-mowing and curing-cancer jobs, you’re really going to resent the robots.

Of course, they’ve been displacing factory workers for decades, but they’re getting ready to start driving our taxis, buses, and semis. If you don’t think that’s a big deal, on your commute tomorrow, count delivery trucks parked outside convenience stores, supermarkets, and liquor stores; check out the garbage trucks rumbling off to the landfill; take note of those cement trucks on the way to the soulless and practically treeless developments where the houses look like inbred siblings.

Where are these drivers, mostly males, going to find gainful employment?  How are they going to earn a living?

Not at Uber or Lyft.

Use your imaginations, dental hygienists.  I suspect you’re not long for this world of employment if you’re counting in decades.

Surgeons?

Maybe barbers will survive —  or maybe not. Rather than boring you with chitchat about professional sports, your robotic barber could be programmed to sing arias or replicate Lenny Bruce’s stand-up routines, depending upon your predilections.

Of course, they’ll have personalities, like Siri does, sort of.  I find myself asking “please” and calling her by name. “Siri, would you please call Loquacia Muldoon?”

She sometimes direct-addresses me using my childhood moniker Rusty.   We’re one little happy master/slave duo. “No, sorry, Rusty, I can’t chant the Odyssey in Linear B Greek.”

Our mechanic servants will be charming, whether urbane, or folksy; you’ll get to choose, to designate their personalities, i.e., if you’re one of the lucky ones, i.e., employed, i.e., not scrounging around the Blade Runner hellscape picking through garbage.

I have to admit, though, the only robots I’ve ever encountered that I like are the ones on Mystery Science Fiction 3000.

The rest of them — the Jetsons‘ robot maid, for example, the Class M-3 Model B-9 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robo from Lost in Space, and even Hal from 2001, a Space Odyssey– bore me.

Working folks and professionals should find robots much more frightening than Guatemalan refugees. Automatons don’t need Social Security or Medicare or Xmas bonuses.   They don’t get black lung or pregnant or ask for raises.

Or pop bennies on cross-country trips in their sixteen-wheelers.

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3 thoughts on “Here They Come – and I Ain’t Talking About Immigrants

  1. Without batteries or really long extension cords robots can’t work and when they’re not working they’re lying around depreciating in value just like our cars and ShopVacs. Economists smarter than I am have long known that the great leaps in mechanization invariably lead to great leaps in overproduction because, as mentioned, when a machine ain’t working it’s an expensive pile of metal and plastic that’s just plain in the way–just like all those parked cars. Build more machines and put robots to work at maximum capacity and keep an eye out for (1) collapse of capitalist system; (2) re-valuation of human labor; (3) revaluation of human non-labor; (4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlVD-jrq_Yk.

  2. I’ve been on a “what makes my brain better than a microprocessor” kick lately. If it comforts you to know, the architecture that computers use is inferior to the brain. Moore’s law says transistors that can fit on a chip will double every 2 years. So… . They can shrink to a certain size until the electrons start jumping off track and getting interference from other transistors. Since our brains are a combination of both electrical signals and chemical reactions, it has the better toolkit. The real issue is the Silicon Valley rewiring people’s brains with software that uses algorithms no different than those found on Vegas slot machines. Fb and other companies intentionally set up their software to give shots of dopamine at the right moment to keep “users” on their product. They are built to raise the cortisone level in our bloodstream and trigger our adrenaline in order to nake the user check their account in order to get relief. It is a race to the bottom of the brain stem where fear and primitive emotion resides.

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