Friday, December 9, 2016

Robot Dystopia

The political fervor on what to do with those who would steal our jobs has reached an all-time high. Some want to send the job thieves back where they came from, others support amnesty and welcoming them with open arms. Collectively, we are missing the point of such a short-sighted and temporary problem and ignoring the only fact that matters. 

Eventually, your job will be taken by a robot.

The inevitable rise of capable machines will lead to one of two scenarios:

1)    The very familiar and highly anticipated dystopian future recognizable in Hollywood blockbusters.
2)    A friendlier utopia filled with meaningful leisure time and philosophical harmony for humans and robots.

The way the world works today, the robot replacing you will likely be owned by one of a handful of wealthy corporations, and because the company owns the robot, the savings created by eliminating your salary will go to the pockets of the corporations. Humans will be unemployed; corporations will make more money. Despite what tax law and politicized sensationalists wants you to believe, humans are not corporations, nor vice versa.

The Robot Adaption Initiative is already underway. Right now it isn’t a problem for those of us who are not being replaced by automated grocery check out, self-taxied cars, touch-screen tellers, online travel booking, home-building 3D printers, and automated phone services. But our day will come.

Executives and middle managers, whose roles in decision making, motivation, and budget forecasting can easily be replaced with the right algorithms, will receive pink slips.

Robots will refreshingly report the news as simply the facts as they occurred and will replace our politically biased, agenda-fueled media outlets.

Code will be written to ensure no crucial evidence goes unnoticed or tampered with by robot law enforcement. Furthermore, our robot attorneys, judges, and juries will be unfazed by personal opinion, race, client wealth, criminal intimidation, or bribes. The truth of each case will be the verdict that condemns or sets us free.

In short, our value in the workplace of the future is expendable.

The Industrial Revolution transformed us from a mostly agrarian society into a nine-to-five, go to a job to participate in a free-market, goods for services trade economy. Now, Humankind is fast approaching another revolution. The next step in automation will create unprecedented levels of leisure time for humans. The question is not “how will we fill the time,” but rather, “how will we survive?”

Imagine the life you could live while your government sponsored robot works 24-hour shifts to provide income for you and your family. Imagine the things you could do and the places you could see!

Now (and this is the more likely scenario if we don’t make changes) imagine the things you’ll have to do to survive when the corporations who own the robots grow wealthier and wealthier while you struggle to find ways to meet the basic needs of your family. You can’t get work; robots are more efficient than you. So you’ll join the millions being given basic, government level welfare to provide just enough for you to survive in misery until your death.

We can’t let cognitive dissonance prevent us from making real changes now. “It isn’t happening to me right now, therefore it isn’t happening” cannot continue to be our mantra. We must take action to stave off the dystopia to which our current path ultimately leads. This isn’t about right, left, or center politics. This is about ensuring humankind flourishes as we take the next step in our evolution.

Operating under the misconception this will never happen to us will doom our children. Or our children’s children.

Pastor Martin Niemoller was an outspoken foe of Adolf Hitler who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He is perhaps most famous for the following quote:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Perhaps I sound like a socialist, chanting “robots for all!” I’m no socialist. However, the robots are coming. It’s not my opinion, it’s our reality. Robots are not to be feared, they have the power to make life wonderful. Robots have no political opinions or goals. They only perform the tasks for which they are programmed. The only thing that can destroy humanity is our collective misguided support for those who would use those robots to enslave us all.  

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Throwing my Vote Away

With apologies to my friends and family, I’ll be “throwing my vote away” in 2016.

Spare me the morally deplorable cliché that I should simply vote for the “lesser of two evils.” If our two options for president were Adolf Hitler vs. Joseph Stalin, would anyone really dare utter that ridiculously moronic phrase? 

And yet I’m the one who is made to feel like a traitor when I say I refuse to vote for either of the major party candidates this year.

We ought to choose to be governed by moral men and women. Not “moral” in the sense that they adhere to my particular moral code. I mean “moral” in that they show any semblance of morality and decency expected from one another in the social contract of living in a civilized society.

There is no morality in the two primary candidates for president. I’d write their names but I want to avoid nausea.

No one should feel comfortable defending the ethics of these reality show rejects, so it makes me wonder about the motives of those who would even try. Somehow, those casting a “two party system” vote seem confident in looking down their condescending nose at me with disdain while I express non-partisan views.

The slogans upon which my friends base their political support are laughable in the face of the choices we currently have for president. And these slogans only work for as long as they can scare enough of us to vote one way or another under threat of wasting our vote. Slogans like “Make America Great Again”, “I’m with Her”, and of course, “bring an end to Washington politics.”

How can someone “Make America Great Again” without accusing America of not being the greatest country on Earth? America is already great; the real message is “Make America Straight/White/Christian/Male Again.”  

“I’m with Her” is a direct rip-off of the popular “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt campaign, so it’s not far off. Although, perhaps it should say “I’m with Stupid, Lying, Deceitful, Incompetent.”

Finally, candidates promise to “bring an end to Washington politics” the same way I promise to cut back on Doritos. I know I don’t mean it; I just fool myself into thinking if I say it out loud I can trick my body into accidentally losing some weight.

The sad truth is this: In America, being in power is more important than doing the right thing. We the people no longer have the power. We live in a flawed system that rewards the wrongdoing of those we have entrusted to govern, while punishing (for lesser crimes) we who have placed them in power.

In November I will vote for neither of the two-party candidates for president. They do not share my ideals, nor do they share the ideals of anyone who believes in ethics, standards, or common decency. I may write in the name of a person who is not even on the ballot, or I may vote for one of the candidates whose third party efforts we’ve deemed laughable. By doing so, I will gladly “throw my vote away” rather than live with the soul-wrenching guilt of supporting the human equivalent of a morally destitute sack of steaming fresh dog crap.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Better Leadership

Who wants to discuss the tired old question “What makes a great leader” for ten billionth time? Nobody! Instead, let’s talk about followers. We are all followers in some sense, why do followers follow?

French and Raven claimed power comes from (and therefore we follow because of) five sources:

Reward Power- The person I follow has the power to provide me with the money, praise, acknowledgment I desire.

Coercive Power- The person I follow has the authority to discipline me if I don’t follow them.

Legitimate Power- The person I follow has a title more “lofty” than mine, and therefore I fall in line with the hierarchical infrastructure to which I have agreed to adhere.

Expert Power- The person I follow has more knowledge or expertise in a certain area or field, therefore I am obligated to trust and follow them.

Referent Power- The person I follow stands for an ideal for which I can get behind, one I am proud to follow of my own free will and choice.

Which of these sources of power can we develop? The first three are equal across the board, based on peers at the same position. We can work to develop the other types of sources of power.

Be the type of leader now that you want to be in the future. Stand for something. People follow someone who believes passionately in what they are doing. If you can’t get excited about your job, why should anyone else?

Decide who you are, the type of person you want to be, and be that. Live a sincere life. If that means you want to be an asshole, fine, be that. But be it in a less altruistic or idealistic industry. Go work for Comcast. If you feel you were built to help people and make a difference instead of  comparing dick sizes, then find the work that allows you to pursue those ideals. Do something meaningful.  

Stand for something more! Stop competing with others like you and start competing with those who would bring misery to and defraud the American people. 

For Leaders, Remember this:

The way you feel about your staff will always be slightly better than the way they feel about you. So you better love them, and hopefully they will like and respect you. Start now.

Be what you want to be, want to be what you are best at, the thing that makes you feel most fulfilled. Stop working toward the next promotion and start working toward the thing you love the most. Money will come, but your time, energy and effort is non-refundable.

You can trust me, I'm an MBA.