Pocketful of Wry
One Word: Robotics
By Tom McDermott
Artificial Intelligence or AI is much in the news lately. From Palo Alto to Brooklyn to Detroit, Davos, and Rye, AI is of the moment. The only thing in doubt is just how long it will take engineers and CEOs to reduce human work staffs by 20, 40, 50 percent, or more. My main problem with Artificial Intelligence is that it’s all based on making machines think and act like real humans. Where’s the advantage in that? Robots call me three or four times a day to tell me, “There’s nothing wrong with your credit!” How smart could they be?
People who seriously discuss AI’s many benefits have one thing in common. Their jobs are so important or they are so incredibly rich that they never mention ways to eliminate their own jobs. Experts assume that we humans will be thrilled to no longer drive and pleased with news reports composed entirely by AI-endowed robots instead of Russians hackers. Maybe robots can develop a way for us to go longer than an hour without buying something through Amazon Prime that arrives faster than you can say “billionaire divorce”.
Here’s an idea: why not first take aim with AI at the C-Suites, VC firms, and billionaire techies that brought us to where we are in this new digital paradise in the first place? How about having AI billionaires smart enough not to buy an apartment in New York City for $238 million? Next thing you know one of these lonely hearts will make it all the way to the White Hou…
Think of all these CEOs earning tens of millions. That’s annually, folks. Their buyouts are in the hundred-millions. Who could be worth all that dough? Wouldn’t it be better to have the best executives of all time robotically programmed into AI-3CPOs who would work for zilch and not require a couple of G-VI’s fueled-up at all times so they could get to Augusta National, Aspen, or Nantucket to meet with their peers?
AI is projected to make deep inroads into just about every part of the economy and culture, except education. Consider that the full cost of college tuition is now north of sixty-grand. Yikes. In these environs that’s nearly as much as your property taxes, and you can’t even deduct ten thousand.
Have you heard any talk about AI replacing college professors or football and basketball coaches? Of course not. College professors were replaced by graduate assistants decades ago and where did that get us? University professors who do lots of government research are also feverishly working on AI that will replace other people’s jobs, not their own.
Closer to home, the school districts are proposing to borrow millions in the debt market to make critical repairs, improve security, and redesign spaces for more collaborative learning. A big part of that redesign is for expansion of the engineering, arts, and, wait for it …robotics programs.
It’s a good bet that over the life of the bond debt, robotics teachers might focus students’ attention on how AI could improve school lunch; develop football players who could play both ways, not get concussions, and still wallop Harrison; or, through civic duty, finally find a way to pave McCullough Place on the cheap;
It happens that I like to drive. Sometimes I throw caution to the wind and drive without the radio on. I just listen to the engine go through its gears. I’d miss driving. I wonder, does it make more sense to replace millions of happy drivers or a few automotive geniuses like Elon Musk and the Google guys?
I’ve worked for enough big companies to know that great leaders are few and far between, and that CEOs get to the corner office for all sorts of reasons besides potential to do great things. We wouldn’t miss a beat by saving all that money and letting R2-D2’s granddaughters take over many of our biggest corporations. Plus, an AI CEO is one and done; you only pay for it once.
Not convinced? How long will it be before Congress figures out a way to avoid getting hammered every year for failing to agree on a way to keep the government open, resulting in hundreds of thousands of government workers not getting paid. You think Congress will contemplate replacing themselves with AI? No way. They are going to try replacing those government workers with robots who will garner less sympathy with voters.
But this begs the question: Considering what we have now, how bad could an all-AI national government be?