AI or Not, Expect Robots if Profit Is Your Purpose

Insight #309

What does the automated factory produce? Other automation robots! (Created with Microsoft Copilot)

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There is a lot of positive talk about Artificial Intelligence, most of it aimed at drowning out the rising negative talk about AI.

A lot of positive talk is about how AI will enrich our jobs. And guess what? A sizeable chunk of the negative talk is about how AI will kill our jobs. (Would you like to bet that an AI chatbot wrote the negative argument? No? You are too smart.)

This back-and-forth tickled my memory, and so I dug out something I wrote in April 2010 about robots at work. I share it below so that we can all admit that people at work, robots at work and AI at work are really nothing more than… nonsense at work.

And, of course, to point out that this AI nonsense has been building for some time.

Here it is, unmodified:

With every job loss, business fails to do its civic duty. After all, the real business of business is to keep people busy and off the streets.

For centuries, businesses have been quite good at making money to pay for new jobs to keep more adults busy. And off the streets. But somewhere along the way, business leaders began to believe that their purpose was to create profits, not busy-ness.

The road to profit is not the road to full employment, which is why technology is rapidly doing away with the need for workers. And dumping them onto the streets.

Here is my favorite example of this trend, first celebrated in a business magazine in 2003. Somewhere in Japan is an automated factory which operates 24-hours a day, unsupervised for as long as 30 days at a time. Humans intervene only when there is no more space to store what the robots have manufactured.

And what does the automatic factory produce? Other automation robots!

You have been warned.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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