You Should Expect Robots if Profit Is Your Purpose

Blog #309 — reading: about 1.5 minutes

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

A sizeable chunk of the negative talk is about how AI is changing, and even killing, jobs. Guess what? A lot of positive talk is about how AI will enrich our jobs. (Would you like to bet that an AI chatbot wrote the negative argument?)

This back-and-forth triggered a memory, and so I dug out something I wrote in April 2010 about robots at work. I share it (again) 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.

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. 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 so rapidly doing away with the need for workers.

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 has been manufactured.

And what has been manufactured? Other automation robots!

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

(P.S. You have been warned.)