Rise of the Machines: The Future of Work Is to Corrupt and DeHumanize

Rise of the Machines: The Future of Work Is to Corrupt and DeHumanize
AP Photo/Peter Dejong

According to a recent Reuters article, Dubai has opened up a new Robot Cafe for those who are wary of COVID.

“Nothing says social distancing quite like Dubai’s RoboCafe, where robots have replaced their human overlords.

“Customers can place their orders with German-made robots, who then prepare and deliver it straight to their tables.

“ ‘It’s a good idea, especially right now,’ said Emirati customer Jamal Ali Hassan, whose piping hot beverage was delivered with no spills. ‘Restaurant turnouts are low, so I would expect that this idea would be popular … You order online and the robot works in front of you and gets you whatever you want within minutes.’ ”

For the screenwriters in Los Angeles (where I live) or any writer or student whose local coffee house is their writing/study room rather than a place to interact, this doesn’t sound so bad. No conversation. Nobody bothers you. You get your beverages without interruption. Win-win!

Apparently this has been in the works for a few years, but the COVID lockdowns put a kabosh on its implementation. Now that Dubai has opened up again, it has allowed its implementation:

“RoboCafe has been in the works for more than two years, but its launch was delayed from March 2020 due to the pandemic. It finally opened last June, when restrictions in the United Arab Emirates were relaxed.

“The RoboCafe was created with support from Dubai’s government artificial intelligence initiative. Humans are only called upon when there are glitches, or to sanitize surfaces.

Humans are only called upon when there are glitches, or to sanitize surfaces”. WOW. Already reduced to two camps: Intelligentsia or Labor.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

New York Post journalist Sohrab Ahmari focuses this quite well:

“Dehumanization — and labor-cost savings! — in the name of safety. The capitalist dystopia came exactly as the dystopia writers predicted.”

Phillip K. Dick, P.D. James, George Orwell, yeah, this taps into too many of their stories and some others. I’m a dystopian literature fan… and I’m watching it unfold before my eyes.

And what about those humans who enjoy interacting with their Barista? Whose favorite time of the day is that morning coffee and conversation? I know people like that, and these lockdowns, and the insistence on “social distancing” is killing them. Human interaction, even the most minute, is a necessary part of our lives. The toll of rage acts, suicides, and deaths from loneliness since these lockdowns are showing us just how necessary it is.

If this is the Future of Work, then it is a bleak future. We are wholesale eliminating essential entry level tasks and skills and outsourcing them to machines. The higher level ones too. Do you think that once the AI overlords discover how an algorithm can fix glitches that that human function won’t be eliminated? And why are humans the only ones who can sanitize? Is this type of fine-motor and attention to detail type of work something of which an AI is incapable? Interesting…

A good Barista is quite skilled. What they do is no joke, and they do it quickly—they know their stuff. Creating quality coffee drinks, and the ability to design and innovate is not something that can be replicated. Besides, humans are not just motivated by efficiency, or income. Some are motivated by the desire to bring beauty, joy, pleasure, and the best Baristas I know have that in mind, even when it is “just a paycheck”. You cannot replicate that, just like you cannot replicate character or morality. We see what the lack of this develops into for the human race. What will it produce in one designed for artificial intelligence?

Then there are the current progressive Labor cries for a minimum wage of $15, demanding companies cover COVID PPE costs, and hazard pay for grocery store employees. Great ideas, right?! It’s a human right! If that’s the case, what makes you think they won’t just eliminate the human element? Those self-checkouts—which frankly, I’m a fan—haven’t become popular because they increase convenience… Come on, man!

We are seeing this play out in Long Beach California, as my colleague Scott Hounsell covered:

“There’s an old saying about the road to hell, and it definitely applies in this case.  In order to reward the work of grocery store employees, Long Beach passed the “Hero Pay” measure, which increased the pay of grocery store employees by four dollars an hour.  While the measure seems like it was well-intentioned, good intentions don’t balance budgets nor make the availability of products any more diverse.  Long Beach officials were looking for a positive moment in the press, however, the Kroger grocery brand quickly put that to rest, by announcing that they were closing two grocery stores in the city, a Ralph’s location as well as a Food4Less store.”

The Kroger corporation simply chose to close stores rather than be forced to pay an extra hazard stipend for every employee. Kroger will continue to make their money and meet their bottom line; all the humans get is unemployment. Oh, wait….

It’s such a ploy, and it’s now dawning on Richard Trumpka of the AFL-CIO that he’s been pawned, just like the rest of us.

Ahmari’s post received replies from those who agreed, along with detractors. One detractor felt he needed to point out how degrading “menial work” can be. It’s rather obvious he probably hasn’t ever done anything that could be considered, “menial”.

I especially enjoyed this comeback. This kid’s avi does look like he spends way too much time sitting on his ass playing video games.

And menial is as menial does.

I don’t know a whole lot of handymen and plumbers who are out of work. I do know lots of computer folks though.

Which brings us to what has flourished since we’ve increased our automation capacities: Obesity and Crime.

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