Rise of the robots – how technology is destroying jobs

A driverless car


Are driverless cars speeding us toward an employment wasteland?

A BBC article today headed ‘China’s push for driverless cars accelerates’, reports that the race for driverless car technology is hotting up around the world, and that “Chinese companies are taking big strides competing with the likes of Google and Tesla”.

I sometimes wonder if all the geniuses behind this push for driverless cars have ever paused for a moment to consider that most people actually ENJOY driving their cars. So they are spending £Trillions developing a product most people will never want to buy.

But behind this insanity there is a more serious point, that of how technology is changing the world in which we live, work and play.

Those who look on the impact technology will have on our lives ten, twenty, or a hundred years from now, generally fall into two camps. The optimists, who consider most technological advances to be positive, bringing us things like iphones, micro-surgery techniques, and driverless cars. Then there are the pessimists who in bygone days would probably have been called Luddites, who think a high-tech world isn’t all gravy.

Since like most people nowadays I’d hardly be able to function if they suddenly took away the internet, or my iphone, or 46″ plasma TV, I should be firmly in the optimist camp. But there’s a little hypocritical pessimist lurking inside me, who sometimes worries about where this is all going.

Every age has had its Luddites. As far back as the Bronze Age there were probably people bemoaning how new-fangled inventions like the wheel would put them out of jobs. But the agrarian and industrial revolutions in the last three-hundred years have undeniably transformed the countries we know today, from populations that mostly lived in scattered, rural communities, working in agriculture and cottage industries, to a modern world almost entirely centred in large towns and cities. Whether you think that is a good or a bad thing is a matter of opinion.

But the advent of the motor car, then the computer, have arguably changed our world more significantly than any other technological development. And in the looming spectre of the driverless car, which combines the two, we are facing perhaps the perfect high-tech storm on the horizon.

Let no one be in any doubt, when driverless cars become a reality, they will overnight put millions of cab drivers, van drivers, lorry drivers, ambulance and fire engine drivers out of work, as profit-driven companies replace people with cheaper, more ‘efficient’ robots and computers. Train drivers and airline pilots might do well to think about a plan B too.

If this trend continues, a hundred years from now, a ‘driver’ will be something kids are taught about in their school history lessons, or they look up on Wikipedia, or whatever the higher-tech equivalent of Wikipedia will be called then. The same will go for ‘car worker’, ‘agricultural worker’, ‘office worker’ or ‘shop assistant’. They will all have been replaced by cheaper, more efficient robots and computers.

A few minutes shopping on Amazon, or walking around any farm, factory or supermarket check-out will reveal we’re already half way there.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum predicted that 5 million jobs would be lost by 2020 alone.

And yet, as this trend continues, and the world’s population increases by about 25 million EACH YEAR, does anyone not see a teeny bit of a problem up ahead with that math?

Here’s a scary graph, showing how the world’s population has increased over the last 1,700 years.

Increase in world population 300AD - 2016AD

In fact the world’s population has DOUBLED from 3 billion around 1960 alone, to 7.5 billion today, and is currently increasing at around 25 million a year, while job losses are accelerating in the opposite direction.

And all those displaced millions will do WHAT exactly with their lives, when there are no more jobs to do? And earn a living HOW exactly when there are no more meaningful employment opportunities, or careers that give shape and purpose to their lives? And don’t tell me you’ll all be lazing happily around in some utopian leisure world playing non-stop computer games and other fun stuff like that, because somebody will have to pay for those expensive toys, and if you haven’t got a job, it won’t be you.

Perhaps the geniuses who are rushing us headlong into this ‘technological revolution’ might pause and reflect on the employment wasteland they are building for our grand-children, and great grand-children. Where perhaps only 1% of the world’s population have all the jobs, and presumably all the money.

It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to realise that that is a world which cannot end well.

Facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Call Me Dave – Mad Dave 4

Call Me Dave

Mad Dave 4, or Why We Should Scrap the UK Honours System and Ban the Tories From Ever Holding Office Again

Part four of my serialisation of Mad Dave Cameron’s biography, ‘Call Me Dave’

I better get this off my chest upfront. I’ve always thought the peerages, OBEs and other titles showered upon the celebrity glitterati every New Year to be not only a little bit arbitrary, but at worst a squalid example of how corrupt our political leaders have become. My reasons for thinking this are threefold.

1. Honours sometimes get given to complete monsters

The first reason for doing away with the honours is that they are often awarded to people who with hindsight turn out to be hideous human beings – deeply flawed individuals who pretend to be something different in public to what they are in real life. Take Jimmy Savile, or the female CEO of a famous-brand UK challenger bank, as being two that spring to mind. Pinning medals on closet paedophiles, corporate bullies and psychopaths is hardly the best advertisement for an ‘honours’ system.

2. Honours are often undeserved

Secondly, honours should ONLY go to people who do things WAY above the call of duty. Those selfless individuals who dedicate their lives to noble causes. Fund raisers, charity workers, the thousands of anonymous souls who toil selflessly for their local communities. What honours should NOT be about is doling out sweeties to pet celebrities and civil servants for ‘services to’ their chosen career, i.e. getting out of bed and going to work.

As far as I can tell, most of the more salubrious recipients – whose various gongs and peerages adorn the front pages of our newspapers every New Year’s Eve – appear to have been awarded them for no better reason than simply doing their job well. That is to say, turning up for work and making a decent fist of their occupation, day in, day out, just like the rest of us. For which most of them have already been handsomely remunerated.

What’s more, for every care worker, miner, policeman, engineer, road-sweeper or nurse who gets a mention in despatches, there seems to be a whole army of these famous A-listers queuing up to become Knights and Dames. As though being famous is considered an achievement worthy of honours in itself. Which would suggest it’s more about the vanity of those handing out the honours, than anything to do with the recipients’ worthiness.

3. Honours are invariably politically motivated

For most of history bestowing honours has been the preserve of kings and queens. Monarchs typically bestowed them on members of the aristocracy in exchange for loyalty, military service and keeping the peasants in place. Only since the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the power of royalty began to wane and parliament became supreme, has the method of selecting individuals for honours gradually changed. Kings and queens have continued to confer them, but on the advice of their ministers rather than on a royal whim. Recipients began being drawn from all walks of life, not just the blue bloods.

However, of late there seems to have developed a somewhat regressive trend among the political class to regard the honours system as an opportunity to do a bit of a personal back-slapping with their chums. That’s to say, a chance to reward those who have done them personal favours, endorsed them, bunged them money, that kind of thing.

David Cameron’s bestowing of a knighthood on Lynton Crosby in January 2016 for ‘services to politics’ was a particularly flagrant example. For those not in the know, Crosby was the anonymous spin doctor who masterminded the Tory election victory in May 2015. His knighthood is that grubby. And while it’s true that no party has been above such squalid practices in recent times, when a political snake like Crosby gets one for services to a party who are piece by piece dismantling everything that is good and decent about our country, then the whole idea of honours becomes discredited. Crosby’s elevation would seem to indicate that the system has sunk to a new nadir, and provides proof perhaps that the Tories now think they can get away with anything.

No leader of a self-respecting democratic nation should be allowed to brazenly elevate their cronies to the peerage in this way, or stuff the House of Lords with their political mates. That brings the whole system into disrepute. Simply replacing one all-powerful potentate (e.g. a king who showers awards and honours on his favourites, elevating them to positions of influence) with another all-powerful potentate (e.g. a Prime Minister, who does exactly the same) doesn’t seem much like progress to me, whether the demagogue is called Bad Prince John or Mad Dave Cameron.

If anyone thinks comparing the current Tory Government to a despotic feudal regime is a bit extreme, I’d suggest you have a quick glance at ‘Angels Coffins’, Chapter 3 of Mad Dave’s biography, ‘Call Me Dave’. Pay particular attention to the third paragraph down, which covers the early years Mad Dave spent at boarding school.

“Founded in 1908, Heatherdown catered for fewer than 100 boys at any one time, but what it lacked in size, it more than made up for in social exclusivity. According to one account of Cameron’s time there, among the parents of his contemporaries were ‘eight honourables, four sirs, two captains, two doctors, two majors, two princesses, two marchionesses, one viscount, one brigadier, one commodore, one earl, one lord, and one Queen (the Queen)’. Cameron’s classmates included the grandson of oil billionaire John Paul Getty, thanks to whom he would later enjoy an extraordinary holiday in America; and Prince Edward, whose older brother Andrew was also educated there.”

If this list of ennobled individuals with whom the young dictator rubbed shoulders from an early age proves anything, it does perhaps give some inkling as to why Mad Dave turned into such a sly, double-dealing apologist for rampant inequality and social exclusivity in Britain. And as one picks over the carnage of George Osborne’s latest budget, incredulous at the almost medieval savagery with which this Government is attacking the poorest and most vulnerable in society while showering gold and tax breaks on the richest and most powerful, one can only conclude that Mad Dave and his Tory mob are determined to turn Britain back 500 years to a kind of feudal society where a landed aristocracy of rich robber barons considered it their divine right to bleed the populace dry, and keep the masses in a state of servile vassalage.

Hold on to that thought, when you next vote in a General Election, or the EU referendum. Cameron is your enemy, not your friend. He is in it for himself, not for you. He is a congenital liar, a dissembler, a conman whose word you should never trust on anything.

How the Tories ensure the richest 1% of society control the poorest 99%, is by perpetuating the lie that ‘we’re all in it together’, when they are patently only in it for themselves. How they keep us in place, continually enslaving and impoverishing us, is by lying, cheating and stealing from us all on an institutionalised basis. It is the British people who built our railway network, our steel industry, our energy industry, our postal service, our great NHS, and we did it with the sweat of our brows and the brilliance of our intellect. And now these modern-day Tory robber barons are selling it off to their rich chums in the city, as if it were theirs to sell.

If there is any blame attached to the British people it is only this: that they were credulous and gullible enough to believe a word that ever came out of Tory mouths in the run up to the last election. They mistakenly believed that as public servants who were supposed to have the best interests of the people at heart, our political leaders were men and women of integrity, whose word could be trusted. But as the last 12 months have proven, since they broke free of the Liberal Democrat influence which had proved a handbrake on the worst Tory excesses during the coalition government, this current Tory administration are among the least trustworthy, the greediest, most cynical, hypocritical and socially unjust administrations in living memory. We will only have ourselves to blame if we EVER trust them on a single promise again.

Mad Dave Cameron is the 21st Century’s Machiavelli. A modern day cut-purse who dresses in a gentleman’s clothes to dissemble and deceive society about his true motives. Don’t fall for it. Not again. To borrow from Oscar Wilde, to be fooled once could be considered a misfortune, but to be fooled twice would begin to look like carelessness. Reject Mad Dave and his party of greedy capitalist thugs. Reject every nasty little policy they stand for.

Oh, and if you ever find yourself within a hundred yards of any of these closet fascists in Tory clothing, with a sniper rifle and a dozen rounds of 50 cal, in open line of sight, you know what to do.

Posterity will thank you.



Facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather

Apple blow bigger than Monica Lewinsky


Apple is now rotten to the core
Okay, I’ll say this as politely as I can. ‪‎Apple ID system, fucking crap. Apple support fucking crapper.

So I want to download free app on my iphone. Can’t login to‪ ‎App Store‬, it says my account is locked out for security reasons. To unlock it I have to answer questions I’ve not encountered since I sat my GCE O levels about a hundred years ago. Have to reset my password to get back into my account.

I heard some fuckwit police commissioner on tv today say people shouldn’t be able to claim back online fraud if they set weak passwords, or write them down, or shit like that. But of course, so many short-sighted, head-up-their-ass companies blindly make you jump through so many hoops to set a password, like saying it has to have upper case and lower case characters, and numerals, and it can’t be less than 8 letters or more than 7, and it must contain the word ‘shit’ in French, upside down, so how the fuck are you supposed to REMEMBER all these enforced passwords when you’ve got about fifty different ones that only work on specific sites and you didn’t want any of them anyway.

One day the world will wake up to the fact that if you want people to do business online you’ll have to make it easier for them. And if you really want to stop online fraud, get some fucking rocket scientists to go after the bad guys, and stop blaming me.

So when I finally get into my account, I try to set up a ‘rescue’ email address that will make it easier for me to ‘unlock’ said Apple account if ever I’m locked out again. Which will probably be tomorrow. For some reason, which it won’t tell me, it won’t let me use my main email address as my rescue email address, even though it’s the main email address I use for everything and I REALLY don’t want to use a million and ten other email addresses that I have no interest in ever using, JUST FOR THIS FUCKING STUPID APPLE ID SHIT. But it flat out refuses to accept my email address as the rescue email address. So that’s that fucked then. If ever I’m locked out again I might as well just flush my iphone down the toilet and go back to Android.

But for now, I’m in. I’m unlocked. I’ve ducked and bobbed and snuck in the App Store. So I search for the free app, and click to download it. Wait. Phone asks me for my new shit password it made me set up which luckily was only a few minutes ago so I can still remember it, just.

Then I go back to the app and try to download it again. No wait. Apple asks me to input my fucking password AGAIN! I do, with almost bleeding fingers, thinking, I must be so close to getting this app. This close.

Holy fucking bat tits. Now it won’t let me continue without confirming my credit card details and security code even though the FUCKING APP IS FREE!

Look, I think, I’m done with this shit. Why are they asking me to confirm my payment details anyway? Are they gonna charge me for a free app? So I go to the ‘contact support’ page on Apple website, and of course there’s no fucking online option to contact support. No email, no chat, no fuck all, even though I’m online, duh. The only option is to schedule a call from them. So I do.

Ten seconds later, the phone rings. I think, hello, that was quick, maybe they’re getting their shit together at Apple, maybe, just maybe their customer service team will be solar hot.

Then I get their sexy-voiced auto-responder telling me thanks for setting up a callback, and I would now go in the queue, and the current wait time would be around 10 minutes, or some shit, blah blah.

So I sit there tapping my fingers listening to their crappy music for 10 mins, 15 mins, 20 mins… then I hang up, thinking, life is too short for this shit.

But then the phone rings about a minute later. It’s another auto message from Apple. This time I listen very carefully, and as well as saying (again) thanks for setting up the callback with the support team, I would now go in the queue and the current call wait time was, wait for it, “10 minutes or longer”.

Ahh, right. I see what they did. Did you see what they did there with that “or longer” on the end? They covered their pathetic asses in a really sneaky way, by making me think it would be 10 minutes, when actually, “10 minutes or longer” could mean like 15 minutes, it could mean an hour, it could mean several hundred fucking light years man.

So about Apple. Here’s the shit. From the horse’s crapper. They might be the dogs when it comes to slick design, but when it comes to the usability of their systems and support, they blow bigger than Monica Lewinsky. And they make you swallow it.

Sort it out, Apple. I always knew you’d go down the toilet after Steve Jobs went, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so soon, or so bad.

And that’s putting it politely.


Facebooktwitterpinterestmailby feather