MONOLOGUE WRITTEN BY CLYDE LEWIS
After we discussed alien life from an anthropological perspective, I got to thinking about how life on this planet will be more alien like — as the powers that be are setting their sites on the new normal.
What it most disconcerting is that most people are unaware what this new normal is going to entail.
Whenever it is brought up, I am sure many people see it as an affront to them politically but I assure you the general conversion process to this exploitative new normal will rewire you to give up most of your morality and humanity.
Dr. Michael Masters had a great deal of things to say about what separates us form the animals and insects — and gave his views on how we would differ from the aliens.
What separates the human being from other subspecies is arguably our intelligence, among other things. Humans possess the intelligent capacity that has allowed us to do things most other living forms cannot even comprehend. Our brains have allowed us to create fire, building rocket ships and turn gibberish into frameworks called languages. Over the centuries, we have become more intelligent predominantly due to trial and error which has allowed us to progress exponentially as a species.
The way we have progressed over time has almost entirely been driven by our intelligent capacity as opposed to our physical capacity. Of course, for centuries humans have relied on physical forms of working for both progression and livelihood. However, it has been our intelligent capacity that has moved the needle for our species: think of the wheel, the employment of animals and the construction of roads
When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become the purveyors of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.
The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid. Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The pain of “others” becomes your gain. The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the elite .
But such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.
The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us and how pervasive it is becoming in the new normal.
The media is projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.
The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy. Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy.
They are also clever in developing news speak or corporate speak to ease you into the this futurdrama without raising much suspicion.
Just like the Navy has chosen to replace the old and tired UFO terminology to describe unknown aircraft. The new corporate normal will include terminology to tell you that you are out of a job and your replacement will be Artificial intelligence or a robot.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, many top executives feared a public backlash if they pushed automation too far too fast. But, ironically, the economic collapse caused by the pandemic has so discombobulated the workplace and diverted public attention that corporate bosses have been emboldened to rush ahead, declaring, “I don’t really care. I’m just going to do what’s right for my business.” While the nationwide shutdown of offices and furloughing of employees has caused misery for millions, one purveyor of RPA systems approvingly notes that it has “‘massively raised awareness’ among executives about the variety of work that no longer requires human involvement.
CEOs urgently need euphemisms to soften the image of their constant hunt for ways to kill jobs and funnel more money to themselves and top investors.
Their urgency is that they’re now pushing a huge new surge in job cuts—this time targeting college-educated, white-collar professionals! Their weapon is the same sort of neutron bomb they’ve used to dispatch millions of blue-collar workers: robots.
But that term has a very bad reputation, so robots have been relabeled with a nondescript acronym: RPA, “robotic process automation.” These are not your grandfather’s old bots merely doing repetitive mechanical tasks. Sophisticated automatons armed with artificial intelligence have quietly moved up the corporate ladder to take over cognitive work that had been the niche of such highly paid humans as financial analysts, lawyers, engineers, managers and doctors.
This is more than just an incremental extension of a long, slow automation process. It’s a transformative Big Bang, presently ripping through America’s workforce at warp speed with no public or political attention, and most of the vulnerable employees have no idea of what’s coming.
Corporate executives, boards and investors do know, however, for they’ve been rushing furtively in the past year or so to implement RPA initiatives. The New York Times reports that a survey of executives last year found that nearly 80% of them have already put some forms of RPA in place, with an additional 16% planning to do so within three years. Yes, that’s 96% of corporate employers. Sales of the new-age automation software are booming, turning little-known providers like UiPath and Automation Anywhere into multibillion-dollar behemoths intent on radically shrinking the job market here and elsewhere. McKinsey, the world’s biggest corporate strategy consultancy, calculated in 2019 that the emerging revolution of thinking robotics would displace 37 million U.S. workers by 2030. Now, seeing the current corporate stampede to impose RPAs on U.S. workplaces, McKinsey analysts have upped their projection to 45 million job losses by 2030.
Professional jobs requiring human-level judgement have been presumed to be beyond the range of robotic firepower. But, as one economist who studies labor now notes, with the mass deployment of RPA technology, “that type of work is much more in the kill path.”
The corporate vocabulary does not include the phrase “job cuts.” Rather, such unpleasantness is blandly referred to as “employment adjustment.” Moreover, terminations are hailed as universally beneficial—they’re said to “streamline” operations and “liberate” the workforce from tedious tasks.
Now, though, corporate wordsmiths are going to need a new thesaurus of euphemisms to try glossing over the masses of job cuts coming for those in the higher echelons of the corporate structure. Don’t look now, but an unanticipated result of the ongoing pandemic is that it has given cover for CEOs to speed up the adoption of highly advanced RPAs to replace employees once assumed to be immune from displacement. As one analyst told a New York Times reporter, “With R.P.A., you can build a bot that costs $10,000 a year and take out two to four humans.”
Now, whenever I talk about robot replacements I am sure there are many people that will say that robots are not advanced enough to do the work of a person well unfortunately they are capable of doing the work of four people.
Boston Dynamics on Monday revealed a new warehouse robot called “Stretch,” designed to move 800 boxes per hour, equivalent to a typical human employee. The new robot could be a solution for Amazon to replace some of its human warehouse employees as unionization threats emerge at various warehouses.
Two years ago, the robotics company released a variant of Stretch, which we first noted in March 2019. Back then, Boston Dynamics called the prototype robot “Handle.” Though the robot today appears to be improved with a new base for more stability.
Stretch was built for one task and one task only, replace humans in warehouses. It uses cameras and other sensors to navigate aisles and uses a suction pad mounted on the arm to grab and transport 50 lbs boxes.
Michael Perry, vice president of business development for Boston Dynamics, told Reuters that Stretch was mainly designed for unloading trucks at warehouses.
“We heard pretty much universally across warehousing that truck unloading is one of the most physically difficult and unpleasant jobs. And that’s where Stretch comes into play,” Perry said.
“We’re looking at picking up boxes around 50 pounds and our maximum rate of picking up and moving boxes can reach up to 800 cases per hour. So, it’s a fast-moving, highly versatile robot,” Perry said.
Perry said the time to integrate the robot in warehouses is now. Many warehouses aren’t designed for automation, and that’s where these robots could create a boom for the company as the technology-driven Fourth Industrial Revolution takes hold.
The warehouse robot is expected to be available for commercial use in 2022. Humans can learn to operate the robots within hours, which means Stretch can be easily integrated into a warehouse.
The development of Stretch comes as unionization in America reaches a century low and is set to inevitably rise under the Biden Administration.
One of the biggest pushes to unionize is at an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. The vote to unionize ends on Monday. There have also been talks of unionization at Baltimore, New Orleans, Portland, Denver, and Southern California fulfillment centers.
The best defense Amazon and other companies have against unionization is automation and artificial intelligence to displace human workers, resulting in rising technological unemployment.
There is yet another robot that appears to be very effective in making deliveries as well — Digit is the new offering from Agility Robotics.
They have perfected the use of a bi-pedal robot deployed from the rear of a robot-delivery van that will walk a package to a customer’s doorstep without the risk of face-to-face interaction.
The goal of the robot, is to reach complicated areas where traditional robots would have issues traversing, such as stairs, tight spaces, and other complex terrains.
Agility Robotics founder Jonathan Hurst told a local news station in Oregon that Digit “can lift a 40-pound package.” He said, “the robot catches itself when it falls and reorient to get back up.”
Hurst outlined the most significant problem in last-mile deliveries:
“Once you’ve got an autonomous vehicle that does a lot of it on the road. But now you’re stuck at the curb, right? And in order to really provide that service that people want, you need to then get from the curb to the doorstep. And that’s where we solve this problem.”
Agility has sold two prototype robots to Ford Motor Company, who experimented with the bi-pedal robot launched from the rear of an autonomous delivery van to take a package from the vehicle to the customer’s doorstep.
I would venture a guess that future shock keeps most of us from imagining a different kind of society where work and the institutions it structures (unions, politics, education, retirement, etc. might be institutionally re-written.
Despite the rapid growth of information services and adoption of new intelligent technologies we still inhabit an industrial landscape based on industrial attitudes, defined through industrial ontologies and subjectivities.
We have been functioning in a 20th century labor mind set — and soon the 21st century will be on top of us and the new normal means rethinking everything.
In sociology we are told the industrial society is driven by technologies that enable mass production with an increasing complex division of labor, we generally use fossil energy sources, steam power and electricity, assembly lines, corporate management regimes, and so forth. The foundation thinkers of sociology were all concerned with the constitution of industrial society, the transition from agrarian society to a capitalist organization of industrial production where the concept of work was central, and the transformation to the next stage beyond capitalism. Most of the forecasts about the impact of the new wave of technology seem condemned to repeat the past – they highlight changes that might be made in order to keep the society we have.
But it appears that legacy systems are soon to be on the chopping block and the technologies that were once part of our science fiction entertainment is going to reduce the work force — and many people will be victims of technological unemployment.
The relationship between technological advancement and unemployment has been at the center of scrutiny and debate for well over a century. That is, the advancements in technological innovation have been a driving force for unemployment.
Automation is nothing new. Machines have been replacing workers at a gradual rate since the First and Second Industrial Revolution. But how are we going to deal with the fourth industrial revolution with advanced machines waiting in line ti take our jobs?
Throughout the 20th Century, the arguments around technological unemployment fluctuated as computerized technology become more widespread. The argument became more centered around the upskilling of workers given the rate of technology improvements. As typewriters, calculators and telephones became common in offices, the demand for educated labor increased, whilst demand for manual labor flattened.
The Computer Revolution began with the first commercial uses of computers in the 1960s and continued through the development of the Internet in the 1990s. As the cost per computation declined at an annual average of 37% between 1945 and 1980 telephone operators were made redundant, the first industrial robot was introduced by General Motors in the 1960s, and in the 1970s airline reservations systems led the way in self-service technology. During the 1980s and 1990s, computing costs declined even more rapidly, on average by 64 % per year, accompanied by a surge in computational power.
At the same time, bar-code scanners and cash machines were spreading across the retail and financial industries, and the first personal computers were introduced in the early 1980s, with their word processing and spreadsheet functions eliminating copy typist occupations and allowing repetitive calculations to be automated. Although this might not have replaced workers in the masses, it played a part in wage gaps between skilled and non-skilled.
The recent number of technological advancements, predominantly in software, have allowed for the automation of repetitive manual jobs. Moreover, the innovation in hardware in the form of robotics is quickly catching up and is already deployed in many industries today.
Today, near workless factories run by computer programs and intelligent robotics is quickly becoming the norm. Both Ocado and Amazon are two of many companies achieving large efficiency returns by way of automation. The robot workforce is increasing around the world as global sales of service robots continue to grow; in 2019 sales value increased by 32% alone.
The rapid advances in the ability of computing and processing power are not showing any signs of slowing down. Let me put this into perspective. In 1996 the US government invested somewhere in region of $55m in ASCII RED, a supercomputer that was able to reach one teraflop of processing speeds. Nine years later, the PlayStation gaming console achieved this level of processing power at a cost of $100/ unit.
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to lead the new frontier of automation in different areas of the economy and even society. AI allows software-driven processes to learn how to execute complicated tasks by analyzing large amounts of data by essentially learning from trial and error.
The increased processing speed has allowed computers to learn these tasks at near real-time speed and efficiently achieving close forms of human intelligence. The increasing availability of data is creating never before seen paradigms for AI. The combining of large datasets with the processing power now possible has meant previous tasks that were too complex for computers are now a reality. This includes driving where some autonomous vehicles can collect and analyze 1.3m points of data per second allowing it to create a 3D model of its surroundings that the car’s algorithm can react and therefore drive accordingly.
Soon self-driving taxis, buses and planes will become the norm and there are already human assisted semi-trucks on the highways now.
As the world continues to propel towards intelligent automation, the inherent worthiness of life is thrown into question.
Since the last five hundred years, the professions humans have chosen has not only shaped society but also our self-worth. We can argue that life is meaningful to the extent that the person living it brings about certain valuable states to the world. These typically involve a person setting themselves goals, whether professionally or academically, in which they set about achieving them and deriving satisfaction. Historically, most people have found meaning by joining religious groups or military groups.
Yet as society progressed, many people found purpose in the work they chose; an accountant doesn’t have to belong to a church to find meaning. The point I’m making here is that we can easily find meaning in the work we do which was much harder centuries ago.
Technology is increasingly coming after more intelligent and intellectual based labor. The possibility of lawyers becoming automated is not hard to comprehend computers can process vast amount of (contextual) data and reach fairer, and arguably, less biased decisions than humans at a much faster and cheaper rate.
In fact, they’re already able to read contracts to assist lawyers. Perhaps at some point in our lifetime, algorithms will be able to distribute resources better than most lawmakers whilst equally being better at finding murderers, identifying terrorists and other societal irregularities.
These systems often still involve human actors, given the nature of democratic processes involved, but the roles of the humans will become more passive, less creative and interactive.
The machines start doing much of the work themselves; the logic of their decision-making becomes more and more opaque to those who interact with them. Therefore, once again, the rise of automation reduces the space in which humans can engage in meaningful and fulfilling activities.
Not everyone will be sufficiently equipped to be trained if they do not possess the skills to be part of the process. Even for those that are, relatively few of them would be in demand given the nature of how advanced automated technologies have become, needing less maintenance and upgrading.
If you want an efficient machine-controlled system to work for you – you will be forced to be in the system, otherwise, you can live in the woods off the grid and even then that is not necessarily free from 5G and electronic intrusion.
As Klaus Schwab says, in the New Reset, you will do nothing and enjoy life.
What is to enjoy in this Futurdrama if life has no meaning or purpose?
I hope that as we are just coming to edge of full-on robot control and algorithmic weaponizing of consciousness we can stop and ask ourselves if we are willing to put that much faith in governments and the technocratic upgrades in the system.