Would robots let us sit and sip coffee when they take over our world?

Algorithms can't save us.

 |  3-minute read |   30-09-2017
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The early nineties was a golden era indeed. It was a time when you could be a well-read person and could genuinely sound smart in front of others. School projects meant you had to sift through multiple Tell Me Why books and Encyclopedia Britannica to get the information you were seeking. Knowledge was not readily available, nor were videos of cats playing the piano. That's no longer the case, thanks to the progress in technology.

Recently, I was having a chat with one of my friends, who works with a multi-national financial technology solutions company. These softwares are quite sophisticated and besides taking care of all operational matters they also roll out readymade PowerPoint presentations with the relevant data within a few minutes.

So as a chartered accountant, it is a rather uncomfortable feeling to live with the realisation that you are always just a few lines of code before being rendered unemployed for life.

Machine learning algorithms are all set to lead the next wave of technology. This is a setback for people like me who have had a not-so-pleasant experience with Maths. I am simply the living embodiment of my Maths teacher's disappointments.

HR professionals have coined a new term for this emerging trend by calling it the "gig economy", where people hop from one organisation to another doing temporary assignments - which is not a bad idea when you come to think of it. Who needs the boring salary credited SMS every month end when you can get the adrenaline rush of not knowing where your next meal is coming from or when your landlord will throw you out.

Now my biggest worry is whether global warming will decimate mankind first or will it be artificial intelligence. It won't be global warming for sure because as a species we have saved way too many tissue papers from food home deliveries for posterity. That's pretty much our only contribution to save the earth besides sending toddlers dressed as trees to school plays after lavishly tearing green craft paper for their costume.

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In case it's the robots that take over, will they be kind slave masters to us? You know like the ones that pay you to sip coffee and use jargons for a living.

The good news is that some professions which need human interaction - like teaching - are still secure from automation. As my former school supervisor would attest. He would have kids swarming in his office during the recess, many of whom would intentionally cough on him to get their sick leave notes signed to leave home early from school. You can design algorithms to deal with normal humans, not brats.

With the emergence of new-age professions such as data scientists, organisations are competing and gloating over their collection of "big data". It's the algorithms that track you - what website you visit, which places you hang out at etc.

No wonder I get emails with subject lines like "You should be ashamed of yourself". You can't help but see your life in a flashback as you wonder what big data knows about your life that others don't.

Is it referring to the time I broke my sister's mobile screen without telling her or is it referring to the time I didn't share the answers during the exam with my classmate even though he was pulling my leg to coax me.

But no, when I click the email it is of some pointless shopping website festival coaxing me to feel ashamed of myself for not buying from their website.

Till we meet again, I am off to do my good deed of the year by setting up a retirement home for robots so they can mingle with fellow robots of their era while bitching about what an aimless species we humans are.

Also read: How foldable displays will change smartphones forever

Writer

Rahul Batra Rahul Batra @rahul_batra91

C.A.Colouring Ms Excel sheets for a living & run a humour blog http://t.co/e0GJnsm2Op Humour columnist @ India Today

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