I’ve always had a kinship with technology. Perhaps I’m bipolar… If you didn’t laugh at that gem I wouldn’t read much further – it gets worse. As a result of fate, be it good measure or good luck I ended up in very technological career. Spending hours reading through Radio Shack catalogs at a young age must have built thousands of synapse in my brain all geared for remembering the current rating of a light bulb and other completely useless information. I’m positive my wife would have preferred I forged some synapses for remembering the garbage goes out on Monday morning, but that isn’t the way it happened. Of course, If I had been taking out the garbage as I was supposed to, perhaps I wouldn’t have been reading an artificial about the advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence which led me to my ultimate problem. I replaced myself with a computer.
Computers have infinite memory, or at least more than my squishy grey matter. The synapses I developed for remembering this information pale in comparison to what my digital counterpart is capable of. Since the technical components of my job are basically memory… Why shouldn’t the cold steel box on my desk preform exceptionally? This sounds like a great idea, right? I’ll take the repetitious technical parts of my job, and have little blue do it! So that’s what I did.
I can’t really reveal the secret sauce here but I was able to train my pet mike (I’m going to call my computer ‘mike’ with a little m from now on) in about 15 hours. This felt like the ultimate insult. It took me 40ish years to build an archive of awesome including many bumps and bruises. My digital doppelganger did it in just 15 hours. I’m not saying mike is perfect, but he scored at 70% accuracy on the training set, and he is the very first mike I’ve ever built.
Insult aside, I was elated. I had replaced myself with a computer! Wait…. I replaced myself with a computer. If your self-worth hangs on the pride you put into your job, you may want to sit down for the next part. Like so many people who thought their job was untouchable, bankers, journalists, printing press repair technicians, I am replaceable. Worse, I replaced me in just 15 hours.
You think many things after you replace yourself with a computer, can I bury mike late at night so no one will know? How long until someone else builds a mike or a stacey or a bruce and I’m out of a job? What if mike puts hundreds of people out of work? Did I feed the dog?
I’ve written thousands of lines of code in my life. I’ve automated and simplified tasks for people, and enriched their lives as a result. I’ve never been faced with such a moral dilemma and I hope you never will. Unfortunately, Pandora’s box is open, and mike isn’t going away. Prepare yourself.
If you took the time to read this, I hope you enjoyed it, mike did.
Original Posting – LinkedIn January 25 2017