Column 3 Opinion

The Hi-Tech Traditionalist: Are We Going To Be Replaced By Robots? (Part II) Intelligence On How Not Be

Are We Going To Be Replaced By Robots?

If you are young, (and if you’re not, it’s too late anyway, but parents, pay attention!) and do not want to be replaced by a robot, here are the things you must avoid at all costs. Ready?

DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! If your Boomer parents suggested to you that you follow your dreams while seated in the living room of their suburban McMansion with their dentistry and law school diplomas hanging on the wall, remember, they are transferring to you their feelings of self-loathing and white guilt. Do not fall for it under any circumstances. Unless of course, you want to be replaced by a robot, so you can camp out on your parents’ basement couch. Just remember that when that Asian girl from high school, the one that never wanted to hang out because she was studying, buys your folks’ place for cash, you and the couch will be on the curbside.

DO NOT STUDY ANYTHING WITH THE TERMS “GENDER” OR “RACE” IN THE TITLE! Yes, the tenured Gender Studies professor that spoke at your high school was really cool and yes, getting a six-figure salary for life to dish dirt on men is super-attractive, but you are much more likely to end up waiting tables. And you’ll have to be nice to men if you want to get paid. Maybe you can keep that dream job for a while, but only until the newly mandated $30 per hour minimum wage makes it worthwhile to replace you with a robot.

DO NOT STUDY ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT LEAD TO A GOVERNMENT (NOT UNIVERSITY) ISSUED LICENSE OR CERTIFICATE! Your university or college diploma is completely worthless even if you, your parents, or some bank ended up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for it. Now read that sentence again and let it sink in. Good? Ok, now to some exemptions from this rule. Some college and university degrees open the door to valuable government issued certificates, such as: law, medical, or professional accounting licenses, licenses to use welding equipment, licenses to pilot aircraft, licenses to operate heavy equipment, licenses to engage in trades such as plumbing or electrical work. You get the point. The reason such certificates provide protection from being replaced by a robot derives from the very raison d’etre of such certificates. They came into being for one or both of the following reasons: powerful professional organizations that limit access to their ranks and are autonomous in terms of accepting automation (law, medical, accounting) and the federal and local governments’ attempts to limit liability. Professions that can cause major harm to life or property (pilots, etc., but also building trades) are regulated for that reason. It will take quite a while before robots are able to assume those levels of liability. In short, if you have a government issued certificate in your pocket, you will most likely not be replaced by a robot.

UNDERSTAND WHAT IS MEANT BY THE WORDS “ROBOT”, “AUTOMATION”, AND “ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE”! This could be a very long, technical, and boring paragraph, but it doesn’t have to be! The one thing to remember here is that you are most likely to be replaced by a piece of software, not a machine that has things like actuators and sensors. If you are a receptionist, a bank teller, a dental office manager, a paralegal, an engineer operating a suite of design & analysis software, challenge yourself to honestly answer: how much intelligence does your work really require. If you answered “not that much”, pat yourself on the back – you got it right. You will be replaced by a piece of not very intelligent software that already exists. The reason that you haven’t been replaced yet is just plain old inertia. The software that is about to replace you is still making its way up the innovation S-curve and your employers may not be among the early adopter crowd. But it’s coming.

UNLESS YOU PLAN TO SPEND AT LEAST SEVEN EXCRUCIATING YEARS AT SCHOOL EARNING A PROFESSIONAL DEGREE, CHOOSE A JOB THAT INVOLVES THE USE OF YOUR HANDS FOR SOMETHING OTHER THAN TYPING! It is a common fallacy that folks who work with their hands are more at risk of being replaced by robots than those that don’t. Industrial automation requires not only electronics and software, but also hydraulics, motors, linkages, etc. all of which can and do fail. When they fail, they need to be replaced. By a human being. We are still quite a ways off from robots servicing robots, servicing robots, you get the drift. Here are three robot-proof paths to six-figure careers within ten years of high school graduation that do not require professional degrees or operating your own business:

Become a pilot. Go to a college that combines an aeronautics degree with all the pilot certifications that have ever existed. If you get in, you’ll get a scholarship. That’s four years. Fly your ass off for a regional or a small cargo airline for six years. Keep your nose clean and match the number of landings to the number of take-offs. Land that six-figure airline job. Alternatively, go fly for the military. They need you!

Become a welder. Take a three year associate degree in welding at a community college. This will cost you next to nothing. For the next seven years go to all the places nobody wants to go to like Alaska. Earn all the certificates and experience. You will be making six figures in no time. Supersize your career by becoming an underwater welder. You will never have a day off you didn’t want to have.
Become a diesel mechanic, a heavy equipment operator, and a semi-trailer truck driver. All of the above. In short, get all the certificates you would ever need to drive anything that has a diesel engine. You can do it in three years. After seven years of experience, with your diesel mechanic’s certificate, you’ll be making all the dough you want.

Now, you may feel that my advice is radical, extreme, and the opposite of everything you’ve ever heard your entire life. That is true. Now ask yourself: why? Why have you been getting such crappy advice from your parents, your teachers, your councilors? Don’t they want you to succeed? Don’t your parents want you to enjoy the lifestyle they have been enjoying for all these years? Let’s take your boomer parents first. They feel like they have worked VERY HARD as doctors, lawyers, engineers, VP’s of something or other, they’ve put up with boatloads of crap SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO. In other words, so you can FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS. Don’t believe them. They did it all for themselves, they enjoyed the heck out of it, and you ain’t getting a piece of that mortgage-paid McMansion. They simply feel guilty for having all the stuff they have AND WANT TO ATONE FOR IT BY MAKING SURE YOU DON’T HAVE IT.

Now, the system; teachers, counselors, the rest. These people are the brainwashed worker ants of the techno-oligarchical elites. Their mission is to MAKE YOU ONE OF THEM. Why? Because they will die and they need to be replaced. Unless you cherish toiling in a faceless bureaucracy while never really making ends meet, don’t let them make you into their clone. Resist. The last thing the elites want is for you to become indispensable, irreplaceable, and financially independent. They have done all they can to brainwash you by coopting your parents and your teachers, but that’s all they can do – try. Think for yourself, do that one thing that truly makes you a human, and you will not be replaced by a robot.

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