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machines should do the work so that people can watch netflix
IBM vision didn't do too well in the end
at some point in 1967 IBM commissioned a fantastic advertising to Jim Henson with a soundtrack of Raymond Scott. the whole thing is a piece of art and you should definitely watch it.
by the way, in the video office clerks explain to the camera:
“our work is related to the paperwork explosion. today there is more paperwork than ever. there always seem to be enough time and people to do the paperwork but today there aren’t enough people to do the paperwork.”
and the solution is IBM new computer system.
“machines can do the work so that people have time to think”
it’s easy to make fun of the paperwork explosion. i immediately wondered if all the paperwork was necessary to begin with. the thing is that most of our office jobs are based on the creation, processing, exchanging and implementation of information. it’s the same paperwork they were talking about. paperwork means information. no information, no party.
and yes, of course a lot of those processes could be further automated, but automating is not automatic and it takes a lot of human thinking to convince the machines to actually start doing the work. and that’s a story for another time, kids.
two funny updates to the IBM revolution:
1) all productivity gains of the machines doing the work didn’t really free up any significant time for the humans. we are still working the same weekly hours and potentially even more. believe it or not, that’s kind of a problem with capitalism.
productivity gains got transformed into financial gains for the few. on top of that, the economy needs constant growing, so we all need to consume more and produce more of the things that we then proceed to consume, etc… run, hamster, run!
2) we didn’t end up getting a lot more thinking done after all. with all the things we can consume, our to do lists have been expanding exponentially. unlike a laptop, we can’t open the ‘’thinking’’ app and start transferring data in the background while watching videos of cats dressed up as clowns or pokemon. thinking needs nothingness and idleness and it is not really a background task.so yes, until we consciously start doing less, machines will do only the work so that people can watch netflix (or cats videos).
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