Letter: Watson wants your job, and he's not Mexican
Have you seen the new IBM commercials? In one, two co-workers in an industrial Australian setting don't know how to solve a problem without the assistance of a co-worker named Jack, who is on "holiday" for seven days, or the commercial in which two co-workers are lamenting the fact that they do not have enough time due to their workload to attend a company picnic. Fortunately, in both of these situations, Watson comes to the rescue.
Watson is IBM's computer savant. There is no need to worry about Jack being away on holiday, even a permanent holiday, because Watson can do everything that Jack can do, including speak with an Australian accent. With the efficient Watson, you now will have time to attend every company picnic or the opportunity to work only on a part-time basis or maybe not work at all. Life can then be one long picnic, just without the paycheck.
Everyone loves efficiency and the promise of affordability that comes with it, until the realization hits that they are no longer a part of the algorithm. Watson is IBM's and every multinational's employee "re-accommodation" plan. What the plan lacks in United Airlines break your nose ferocity, it more than makes up for in insidiousness.
If one takes a moment to reflect on the message that is behind the commercials' utopian facade, it is hard not to see that without some real planning and thought about retraining our workforce, automation or someone named Watson is coming soon to take your job. So stop being distracted by the nonsense about immigrants taking away your job opportunities and start focusing on a plan to make automation work for us rather than in place of us.
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