Hard-boiled Politician and the End of the World


The following quotations are paraphrased from a talk given by Brandon Lee, Consul General of Canada in Northern California and Hawaii on Monday, June 16th at the Ryerson DMZ.

“Coding isn’t necessary to learn in schools in the future, an understanding of statistics is enough.”

Have you heard of MATLAB or R? Have you looked at a statistics curriculum before?

“Uhh, I work with 30–50 startups every week from Canada who are trying to move to Silicon Valley…”

Thanks Brandon, but you still didn’t answer my question about any examples of startups in Canada leading in social innovation.

“When was the last time an algorithm used calculus? You’ll use statistics much more in the future than calculus.”

I don’t know, Mr. Consul General, but I think that maybe you should google your ground-breaking, over-generalizing, false statements before you spew them.

“Murakami’s ingenuity and inventiveness cannot fail to intoxicate”.

Normally, I really don’t care if people have a perspective that’s a misinformed perspective of the tech world. I try to correct them if it’s blatantly wrong, and I link stuff to read.

The world of technology is a walled garden, and it’s tough to get involved without learning a bit of the basics. So when a Consul General speaks to a room of non-technical people, who are parents, entrepreneurs, and politicians — any misinformation really, fucking irritates me. Especially when it concerns the implications of AI, machine learning and big data on the lives we live.

With how much of a divide that already exists because of tech, we don’t need pre-existing political structures spreading misinformation. And it’s something I hope to solve.

Just kidding.

Compared to what’s next, I honestly don’t give a single, flying fuck about what the people in that room learnt. Because at the end of the day, I know they’ll go back to their families in a nice cozy home or apartment, eat a nice meal, maybe watch some Netflix and be absolutely fine and dandy for the next 30 years of their lives.

What about the people who at the other end of the wealth ladder?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a politician use the words disruption and innovation so fucking excitedly when talking about 3.5 million jobs self-driving cars will take away from the trucking industry.

It sounded like his response to the follow-up question of universal basic income was ghost-written, rehearsed in the shower, and practiced until he could answer it so comfortably that he could talk for days without getting to the point. He spoke so much without saying anything.

But, why does this happen? Not because he doesn’t want to offend a political party, or anger Canadian citizens.

It’s because he doesn’t know the answer. Because none of us know how we’re going to deal with these dramatic societal changes. We can learn as much as we can from the agricultural and industrial revolution, and build a heuristic solution for the upcoming decades. It’ll take time and effort to do so and we as a society have a responsibility to help fill the empty gaps left by automation.

But when the people at the top of the ladder aren’t at least trying to answer these questions, who can we expect to?

A hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

This post was inspired by “Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World”.

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