Jobs & AI : A Paradox
He works at the ticket counter at a bus stop. I talk with him every day when I buy a ticket for the bus. He looks around 30 years old young guy, as far as I can judge. He is always angry. People ask him same things repeatedly. I was standing in the queue and watching him.
“Hey, when will bus no. x will come? Is it late today?” A young boy asked while buying the ticket.
“Don’t you see the LED display over there? Are you blind?” He shouted.
“Bus isn’t this your job to answer my questions? I’ll complain against you.” Young boy argued at him and went away.
“I don’t care. What a bastard!” He murmured with slight fear in his eyes.
“Which bus will go to xyz area in this city?” One old passenger asked.
“Why don’t you see the table of routes instead?” He shouted again with a red face. Then, he took him gently to show the map.
One afternoon, there was a less crowd on the bus stop. He was alone with his tiny old Nokia phone and listening songs on it. I asked gently for a ticket. He became busy opening ticket counter application on his machine.
“I want to ask you something” I took this opportunity.
“What? About your ticket? Can’t you wait for two minutes?”
“No. Not about tickets. I just wanted to ask you that do you like your job?” I asked immediately before he gets angry.
“ Like? I hate it. I absolutely hate it.” He got angry again. “Do you see the people? They treat me like an answering machine, asking me same things over and over, and expecting a quick and polite answer. My job is only to sell the tickets. But people will never understand me and my work. How can I work like this?” Then he gave me my ticket and sat back relaxed, just like he wanted to tell this for years but couldn’t.
“Relax. Don’t worry too much about it. Anger is not good for health.” I said.
“No, I don’t and thanks. But let me ask you what is your job?” He prompted with curiosity on his face.
“I am a Software Engineer .” I said with some proud feeling inside me.
“Okay, so you are the IT guy. You build the software which I use for generating tickets. Right?”
“Yeah. Not the same one. But like that.”
“So, can’t you build the software that can answer these shitty questions people throw at me? like the one that can answer all the bus routes and timings?” He said with excitement.
“Hmm…I don’t know.” Then I went away without saying anything.
It was raining outside when I was going from Airport to home. So, I booked an Uber cab. It was 3:00 am midnight.
As soon as I sat in the cab, the driver shouted : “What the hell! Why they do this?”
“Who” I like the opportunity to talk!
“The previous passengers.” He said. “They have given me one-star ratings and poor reviews for the ride just because I reached the destination just one minute late. At this midnight! Shameless.”
“Oh, sorry for that. Do you like this job of driving cabs?” I threw the same question at him instantly.
“No. Absolutely not. I hate this cab driving. It’s too monotonous. As soon as I reach your destination, there will be a new ride for me. They just treat me like a machine - a cab driving machine that just needs some money to drive.” He sighed.
“Okay. Don’t worry much about it. Be happy, I will rate you five.” I said politely and left the cab.
This morning I was reading my local newspaper. I read the two things - one on the front page :
Artificial intelligence will deduct jobs up to 75% in near future.
and on the last page:
85% of people said they hate their jobs.
We are frightened by the fact that AI will take our jobs, the same jobs we hate!…Doesn’t that sound like a paradox?