Automating My Best Friend’s Mom

UC Berkeley
Summerville, Left; San Francisco, Right

Keith just gave me a look, and told his mom, perversely amused, that I was going to automate her job.

I rationalized: certainly, I was “solving a problem”… Automation was the future, anyway. Even if I didn’t do it, somebody else was going to do it.

BART

Increasingly, it seemed to me, that the proposition I was working for was not “make the world a better place”, nor “move fast and break things”, nor “solve big problems “, but “make the rich richer, and the poor poorer.”

Two months after I joined the startup, I resigned. I started Philosophy of Computation at Berkeley, a student organization dedicated to bringing more self-awareness to Berkeley’s CS culture, to critically analyzing what it is that we are doing through a philosophical lens, to detoxifying those of us choking on the incessant Kool-Aid of Silicon Valley. This is not to say that Silicon Valley is an evil force that is destroying the world. Far from it: I believe technology, like any sort of power, can in fact make the world a better place if wielded correctly. I still believe that, in the long run, automation of most jobs is inevitable and that, in the long run, humanity will be better off from it. It will free us from toil, letting us focus on what makes life worthwhile: a distant dream of Aristotle and Confucius alike, on the verge of being realized.

Think this is the future?

Between that fantasy Disneyworld and now is a gap into which real families, with real mortgages to pay and real mouths to feed, are falling into.

In the car on the way to Summerville, when Keith told his mom that I was going to automate her job, Mrs. Adamson said, in her comforting southern drawl, “Whatever you’re working on, I’m sure you’re getting paid way more than I am”, and just kept driving.

Philosophy of Computation at Berkeley

Student organization at the University of California, Berkeley. Dedicated to approaching philosophy through the lens of computation, and computation through the lens of philosophy. Learn more: pocab.org

121

121 claps
Jongmin Jerome Baek

Written by

Lead Facilitator at Philosophy of Computation at Berkeley (pocab.org), personal website at jjbaek.com

Philosophy of Computation at Berkeley

Student organization at the University of California, Berkeley. Dedicated to approaching philosophy through the lens of computation, and computation through the lens of philosophy. Learn more: pocab.org