Breaking Down an Article about Robots Taking Over


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CARS 94: Breaking Down an Article about Robots Taking Over

Session 94

Are you a fan of using apps like food delivery, grocery delivery, Uber, etc.? While convenient, our author today thinks this kind of technology might just be diminishing intimacy and human contact.

As always, I’m joined by Jack Westin from JackWestin.com. Check out all their amazing free resources including a free trial session of Jack’s full course to see how it’s like learning from Jack Westin himself.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Link to the article:

https://reallifemag.com/automatic-for-the-bosses/

Generally speaking, the four economic sectors in the U.S. that rely most heavily on human labor are, in order of most people employed: retail, fast food, health care, and clerical office work. These are jobs that involve interacting — often intimately — with other people. To eliminate these jobs, companies couldn’t just replace humans’ role in production with machines, as they might on an assembly line. It would also require reducing their customers’ expectations for intimacy and human contact, and acclimating people to serving themselves.

So far, this has meant enculturating a willingness to use the self-checkout lane or talk to a computer on the phone, or, at the cutting edge of retail automation, navigate a store with no employees whatsoever. “Our checkout-free shopping experience,” Amazon Go’s website proclaims, “is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning. Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart. When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store.” If this technology were adopted broadly, it would have massive implications for culture, labor, and theft — the original Just Walk Out Technology.

But perhaps nothing has changed consumer expectations of service as much as the suite of apps that promise convenient “seamless” commerce. Hailing a ride, getting groceries delivered to your door, or accessing a city’s worth of spare bedrooms is easier than ever. In the dark ages, ordering a pizza meant talking on the phone and having cash on hand to give to another living, breathing person. Now with a few taps on a phone, the pizza can be ordered and paid for. And while video, record, or bookstores have (or had) their own irreducible charm, literally nothing beats Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon when it comes to efficiently moving product.

Silicon Valley has never shied away from calling its products magical, and in a sense, they are. They can make an entire army of workers disappear behind the smoke and mirrors of the user interface. Despite the immense computing power and network infrastructure necessary to process payments and route deliveries, an UberEats order still shows up as a ticket in a hot kitchen, a person makes it with their own two hands before boxing it up and giving it to another poorly paid worker who huffs and puffs up the three flights of stairs to deliver it to you. The app reduces the consumer’s interaction with workers and thereby discourages their solidarity. Someone’s convenience is another person’s drudgery.

[03:12] How You Should Read the Passages

If you’re just reading it like a textbook, you’re going to miss out on so much information that will be tested on. So don’t treat this like a textbook. You have to understand the author’s points of view. And the only way you’re going to do that is to be empathetic. Listen and pay attention. And most importantly, respect the author.

“You don't have to necessarily be interested in what you're reading. But you have to respect and listen to whoever it is even if you've never met them before.”Click To Tweet

It’s just like your future patient. When you’re a doctor one day, you’re going to go into your patient’s room. And you’ve probably never met them before. They have their own hopes, fears, desires, and interests that may not be the same as yours.

[05:21] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

Generally speaking, the four economic sectors in the U.S. that rely most heavily on human labor are, in order of most people employed: retail, fast food, health care, and clerical office work.

Jack says:

It’s a little bit of a lesson about the economy and economic sectors and who is employing the most human labor.

[05:49] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

These are jobs that involve interacting — often intimately — with other people.

Jack says:

The author is just explaining why these are heavily human labor positions.

[06:03] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

To eliminate these jobs, companies couldn’t just replace humans’ role in production with machines, as they might on an assembly line.

Jack says:

So again, the author is explaining why we still have all these people working in these fields.

[06:18] Paragraph 1, Sentence 4

It would also require reducing their customers’ expectations for intimacy and human contact, and acclimating people to serving themselves.

Jack says:

The author here is setting up this world of what sectors people work the most, and potentially why it’s not so easy to get rid of them. We have to lower the customer’s expectations for intimacy. This is something that the MCAT will ask is what can we assume about the automated process. They don’t say that directly. It’s a very strong assumption. And a lot of times, Jack finds that students are not good at these kinds of questions.

When you see a question that says, what does the author suggest or imply, or assume – that means that it’s not stated, but it’s obvious. In this case, it’s obvious that the automated process is not intimate. It doesn’t have that human contact. Oftentimes, students just distract themselves with outside information.

“Please don't bring in outside information. Use whatever the author said.” Click To Tweet

Many students find it challenging to figure out which is outside information and which is not. And a lot of times, you just need to know the definitions of words. You don’t need to know how the words operate in your day-to-day living. You just need to know what the actual definition of the word is so you don’t misinterpret it.

[09:25] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

So far, this has meant enculturating a willingness to use the self-checkout lane or talk to a computer on the phone, or, at the cutting edge of retail automation, navigate a store with no employees whatsoever.

Jack says:

It’s an example of what this reduced human interaction looks like.

[09:50] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

“Our checkout-free shopping experience,” Amazon Go’s website proclaims, “is made possible by the same types of technologies used in self-driving cars: computer vision, sensor fusion, and deep learning.

Jack says:

The author cites an example here of checkout-free shopping experience. It’s automated. There’s reduced human contact and intimacy from this Amazon Go website platform. And the author is trying to emphasize that it’s no human contact. It’s all tech technological.

[10:49] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

Just Walk Out Technology automatically detects when products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.

Jack says:

These are little pop-up grocery stores that they’re testing out. The whole store is just filled with sensors and it knows who you are and what you’ve taken off the shelf and what you put back on the shelf and all this stuff. You just walk out the door and it charges your credit card.

[11:04] Paragraph 2, Sentence 4

When you’re done shopping, you can just leave the store.”

Jack says:

The author is explaining what happens with this kind of technology.

[11:04] Paragraph 2, Sentence 5

If this technology were adopted broadly, it would have massive implications for culture, labor, and theft — the original Just Walk Out Technology.

Jack says:

What the technology behind this obviously is, is cool. But the author here is talking about the implications. We talked earlier about retail being a big employer of people. Well, this potentially shifts our culture and our expectations for human contact and intimacy.

The author sounds kind of against the culture and labor side of things. It’s obviously a massive change in our society. We don’t know if it’s necessarily a bad thing, but it’s just different. You could pick it up by the last kind of line where the author is sort of mocking it. They’re also quoting parts of Amazon’s description of it to show how technological it really is. It doesn’t show any emotion but it could give you some clues as to where this may be going.

[13:00] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

But perhaps nothing has changed consumer expectations of service as much as the suite of apps that promise convenient “seamless” commerce.

Jack says:

Notice how it’s quoting “seamless.” The author may be saying it’s not really seamless, but that’s what they’re saying.

Whenever you see quotes around a word, it probably means it’s a sarcastic kind of statement, but not necessarily always. So if it’s quoting seamless, it’s probably not seamless at all.

“Whenever you see quotes around a word, it probably means the opposite.” Click To Tweet

[14:16] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

Hailing a ride, getting groceries delivered to your door, or accessing a city’s worth of spare bedrooms is easier than ever.

Jack says:

Here’s the suite of apps – hailing a ride, getting groceries delivered to your door again, or accessing a city’s worth of spare bedrooms is easier than ever again. These apps are promising this convenient, seamless commerce.

[14:50] Paragraph 3, Sentence 4

In the dark ages, ordering a pizza meant talking on the phone and having cash on hand to give to another living, breathing person.

Jack says:

Imagine how barbaric things used to be. So it’s just a contrast of seeing how we are now today.

Notice if a premed student who is really not recognizing the conversation reads this, they’re completely confused. This is part of the conversation that you have to realize the author’s being extremely sarcastic. Because the author is trying to prove a point.

[15:39] Paragraph 3, Sentence 5

Now with a few taps on a phone, the pizza can be ordered and paid for.

Jack says:

And so just the contrast there, talking to someone having cash on hand interacting with another person and now we just tap tap, tap and done!

[15:55] Paragraph 3, Sentence 6

And while video, record, or bookstores have (or had) their own irreducible charm, literally nothing beats Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon when it comes to efficiently moving product.

Jack says:

There’s a comparison of video, records, and bookstores compared to Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon. It’s interesting how it’s not necessarily better for the consumer. The author is saying it’s just an efficiently moving product, which is the punchline.

[16:42] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

Silicon Valley has never shied away from calling its products magical, and in a sense, they are.

Jack says:

So a little bit of praise here from the author, referring to the products as magical.

[16:56] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

They can make an entire army of workers disappear behind the smoke and mirrors of the user interface.

Jack says:

Now we’re understanding the author’s tone here. It’s only a conversation with someone you’ve never met. It’s a lopsided conversation. You have to listen to someone else. You can’t tell them what you think.

“That's the hard part – listening. Most people don't want to listen, they just want to talk, especially if it's something that you don't necessarily agree with.” Click To Tweet

If you don’t like what you’re reading, you’d interpret the author as berating and yelling. And that’s what reading is all about. It’s finding your own voice, finding your own reasoning by listening to others.

That’s the power of reading. You probably don’t know who this person who wrote this. You probably won’t remember their name after today. But you will remember their message if you’re willing to listen. And maybe one day, you’ll go back to this person’s ideas.

But at least they present their ideas to you and it makes you strengthen your own resolve and your own ideas, or maybe weaken your ideas. Ideas are flexible. The more ideas you read, the more ideas you comprehend. The more empathetic you’re going to be towards others and even yourself.

[19:30] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

Despite the immense computing power and network infrastructure necessary to process payments and route deliveries, an UberEats order still shows up as a ticket in a hot kitchen, a person makes it with their own two hands before boxing it up and giving it to another poorly paid worker who huffs and puffs up the three flights of stairs to deliver it to you.

Jack says:

Being poorly paid is a negative thing. That’s a negative thing all because you clicked a couple buttons on your phone that is so seamless and easy.

[20:14] Paragraph 4, Sentence 4

The app reduces the consumer’s interaction with workers and thereby discourages their solidarity.

Jack says:

The author here is saying that you’re kind of separating yourself from them. It’s us versus them versus we’re all together here.

[20:35] Paragraph 4, Sentence 5

Someone’s convenience is another person’s drudgery.

Jack says:

The author definitely took a turn towards the negative in this passage here. And everything we read, leading up to this last paragraph helped us understand this last paragraph even more. Being someone else’s drudgery is not a good thing.

[23:07] Main Idea

The point of the passage is that technology removes intimacy. If it was a total elimination of the worker from the assembly line, it’s probably better for the assembly line worker in the long run. They’ll probably get a better job somewhere. But that’s not what the author is saying.

The author is saying that we still do everything we’re doing. But we just removed that intimacy and that communication with a human being. It’s a little bit more convenient if you don’t want to deal with someone, and you just get your food quickly. Or how many times have you been in an Uber where you don’t even talk to your driver?

Apps are saving us a lot of time, a lot of energy, maybe even a lot of money. But they have to be more responsible in how they do it. Because what they’re trying to do is transition people out of their jobs.

Links:

Meded Media

Jack Westin

Link to the article:

https://reallifemag.com/automatic-for-the-bosses/

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