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Monday, February 3, 2014

David Brooks, "What Machines Can’t Do": If You Want a Job, Continue Emoting

Pop quiz: How many times did Obama mention "manufacturing" during the course of his 2014 State of the Union address? Answer: Six. Obviously, Obama had been very proud of progress being made under his administration by American manufacturing, until he might have received news yesterday of problems involving . . . the manufacturing sector (as we now know, Obama's White House aides shield him from distressing news, so that afterwards he can claim, "I didn't do it," see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/19/obama-irs-targeting_n_3302449.html).

As reported by Reuters yesterday (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/03/us-usa-economy-manufacturing-idUSBREA120X720140203), "Manufacturing grew at a substantially slower pace in January as new order growth plunged by the most in 33 years, driving overall factory activity to an eight-month low, an industry report showed on Monday."

Well, I suppose the case can be made that Obama really didn't know in advance about this manufacturing data, which sent global equity markets skidding, unlike the bullshit claims he recited during his SOTU concerning Syria. Re Syria, Obama boasted:

"American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated, and we will continue to work with the international community to usher in the future the Syrian people deserve – a future free of dictatorship, terror and fear."

Yet, this claim of success came at a time when the US State Department was acknowledging that Syria had sent only some four percent of its chemical weapons stockpile for destruction (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/30/us-syria-crisis-chemical-idUSBREA0S19720140130), and while others were noting that Syrian mass murderer Assad (John Kerry's "dear friend") was in fact moving his chemical weapons stockpiles to "Alawite enclaves on the western coast of Syria" (see: http://www.jpost.com/Home/Assad-armed-to-the-teeth-stockpiling-weapons-of-mass-destruction-340081).

Nice speech, Barry, even it was completely detached from reality.

Well, returning now to the topic of manufacturing, David Brooks, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "What Machines Can’t Do" (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/opinion/brooks-what-machines-cant-do.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), tells us that "computers are increasingly going to be able to perform important parts of even mostly cognitive jobs." But will computers do away with the need for human labor? Not according to Brooks, who concludes:

"In the 1950s, the bureaucracy was the computer. People were organized into technocratic systems in order to perform routinized information processing. But now the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind.

Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand."

Ah yes, the "emotive traits" are to be "rewarded."

If you work on a farm, as I did, keep those "emotive traits" in mind as you milk the cows. And when you slog around in the mud in the military, as I did, remember those "emotive traits." And when you work on a noisy assembly line, as I did, bask in your "emotive traits."

After all, these emotive traits are all that keep you from being replaced by a machine.

Once again, thanks, David, for this very valuable advice.

1 comment:

  1. " It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind.

    Unable to compete when it comes to calculation, the best workers will come with heart in hand"
    Well, typical Brooks. When I was little, a certain mother questioned my (and her daughter's) grades: "How come her daughter had much lower grades than I, when both her daughter and I went to the same kindergarden/preschool?"
    So, I have a similar question: "How come you and Brooks are so different? Didn't you share a school?"
    Brooks, is of course a pompous idiot.
    Just yesterday, I heard on NPR (yes, I still half-listen occasionally and switch to some conservative host immediately when they, the all-inclusive NPR pretenders, go Nazi) a discussion of academic salaries.
    The discussion was brief and "emotive" (there was so much heart (and pain)" - more than half of American academics get minimal wage salaries and do all sort of jobs to supports themselves, such as cleaning hotels, etc.

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