Author Rudy Rucker says bots doing your job might be a blessing, not a curse

Originally published at: Author Rudy Rucker says bots doing your job might be a blessing, not a curse | Boing Boing


Considering most of the Rudy Rucker books I’ve read feature characters riding out weird existential apocalypses by getting high and using whatever n-dimensional orifices they’ve sprouted to get laid, I’d expect him to be pretty sanguine on the whole AI leap forward.


What’s the other part? Talking to people. Relating. Being human. The clerk gets paid for hanging around the with the customers. Gets paid for being a host.

Jokes on him, that’s the part I don’t want to get paid for. I prefer all the other stuff.


When you swirl milk into coffee, the paired vortices are Zhabotinsky scrolls. Mushroom caps and smoke rings are Zhabotinsky scrolls. Fetuses and germinating seeds are Zhabotinsky scrolls.

Like fuck they are. Rudy has lost it.


… I doubt that the generations of engineers who have been struggling with A.I. for many decades would agree that any of their recent progress has “emerged naturally” or “with no effort”


The problem here isn’t AI technology, it’s late-stage capitalism. If there’s work left that must be done by humans, the “slow AIs” (AKA corporations, per Stross and Chiang) will continue to find ways to reduce compensation for them.


This pretty much explains his myopic view of this:

If a bot can do part of your job, then let the bot do that, and that’s probably the part of the job that you don’t enjoy. You’ll do the other part.

Sure AI at first will do the repetitive part of your job, but if the bean counters see that AI can replace you at some percentage of the “other” part of your job, well it won’t be long until there is no job. I’m not saying AI shouldn’t happen and if we are talking about artistic fields only then maybe Rudy has some valid points. On the larger scope of the entire workforce, it’s going to be a rocky road from the near future to one where UBI is a thing because the robots will do 90% of the work for us. (Or Terminator / The Matrix becomes reality.)


Look back to the dawn of desktop publishing - a technology that simplified all the boring and difficult parts of the job - the profession was gutted violently enough that a lot of expertise was lost. Took a good decade to recover the quality of the work being done.


Full unemployment should be the end goal of automation. People should do the jobs they care about, that bring them joy or build communities or help people- Everything else can and should be done by machines.

But if we eliminate 75% of jobs, it doesn’t mean we all go down to 10 hour work weeks, it means we let 3/4 of the population starve and couple folks at the top pocket the savings. Until we fix that- both systemically and the hierarchical zero sum mindset behind it- Our everything is completely fucked beyond repair.


Tell me you’re an extrovert who can’t even imagine the alternative as falling within the scope of ‘human’ (or that you haven’t had the…pleasure…of involuntary niceness to everyone being part of your job description in a long time, or both) without telling me.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Titus Burgess GIF by NETFLIX

The bad part is this is counter to micro-managers and business owners convinced that anyone not visibly toiling all day is lazy and somehow taking advantage of them.

Oh, TPTB are opposed to all of that. They’ve decided there’s a lot more profit (and fun for them) in spreading misery, destruction, and screwing people over. I’m still trying to find an example of a utopia in film that doesn’t have an oppressed group holding it up/keeping it functioning.


Are you telling me that Walmart ‘greeters’ aren’t pulling in the awesome bucks by cleverly exploiting a job opportunity that involves pure and constant humanity and interaction? They’re talking to people and relating; what do you mean ‘eligible for food stamps’?


I can’t be the first person to notice that when assembly line jobs, supermarket cashier jobs, and (probably soon) fast food jobs were replaced by robots, the country’s talking heads in politics and media pretty much could not care less.

Now that there is a potential that a whole lot of legal, medical, administrative, and creative work could be done by AI, suddenly robots are an Existential Threat to Civilization As We Know It.

I also can’t be the first person to notice that unless it’s an emergency repair, my plumber schedules his work more than a month in advance, and that he gets ~$100 an hour for what he does.


Rudy Rucker (and to a lesser extent Chris Onstad*) saying “don’t fear it, embrace it!” sound a bit out of touch. They’ve got an established brand and audience, a recognizable voice and relationships with publishers. The attitude seems to suggest that they imagine they can just lease their name on AI creations the way Trump does with buildings he didn’t build. If you asked them about new, unknown artists trying to establish themselves you’d half expect to get “Hmm, ‘new struggling artist’ you say? Oh yes, I remember those, but I don’t really know anyone like that anymore, so I’m not sure how they feel…”

*He at least seems to be in on the joke, using the AI for it’s Tim-n-Eric value and has been very careful to establish a thick line between the value of his own work vs. the AI-generated.


Sure, because living on the streets and starving to death is a fucking blast, Rudy… :roll_eyes:

And as long as we live under a capitalist system, then we’re fucked if “AI takes over”…

We’ll get a bare minimum and it will come with a heap of restrictions.

No, you’re not.


That seems like more of a dream than a reality. The bots will be owned by corporations- the benefits and profits will go there.

Regular people will be redundant and unnecessary. And treated as such.


“bots doing your job might be a blessing, not a curse”

Assuming you don’t mind not getting a paycheck any more. The work will get done, businesses will prosper, but a lot of people won’t get paid for that work any more, and that is definitely not going to help the economy.


“The clerk gets paid”… $11/hr



Meme Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon

I keep reminding people of all those clueless comments made by wealthy pols whenever the topics of groceries, rent, debt, or wages are raised. Most have no idea how much anything really costs. Some really believe workers earning $15/hour will have a lot of disposable income. :roll_eyes: We saw how they reacted to pandemic relief for families vs. businesses, too. I have no doubt their version of UBI would not only be insufficient and difficult to get, but also the recipients’ new job would be spending 30 hours a week proving that they shouldn’t be removed from the rolls in the following month.


Precisely. I’ll drop this here again for others who don’t understand how it will work.