Professions for children!

I’ve been wondering lately, what with all the tech change around us, how I might bring my kids up to have some kind of paid work.

Accountant? No - automated. Doctor? Weeeelll … automating. Lawyer? No. Too shameful.

Oncologist though! And they can live in Kiribati!

Why the fuck do people still smoke?

Send them to Bangladesh. I hear lots of children find work there.


Good plan - plenty of opportunity! Hey, might even get to work for a big western name company too!

I’m a translator, so technology development is pretty significant as a factor in whether I still have a job in 20 years. On the one hand, machine translation software and translation memories reduce the amount of money I get for a single document, but on the other hand they aren’t good enough to replace a translator altogether. There is also a lot of pressure from poorer countries where people can offer much cheaper rates, but often with less accuracy.

The EU collapsing would probably have a much greater impact on my work, as the EU is the world’s largest translation provider and client (and provides work for many translation companies and freelance translators that aren’t full time EU employees). Dreaming a little, it might be worthwhile for such a large organisation to develop a system where texts to be translated into many languages are first extensively parsed to make the structure and meaning as clear as possible for computers. Combined with the existing large corpus of existing EU translations, you could theoretically make machine translations a lot more accurate, making a few people very rich and automating a lot of the work that keep people like me employed.

I used to be an English teacher and see a lot of potential for automation to take over there too - while a teacher is irreplaceable for certain tasks, online language learning can replace (and even greatly improve on) a lot of the classroom experience for a small fraction of the cost. Even conversation with native speakers is crowdsourced and people are willing to do language exchange for free, while paying the website for the privilege. Sites like Duolinguo offer crowdsourced translations that are integrated with the language learning, but I am very skeptical of this model at any scale.

I think in both cases the only way forward is up, and people have to demonstrate that they are better than a computer or the large number of people offering the same services for free or at a rate that is impossible to match.You also need to embrace the technological change and possibly change your way of working to incorporate it. My teaching expanded from using books and other material in class, then assigning homework to additionally introducing students to the tools available online and guiding their learning. In online translation, I made sure that I was more flexible and worked harder to build up the trust of a number of production managers. For a while this meant being prepared to answer emails within 5 minutes at 3 am until the PM started contacting me personally with work at a more reasonable hour. Ultimately there’s a lot of pressure on people in general and the barriers to entry are getting higher, but it is possible to demonstrate that you are worth a reasonable salary.

Seriously though, I consider languages to be the easiest ‘difficult’ subject. You get a lot of respect in the UK for knowing multiple languages and a lot of that learning can take the form of reading, talking with people, watching movies, travelling etc. When you graduate, you have more tools to be mobile with your career. Combining languages with another major seems to me to be a great way to expand your options.

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Ideal career for children: Outsourcer. We have an agenda to transfer all productive jobs overseas by the end of the 21st century, and that requires people to identify the job competences and document the work procedures now carried out, then fire the people who do the work here, and create a similar role (split across two to three people) in a country with lower wages and operating costs, or more readily corruptible politicians.

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Where did you say you lived?


I live in the UK (in England, south of Scotland). True story: I actually met someone who had such a job of Outsourcer, once, at a house party in a flat in Central London. He (we’ll call him Steve) was a caricature of the Oxbridge tosspot as you would expect. He told me his first task when he started as an outsourcer was to close down a family woodworking business in north-east london that had run for generations in order that the land where the factory stood could be raised to the ground and replaced with new accommodation, to allow a Qatari emirate to increase his projected return on his investments. The business was struggling and had sold the land that the factory was built on, and was leasing the land back. So, step one is to raise the price of the ground rent to bleed the business dry. Steve told me about his tactics to fire as many of the workforce as possible whilst bypassing contractual redundancy obligations, and that ultimately the properties which were built on the site of the factory now stand empty and unoccupied because of the 2008 financial crash. Steve still received his fee for this important work, however, which was the main thing. An inspiring character and quite a good speaker. I was impressed with the use that the Oxbridge education was being put to, and glad that our government subsidises the education of such people. I would have kept talking to him to find out how I could funnel my own offspring into this lucrative line of business, but at that exact moment the prostitute he’d hired for the evening arrived which ended the conversation. (and I wish I was making this story up. It caused a bit of a judgement call on my part, between “well, he does work which degrades other people as his day job” to “he’s actually an evil person who degrades people in his spare time for his personal gratification”)


He sounds exactly like the kind of fellow who ought to go on my ‘people who could usefully be on fire’ list.


well indeed. There was another character there who organised a putsch inside a listed company to move from CTO to CEO as it expanded into China, For a brief year the company valuation, which was based on the number of UK subscribers, multiplied, until first the British and then the Chinese outlawed their business model (essentially they operated by making it easy to sign up, but exceptionally difficult to cancel their subscriptions, which were for products that cost next to nothing to produce, and the cost of the product was O(£10/month) so that many people ignored it rather than persist in getting the unwanted subscription cancelled) - whereupon the valuation crashed again. CEO-guy extracted his millions during that window of opportunity, and by the time the ousted founder of the business returned, the company was recognised as next to worthless, with a share price to match.

Given where I am in life now, I wish I too had been born with the bare-faced sociopathic and acquisitive drive to amass as much fortune as possible for myself in the shortest interval possible, and if satisfying that drive that involves crushing other people like grapes, all the better - because then I would not have to be concerned about potential homelessness or existing through living a life defined by shame.

Possibly I should identify positive role models who have integrity and who are also not financially destitute.


Holy sh…

Words fail me.


Nice. Dontcha just love it all?!

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