Discover more from The Matt Jankowski Club
Every day we bring the wheelbarrow around the back of the barn
If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends
In our modern world of fast computers and slick software, there's often a tension felt between people who want to have jobs and people who want to have awesome things. The people with the jobs know how to do their jobs and they're scared that these rowdy kids and their newfangled automated stuff are going to take their jobs. That's a well-founded fear, because the kids making the software think the jobs are a huge waste of time for people, and that machines should do all the work while the people sit around and read poetry or maybe go automate some other stuff.
To look at an example, let's think about shipping goods via trucks. Truck drivers like having jobs, and some of them probably like driving trucks and delivering stuff. They understand that some small percentage of them will die in accidents because they fell asleep, or go off the road in the snow, or be murdered at a truck stop or whatever, but they consider that an acceptable risk because the driving counts as a job, and jobs are great, because jobs pay you money to do stuff.
The computer people look at this and think about how horribly inefficient it is to have something as intelligent as a person doing something as boring as driving a truck. The truck is traveling down a bunch of infrastructure which is so well labeled that it might as well have been designed for a bunch of sensors to scan it visually and make decisions about how to navigate to the destination. They realize that at scale (millions of trucks, billions of miles, etc) the marginal cost of the computer hardware and software it will take to power one additional truck is very close to zero. They also realize that the cost to "train" a new driver is literally zero, because you can copy some software to a new truck, and you don't need to tell a new person with feelings and emotions how to do something.
Anyway, you can see how there's a tension here, and I bet there are some unions involved, and there's probably going to be a big conversation about the future of truck driving and the future of other stuff that has a similar dynamic. It's a discussion (amongst many!) which I plan on being frustrated with for the entire duration of my adult life.
Here are some tips I've come up with to help out the people who are advocating for letting the computers drive the trucks. You want to be respectful of the truck driver community and not talk to them. These things should "grease the wheels" in any negotiations.
First, we should program the AIs to talk to each other via CB radio. Like, I'm sure it's more efficient to use some all digital near field radio thing and communicate purely via bytes -- and honestly, they should probably just do that -- but I think that in addition to all those bytes they're sending each other, they should also keep using the CB radios and say stuff like "breaker breaker", "10-4", "9er", "good buddy" and so on. And even though they are already giving each other like up to the second weather reports for the surrounding hundred mile area, they should wax on over the CB about that one huge storm they saw in Memphis that one time. The truck driving negotiators will appreciate this acknowledgement of their culture and gain some comfort with the proposed changes.
Next, they should definitely have cool nicknames. If we leave this up to the programmers we'll wind up with a fleet of AIs in trucks driving around with names like "Truck-Computer-00923492348" or something. This is not exciting and we should stop it before it starts. I want to see names like "Kingpin", "Big dog", "Slippery Sally", and the like. Providing consultation about how to name the AIs would be a great transition gig for some truckers who have stopped driving and not yet found another line of work.
Finally, we should start work now on a database of songs with twangy guitars that are about the open road, hauling stuff, big rigs, dashboard lights, etc. This playlist would be the only thing that the AIs were allowed to listen to while on the interstate.
This bottomless bowl of pasta definitely has a bottom
You know those business-card-sized punch cards that a lot of coffee shops have as loyalty programs? Typically they are just a "buy nine and the tenth one is free" or similar sort of deal. But they are pretty low tech, and I think it would be easy to commit loyalty program fraud. Some of them have special shaped hole punchers like stars or bears or whatever, but most of them are just using a circle hole punch, and you could quite easily bang out a bunch of extra punches in the privacy of your own home and advance the date at which you would receive your free or discounted drink.
I wonder if somewhere there's a group of people attempting to pull off loyalty card fraud at any sort of substantial scale. You'd need to have a network of people large enough to not constantly get recognized as the guy who is getting the free coffee. Then you'd have to either be content with "I got a free coffee" being the return on your fraud time, or you'd have to get into reselling single cups of coffee right outside a coffee shop, and that seems like a lot of work.
I'm going to assume that someone somewhere has tried this, and is maybe even successful with it, but that the coffee shop just doesn't care.
Congratulations on your position as lead bridge designer
Here's a free idea for any podcasters out there looking for a new segment concept. The segment is called "how do you pronounce that vowel!?", and it requires a producer and two hosts. Here's how the game works. The producer has the job of picking a word with some vowels in it, and they write down that word on a big paper that both hosts will be able to see. During the recording of the program the host holds up the paper, spells out the word (one letter at a time), and prompts the hosts to attempt to pronounce it. When they do, hilarity ensues!
Here's an example run. Let's say the host has written down "Nevada" on a piece of paper. They hold it up, and they spell it out for the listeners: "N. E. V. A. D. A." Crucially, the host does not pronounce the word, they just spell it. Then, maybe by using a coin slip, the hosts decide who will go first. Whichever host is going first pronounces the word, saying "Nevada". The the second host is like "holy shit!" and the first host is like "what, what?!" and the second host is like "Nevada? you say Nevada?! I say it like Nevada!" and they all laugh and that's the whole segment.