My recommendation would be to take more water with it love

The biggest elite lie fed to the middle class in modern history is that ‘progress’ is linear. In fact, steroidic globalised innovation is dangerously circular. Medievalism is not some 600-year-old blood spatter fading into forgottenness in the history hardbacks that British students increasingly spurn. These days feudalism wears a white lab coat and is using technology to destroy capitalism.

The internet is a backwards plutocracy where human value does not derive from profit-driving labour but from personal data, seized by our tech masters in the shadows without any payment in exchange.

Eh?

The robotic middle class is trapped in The Matrix, but is there a way to escape?
SHERELLE JACOBS
ASSISTANT COMMENT EDITOR

Or perhaps ingest fewer mushrooms.

32 comments on “My recommendation would be to take more water with it love

  1. I’m not sure I’d blame mushrooms. She seems to be from the shallow end of the gene pool… to put it mildly. She works for the mainstream media, that in and of itself should offer a clue.

  2. There were a couple of things I managed to take away from it:

    The middle-class stampede to ditch “arts” subjects like English in favour of the sciences in order to “compete” is a dismal case in point. One can’t help but suspect that the plummeting popularity of English Literature A-Level – a subject that taps the passionately lucid nectar of the most perceptive imaginations that ever lived (and sharpens analytical skills as well) – is not motivated by a modern zeal for the cutting-edge but rather a dull desperation to be “marketable”

    Guess who’s got an english degree, then..

    And I do wonder whether she’s blundered across something I’ve been thinking for a while. AI is going as a nasty shock to the middle classes.
    So many middle class jobs are what the computer guys call ‘distributed processing’. I’ll try & explain what I mean. You’re one man band business, you can carry the whole project in your head. Even when you’ve taken on a couple guys do the grunt work you still can. Although some of your time is now going to telling them what to do & sorting out their wages etc. Employ 20 people & you;re now a manager. You don’t actually do any real work. Your time’s spent telling them what to do & communicating with your customers & suppliers. Next you take on a manager, sales staff, buyers & someone to do the accounts. Who spend a lot of time communicating with each other.
    Now take a big company or organisation. It’s got offices full of people, all doing a little bit of what of what the object of the concern is. Whatever those bits are, they take a fairly limited acquired skillset to handle a fairly limited amount of data. Sort of people the universities turn out by the bus load. What we loosely call the professional middle classes. And what they mostly do is spend their days communicating with each other so all the little bits get done in concert.
    This is the sort of thing strong AI’s made for. Managing large amounts of data. Making decisions from it.
    I can see a whole swathe of jobs in middle management just evaporating. Like they did with blue-collar workers when automation hit. And it won’t miss the so-called professions, either. How hard is it, actually, to be a lawyer? Mate who is one tells me it’s a piece of piss. Mostly it’s simple decisions based on a knowledge base & knowing where to look stuff up. And trying to make the punter believe you’re cleverer than he is.
    If I’m right, the next few years may be enormously enjoyable & entertaining.

  3. BiS
    “And it won’t miss the so-called professions, either. How hard is it, actually, to be a lawyer? Mate who is one tells me it’s a piece of piss. Mostly it’s simple decisions based on a knowledge base & knowing where to look stuff up. And trying to make the punter believe you’re cleverer than he is.”

    I had exactly that thought a little earlier today. Except not necessarily “AI”, beyond the natural-language interface part (you don’t go to a lawyer, you ‘Lawgle’ your question/situation, so you need the natural language bit). I suspect after a bit of to-n-fro with the highly trustworthy Lawgle service, it knows what bit of its encoded law database it needs to refer to, and explains to you what might work (with estimated probabilities, no less).

    It’ll work as often as real lawyers manage, and be much cheaper. Lawyers for form-filling and analogous stuff (I’m embroiled at a distance in getting probate declared.. gah!) should disappear even sooner.

  4. The internet is a backwards plutocracy where human value does not derive from profit-driving labour but from personal data, seized by our tech masters in the shadows without any payment in exchange.

    A very simple solution – leave Facebook, Twitter, etc. You sign up for free, they take your data. You are the product.

    One can’t help but suspect that the plummeting popularity of English Literature A-Level – a subject that taps the passionately lucid nectar of the most perceptive imaginations that ever lived

    Maybe people are realising that the perceptive imaginations once studied are being ditched for being dead white males, and the shit replacing them for political purposes isn’t worth studying?

  5. a dull desperation to be “marketable”

    It’s a horrifying situation for the entitled middle-class – fancy a comfortable income being dependent upon actually doing something other people want! Some of those will be working class, too! Completely demeaning.

    Climate change action NOW to put the proles back in their natural place and allow the author and others like her to but the nice houses in North London their are entitled to by their birthright.

  6. Steve–AI has been Y2K’d if it thinks Julie Christie is still able to conceive. At her age she’ll be lucky if she can do that with an idea.

  7. On english literature, as a subject. When I did eng-lit at school it seemed to be Hardy & the rest of the C19th scribblers. Never saw the point of it. The novel, as an art-form, is a fairly recent development. Like studying auto-engineering from circa 1902. Sorry, but most of it is incredibly tedious crap. They’re saying things over a dozen pages a modern author could do better in a single line. The leading edge is now.
    I can understand studying writing & by extension, what’s been written. At least you can learn what not to write. But where just studying the product gets you, I haven’t a clue. If you need a degree to understand what an author’s trying to say, he’s a fucking awful author..

  8. BIS,

    We’ve already ditched a lot of paper pushers simply by virtue of things like email coming along. CEO wants to tell the staff something, he sends out an email to ask staff.

    The managers of most software teams I work in are no longer overpaid bureaucrats. Because we replaced the bureaucracy with software. The guys that work with me update tasks starting and finishing. I get automatically notified and can see work at a glance. Every fortnight it automatically pops out a report I send to management.

    Same with people like design teams. There’s automatic work flows. The managers have to know what they’re doing.

    It’s hammered that class of people who thought they could get on a graduate programme with their humanities degree. They’re all in charities and government now, thank fuck.

  9. It’s things like software I’m thinking about. You’re talking about design teams. Tasks distributed over multiple people because they’re too large for one individual. You’re talking about e-mails & being updated & noticications. What happens when you have an AI writes code? Runs the code in simulation, identifies & sorts bugs? Not only you but HR dept hired you.
    A business could end up – a couple of guys at the top do the blue sky thinking produces a concept. And automation all the way down to the guy sweeps the floor çoz he’s cheaper than buying a a cleaning robot.

  10. I started thinking about this when playing around with CAD-CAM. Designing stuff on a CAD program & letting a computer driven router cut it all out. I was a complete dunce at the nitty-gritty of design but the CAD does most of it for you. The only manual skill is loading the board, changing cutters & assembling the bits. ( And sweeping up, of course. The skilled bit) One person, on their own, can knock out amazingly complicated stuff take a draughtsman & a full workshop of craftsmen.

  11. To be fair to Sherelle Jacobs, she’s actually pretty sound when it comes to things like BREXIT, socialism, feminism, racism, identity politics, etc..

    Unfortunately, in the last month or so, she seems to have taken an adjective steroid pill. Whereas before she used to come up with pretty good and original metaphors and analagies, she now seems to think that it is necessary to cram as much detail as possible and hang sounding normal.

    Still, as I said, fairly sound otherwise. As is their other young female commentary lassie, Juliet Samuel.

  12. Recusant

    To be fair to Sherelle Jacobs, she’s actually pretty sound when it comes to things like BREXIT, socialism, feminism, racism, identity politics, etc..

    +1

  13. As a lawyer, I’ve thought a lot (far more, I suspect, than most of my colleagues) on the impending robotic doom and, whilst if I am swept away with it I may struggle, I certainly would not try to erect barriers to the sweeping; nevertheless, I think the impending D is, as far as concerns people like me, some way off.

    Why?

    Well, I can see there is plenty of room for algorithms and websites to do stuff like assessing chances of success based on six simple inputs. The web has already brought statutes, statutory instruments and loads of case law to the people who, as a result, no longer need access to esoteric law libraries to have a scooby what’s going on. If you have the faintest gumption, you can apply for probate using easily available online resources and without the need to pay a solicitor thousands. Other such examples abound.

    Sure, there is a squeeze on lawyers and I’ve only touched the surface.

    On the other hand, my selling point is not (always) that I am cleverer. I have some pretty clever clients and plenty who are very successful. Nor is it that I necessarily know the law better. Some of my clients have spent years in the archives of a particular 300 year-old strand of case law before they ever come to me. I also have articulate clients – but their problem is usually that their articulacy is fluid and fluent, rather than grounded in what a judge wants to see and hear.

    Above all, then, I think what I am paid for is those thousands and increasing thousands of hours I’ve spent in front of judges. It’s judgment. A sense of how to manage a particular thing in court. I’m not saying I always get it right. But I am saying that I’ve seen no end of clever, successful people with access to lots of online resources, who thought they could do it themselves, and who then come to me having discovered they made a hash of it for reasons they don’t begin to comprehend.

    And until judges are replaced by robots, I think that skill is going to be very difficult to replace. The practice of law is more human than it may seem. Pre-eminently, I’m not handling the law. I’m handling a judge. Sometimes three or five of them.

    Anyway, I’m working on my second novel. The first, 15 years ago, was dire. But this is corking, going to mint me. So I don’t care….

    PS, Mr in Spain, your chum is any or all of the following: a) spectacularly clever; b) lazy; c) lucky so far; d) cruising; e) a prat; f) cocky. It might depend on the field(s) in which he practices.

  14. At a conference a few years ago I listened to a chap from EY or somewhere similar predicting AI would make swathes of white collar jobs redundant. Relevant to his firm, he mentioned audit.

    He said he’d advised his daughter to train as a physio.

    Speaking of AI, is the Telegraph experimenting with a word salad generator?

  15. The reason lawyers won’t be exterminated in the inevitable AI Judgement Day is because Parliament is full of lawyers.

    See also: the EU’s absolutely sacrosanct four freedoms, which also don’t apply to lawyers.

  16. One can’t help but suspect that the plummeting popularity of English Literature A-Level – a subject that taps the passionately lucid nectar of the most perceptive imaginations that ever lived (and sharpens analytical skills as well) – is not motivated by a modern zeal for the cutting-edge but rather a dull desperation to be “marketable”

    Actually, one can’t but suspect that the plummeting popularity of English Literature A-Level has everything to do with it being taught by the sort of people who write and talk in the manner above…

    …a subject that taps the passionately lucid nectar of the most perceptive imaginations that ever lived…

    That’s a phrase that reads like it came from the pen of Amanda McKittrick Ros, and is in and of itself enough to gag a maggot.

  17. There’s plenty of international movement of lawyers, Steve. Sometimes a bit of cross-qualification is required, but generally passporting is commonplace. No end of clever Rajeshes from Bangalore and Anne-Maries from Stockholm in London. It’s very cut-throat. The big firms, the wealthiest Sets, will take whoever they think is best. Plus, we export. Lots of London lawyers biff off to Dubai, the Cayman Islands, the International Criminal Court, and so on.

    We’re kind of like those blokes on barges crossing the med. But with suits and ties.

    And, well, yes, parliament is full of lawyers. But that did not stop Jack Straw as LC threatening to prosecute publicly funded criminal practitioners if they went on strike. Nor did the dominance of the landed interest in times past prevent the introduction of inheritance tax. Parliament being full of lawyers won’t prevent this, if it is capable of happening.

    So, yeah. My view is, if you want entirely to automate legal services, you’re first going to have to automate judges*. I imagine it’ll happen one day, but I struggle to see it happening anytime soon.

    MC, I keep trying to work out why MTD hasn’t got my accountant wetting himself. Any ideas?

    * For the sake of brevity, I am not distinguishing contentious from non-contentious work. For example, online farms of conveyancers are here and now.

  18. @Mr Lud +100. Steve and the other bright sparks who think they can represent themselves are welcome. Most of my clients (the clever ones) appreciate the cynical interpretation I place on their chances of success, if they used their layman’s concept of”justice”. Law is about certainty, not justice and, primarily because of statute inspired by morons with agendas, doesn’t achieve either.

  19. M’Lud, does that reflect the legal profession at large, or just a relatively small %age of London-based lawyers?

    I’ve met plenty of Polish plumbers, French chefs and Indian techies plying their trades over ‘ere, but only English solicitors. (I still maintain my innocence in that whole “drunken set-to with a peacock” unpleasantness)

    I also seem to recall the Scots law-wranglers successfully chased off some English cross-border reivers when they rocked up at the Court of Session with the wrong sort of wig and accent and whatnot. Are you sure you chaps aren’t engaged in one of them Smithian conspiracies against the publick?

  20. Steve, we’re definitely engaged in one of them conspiracies. I don’t approve of it. If it is removed and extirpated, fine by me.

    But until then and within that framework, it’s a cut-throat business. As, I suppose, are most things nowadays.

    My competitors are Bloggs, litigant in-person, and Rani from Bombay, with two PhDs. Yes, that’s London centric, but it’s fanning out.

    One of the things I see is oldish English firms, with names like Snort & Co. The old busters who ran them from the early 70s retire, and sell up to Umbungolowale, who then proceeds to trade as Snort & Co. Bit like the Saudis buying up Mayfair.

  21. “And until judges are replaced by robots, I think that skill is going to be very difficult to replace. The practice of law is more human than it may seem. Pre-eminently, I’m not handling the law. I’m handling a judge. Sometimes three or five of them.”

    Yep.

    It gets done progressively, by initially allowing (eg) Small Claims Courts to be judged ‘automatically’. Folk have the right to appeal, but (quelle surprise) it’s expensive – and probably more than the sums at issue.

    Then we simply move that automated ceiling up, increment by increment.

    True, this covers civil, not criminal, but (not at all an expert) I’m sure that there’s an equivalent – not identical – path.

    Saves money, you see.

    – M’Lud – yeah, it’s exactly because it **matters** how you present stuff to judges that it’s important that they’re removed from most stuff. While it matters, the law ain’t the law – it’s a bunch o stuff subject to too much interpretation.

    But, right now, yes; no question. You add lotsa value.

  22. Bloke in Spain,

    Maybe one day in future. And a lot of grunt work in code is constantly being replaced by code. e.g. lots of games are built with a single code base that spits out the code for PC, Xbox, Switch.

    But now and more of my time is spent on the softer side: going over requirements, suggesting improvements.

    The thing with what I’ve seen of AI is that it’s more about guidance than anything. Like Amazon’s product suggestions. It’s a high score rather than 100%. I can imagine medics entering symptoms and out pops various possibles to guide the diagnosis.

  23. It’s hammered that class of people who thought they could get on a graduate programme with their humanities degree. They’re all in charities and government now, thank fuck.

    That’s actually a disaster for us. Instead of all the useless, entitled people safely in jobs in industry, they are now resentful, useless, entitled people shaping government policy and demanding ever increasing regulation and control over us.

    Government expands to fill the pool of the governing class who need it.

  24. Hold on, she’s complaining that people are going into sciences, when only yesterday scientists were screaming that there’s so few people going into science that we have to strip-mine other countries.

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