Hard Work

The CEO of Basecamp wrote about his definition of “hard work” being the work others do not want to do like construction, farming, cleaning, etc. Manual labor is hard.

Six years ago, Georgia made a law making it easier for law enforcement to catch undocumented residents. People left the state. They experimented with…

… Out of work probationers/parolees, from the state’s prisons and court system, volunteered to pick cucumbers under a program that the Georgia governor dreamed up. But the first day didn’t go too well as 19 probationers started the day and eight quit by noon.

“This is the hardest work I’ve ever done,” Maurice Evans is quoted as telling the TV reporter.

The next year, the state helped out the farmers by using prisoners to provide farm labor.

Where it gets interesting, though, is that people who work hard evangelize this as the ideal. Hard work teaches better ethics, morals, and values. At times it feels like the message is: “All the world’s ills would be cured if everyone had to do hard work.”

We may get to see if that is true soon enough. Artificial Intelligence is coming for my knowledge worker job. It may not exist in 20 years because it is much, much cheaper and accurate to have the computers do it instead. Manufacturing and farming are becoming more and more automated. The question is in 50-100 years what jobs will remain.

TED Talk: Jennings v Watson

Deep Blue versus Kasparov was an pivotal moment for me. At the time I was playing lots of chess on the computer. (And usually losing.) So the prospect the best player in the world cannot beat a computer was a depressing prospect.  Maybe it is a sign of how much I had matured (or immatured) to think a computer could beat someone better than me at trivia. Maybe it has something to do with routinely using computers to compile things for me in minutes that would take me days.

If you have not seen anything about IBM’s Watson, then start with NOVA’s Smartest Machine on Earth. Even better, here is Day 1 of Jeopardy.

If the below video does not play, then try Ken Jennings: Watson, Jeopardy and me, the obsolete know-it-all.