Register men defy machine IQ threat

And we ponder the hygiene issues of iPods

Letters Last week, we ran a piece based on a chat we had with futurologist-in-chief at BT Group, Ian Pearson. It provoked quite a response - unsurprising, since Pearson was suggesting that men (specifically programmers) would be put out of work by the Rise of The Machines:

Sorry you got the story wrong... Women will lose to robots even faster.

Women are hired to oversee worker rights in jobs like HR. Robots don't need HR, they are slaves. When men are preplaced by robots companies will fall under various goverment quotas requiring fromal HR and workers rights paperwork. So HR will be out of a job.

Women also work as admin assistants. Name a male executive who wouldn't rather have a male personality robot with whom he could be himself and not worry about sexual harrasment suits. Men have to watch their words and dance on eggs around women.. so they will be sent away with great relief.

So strike two..

The women who are left will have to think like men to communicate with the robots. If women think that men don't understand them, robots have no hope.

**** Women do not communicate, they continueally insinuate. ******

Robots can't handle that. They will do the wrong thing from an unclear understanding. Remeber HAL in 2001, bad orders and it killed the crew. The orders were probably sent by a woman.

Or like Thomas Becket's death, "Can anyone rid me of this menace". That was a King talking like a girl in a pouty fit over not geting a divorce. He didn't mean to kill his friend, but his robotic soldiers killed his best friend.

Women would have to quit the "Forget what I said, what I meant was..." They would always have to be pathalogically clear and women usually keep an out by insinuating instead of clear communicating.

Strike three.. your out..


Machines to replace programmers ? Poppycock ! First of all, I doubt that one expects a machine to do the business analysis - the day they can do that, it'll be nothing less than Armageddon for incompetent managers everywhere (heck, why limit that to incompetent only ?). So we're actually talking about the grunt work - pure coding. Well I doubt that a machine is going to code a whole lot of anything useful if the specifications have not been stated correctly in the first place. So, even if a machine could write the whole code for, say, a customer relationship management application, there would still have to be a human somewhere to tell it what to do, how to do it and what result is expected. And, given the absolutely awful mess Word can make when it saves a document in HTML format, well, let me just say that I don't think we're going to have any surplus of coders in the future.


wrt robots... "he prospect of arguing with someone who describes "intellect" as a male skill is too mind-numbing to contemplate" That pretty much nails it. In fact, it is the "pink collar" jobs that are most at risk from machines: intellect is not replaceable, but 'crats sure are.


This was worth a chuckle. The reason women predominate in PR and marketing is because they're usually trying to influence/sell to men, who will pay more attention to something tasty that they fancy shagging. I expect the robots that take our jobs will be dealing with PR rep's wearing a nice user interface and a short firewall showing off a long stretch of smooth code ...


Good god. Will someone just shoot him please, PLEASE? Didn't he tell us a while back that we'd be recording our holiday photos through our optic nerves by now? So how will automating large chunks of programming tasks _reduce_ demand? Maybe if customers were happy with the crap they get now.... but I can just hear them "but you've got 50 programming robots now - I want this thing to actually work this time".

Clearly, BT don't employ enough women, or someone there would have the "soft interpersonal skills" to realize that this kind of twaddle just makes them look like unter-nerds trying to be cool. The penguin ad was neat, but since then.... oh dear.


Quite apart from the gender angle, the whole Luddite idea that jobs would simply disappear because of technology has been proved wrong time after time after time for the last 200 years.

Did the industrial revolution make Britain poorer? Do people in technologically advanced countries have high unemployment? Did trained typists start jumping from skyscrapers with the advent of cheap word processing computers? Of course not.

The truth is that on average new technology creates more jobs than it destroys, and humans of all kinds are usually canny enough to adapt to their new environment whatever it turns out to be like (for example 50 years ago a badly paid and stressful job was coal mining, now it's working in a call centre).

We are after all the only organism that can survive on every continent and even on other planets, we're doing ourselves down if we start getting terrified of things like automated credit card processing.


Curious - wasn't it only a few short decades ago that robots were going to completely replace women within 10 to 20 years i.e. by doing all the washing, hoovering and cleaning chores? Mike

Good article. Thanks for the warning.

As being someone who does not welcome our new mechanical overloads I have devised a cunning plan. I've started to intentionally write bugs into all my code. The strategy being that once the Machines assume control and stand over the human race with their Phased Plasma Rifles ready, they will get a spetacular seg fault and fall over.

Ha, those computer think they're so clever. Stupid computers.

Ow, I wish my keyboard would stop giving me electric shocks.


It emerged this week that the British Security Service has been forced to scrap one of its key IT projects after a troubling couple of years attempting an upgrade:

Well, at least they aren't going to waste MORE money on the project. However, it would be a good idea to move to OpenOffice/AbilityOffice where possible so that the money can be recouped from reduced licensing fees.


The boys and girls at Northgate have their eyes firmly on the education sector. You wondered whether they knew what they were planning to get into:

With regard to your comment about inhouse techies - I pity the schools who end up with no inhouse support once RM etc take over! Education IT has a number of unique challenges which your average inhouse techie will have overcome, especially with regard to the unique quirks some educational software has!

As someone who has spent the past 5 years working both in schools and in business, the differences aren't always clear, but a schools needs are a lot more varied & frequently more demanding than those of a small/medium business!

How many companies would have a single person to deal with:

100-500 PC's 2-10 Servers running a mixture of Linux, NT, 2000 Server, 2003 Server, Exchange, SQL & xyz other server based packages Networks spanning 1-20 different buildings with a variety of different hardware as the cheapest available is used to connect each building as funds become available! 500-1500 users and that's just the basics!!

How many people/companies would a business use to deal with that?

I suspect the schools are in for a shock when they see their service levels drop due to their inhouse techie no longer being available when management click their fingers as they are now covering 10-15 schools instead of just one....


Next, a couple on the unexpected dangers of iPods. Are they really lightning conductors and if so, is that a good or a bad thing?

From the reports last month I would think some would argue that the teenager probably wouldn't have been caught by lightning if not wearing the iPod and probably would have been better off if struck while not wearing it. The argument went that the skin acts as a good barrier which is only breached if there is metal near it, and I think the lightning is attracked more by the metal in the first place.


Also, at Nat-Semi, those returned iPods could be a health and safety investigation in the making:

Since iPods generally have in-the-ear transducers has anyone asked Nat Semi about the sanitary implications? Do employees get to keep the earphones? Has anyone sued because of a "disease contracted from an unexpectedly dirty" earphone? (If I may paraphrase the late great Douglas Adams).


Not sure which story prompted this, but let's take it as a starting point for a debate:

Am I one of the very few who feel that every human on this planet, should be DNA-scanned, Iris-scanned, Fingerprint-scanned, and electronically-tagged, with all results and monitoring done on a global basis, and all stored on a PUBLIC central database (on the Internet and freely readable by ANY browser).

After all, if you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?

My way would prevent nearly all crime being wrongly attributed. It is probably for this reason that governments around the world do not want to implement such measures, and are relying on the "Freedom" lobbyists to prevent them being made real. After all, lots more politicians would be found guilty if these systems became extant!


The "nothing to hide" argument just doesn't cut any ice in a country where the Home Office can wrongly tag you as a criminal because your name is a bit like someone else's...

Any other thoughts on this one? ®

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