Dear Noble Robo-Witness,
A recent (July 10, 2020) article in The Wall Street Journal (by J. Bunge and J. Newman) had the title, Meatpackers Slammed by Virus Turn to Robot Butchers. Its subtitle read, “Pandemic speeds shift, but machines can’t yet match humans.” The authors point out that many of the humans working on the floors of meatpackers were recently sickened by the coronavirus, resulting in plant shutdowns. The meatpackers have wisely responded by spending a lot of money buying protective gear and devices, plus boosting workers’ pay.
MORE AND MORE ROBOTS ARE NOW BUSY CUTTING OUR MEAT – – AND CUTTING MORE AND MORE OF OUR STILL-HUMAN BUTCHERS OUT!
However, I believe that meatpackers such as Tyson Foods are most unwisely and even DANGEROUSLY, “searching for a longer-term solution,” by riskily “pushing into robotics.” I call this move foolish and unwise, because meatpackers are trying to solve one particular SHORT-term problem – – the CURRENT and only TEMPORARY widespread HUMAN worker infection with COVID-19. In response, they are making a LONG-term and probably PERMANENT, IRREVERSIBLE change – – one of replacing HUMAN workers with ROBOTS!
The CORONAVIRUS Is Now “Cutting Into” The Work of HUMAN Meatpackers!
Therefore, Tyson is “teaching robots to cut and sort meat,” involving the requirement that, “Tyson’s technicians are trying to teach machines to recognize and quickly adjust to differences in meat coloration and shape . . .” Now, the process of teaching robots or other machines, results in machine learning, which requires intelligence. In this case, however, the robots are learning via their own Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Thus, more and more AI is being increasingly incorporated into the meatpacking business, thereby creating a New Category of “employees” – – the “AI-Robot Butchers”! The authors try to reassure us that, “Tyson’s Mr. Banks said that workers are in no danger of being replaced broadly by robots[,] soon. Workers whose jobs are automated can be moved into other, open positions, so layoffs aren’t needed, he said. Robots can improve employee retention, he said, by making jobs more skilled and less strenuous.”
“Automation ‘is something we think is going to be revolutionary for our business,’ said Doug Foreman, Tyson’s director of manufacturing technology, who has designed meat-cutting equipment for decades. ‘We are on the cusp of a significant rollout.'”
This “significant rollout,” most tragically, is actually the progressive rolling OUT of formerly HUMAN Natural Intelligence (NI), within the minds of the meatpacking workers, and its being replaced by the progressive rolling IN of the new ROBOT Artificial Intelligence (AI). One of the major threats that these meatpacker executives have almost totally overlooked, sadly, is the continuous operation of Moore’s Law. This law bascially states that, Artificial Intelligence will just keep doubling itself, about every 3 years, on and on and on! The Grave Approaching Danger, which is supported by many thinkers and futurists, is the occurrence of a Technological Singularity. This occurrence is literally a “little single” (singul) point in time when the AI of our robots and other machines lies far beyond the puny NI of us mere human beings! This Technological Singularity is widely estimated to occur by around the year, 2045.
In only about 25 years from today, therefore, we can predict that the AI in meatpacking industry (much like the AI invading many other so-called “modernizing” industries), will far surpass the NI of all merely HUMAN executives and workers! In 2045 and beyond, Machine AI is likely to have surpassed us mere HUMAN “APES” at virtually EVERY level of the business!
In conclusion, I would sincerely ask the authors, “In the not-too-distant future, why do you think that robots and AI will just be confined to replacing the hard-working human BUTCHERS? Rather, why won’t they be replacing nearly ALL merely human employees at meatpacking plants?” Once it is started, this geometric progression of automation and robotization, most unfortunately, seems to be nearly UNSTOPPABLE! PLEASE RE-CONSIDER this unwise move of replacing human butchers with robot butchers, during this annoying, dangerous Covid-19 Era, Dear Executives and Industry Leaders! After all, this Dangerous Pandemic of Coronavirus will soon come to an END! But the AI-driven robotic horde that is now being created, will be a LONG-TERM, and probably PERMANENT Threat to formerly human jobs, and eventually to even Mankind’s Future Well-Being and Survival!
Won’t these “Robot Butchers” ultimately be CUTTING our Future “Butchers-To-Be” Children OUT of any possible Meatplant work?