In keeping with my concept of "just change one thing," I've decided that this year, women should take any and all opportunities that arise. Any job, any activity, any organization. Any time a man has had the slot in the past, a woman should take it, at least temporarily. Yes, this includes Monday Night Football announcing duties, writing James Patterson books, making the current slate of Hollywood sequel-blockbusters, heading multinational corporations, and creating new bacteria in a lab.
They can start with a guest slot writing tech articles and futuristic speculations in Wired.
I wrote 2,200 words this morning because an absurd article and series of pictures was featured in Wired under the guise of predicting the "future of robots and jobs for people." If the article's audience had never read any sci fi published after 1935, seen Metropolis, or watched the Science Channel, they would think this was a thought provoking piece.
The entertaining photos featuring the always-adorable Jimmy Fallon having slightly scary sexytime with a hot robot mannequin, would be awesome . . . in another article. An article about Jimmy Fallon having a funny, intimidating get-together with a fembot.
Alan Rodgers, horror writer, had a name for the type of thinking evinced by Kevin Kelly in Wired: dumth.
I never liked Wired or got much out of it. Every time I do read something in it, I'm so overwhelmed by dumth I can't think straight.
The source of the dumth, I think, is people who don't know what they don't know telling other people who also don't know, that they know it all. It's nothing but a series of features illustrating comforting "factoids" to a subset of the population that's interested in a certain type of technology.
In this case, Kelly's "factoids" mesh perfectly with the obnoxious Fallon/fembot photos.
In this case, Wired backslid some from knowledge and understanding in the Fifties, and certainly from the Twenties.
In the Twenties, Fritz Lang's Metropolis portrayed Maria, a heroine in human form, and enigmatic some-time villainess in robot form.
In the Fifties, Robbie the Robot did a lot of stuff. This classic "Robby" shot seems like the reverse of the Jimmy Fallon/Fembot images to me.
Seriously. Jimmy. Why be ashamed for letting your natural desires take precedence? Obviously your "friend" doesn't share these feelings. She looks proud of what you just did.
Wired could have snatched a woman off the street with a degree in engineering, gone to the corner Starbucks and found a random female writer, and advertised on Craigslist for a random editor whose native language was something other than English. They could have then stuck them in a room for 8 hours with an iPad and wireless connection, and asked them to come up with an article about how robots would affect jobs of the future, and the group would have come up with an infinitely superior article than what they shoveled up in another of their endless series of unexamined male tech-nerd assumptions.
The Kelly article focused on a number of speculations regarding robots, artificial intelligence, and jobs of the future. The title? "Better than Human." The thought-challenged fear-mongering subhead?
Imagine that 7 out of 10 working Americans got fired tomorrow.
Fortunately, the article also features not-a-very-exciting robot, Baxter, a "workbot" produced by Boston-based Rethink Robotics, the same company that made the familiar household helper, Roomba. Otherwise known as a small robot that cleans the floor and trips people (as extrapolated in "Perfect Stranger" 2006).
I say "fortunately," because the article comes from a place of trepidation and fear-of-robot.
There are dozens of non-scary, non-human-replacing robots coming out of Japan right now. The adorable Riba, a nurse robot that lifts and transports patients safely and securely, is just one of them.
Kelly suggests that robots will take the pill-dispensing part of pharmacists' jobs away, leaving them with more time to consult with patients on medications, unaware of what actual pharmacists do, or that they've already made this switch. He is blissfully unaware of the many other tech factors that have impacted the pharmacy industry and that medicine as a whole, is working to move closer to caregiver-patient quality relationships worldwide. Robots, high-end technology and information technology are all being used in myriad ways completely not addressed in the Wired article, and far from losing 7 of 10 jobs, health care is the fastest-growing field producing many jobs throughout the world.
But I digress into one illustration of the article's dumth. There are dozens more.
That's not my point. My point is, the way we conduct our dialog about lots of things needs to change.
My one simple thing is: give women the microphone for a bit. Let them lead the discussion for a change.
Do this for a specific period of time. Twelve months, let's say.
Let this be women from non-traditional backgrounds. Let it not be the daughters or wives of senators, former presidents, corporate executives, or stockholders of major companies.
Let it be women who have not heretofore had the bully pulpit, the book contract, the TED talk slot or the microphone. Let it be women from the inner cities, from other countries, and let it be people whose first language is not English. Let the women who are currently in science, engineering and math programs have the first seat at the committee table. Let women serving or retired from leadership capacities in the military take the helm of the ship, and, hold your breath, gentlemen -- take charge of an army or two. Let them lead R & D programs.
Let them write books. Let them make films. Put them in charge of television shows as showrunners. Don't gatekeep their stories, just put them out there. Start feeling the legitimate humiliation and embarrassment you should feel when you announce repeatedly the most "notable" fact about a first-time female U.S. senator is the fact she is gay. No -- it's not. What she has accomplished are the most notable things.
What's the worst that can happen?
I don't know -- why not ask IBM, Sam's Club, Yahoo and Guardian Life? They all instituted female CEOs in 2012.
Is Campbell's Soup still tasting good and selling? Are there new, tasty soups in the works?
Already there are too many women out there doing all of these things for the media and management muzzle to shut all of them down and shut them off. The horse has left the barn. Meg Whitman is back in charge as a CEO at HP. There may be problems with her tenure, and she is not necessarily the best CEO ever, but she, along with Carly Fiorina, will always have the distinction of serving as a lightning rods so Ginni Rometty (IBM), Denise Morrison (Campbell's Soup), Marissa Mayer (Yahoo), and the most powerful American-based CEO you have likely never heard of, Indra Nooyi, born in Chennai in 1955, who has led PepsiCo for over a decade, could do their work without being shot down from behind by a media that hates women who break molds and barriers.
Why, the world has changed so that it hasn't even been able to shut me up. The robot that selects links and articles when we write these posts selected my own writing from December. Dalek Sec, himself an artificial, mechanical lifeform, knows these truths.
What a thought. Seven out of ten jobs lost to robots? How about all of them, Dalek Sec - all of them!