Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Three years ago I made a list of my Top 5 Pet Peeves basically things people do that annoy me. Last year, in the same vein, I made a list of my Top 5 Workplace Pet Peeves.

Now here are topics and opinions that are absolutely guaranteed to make me rant and red faced angry.

If you’ve met me socially, you’ll know I’m pretty quiet unless I’m excited or annoyed. I apologize to anyone who’s had to sit through my rambling incoherent rants.

Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry)

10. Technology is Bad

You’ve seen the memes and the articles. Cellphones are making us antisocial etc. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good Skynet joke as much as the next nerd, but go too far and you start to sound like luddite.

The articles range from ‘WiFi scrambles our brains’ to ‘computers are killing our attention spans’ and they all have one thing in common. FEAR!

It’s easier to hate on new tech (Voice assistants, Cellphones, Self Driving Cars, Exercise trackers etc) than blame millennials for something. Hating tech has quite literally been trendy forever.

I will argue this with you. We are better off now than we’ve ever been as a society and a race.

9. We Were Better Off in the Past


Cavemen didn’t get cancer… BULLSHIT! They may have gotten it less often because they mostly died younger.

Infant mortality is at the lowest it’s ever been. There is less war now than in the past. The human race as a whole is better off than we’ve ever been.

We have a long way to go, but we’re actually moving… slowly.

8. Organic is Better


Organic produce still uses pesticides.

Organic produce still requires fertilizer.

Organic food isn’t any healthier.

Organic food is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides & fertilizers, antibiotics, or hormones.

In the end there are some positive aspects of organic food, but the advantages (requiring animals to live in fields, avoiding unnecessary hormones and antibiotics) should be standard practices.

Organic food is more expensive because it takes more space and resources to create the same yield of food.

7. Genetically Modified/Engineered Food is Inherently Bad


GMO’s are not inherently bad. Nor is anything else.

As long as humanity has been growing and herding food we’ve tried to make it better. We’ve used splicing, cross pollination, selective breeding, and many other methods.

Altering our food, crops, and methods is the only way we as a species can survive. Take the example of Golden Rice. It’s genetically engineered to include beta-carotene which our bodies turn into vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency in developing countries is devastating and this rice can help fix that.

But for all those that are about less pesticides on your produce, GMOs have been developed to be resistant to pests and grow faster.

How you can see a negative in better food that grows easier, feeds more people, uses less resources, and is cheaper, is beyond me.

6. If You Like This You’re Wrong/Dumb

This might seem silly to some of you, but I have spent a long time being told I’m wrong because I like something.

It’s very trendy and common to hate on things that are popular. Just look at the hate pumpkin spice gets. There’s a certain joy in communally hating something that is popular. I’ve done it and I feel terrible. Sorry Nickelback and Nickelback fans.

It seems particularly bad towards things young women love.

I may have talked about this before

Like I said to Dragon on this letter:

Closing yourself down to the wonders of emotions and excitement lessens the experiences of life.

Anything you want to argue about?

Stay tuned for Points 5-1 on Thursday.

Later Days,

Éric

Our Society’s Obsession with Simple

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m a skeptical person. If someone tells me that moon dust will cure my allergies, I’ll be hopeful but will wait for the data.

I’m also trained in media analysis so every once in a while I’ll see something that makes me wonder why. Today I saw a Lays truck that was designed to look like an old fashioned potato truck.

It’s a common technic in advertising. It gives the viewer an association with something classic, natural, simple, and/or unprocessed. It’s the reason McDonalds runs ads about their eggs being local and toilet paper almost always has a nature theme. It’s the reason JenEric Coffee uses craft bags for packaging.

But why? Why are we so obsessed with what is natural and simple?

Despite the amazing increases in life expectancy and quality, people still have fantasies about the “good old days.” It’s definitely not a new thing; the Romantics worshiped the medieval period and wanted a return to nature. The classicist wanted the same with the classic period, etc.

In my opinion, it’s a combination of fear of change, nostalgia, and impotence.

We are afraid of change as people; I get really angry when my favourite shampoo is changed or unavailable. We like things the way we do and we don’t like losing control of the change.

Nostalgia paints everything in a wonderful light. Just take the paleo diet as an example. It’s the healthiest way to eat… unless you remember that they died at an age younger than most of us graduate high school. It’s also what makes re-watching certain movies and tv shows so painful or why people love to hate reboots.

There is a special kind of feeling that comes from not being able to work a new piece of technology. It gets worse if you try to understand exactly how it works. Most of us are specialized in our fields and don’t have the energy or ability to be experts in everything. That leaves us feeling impotent.

 

When you next see something and your gut reaction is to reject it because it’s too complex, processed, or confusing, take a moment to wonder why you feel like that and then decide if you’re being reasonable. Not all simple things are good, not all complex things are good.

If you are aware of your bias, you can start to watch for people who prey on your fears for their own gain.

 

Later days,

Éric

Dear Dragon – Looking forward to meeting you

Hello Baby Dragon,

It’s the end of July and that means you’ll be here in a month and a few days. (Probably. Everyone keeps telling me babies arrive when they want to.) I’m extremely excited to meet you, to see who you’ll be, what you’ll like, how much you’ll sleep.

Everyone else is just as excited to meet you. You already have fans among our friends. It’s amazing to see people who we don’t get to talk to much get really excited about you.

Right now the person who seems most excited to meet you is your grandfather. He’s making sure that everything will be perfect for you – like that new baby box he got for you (by the way, they say baby boxes can save lives). Even stressing your mom and I a little with his excitement. You’re really lucky to have him. He seems gruff sometimes but he has the biggest heart and will accomplish impossible things for those he loves. He’s a wonderful father, father in-law, and he’ll be a fantastic grandfather.

It’s going to be amazing to see you grow and become your own person. It’ll also be amazing to see what happens in the world and with technology during your life.

You’ll always think I’m old, but in my 33 years I’ve seen some astounding scientific and technological changes. The Chicken Pox and HPV vaccines, the internet, the discovery of the Higgs Boson, interactive media, and so many music and video formats it’s not funny.

Right now the world is obsessed with a game called Pokémon Go. You might remember it (I’m sure we’ll play it for at least 2 or more years.) It a game that players walk around and look for digital things in the real world. Using GPS and a map of landmarks, the game randomly generates Pokémon (cute pocket monsters).

For you, this will be an old idea but for the rest of the world it’s something new. I predict that when you look back at 2016 it won’t be 4k TVs or another feeble attempt at virtual reality that is the big tech news, but the dawn of augmented reality. It has the potential to change the way we interact with our world.

We live in exciting times and you’ll see your old Papa geek out a lot over new technology. I hope it’s something we can share.

I love you Baby Dragon,

Your Papa Éric

Screens, Screens Everywhere!

Hello My Imaginary friends,

I hope you enjoyed last week’s instalment of Only Human. If you haven’t been reading the serial story, go check it out.

I’ve had a crazy busy day this morning at work. I work for the government and they have recently started upgrading our equipment. It means big changes in the way we work. For one thing I no longer have the time to nap when my computer boots up. It actually boots in under 5 minutes. So weird!

It also means that older, and now more expensive, equipment is being phased out, particularly landlines. Who would have imagined that cellphones would someday be cheaper for offices than landlines? Seriously weird!

Unfortunately with better tech comes better firewalls and that means I can no longer load TV shows onto my computer to watch while I work. For that reason I started bringing my personal tablet to work. I work way better with something playing in the background.

Because I’m a web/print designer I have two large screens. When they upgraded the computers they choose Microsoft Tablets. Surface Pro 3 I think. It has a dual core i5 and 4 gigs of ram, which is awesome for the government.

One of the interesting side effects of the Surface is that you can use it as a second, or in my case third, screen.

So for those of you counting at home, I now have 6 screens at my desk. My two work monitors, work computer, work phone, personal phone, and personal tablet.

I personally think all these new technologies are exciting and will ultimately help me do my work more efficiently. I love new tech but it’s really funny to see all this stuff on a desk designed for 1 CRT monitor.

We’re also moving to newer more modern offices which will be exciting. I’ll finally be able to work standing up, which I hear is better for you.

So in short, lots of screens.

What tech would help make your work more efficient?

Later days,

Éric

Technogedon?

Hello,

I watched a video that, I think, was meant to scare me but instead it confused me. Not its message but its lack of solutions. Here’s the video.

But Eric I don’t want to watch the 15 minute video

Fair enough. Here’s a quick explanation on what you’ll see. The human world is on the precipice of a revolution the likes we’ve never seen. Robots and robotics are at a level that they’re either affordable enough or close to affordable enough, to replace 25% of the workforce.

They talk about four tiers of work and how they can be replaced with robots or machinery of somesort. The biggest being transportation. Self-driving cars are already better at driving then all but the best human drivers. Then there’s retail which has had things like automatic checkouts and online shopping for years.

They go on to talk about computer programs, which they call bots in order to be thematic, which can effectively fill in reports and replace most paper pushers.

They then talk about Watson, a self-teaching computer, that is attempting to create the best possible doctor replacement program.

The last is a vague attempt to tell us that creativity isn’t solely a human trait and we are working on robots that can do the same things we can.

The moral seems to be that change is inevitable and that we are completely unprepared for the robots taking our jobs.

It’s important to know that all this technology exists and it’s not science fiction, or speculation.

Technophobia?

The first reaction I had to this was, “OH DEITY! OH DEITY! We’re all going to die.” Totally reasonable right? Well not really. All this technology exists and is getting cheaper and easier to use and may replace all the jobs mentioned. That’s what it is, by the way: Technology, not bots nor robots etc. Your vending machine is a machine, not a robot.

The Oxford English Dictionary says a robot is “A central European system of serfdom, by which a tenant’s rent was paid in forced labour or service”… Oops wrong one. It says a robot is: “An intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal”.

So no, robots are not rising or trying to destroy us. Yet!?

But my Job

The technology may exist but there are two things you need to remember about them “taking” your jobs.

The first is simply fear. People are slow to adopt new technology. It takes time. Think about electric cars, they are completely usable and not to much more expensive but it’s taking a long time for people to adopt them. Same will happen with self-driving cars, unfortunately. As a person without a license, I’d love a self-driving car. As for the rest of the technology, it will take longer to get rid of retail employees only because most people prefer to buy from a person. Especially large or vanity items.

The second is stupidity. Machines are only as smart as their programing. There are some self-programing machines out there but they’re expensive and difficult to make. Anyone who’s tried to use speech-to-text software, or tried to use website autobuilding software knows that it’s not as simple as it seems.

Between fear and stupidity, it’ll be a while before we see robots replacing most jobs.

However, if you’re a Pay Phone repair man, you might look into another vocation.

What about when it does happen

Some jobs will disappear. That’s natural, I haven’t seen a town crier in a while.

The video is right, we’re not ready and I don’t think we should be. Technology changes quickly, and occasionally we adopt technology faster than normal, like cell phones. Trying to guess what the next big boom will be and where it’ll come from is fun but not worth serious effort.

It will happen, jobs will be automated, and people will lose their jobs. I think the first and hardest hit will be transportation probably in the next 25 years. But that industry is also going to need to change anyways due to Climate Change and evolving technology.

If it happens as quickly as the video (fear mongers) suggests, it would have devastating consequences on the world economy. If a quarter of the developed world’s population lost their jobs, the economy would screech to a standstill and that technology would become too expensive to upkeep and after a hard couple of horrible decades we’d find a balance. (yay uplifting!)

Ok, but what can I do?

Enjoy your job while you have it. Unless you want to become one of those survivalist nuts that have a bomb shelter in the woods with years of supplies etc, there’s no way for you to tell what will go first.

I’d assume the safest jobs would be in hard sciences, engineering, or leisure. They’ll be the last ones fully replaced. If you’re super terrified become a Physicist, Engineer, or Party Planner. Could be an interesting unified field theory.

Bottom Line

Hehehehe, Bottom!

Seriously, though. If you can think of a good way to help 45% of the population losing their jobs, tell someone. No, tell everyone!

Do you have a plan for when technology makes your job obsolete?

Eric

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