Marketing March 20, 2015 Last updated September 22nd, 2018 1,997 Reads share

Your Next Boss Will Likely Be a Robot

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Forbes wrote a piece about the growing number of jobs 

By cutting out the human middle management layer an Uber can save on cost, too. But it also means that you’ll have no upward mobility. A driver at Uber isn’t going to make it into the core team at Uber, which is primarily software engineering and marketing.

Peter Drucker would turn in his grave

There’s no middle management layer anymore. Just a few folks at the top, controlling a sea of faceless workers. You’ll be in a highly regulated, measurable environment. Intelligence built into every device, appliance, vehicle, or object will be guiding you on what to do next.

That Apple iWatch of yours will soon feel less like a fashionable bauble and more like an ankle bracelet.

But you’re lucky to have a job, since most folks don’t have jobs – the drones took them. The machines have always been able to do a better job at driving cars, bagging groceries, and assembling IKEA furniture.

The revelation of the Four Horsemen

image001Google’s search hegemony gave way to Facebook’s data gathering prowess, which ceded to Apple’s device dominance.

And then Apple’s mega-profit machine got undercut by Amazon’s seizing of retail– anything that’s bought or sold. Controlling the delivery of physical goods trumps the clever apps and devices that enable commerce.

Therefore, the task-level wages that you earn derive straight from your added value in the chain– competed down to zero. Remember that you’re competing against robots who don’t need a minimum wage.

The greedy, insensitive machines are winning

To say that software is eating the world is a short-sighted wet dream of geeks with too much money and not enough humility. It’s less about your skill in PHP and more about your ability to build processes for people and understand human psychology.

There are more folks coming with scary intelligence like Travis Kalanik, founder of Uber, who see you as ants in their “God View“. The current crop of Silicon Valley hubris has been producing teenage tyrants with keys to daddy’s Ferrari.

But we can change this together by placing our people first and machines second.

When a venture capitalist hands you their money, it’s not out of benevolence, but for generating favorable returns on investment. So you can’t exactly fault the ethics of seeking to maximize shareholder return without regard to people.

Not going to get into bashing iPhones made in China or Wal-Mart’s employment practices! I have a finance undergraduate degree and don’t believe that occupying Wall Street or Silicon Valley is a valid answer.

How to beat Agent Smith

Agent Smith is a program. Even an animatronic figure in a Disneyland ride, however realistic, doesn’t have feelings. It doesn’t stand for something or have passion, despite being able to pass a Turing test. Robots are lousy storytellers.

Building your personal branding is the antidote– the red pill that exposes the painful truth of reality. The red pill means that you’ve chosen a mission that is bigger than you– enticing enough to draw in others through your passion.

image003“Without a brand, your expertise is evaluated on a rate card, auctioned amongst hundreds of peers. But if you invest in developing a unique voice, new opportunities will seek you, and reward far greater.” – Mike McEuen

To rally others to your cause, you have to inspire people to the greater good. When you’re a servant leader people come to you out of inspiration, not desperation. We believe that a new breed of employer will rise against the machines, replacing robot overlords with real people as mentors.

Consider how gamification, especially the leveling in massive online games, allows for senior people to mentor one another. Instead of interacting only with an algorithm that tells you where to drive next, the technology is your servant, making human coaching more effective.

The first wave of machines were designed by autocrats who have contempt for the masses – evidenced by low wages and no upward mobility.

2015-03-16 15_50_28-John Bowers“We can and need to work to discover, and then develop and understand our character and its features.  Human work environments that allow for human interaction and apprenticeship are critical to this development in society. Caring about others’ interests and talents, fostering personal confidence, and teaching craft: these are the social indispensables that add color to our lives and generate powerful synergy in business relationships. The human element allows for true creation.” – John Bowers,

We strongly believe in the power of personal branding to combat the mechanized uprising. By encouraging others to share their passion; a concept an emotionless algorithm can’t replicate, we’re empowering others to become thought leaders through our analyst programs

With your help, we can create systems of well-paying jobs with humans that support you.

Wage slaves and the $15/hour debate

Automation should help us get more work done. So if the machines can make someone twice as productive, they should be making twice as much money, all else equal. The downside is that we need only half as many jobs.

But if we can create jobs for students that pay more, then food service companies have competition. Young adults just need help transitioning to the real world without hitting the wall. Instead of in food service, students can work apprenticeship roles (perhaps as internpreneurs) that pay more than minimum wage and are great learning opportunities.

The $15/hour minimum wage is possible not because of artificial price controls or inflationary pressure – but because we can make a young person’s time actually worth a multiple of that. If we have analytics that can measure the incremental revenue of marketing campaigns– why wouldn’t a business owner pay $1,000 to get $10,000 in incremental revenue?

If that $1,000 that accrues to the analyst (our young student) is currently achieved in 80 hours of labor, then we have an effective fully-loaded direct rate of $12.50.

But if through automation and smart process we’re able to trim the human component down to 40 hours, then the analyst is creating $25/hour of value. Then it’s a question of how much of the excess value goes to the client (in the form of reduced fees), the analyst (getting a higher wage), or us (more margin to reinvest into technology and analyst training).

Are you afraid?

AI brings unbounded unforeseeable risk as the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warn.  Read Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson or Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom for an entertaining, yet uncannily accurate, view of how modern technology is approaching what science fiction writers envision.

Do you believe that our computer overlords will be kind to us or put us into the Matrix for our own protection?

Images: “female human and robot’s handshake as a symbol of connection between people and artificial intelligence technology/


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Dennis Yu

Dennis Yu

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