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Aufgabe 2

Aufgaben
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1.
Outline the information about what machines do today.
2.
Analyze the means by which Zeynep Tufekci and Paul Paetzel convey their attitude towards recent technological developments. Give evidence, referring to the text and the illustration published with it.
3.
Choose one of the following three tasks:
3.1
"We don't need to reject or blame technology. This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."
Explain the quote and discuss the author’s position considering to what extent technology does influence human relationships. Refer to the article and your knowledge about the issue.
3.2
Compare technological developments as described in the article to similar developments you are familiar with from a work of literature or film. Assess the impact these developments have on people’s lives.
3.3
For an international youth conference on “Our future in an automated world”, you have been asked to deliver the opening speech. Using ideas from the text as a starting point, write a speech in which you comment on a machine-run society in the future.
#article#speech
Material 1
Excerpt from the article The Machines Are Coming
By Zeynep Tufekci
Aufgabe 2
Aufgabe 2
Paul Paetzel
$\;$
[…]
A robot with emotion-detection software interviews visitors to the United States at the border. In field tests, this eerily[1] named “embodied avatar kiosk” does much better than humans in catching those with invalid documentation. Emotional-processing software has gotten so good that ad companies are looking into “mood-targeted” advertising, and the government of Dubai wants to use it to scan all its closed-circuit TV
5
feeds.
Yes, the machines are getting smarter, and they’re coming for more and more jobs. Not just low-wage jobs, either.
Today, machines can process regular spoken language and not only recognize human faces, but also read their expressions. They can classify personality types, and have started being able to carry out
10
conversations with appropriate emotional tenor[2]. Machines are getting better than humans at figuring out who to hire, who’s in a mood to pay a little more for that sweater, and who needs a coupon to nudge[3] them toward a sale. In applications around the world, software is being used to predict whether people are lying, how they feel and whom they’ll vote for.
To crack these cognitive and emotional puzzles, computers needed not only sophisticated, efficient
15
algorithms, but also vast amounts of human-generated data, which can now be easily harvested from our digitized world. The results are dazzling. Most of what we think of as expertise, knowledge and intuition is being deconstructed and recreated as an algorithmic competency, fueled by big data.
But computers do not just replace humans in the workplace. They shift the balance of power even more in favor of employers. Our normal response to technological innovation that threatens jobs is to encourage
20
workers to acquire more skills, or to trust that the nuances of the human mind or human attention will always be superior in crucial ways. But when machines of this capacity enter the equation[4], employers have even more leverage[5], and our standard response is not sufficient for the looming crisis.
Machines aren’t used because they perform some tasks that much better than humans, but because, in many cases, they do a “good enough” job while also being cheaper, more predictable and easier to control
25
than quirky, pesky[6] humans. Technology in the workplace is as much about power and control as it is about productivity and efficiency.
This used to be spoken about more openly. An ad in 1967 for an automated accounting system urged companies to replace humans with automated systems that “can’t quit, forget or get pregnant.” Featuring a visibly pregnant, smiling woman leaving the office with baby shower gifts, the ads, which were published in
30
leading business magazines, warned of employees who “know too much for your own good” — “your good” meaning that of the employer. Why be dependent on humans? “When Alice leaves, will she take your billing system[7] with her?” the ad pointedly asked, emphasizing that this couldn’t be fixed by simply replacing “Alice” with another person.
The solution? Replace humans with machines. To pregnancy as a “danger” to the workplace, the company
35
could have added “get sick, ask for higher wages, have a bad day, aging parent, sick child or a cold.” In other words, be human.
I recently had a conversation with a call center worker from the Philippines. While trying to solve my minor problem, he needed to get a code from a supervisor. The code didn’t work. A groan escaped his lips: “I’m going to lose my job.” Alarmed, I inquired why. He had done nothing wrong, and it was a small issue. “It
40
doesn’t matter,” he said.
He was probably right. He is dispensable. Technology first allowed the job to be outsourced. Now machines at call centers can be used to seamlessly generate spoken responses to customer inquiries, so that a single operator can handle multiple customers all at once. Meanwhile, the customer often isn’t aware that she is mostly being spoken to by a machine.
45
This is the way technology is being used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans, and employers’ dependency on them, whether by replacing, displacing or surveilling them. Many technological developments contribute to this shift in power: advanced diagnostic systems that can do medical or legal analysis; the ability to outsource labor to the lowest-paid workers, measure employee tasks to the minute and “optimize” worker schedules in a way that devastates ordinary lives. Indeed, regardless of whether
50
unemployment has gone up or down, real wages have been stagnant or declining in the United States for decades. Most people no longer have the leverage to bargain.
[…] It’s easy to imagine an alternate future where advanced machine capabilities are used to empower more of us, rather than control most of us. There will potentially be more time, 60 resources and freedom to share, but only if we change how we do things. We don’t need to reject or blame technology. This problem
55
is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another.
Source: Tufekci, Zeynep. “The Machines Are Coming.” The New York Times. April 18, 2015. Accessed March 13, 2016. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/19/
opinion/sunday/the-machines-are-coming.html.

Annotations
[1] eerily: strangely
[2] tenor: tone
[3] to nudge: to encourage someone to do something
[4] to enter the equation: to become something that must be considered or dealt with
[5] leverage: power, advantage
[6] pesky: annoying
[7] billing system: process of stating payment terms, German: Abrechnungssystem
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$\blacktriangleright$  1. Outline information about what machines do today
  • robot with emotion-detection software interviews visitors at the border
  • emotional-processing software has gotten so good that ad companies are looking into mood-targeted advertising $\rightarrow$ Dubai's government wants to use it to scan closed-circuit TV feeds
  • machines can process spoken language, recognize human faces, read their expressions
  • can classify personality types and can carry out conversations with adequate emotional tenor
  • are better than humas at figuring out who to hire, who would potentially spend more money on clothes, or who is rather undetermined in spending such an amount of money
  • software can determine whether people are lying, how they feel and whom they'll vote for
  • machines might do a "good enough" job and might also be cheaper than hums, they are more predictable and easier to control than humans
  • machines at call centers can be used to seamlessly generate spoken responses to customer inquiries, single operator can handle multiple customers all at once
  • technology used in many workplaces: to reduce the power of humans and employer's dependency on them
  • use advanced diagnostic systems that can do medical or legal analysis, have the ability to the lowest-paid workers, measure employee tasks to the minute and optimize worker schedules
$\blacktriangleright$  2. Analyze the means the authors used to demonstrate their attitude towards technological developments
  • "eerily named 'embodied avatar kiosk'" (l. 2)
    $\rightarrow$ author states that it is creepy that a machine is called like that, that it is a substitute for a human
  • use of quotation marks in "'mood-targeted' advertising" (l. 4)
    $\rightarrow$ author seems to not believing in such technological devices, feels as if machines will never be able to fully comprehend human emotions and reactions on them
  • statement "Yes. The machines are getting smarter, and they're coming for more and more jobs. Not just low-wage jobs, either." (l. 6-7)
    $\rightarrow$ threatening readers and makes think about whether their jobs are endangered
  • metaphor: "cognitive and emotional puzzles" (l. 14)
    $\rightarrow$ human brains complex structures, and machines as even more complex and intelligent devices to decipher those codes
  • "They shift the balance of power in favor of employers." (l. 18)
    $\rightarrow$ machines/robots have the power to fundamentally change human employee-ratio in favor of employer (robots cheaper, more predictable)
  • normal reaction towards robots taking over jobs: that humans should get better at what they're doing, defensiveness, robots will never be able to outrun the human mind
  • "looming crisis" (l. 22)
    $\rightarrow$ a switch is bound to happen soon, employees should be afraid according to author
    $\rightarrow$ technologies do a "good enough" job (l. 24) $\rightarrow$ robots according to author do not do a better job than humans, but are sufficient for the need of the employer
  • irony: "quirky, pesky humans" (l. 25)
    $\rightarrow$ author makes flaws of humans visible
  • author uses ad from 1967 to emphasize the fact that replacing humans with technologies is cruel and inhuman and absurd (l. 27-36)
    $\rightarrow$ ad shows a pregnant woman who leaves an office building for maternity leave
    $\rightarrow$ ad says that a machine can't quit, forget or get pregnant, highlighting the advantages of replacing humans with thechnologies
    $\rightarrow$ being human (getting sick, being moody, having to care for a child or aging parent) is negative and robots provide the perfect solution for that
  • author shares an example: called a callcenter once, something went wrong, worker will be fired because a machine could have solved the problem better
    $\rightarrow$ people are dispensable
  • machines optimize worker schedules "in a way that devastates ordinary lives" (l. 49)
    $\rightarrow$ machines are being used to improve work processes, ignoring that people are human beings with certain needs (like family, leisure time, …)
  • "We don't need to reject or blame technology." (l. 54-55)
    $\rightarrow$ humans are to blame for that development and now should make the best of it
  • illustration shows that employers favor machines over humans
    $\rightarrow$ has already hundreds of robots working in the back
    $\rightarrow$ human is frustrated and deceived by decision of employer
$\blacktriangleright$  3.1 Explain quote and discuss author's position considering to what extent technology does influence human relationships
Quote:
  • "We don't need to reject or blame technology. This problem is not us versus the machines, but between us, as humans, and how we value one another."
  • humans are the ones that invented technology in order to help fulfilling tasks and make everyday life easier
  • it is not a battle between humans and machines according to the author, so humans should use the technology to enhance their lives and not constantly being threatened by technology
  • author claims that people should value each other more, meaning that they should see what they are capable of doing and not discard each other due to human "flaws" like pregnancy, sickness, …
Author's position:
  • claims that machines might be able to take over working world
  • at the same time, thinks that it is cruel to reduce humans on their flaws that would affect working life
  • only talks about working field, not how technology affects human relationships or other related fields
Influence of technology on human relationships:
  • through the introduction of phones, computers and the internet, people are able to reach family members in distant places
  • works the other way around as well: means of communication to contact people at home when travelling
  • much larger dating pool and that texting, chatting, and social media offer us more diverse and constant communication with partners and potential partners
  • since we can be in touch literally constantly, there’s greater room for misunderstanding on what it means to be in touch when you’re not face-to-face or the phone
  • technology is consuming time that people could actually spend connecting with loved ones
  • interconnected reality: smart phones and tablets allow people to take work, games, photos, music — basically the entire life — with them wherever they go
    $\rightarrow$ when on vacation people are not on vacation but at work in another location with more free time
  • not technology's fault but how people use it
$\blacktriangleright$  3.2 Compare technological developments in article with development in literature or film
Technological developments in article:
  • machines are able to read emotions and assess them
  • are used for marketing purposes
  • robot with emotion detection software interviews visitors at the border
  • replace call center workers because machines are more reliable
  • technology was supposed to just outsource jobs, now it takes them over, give automated responses at call centers
  • technology used to reduce the power of humans and deployer's dependency on them (byy replacing, displacing or surveilling them)
Technological developments in the movie "I, Robot" - Alex Proyas:
  • humanoid robots serve humanity, which is protected by the Three Laws of Robotics
  • Detective Spooner hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash but left a 12-year-old girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his
  • Detective follows investigation of murder, only suspect is a robot (Sonny)
  • built-in security programs make it theoretically impossible for robots to do harm to a human
  • Sonny has emotions and can dream
  • Spooner is attacked by some robots, but his supervisor does not believe him, claiming that he is about to lose his mind
  • some robots are not bound to the law and can thus be manipulated
  • are trying to take over humanity
  • central artificial intelligence computer has created a law on its own that does not harm humanity, but humans
  • has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction, needs to protect humanity from that
Impact on people's lives:
  • fear of being replaced if you're not good enough, cost too much, or get pregnant, sick, …
  • fear of being overthrown by robots
  • mistrusting robots because they might be able to evolve their own intelligence and might complot agains humans
  • not developing greater artificial intelligences although we could
  • might mistrust robots due to the fact that they might look like a real human at some point in time
$\blacktriangleright$  3.3 Write a speech
Machine-run society in the future:
  • supersoldiers: the military might use the advanced technology first in form of drones, super soldiers, …
  • superviruses: a lot of damage can be done via computer viruses that are created with artificial intelligence
  • superworkers: physical labor jobs have been lost due to automation over the last few years, same will happen with intellectual jobs
  • possibilities of a cure for AIDS, ending hunger, stimulating new kinds of economic growth
  • the biggest worry is the unknown
    $\rightarrow$ AI can have completely different mental capacities, desires, and common sense
    $\rightarrow$ things humans immediately understand and agree on will be very different from machines
    $\rightarrow$ if humans are taken out of decision-making, machines might make very important decisions with no common sense
  • possible solutions:
    $\rightarrow$ do nothing against it
    $\rightarrow$ quit technology at all (stopping research in AI for instance)
    $\rightarrow$ integrate robots in society, working together
    $\rightarrow$ regulation through same laws that apply to humans
    $\rightarrow$ manipulate human brains to compete with robots
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