The Future Is Now
As the world collapses around us, my thoughts regarding technology, capitalism, and design have come more into focus, so I wanted to share some interesting reads and opinions for you all to think about. The global pandemic of 2020 will be the defining moment of a generation. The future is, in fact, NOW.
The Remote Revolution
“What’s a revolution going to do? Disrupt everything in the meantime?” Joe Biden — March 15, 2020 Democratic Debate (The debate was done with no studio audience due to the pandemic 🙃
After a lot of back and forth, the remote work revolution is here and looking at sentiment it’s something that many people did not want. As Elaine Burke points out in the Silicon Republic “The utopic remote working vision is one of thriving towns and villages as a result of decentralized workforces. The situation we find ourselves in, however, is far from idyllic. This is not the remote working revolution we were looking for.” As a lot of people adjust to being dispersed all over the place, we will finally get to see how things will change. This separation will not last forever but for now, as it is seen as a necessity, more companies need to focus on better remote practices.
One of the interesting things about distributed work is how it can change the current ecosystem, which is analogous to non-distributed tools. Zoom is just a meeting platform for people who still need to have meetings. Slack replaces email for many organizations and sometimes it even replaces everyday office-style communication and comradery. Essentially, we’re just creating an online office, which is what Automattic’s founder, Matt Mullenweg, calls Level 2 of remote work. This episode of Making Sense with Sam Harris — the New Future of Work features a good conversation about the different levels with Mullenweg. If you’re not an audio learner, check out this breakdown by Steve Glaveski.
“If this COVID-19 virus has taught us anything, it’s that it’s time to automate and take the labour out of the equation. If a machine does a better job than a person, then buy the machine, it’s simple.”* Stuart Payne of GP Graders; GP Graders is a supplier of fresh produce grading machinery in America and Europe*
As the Brookings Institute points out in their blog post entitled, “ The robots are ready as the COVID-19 recession spreads,” automation does not happen at a steady, gradual pace but in bursts, concentrated especially in bad times. What does this mean for the labor market as companies try to survive this crisis? The future we are facing is the complete disappearance of certain jobs as companies try to adjust to a world where humans are not a reliable labor source due to things like breathing and being alive.
If you have yet to see clips of WWE performing matches without an audience, you need to watch it now. It is a sight to behold. The combination of over the top acting and empty calls to the audience results in a surreal combination of performance art and sport. Before the NCAA called off the tournament they had talked about playing games without a crowd. On St. Patrick’s Day, I watched a live-streamed Dropkick Murphy’s concert that was filmed in a studio with no audience. DJs are streaming live sets from home and getting views and press. Michelle Obama even “showed up” to D-Nice’s Club Quarantine.
These all seem like things I’ve seen before: recorded live concerts and events, minus the lack of audience, of course. But then, I saw something truly peculiar. On March 18, Sony live-streamed a press conference with what seemed to be a live audience. However, on closer look, this was very obviously a green screen and the “audience” was made up of silhouettes. It’s sort of like a visual laugh track. I found this absurd but then I remembered Black Mirror’s “Fifteen Million Merits,” where the audience of the “American Idol” styled competition is made up of digital characters powered by remote reactions from viewers. So maybe a simulated audience isn’t so out there.
As several months of mandated social distancing continues, I think the necessity to better engage viewers will bring more audience simulations and new ways for participation so that remote events feel more intimate.
Originally published at https://wrkhrs.co on March 31, 2020.