Speaking In Tongues To Recruiters.

Grim JoyRecruiters still reach out to me. To be fair, my digital shadow is still on numerous job sites, and I should endeavor to clean that up so that I no longer get their emails, but even where it is cleaned up I still get recruiters contacting me.

You see, despite what you might see as a grim appearance, I am content. I did my time in the Code Mines, in meetings where mediocrity ran supreme, talking to bosses more interested in the shiny than the needed infrastructure. I have tales I might write as I laugh about how I seem to have traded my time and frustration for the pittances paid me and the insulting raises.

Despite my description, I’m not bitter. That’s on me. That was the mistake of my youth.

And if these recruiters warrant a response, if they pique my interest enough for me to take a look at what they have to offer me, I imagine them reading it and wondering whether I’m sane. That they might stare at their monitor and wonder who gave them such a response. The odds are better that they don’t even read it and just scan it, so I toss in keywords like ‘telecommuting’ and ‘part-time’ so that they know where to file it.

In their minds, I suppose, I’m an alien. A layperson in sociology might consider me a GenXer tired of a world that didn’t reward despite my experience and abilities, often overshadowed by the more passionate and sometimes even smarter kids growing up – but being ‘smarter’ or more passionate doesn’t bring the real world experience needed for good projects. In fact, more often than not, it results in failures that bleed a company or have catastrophic results. For me, it’s often akin to watching a bus being steered off a bridge all while you’re shouting from the back, “No, no, no!”

Life is funny that way, and I thank every company I’ve worked for and with for that. Those experiences proved to me that I’m not an idiot; they proved to me that I could do better, and in some instances – few but there – I was completely wrong and learned those lessons. Lessons I paid for with my time, with my health, with my youth.

I cannot get my youth back, but I can keep my time and better my health. If I don’t have to sit behind a desk 14 hours a day fixing other people’s messes, I find my health improves significantly. Life is funny that way.

Now my time is worth more to me. This is alien to recruiters, those people who broker careers on commission, and companies that think that they’re all going to save the world. A word to those aspiring to be wise: Your company won’t save the world. You won’t save the world. It might change things, and maybe things will be better because of your efforts. Maybe.

If you want my time or help, it’s now on my terms. And that’s just alien to recruiters, particularly when there are people who would jump at what they think are opportunities – and which well could be for other people.

I didn’t apply for that jobs the recruiters are writing me about. I have my life to do, and if your problem is interesting enough and you meet my basic requirements, I might help you out.

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The AI Future On Mankind’s Canvas

Doctor Leia.I met her and the young Brazilian woman on the flight from Miami to Orlando, this young Doctor who had an interview in Ocala. She was to drive across to Ocala, to the East, to see if she would get the job. She didn’t look old enough to be a Doctor, but I’ve passed the age threshold where doctors were younger than myself years ago. We talked about medicine and medical administration for a while even as I checked up on the nervous Brazilian high school graduate. I sat, a thorn between two roses, all the while thinking:

What sort of world were they entering? Doc Leia, a graduate from The University of the West Indies, off to Ocala, and the young woman to my right, off to see the sights as a reward for having survived so many years of schooling. They were both easily younger than most of my nieces. The Doctor had already become heavily invested in her future – medical school was a daunting path and might have been one I would have pursued with the right opportunities. The other was about to invest in her future and it bothered me that there wasn’t as clear a path as there used to be.

Artificial intelligence – diagnosing patients on the other side of the world – is promising to change medicine itself. The first AI attorney, ‘Ross’, had been hired by a NYC firm. The education system in the United States wasn’t factoring this sort of thing in (unless maybe if you’re in the MIT Media Lab), so I was pretty sure that the education systems in the Caribbean and Latin America weren’t factoring it in. I’ve been playing with Natural Language Processing and Deep Learning myself, and was amazed at what already could be done.

The technology threat to jobs – to employment – has historically been robotics, something that has displaced enough workers to cause a stir over the last decades – but it has been largely thought that technology would only replace the blue collar jobs. Hubris. Any job that requires research, repetition, and can allow for reduced costs for companies is a target. Watson’s bedside manner might be a little more icy than House, but the results aren’t fiction.

What are the jobs of the future, for those kids in, starting or just finished with a tertiary education? It’s a gamble by present reckoning. Here are a few thoughts, though:

  • A job that requires legal responsibility is pretty safe, so far. While Watson made that diagnosis, for legal reasons I am certain that licensed doctors were the ones that dealt with the patient, as well as gave the legal diagnosis.
  • Dealing well with humans, which has been important for centuries, has just become much more important – it separates us from AI. So far.
  • Understanding the technology and, more importantly, the dynamic limits of the technology will be key.

Even with that, even as fast food outlets switch to touchscreens for ordering their food (imagine the disease vectors off of that!), even as AI’s become more and more prominent, the landscape is being shaken by technology driven by financial profit.

And I don’t think that it’s right that there’s no real plan for that. It’s coming, there is no stopping that, but what are we as a society doing to prepare the new work force for what is to come? What can be done?

Conversations might be a good place to start.