How Long Does It Take To Automate A Supermarket?

Waiting in a queue with shopping carts
Photo by Adrien Delforge / Unsplash

A long time ago... in the days before Convid... a funny little man named Ray liked to give talks (the same talk over and over again actually) about the future of mankind.

Many applauded his vision and welcomed his idealistic, optimistic proposals because they delivered a sorely needed injection of hopium at a time when sci-fi futures were languishing in the AI winter doldrums.

His proposals mostly had to do with life extension, the rise of robotics, superintelligent machines, nanobots living in our blood, and a utopian lifestyle for all that dared to wallow in the unfolding narrative known as the Technological Singularity.

Mr. Kurzweil, as he was known, shared the Singularity space with many other Singularitarians and, as a group, they cemented their collective passion for futuristic mindscapes with the creation of Singularity University.

You may have heard of the other players in this space...

Max Tegmark, Hugo de Garis, Aubrey de Grey, Ben Goertzel, Peter Diamandis, Eliezer Yudkowsky, and even the little chipmunk himself, Ray Kurzweil, complete with outrageously colorful braces and his "fooling no one" artificially youthful looks.

They may not match the media attention of an Elon Musk or a Bill Gates or a Jeff Bezos, but they are back on top doing the rounds on all the latest, greatest tech and financial podcasts (anyone that'll have them) blowing up the AI Master Race fear campaign that didn't quite get lit enough the last time and the time before that.

The goal this time (third time lucky) appears to be to make damned sure that everyone gets the message that fancy chatbots are one step away from becoming our AI overlords and potentially our executioners!

The traditional consensus among economists has been that technological progress does not cause long-term unemployment. However, recent innovation in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence has raised worries that human labor will become obsolete, leaving people in various sectors without jobs to earn a living, leading to an economic crisis. Many small and medium size businesses may also be driven out of business if they cannot afford or licence the latest robotic and AI technology, and may need to focus on areas or services that cannot easily be replaced for continued viability in the face of such technology.

And this time... which really looks like it might be "the one" is shaping up to be another dud even with all the incredible effort on the part of the players.

I mean, they're really pulling out all the stops now. They're doing their utmost to divide the two opposing camps — pro AI, robotics and transhuman tech and those who see it all as the work of the devil.

And if you've been paying attention to globalist strategy, you'll know that division of the populace into militant opposites is a highly effective technique used by those who wish to create chaos so as to remain in their seat of power.

Here are two of the most prominent chieftains of this select tribe presenting the two opposing positions in the Problem, Reaction, Solution pantomime that are currently being argued over...

Ben Goertzel says it's tricky — artificial general intelligence, that is — and that it could potentially be extremely dangerous, but we should go ahead and build it anyway because the benefits, if it all works out, would be cool and stuff...

And here's the prophet of doom himself to bring the other side of the debate. I give you Mr. Eliezer Yudkowsky who chokes up and almost breaks down in tears during his podcast interviews so that you get the message how serious he is about AGI ruining our good thing...

Of course, we're nowhere near creating an actual functioning AGI or superintelligent agent of any kind, fingers crossed, but all of these characters have jumped back on the bandwagon at the mere mention of Large Language Models and ChatGPT occupying all the tech headlines as if we've finally witnessed the arrival of alien entities that will make quick work of us as soon as they can jack into the nearest Tesla charging station.

The boogeymen are back in business! And this time they mean... business. And it's definitely different this time because we've turned the dial up to eleven!

However, even the smartest of smart guys like Eliezer, when dishing out his MIRI (Machine Intelligence Research Institute) inspired AI contagion scare stories, are prone to anthropomorphizing the Golem that is being built by the Masters of Machines. When he says the AI will hide its true intentions, if it is as smart as he is, Eliezer is falling into the trap of bestowing upon the machine the kinds of qualities that we attribute to a James Bond villain.

I mean, some of these outcomes could potentially happen "by accident" when an AI is given certain drives as explained by Stephen Omuhundro so long ago...

But the idea that a bunch of information retrieval chat bots and image creation tools will deviate from their given protocol and begin their journey to the Dark Side is a bit much to swallow, even after listening to elaborate explanations on how AIs will build bigger, better AIs until nothing can stop one of them from taking over the world or simply extinguishing all life on Earth just for the sake of it.

These scenarios continue to exist as science fiction and yet the boffins are working hard on what they call the alignment problem which essentially means getting AI to do what humans want it to do instead of going off on a tangent and treating humans the way humans treat factory farm animals or worse. Which is pretty much how the Elite Master Farmers treat us anyway, but whatever.

This type of attribution of human qualities to current computer software programs is reminiscent of the Tranformers movie franchise where the robot characters, both Autobot and Decepticon, hide among us disguised as everyday machines until the time comes to reveal their true nature and execute their long, lingering plans.

But we can't even automate a supermarket!

I mean, not in any meaningful way. And it's getting to the point where we have to ask if it's even really necessary.

I have never used an automated car wash to wash a car. A bucket full of soap and water is all I need. And the supermarket experience, for me, when I actually go to one (so I can select the fresh produce for myself) is the same as it was fifty years ago. I still load up a cart, push it around the store, say hi to other human beings and chat about this or that and then offload at the other end while the cashier does the beepy thing and asks if I want an extra bag at 20 cents a pop to which I respond no I brought my own and no I don't want a club card for the umpteenth time, hand over the cash, load my own bags (we used to have bag stuffers when I was a kid) and lug them back to the car!

So what's changed?

Not much really in all honesty. And the newfangled, experimental Amazon Go in-and-out shopping travesties are not very convincing. Far too much technological wizardry and embedded civilian espionage for my liking.

Biometric digital identification requirements just to buy an apple or a cheese sandwich... hmm... are you starting to agree with me that we may have gone wrong somewhere?

That maybe this imprisonment protocol is being deliberately put into place around us, especially around those of you who live in the Smart City complexes?

That maybe, just maybe we're heading for a crash of epic proportions because the unnatural world that we're building simply can't sustain itself for much longer?

Again, I don't like the way that people are being force fed the stories of "boogeymen that are coming to get them" so that they hand over all power to the Masters of Deception, but at the same time, I have to acknowledge how far we've gone off the rails.

Most people living in the core of industrial civilization are so far removed from what a grounded, natural life for a human could be that I'm not sure many would cope if the lights were to be switched off for any length of time as is being currently hinted at by the alternative media pundits. False flag or not, a self-inflicted wound to create a state of emergency and the establishment of martial law would be sufficient to ruin most people's normalcy-bias-induced cozy, comfortable existence.

Maybe this is what some people need?

A wake up call?

I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. The mental stress, the chaos, the loss, the suffering would be intolerable for the pampered majority. They would accept any deal offered to them in exchange for relief, comfort and hope. And I understand the need to ease the pain. But the deal is a trick. And the tempting offer is always laced with poison. The best option will be to refuse it at all cost.

As Good As It Gets?

It's becoming apparent to me that the ultimate goal of machine learning and the automation of all processes in our economy is to render human workers obsolete and practically housebound. The current trend towards home delivery of all goods including fresh produce is convenient, but is starting to show the usual cracks under the strain of novel approaches to old problems.

Home delivery may not cut out the middle man exactly, but with the help of the latest technology, shoppers can literally order products from anywhere in the world and receive them within days on their doorstep, food shopping included.

All the shopper has to do is open an app, click on the desired items, pay, and wait for the goods to turn up.

The thing is... everything that happens after the order is placed is pretty much the same as it's always been. Goods are delivered from all over the world on planes, trains, ships and trucks to depots, warehouses and local supermarkets, and once there, human employees select the chosen goods for the customer making damned sure they pick the best fresh produce so the customer doesn't get upset when the goods are delivered. That last part is a joke, of course. You can probably sense the frustration in my words after my own experiments with home delivery!

Anyway... the point to keep in mind here is that the furthest we've come along this road (and I'm not sure we can call it that much of an achievement in the long trajectory of automation technology to this day) is represented by the humble self-service automated drink and food dispenser...

The pinnacle of automation technology. We have truly arrived in the future!

And yet these machines have to be constantly filled and serviced by human staff. Just like all the other machinery that we like to believe does a better job than simply employing a human on a minimum wage.

Remember... a minimum wage can be a lifesaver for millions of otherwise unskilled or low-skilled workers just trying to survive in the Galaxy.

It's obvious to me, and it should be to all of these highfalutin, technocracy pushing, transhumanist creating, nerds with a silicon chip on their shoulder that once this ball really gets rolling, the mass unemployment and retraining issues are going to become the number one topic on everyone's minds and will be unavoidably difficult to brush aside with promises of universal basic income (which is a utopian fantasy) and some kind of massive civilizational restructuring that even the most optimistic futurists find difficult to back if they can drop down from their dreaming cloud for a second or two and allow some honest objective reasoning to filter back into their micro-dosing LSD soaked minds.

Revenge of the Nerds

Do you really want people like this changing your life "in interesting ways" ...

These "thought leaders" want to wrap you in the technology that is dreamed up by DARPA funded boffins lurking in the world's best universities. They want to protect you, save you, help you achieve your "goals" (that are not really your own to begin with) and eventually merge the human component with the One Machine that will rule over the world.

We are already a hybrid species deeply dependent on the machines that are intertwined in our everyday lives.

How much further do we really want to push the boundaries?

How many people will be lining up for their Neuralink implant once it becomes widely available?

How does the automation of everything not collapse the economy?

How does an economy not fueled by innate human qualities such as curiosity, exploration, philosophy, and joy of life avoid stagnation and the potential descent into obsolescence, boredom and insanity?

Aubrey de Grey says that we'll have no problem living like "retired people" for all eternity — if his life extension protocols are successful — because he never gets bored of punting down a river with a beer in one hand.

Hmm... well, let me see... one hundred times? A thousand times? At what point would you voluntarily "jump ship," change tracks, shift things around a little? Anything to bring a little novelty to the table. Anything to bring back that sense of purpose that we once had, that many even craved so as to stave off the feeling of worthlessness. You see, in the current system, most retirees earned their "retirement" after a lifetime of "service" in one form or another.

The pampered lives of "good for nothings" were frowned upon and quite rightly so. Nothing would ever get done, nothing would ever happen if all were simply born into this world and treated like the spoiled, bratty, spawn of oligarchs and the rising tide of nouveau riche.

The whole concept that humans will simply accept the conditions handed down to them by the Elite Master Farmers and their AI advisors is or should be...

  1. obnoxious to the point of provoking projectile vomit
  2. deeply disturbing and...
  3. completely and utterly unacceptable to a fully functional freedom-loving human being.

But don't worry... if all else fails... we can get jobs as robot polishers... allegedly.

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