Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: We can't marry clickbait

Smartphone apps and robots are taking over, so all we’re good for is buying them.
Apple's new phone will accelerate the erosion of the global attention span. Picture / AP
Apple's new phone will accelerate the erosion of the global attention span. Picture / AP

The Paralympics have begun, which means it's time to start booing every other country's disabled athletes.

Meanwhile, a new device gets launched by Apple, to further erode everyone else's capabilities.

Getting rid of the headphone jack is Apple's first step in its grand plan to get rid of human ears. If Apple has its way, we'll only have the one opening, and we'll do everything through it.

The new phone, with whatever its improvements are, creates more addictions and more distractions, eroding the global attention span, all the better for us to not notice the rise of the machines. Will humans even be relevant in the future?

This week, Winston Peters suggested that driving become part of the school curriculum. I thought he was taking a dig at tourist drivers. But it seems he was taking a dig at youth.

Is he concerned that youth criminals aren't defensive-driving their stolen getaway car? Are the new basics reading, riting and reversing?

With driverless cars on the horizon, driving is probably not a future-forward job skill. Driving is soon to go the way of stamps, envelopes, video stores and travel agents - a signal that the TV show you're watching is set in the '80s.

It's getting harder to design a school curriculum. The future's coming at us faster and faster. The robots will take over. That war is over - we're just negotiating the armistice. Everyone, from fruit pickers to surgeons, press secretaries, apology-writers, love poets, the lot, will be replaced by a robot.

The only jobs remaining will be strippers and rugby players. And an app already exists for them to find each other.

So what are humans good for?

Why, to pay for things, of course. That new iPhone can do a lot, but what it can't do is buy itself. It'll probably make it easier for you to pay for things, by accident even, but it won't pay for itself.

(It makes me vom to write little-i, capital-P, etc, because I feel like I'm pedantically free-plugging a beyond-massive company, which doesn't even pay tax. But then again, why should Apple pay tax? If it's a showdown between a country's tax system - a mere ragtag sovereign nation, run by squabbling civil servants - and the richest gadget company in the solar system, who would you put your money on? When it gets to court, whose spreadsheets do you think everyone will rely on? You don't think all the EU spreadsheets will get corrupted and become unreadable?)

On the positive side, Apple does keep children off the streets in China, giving them jobs in factories instead.

Anyway, this is what humans are for: footing the bill. You, meat-face, frown-brow, angst-head, spawn-groin, have to pay for that constantly upgrading, emotionless piece of glass and metal.

But wait, there's more. That global mountain of activewear, produced every season, has to be bought. It doesn't have to be worn - or at least, not worn to exercise - but it has to be bought. Otherwise the system doesn't circulate.

But how do humans get paid, when we're replaced by machines?

Already in New Zealand, the biggest earners in our economy are inanimate objects: houses.

Houses don't pay tax, but they sit there, taking up space, making it harder for humans to occupy them. Houses have better addresses than people do. Human wage rates can't keep up.

The human employees of houses - real estate agents and mortgage bankers - do okay, but even their work can be done by algorithms on the web. And those algorithms don't have to worry about rent. They can live in the cloud.

But where's this leave biological humans? Hungry creatures who get cold when it's cold, and need clean water to drink and reliable plumbing to flush? Humans can't move into the cloud. Much as we'd like to, we can't marry clickbait.

The last job humans will be needed for is clicking on clickbait.

One day, there'll be an app for that. Yes, you got me, part of me is curious what that celebrity from the '80s looks like now. But do I want to wade through 35 other celebrities to get to the one I care about? Not to mention, the 'Next' button is camouflaged. It's almost like you want me to hit the wrong button, to release a whole new outbreak of pop-up cluster-hell.

Of course, finally, when there are no more human jobs, that should soften the house prices based on houses being where the jobs are. And then we can afford to live in Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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