Droids mostly outperform humans, but they can't fool security

Even Star Wars predicted people would be replaced in industry by R2D2, C3P0 and their buddies.

Before Brussels, the big story this week was that nearly half the jobs in NZ were about to vanish, chiefly due to the rise of the machines.

All this time, we've thought machines were useful. Technology wasn't always a threat. Now it seems the machines we appreciated, for doing our dishes and laundry, were actually making us soft. On purpose. So they could take over. They taught us to crush candy, without telling us that wasn't a useful skill. And now it seems they do our jobs better than we do. It's jobs for the droids.

Even Star Wars predicted this. In the first movie, when R2D2 and C3P0 try to enter the cantina, the bartender says their kind aren't welcome. Why? The reason is obvious. The cantina band didn't want to lose their jobs to machines that could play MP3s.


Recently, on an Auckland street corner, I saw a perfect illustration: A post office, right next to a travel agent, right next to (I'm not kidding) a video store. What was this, Historyland? The only thing missing was a shop selling petticoats. Honestly, who still uses a travel agent? That's like asking someone to Google for you.

The only non-insulting explanation I can come up with is that they're laundering money. That would at least make sense.

So what's really going on? Follow the money. Who profits? Any question you have, follow the money, and there's your explanation.

That was the advice from All the President's Men. You may recall that in that movie, the conspiracy went all the way to the top.

Take the flag referendum. Was there really a public groundswell to change the flag? Or did somebody in power recently buy a flag factory? Was this just a cynical attempt by the flag sector - Big Pennant - to boost revenues?

Why was it a postal referendum? I can't tell you the last time I mailed a letter - I couldn't tell you the price of a stamp - but for this flag referendum, I had to mail two? Clearly the whole thing has been a ploy to prop up NZ Post.

And that's fine. The entire American economy is based on defence and imprisonment, so it's fine for governments to create jobs.

What about the sugar tax in the UK? Is it really a plan to reduce obesity - or a plot by the artificial-sweetener lobby to increase revenues? Of course, a tax that's easily evaded is a bad plan, and the sugar tax is as easily avoided as going to a cafe and taking as many sachets of sugar as your pockets can fit.

And now, Brussels.

I'm not sure what social forces led to Brussels, but definitely a few industries will be happy with it.

European countries will bring back borders. Passport stamp manufacturers will be back in business. Without going full conspiracy nutbar, is it a coincidence that Brussels happened before the end of the financial year?

The metal detector industry will be over the moon. It used to be that the attentions of a metal detector were restricted to those who'd already checked in. Now, the front doors of every airport will be giant metal detectors. Cars that roll up to the airport carpark will have to prove they're not made of metal. You may be asked if your car's petrol is Halal.

The plastic water bottle industry will experience greater demand for their 100ml sizes, and the Ziploc transparent bag company will be giving out staff bonuses. Having run out of size variations for their devices, Apple will now make new versions of everything in plastic.

Every door to every place that attracts something of a crowd will have a metal detector. Soon, you won't be able to buy a burger without dealing with invasive searches. There will no longer be drive-thru fast food. You'll just drive near the place, order by cell, and once Five Eyes places the order, the staff will throw the food at you.

On the bright side, this will create jobs. Every metal detector will need staff. Ultimately, every human on the planet will be monitored by two others. We will have a roster. We will take turns walking the sniffer dog.

And our jobs will be safe from the threat of technology.

Because if there's one thing robots can't do, which humans can: it's walk through a metal detector.

And then, somebody will tell Isis about plastic explosives.

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