I am of the opinion that widespread automation in sectors traditionally thought to be “white collar” or non-automatable is coming faster than we’d expect, thanks to the buzziest buzzwords in computing, like machine/deep learning and big data. The robots are coming, rapidly and surely, and we need to be prepared. Automation means quick and concentrated unemployment but also the creation of massive amounts of capital. The talk of the town in Silicon Valley is that public policy needs to catch up to the tech sector by considering universal basic income in order to avoid Great Recession-era levels of unemployment. By “taxing the robots,” we can lift the burden from the working class and instead make long-term investments in education and healthcare that raise quality of life for all. Ultimately, we create more interesting and fulfilling roles for human beings.
The house on the highway had always been here longer than I had. Probably longer than I had been on Earth. It’s seen a hospital erected just across the street and a controversial Walmart built just down the freeway. The house has seen the roads expand so much that it could nibble on the highway asphalt. It’s old. Old, absurd and memorable.
I only recently turned around and noticed the contrast between myself and the Iran I was thrown against. Somehow, when I was younger my legs were longer, or the middle space between the two circles of the venn diagram was smaller, and I managed to barely stretch across the pervasive gap. Now, I struggle to engage intellectually and socially with Iran — the actual one, not my own construction — because I’m left grasping at language and culture from which I’ve fallen behind.
I’m boycotting Klarman hall, or so I tell people angrily whenever people mention Klarman in conversation. I understand this statement is (A) ridiculous considering my presence at Klarman is effectively meaningless, and (B) barely even true because I refuse to miss cauliflower curry day. Alas, I’m supposedly boycotting Klarman. I have some sort of good reasons: The entire “I’m so, uhh weird … I’m interested in, uhh, art” aesthetic feels utterly disingenuous, and the fact that so many people are wearing the same glasses is creepy.
Today at noon, many of you will head out to Ho Plaza and protest Donald Trump’s immigration ban and border wall. Many of you will Snapchat it. Many of you will take photos, and many of you will Instagram them. I mean, that’s exactly what I did in November, when thousands of us walked out of class and marched across campus in solidarity and in protest. There were thousands of bodies standing, hugging, resisting; but above them were countless wriggling hands tightly wrapped around iPhones.
Here I am, on a charter bus to New York City, trying not to let the stranger next to me see me cry. I’ve already totally embarrassed myself thanks to the aggressive screams erupting from my stomach. I’m leaning against the window, stifling my sniffles. Anderson .Paak’s “The Dreamer” comes on, which is a dope song but makes it impossible for me to keep my cool. On my way to the city, there are two stops at Metro stations in northern Virginia.
Nothing reminds me how disgusting I am like the common cold. When I get sick, both my entire body and everything I touch become covered in a thin layer of mucus in some really twisted and slimy version of the Midas Touch. I get breakouts from cold sweats. I put what little hair I have into what can only be described as a “man bun.” I am physically repulsed by the thought of putting on pants that are not pajamas. When my nose is runny, I have to carry around an entire box of Kleenex and a plastic bag.
I recently mentioned Facebook-unfriending a Trump supporter from my high school in a tweet (Can you imagine a bigger millennial stereotype?). One of my former classmates tweeted back, “you unfriended someone just because they had a different political opinion than you?”
His statement reminds me a lot of those sappy social media posts about unity in the face of division. You’ve seen them, or something like them: a Facebook photo of a car that has both a Trump and a Clinton sticker captioned, “My husband and I don’t always agree, but we don’t let politics get in the way of our impassioned lovemaking! Don’t let the media fool you!! We can disagree as a nation and still all be intimately in love with one another.
“My mother taught me this trick. If you repeat something over and over again, it loses its meaning. For example, homework. Homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework, homework…See? Nothing.” — Phil Kaye, “Repetition”
After a comedy show, my friend tells me which jokes were “problematic.” Problematic.