Poverty, debt and obesity are complex and serious societal issues with multiple potential causes and no simple solutions. That’s why society looks for easy targets to blame.
Robots are also complex and serious, yet in a dramatically different way. Depending on the perspective, robots are either credited for creating awesome solutions or they are blamed for being evil humanity-lacking machines.
Before I delve into these issues, I feel the need to provide the following disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, health-care provider, financial advisor, sociologist, economist or technology specialist, and have no academic or professional credentials related to any of the topics in this article, especially robots.
Wal-Mart, McDonalds, Taco Bell and KFC causes poverty
Practically everyone I know who has had to work for a living, started in a low paying job. For me, it was a paper route at 11, followed by babysitting throughout my teens. There were a few seasonal, short-term or holiday jobs sprinkled in by the time I started working in retail consistently from 17 through my 20s.
During my time in retail, my work schedule spanned every possible hour of the day and night and every possible day of the week including weekends and holidays. Spending several exhausting hours serving customers or stocking shelves on late-night, early morning and graveyard shifts came with the territory. There was nothing glamorous about any of that work and for sure none of it was lucrative. That was my motivation to continue my education and pursue a more professional career path.
Though all (legal) jobs are noble, it was common-knowledge that food service, hospitality and retail employers provided low-skill workers an entry point to build from so they could eventually earn more than minimum wage. Obviously, that isn’t always as easily done as said. And in my case, even though I wasn’t officially below the poverty line, it took way longer to make career or earning progress than I would have liked.
While I completely believe that anyone working hard and doing the best he or she can with the hand they were dealt should be able to earn a fair or “living” wage, I don’t necessarily agree that it is fair to point the finger at businesses paying low wages as a cause of poverty.
Visa, Mastercard, Discover, AMEX and Nordstrom causes debt
I got my first credit card when I was 17 years old. Not because I had Kardashian-ish closet envy, but my mom thought I should start establishing credit as early as possible. She co-signed a department store credit card application so I could start doing just that. With the one low-limit card, along with my part-time job earnings I was able to apply for major credit cards on my own once I turned 18.
Now just because I had this new found financial independence didn’t mean I went on wild shopping sprees. Actually, I was always a frugal and conservative spender and had no interest in making purchases that I couldn’t pay off right away. There’s nothing exciting about living within your means (especially if those means are modest), but it sure is less stressful than trying to keep up with the joneses. In most cases, I only used credit as a convenience or for major non-consumer dept expenses such as education, vehicles or housing.
If someone buys too many Jimmy Choos or Minolo Blahniks he or she shouldn’t blame a piece of plastic.
McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Nabisco, Frito-Lay and M&M Mars causes obesity
When I was growing up, junk food was popular and prevalent. We gobbled up crap like crocodiles devour wildebeests. Questions like: “Would you like fries with that?” or “Would you like to super-size your order?” were always answered with “HECK YEAH!”
But it was rare to see any chubby, chunky, portly, stocky or FAT kids. If anyone did put on a few unwanted LBs, he or she simply slowed down the calorie intake and revved up the physical activity level. There weren’t piles of laws or meddling politicians monitoring serving sizes, vending machine options or menu ingredient lists. All of this was left up to individual product makers and consumers to decipher.
For the most part, people instinctively knew whether what or how much they were eating was considered healthy and not. Some may refer to this as common sense and personal accountability.
If someone eats too many burgers or donuts, that isn’t the drive-thru’s fault.
Taleo, iCims, Kenexa, SuccessFactors and Bullhorn causes bad candidate experience
Like most on this site, I’ve experienced my share of HRIS, LMS, ATS, CRM tools and technology. Some quite primitive and rudimentary, and some with more bells and whistles than a Mardi Gras parade.
The one constant with any of these or their counterparts, is that the end-user creates and controls the user-experience and user-interface. When these solutions are hoisted upon companies by vendors, they are usually not evaluated from that end-user experience perspective.
The decision-makers or those holding the checkbook, are often lured in by fancy and impressive functionality that may or may not enhance efficiency or effectiveness of what that tool is expected to deliver. However, that never crosses the mind of the ones being romanced by the robot. Just think about all of the big bucks this new robot will save the company, Mr or Ms C-something proudly smiles.
That’s why nothing ever changes. Not the product, not the way it is implemented and not the way it is configured. Garbage in garbage out is the standard operating procedure. And, everyone on the corporate side seems quite content.
Meanwhile, job seekers, applicants and candidates bemoan and badmouth these behemoth brands more than union organizers build backlash against WalMart. Bad candidate experience is just the beginning...
Talent-shortage, blame the robots!
Skills-gap, blame the robots!
High unemployment, blame the robots!
Discrimination, blame the robots!
Black-hole, blame the robots!