H.I. No. 19: Pit of Doom

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"Pit of Doom"
Hello Internet episode
Episode no.19
Presented by
Original release dateAugust 18, 2014 (2014-08-18)
Running time1:43:03
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"H.I. #19: Pit of Doom" is the 19th episode of Hello Internet, released on August 18, 2014.[1]

Official Description[edit | edit source]

Grey & Brady introduce themselves after 18 episodes, working in public on the Internet, humblebragging revisited, a list of words that we mostly can't say on the podcast, the sacred space of calendars and 8 ways robots will take your job.

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Are we ready to rock and roll? So I remember when we were about to record the first episode of series one, I said to you, should we like introduce ourselves and say who we are, in case people have no idea who we are, which is incredibly likely. And you said no and you made a very compelling case for not introducing ourselves in episode one. So we did so we didn't. And now, at episode 19, you're saying we should introduce ourselves. I am, I am, but I have a reason for that, which is today we have been featured on the iTunes store. So there is a greater likelihood that there are people who are listening to this episode as their first episode, who really have no idea who we are, who just clicked on a gray high button at the top of iTunes and are listening for the first time. Hello, welcome, if that's you. Hello. So I think that this is a, this is a good chance to maybe do a little bit of an introduction, I guess. How would you describe your job to people? What is it that you do, Brady? No, no, I'm not falling for that. When you said that we were had to introduce ourselves, I specifically said that you have to go first. I was trying to cut you off there. No, no, no, no, no, no. There is no plan. There is just the, I just don't want to sit and either talk about myself for like 25 minutes. And then have you say, I'm great, I'm at YouTube videos. Or I don't want to talk about myself for like eight seconds. And then have you talk for three hours about, you know, the childhood was like, so I want you to set the tone. So I know what to do. Okay, okay. Tell me, who are you? Do you come here often? Yes, I do come to this corner of the internet quite often. I am CGP and I guess the most concise way to describe what I do now for living is that I make informative YouTube videos that people watch. I guess that's the way I would describe what I do, but I always find it a little bit strange trying to describe what it is that I do. And I find it very awkward in some social situation sometimes. That's kind of why I actually want to know how do you handle this situation? What is it that you do? Describe, describe your job for me now. Like I'm a person who doesn't know you at all. If it's a stranger like someone cutting my hair or something and they ask what I do, I usually say I make YouTube videos because everyone knows what YouTube is. And then if they ask, oh, what kind of YouTube videos I say, kind of sciencey educational ones, sometimes they're about maths or chemistry and stuff, sometimes they're just about cool stuff. And then I don't know. I kind of see where it goes from there, but I just say I make YouTube videos. And people don't really care what other people do. People just want to talk about themselves. So I just give them the better minimum. And if they really care, they can ask more questions. And then, you know, like anyone, I'll talk about myself forever if they want me to. I remember I was going through US customs not that long ago. And I like going through US customs because they always like immigration, I should say, because they always ask you like lots of questions about yourself because like they have to. And it's really nice. Like, you know, they're like, what do you do on that YouTube videos or what kind of videos? And they ask like where you've been and what you're doing in the country. And they're like, they seem really interested. And then like your buddies. It feels like that sometimes. And then it all ends very abruptly. They're like, okay, and they just hand you passport back and show you away. But recently I was going through. And this guy was like, what do you do? I'm at YouTube videos. And then he was like, is it hard putting like videos on YouTube? And I'm like, no, no, it's pretty easy. And then he started asking me all these technical questions. And then he asked me about like GoPro cameras. And it turns that he was really into like kayaking. And then he got his iPhone out at the desk and immigration. He got his iPhone out and started showing me all his kayaking videos and asked me for like tips on how he was filming them and what he should do to put them on YouTube. And we were like, but he's by the end of that. I'm sure the people behind in the queue were pretty chased off. But I must have been there for a good five, 10 minutes just watching videos on his iPhone. This again, we are so different. I would find that both incredibly awkward and slightly terrifying. I always want to get through that customs gate as fast as possible. Let me on the other side of this gate, when I'm on the airplane side, I'm not on the you're in the countryside. I feel like there's only one good outcome here, which is walking through the gate. And there are many ways this can go wrong if the customs guy doesn't like you. Or if they just, you know, they're bored and they want to send you to the special room right for interrogation. I don't like the situation at all. And if the guy was talking to me for a very long time, I would just assume that he was stalling while the big beefy guys with guns are going to come out and take me away to some other place. That's what I would assume. To the special room. That's exactly it. No one's ever stopped me to show kayaking videos on their phone. These people are never chitchatty. The only thing I can assume is they're just stalling. So I would be very nervous. I would be very sweaty and twitchy at a point like that. And then of course, they would feel the need to interrogate because he's one of our friends. This is why I love talking to you because I always think I'm a really paranoid, worrying person. And then I talk to you and I realize I'm pretty jude. But I don't think that is paranoid and worrying. I think that that is the appropriate response to the situation of going through customs. Many bad things. And only one good thing to come out in that region. The only time I was a little bit worried going into the US was not that long ago. I made a video about how like mathematically how the NSA was cracking into people's emails. It was just about like the mathematics behind it. There was no political agenda. It was just a geeky video. But that was the first time it occurred to me. Maybe making that video has put my name on some watch list. And next time I go to the counter, they're just going to say, no, no, we don't want trouble makers like you here. You're like, you know, you're not patriotic or anything. And they were going to. But nothing happened. Getting back to what you do. So when you say I make these informative videos, where does the conversation usually go from there? Well, I'm realizing that I might be taking the wrong strategy here because I in person don't really like to talk about what I do. I feel like I would much rather move past this part of the conversation. And maybe it is, it's just like the customs situation. Maybe people can sense that because it seems to me that people are always very interested in what I do. And I end up trying to give vague answers or answers that are sort of true, but not exactly true. And then trying to move the conversation right along. But then people are much more interested. The way I would actually describe it right now, I make informative YouTube videos for a living. That's that's kind of what makes it sound like you make like safety videos like what should you do in an earthquake or how how how should you brush your teeth and things like that? And like I don't want to big you up or anything, but I think your videos are a bit better than that. They are a bit better than that maybe, but less helpful than that. I would say my videos are definitely less helpful than that. I'm not I'm not conveying any useful advice. I guess I guess usually my videos are about, I don't know geography, I guess, is a large part of what my videos are about, but they're not on any particular set topic. They're just sort of explaining something that I think is is interesting. And that I hope other people will think I would. I would I mean, you couldn't do this because it would it would sound too much like bragging. But if I was you if I was describing what you do, I would probably add a few words to your description. I would say, Oh, great. He makes like like quirky YouTube videos about, you know, trivial but fun things. You need to get words like quirky and trivia in there to to make it sound less like something that's worthy or something you have to watch at a workshop at your new job. Yeah, I guess it's it's funny as we're doing this this this little section here now. I realize I've never just I've never been in a situation where I really want to big up what I do. I haven't really given any public presentations or anything about what I'm doing. So I don't I haven't needed to write a formal interview. I guess at most of the time I find myself at like social gatherings just trying to avoid the issue, which as you mentioned, people like to talk about themselves. And my usual trick for getting around this in a conversation with somebody else, go for as long as you possibly can without asking the other person what it is they do. And it's surprisingly hard to do this. But I use this to my advantage in social situations where I don't really want to talk about my job. And so I will refuse to ask what the other person does for a living, forcing them to make the first move. So they say, Oh, what do you do for a living? And then I can kind of stumble through a terrible explanation that doesn't hopefully sound very interesting and then immediately end with, and what do you do for a living? And hopefully that avoids any follow-up questions. And often that works. Why do you not want to tell people what you do? You're you do a good thing and you're successful at it. It's it's strange working on the internet. I feel like I'm a relatively private person. And then when you do something that is on the internet in public that everybody can see, it sometimes leads to strange situations. So I had a couple of times when I was starting in my YouTube career and I was much more upfront about, Oh, what do you do? Oh, I make YouTube videos for a living. There were a couple of, well, let's gather everybody around the computer and watch your YouTube videos right now. And that situations. And that I find just horrifyingly awkward. I dodged a bullet at a family reunion once with that. There was a let's gather all of these people who you don't know anything about yet. You've just walked in the door. But there are going to be maybe 30 people who want to watch now. What you do for a living on the screen and we're all going to then talk about like it's so it's so uncomfortable. Something like that. So that's that's one of the reasons why I think I've I've toned down necessarily talking about what I do with with people that I don't know is like I don't want this to be a oh really tell me your website. Let me let me look at at at your work life. It's very, very strange I think being working on the internet where everybody can see what you do. It feels strange sometimes. So that's kind of why I avoid it. But don't you don't you have that sometimes do people ask to see your YouTube videos? No, I mean by then I've probably already shown them about five videos of my greyhound. So they're probably sick. Yeah, watching videos by then. So I think I think maybe I should try adopting your strategy which is to sound really into my own job and then people won't want to hear about it at all. Yeah, if you go oh let me show you some of my videos. People will be like oh wait let me get a refill on my drink first right and wander off to the kitchen and then they won't want to see it on. Maybe that's a better strategy. I might want it. I might want to try that. I have got one photo on my phone that I that I have like in a folder that I can get to quickly because it comes in really handy when when you have to talk about your work because because the problem is your work does sound you know your work can sound a bit boring and geeky when you start talking about science and I make things about chemicals and mathematics and that. So you make videos with explosion. Yeah, that's true. But the picture I keep on my phone is when we went and filmed inside the Bank of England Gold Bullion vote and the professor and I are standing in front of like all those billions and billions of pounds worth of gold. So I say oh yeah, we do I do videos like about the elements in chemistry and things and people like oh like how can you make that interesting? I know pull out the picture and go look at this. That's not interesting. You've got it all queued up on your phone. You're ready to just flash it right in their face. I wouldn't say I have it queued up but but and it's only if the conversation gets to a certain level of interrogation that I that I pull out the photo in my defense but but that I certainly wouldn't show someone one of my videos at a party. I think that would be a bit pretty dull for them but I find that I find the photo handy. One of the other things is that it's weird running a podcast because on this podcast one of the things that we often talk about is our work lives and so I do have this forum in a sense where I talk quite publicly about what I do or the behind the scenes of of how videos went or what I was thinking about when making them and you do the same thing you talk about some stories behind your work. So we have this Hello Internet podcast which is sometimes about work sometimes it's about nothing very much at all sometimes we're just following up on things that have happened before. We do seem to spend a lot of time talking about flags these days. Well that was just one episode. Oh no two episodes I think it happened now. It was it was an episode and just some follow-up but that wasn't a real episode. We have to do some more flags in the future but yes I think the for new listeners who have made it thus far if you haven't. Yeah if you if you've made it this fact you probably haven't figured out where the stop button is. Yeah that's quite possible. The show is called Hello Internet and it is it is a little bit I think of it as like a conversation with the listeners. We talk about stuff and then we read all the comments and the feedback and there's a very active forum where people participate and it's very much a back and forth with the audience but I do think that the the little bit of a running joke is that the show is really should be called two dudes talking subtitle. It's not waffling it's an amazing amount of content so sometimes we do wander on a little bit but we do sometimes get to the actual topics of the show but that's that's what this podcast is I guess. I don't know how would you describe this podcast? I feel like I just did a terrible job. I think I don't know it's it is it's just two guys here about YouTube videos talking but not necessarily about YouTube videos all the time. True true. 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So once again that offer code is Hello Internet all one word and we want to thank Squarespace for their support. Squarespace everything you need to create an exceptional website. Traditionally and I don't think we should break from tradition just because you're wary that maybe a couple of new people are listening. Traditionally we start with a bit of follow up. We haven't got a lot of follow up from previous episodes thankfully because we we cleared the decks with the last episodes epic follow up. Two hours follow up. There is zero follow-up now. No no no we've got some follow-up. I just want you to know that the word humble brag which has been something we've talked about a bit lately has apparently made it into the dictionary. The is it the Oxford English dictionary or one of those? I was going to ask you which dictionary? No I don't know who cares. Once a year they have their marketing PR stunt where they say here are five new words we've put in the dictionary. That's not a marketing stunt Brady that's that's them updating the language. Yeah whatever. But humble brag did make it in. Some people thought maybe it was because maybe they were reacting to it being on the podcast. Oh I'm sure they were. I'm sure they were. We talked about it two weeks ago and then this week they decide it's it's time to put it in the dictionary. I'm absolutely sure that's how that works. That's too much of a coincidence I think it must be us. I think we can be much more much more confident about it when Brady typing the synonym for hunt and peck typing makes it into the Oxford English dictionary. Then I think we can claim much more credit but humble brag or they at least or they at least update or add to the definition of free booting. That will be that will be my crowning glory. Yes. I will retire from trying to thrust new words upon the world when that happens. I had a little thing on Twitter a couple of days ago where I was I was trying to get people to come up with two word humble brags. Could they make an entire humble brag in two words? Yeah I'm not I'm not yeah I'm not going to harp on it but what it did do is it highlighted to me yet again that a lot of people haven't grasped what a humble brag is and if you haven't go back and listen to the last episode where Gray complains for a little bit too long about people not understanding it you must understand what the humble brag is there must be the self-deprecation. Was it too long and that entirely sure it was too long? No actually it was reasonably concise that was unfair it was concise. Actually I'm trying to look it up now to see what Oxford it was the Oxford English dictionary I want to see what they wrote for the humble brag definition. Yeah well let me see let me just see if I can pose up quickly. That's a good idea actually. Oh look at this I like this already okay so according to Oxford English dictionary it is an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud. That's pretty much how we defined it. I think that is almost exactly our definition. They do listen. They stole it from the show. Yes they free voted it. Yeah even that's not free-boding. Even the use of ostensibly there which I think is the real key word for the whole brag. Yes we didn't use that word that does I did use that word did you use that word in the last one that's why we can say that I used self-deprecating so together we joined forces to create that definition which was then just shamelessly stolen by the Oxford English dictionary in the space of a few days and put into their dictionary. Oxford English dictionary thumbs up from me I like that definition. Good definition very good I was a little worried. They should go into that dictionary thing for all time maybe. Speaking of lists of words one other little piece of follow-up. Last episode we talked about the list I was creating of swear words and flag words and words that cause problem problems in the YouTube comments that I was sort of using as watch words that I could you know make sure nothing inappropriate was happening. Yeah you were making basically a a blacklist for words that people can't say in the comments. I don't want to call it a black list. I want to call it more a flag list because if those those words can be used completely appropriately. I'll give you a very real example actually because it's something I'm quite happy to talk about because the person involved has talked about it. Professor Polliakoff in my chemistry videos on periodic videos has shaky hands and it's just a family trait. He hasn't got like a medical problem or anything. A lot of people will put oh has this guy got you know Parkinson's or something like that making inappropriate comments about his medical condition. He has spoken in videos about it. He said don't worry everyone I know I've got shaky hands my health is fine. Stop worrying about it but sometimes people make really inappropriate comments about it. So for example I have in some cases put the word like Parkinson's or shaky into the onto the list and that's not because I don't want people to use the word shaky but if they are using the word shaky I think maybe I should have a quick look to make sure they haven't said his hands are shaky and then gone into some dire tribe about a bunch of inappropriate things. So it's not they're not it's not a black list. It's you tell me what it is. It's a list of words for me to keep an eye on. Yes but also considering that you have thousands of videos and tons of comments it is probably the best name for it is the an enormous amount of work for Brady list of checking over these comments. You must have how many do you have a day to approve or check out how how much work is this for you? I don't know because I don't go into every channel every day but it's not it's not too it's not too bad because the list isn't that long which brings me to the follow-up. Yes. Someone has emailed in a list which I don't know if we're supposed to have this or not but it's from a famous company and it's their list of words that aren't allowed to be used in its kind of materials and codes and things like that. It's a technology company and and it was sent and that's a spreadsheet and it's not just the list of words each word is a portion to like a waiting of how bad it is and there's a big discussion of the word and there's actions to be taken if the word is found under what circumstances is okay under what circumstances is it to be eliminated and it is completely fascinating. Yes so I've just opened up this spreadsheet that you sent me which is enormous. The file size is 1.4 megabytes and if there's a few thousand words on it. Yeah if I scroll down if I scroll down to the bottom of the spreadsheet on my computer here it's almost 7000 words long of words that this company wants to check up on. The last word on the list is zipper sniffers which is offensive I guess. It is offensive but I just thought it was funny because words starting with Z at funny. Yes I'm looking through this part part of this is boy. I did not know how many words are offensive and I'm learning so many new words from this list. There are a lot of road words. Yeah but words I have no idea what they mean and then I have to scroll over to the side and it doesn't it's irritating because this company does not it does not tell you what the word means it just tells you the action to be taken under particular context and I'm looking at some of these and I think I don't know what that word means. I would like to know. Tell you a bit. Sometimes it tells you a bit. It doesn't tell you like the definition it would just say oh this word is a profanity and we don't accept words at this but that's with words that are rude and that is a shame for us because we can't learn what these rude words mean but there are some words where there is a very very long discussion of the word and like like a CGP P-Grey video scripts worth of discussion on the word. For example Samoa is a word here on the list so there's a lot of words that are to do with politics or geography which I'm sure would take your fancy but so you know regions or places where you know I've con the contentious places like the Focland Islands and things like that but I've just I've just stumbled upon Samoa and there's a whole little description about why it's on the list you know the protectorate of Germany Samoa was known as German Samoa from 1919 14 when New Zealand occupied the islands in 1914 they became commonly known as Western Samoa so and there'll be this whole long and it continues so there's so for countries or places where people could be offended by what you call it. These are on the list as well so and there are also lots of when I first started looking at the list another thing I noticed were there were lots of numbers on the list and sometimes it was a number that like you know spells a rude word like boobies or something like that but there are other ones that are to do with you know laws or codes that are used for drug use and things like that so this is clearly a list that has been made over a long time and a lot of thought has got into and it is interesting reading. Yeah I would be I would be very curious to know how how many years worth of compilations of every possible piece of feedback they've ever gotten from any of their products where someone says oh I don't like your use of this word in this situation and then up someone goes and adds another row to this enormous spreadsheet about what they should do under under particular circumstances. Guess what I just found on the list. What did you find? Holland. Holland. Oh yeah what do they say about Holland? It is to be left unchanged under most circumstances but it is to be replaced with Netherlands when it is used to refer to the country of the Netherlands and their little description is although commonly used to refer to the country of the Netherlands Holland is actually only refers to the western region of the Netherlands the two provinces in this region are called North Holland and South Holland the official names of the country are Netherlands short form and Kingdom of the Netherlands long form. Say look how quickly they did that and you made a great big long video about it. Yeah that's much better than my video that's a little bit of a bad thing. I should have just posted a video saying that. You should have. That would have gotten a million views. Well yeah there you go. Thank you to the person who sent that list who I won't name. Just in case we're not supposed to have it. Yes. But it is fascinating. Yeah and just as a tease I would totally love to be able to post this so that everybody listening could look at it because it is very interesting but it has to be our little secret so that's just for us. But yes thank you to whoever sent it in. Before we crack on can I have a Brady's paper cut this week? Yeah yeah what do you want to complain about? This week's paper cut it's more of a paper grays because I don't want to create the impression I get too upset about it especially as you are one of the main offenders in this area. Oh wow okay. What do I do that annoys you? Curious? No well it's not limited to me but I do this. Yeah and I don't want to come across I don't want it to come across the wrong way. This week's paper cut from me. I'm getting ready for like I don't know I actually don't know what these things are called which probably ads is probably going to add to the gray the robot versus Brady the caveman element of this. I don't like it when people send you emails with these attachments in it that when you click on them they put something into your calendar automatically. Oh yes. These are these appointment things. That seems that seems inappropriate to me and I don't like it like if if you and I were at you know 15 years ago we're at a coffee shop or whatever they had 15 years ago and we agreed that we were going to go and see a movie on Tuesday night. You wouldn't then reach over and grab my diary and turn to the page of Tuesday and handwrite the appointment in. That would be my responsibility. That's my space and my thing to write in. But everyone always sends you when you agree to make them or do something they send you these attachments and it's like you click on it and then like some voodoo witchcraft happens and stuff's being written in your calendar. You didn't write. I like that. Yeah. voodoo witchcraft. I was thinking I've never done that but as you were talking I realized of course very often when we schedule when we are going to record one of these episodes I put it in my calendar and then there's a little location on it to say who else is participating in this and I type in your name and I don't even think about it. I don't even see it but I guess the computer just emails you automatically because I realized you have vaguely complained about this before and I haven't paid much attention. Sorry. It's okay. I'm happy to ignore it and you're not the only person who sends them and now I realize you didn't even realize you're sending them. But and I do understand the usefulness of them and if I was you know you know I see the point of it I just don't like it. What? I'm not comfortable with it. Can I ask you something? You can. Why do you click it? I mean you must you must know that by now that the little card I can't bother email. I don't click them anymore. I've only ever clicked them once or twice in my life. I don't click them but I still get sent them. Okay so you're not you're not complaining that it writes in your account. You're complaining that it exists. Well I tell you another reason I do sometimes click them and you're not guilty of this but sometimes you have to click them to get the information that you need about the appointment. Oh well that's just poor emailing skills on the part of the other person. So you know if you need the phone number or the code for a conference call or where the meetings happening you've got to click on this thing and then as soon as you click on it they've put an entry in my diary. That's my space. Stay out of that. With your foodie which craft? You just put foodie which craft explicit computer instructions to do something on your behalf. So how do you feel about them like when you get sent them? I have arranged my life in such a way so that I very rarely have to take a meeting of any kind which I think is a big difference between your working life and my working life. So this is not any kind of issue for me. It is very very rare that I have to schedule some kind of meeting at a particular time and that is on purpose. So this is not a big issue for me. I don't I don't see very many of those cards because I don't schedule very many meetings. I can vouch for that getting you to commit to me anywhere or do anything bloody nightmare. It's true. I'm sorry. I fully admit that I am a very difficult person to work with sometimes. I know. I'm going to choose a word from this rude list to describe you. I'm going to take offense at that and then there will be another row in that spreadsheet of what to do. You are a hunchback. I'm going to shut this list down because it's too tempting for me just to drop in words from all the way through the podcast. Fair enough. You do what you want. I have no control over your computer screen. I have no voodoo witchcraft to force you to shut down the screen. I don't know because you're so much more technically savvy than me. I don't know that even just making the Skype call hasn't given you access to things I don't want you. Are you going through my files right now? Well, you think it's magic when you leave the camera on and I can still see what you're doing. You forget to turn it off. How did you see that? You left your camera on as I like to see it. That's just me not knowing. I hadn't turned it off. Anyway, can you see me right now? No, I can't see right now. You remember to turn on the camera this time. That's good. I don't have to put my shirt back on then. I am wearing a shirt. Well, you know, it's been a busy week for CGP Grey when he lets me do the advertisement, but here we go. This week we'd like to thank the good people at Harry's. Now, you probably know who Harry's are by now. They're the people that make these razor sets with replacement blades you can order online. And they say they're all about giving you a great shaving experience. And I'm 100% on board with anyone who wants to improve any experience I'm having. Now, these razors are much better than the ones you see on TV, like in these ads for Gillette that look like these ridiculous props from a Transformers movie. The Harry's razors are very calm, very classy. They come with this kind of understated but elegant packaging and the handles for the razors themselves are kind of nice and weighty, well balanced, which I think is important in a razor, but thought do I know. Now, if you go to the Harry's website and are checking them out, I personally endorse and favour the Winston, which is the one that has the sort of silvery aluminium handle. Very nice, matches my bathroom well, although you're probably not trying to buy a razor to match my bathroom, but anyway, go for the Winston if you want my advice. Also with the Winston, I think you can have your initials engraved into it, which is a nice touch. But luckily for me, it comes by default with an H for Harry's on the handle and my surname's Harron, so I'm sorted. All of this aside, the most important thing with Harry's I think is the cost. They're all about keeping it affordable and the replacement blades come in at less than $2 each and they're really good blades made in Germany. You know they're good if they're made in Germany. Check them out at harries.com. It's free just to go on the look at the website and if you're seduced by the lovely products and decide to go ahead and buy one, enter the code H I when you check out and you'll get a $5 discount, which with products this cheap is a pretty big chunk of the price. As far as I know, they're only delivering in the United States and Canada so far and US military locations if you're listening from there, but hopefully that'll be changing soon because I might be needing some roof heels here in the UK. The website again, harries.com and the code H I so you get that discount and the people at Harries know you came from here at our podcast and by the way for people who based on previous ads have already bought from harries and sent me photos of their product. Thank you very much. Who would have ever thought I'd end up doing a job where people send me photos from their bathrooms. Let's talk about your video though because it was really interesting. It was excellent. As always, it's been hugely successful, deservedly so. Congratulations. Thanks. But I also hope we maybe we talk some more about it. I mean, it's 15 minutes long though. I mean, you covered most of the bases I'd imagine, but there are probably a few things. I'm sure I'll have a few questions about it. I'd like to point out a few mistakes you made. And I'm sure there are lots of things you'd like to say about it. But for those who haven't seen it, what was this video about? This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart and has been on my mind for I was trying to place one that started and I can actually put it pretty consistently out about a decade ago when I was in college and came across a few things. And the topic of the video is basically about to what extent is automation and computer technology going to replace the need for human labor in the economy. That is the broadest way to put it. Or in a more simple way, you can say robots. Are they going to take your jobs? That's that's kind of the more direct version of what the video is about. And my you should have called it that you called. I mean, you gave it an excellent title. Humans need not apply. But I like the robots title too. Profites they took our jobs. You should have called it. If you're going to be really clickbaited, you should have put you should have called it eight ways that robots will take your jobs. Yes, yes, I could have really buzzed feed it up there. You missed a trick there. It could have been a list video. Just imagine how many more views it would have gotten. The sad thing is it almost certainly would have gotten more. Definitely. Well, it's still in pretty well though, so I don't comply. You're under a million already. I have to say I'm yeah, I'm pleasantly surprised. I had no expectations for this one, so I'm pretty happy. But so I mean, it's a long video. I had lots of stuff in it. I mean, where do we even start talking about? Yes, I don't completely agree. That's going to be my position. Okay. Let me start with this. My position is basically that this is a really big deal coming down the road. How much automation is going to be in place in the labor market and how much humans are going to be finding it very difficult to compete with machines. That's my basic thesis. I think the most interesting place maybe to start this discussion is talking about the self-driving cars. To me, that is the one thing where I look at this and I really think a lot of things kind of hinge on the self-driving cars and it really is a place where people are going to see this in their daily life in a way that lots of other kinds of automation is hidden from view. So I spent just tons of time researching and looking up different kinds of automation and contacting companies and there's an enormous amount of stuff that is going on. But it is all hidden from view. It's in warehouses, it's in labs. I've gotten some interesting anonymous emails from people who work in automating systems talking about what they're up to. It's all behind the scenes. But the self-driving car, which I really think people should call an auto, I'm going to try to make that a thing. Speaking of Oxford English dictionary, are you listening? I would very much like auto to be your new word to me in a self-driving car. Was that your kind word? Review borrowed that from someone else you say using it, calling it just an auto? As far as I know, I'm going to call myself coining this as we have discussed many times on the podcast. It would not surprise me in the least if somebody else independently has come up with this coinage. But I really think that you need a different word to describe self-driving cars. And I spent a while thinking about it. In my original version of the script, I had it as automobiles. I thought, oh, we should go back to the older term automobiles. But I thought, oh, I don't like that because it just didn't feel right. So I thought, actually, auto is make a lot more sense. And it leans into this whole notion of they are automatic, transport machines. They are fundamentally different from cars. So I don't know about that. There are some, it does feel right. I think you've chosen a good word, but I see problems with it too. For a start, people will refer to their cars as auto as if they've got an automatic or a manual car. But I have never heard of anyone use that phrase. Like, for example, like if you buy, when you buy a new car, I've said, I heard people say, oh, did you get an auto or a manual? I know, yeah, I got an auto. Maybe this is an Australian thing. I've only heard Americans refer to them as automatics. I'll be curious to hear from listeners. I mean, you're looking classified advertisements that are often would often, maybe it's Australian, but in classified advertisements that often be called auto partly because it just saves you letters. I was going to say that, but that's, you know, you're trying to save a dollar or a letter on that. Yeah, but then, but then that then becomes the word, doesn't it? Like, that's how words sometimes abbreviation start. Yes, that's true. That's true. Anyway, anyway, we're getting off track, but it's a good name. It's a good name. It's a good name for it, but I'm not, I see problems with it, but it's a cool name. Anyway, just because, just because that's the most obvious place that we see this transition happening, why is that the most important? So what I think is important about auto is coming into daily life. So as we know right now, self-driving car, it works. This is not a technical problem. We are not imagining a future world where there will be self-driving cars that work. We already have them. I know it's very interesting. I've read a lot of, the first hand accounts of people who have driven in them, and particularly the Google cars, which have more or less free reign up and down the California coast and throughout San Francisco. And they totally work. And the safety record now is better than human drivers over the equivalent distance. It's really quite impressive. So my perspective on this is that the rollout of autos now is really much more of a legislative barrier. It is no longer a technical barrier. And interestingly, there are a few states that already have legislation in place to, I think, next year make it legal for there to be self-driving cars on the road. Florida is one of those states. I think was Florida. I may have this wrong off the top of my head, but I think the other one was Nevada. So this is definitely coming. And the reason why I think it's important is it's an undeniable place where human labor will just not be as necessary. So once you have a fleet of autos in a city, you don't need taxi drivers. And there's lots of taxi drivers. And they are going to be pushed out of this particular field of work. And the other reason why I like to use autos, because it's a broader term is think about all of the kinds of machines in the world that need to move around. And have human drivers. So one of the other examples are tractors and plows in farm equipment. There's some very interesting videos I've seen again of automated farming equipment. Just driving around harvesting corn. There happens to be a person in there, but he is not driving. And then the other one that was very, very interesting is Caterpillar, which is the mining manufacturing company. They are all in on automated machines. They have this whole system. And you can go and watch their promo videos. And they already have these enormous bulldozers and trucks and mining equipment, none of which requires humans to be in it. And the whole system requires the barest of oversight from humans. So there are all of these different areas. And to me, the thing that's important about this is like this is the first wave where it's very concrete. People can understand it. And from my perspective, the question that really needs answering is, what are you going to do when the three million people who work in the transportation industry, suddenly find themselves unemployed, possibly over the space of five years, when cars come out, I don't know how fast it will actually be, but I bet it will be pretty fast because it will be just so much cheaper. There'll be a big incentive to use autos. And I feel like that is a moment where we as a society have to come to a question about, what are you going to do with all of these people who are suddenly unemployed? And this is not unprecedented. New technologies have come along before that have done this. You talk yourself about the transition from horses to the original autos, the automobile. We've seen that transition. We saw computers come along and really heavily automate things that used to be done in ledges and calculating people and bookkeepers. We've seen wave after wave of this. And it is upheaval and is traumatic for millions of people. But the world keeps spinning and by and large, people keep eating and adapting. But I know you are arguing maybe this scale is greater than before, but I don't know. Maybe they say that every time, we're never going to see change like this again. The introduction of the computer or the introduction of the motorcar, this is the biggest change they could ever be. And then you look back 20 years later, 30 years later. And it's like, yeah, that was a big change. And things changed and we're all still here. And I could just see that happening again with these self-driving cars. Yeah, I think actually the best comparison to make along these lines is actually the thing that I opened my video with very on purpose is talking about the transition from agricultural work into non-agricultural work. And so I went back, I have some very helpful people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics help me out with some of this stuff. But if you go back to the 1800s, I think it was about 80% of the population. Maybe it was 90% of the population was directly involved in food production. That the number of people who did anything other than work on a farm or directly service farms was just a tiny portion of the population. And I think you could totally make the same claim, go back at that point in time and tell people about, okay, well, we're going to have improvements in farming technology, which are going to allow fewer and fewer people to produce more and more food. And people could say, well, what is everybody going to do? And obviously, we got through that transition just fine because we're here now. So I totally acknowledge that this has been a kind of rallying cry very many times throughout history. And there is even a name for it. The official name is the Ludite fallacy, which is the position that, or actually I'm just not sure if I'm going to get this backwards. But I think if you believe in the Ludite fallacy, you believe that technology reduces the number of jobs. I think that's the right way around. Sorry, internet, if it's the wrong way around. But there's a name for this term. And one of the reasons why I think that is fundamentally different this time is because I look at it this way, you say, all right, we have all these different categories of work that humans can do. Humans can sell their straight up physical labor. You can have a guy dig a ditch. Just muscle power. Yeah, just straight up muscle power. You can be barely cognitively functioning and you can still dig a ditch. And then you move up that you keep moving up into things like white collar work as, you know, okay, well, now this is a thinking person's work. And as a general statement, the economy has transitioned from in the first world anyway, physical labor jobs into more intellectual labor jobs. Jobs that require some kind of thinking. And I actually put driving a car in the category of jobs that require some kind of thinking. We don't think of it that way, but you need to have a mentally alert person to drive a car or an ambulance. It is like the lowest kind of thinking job perhaps because I know I've driven quite a lot across the country and you listen to audiobooks, you know, your mind, you don't have to focus like you're a doctor, for example. You don't want the doctor listening to audiobooks while he's doing your surgery. Like, oh, that was good. If you're a doctor listening to this podcast, please stop listening to this podcast if you are performing surgery at this point. I do not recommend that. But labor review. Yeah, I know I'm with you. Yeah, drivers, you know, they've got to be smart, no rules and laws. It's some kind of it's some kind of level of intellectual labor. And so my perspective on this is that that basically our machines for almost all of human history were just shockingly dumb. They had no cognitive abilities, whatsoever. And that we are just getting to the point now where machines are able to compete on a cognitive level with some humans. And that's and that's where you talk about a self-driving car in very many ways. It is a brain competition with humans, which makes it fundamentally different from all kinds of machines that came before. You build a better plow. You know, that plow is not any smarter than the plow that was made of sticks. If it's made of metal. It's just physically stronger. Might be. Yeah. It's just physically stronger. It's bigger. I had this I had this whole bizarre section that I cut. I think quite rightly, which was on the progress of flower mills over time and how like the production, it's like, and then I looked at this later, like, what am I writing this for? I cut this whole thing. Sounds like they're hilarious. They're like, I'm in a podcast moment. They're like, I go for a tangent. That's exactly. Yeah. But there is a little clip of a flower mill that I still left in there anyway. But it's like a bigger, better flower mill is not fundamentally different from a primitive flower mill. Yeah. And that's why people who say, like, oh, I'm just engaging the Luddite fallacy when I talk about this stuff. This to me is the real difference. It's like, OK, well, humans have two kinds of labor to sell, physical labor, which we've been basically getting rid of. And we cross that threshold, I guess at the time of the the labor almost didn't way that that the machine started being able to outdo humans physically. And then when all the cars and things came along. So that threshold has been crossed. You're saying there's another threshold now. The intellectual threshold. Yeah. I'm saying it's the intellectual threshold. And and that to me is is the real difference. And part part of the reason why I am I am concerned is and I think this is this is a bit of a it's a bit of an uncomfortable conversation to have sometimes. But I look at it another example of a machine that is competing cognitively with humans on a on a low level are the self checkout machines that you see everywhere now in supermarkets and stores. I mean, this is one of the things that really made me start thinking I need to make this video is I saw a bunch of stores around me transition to self checkout machines. Man, I hate those things. They can be sure annoying. Like don't get me wrong. There are there are troubles and problems with them. But it doesn't seem to the fact that yeah, they're more economically efficient. And I did a tally of some of the places that I visit. And in you know, in one of the supermarkets in London alone, I counted it up and I was like, Oh, okay, I just realized these these machines replaced about 40 checkout registers in this one huge supermarket in London that I go to. And looking at all of the other places and like, Okay, I know that there used to be five people at the desk over there. And now there's one. You know, not not every place is doing this, but enough places are doing it. And then I think, Okay, well, the self checkout machines are here. We're going to have autos doing the same kind of things start pushing people out of the labor market with taxis and all the rest of it. The uncomfortable thing to me is what is it that we're going to have these people do that a machine won't be able to do better? Because if you take someone whose job is retail or you take someone whose job is long haul trucking, what are you reasonably going to do with millions of people who used to do those jobs? And how are you going to transition them to something else when all of this kind of work can be automated when the machines keep getting better and better and can compete with humans on different levels. And I sometimes get mad because I get into arguments with people who keeps saying things like, Oh, you know, they'll they these people they'll go get educated. They'll go to college or they'll learn how to become app developers for the app store or they'll learn how to make web pages or you know, they'll learn how to do all of these things. And I always feel like that's a nice story to tell yourself. And maybe some of those people will do that. But when you start talking about numbers in the millions of people, you're not going to transition a million guys who were truck drivers into white collar work somewhere in an office. I think we have to face the fact that that is that is not practical. And if I mean, yeah, you're you make the case brilliantly. It both now and in your video. And quite possibly you're right. But I may very well be wrong. I always want to be clear about this. I'm very open to the notion of being wrong. Is it possible? This is also a failure of your imagination. I mean, 200 years ago, if you'd gone to those people plowing the fields and said, don't worry, because in 200 years, we'll all be working in call centers and this and that. That'd be like, what's a call center? Or there's going to be this invention called the telephone and then this and then that and then this and their heads would explode. Are you not just like that person in the field 200 years ago? And in 200 years, you'll look at all the jobs people are doing and go, well, I would never even thought of that. And of course, the machine can't do that yet, because I had thought of it. I mean, this is maybe maybe I'm clinging onto a wispy thread of hope. And there isn't going to be an invention or things that would do this. But it's always happened before. Yes, it has always happened before. And there's it's funny because when I first transitioned from being a teacher into being a YouTube explainer person, as I do now, I guess, I remember I was very fascinated with the new economy and all these these kinds of jobs that have been coming up. I think like, wow, I'm making a full-time living now on YouTube. And at the time, that wasn't even five years old that the whole idea that there were ads on YouTube and YouTube would share the revenue with the people who make the videos that didn't even exist for very long at the time that I started it. It was it was quite amazing to me that there's this new kind of work that could happen. And I started looking around at all different kinds of look at all these new jobs. Isn't this interesting? There are people who make apps for the iPhone. There's all this kind of stuff. One of the things that I thought one day was, huh, I wonder how many people make a living on YouTube full-time. How many people are like me around the world? And if you're on the inside of YouTube, you can do some ballpark numbers that are harder to do on the outside. But you can gather data about the views on channels. And there's a whole bunch of stuff you can do. The bottom line is my back of the envelope calculation was not talking about companies like Disney who happened to be on YouTube and not talking about channels like Vivo that happened to be on YouTube. But people whose job is like mine making YouTube videos. How many people like that can there be around the world? My ballpark was maybe somewhere around 2000 people. And so that that was kind of my guess about that. I feel really exclusive now. Yeah, I know where yeah, it's very very cool. The other thing that actually this is something I want to talk about in a future podcast. But there've been a bunch of interesting articles making their way around the internet right now about how many people make a full-time living developing applications for iPhone and iOS on Apple. Yeah, so like the app store is this huge market. And they always have these comical numbers about, you know, there's 20 zillion apps in the app store. And then the question is, okay, but how many people make a full-time living at that? Again, not companies, but individuals. And I haven't seen anybody try to ballpark it. I'd be really curious if somebody could. But the clear thing from these articles is that the number of independent developers making a living on the app store is a tiny number of people. It is a very small number of people. So when I was thinking about realizing how few people did YouTube, I had this growing suspicion that while there are many new kinds of jobs, I don't think that those new kinds of jobs employ a significant amount of people. And again, through some people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this information was confirmed to me that basically jobs that are new within the last hundred years are very small portions of the workforce. And if you look at what people do, they are jobs that have been around for a long time in one form or another. And so that's why I worry that this refrain of new jobs will come and save us doesn't strike me as being born out by the data. Actually, there are very few new jobs over time. And a lot of the old jobs that make up about half the labor force seem to be easy targets for automation, like within our grasp right now for stuff that works in the labs. So that's kind of my thoughts on the new jobs thing. Something, apologies if this was covered in the video, but it's not something I took away from the video. And it might be a really naive question because I know you're a bit more of a with sort of economics and things like this than me. But another thing that I thought might save our bacon was this. You know, I want things that save our bacon. So please, please go right ahead. And I don't and I'm sure there's somebody, you know, normal word for this and you'll laugh at me for even saying it. But I am not stupid and I realize that companies will maximize their profits and automate and automate and cut down their labor force as much as they can to squeeze every last penny out of out of their business. But does they come a point where they make so many people unemployed and society could fall into such ruin that they actually can no longer they start hurting their customer base. And therefore they start employing people just to sustain themselves. For example, if McDonald's could completely automate the cooking process completely and you just went to an ATM to get your cheeseburger. If eventually there was just no one working anymore and no one had money, there'd be no one left to buy the cheeseburgers. Is there kind of a self-correcting element to the economy as a whole where business won't completely thrash society into the ground because they need society to sustain their business? Okay. So you've actually jumped to the thing that I was going to talk about at the end. But I think let's do it now. So this comes right to the right to the point where I am on board with you that that one of the reasons why I made this video is I wanted to contribute to a general conversation of talking about what are we going to do with masses of unemployed people. And under the current system, you are kind of right that we you can't have a system where almost nobody is employed but there are still massive companies. It gets very strange economically very quickly. There are ways under which it can work but yes, there are certainly problems with very high unemployment rates. But at some point, I don't know what the time frame is going to be. We will be in a world where technology is just so advanced that basically all of human labor is almost irrelevant. That would be my prediction. That might be a hundred year time frame, a two hundred year time frame when we're talking about literally no humans need to work to do anything. For those who haven't seen Grey's video as well, you talked about newspaper articles being written automatically and things like that, things that we don't even think are ridiculous to be done automatically actually are happening automatically already. Yes, writing music, doing legal work, there's all kinds of terrifying stuff that's being done that way. So here's the thing. If we could magically jump to that point, I feel like, well, that's not really your problem if all human labor is not required because then you're in what is called a post scarcity economy where our current economy is set up as a way to manage limited resources. We exchange money for goods and services because you have a limited amount of time and there's a limited amount of production that can happen. This is the story of all of human history. But if you transition to a place where robots can grow your food and they can run the solar plants to generate the electricity to run the robots, then suddenly why would people pay for anything if you can have automation just 100% of the way? That's like a nice fantasy land. Am I- We just sit by the pole and drink cocktails. Yes, it's like the Wally world. The robots are taking charge of everything and we get nice and fat in our luxury spaceship. But I'd love to be in that world by the way. Maybe not so fat, I'd be in a treadmill, but hopefully there'd be drugs to make me skinny. But anyway, that's the very sad trail here. I don't want to actually have to run on a treadmill in 200 years. But my concern, and I have to say, I am- so I am to be clear here, I am very long-term optimistic on humankind. I am very short-term worried for exactly the kinds of problems that you bring up, which is what happens as the unemployment rate goes up? Because there are all of these incentives for companies to automate work and to increase the unemployment rate. And any company that doesn't go along with this, it's like a tragedy of the common situation, or it's a- I don't know if it's better as a prisoner's limit, but like the one company that doesn't go along with it just pushes itself out of business faster because it's competing with cheaper companies. So that you can't hold back this tide. And so I don't think that there is a self-correcting factor. And I think we're in an interesting position where, okay, we're standing in today's society, and you can look at maybe a quasi-utopian future. But between us and there is a pit of doom of dangerous situations, because you cannot have, if you imagine, particularly American society, exactly as it is now, but you turn the unemployment dial up to 50%, that's riots in the streets level of unemployment, right? That is people can't get food, this is a huge problem, levels of unemployment. And so this is my concern about what are we going to do in the transition phase? And I'm going to very, very conservatively say this transition phase is like a- at most, like a 20-year phase that we need to be worried about. I actually, my gut feeling is this is more of a like a 10-year time frame that we need to be worried about this stuff. But there is definitely a human tendency to overestimate change in the short run and then to underestimate change in the long run. So I may be a little bit that- those numbers may be shorter than they really are, but that's kind of what I mean by- I am short-term worried, which is a 20-year time frame, but long-term, very optimistic. I think all of this stuff is good, but there's a lot of problems with this. Start- you were going to ask me something? How do you know that? I can hear you breathing. You're like- you're like my wife. I'm watching you on the Skype right now. Yeah, I'm covering the camera just in case. The thumb, the whole time. You're like my wife, though. She can just tell from the way like I jiggle my knee exactly what I'm about to say. You're turning into that. This won't be a very popular thing to suggest, but- I'm sure something that you know is often talked about. Could there be- could legislation or regulation be the key here? Is there a reason that governments couldn't come to I rescue and ban a certain level of automation for- just for the greater good? Yeah, so this- this is the reverse problem of the company situation. And yeah, well here's my view on technology. I think- technology is almost- or technological progress, I should say, is- it's almost like a nuclear reaction that in that once it gets started, it is going to keep spiraling and there is nothing that you can do to kind of hold this back. As long as you have groups of people anywhere in the world, this is a kind of reaction that is going to occur and it takes place faster. And the situation with trying to ban or limit technology or what I mentioned in the video is talking about unions try to do this same thing to hold back the progress of society in some ways. It's like a terrible way of phrasing unions. I don't mean that unions have always been holding. I hate these weekends in this 40-hour work week. It's just terrible. That was how I meant to say. But you know what I mean? Trying to limit the amount of jobs being lost. And even if say in America, you convinced the country to legally prohibit something like the thing that I showed which is the backster robot, which is a very human-like robot that can do a lot of very simple tasks. And we're just banning that kind of stuff. And then the United States through tremendous political pressure convinces its NATO allies to all join on board and then it starts leaning on the world organization. The more people that you get to sign on to technology ban, the more valuable the technology is to the countries that don't sign on. That's all you have done is make it more valuable for the people who don't want to participate in this ban. And then the, oh, we're going to quarantine ourself situation. Well, now this is, it is almost like you're talking about a totalitarian society is necessary to halt progress within its borders. You just, you cannot possibly do that. Especially if people are traveling, you know, you want to leave the country and you come back and you're like, then it's, it's almost, it's almost like a North Korea situation where you leave and you go, you won't believe all the robots and the technology outside of this country's borders. Like, what? You know, God, I got to get a message back to my family to, you know, to make a, make a run from Mexico, right? If the United States just completed. I mean, you make a good, you make a joke about that about like a North Korean person being amazed by the technology outside their borders. And at the moment, that is a joke. But the joke would turn the other way really quickly if in 20 years, like you say, they go for a holiday outside North Korea and all they see is riots in the streets from unemployed people in these wonderful technology countries. Yes, yes. So could the joke, the should could be on the other foot very quickly. Yes, yes. Yeah, yeah. And that is, that is my concern. And I, I, I really do think that the, the unemployment situation from automation is, yeah, I'm going to lay it out there. I think this is one of the biggest challenges that humanity is going to face. That's what I think this is, I think this is a big, big deal. And we often talk about how I don't really follow the news, for example. And it's, it's because I like, I, part of it is I think like the things that are talked about daily in the news, like don't are not necessarily big scale things to worry about. And for my, like, this is the thing to be discussing now. This, you know, this is a, this is a, a really big societal change in kind of thing. The needs to be, is this a bigger issue than like oil or like water supply and things like that? I would say so because those, those are issues of resource management, which are all caught up in the nature of what is the level of technology available now. Like those are, those are definitely issues. I'm not denying that they are, but they are, they are like a byproduct of the central issue, which is technology. And I, I've always, I've always held the opinion that technology is really the driving force behind history. And I think we're really at one of these moments now where we just, we need to be, I was saying on Twitter that people were taking my video as being very pessimistic. And I didn't really mean it that way. I was aiming for it to be quite neutral, like to inform people about this issue, but I was trying very consciously to not have it be a, isn't this the most terrible thing in the world? It was more like a, we need to talk about this kind of thing. And my, my position really is that if, if we play our cards right, this could be humanity's greatest moment. But my concern is that we'll, we'll stuff it all up and, and end up with like a, a rise in the street situation. So what does, what does playing our cards right look like? Yeah, that's, that's the difficult question, isn't it? So here's, here's, here's the way I want to walk into this. In the video, I made a very conscious choice to not talk about potential solutions at the end of that video. Grey, you know, I depend on you for solutions. That's why, that's why I text you all the time and say, what software should I get or what iPhone cover should I buy? If you haven't got the answers, who does? Well, I mean, this is, this is a case where I'm going to, I'm going to start before, before I get to the end, I might as well say right now that I don't have answers to this, but, but here's the way I want to walk into this is, I've been kind of talking about this topic with people in my life and co-workers and just people of interests for a decade. Because this is just, this has really been a, a great interest of mine. And I've noticed a recurring pattern in all of these conversations, which is that, getting people even on the onboard, the know this time is really different, technological change is different from the agricultural revolution. Train is hard enough as it is. And I was always really aware that if it, if it then, if the conversation, even if I got them on board part one, if we immediately dove into part two of the conversation, which is what do we do? Suddenly, what we're actually having is a conversation about contemporary politics. Yeah. Right. Like, oh, well, now I'm talking about what is this person's feelings about political situations right now. And then I often saw people undo changing their mind about technological problems because it disagreed with their politics as, as relate to the current situation right now. And so that's why I did not want to connect those two parts because I've seen people unconvinced themselves often enough when we just almost out of denial. Like, they say, they suddenly, they confronted with something else I don't like. And they, they're ahead in the sand. Yeah. Well, you know, everybody does this, which is, you, it is very much human nature when you're kind of forced to draw a conclusion that you don't like to then go back and try to change the premises that that brought you to this location. And in my experience, the way it has worked much better when talking to people is get them on board the automation train and just kind of leave it. And, and then it syncs in with people. And then you can have a much better conversation about, well, what are we going to try to do for this sort of thing? And the opinion, but, but what are we going to do? You haven't thought about it because you haven't had enough conversations. I have definitely thought about it. But so, but here, here is the, the, the change that I think needs to happen in people's minds is we need to de-stigmatize particular feelings about the unemployed. And, and that's, that's a big issue because right now most people I talk to, even when we're recording this, it's the middle of a recession, which let me circle back to you later. People have very negative feelings towards the unemployed. Oh, you know, why aren't they working? Why don't they find a job? Why don't they try harder to find a job? And those feelings can always be true for an individual. Everybody has like a cousin Earl, who's just, you know, never never tries very hard at anything and is a total bum. And he's in looking for work and is just like a total mooch on society. Everybody knows somebody like that. I hope your cousin knows. I don't think he listens. But so like there, there are always individuals like that. I don't deny that that's the case. Yeah. But it's a very different case when you start looking structurally at the whole economy. And I think we are, we are. The reason why, part of the reason why I made this video now is I think we really are in the beginning phases of this thing called structural unemployment, where people just will not be able to find a job. It doesn't matter how good the economy goes. And under those circumstances, I think we have to start viewing people not as unemployed with the implication that, oh, if they only tried harder, they could find jobs that don't exist, given their set of skills. And instead, we have to look at them as almost as like unemployed a bull that there is, there is nothing that this person can do to support themselves, given their ability and given the current level of technology that they cannot out-compete a machine in the things that they are able to do that are economically productive. And so, okay, so like we're here, we are. We're walking towards this, right? And then at this stage, like if you've come along to this point and agree that certain kinds of people are unemployable, the question we have to ask ourselves is, well, are we going to help those people? Or are we going to say, tough luck, you get to starve to death on the streets because you are not economically viable? And the way I have phrased that, you might feel which way I go with that, is we, you know, if society is anything, society is about setting the minimum standards below which we will not let people fall. If people are unemployable, do we help them or do we leave them on their own? My position is that we help them, that that's what society is. You don't just abandon people because they're not economically viable. They're still people. So this is where we walk into, but then this starts. Not totally how capitalism works. But see this is the moment when in many of these conversations, it starts becoming like, so are you a socialist boy? Like, like, no, I'm not a socialist. Like, this is not my, like, I haven't been sneakily trying to turn it over into the Soviet states of America. Like, this is not my secret plan here. But the reason why I think that happens is because people look at it with the current economic situation and they look at the current things. They say, so what do you want to do? Do you want to raise taxes right now to pay for all of these people? And my position is, I'm not talking about right now. What I'm talking about is, as the unemployment rate rises, what are we going to do? Because my, my thought on this is that the current level of technology that we are in, it increases income inequality. And so if you have increasing amounts of automation, what you should find as a society is that there are fewer and fewer people who are collecting basically more and more of the resources of the society. And I don't even mean that on an individual level, I even mean that on a company level. One of the things that is very fascinating, there's a book that people should check. I mean, there's many books on the subject, but one of which is particularly interesting is called Average Over by Tyler Cowan, I think is I say his last name. And he goes through and talks about what do new companies look like? And one of the things that is very interesting is saying, okay, let's take a look at the companies on the Fortune 500 list. And over the last 20 years, in particular, the number of employees per revenue dollar generated, that ratio has just skyrocketed. So you have companies like Apple, which have relatively very, very few employees, but Apple is sitting on the world's most gigantic pile of money. They have so much money, but their company is very, very few people. Whereas when you go back in time and you look at the biggest companies in the world, in the 1960s, I think it was GE and it was Ford. And they employed hundreds of thousands of people. But Apple is like 2,000 people. It's some comically small amount of people and it's hugely more profitable than those old companies were. And it's the same with just a ton of companies on the Fortune 500. So this is what I mean by a kind of income inequality. I don't even just mean particularly rich dudes, but just tiny companies can end up absorbing an enormous amount of wealth. But what's going to happen to Apple when there's only five people left on earth that can afford an iPhone because we're all starving in the streets and punching each other in the face. As income inequality rises, because of automation and because you have larger numbers of unemployed, the only way to avert the riots is that you have to start talking about providing a minimum level of security to the people who are unemployed or to people who are unemployable. That is the like, let's keep the wheels on the cart solution. Because as I said before, I think you can't stop companies from becoming more efficient. But if you leave that indefinitely, you can end up in that giant pit of doom where there are riots in the streets. So you need some kind of countervailing force to that. So I know you're trying to sort of be neutral in the issue and you're not claiming to have all the answers. But to push you a bit more and make you president Gray for just a little bit longer. King, I need to be king in these situations. I need unilateral control with military force behind me. Because on one hand, it feels a bit like you're saying, this is happening people. Stop ignoring it. These cars are driving in California right now. But on the other hand, you're using a lot of language like we need to start thinking about, we need to think about the future. We don't need to do anything now, but we need to start thinking about what we do. It sounds to me like we need to be doing something now. I guess what do we need to be doing now? I guess this is for the historical record. My need to be thinking about it time scale is basically between now and the point at which self-driving cars are legal on the road. That's going to, that's quick. That's by the sounds of it. Yes, that is what I mean by that we need to be thinking about it. I am not putting the, we need to be thinking about this for five years kind of issue. I literally mean this like today. So what do we need to do? Should we be collecting a huge pension part of money for all these future unemployed? I really think that the starting point is the destigmatization of the unemployed. Because I think if you can't get past that point, you have no political capital to get anything done. That is where I see the most resistance comes from as people thinking, oh, I'm not going to support those lazy people who aren't working. I have a job, why can't they get a job? You can't pass a law or increase a tax rate or do something to change. No, you know, you cannot at all. That's why you can't change people's opinions with a law. But I think people who have listened to the show are aware that I am often very deeply cynical and pessimistic about making meaningful change in the world. I am not very optimistic about lots of those things, even though I am the guy who is known for making videos about how the voting system should be changed. Because I'm very much aware that you just don't have the people who control those levers of power are few. And so talking about a whole bunch of issues doesn't do anything to help those issues. But this to me is much more like a social issue. This is not the best comparison, but it's the first thing that's popping to my mind. It's like game marriage. The public sentiment shift on game marriage has been remarkably quick compared to changes that have happened in the past. I actually, I would bet that that's also a side effect of just technology, like the internet, allowing people to organize much better than they ever could have before. And people being exposed much more easily to people who are different from them. But like the government couldn't pass a law that said, everybody has to be okay with game marriage. But nonetheless, because it has been talked about so much in the media, we have moved to this position where people are much, much more on board with what game marriage is. And that was not a legal thing. That was just a, let's be aware of this as an issue thing. And so that's why I feel like I can make a video that is about this. And in some little way, like I'm trying to contribute to a conversation of being aware that people are not able to work, not because they're lazy, but through no fault of their own. But the game marriage thing only became such a talking point because some people holding levers either started doing things or started coming under pressure to do things. Like it's not like we just, it's not like someone's decided, let's all talk about it on the internet. And then that happened for a year or two. And then the politician said, okay, now we can start changing the rules. Like it does, it does start at the top in some ways. And it feels like there does need to be someone somewhere starting to pass laws or do things in this area for that conversation to start. Or at least, at least people at the top saying we're thinking about changing the rules. What do you all think? Yeah, but I think social change is one of the few things that starts at the bottom. The only reason anyone in power is even going to put that message out into the air of, hey, we're thinking about doing the obviously right thing and legalizing gay marriage. What do you think about that? My political base, they would never even float that idea if it wasn't already something that was in the ether as it were, that it was being discussed by people that is clearly an issue. Politicians don't decide to float ideas just for the hell of it. They're trying to test something to see if they're going to get reelected or not. And so that's why I really do think that the first step is understanding that unemployment now is very different. Right. So there is this thing that I'll put a link in the show notes. But it is a chart that I think is again an example of showing us what is happening over time with the economy. I'll paint a word picture now. And it's a chart that shows GDP gross domestic product adjusted for time from 1950 until basically now. And pretty much just a line up into the right. There's a couple of dips, but the trend is upward. The other line is something called labor productivity, which means how much money do you get out of every employee you have if you are company basically? And the same thing up into the right. And that is also a side effect of technology. You give your workers better technology. They can do more stuff. That's great. But the other line is employment. And the employment line goes right along with the other two basically until about the early 2000s. And then from early 2000 until now that line is basically flat. The unemployment rate has not increased in basically a decade. Okay. Now the interesting thing about this graph is that basically as far as we have economic records, this has never occurred before. That when you have ups and downs in the economy, you have recessions, you have depressions, GDP, productivity, and employment all go down at the same time and they all go up at the same time. But what this shows is that we can literally see in the economy that in some ways companies are now decoupled from the people that they employ. That companies are doing much better through automation technology. But employment is just flat. It's been flat for a decade. Their fortunes aren't handcuffed to the foot soldiers anymore. Yes. And this is one of the things that I think is really interesting is we've been in this recession for quite a while now. But if you look around, the world is still spinning. If this is the supermarkets are full of food, there's stuff to buy on the shelves. We're not in some world that is filled with hardship and woe. But if you go back to previous recessions and depressions, like you think about the Great Depression, it is characterized by a shortage of things. There is not enough food. There are not enough clothes. And this is the kind of like workers and the companies are tied together. But now that's not the case. And that's one of the things I think is just so different about this is when you talk about automation, you are talking about machines that are able to produce all of the things that we want. We still have food. We have iPhones. We have all of this stuff, but you just don't need people to make as many things as you did before. And so this graph I think is particularly terrifying just to see that the economy is taking off without the humans being involved. Today's sponsor is audible.com, a leading provider of spoken audio information and entertainment. Listen to audiobooks whenever and wherever you want. Today's audiobook is relevant to the conversation because it's one of the books I used while researching the video that I just made. It's called Average is Over by Tyler Cowan. It's an interesting book because it's a little bit different from some of the other materials that I was researching while putting together the video because it talks a lot about what is going to happen during this transition phase as our economy switches from requiring humans to do just about everything into a world that is increasingly automated. But his focus isn't on the automation. It's about what is going to happen to the shape of the labor force as this comes into effect. That may sound terribly boring as I'm describing it now, but it is a very, very interesting book. And honestly, if you're in the workforce right now, it's probably a good book to pick up to just get some ideas about what is going to happen structurally to the economy within the five-year time frame. And I don't know if everybody is aware of this, but audible is an Amazon company, and they have a feature where if you are like me, say, very interested in a book and researching it, you can get the audiobook version, and then you can also get the Kindle version. And audible and Amazon will synchronize your location between the two of them. So this is actually a book that I partially listened to in audiobook form and partly read. And more importantly, I could highlight and bookmark very easily and have everything sink back and forth while I was listening to the audiobook. So that was really valuable, and it's one of the reasons why I quite like using audible books, especially for stuff that for me anyway is work related. So if you're a student as well, you might also be interested in using this feature from audible. I find it very helpful. I hope you will as well. So that is my recommendation for this week. Average is over by Tyler Cowan. When you sign up to audible, you can get that book for free. So if you want to listen to it, audible has it with over 150,000 titles, and virtually every genre you'll find what you're looking for. Get a free audiobook and a 30-day trial today by signing up at audible.com slash hello internet all one word. That's audible.com slash hello internet and there will also be a link in the show notes. Why are you so interested in this? Like you say you've been talking about it for it's been a 10-year discussion. It's clearly a video that was very thought out and you know, and well thought out. This is obviously really important to you. Are you scared for yourself? Yeah, the first draft of this video with the flower mill section was an hour and then I had to cut it. I burned the whole thing and then I got it to start over. Well, who are you scared for? Is this a person? Are you personally scared or is this just President King Gray being after a stick and worrying about his subjects? Well, yeah, I'm worried about society as a whole for this one. I guess this is one of the things that I see in all the comments is people are asking what job is safe from automation? You know, people want to know what what job to get. And my perspective is like that is that is really besides the issue because it's quite so face thing. Well, but it's not it's not even that. It's a question of if we don't handle this right, it doesn't matter if you have a it doesn't matter if you have a job that can't be unemployed. If the if the society around you is crumbling. It's like it doesn't matter if you've got a nice house if someone's throwing a brick through the window. That's exactly and I think that is probably one of the best levers to kind of pull when we talk about trying to actually implement change in the future. It is like, hey, which person? I know you might not want your taxes to go up, but you know since this whole technological change thing came along and your wealth has increased 20,000 percent through automation, well, it's not going to be worth a whole lot to you if the world is starving and people just tear down your gates. And so I think when people talk about what job should I get that is safe from automation, it's a bit of a is like I think you and I are relatively safe. The entertainment industry is a relatively safe place to be and it doesn't really matter. Like even if you have a job that you think is incredibly safe from automation, this is still a problem for you because it affects absolutely everyone. I guess the place where this this started for me is back when I was a young lad in college. I came across a book called Genetic Programming, volumes one, two, and three, by guy called Koza and those were amazing books about computer programming. There was always this alternate life that I wonder about where I had become a computer programmer instead of becoming a physics teacher. That was a possibility. But these books were amazingly eye opening to me because what they were was well, the thing that I talked about very briefly in the video was not how to write a computer program, but how to write a program that can figure out on its own the solution to some kind of problem, which just blew my mind that this kind of thing was even possible. And I just devoured those books and I was playing around with all the source code and I really think there is a version of my life that might have gone much more down that route because I just found it absolutely fascinating. And you can't talk about how this works. It's just so beyond the scope of an audio podcast to talk about this. But just very briefly, I'll say that you can talk about it. It does one of two things. It either simulates the way the human brain does stuff with kind of pretended neurons in the computer that you can show things and teach it. Yes, this was right. No, this was right. And this network of neurons learns on its own, which is just amazing to see. Or you do something where you basically have an artificial environment in which you create a bunch of random programs and you let you basically run evolution on them. You let them breed with each other and produce child programs and you measure how effective those child programs are. And then you keep running generations on this. And you can come up with programs that can solve things. And the interesting thing is that you as the programmer have no idea how it works. That was the thing that I found the most amazing was I would type up a program and I would let the computer run overnight. And so I'd come up in the morning, it would be something like 20,000 generations of digital programs had lived and died. And there was some program that could solve a problem for me. And I would look at it and go, nope, no idea how this works. I can't even remotely figure out how it works. It's thousands and thousands of lines of code long. It's just impossible. But so anyway, I found that really fascinating. And that was for me was when I really felt like, whoa. Yeah. This is a big deal because you glimpsed to the power. Yeah. And this is again, the case where you overestimate change in the short term because at that point, I thought like, man, this is going to storm the world just immediately. And the answer is it has not except that basically now a lot of these things are really coming into their own because the computing technology has gotten fast enough. That it was it was really a, we need computers to be 10 years faster in order to do some of this stuff in a realistic way. The problems I was having itself were very, very simple. But that was the thing that really sparked my interest in this and just realizing, boy, anybody's whose job is to sit at a computer and manipulate things entirely digitally, their jobs are really in danger. And that's the one thing I didn't talk about in the video because it's not as easy to show visually. It's so easy to talk about, oh, these factory workers and these truck drivers are all going to lose their jobs. But I actually think that the people at the biggest risk are not blue collar workers, but it is white collar workers. People who do just work at a computer all day long. If you are a plumber, if you are an electrician, if you have any kind of job where part of your job is to go into somebody else's house or to deal with humans in a very direct way, those jobs tend to be blue collar jobs. And I think those jobs are relatively safe in terms of protection from automation. But if your whole job is sitting at a computer, I guarantee you, if your company is big enough, they have hired an automation engineer who was working to get rid of your jobs. And I have gotten a bunch of anonymous emails from very, very guilty automation engineers who feel terrible that this is what they have to do. But like, yes, I work at some company and I am in the basement and nobody knows that I am here and I am basically required every quarter to be able to automate some portion of the workforce that is happening in the gigantic building above me. You remind me of a great story that it's probably long enough ago now that I can risk telling it. And all of the people involved including myself and my mates are now high enough up food chains that we can risk the story getting out. When I first started as a kid at Journalist on a newspaper, one of the like, we would every three months we would change roles. So you would get three months of doing, you know, getting to be like a news reporter with the police reporters and three months of you know, in the business section writing business stories and things like that. But there were also three months since where you did really crummy jobs that just had to be done by, you know, by the Mule because you're a cadet journalist. That was your thing. And one of them was reformating the TV guide. We would be sent from the TV stations like their programs of what shows were on at what times for like the TV magazine that was inserted in the newspaper every week. And we had to go through it and make it all the correct style like the time of the show had to be in bold and the rating of the show whether it was suitable for children and that had to be in italics. And it was a really, really meany or boring job. And it was a week long job. You would usually by Friday, you would finish reformating the TV programs that could be printed in the paper. So anyway, this made of mine who was pretty clever with computers used, there were that there were kind of, you know, algorithms that this crude computer system could run. But no one really knew how they worked. At least they think they were called memory keys and you could press a key and it would run a quick script. And he figured out a way to completely automate this job. So you would just have the program get scanned in and all the text was there. And he could just press one or two of these memory keys and it would automatically identify the times and make them bold. And the sort of thing that people can easily do now. But at the time, you know, 10, no longer than 10, 15 years ago, this was this was cutting edge. But it was kept a secret that we that we had figured out how to do this. Yeah, you know, it was like when you're three months, stint came to do the TV programs, you were like, like Harry Potter being given his like, his marauders map, you were taken aside and told you are not to tell anyone that we have cracked this. But all you have to do at this on Monday morning is press that number. And the rest of the week is yours to do with as you please. Oh, that is great. And they would like, you know, go to the movies or play table tennis games and that it became it became the secret the secret passed among. And it was a great example of automation completely making a job redundant. But we kept we kept the fact that our job had been made redundant a secret. Yes. From the from the bosses say, I'm sure that job isn't that redundant, but it was happy. It was good times. No, that's that's good. And it's it's fun because I have I have run across a number of examples of computer programmers who have told similar tales where they have basically said, Oh, yes, I have figured out how to automate my own job. And I'm just sitting quiet on this one. Yeah. But I like I like that you like this idea of a rotating secret society of taking someone aside and then and like, yeah, letting them know, oh, that's great. That's really good. The guy the guy who did it is now really really seen you in the company. Like he's one of the most senior managers in the company. So I'll have to send him this until he found out his stuff were doing that. I'm sure he'd be very upset. Yeah. I'm sure he'd get rid of that right away. The it sounds like we could possibly talk about this some more. And I'm sure there's going to be lots of lots more feedback now and read it and things like that. So I'm sure I'm sure the next podcast follow up will be significant. I think we should quickly talk about with the formatate your our formatatecher. You've mentioned that. Yes. We did assign homework, but are you going to do a treat here for the for the listeners and let them off their homework? I am going to do something which I did very often as a teacher, which is try to wait until the last possible minute. And then we're like, oh, the bell's just gone. I wanted to collect your homework. I really didn't, but I can't do it right now. Off you go. And I will see you next week students. Form of students in mind, I can pretty much guarantee anytime I forgot to collect homework. I almost very rarely actually forgot to collect homework. And I guarantee you that the same is true with a whole bunch of your teachers. It's just because you didn't want to make it. Yeah. I was basically I was part of my my eternal strategy to reduce the volume of homework that ever passed through my hands. I know other teachers who've done a similar thing would like, oh, let me forget. And then I didn't assign homework this time. Although I have to say I did have kids who were just like the kids on TV and everybody's had this in the class. It goes, oh, Mr. Gray, you didn't assign the homework right or who tries to warn you before the bell is going to come up. Well, collect our homework please. Yeah. I spent all night doing it or you know, oh, but you didn't give us any homework assignment for, you know, for this time. I didn't like those kids just as much as everybody else in the class. Like this kid says, like, listen, you're not you're not playing along here, right? We're all better off. If I forget to collect the homework, everybody wins. Never occurred to me as a student that the teacher actually was on the same team as me. And this is everybody thought about that. You don't think about that when you're a kid, do. Yeah. Kids do not understand like you and the teacher are on the same page. The kids of you in this as an adversarial role. But like you do not understand how much we are on the same page. So yes, I am going to forget to collect homework now. And you have one extra week to watch Black Mirror, which you should because it is amazing. Now, are we asking people to watch all the episodes of Black Mirror or are there specific ones you want them to watch? I think you should watch them all because they're amazing. There are six of them out there. Series one, series two, three episodes. It was anything else you wanted to. You are totally right. I could talk about robots forever, but we'll talk about more, you know, more in the future as it comes up naturally or if it does. But was there anything else you wanted to talk about? No, I mean, there's lots going on, but there's nothing that can't wait for episode 20 and the finale of series two. Yes, that's true. And I have to be honest, I don't mind. Well, actually, I was about to say making this episode shorter, but I just realized we've been recording for about two hours now. I was going to say, I don't mind making this episode shorter just because I met my wits end absolutely exhausted and still trying to bunch of really stressful projects to get done as fast as possible. And then I need to take a vacation so I do not mind having a shorter one. Well, let's stop recording so you can start editing.|} ==Episode List==

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "H.I. #19: Pit of Doom". Hello Internet. Hello Internet. Retrieved 12 October 2017.