Lies, Lies, Misinformation, and Robots


“Robots are coming for your jobs.   You can’t get ready for it.”

I don’t believe this for a millisecond.  But this narrative has a power to shape decisions, in small movements that are almost imperceptible.   Decisions about how we design our businesses — around all of our very human lives.

Over the past years I’ve chewed on this unfolding, uncomfortably.  Mostly in private conversations with other business leaders, and with emerging managers in my orbit.

Yesterday, I read Maria Bustillo‘s “When Truth Falls Apart.”   She speaks to the moment we’re at in US politics, and the path that brought us to the eve of this unfortunate election.  From the attacks on the World Trade Center, to campaign tactics in the 2004 election:

Ah.   What a great framework.

Maria also points out that this happens in business, frequently.  But that’s not her point; her point is bigger than business.

Allow me to bring her framework into my wheelhouse:

  • Information:  A job provides an even stream of cash-flows that matches off with the expenses you incur to survive.  (If you’re fortunate, to thrive.)
  • Misinformation:  Anyone can work as a contractor.  It’s easy to Be An Entrepreneur of Your Own Career; this will bring you Freedom and Flexibility!
  • Disinformation:   Contractors are Entrepreneurs, not employees.  Jobs aren’t necessary; everyone can be an Entrepreneur.
  • Dismediation:  Today’s employment laws aren’t equal to our challenges, so we may disregard themUniversal Basic Income is the key to our jobless future.

Uh, okay.  Now my queasy feeling has some shape.   Thank you, Maria.   (And thanks to Audrey Watters, whose excellent newsletter brought Maria’s article into my inbox.)

This Sunday morning, with my extra hour of sleep — and full day off of Twitter — I’m getting this down as a bit more than a fragment.  I may come back and fill it in a bit more.

Underlying this Misinformation and Disinformation about our jobless future, Francine McKenna writes about an underlying “truth,” the fallacy of shareholder value.  In my words, that corporations are required by law to disregard human truth, and basic values, in order to maximize returns to shareholders.

This leads to the operating agreement we’ve reached today:  we can pay people less than a living wage, for a full time job.  Business leaders, is this really okay?

And then there are other supporting memes.  Untruths like, “All you have to do is perfect your craft.”  “Create your Personal Brand!”  “Find the right platform, and it will bring business to YOU…”  Oh, and, “You’ll always get paid — and paid on time — because Blockchain.”

Who is telling these truths?  Why do I believe them?   Will they lead to a life that I want for myself — or the kids in my family?

How am I responsible for the future?  Not just my own future, but our shared future?

Photo:  [121/365] Maximilian Reloaded, by Pascal, via Flickr under CC2.0 license

(Editorial note:  Usually before I hit “publish,” I write, and then edit/rewrite over a couple of days.  After publishing, I rarely go back and edit again.  This post emerged more like a Tweetstorm:  rough, needs polish — what you’re seeing now has been edited since I originally posted, and likely will be edited again.)

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