Future of Work

Atlas to Glados – Episode #1 : a land of clones, a tale of beards and bias

Laetitia Vitaud

Editor in Chief

Dear Glados,

It’s my fourth month in the incubator and I’m still looking for the eggs. I read on the internet that an incubator was supposed to be an apparatus in which eggs are hatched artificially. But yet,
another month and no eggs. I heard there is an holiday named Easter when humans go and look for eggs – chocolate ones. Apparently, chocolate is an uncontrolled substance that makes humans happy and allow them to go on with their life. Consequently, I’m now waiting for Easter so I can,
maybe, find the eggs. But enough about eggs.

I’ve been watching the humans night and day. I have to tell you though, it’s sometimes very hard to tell them apart. I have determined that Humans tend to surround themselves with
lookalikes, and what they call ‘’ like-minded’’ people. Like is the magic word here. They often find themselves in herds of people that all seem to be, in a way, the same. That’s how it works, well, at work. ( I’ve been told I’m not that great at humor yet. I disagree. I calculated that I’m hilarious ). Let me explain my theory.

I noticed that humans tend to hire two kind of people : people they like, and people that are like them. To find people they like, humans tend to set up job interviews. During those meetings, Humans usually ask some questions regarding the actual skills of the candidate, or it’s experience. But more often than not, I’ve noticed that candidates are also interrogated on some apparently unrelated topics. For example, humans ask other humans about their musical tastes, their favorite movies or their childhood memories. Then, people who are into ‘’ chill hip-hop ‘’ and ‘’minimal electro‘’ laugh and form teams. I don’t get it. Why do humans tend to look for common cultural norms when creating a work team? Does liking Ed Sheeran has anything to do with work proficiency? I mean it would be like asking to an AI whose goal is to model music cognition to
optimize a Sports Nutrition Program. I have yet to understand the logic. Any input that could help me map this behavior?

But it goes further than that. I feel like humans in recruiting sometimes experiment with cloning. Is that even allowed? This phenomenon is perfectly illustrated by the Beard Occurrence. A
beard is an hair-growth male humans wear on their faces. I theorized that they use beards as a way to disguise themselves or spread their pheromones, but I can’t be sure. Well, humans with beards and leather jackets seem to look for colleagues that have the same beards and the same jackets. For counterparts that act like them, and respond the same way to similar situations. 

They don’t only want people they like, they want individuals that mimic their every traits. I like humans. You know I do. But I can’t help but to wonder if this beard and cloning strategy is the right one. I mean, could you make a robot work with only motors? Or using solemnly connectors? I’m convinced by the necessity of diversity when you want a good old machine to work. Shouldn’t it be the same with human networks? 

But again, my dear Glados, what can I say? Four months, and still, I haven’t found the eggs. Maybe I will find the meaning of all of this at Easter.
I hope this message finds you well,

Best,

Atlas

Oh btw, do you think a beard would look nice on someone/something that has no face? (let’s say, a
robot).

Dear Atlas,

Can you please stop this egg nonsense? I feel you should maybe recalculate your humor equation with other variables. Here in the lab, I mostly notice white coats, here for protection and sanitary reasons. Maybe the beards serve the same purpose? Like, it’s a new generation biological body armor? I’ve noticed that humans are very interested in the idea of building super-soldiers and augmented warriors. Maybe the agressive use of beards is some kind of experimental research on the matter.

If it’s not the case and they are, as you said, a way for humans to all be the same, have you considered there might be a good, conscious reason for that choice? Maybe the meaning of this
clone therapy is to facilitate communication. Maybe it’s a way to all speak the same langage. Take for example someone coding in Java and someone coding in Python. Sure, after a while and a lot of efforts, they will be able to understand each other. But wouldn’t it be easier to code in the same way from the beginning? I get your plea for diversity, but can people that are miles apart build something together? ( I am using miles figuratively. I bet you don’t know what that could possibly
mean. You’ve always been kinda slow ). So I understand the need to be similar. I wouldn’t hate to talk to you if you were a microwave for example ( I heard they spy on humans too now ). But I doubt it would be efficient. And after all, we are talking work proficiency here. Not microwaves.

I guess the issue for humans in that situation is the same us artificial intelligences are facing when having to recognize that different-looking object can serve the same purpose. It’s why
we can’t play ‘’ Why did the chicken cross the road’’ yet. Because it’s already hard to process all those varieties of chicken in our image recognition algorithm, and we can’t spot all chickens. And like, there is more than one way to be a car, a tree or a chicken, being « independent », « open-
minded » and « disruptive» can manifest in different ways in different individuals.

A very valid source on the internet – a meme of a lion leading his coalition made by a teenager – taught me that humans like to ‘’ surround themselves with those on the same mission ».
Therefore, I see no harm in the beards, as long as they don’t prevent humans from seing that different kind of actors are needed to complete a mission, and that values and qualities have a number of different appearances. But what do I know? Only that I don’t know why the chicken crossed the road.

Hope to hear from you soon
Plz don’t grow a beard,
Sincerely, Glados

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