No one but yourself can manipulate you

Wednesday, September 04 2013 @ 01:11 AM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto


MOTOMAN making pancakes

State-of-the-art system called
SAP Management Cockpit
As I have said many times before, my only concern is whether humanity has a future. That's the only thing that will make a great difference to my last glimpse of the people and things I leave behind. Paradoxical though it may seem, I am cautiously optimistic in that respect because of my MEism which is something 180-degrees different from egomania.

From my MEist point of view, any doomsday scenario is not only counterintuitive but also logically flawed. So many people say "we" have no future because "they" have successfully manipulated "us" so "we" are headed for ruin.

Simply this is ridiculous. If "we" were really doomed, certainly some of "them" who outsmarted "us" would be able to survive "us" and other groups of "them." And there would be no reason to deny the winning part of "them" the right for survival because "they" now proved the fittest. "We" would have to bow out as underdogs.

I know I am not manipulable. You can manipulate apes but I am a small part of humanity.

At the same time I hope I'm not alone in understanding no other creature puts itself in mauvaise foi (bad faith.) That should mean that some of these "I's," if not many of them, are aware that the word "conformism" should not be defined in such a conformist way as so many of "us" and "them" casually do. I know these "I's" agree to my heretical way of defining conformism. Let me reiterate this: conformism is not an ism, but a disease caused by developmental failure. Sometimes you might be able to remedy it, as you always should try to, but you can never correct it. It doesn't make a bit of sense to discuss whether it is correctable.

Actually the more quickly "they" or "we" degenerate as doomsayers argue, the more likely it is the narrowly defined humanity goes on evolving. It doesn't matter anymore if these "I's" are the smallest minority.

I was ruminating my optimistic view of humanity when I received a mail from Diogenes of Arkansas. He is one of the small number of visitors to this website who are always willing to share their thought-provoking ideas with us. In his mail he alerted me to a full-page advertisement placed in the August 30 edition of the Wall Street Journal. As usual I appreciated the input from Diogenes because now he brought in a new perspective to the issue we have been discussing in the last couple of months.

My take on the recent development in robotics has very little in common with the way most people in the industrialized countries view it. I was impressed by the ad in two different ways.

Firstly, I now learned that managers and technologists in America's service industry are quickly getting used to the idea that practically everyone working there can be replaced by machines. In a sense it is encouraging to know they no longer take it for granted that providing junk food, or other worthless products and services to one another is what man's economic activity is all about.

On the other hand, it's amazing to know the gap lying between technologies and social systems still keeps widening at an accelerated pace. In Britain the Luddites movement was started in the early 1810s. These artisans in the textile industry had a good reason to rise up against the newly-introduced labor-saving machinery. But the union-backed minimum wage initiative by EPI (Employment Policies Institute) is yet another confirmation that there isn't the slightest sign American workers and consumers are waking up anytime soon from their 200-year-long sleep. Small wonder they have chosen the Black Kenyan Monkey as their leader and still let him propagate the absurd idea that jobs are something that can be artificially created out of thin air.

As a result of the yawning gap between technologies and sociopolitical systems, contemporary Americans in every walk of life have become unable to do things any better than a robot. Now it's next to impossible to find a whitecollar or bluecollar worker who can't be replaced by an AI-equipped machine. You may even find one which is able to write a book titled something like The Coming Collapse of China. Another writing robot may publish a book about "the 9.11 hoax".

The MOTOMAN robot was developed by Japan's Yaskawa Electric. But the company has carefully refrained from promoting it locally. Instead, Drives and Motion Division of its U.S. subsidiary Yaskawa America, Inc. is manufacturing the specific type of robot. Obviously the management of Yaskawa made the right decision. On the one hand the company developed MOTOMAN by leveraging Japan's leading-edge technology in robotics, while on the other, the company has been marketing it in the U.S. where practically everything can be automated.

As the company's management is well aware, the cultural climate of Japan is diagonally different from America's. Although the Japanese people are suffering the same mental illness the Americans are suffering, i.e. conformism, its symptoms are quite different between the two peoples. For one thing, the clinical history of the Japanese is three times longer, to say the least. It dates back at least to the mid-19th century. As a result, even today the Japanese value face-to-face contact over modern forms of communication. It's the single most important thing in this "close-knit" society. It's evident from this trait that technophobia always goes hand-in-hand with its reverse side, which I call technology fetishism. And that is why Japanese technologists concentrate on making friendly robots such as Toyota's companion robots, animal robots and those who play the violin for you.

Japan is considered one of the most advanced countries in robotics, nonetheless. I hypothesize that the reason behind Japan's superiority in this area can only be explained by the behavioral patterns of its people which are quite similar to those of robots. These people have always proved as subservient as robots. Not only that, they are sometimes even more efficient than robots. I don't know which is the cause, and which is the consequence, but it seems as though people try to emulate robots as much as robots do people. Either way, it must be an easy task for robotics engineers here to develop robots who are good at mimicking human beings.

All in all, the last thing the Japanese would think about is to replace human beings en masse with AI-enabled machines. As I told you in my recent post about the insanity of Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Olympics, Masao Yoshida, former chief of the Fukushima Fifty died on July 9 of esophageal cancer. Even today we know absolutely nothing about the fate of the Fukushima Fifty, or Fukushima Forty-Nine, because of the total media blackout. And not a single individual has come forward to say something like this: "Tokyo Electric Power Company should have assigned robots to the suicide mission. At least TEPCO should immediately replace all of them with robots." It's all the more inconceivable that someone insists the entire TEPCO management should also be replaced.

In the last ten years or so, my former employer SAP has been selling what it calls "Management Cockpit" (photo) which shows the company management all the necessary information derived from the SAP proprietary "Business Information Warehouse." At least in theory, the state-of-the-art system can kick all these executives out of their high-paying, cushy positions.

Even in the era of the Internet, there are many other allegedly important tasks which can't be taken over from human beings. Just to mention a few, even the most modern robot can't perform the following tasks:

● Offer sincere apologies for what is not his fault, let alone dramatize the situation by bursting into tears on his knees.
● Deceive himself.
● Constantly be duped into doing anything in unconditional compliance with the order from above or pressure from peers.

Last but not least, the robot never kills himself when he has to kill someone else, instead. Since the war defeat, Japanese individuals, more often than not, have substituted a symbolic suicide for actually performing the ritual of Seppuku (disembowelment,) but what Ian Buruma calls a "Death Cult" still remains there essentially intact.

The most relevant question, therefore, comes down to this:

"How would the Japanese have acted if they had been able to develop a suicide machine in the last days of the Pacific War?"

Without a doubt, they would still have continued the same Kamikaze tactic if Yaskawa or any other company had been able to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle that outperformed the V-2 rocket of Nazi Germany.

As I told my audience more than four years ago, researchers at Japan's Aeronautical Research Institute, including my father, were strongly discouraged, or even prohibited from working on UAVs simply because when it came to the show of loyalty to the Divine Emperor, these young living pilots were considered irreplaceable by anything else.

It's very hard for me to remain optimistic about the future of humanity when most people constantly manipulate themselves and claim they are the innocent victims of a real or imaginary crime.

But I still believe in my ontology that unequivocally says humanity is not manipulable.

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