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What Is the Proper Place for AI In Human Society

In 1961 when I graduated from Macalester College in Saint Paul Minnesota, I earned the degree of Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (at the  time this degree was equivalent to the MBA degree (that came into existence at a later time). I was hired at the Ford Assembly Plant in Highland Village just across the Mississippi River from my childhood home in South Minneapolis. My position was titles Assistant to the Plant Manager and my job was to circulate throughout the assembly plant and to write a daily report to the Plant Manager. In actual practise, my job was to find any flaws in the system which threaten the daily production of cars coming off the assembly line. The hoped for quota of car production was 57 cars an hour regardless of how long the plant stayed in operation (some days were longer than other days, which affected the workers and the union watch that also held offices across from the Assembly Plan). In other words, there existed a great tension between union representatives and plant management. In 1961, the year of my employment, the plant made an AI advancement when it replaced the painters in the painting booth with an automatic robotic spray system. This change had the effect of replacing all the union workers with a robotic paint system. This displacement of workers forced the union officials to demand a reassignment of these workers rather than their dismissal. In the end the union won out as it threatened a shutdown of the entire plant. In reality, I learned that the union was investied dearly in the existence of the Pllant. When I first went to work for Ford I was driving a Chevrolet to work and was told to get a Ford, "or  else". I bought an old used Ford Stationwagon to keep the peace. This was my first encounter with AI in the workplace and my exerience suggested that if it was managed properly it could find a place within human society, but that humans will fight it should their wellfare be threatened. Lesson: If you do not want your enterprise destroyed, one must negotiate an accommodation between AI and the wellfare of humans. Remember robots do not buy cars, but humans do! The most trouble I experienced in the plant was when the workers had earned enough overtime money and wanted time off. This led to all kinds of trouble in the plant including the sabatage or assemlyline machinery. Common sense suggests that the human factor is much more powerful than is any form of AI.

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