What About the Workers?

What About the Workers?

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There is much talk in the media at this present time
About the future of work which may be in decline
For the robots are coming to take every job
And thus from the people their income to rob

Started long ago with machines on the farm
Agricultural labourers indeed felt the harm
Then the cottage industries soon disappeared
As new textile machinery got into gear

But then came lots of jobs in the world of commerce
A white-collar career seemed to offer great promise
Armies of typists and clerks neatly attired
Could occupy desks until they retired

In due course the factories became automated
Old fashioned methods soon were outdated
The workers had to keep pace with machines
Under controllers at shiny computer screens

As systems evolved in the world of business
Unremitting change with no forgiveness
Artificial intelligence now to-day’s greatest threat
As thinking machines the workers beset

So clerks and typists and check-out operators
Are all under threat by the perpetrators
Of autonomous devices needing no human hands
So how might the workers this onslaught withstand?

The world of the call centre is another workplace
Where humans may no doubt soon be replaced
With robots programmed to handle our needs
Without delay at remarkable speed

And the press is full of stories of cars
Who will drive themselves however far
So taxis and vans with armies of drivers
With redundancy there won’t be any survivors

Because make no mistake this robotic invasion
Even of professional work will see infiltration
So that Doctors’ diagnoses and lawyers’ advice
Replaced by software at reasonable price

Even accountants who make a comfortable living
Charging fancy fees without any misgiving
May find the deep mysteries of their craft
Undertaken by robots instead of their staff

So how are we going to earn our daily corn
With no work to do won’t we be all forlorn?
With no wage coming in, how will we survive
For it’s surely money that helps keep us alive?

Well perhaps in due time we’ll find paradise
If some generous government being oh so wise
Lets the robots do all the work that there is to do
And we get the income which was our wage hitherto

In such a perfect world at ease we could rest
With no daily toil we would be free of all stress
The robots will serve and never complain
And we the ex-workers can take all the gain!

Ken Fisher

By way of evidence for the above tirade here are just two
quotations from the Business Section of the Daily Telegraph
on 27 February 2017:

‘Robot lined up to handle O2 enquiries’
‘The car giant FORD has teamed up with an artificial 
intelligence company to work on new generations of
driverless cars’

From the Sunday Times 26 Feb 2017:
Aviva Insurance has asked its 16,000 staff: 
could a robot do your job?  If so the company 
will retrain employees for new roles.

And this more ominous headline from the US:

‘Why the United Nations must  move forward with a killer 
robots ban  – If we don’t get a ban in place there will be
an artificial intelligence arms race’

 

 

The Man on the Clapham Omnibus

The Man on the Clapham Omnibus
[the legal stereotype of the ordinary man]

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The ordinary man is considered to be
The usual chap that you would often see
This kind of guy rarely makes any fuss
Meet him every day on the Clapham bus

This man is beloved of the powers-that-be
The regular guy known to you and me
Ripe for conscription or the labour market
He is the man those in charge want to target

Sometimes accused of lacking ambition
And not all his qualities gain recognition
But this everyday man has achieved prominence
When cited in court by a judge eminent

In deciding a case of alleged negligence
Both the prosecution and the defence
Were asked to consider how this oh-so-reasonable chap
May be thinking beneath his everyday cap

So thus in our legal system it became a convention
That to this man’s concerns we should pay attention
Thus determining the view of the man in the crowd
Sets a standard of which we should really be proud

Because it means that it’s not only expert opinion
That forms the ratio of any decision
But the obiter dicta  from the ordinary man’s view
Ensures the judgement can’t be misconstrued

Ken Fisher

Ratio decidendi : the rationale for the decision
Obiter dictum :    other words or guidelines in judge’s expression of opinion

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This is more like the Clapham Omnibus in the
original court case according to a Law Report of 1903

 

The Street Evangelist

The Street Evangelist

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‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’
Surely these are the words that provide the driving force
For street evangelists, sometimes, unkindly called Bible-thumpers
Those whose urge to proselytize will not be suppressed

And as I edge by why do I feel slightly embarrassed and ill at ease?
Is it because I think that it is vulgar for the sacred word
To be exposed to ridicule, or more likely, totally ignored
The Message condemned because of the ranting of the messenger?

The preacher and his henchmen encourage others to gather round
And just a few pause for a moment tuning their ears to unfamiliar words
Spoken from the King James Version – is this Shakespeare or what?
Words of challenge familiar to us from Sunday School texts

I suppose that in this modern day of social media where many
Voices clamour for our attention, street preachers are an anachronism
But perhaps for that very reason I feel both admiration and discomfiture
Why should the glory of the gospel be retailed on street corners?

Soon enough I turn away but not before I have heard snatches
Of the invitation to accept the saving grace of Jesus
The call to walk in God’s way and to repent my sins
This is altogether too heavy – I skulk off  for a burger!

Ken Fisher

 

Doctor’s Appointment

Doctor’s Appointment

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Why does waiting fill me with such apprehension
Alert for that buzzer, body tight with tension
Trying to appear cool, calm and collected
Pretending I am really quite unaffected

I thumb through the magazines in the waiting room
Christmas adverts although it’s well into June
Santa’s jovial face beams out amidst snow
My anxieties he clearly does not know

Names are called on the buzzer’s pulse
Each time it seems to make my heart convulse
Only two more ahead of me in the queue
Surely soon they are bound to call me through

Bored by those journals out-of-date
I spy notices which describe my fate
If I don’t seek early treatment for my ills
Remedies much more radical than pills

Doctor now ready, just go on through
I chap the door, to face the interview
But I really should not have been so scared
As with my GP pleasantries are shared

What’s the problem she gently enquires?
A question of which she never tires
I say that I am just in for my regular check
Hoping I haven’t turned into a wreck

She takes my blood pressure with that fancy scope
That its not gone sky-high is my earnest hope
Then bodily fluids are drawn off in samples
Sent off to the labs in clear shiny ampules

I stand on the scales to check on my weight
I claim that my shoes will the figure inflate
Then she asks about my exercise and diet
Of my answers she expresses some disquiet

Well fortunately now the session is over
I am hoping the tests will no nasties uncover
‘Keep taking that tablets’ she loudly declares
In a tone that’s intended to show that she cares

Ken Fisher

 

This is the Way – Walk in it

This is the Way – Walk in It

(Some advice to all walkers)

[Isaiah 30:21]

Le Chameau Aubrac Walking Boot

Perhaps when meandering in the rural hinterland
Beyond our city’s sprawling network of residential streets
We find some purpose and direction by knowing our intended way
Our leader’s instructions might echo the words of the prophet
“This is the way. Walk in it!”

Of course it can be pleasurable simply to roam without restraint
And indeed there may be occasions when this is by far the better choice
But mostly we feel the need to have some purpose, some aim in mind
Thus a route will have been planned, to provide order and direction
‘This is the Way. Walk in it!”

I wonder if our life can always be so structured?
At the outset, in infancy control is not yet delegated to us
And o’er the early years of childhood our family points out the way
It is not for us to dictate to our elders or our betters
“This is the Way. Walk in it!”

But as the years pass and we gain a measure of maturity
We seek to acquire more autonomy over the choice of the way ahead
And indeed it is expected of us that we will find our own direction
Having in the meantime striven to acquire the skills for self-advancement
“This is the way. Walk in it!”

Thus throughout our life we will seek to follow a meaningful course
But it will not always be possible to see a clear way ahead
We will be assailed by all manner of challenges and problems
And as we are buffeted to and fro we will search for a voice to say
“This is the way. Walk in it!”

And it is then that we will yearn most earnestly for the prophetic call,
The voice in our ear, the steadying hand to seize our own
But in this modern sophisticated age, to whom will we turn
To receive that word to guide, to direct, to reassure?
“This is the way. Walk in it!”

Ken Fisher

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Cold Calling

Cold Calling

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The phone rings and we react in a Pavlovian way
Only to find that we have once again become prey
To those anonymous callers who want us to respond
To their sales messages electronically spawned

We know right away when we pick up the phone
That the caller is thousands of miles from our home
Their grasp of our language seems rudimentary
Their spiel they repeat as if straight from memory

The background noise sounds like a bazaar
How many such sales progress very far?
But these callers give it their very best shot
Each shift for them must be really fraught

Then there are calls which purport to be local
Sometimes these speakers can be very vocal
‘We are in your area and thought we would ring
To offer our product – the very best thing’

When you reply that you’ve been double-glazed
This seems to leave them completely unfazed
What is the state of your cavity walls
Or careworn rooms and unpainted halls?

So although their messages are often unwelcome
And surely they close a sale only seldom
Nonetheless they’re determined  persevere
For rewards that bring so little cheer

Perhaps we should give these agents a thought
For in the end it’s simply a job
And although we would rather they left us alone
Do them a favour, at least pick up the phone!

Ken Fisher

 

See also: Thank You for Waiting – Your Call is Important to Us

 

200th Poem

200th Poem

This is the 200th Poem I have published on my website

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What was the reason for my turning to verse?
So many thoughts I have tried to rehearse
Words about persons and things all around
A wide range of topics where variety abounds

Poems for the seasons forever changing
Poems about nature, ever wide-ranging
Poems about places throughout our land
Poems on all topics – nothing was banned

Poems on deep points of theology
Poems on obscure and opaque philosophy
Poems on movement and locomotion
Poems on ideas that can cause a commotion

Poems on food that may cause indigestion
Poems on the Bible which oft raised a question
Poems about work and earning a living
Poems about duty – oft unforgiving

Poems on themes of faith and matters moral
Poems on clashing ideas that may make us quarrel
Poems that are prayers offered to God
Poems that His spirit be seen abroad

Poems that sought to explain complex terms
Poems that our ignorance seemed to confirm
Poems that dealt with our changes in mood
Poems that probably did little good

Poems on funerals and occasions quite sad
Poems with nice pictures for which we were glad
Poems whose rhymes don’t easily fit
Poems with points quite hard to transmit

Poems on the city and our great nation
Poems on politics and the election
Poems noting the result of the referendum
Poems that praised our United Kingdom

Poems that attempted to explain astrophysics
Poems as obscure as vague metaphysics
Poems about money and the great credit crunch
Poems on our leaders – an inspiring bunch!

Poems that noted our life’s brief span
Poems to urge us to live as well as we can
Poems pleading that you be fully mindful
Poems that warn us to never be spiteful

And so you can see in my versification
My inner thoughts given verbalization
I hope all this effort has not largely been wasted
And some of its flavour you have joyfully tasted

Ken Fisher

USB

USB

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Where would we be without this gizmo so cute?
Vital for all with a need to compute
So many devices it helps to connect
The flow of our data by its use we direct

Over the years these gadgets evolved
Internal architectural problems resolved
Using both parallel and serial connections
The messages moved in every direction

The transfer of data between computer components
Is the task of the ‘bus’ from moment to moment
Thus hardware and software it seeks to unite
And moves all the data at the speed of light

Apart from aiding so much data traffic
USB’s have features that seem almost magic
As storage devices they can hold a huge stash
In the memory systems which they now call ‘flash’

So endless word documents and complex spreadsheets
Dictionaries and maps showing all the known streets
And our photos and music they can thus secrete
All safely stored and labeled so neat

If you wish to display your work on PowerPoint
Your presentation you can proudly anoint
With considerable glamour all packed in a stick
The audience dazzled by your display so slick

So let’s give a cheer for this great innovation
Portable media released to the nation
Within the tiny shell of the USB case
So much raw power that we can embrace

Ken Fisher

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Maps

Maps

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Maps, our bird’s eye view of the world
Miraculously we soar on high drone-like
O’er the expansive land and sea
Towns and countryside in microcosm

Maps compiled for different purposes
Physical maps to show the hills and valleys
Rivers and lakes, forests and fields
Contour lines trace shape and elevation

Maps political claiming who owns what
The boundaries of the nations
The states therein and cities all identified
Motorways, roads, canals and railways

Maps economic show the sites
Of natural resources, farmland and mines
Factories, mills and fisheries
So much of manufacturing now museum pieces

Maps that let us dive below the surface
Sensing the contours of the ocean floor
Vast trenches and ridges there detected
The conflict of tectonic plates

Maps that are more like diagrams
Zoomed in we confront the details
The London Tube, the airlines’
Skyways to sunshine on exotic shores

Maps of larger scale to take us under streets
Channels and tunnels for our utilities
Power and gas, water and sewerage
And fibre optics for the internet and phones

Maps are not just tied to location
They are also a snapshot in time. There and then
Thus maps can unite geography with history
Depicting the past in time and place

So give thanks for Maps and the work of all cartographers
From the pioneers of the Ordnance Survey
To those who deploy todays drones and satellites
From canvas sheets to GPS the world laid bare

Ken Fisher

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Atlas

Power Cut

Power Cut

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Today, for a brief interval, we experienced an unusual event
There was a power cut – or outage as they call it in the US
I say unusual because it seems to happen very rarely
And I thought it must simply have been a bulb
That had burned out and blown our fuses
But no, the fuses all seemed undisturbed

And so it dawned on us that our vital energy supply
Had suddenly been removed. The spark extinguished
And all at once a number of unfamiliar beeps pulsated
From devices unused to service interruption
Little red lights flashed, and LCD displays closed their eyes
Even the Smart Meter discovered it was not quite smart enough

And then one starts to wonder if other aspects of our virtual life
Have been threatened by the removal of the magic flow of electrons
What if our planned recordings on the Tivo box are sabotaged?
What about those anxiously awaited emails. The calendar
perhaps set into disarray. The reminder messages forgotten?
More important – what about tonight’s cryogenic chicken in the freezer!

Of course all of this is simply emblematic of our dependency
Without the power we have rendered ourselves powerless
No communications, no heat and light, no monitoring or control
Much of our supply of news and entertainment gone AWAL
And unless you have your home generator, how will you manage
From your nonexistent stash of batteries and candles?

Still, in days of yore humankind survived somehow
Perhaps we have all become too reliant
We cannot believe that the rupture of these vital lines
The exhaustion of non-renewable resources
Or just a simple technical glitch can thus render us hopeless
Thank goodness the power returned in ten minutes
Perhaps it was all just a brief nightmare!

Ken Fisher

Curmudgeon

Curmudgeon

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Sometimes we should briefly pause
And ask ourselves what is the cause
Of our behaviour so carnaptious
Childlike and quite often fractious

Perhaps it’s a rheumatic twinge
Or the result of some eating binge
When sometimes we feel out of sorts
Gloomy face, and temper short

Maybe a symptom of old age
Is that the reason why we rage?
At little gripes that bring dismay
That shouldn’t happen every day!

Sometimes we echo John Paul Sartre
Philosopher so very smart
He claimed ‘hell is other people’
Among them we ne’er can be gleeful

And for our temper we always find excuse
Too often we seem to feel the blues
But if a cure we hope to find
To others we need to be kind

And if we live life with a smile
Make acceptance our new style
The curmudgeon will soon fade away
As joy to others we display

Ken Fisher

Dietary Control

Dietary Control

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Recently I had to review my diet
Eat anything but just don’t fry it!
Thus the experts would advise
Caw canny on the old French fries

Perhaps I just exaggerate
Should watch what we put on our plate
No processed food laden with fat
We should remember old Jack Sprat

In an Italian diet we can rejoice
They know what is the healthy choice
Pasta seems to do much good
A dietician’s favoured food

Of great salad meals we can be proud
Veg and fruit we must espouse
Submerge yourself in oily fish
Definitely the favoured dish

Say good-bye to oven chips
Chunky steaks must now eclipse
Subsumed by beans and other pulses
Learn to control our salty urges

Apparently we need some starchy foods
Bread and rice can do much good
Potatoes baked with their skins on
Might help promote both brain and brawn

For breakfast don’t ignore your porridge
And of cereals ensure no shortage
Dairy products, milk, cheese and yoghurt
If low-fat will never hurt

Perhaps this is too scientific
Deluged with facts, far too prolific
Energy, protein, and saturates
How do I get them to my plate?

However expert advice is for the best
And while we must not be obsessed
Following their balanced plan –
More salad bowl, less frying pan!

Ken Fisher