Engineer obsolescence

Now gather round people wherever you roam

trefor_150This morning as I walked to work I passed the Lincoln City Council offices. My thoughts were “Lots of people work in those offices. I bet many of them could be replaced by software.”

It’s an interesting point. In one sense a City Council is very much a social business. Historically someone who was getting too old to work to work in private industry, a builder’s labourer for example, might have got a job on a council road gang once his fitness levels and usefulness on a building site waned. I’m sure there must be many other examples of this.

Also what would someone who has spent most of their life working for the council in the rigid structure of public service do if they weren’t doing that job? Is that my problem? I’d be quite happy if my Council Tax was at half it’s current level.

How would this be approached by the CEO of the Council whose job must be to keep services running whilst cutting costs?

In order to make this happen we would have to increase the Council Tax in the short term to pay for the development. This development would almost certainly have to be outsourced in which case it would probably not be delivered for many years and at great cost. Maybe it would never be delivered.

The alternative would be to do it in house in which case it would either not be delivered in a timely manner either due to the lack of the right skills or we would still end up paying even more Council Tax because the council would have to pay over the odds to attract the right people to come and work for them.

Whilst all this was going on the Council would have to convince its staff that the purpose of the development was to free them up to do more productive tasks as opposed to reducing headcount. Hmm.

I’m not particularly trying to make myself unpopular with the Council workers of Lincoln or anywhere else. Just observing that the times they are a changin’, or they need to be changin’.

My perspective is that of a private business that want’s to employ as few people as possible whilst making as much money as possible. This is natural. It is the way of the future. Why not?

I have four kids. One has left home and works in a creative industry. The other three are still in full time education. None of them, I guarantee you this, will end up on a treadmill because by the time they get there that treadmill will be software controlled and not need a person.

Manual treadmills will be museum pieces.  The subject of documentaries on the History Channel. Accessed no doubt in 3D hologramvision via their eeeewwwdidyouseethatboywasitfast broadband connection – naming is going to be a problem now that BT has labeled it’s FTTX product “Infinity”.

Whatever the kids do end up doing I’m sure it will be interesting and exciting. Great opportunities lie ahead as never before. Walking around Lisbon over the weekend there was plenty of evidence of great adventures of voyage and discovery of the past. Where are the adventures of the future I wondered.

Most places have already been discovered. I don’t count outer space which is impractical. My hitch hiking adventures to Greece as a Student were probably my own modern day equivalent of the voyages of Magellan or Vasco da Gama.

You don’t see many hitchhikers today. For the kids the adventure isn’t going to be anything like that. Life is changing so fast that for them it is all going to be one big adventure. I’m very excited. Given the right attitude the adventure will come.

I’m not about to solve the world’s problems here and I’ve spouted enough gough. I just happened to be walking past the City Council offices this morning and I thought to myself “Lots of people work in those offices. I bet many of them could be replaced by software.”

Now gather round people wherever you roam…

PS That last sentence was topical. If you don’t know the song I’m not going to explain it.

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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