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The International League of Happiness (ILH) plans to host a two-day Workshop for the benefit of those fans of P G Wodehouse who might be twiddling their thumbs trying to understand such emerging technologies as Blockchain, AIMLA (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Algorithm Analytics), Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Printing, and the like.

Some details of the program are as follows:

Day 1

 

Inaugural Address

Lord Emsworth, Chief Patron of ILH 

The Role of Emerging Technologies in keeping the Empress in the pink of health, in floriculture, in ducking guests and in managing obdurate sisters

 

Key Note Address

Ms Roberta Wickham, Founder Director, Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies (RAGT)

Use of technologies to ensure happier and safer courtships for the delicately nurtured

 

Technical Session 1

Sir Watkyn Bassett, CBE, magistrate and Justice of Peace

My Experiments with Truth – Uncovering the mysteries of Blockchain Technologies

The speaker is likely to share his experiential wisdom and explain some aspects of Blockchain:

– A highly secured system which ensures that there is only one Truth, thereby curbing such social aberrations drunken revelries and umbrella;

– Supports transactions which are secured, thereby encouraging the emergence of a single Truth, which becomes the only truth. If you fake it up, you pay a penalty, leading to a drastic improvement in transparency levels;

– Tracking: One can track what happened. It is a decentralized, distributed, mass, general ledger which preserves the Truth in any given situation. This helps ardent collectors of all sizes, hues and shapes to protect their precious possessions better;

– Current technology is slated to become super-efficient and will eventually bring about a humbling equality among all human beings, thereby reducing a tendency on part of some to mock such striking dresses as prismatic checked suits and purple dressing gowns with yellow frogs.

 

Technical Session 2

Mr Reginald Jeeves, Deputy Secretary General, ILH

Improving the delight of Customers and Bosses by leveraging the Internet of Things

  • Using smart grids to alleviate poverty, eradicate diseases and reduce income inequalities
  • How machine to machine data exchange can be used to deliver better satisfaction to customers and employers
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of valeting operations
  • Leveraging technology to ensure that one’s employer forever remains a bachelor, thereby ensuring stability in one’s valeting career

Day 2

 

Technical Session 3

Mr Rupert Psmith, Director General, ILH

Deploying Artificial Intelligence to improve Corporate Governance

Based on his exceptional career in banking, journalism and allied services, the speaker would demonstrate how:

– Pattern recognition in Big Data can lead to drastic improvements in corporate governance levels across all kinds of institutions, whether in the private or the public sector; even amongst central banks, judiciary, intelligence and investigation, and the legislative arms of a country;

– If one takes Yesterday as an experience, Today as an experiment, and Tomorrow as an expectation, one can forecast loan defaults by fugitive billionaires, non-performing assets of lending institutions and dramatic terror attacks;

– Using Hindsight and Oversight to improve Insight and Foresight could help in curbing gang wars, vigilante attacks and cyber crimes.

 

Technical Session 4

Sir Roderick Glossop, Director General, Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies

Deploying Emerging Technologies to improve mental well-being of those who struggle to maintain Work Life Balance  

Using practical examples from his illustrious career involving loony bins, anti-gambling leagues, and anti-smoking and anti-alcohol tirades, the speaker would touch upon the following facets:

  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: Potent tools to avoid landing in a loony bin
  • How revenue authorities can use Algorithm Analytics to squeeze more out of gambling dens
  • Leveraging 3D printing to improve upon the mesmerizing effect of a voodoo performance; also, to minimize the impact of a bunch of cats on one’s digestive system.

 

Technical Session 5

Ms Stephanie Byng, Director, RAGT

Nipping #MeToo in the bud: Promoting new standards of Chivalry  

  • Countering amorous advances of lecherous members of the so-called sterner sex by use of Artificial Intelligence and other technologies on the horizon;
  • Using Virtual Reality to educate kids and aspiring grooms about the new norms of Chivalry, such as baby sitting, diaper changing, cooking, mopping, dusting and in general assisting a housewife;
  • Promoting active use of the Bartholomew technique of motivating the law enforcers to take a serious note of any offences being reported to them.
  • Using Virtual Reality to sensitize prospective offenders to the living conditions of our prisons.

 

Technical Session 6: The flip side of technologies – Some notes of dissent

 

Mr Roderick Spode, Chairman, Eulalie Enterprises

The right to privacy in a technology driven age

 

Ms Joan Valentine, Chairperson, Global Association of Start Ups

The need to lower tariff and other barriers to facilitate international trade

 

Ms Madeline Bassett, Deputy Secretary – Environment, ILH

The stark failure of Emerging Technologies to counter the threat of Climate Change

 

Ms Honoria Glossop, Deputy Secretary – Sports, ILH

The risks of increasing screen times; Getting back to what is Factual, Real and True

 

 

Valedictory Address

Right Hon’ble A B Filmer, Cabinet Minister

The speaker is expected to touch upon the future of modern technologies which would help politicos to:

  • Stick to power for longer durations by (i) Keeping their public image always spick and span, (ii) Using social media platforms to brow beat the opponents and sway public opinion in their favour, and (iii) Engaging with voters by using Virtual Reality;
  • Ensure hassle free vacations, with safer boat rides, sans angry swans.

 

Details

 

Venue: Blandings Castle

Dates: February 14-15, 2019

Registration: www.ilh.org

Catering: Anatole and team

 

The Empress of Blandings shall be in attendance. A LED display will showcase the use of algorithms to monitor her health and diet.

 

Note:

 

The International League of Happiness is a not-for-profit organization where:

-Destructive propaganda of any kind is sneered at

-Global interests are accorded higher priority than narrow national/regional interests

-Healthy discussion is encouraged but indifference to, or defiance of, its collective resolutions is discouraged

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/the-epidemic-of-wodehousitis

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2017/10/12/an-invitation-from-the-international-league-of-happiness

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things)

 

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(The following is an abridged and modified excerpt from the book ‘I Am Something: Developing a New Leader Mindset’, authored by Prof G P Rao, founder of SPANDAN, yours truly and others.)

Advances in technology inevitably lead to more efficiencies, better products and improved lifestyles for people. But each leap of faith into the domain of a newer technology brings with it a set of newer challenges for mankind. As machines increasingly take over the drudgery of repetitive tasks and become more intelligent, human beings invariably need to re-skill themselves. This applies to business leaders as well as their followers.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution in the offing now builds on the Digital Revolution, representing new ways in which technology becomes embedded within societies and even the human body.

Skill-sets of the future

As per a World Economic Forum document titled ‘Future of Jobs Report’, employers are said to anticipate a significant shift in the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms for the tasks of today.

The aforesaid report states that of the total task hours across the industries covered, on an average, 71% are currently performed by humans, whereas 29% are performed by machines or algorithms. By 2022, this average is expected to have shifted to 58% task hours performed by humans, and 42% by machines or algorithms. It can be readily appreciated that this signifies a very rapid pace of change, something for which leaders need to be better prepared.

The report goes on to project that skills related to analytical thinking, active learning, technology design and technology competency would grow in prominence. It also proposes that such ‘human’ skills as creativity, originality and initiative, critical thinking, persuasion and negotiation will either retain or increase their value, as will attention to detail, resilience, flexibility and complex problem-solving.

It follows that in the impending man-machine conflict, human beings are not likely to suffer the same fate as that of the non-avian dinosaurs which went extinct some sixty-five million years ago. But the writing on the wall is clear. They need to roll up their sleeves and get down to the task of sharpening their soft skills. A humane approach to handling team members needs to be consciously developed, especially when operating in a business environment characterized by a shortage of skilled workers. In turn, this would pre-suppose a higher Emotional Quotient and better service orientation. Even as the reliance on artificial intelligence grows for the analytical part of decision making, the role of intuition would become even more crucial.

A focus on the bottom line

Most employers would go in for innovating through technology if it makes business sense. It follows that technology would continue to remain a tool in the arsenal of the corporate world to squeeze more profits out of their operations, thereby making careers more fragile and impacting labour incomes adversely. With 24×7 connectivity, people are already working longer and enjoying lesser leisure time.

In a scenario of this kind, there is a grave risk that leaders would end up losing a connection with themselves even more than at present and hence end up de-humanizing the work place.

However, values remain indestructible. As an example, honesty and truthfulness in relationships is something which is bound to withstand the onslaught of newer technologies in the centuries to come. Same is the case with empathy, compassion, resilience and a flexible approach in problem solving.

Perhaps there is a need for governments the world over to anticipate newer moral and ethical dilemmas in a proactive manner and influence technological developments suitably, so human dignity and freedom is not compromised.

The perks and the perils

One may also surmise as to how the imminent advances in technology could throw up positive as well as negative factors which are likely to impact the man-machine equation in the times to come.

According to a 2014 report entitled ‘AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs’, published by Pew Research Centre, researchers Aaron Smith and Janna Anderson went to the extent of seeking feedback from as many as 1,896 experts. They found that when it came to the impact of advances in technology upon economic opportunity and employment, the opinion was deeply divided.

The optimists opined that technology would free us from day-to-day drudgery and end up redefining our relationship with ‘work’ in a more positive and socially beneficial manner. They felt that we shall adapt to these changes by inventing entirely new types of work and control our own destiny through the choices we make.

The pessimists amongst those who participated in the aforesaid study were of the opinion that the coming wave of innovation would mostly impact those involved in white-collar work. Whereas highly skilled workers will do better, many more might get pushed into lower paying jobs, and might even face permanent unemployment. They also felt that our educational, political and economic institutions are poorly equipped to handle the challenges which are likely to come up.

The aforesaid piece of research throws up instructive insights into how the future might shape up. Leaders and managers really need to think up some innovative ways in which they would handle a highly polarized workforce, comprising a disgruntled lot at one end and a highly skilled one at the other.

The challenge of creating happier workplaces

Unlike the earlier industrial revolutions, which first created and then changed the skill sets required by our blue collar workforce, the Fourth one promises to change the work profile of our white collar workers.

In his book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology. According to him, these technologies have great potential to continue to connect billions of more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management.

As we grapple to understand the future direction of monumental changes in our socio-economic fabric owing to the next phase of technological evolution, few things stand clear.

One, that our educational institutions are nowhere near the task of training a workforce which would not learn analytical skills by rote but would grasp the importance of creativity, resilience and improve upon their Emotional Quotient.

Two, most of our governments are yet to devise ways and means of regulating issues of protecting individual privacy, executive burnouts arising out of a 24×7 connectivity and heightened civic strife due to growing inequalities. The next phase is bound to create a newer class of elite – those who are adept at newer technologies, leaving far behind those who are not.

Those in the first category could end up believing that they are all too powerful. Those who remain blissfully ignorant and continue to be disconnected to those who are reaping the benefits of newer technologies are likely to gravitate towards a belief that they have no place in the knowledge universe. With poor resources of material as well legal kind at their command, these new ‘have-nots’ of the society may be doomed to languish for a long time, till the governments of the day intervene, willfully or otherwise, and ensure implementation of economic policies which are more inclusive in nature.

The third kind, comprising those left in the middle of the normal distribution curve of technology dispersal, could end up having a balanced approach to issues. In fact, with advances in technology, this kind could well face a higher risk of extinction, paving the way for those who believe themselves to be all too powerful to rule the roost.

The same pattern may become apparent in the realm of management as well. Leaders and executives would need to increase their engagement not only with the society at large, but also with the governments of the day. A massive effort at re-skilling personnel would become a necessity.

A matter of trust and privacy

Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy happens to be of the view that technology is a great leveller. He thinks that technology has improved transparency, conquered distance and class barriers. Also, that it has the potential to create a fair society and enhance the accountability of the rich, the powerful and the elite to the poor and disenfranchised in all societies.

One cannot dispute this. However, concerns regarding an increasing trust deficit remain. Denizens of many countries are feeling increasingly jittery over instances of data privacy. Moral policing, electoral pitching, rumour mongering – all these are fuelling this trust deficit.

One case in point is that of Facebook which is already armed with tools to dig deep into our lives, with the singular aim of moulding our thoughts and opinions about diverse aspects of our lives.

Employees in most organizations already resent living in a virtual fish bowl, where all their communications are suspected to be getting monitored. No one likes to be micro-managed, especially those who are capable and self-confident. Business enterprises have already started deploying tools to monitor employee productivity by collecting and analyzing their activity and inactivity levels.

In the long run, a work environment of this nature would end up impacting productivity, commitment and motivation levels adversely.

(Since 2020, the coronavirus has brought into focus the perils of techno-capitalism, dividing the society into those who can readily access technology and those who cannot. In an emerging economy like that of India, many school students have been left out of the formal learning loop because of their not having been able to access online classes. Rather than technology proving to be a leveller, it has instead proved itself to be a disruptor. Work-from-home has brought in behavioural changes amongst the knowledge workers, whereas migrant labourers have suffered from the trauma of displacement and loss of earnings.) 

The ever-increasing rate of change

One thing is certain. Change is not only a constant. With each passing year, the rate of change is also increasing. Much like Alice in Wonderland, Homo sapiens are discovering that they need to keep running faster and faster, with nary a respite in sight. Mankind is bound to evolve further much earlier than what was believed in the past. Alvin Toffler would perhaps heartily approve of this proposition.

Unlike thought so far, the man machine relationship shall become more integrated with each other in the near future. As a result, the combined force of processing of billions of data points for efficient decision making by machines, and contextual, emotional and intuitive aspects of decision making by human beings, would be, to that extent, higher and greater in their respective impacts – for good or bad.

What can be done to meet the challenge

– Employees, whether present or potential, can go beyond the formal education system and aggressively look for avenues to hone their skills, so as to remain employable. As Stephen R Covey has said, we need to keep our saws sharpened.

– Same applies to our business leaders, who would do well to improve upon their Emotional Quotient.

– The agenda for educationists and politicians is clear: To keep taking steps to facilitate the change already upon us; to anticipate the challenges of privacy and rumour mongering and to intervene to have appropriate safeguards embedded in upcoming technologies.

(References:
https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018
“Future of Jobs.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (December 11, 2014);
http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/08/06/future-of-jobs)

(Illustrations courtesy www)

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ashokbhatia

You know the kind of disasters which strike you once in a while. JustBertie image when you feel that life is a bed of roses, God is in heaven, and all is well with the world, Fate sneaks up from the back. Your Guardian Angel decides to proceed on a vacation. The blow falls.

Two weeks earlier, Aunt Agatha had set in motion yet another of her mould-the-wastrel-Bertie programs. Having been forced to be affianced to Honoria Glossop for this period had been a trying experience.

With each day came the challenge of having to read at least fifty odd pages of serious literature, often followed by a visit to some frightful art gallery or the other. Being made to attend quite a few classical concerts proved to be a traumatic experience. I was left convinced that blokes like Beethoven, if I get one of the names right, should have been banished…

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You know the kind of disasters which strike you once in a while. JustBertie image when you feel that life is a bed of roses, God is in heaven, and all is well with the world, Fate sneaks up from the back. Your Guardian Angel decides to proceed on a vacation. The blow falls.

Two weeks earlier, Aunt Agatha had set in motion yet another of her mould-the-wastrel-Bertie programs. Having been forced to be affianced to Honoria Glossop for this period had been a trying experience.

With each day came the challenge of having to read at least fifty odd pages of serious literature, often followed by a visit to some frightful art gallery or the other. Being made to attend quite a few classical concerts proved to be a traumatic experience. I was left convinced that blokes like Beethoven, if I get one of the names right, should have been banished from the country.

Mere participation in such pursuits was not considered sufficient. The fact that I was expected to actively participate in serious discussions and prove my intellectual mettle had left me all of a twitter.

Each and every encounter with my spouse-to-be proved to be an experience which tried the soul. Romance was a distant dream. Instead, talks of an intellectual kind dominated the discourse, leaving me in a highly enfeebled condition.

Then, one quiet evening, when Honoria and I were seated in the lobby, sipping tea and relishing some delicious hors d’oeuvres dished out by Spenser, Aunt Agatha’s butler, the blow fell.

‘Bertie,’ she said, ‘I have been thinking about our life after we get married.’

‘Eh? Oh, that sounds great.’

‘I think that valet of yours has too much of a negative influence on you,’ said Honoria.

A cold hand clutched at my heart.

‘You need to get rid of him,’ she said as she looked at me sharply, as if trying to gauge my reaction.

‘Get rid of Jeeves, do you mean?!’ I gasped.

‘Yes. I don’t like him.’

‘But he does a fine job of managing things in my life, don’t you think so?’

pgw-images-2‘Dear, you might be paying him a handsome salary, but he is the one who calls all the shots. Was he not the one who sent you on a futile midnight bicycle trip once, looking for a door key which was already with him? I hear that he keeps dominating you even over such trivial matters as the colour of your ties and the kind of jackets and hats you need to wear.’ said Honoria defiantly.

I gaped at her much as a clueless newt would have gaped at its mother when reprimanded for having not done its school homework.

‘But, dear, he also manages the house so very well. Everything in its place, taking care of guests, planning for lavish luncheons and dinners and what not, if you know what I mean. A most amazing cove, I would say.’

‘What is there in managing a house?’ said Honoria, glancing at me in a challenging manner. ‘I think I have a better solution.’

‘Hmm….and what might that be?’ I said, hope of a reprieve from a calamity gently starting to fade.

‘I would say we should provide you with a valet bot, enabled by state-of-art Artificial Intelligence. Perhaps, we can locate a valet which operates on Artificial Super Intelligence. It would take care of all your needs, and shall never boss you over. Never would it hold the view that you are a person who is, well, mentally negligible,’ said Honoria with that unique glint of enthusiasm in her eyes which girls normally get when they believe they are on to a really hot idea.

I shuddered. I knew that matrimonial alliances do tend to demand a lot of sacrifice on one’s part, but a supreme sacrifice of this magnitude? For the rest of my life, would I now wake up in the mornings with a humanoid approaching me not with a silver tray but with an iPad instead? The mind boggled.

In her zest, Honoria continued with her futuristic vision.

‘Bertie,’ she said, ‘I would go to the extent of suggesting that we re-do your entire flat. Make it a Smart Flat, so to say. What do you think?’

‘Er…I say, eh, what do you mean?’

‘Ooh, Bertie! Can’t you see? You will have the latest gadgets at your

Rembrandt

Rembrandt

place. A giant TV screen which would softly descend from the ceiling, enabling you to read serious and meaningful literature at the flick of a button. It would be backed by the latest multimedia functions. In the dining room, we shall put a giant screen which will keep showing paintings of such stalwarts as Edward Munch, Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt and the like. The study would get converted into a small theatre where, after sumptuous dinners, we shall be able to watch recordings of classical concerts from all over the world. Your intellectual proficiency would improve in no time. Father would be so very pleased.’

I tottered. Before I could lodge a feeble protest, she continued to narrate her frightful plans.

‘Bertie, the flat would have a universal software interface. Wi-Fi. Tea machines, ovens and gadgets which would be remote controlled. Retinal scanners at the entrance door. iPad-controlled door locks. Hidden flat-panel screens in all the rooms, which can be popped down at the flick of a button. Underwater lighting shows in the bath-tubs. Lighting fixtures and window blinds which can be shut at will, even by a remote. The place would be heavenly! Don’t you think so?! Would you not be happier, darling?’

‘But…er…listen, I say, I am happy the way things are, dear!’

‘Oh, Bertie, you are so very unromantic’, protested Honoria.

‘Well, dash it….., don’t you think that we shall need a software expert to manage all the advanced gadgets you indicate?’, I tried to reason, hope rearing its head yet again.

‘That is the beauty of the scheme I propose, dear. The moment such things get installed, Jeeves would find himself out of his depth. For all you know, pretty soon, he will put in his papers. That would bring sunshine and freedom back into your life.’

‘Sunshine? Freedom?’, I said doubtfully.

‘Bertie, would you or would you not fulfil this simple wish of mine?’

‘Hmm, let us think about it’, was the most I could mumble, just as my Guardian Angel decided to back me up, what with Spenser entering and announcing that my car had been brought to the gate. A perfunctory kiss on the cheeks of my spouse-to-be and I was off, temporarily elated at having had the wisdom of avoiding an unpleasant argument with Honoria. But the brow was decidedly furrowed. Dark crowds hovered over the horizon.

Reaching the metropolis, I decided to ward off the feeling of impending doom by stopping over briefly at Drones for a snifter. I can’t say it helped me much. As I headed for the flat, I brooded as much as my poor grey cells would allow me to, but could not come up with a solution to the challenge posed by my affianced. I just could not imagine a life without Jeeves. So very competent in every aspect.

Technology is all very well, if you know what I mean, but what about the human touch? Was there no value attached to the big head bulging at the back? The supreme intelligence which had so far protected me from so many disasters in life? Would a robot be able to whip up a pick-me-up, like Jeeves would, as and when necessary?

Could one count the number of times he had avoided the prospect of his master walking down the aisle with one of the finer specimens of the tribe of the delicately nurtured? What about his unique capacity of being able to judge the psychology of the individual? Could any robot even try to replicate a fraction of it?

As I entered my humble abode, things were as neatly arranged as ever. If Jeeves were to ever start offering consultation to big corporates in TQM or 5-S PGW HughLaurie-BertieWoosteror some such rot, he would be literally rolling in millions, I thought.

‘I trust your trip was satisfactory, sir?’, he asked deferentially, as he started unpacking the stuff.

‘I wish it had been that way’, Jeeves. ‘Do you think you could fix a w. and s. for me? Make it stiff, if you like’, I said.

In time, he waltzed in with a tissue restorative, a perfect picture of timely service and feudal zeal.

Having shoved down a couple of gulps down the hatch, I spilled the beans.

‘Jeeves, something frightful has happened.’

‘Indeed, sir?’

‘Time to come to the aid of the party, eh, what?’

‘My services are at your disposal, sir.’

‘Thanks to Aunt Agatha, I have got betrothed to Honoria Glossop.’

His left eyebrow went up a quarter of an inch. I am certain that Gandhi could have learnt a lesson in equanimity from Jeeves.

‘I wish you both great happiness together, sir.’

‘Thank you and what not. Though I realize that you would not approve of an alliance of this nature, you know what Aunt Agatha is like. Hitler himself could have taken a kindergarten course under her and failed to come up to her exacting standards.’

‘Perhaps you wish to convey that she comes up with proposals which try the soul, sir?’

‘Absolutely. What do you think, Jeeves?’

‘Sir, if the banns are getting announced, I wonder if I could get relieved of my responsibilities at an appropriate time?’

I was stupefied. Shaken to the core, if you know what I mean.

‘What makes you say that, Jeeves?’

‘You are aware, sir, that it is not my policy to serve in households where the master and his spouse are best left alone in rest and repose.’

‘I understand, Jeeves. In fact, Honoria has also been suggesting some frightful plans of upgrading the flat and make it more…..er, what is the word which has technology in it and ends with heavy or something?’

‘Perhaps you allude to the term tech-savvy, sir?’

‘Indeed. I wonder how you know all these things, Jeeves.’

‘Kind of you to say so, sir. I do believe that the future belongs to   those who are in sync with the Internet of Things.’

‘Internet of what things, Jeeves? Why do you always talk in terms of riddles?’

‘My apologies for having had the audacity of testing your patience, sir. I was referring to the rapid advancements in technology which are changing the way we interact with things, sir.’

‘Oh…like what?’

‘You may already know, sir, that robots and humanoids are increasingly taking over all kinds of routine tasks. Robots, algorithms and chatbots are becoming a part of everyday life. From Artificial Intelligence, people are trying to move on to Artificial General Intelligence and even Artificial Super Intelligence.’

‘Strange, Jeeves. How do you think things are going to shape up?’

‘Quite revolutionary, if I may venture to hazard a guess, sir. For example, the next time you walk into the Marriott Hotel in Belgium, a humanoid robot by the name of Mario could be checking you in. Likewise, the Hilton chain has launched Connie, a robot embedded with IBM’s Watson technology. As the trend picks up, hotel chains could replicate this experiment, thereby making you well known to all their properties across the world.’

wodehouse-characters‘Oh, so someone like Tuppy Glossop would no longer be able to get off with a misdemeanour at one of their swimming pools, looping the last ring or something of that kind?’

‘I fear not, sir. When you go for shopping, you may just need to punch some buttons and the desired object would appear on a screen. If you decide to buy, you punch another set of buttons, make the payment using internet banking, and the item would be offered to you on a designer conveyor belt, duly packed. No human intervention in the entire retailing process.’

‘Oh, so next time Aunt Dahlia asks me to go and sneer at a silver cow creamer at an antique shop, there will be no cove at the sales counter, registering my scorn?’

‘Quite likely, sir. In a similar vein, secretaries like Amy Ingram are now helping overworked office managers with quite a few of their mundane tasks. Thanks to a self-learning algorithm, Amy gets smarter all the time.’

‘Good news, indeed. So, there would no longer be a possibility of Aunt Dahlia wishing me to become the secretary of someone like Mr. A. B. Filmer, the Cabinet Secretary, who got thwarted by the overtures of an angry swan, what?’

‘Not really, sir. But at some future date, there is a possibility that our civilization reaches that state of perfection in its technological endeavours.’

‘But don’t you think we are being rather foolish, creating machines which might turn out to be smarter than us? The mind boggles. Sure enough, the foundations of our civilization are quivering.’

‘There is a lot of merit in what you say, sir. However, to be able to replicate the emotional responses and humane feelings of Homo Sapiens may not be easy. Eventually, both the skill-sets would be required for humanity to grow. As more and more routine tasks get done by robots, human beings can move higher up the cognitive and spiritual ladder.’

‘Do you think many other professions could also get invaded by this machine mania, Jeeves?’

‘I do believe so, sir. Even lawyers and judges could soon lose their jobs to their AI-enabled counterparts.’

‘Ah, what a relief that would be, Jeeves. Poor Aunt Dahlia, when trying to avoid my going in for thirty days without the option, would no longer need to offer the services of Anatole to such unscrupulous characters as Sir Watkyn Bassett, I guess.’

‘The contingency would indeed appear to be a remote one, sir.’

‘And what about the realm of tissue restoratives? That is an area you specialize in, Jeeves!’

‘I do believe, sir, that two young gentlemen from London have already come up with a brew called IntelligentX, which evolves its flavour based on responses from social media.’

‘But, surely, you would not spill the beans when it comes to those pick-me-ups of yours?’

‘That is a prospect which is best avoided, sir. But perhaps Ellie could solve quite a few of our problems.’

‘Oh, never heard of her. What am I missing, Jeeves?’

internet image 2‘Sir, Ellie is a virtual psychotherapy assistant in whom you can readily confide all your problems. I hear that scientists at the University of Southern California have developed her. She can help diagnose signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sir.’

‘But do you think she can replace such eminent loony doctors as Sir Roderick Glossop? After all, a specialist with his extensive practice can hardly help taking a rather warped view of humanity and might wish to check things first hand.’

‘Indeed, sir. But I believe that the eminent personality you refer to has already a couple of them working for him. This reduces his onerous overload of having to keep a tab on the vast number of patients he treats. In fact, just before you came in, Mrs. Gregson called up to say that one such specimen would be arriving soon enough to have a short diagnostic meeting with you.’

‘Oh, so what do you suggest, Jeeves?’

‘Sir, I would not wish to impose myself in any way. Nor would I like to stand in the way of the happiness of yourself and Miss Honoria.’

‘I respect this feudal approach of yours, Jeeves. That is precisely the reason I am seeking your support in the matter.’

robot-cat‘If so, with your permission, I would suggest using a virtual feline creature which is programmed to make the right noises at the right time, while Sir Roderick Glossop’s assistant is in a discussion with you. I had managed to borrow a specimen from one of the friends who had developed it and wanted it to be tested. Unless, of course, sir, you wish it otherwise….’

‘No, no, far from it, Jeeves,’ I butted in, hope dawning at last. ‘I appreciate this initiative of yours. But you mention only a single specimen. Last time, I thought, you had twenty-three cats!’ One always strived to get the numbers right, you see.

‘Thank you, sir. You are right about the last time. However, this time we are handling merely an assistant. Also, the robot cat I have in my possession now can generate ten different kinds of meows at random, thereby giving the impression that there are so many in the place.’

‘Splendid. So, we are also spared the trouble of encountering a dead fish wanting a written explanation and apology!’

‘Indeed, sir.’

‘By the way, may I know how did you manage to learn all this about the Internet of Things, Jeeves?’

‘Sir, bots powered by superior forms of Artificial Intelligence are soon likely to be the interface, shaping our interactions with the applications and the devices we rely on. Pretty soon, internet-connected cars, elevators and smart cities will pose newer challenges. Internet of Things is the future and I thought I have to be ready to be able to handle it.’

‘Don’t tell me that you are already an expert in handling computers, motherboards, servers, networks and the latest gizmos? You never fail to amaze, Jeeves!’

‘Kind of you to say so, sir. I merely strive to keep my skills upgraded at all times, so I may continue to provide satisfaction. Stephen R Covey has famously held that one should always keep one’s saw sharpened.’

‘Covey….who is this brainy cove?’

‘Sir, he is an expert who is revered in the field of management these days.’

‘But how did you manage to learn this much?’

‘A bit of money which an aunt of mine had bequeathed me came in handy some time back. Also, a little bit of subterfuge, sir, if I may confess. You may recall my having requested some leave last year around this time, sir?’

‘Yes, you said you wanted to hone your skills in shrimp farming, if I remember right.’

‘Your memory does not fail you, sir. In fact, I had used that time to take up an intensive course in the Internet of Things, sir.’

‘Well, well! How did you ever manage that?’

internet image 1‘Sir, the Junior Ganymede Club had earlier succeeded in forging a closer alliance with companies which make hi-tech gear for the aristocracy. Mr. Brigstock, the secretary of the club, had confided in me that talks with outfits like Crestron and Savant had eventually borne fruit. These companies have designed training programs to teach aspirants to my kind of service-oriented career as to how to run and troubleshoot smart-home systems. The club is already running a separate academy which imparts knowledge to wannabe gentlemen of gentlemen in IT networking and programming. This, it is hoped, would ward off the threat to this age old profession from bright engineers and IT-savvy youngsters who wish to improve upon their pecuniary circumstances and earn six-figure emoluments.’

‘You have certainly earned a hefty raise for yourself, Jeeves. Name it and you shall have it.’

‘I am much obliged for your generosity, sir,’ he said, suddenly looking at his iPad which was blinking softly.

‘Sir, one Ellie-99 from the office of Sir Glossop is at the door, seeking an interaction with you.’

‘Oh, already, eh, what? Is the virtual cat in place?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘In perfect working order, I hope?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Bung her in, then. Let us scare her off, so the fixture with Honoria gets scratched without further delay.’

‘Your wish is my command, sir,’ he said as he shimmered out to let Ellie-99 in.

(Illustrations courtesy the world wide web)

 

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