Coffee, pro-wrestling, and panic over an automated future
Creative Discourse's weekly collection of links to opinions, videos and news stories that offer insights into the act of persuasion and creativity.
Every Friday, Creative Discourse shares a few thoughts on recent news items that either offer insight into the act of persuasion and creativity… or simply seem somewhat amusing. Here’s what you might have missed this week:
Are we serious?
Betting on WWE matches seems… well, it seems unwise.
Apparently, pro-wrestling officials are concocting a plan to convince regulators that their pre-determined matches should be included in sports books… acknowledging it would change the way wrestling scripts its results.
“Allowing gambling on certain WWE matches would alter how matches are produced – and how storylines are created. In discussions about how gambling on wrestling could work, WWE executives have proposed that scripted results of matches be locked in months ahead of time, according to people familiar with the matter. The wrestlers themselves wouldn’t know whether they were winning or losing until shortly before a match takes place…”
Certainly, allowing legal betting on WWE matches feels a bit like allowing legal betting on Harlem Globetrotter games. (That is to say: it just feels rigged.)
Then again, who are we to judge what people do with their own money? Anyone who bets on such matches (expecting anything approaching a fair chance of winning) either has so much disposal income they can afford to be separated from a bit of it for entertainment’s sake… or they are so foolish with their money there’s little chance they would have employed it more productively elsewhere.
If consumers want to lose their own money betting on a decidedly scripted “sport,” why not let them? After all, slot machines are legal — and those are deliberately programmed to ensure the house always wins.
It’s not that coffee needs any more testimonials lauding its miraculous contribution to the world in which we live… but here’s one anyway, from Arthur Brooks:
“Caffeine evolved in certain plants—including coffee shrubs, tea trees, cocoa beans, and kola nuts—as a naturally occurring pesticide to discourage insects from eating them. Stupid bugs. But that doesn’t explain why about 85 percent of Americans consume it in some form each day. (I can only assume that the other 15 percent have no quality of life whatsoever.)”
Throughout his column, Brooks explains the amazing benefits bestowed upon us by this sensational little bean — diving into a bit of science and biology to explain what, exactly, caffeine does to our brain.
More than anything, however, Brooks makes a simple point: Coffee is wonderful, because it makes us happy. And there are some things in life that simply don’t need much more rationalization than that.
Read Arthur Brook’s piece here
Technology and progress
Why are some people so terrified of progress? An old video of Tucker Carlson lamenting the rise of automation — arguing that self-driving semi-trucks should be made illegal so American truckers don’t find themselves suddenly out of work — recently resurfaced on Twitter for some reason…
Aside from the hilarity of sounding remarkably like a buggy-whip salesman decrying the arrival of the horseless carriage, Carlson seems to be ignorant of the countless benefits such automation might bestow upon the world — such as reduced congestion and fewer accidents. Robots, after all, don’t become fatigued and can travel more easily during the long stretches of time when there are fewer cars on the road. (Such as at night.)
While lost jobs might very well be a concern (something I’ve addressed before, here), Carlson’s incredulity offers a glimpse of not only how unwilling he is to persuade those who might disagree — resorting instead to simply “banning” such technology with authoritarian government diktats — but also how unwilling he is to being persuaded.
No wonder it’s so difficult to talk politics nowadays.
Speaking of technology coming for our jobs, it seems that Artificial Intelligence is making its first real foray into our daily lives with interfaces like ChatGPT — a sort of chatbot that interacts in a disturbingly human way.
(Copywriters and customer service reps, beware… the eerie dystopian future is upon us, and it begins with making your jobs obsolete.)
Ogilvy executive Rory Sutherland, however, put some of the fears we have about AI into perspective with his unique British wry:
“ChatGPT is remarkable. The ability almost instantly to repurpose and condense information into plausible, coherent sentences is impressive. It might make you believe it is human, though its extreme literal-mindedness leaves it a long way from convincing you it is British.”
Maybe progress only seems scary to so many of us because we’re venturing into the unknown. After all, it takes a certain kind of personality to plunge into the vast wilderness of the future without some sense of trepidation or reservation.
The rest of us just get pushed into tomorrow — whether we’re ready for it or not.