I have a unique position with regards to IBM. I’ve been a customer, authorized dealer, competitor, business partner and employee over three decades.
IBM recently became the first major company to acknowledge that it intends to substitute its workforce with artificial intelligence. CEO Arvind Krishna confirmed to Bloomberg that IBM will pause hiring plans, adding that the company intends to replace roughly 7,800 positions with AI systems over the next five years. In a separate Fox Business interview, Krishna explained that AI will target numerous white-collar jobs. Krishna noted that back-office functions, particularly in the human resources department, will be the first to be absorbed by AI. But accounting, finance, and other non-customer-facing areas might find algorithms and robots filling positions, too.
I’ve got news for investors. They could replace a hell of a lot more and be better off. They could do a twitter and lose 70% still be better off. During the business partner phase of my employment, I marveled at how incompetent they could be and still keep the doors open. They had 14 people for the job that I did at the time as a business partner. As it turned out, that was during the introduction of the PC era, so they were printing money and this excess of waste was overlooked.
Until John Akers, IBM was a job for life company with an army of blue soldiers. Unfortunately, you could also be one of the most useless employees and still have a great job with a high salary. It came crumbling down and Lou Gerstner had to save it or break it up. There was an internal joke called FUMU, fuck up move up. They’d just re-arrange the deck chairs if someone made a mistake and brush it under the rug.
One of the transfers from IBM to that company I was working for told me they had people they called the thinkers. They sat in their office and read the WSJ and drank coffee all day. They didn’t go to meetings or contribute, so he sarcastically said he thought they were paid to think. (The meme was just in time from wirecutter)
The other inside joke was the name of the program for the first layoffs. It was FAP, the financial assistance program. It is also an urban word for masturbating, what a lot of IBM employees did on the clock.
When those same employees had to go get jobs after the first cut and told me it’s hard to get a job in the real world. Most couldn’t.
One of my IBM bosses, maybe one of the best, Jim Neumann explained it to me. He said you went to elementary school, middle, high schools then college. When you graduated, you went to the next school at IBM, but never got out of school.
Who they had working there when I left made me wonder how they were in business.
One of the biases there was that if you were from NY, you were a better employee. The headquarters are there so they would farm the ones they wanted out to jobs around the world and then bring them to NY to run the place. There were offices everywhere, but you were considered a second class worker unless you were in NY. I turned 2 job offers down to move there because it was so awful. The people were backstabbers and the area is one of the worst the worst in the company (or country not counting California). How they thought they were better was a clear signal of something wrong. A lot of them told me they were stuck there with golden handcuffs, but wished they could get out.
One asshole VP from Columbia U used to talk down to those of us at RTP. He did so in a way that would get any employee terminated in the real world. I saw people not help him just to not have to interact with him.
It only got worse under Ginni Rometty. It turned into a mean girls club with the excuse that Ginni said so, as the lead in to what you wanted done. She managed to halve the stock price during her tenure.
No one ever printed it fully, but they were full on in the diversity world and hired a lot of questionable people. The jobs and products reflected it. Some of the worst bosses for females were women. The homosexuals got away with yelling and treating people badly with immunity and the black head of diversity made racist remarks constantly. They have been woke for a long time while hiding it.
So artificial intelligence is going to replace those jobs. They really only need the artificial as a lot of the jobs never had fully intelligent people in it anyway.
My blogger friend Denny, The Grouchy Old Cripple and I used to reminisce with virtually identical stories, though we worked at different time and in different jobs. I’m not alone on this.