The robots cometh

Don McKinnon writes: Re. “Rundle: the automation revolution begins, with jobs mercilessly crushed beneath robotic heels” (yesterday). In the 70s, in my “reading too much Kurt Vonnegut” phase, I read Player Piano.  It’s quite a prophetic book (written in the early 50s) as it predicts automation taking jobs away and how society adjusts.  Freakily, as Vonnegut predicted, the people who automate  employment sectors are often the people working in them and who therefore kill off their own jobs.  I have to say I don’t understand why it’s never referenced in these sorts of articles.  Especially when groups like Tony Abbott’s Green Army so parallel the Reeks and Wrecks (Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps) in Vonnegut’s book.  From memory it was as clever an observation of human behaviour as 1984 or Animal Farm but with the added attraction of the science-fiction (?) aspect which is only science-fiction if you look at it from the 1950s’ perspective because now a lot of it has actually happened.

On codeine

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Bizarre nanny state codeine policy an excruciating headache for taxpayers” (yesterday). So sensible Bernard Keane seems way off on this one. There seems to be a good argument that if you have such excruciating pain that you need to be doped down with codeine (I’m unusually sensitive, but one of those strong painkillers with a small amount of codeine is enough to send me off with the fairies), you probably should be seeing some kind of health professional — be it a doctor or a physio or a clinical psychologist or an acupuncturist — to identify and remedy the cause, rather than, in good old Aussie blokey tradition, pretending it’s nothing that can’t be cured with a Bex and a good lie down.

Do we want to return to those days when women (and not doubt men) ignored their pain or smothered it with cheap drugs or alcohol? Seems that’s more nanny state than ever. Seems that’s far less about taking responsibility for one’s health, and far more about wanting ‘nanny’ to fix it.

Peter Fray

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