2016.10.14 The Robot

Everybody in the manufacturing industry knows how big the company Assobot is. It literally monopolises the assembly robotics business around the world. Yet, not many knew that Assobot has been secretly working on the Artificial Intelligence in the humanoid form factor since the beginning of this century. In fact, there have been at least 2 prototypes released in recent years. Why haven’t you seen any, you ask? Well, because they look just like the normal human beings.

All working in the AI industry, except the Marketing and Sales who don’t really know what AI means, would tell you that it is easy to make something looks like human, but almost impossible make it to think like one. Assobot knew it too (after 3 billions investment over more than half a decade). In the year of 2010, the head of Assobot Strategic R&D finally accepted the fact that it wouldn’t be possible to develop humanoid robot for all job functions. Instead, they would consider it a success if their robot is able to perform the easiest job without being spotted.

Yes, Assobot decided to make the robotic manager.

According to an insider who knows the product, Assobot has been partnering with some big MNCs to slowly replace their middle management with Assobot AI robot. “It’s really hard to notice the difference, but I know that they were code named Type-D and Type-M.”

As far as AI algorithm is concerned, the easiest way to impersonate a manager is to avoid any job, thus making the robot “immune to any business mistakes”. The design of Type-D (stands for “Dodger”) followed this principle. Its embedded intelligence focuses solely on generating excuses for a “No” answer. Unfortunately, the market didn’t really like it. Feedbacks from customers often described that “the presence of Type-D in the workplace gradually demotivates the team it manages.” Assobot urgently needed to improve its product.

The idea of enhancement came shortly from a senior manager within Assobot’s own HQ, during his regular toilet visit in a Wednesday afternoon. He didn’t suggest a radically different design. “Good manager empowers subordinates,” he rationalized, “why don’t we designed our robot in such a way that it always throw the questions back to its team members? We motivates the team while still taking no risk!” The board members, after spent a few seconds reflecting their own management style, quickly approved the proposal to make the Type-M (“Motivator”).

Type-M was an immediate success. Partly because the AI requirement is actually simpler than Type-D (how hard can it be to find different ways of saying “I honestly expect you to give me a solution”? or “I think you are fully capable of solving this problem alone”?), and partly because many human managers in fact act in exactly the same way!

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