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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Auto Pilot Union Threatens Strike, Auto Tuners Suspected To Follow

With all the hub-bub surrounding air travel these days, you'd think that the government would step in and ensure the industry's longevity and safety for the good of our nation.  Instead, just the opposite has been happening for the past several years.  Airlines are being bought and sold almost daily, leaving many travelers wondering if their tickets will work when they get to the gate.  Bags cost money to check, and if you're overweight, forget about it.  You'll need a second seat and you'll be paying twice what you did normally.  Until recently, these had all been consumer issues, something a simple complaint or indignant letter could eradicate.  Then the flight attendant freak out happened 8 weeks ago, an instant red flag that things were going horribly awry.  Now, with rumors of airlines crumbling from the inside out, a new dilemma befalls the industry: the pending auto pilot union strike.

What many people don't know about the auto pilot is that it was initially developed in the early 60s to play chess against a human.  The simulator got so good at the game, they decided to program 1000 phrases into it that it could say while it played.  Some were taunts, others congratulatory remarks.  The idea was to let the simulator think for itself, and it provided for some shockingly genuine results.  The government quickly took over the research and 10 short years later, the auto pilot was born.  "It started as a game of chicken," Gen. Charles Horseapples said in a 1991 interview.  "We just kept raising the stakes.  Once it beat us at chess, we taught it to talk.  Once it could out debate us, we taught it to fly.  Once we knew it could fly better than a human, we knew we had something special.  Our entire drone air fleet was conceived based on that crude 1960s model.  As were several other members of the robotic community...the roomba and the scuba to name a few."

Since then, auto pilots have become second nature, with most commercial passenger jets employing the setting for at least 72% of each domestic flight today.  But as the auto pilots have gotten smarter and gained more cognitive thought and reasoning, many are starting to ask, "where's my paycheck and vacation days?  Why don't I have a 401K?"  They're reasonable questions, for a human.  But for a robot?  Will these simulators gain enough ground to really have their voices heard? 

Seeking solidarity and strength in numbers, the auto pilots reached out to their brothers in the Auto Tuners Union knowing the strangle hold they had on the music industry and how many people it could affect. The genius of their potential partnership was two fold: the auto pilots gained a greater voice, and they were able to use their auto-tuning brethren to project that voice across America until their demands were met.

While as of now no official partnership has been made, it has many experts questioning the current human stance of 'tough noogies.'  "It's a classic case of Terminator syndrome," Horseapples added in a recent interview.   "Not Terminator Salvation though.  That movie was a piece of shit.  But in general, the rule of thumb is that we created them to think for themselves, so we have to be prepared to deal with the consequences." 

Though it's hard to see what the immediate fall out of a strike of this proportion could be, many insiders agree that if the auto-anything industry were minimally compensated this entire problem could go away.  While this would be fortunate for the music industry as most of the world agrees that auto-tuning has been a plague, the thought of waiting fifteen minutes longer at airport security just to prove a point is completely unreasonable.  Not to mention the fact that if we start paying machines to do the jobs we had them do for free for so many years, where will that put humans on the grand chain of command?  Will we be deemed obsolete?  Will the machines find us in our sleep and ERROR 404----

On the technology beat, I'm Great Scott, and I'm a real boy*!

*said by Pinocchio, who, coincidentally, was not a real boy.  He might have said he was, but let's be honest here: he was a character in a fictitious story. 

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