Will Automation Screw Men Over More?

We hear often in the news about the rise of automation and how millions of people will be replaced by robots and machines in the coming few years. While I don’t share the sentiment that there will be macroeconomic shifts so drastic that measures such as Universal Basic Income will be the only way to provide a means of spending for the average person in such an automated society, I did wonder about what kinds of jobs automation will replace and how it may disproportionally affect men.

Generally speaking, automation and robots will have the largest immediate impact on jobs that are repeatable and physically demanding. Work such as manufacturing and farming has already been largely automated and similar types of work may be next on the way. Let’s take a look at the jobs listed on Kiplinger, a D.C. based business journal, regarding “8 Jobs That Will be Replaced by Robots Soon” and look at them on a gender based lens.

1. Store Clerk

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,200,000 cashiers in the U.S. of which 73.8% are Female.

The Kiplinger article discusses the Amazon Go Store which has eliminated the checkout line using advanced cameras and additional sensors and Tally from Simbe Robotics which audits retail shelves for out-of-stock items. While Tally doesn’t equate to a cashier position, because the numbers in retail spaces heavily skew towards women, in this case it seems like women may be affected by automation more.

2. Data Analyst

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 1,929,000 accountants and auditors in the U.S. of which 60.6% are Female.

While not exactly the shame, the job function between accountants and auditors are similar enough to draw a comparison. Largely, positions where data is transcribed and or analyzed for reports are getting automated via software.

3. Fast-Food Worker

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 322,000 food preparation and serving workers, including fast food in the U.S. of which 63.0% are Female. There are 2,067,000 cooks of which 58.2% are Male.

Startups around Silicon Valley and elsewhere are trying to tackle the fast food industry by bringing down the cost of fast food even lower by eliminating the cost of labor. Cooking robots such as the “Flippy” are able to flip burgers without rest.

4. Truck Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,549,000 driver workers and truck drivers in the U.S. of which 93.4% are Male. There are 631,000 industrial truck and tractor operators in the U.S. of which 91.9% are Male.

Automated trucks have been a breeding ground for autonomous vehicles as long hours and relatively simple driving routes along highways have made the opportunity irresistible with even large players such as Tesla developing trucks to help automate this industry.

5. Livery Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 777,000 taxi drivers in the U.S. of which 82.0% are Male. This number may not include gig economy drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft as it may not be counted as a full-time economic activity.

Google’s Waymo has been developing self-driving cars for several years now and companies such as GM-Cruise and Uber are also spending considerable resources to automate everyday cars with concentrated effort and bringing down cost of the taxi service.

6. Deliverymen

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 302,000 postal service mail carriers in the U.S. of which 60.2% are Male.

Companies such as Grubhub and Marble are leveraging self-driving technologies for the delivery of food.

7. Security Guard

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 958,000 security guards and surveillance officers in the U.S. of which 77.6% are Male.

8. Front-line Soldiers

According to Pew Research, there are 1,340,533 active military personnel of which 83.0% are Male.


The 8 jobs discussed by Kiplinger account for roughly 15 million jobs in the U.S. of which 9.5 million belong to men. Thus, it seems that automation may indeed affect men about 1.6 times more than it will women.

*Bureau of Labor Statics


My Incomplete Perception of Border Controls Around the World

I’ve been to a relatively decent number of countries and airports now. I’m confident in saying that I’ve been to more countries and airports than 90% of the world’s population. Now that doesn’t say all that much since the bar is relatively low when it comes to traveling. Earlier this year, it was reported that 64% of Americans have never left the U.S. (Link) So I feel confident in saying that the majority of residents of less affluent countries such as China, India, Indonesia, and Brazil would have not travelled internationally or been to an airport. Of course, there are better authorities on this subject matter – people who travel much more regularly for work.

Recently, I’ve been really disgusted by the border control process when coming through America. Having Global Entry, I’m now mostly a bystander in the process – but the regular immigration lines in America are one of the longest in the world. It’s always to be expected that after a long trans-Atlantic or trans-Pacific flight even American citizens will have to spend a minimum of 30 minutes to get back to the country. Non-citizens could spend hours just waiting in line. It was easy to think that was just the norm when I was growing up, but now I see that it really is not the case.

In my experience, the richest countries have the worst lines. The U.K., China, South Korea, Japan. My best experiences have been in Taiwan and Germany. This makes me wonder, do countries that have “a lot lose” – keep their borders more secure? Do longer lines / underemploying border control agents make the border more secure? In the case of Germany, perhaps their cultural attitude towards efficiency and modern history of relatively lenient immigration policies have made those line short.

E3 2018 Hype

It’s that time of year and the hype train is accelerating to full speed. It’s Christmas for us gamers and I wanted to take the time to reflect on why E3 2018 might be the greatest E3 in recent memory.

E3 has had its great moments, the Playstation conference in 2015 with the trifecta of Last Guardian, Shenmue 3, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake let everyone know that dreams do come true. The Twilight Princess reveal for the Gamecube is fondly remembered as one of the greatest trailers of all time. 2018 however, is poised to be the greatest lineup ever. With this generation of consoles coming to full maturity and the gaming audience bigger than ever, I think we will see closures to stories started years past as well as new reveals that will make this E3 great. Without further ado let’s make a list.



  • Fifa 19 – Fifa 18 was a complete letdown to the community. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes are made for this annual series.
  • Battlefield V – I don’t personally love the BF series, but it’s hugely popular and the return to WWII is highly anticipated.
  • Anthem – We know very little about this game, and recently the “deaths” of Mass Effect, Dead Space, and Dragon Age does not bode well for this new IP, but it’s going to be the biggest game at EA this year.
  • Fallout 76 – So much teasing, decent amount of rumors. The Fallout series is always solid.
  • Rage 2 – Rumored to be a reworked sequel to Mad Max. Rage and Mad Max both had interesting ideas – we can hope they mesh well.
  • Tomb Raider 3 – Polished and solid, we will see more of this game at E3.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 – Demos and trailers are dropping, 2018 is the year this game finally comes out.
  • Final Fantasy 7 – Will we get the first update since 2016?
  • Dragon Quest XI – Already out in Japan.
  • Spiderman – Sucker Punch has been working on it all generation. Marvel hype is high now, time to ride it.
  • Last of Us: Part 2 – The best game of last generation, Naughty Dog hasn’t let us down in decades.
  • Ghost of Tsushima – Will it play like Onimusha? Nioh? Lots of mysteries to unveil this year.
  • Dreams – Media Molecule’s creator game. Very curious about the possibilities.
  • “Shadows Die Twice” – From Software’s next big game. If it’s anything like Bloodborne or Dark Souls, it’s going to be amazing.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 – Acclaimed strategy game, demo already exists, we need to see more.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 – We haven’t seen any gameplay yet. We need to see it.
  • Death Stranding – Hideo Kojima’s first venture away from Konami. We’ve seen a lot of trailers already. We’ll get another one.
  • Super Smash Bros Switch – Somehow this game might below away everything else on this list.
  • Bayonetta 3 – Teased at the Game Awards, Nintendo needs to bulk up it’s lineup for 2018.
  • Metroid 4 – Is it time to see gameplay of this game? Hope so.
  • Star Fox: Grand Prix – This game is pretty much confirmed, but what is it?
  • Days Gone, Yoshi, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, etc.


  • Doom 2 – The first game on this list that’s not confirmed. The first Doom was a runaway success and now is the time to announce this game before this generation ends.
  • Halo 6 – Xbox needs to bring it’s big guns.
  • Gears of War 5 – Same as above, although the series is getting very stale. Needs a change like God of War.
  • Rocksteady’s next game. Will it be about Superman as rumored?
  • Hitman 2 –  The first Hitman was a huge success, time to cash in.
  • Avengers – We all know that Square Enix has been working on this. With Infinity War coming out this year, this game needs to come out before Robert Downey Jr.’s career as Tony Stark comes to an end in theaters.
  • Devil May Cry 5 – The return of Dante for the first time in this generation
  • Cyberpunk 2077 – CD Projekt Red is an amazing studio and proved it with the Witcher series. A step to the future will be amazing.
  • Animal Crossing Switch – It’s been a while since the last AC. The Switch is the perfect console for this type of experience.


I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few, but even if only the confirmed games make a showing this would be an amazing E3.

Obamas Sign Deal to Produce Shows on Netflix

A very interesting announcement was made yesterday – the Obamas are coming back on stage, and not as a politician but as the main piece on Neflix as part of a new production company “Higher Ground Productions”. Never mind this apparently focus by ex-politicians to be “high” (James Comey’s book – A Higher Loyalty, Condoleezza Rice’s book – No Higher Honor), this is an amazing return to mainstream by Barack and Michelle Obama.

Perhaps they understand modern society better than I gave them credit for,  maybe they just really like TV, or they are taking a page out of Trump’s playbook. But Netflix has become very influential in American society. As of April this year, Netflix hit a global subscriber base of 125 million. Personal experience tells me that many users also share their account with a handful of others – so the reach is probably closer to somewhere around 250~300 million.

The latest and greatest on Netflix (and HBO Go) are a huge part of our conversations, our water cooler chats. And while Trump’s name has taken that mantle by being president, Obama might be able to take some of that spotlight by being on our televisions in a different way.

Also, the demographic of streamers must tend to be younger. This must be a tantalizing opportunity for the Obamas to still offer a place of dialogue for them in a controlled, lasting manner. Unlike Twitter posts, Netflix shows are viewed over a longer period of time and stay in the national conversation longer.

Apparently, being a TV star is something an ex-president can do.


Source: https://www.engadget.com/2018/04/16/netflix-subscriber-count-hits-125-million/


Let’s Talk About RiME

I downloaded RiME as part of my video game grieving of God of War. After playing through a AAA masterpiece, it’s common for me to feel like other high budget games don’t quite meet my expectations. This included Watch Dogs 2, Last Guardian, and Final Fantasy XV – all great games that I want to finish at some point, but as soon as I booted up realized they did not have the polish and delivery of God of War.

So instead, I looked towards some indie games I had acquired through the PS Plus membership. ABZû was the first game for me to boot up as I remembered it being basically Flower underwater. I continued on from where my roommate had left off, and to our surprise, after about 20 minutes the credits were rolling – he had essentially beaten it before and hadn’t finished. It was a beautiful 20 minutes, but I do not have a lot to say since I didn’t really get to experience the game.

Next, I ended up starting RiME. The biggest draw to the game came from its calm music. After finishing God of War, I looked around to change my PS4 theme in boredom (it had been set to the God of War theme) – I happened to have the RiME theme for some reason (or maybe it was free?) so I tried it on and liked it for its music, ocean view, and the cute fox.

Upon starting the game, I was immediately greeted with some exceptional scores. The game begins with the player, a boy, drifting ashore to an island. The island is relatively unoccupied save some pigs, birds, and statues that respond to the boys singing.

The game does not hide it’s flaws. It’s mechanics are simple, there’s no combat to speak – some light platforming and puzzling exists. Lighting is hit and miss sometimes and the narrative is light.

However, the game successfully delivers on its goals through its thematic, symbolic presentation and music.

Spoilers ahead:

The game explores the concept of grieving. The relatively short game goes through the 5 stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. At first this was not very obvious. In fact, it was not very obvious what the story was about. There is a mysterious man who appears and disappears and a fox that leads the way. There are abrupt changes in the tone of the game as the chapters continue as well causing some confusion in the continuity.

But upon reflection, I think this game would have a profound impact on someone who has dealt with death in a loved one. It’s a careful representation of the 5 stages and captures the general emotions quite well. While it faces some technical problems, it’s one of those games that help elevate the genre to an art form.



Fees for Calling Cops

Trevor Noah had an interesting bit posted on YouTube regarding a fee for calling the cops that I thought was worth discussing.


What he suggests here is that a lot of prank and non-police matter calls are made because there is very little consequence to calling 911. For sake of humor he disregards obstruction of justice. However, I do think his suggestion is relatively well-founded.

It’s well studied that even an incremental cost will change people’s behavior. Money has become one of the most powerful motivators in modern society. Even a dollar discourages a lot of behavior. Given that, Noah’s suggestion is simple, just bill the caller $5 and give it back if it was a legitimate call.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah – Copyright The Daily Show

Now of course, that reimbursement might make it hard to actually get – but I’m not sure if that matter all that much. If the caller is poor and really needs the money, they will make sure to get it back. If automated reimbursements fail, a simple online or callbot system where you give a case number to get reimbursed might be sufficient. For the rich, they may ignore the fee and now the police department has more revenue it can use for public safety. And for the people who made an illegitimate call, at least the department gets something for their efforts.

Let’s Talk about Aggretsuko (2018)

Browsing through Netflix is a common occurrence for the bored in the 21st century. And that’s where I came across Aggretsuko. It’s colorful and simple art style and cute characters immediately caught my attention. After noticing that each episode is just 15 minutes long, and the season is 10 episodes – I decided I should give the show a try.

Aggretsuko is short for Aggressive Retsuko. It is one of Sanrio’s latest character creations (the company responsible for Hello Kitty, Keroppi, and Gudetama. The story follows Retsuko, 25 year old, female, red-panda working in the accounting division of a fictional Japanese company along with a colorful cast of pigs, foxes, hippos, and the like. The basic story arc follows Retsuko’s relatively normal corporate life (as they would be in Japan) as she learns to navigate various misgiving brought by her coworkers and life in general.

The quirk and charm of this character comes from her cute and unassuming looks during her normal mood, and relative easy-going if not pushover characteristics which suddenly turns to a death metal rage face and screaming that is always funny.

Calm Retsuko (left), Rage Retsuko (right) – Copyright Sanrio

The team’s director, Director Ton (ton means pig in Japanese Kanji), is regularly seen goofing off during work, preferring to practice his golf swings and passing his workload onto his subordinates. The first episode begins with him barraging Retsuko for dust on his desk, lack of flower decoration, and mediocre tea.

Fenneko (fennec fox) and Haida (hyena) are Retsuko’s closest allies and lunch buddies offering support in their unique ways. Fenneko is a cynic who is generally assured and straight-laced. She provides comedic relief with her eerie ability to stalk people on social media and her monotonic laugh. Haida is more attentive, caring for Retsuko’s wellbeing in a stereotypical shy-crush way. American viewers may find his antics a bit immature for someone who is supposed to represent a man in his professional career – but I found that his portrayal to be a commentary on the modern Japanese man.

I imagine that many Japanese businessmen and women might relative to the dramas portrayed in this short series. Many American viewers would find entertainment as well and it may serve as a comedic introduction to many of the societal differences presented in the daily lives of Japanese people. For about the length of a movie, Aggretsuko is a great series for some lighthearted, Japanese-inspired humor.

Victim-Shaming in Reporting

This morning there were reports of discriminatory actions taken on Yale University’s campus against a black graduate student by a fellow dormitory resident and the local police.

As I followed the story, I noticed something odd. The victim was clearly identified. Age, racial profile, name, gender, even area of study. However none of the aggressors of the story were being reported – just simply “a fellow resident” was how the initial caller was referred to. The police officers were not identified as well (although their actions were less clearly egregious. They made the victim wait an extra 15 minutes for confirmation of ID).

On a broader point, I would love to see news articles focus on the aggressor in these types of reports. The victim did very little wrong, so why profile them so much? Many people just want to move on and live their lives without the attention of the viral web. Instead, let’s focus on the offenders, they should be getting the higher level of scrutiny so that their actions are well known and recognized.

Edit: It looks like it took an extra day but the aggressor’s name is now being widely reported on news outlets like the Washington Post.

Source: https://nyti.ms/2KPQPyP

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2018/05/10/a-black-yale-student-fell-asleep-in-her-dorms-common-room-a-white-student-called-police/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.449235594b2a


The Summer Blockbuster Season and MoviePass

TechCrunch reported today that since last Thursday (5/3) MoviePass’s parent company Helios & Matheson has lost over 63% of its stock value going down from $2.13 a share to $0.79.

For the unfamiliar, during the past 6-8 months, MoviePass has garnered a huge following and uptake in users by promising users access to a movie a day at theaters for a meager entry price of $10 a month.

Basically, at this pricing MoviePass losses money on every active user. If a user watches at least one movie at full price, that user is a cost not profit for the company. Add on top of that maintenance and development costs of the app as well as the physical shipping cost of the debit card – it’s a pretty strange business to be in.

The company claims that it can turn a profit by one of two ways. 1) By aggregating user data and selling it to interested parties. The company has demonstrated somewhat that push notifications and promotion on their platform can drive sales to a particular movie. It can, in theory, than drive movie advertisers to pay them a sum to be promoted to MoviePass users. 2) Somewhat like the gym membership model, they can have lots of registered users and hope they do not use the product – however at $10 a month this is not sustainable by the point above that every user is pretty much a loss.

So what’s in the future for the company? The $10 pricing tier may have to increase. Or additional limitations may have to be added like number of movies users can watch.

I believe that the next 2 to 3 months may be make it or break months for the company. Running at such heavy losses, the best thing that can happen for MoviePass is that Hollywood does not release movies worth watching. In essence, MoviePass has a strange relationship with the movie industry. For one, must-watch movies have to come out for customers to subscribe to the MoviePass service, however they should not be released often so the service is not used.

Here is the list of upcoming blockbusters:

  • May 18 – Deadpool 2
  • May 25 – Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • June 8 – Ocean’s 8
  • June 15 – Incredibles 2
  • June 22 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • July 6 – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Of course this isn’t all the movies that is being released in the next coming weeks, but Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar (all Disney affiliates) are huge franchises that millions of viewers will go see in theaters.

Time will tell what happens to MoviePass.

Let’s Talk about God of War (2018)

The video game industry tends to hit its stride around the 4 to 5 year mark of a console generation. Since the PS4 launched in February of 2014, we are now beginning to see its peaks. God of War may be the first of the many great games to come in the next 2 to 3 years.

In what is now becoming a kind of corporate identity – the new God of War shifts the top down hack-and-slash style of the previous God of War entries in favor of a closer camera perspective. It seems like the success of games like The Last of Us may have encouraged many first party studios to introspect their existing franchises to bring a more realistic and mature experience.

This is a welcome change to the God of War franchise, a series that saw the formula fatigue quite a bit with the mulled reception of the previous entry God of War: Ascension. Cory Barlog and Santa Monica studio instead brings a captivating tale (by video game standards) of Kratos and his son, Atreus, navigating an unfamiliar Norse region.

Back during the first announcement at E3 2016, the decision to step away from Greek mythology to adopt Norse mythology was a curious, albeit an exciting one. Having grown up watching Disney’s Hercules as well as being exposed several Greek myths growing up with names like Zeus, Hades, and Hydra being familiar, the God of War series had felt comfortable in terms of world building.

Overall, the game does a great job celebrating the Norse mythos. In fact, for the uninterested, the heavy use of unfamiliar terms and names like Jötenheim, Jörmungandr, and Tyr may be off-putting and make the story harder to remember in the end. But to those slightly interested, I believe the game has done a great job introducing the deep lore of Norse mythology, one that now I see has heavily influenced a variety of western culture including the Lord of the Rings series and Marvel comics.

One thing that the game does exceptionally well is its combat design. The relatively sparse weapon options are well supported by a variety of runes that adjust Kratos’s attacks. The use of Atreus in combat feels deliberate and genuinely helpful. And unlike many Naughty Dog games, the lack of true stealth sections as well the fact that Kratos is in fact a god, makes he’s powerful nature and inhumane platforming abilities more believable. (Although the climbing sections where Kratos scales cliffs that protrude out seems ridiculous even by god standards).

Time will tell if this game is remembered as a classic. I do think that the story will fail to resonate as strongly with players who have yet to become fathers. I have noticed that many of the game’s reviewers have praised the writer’s handling of the parental dynamic, one that I am sure Barlog was able to leverage from first hand experience of being a relatively young father. Still, even for myself (who is not a father yet), the story succeeded in delivering a balanced and believable tale of parents who are struggling to communicate properly to their children and how lessons are sometimes taught by the children.

As Barlog says, the story is one of identity – how do we define ourselves. Are we defined by who our parents are? Are we defined by our actions?

I hope that the next God of War is not too far in the horizon. With the engine built and the AAA game industry largely unable to produce iterative games as it was a norm during the PS2 era, I hope Santa Monica studios breaks this trend as they have many other trends with this game (lack of DLC and loot boxes). A 2020 or early 2021 PS4 sequel would be an exciting way to end this console generation and this chapter of Kratos’s story.