• AutoTL;DRB
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    33 months ago

    This is the best summary I could come up with:


    When one protagonist, Helly, tosses enough bad numbers, she is greeted with a Game Boy-esque animation of the company’s founder and CEO, who tells her, “I love you.”

    A Microsoft WorkLab survey published last January reported that 85 percent of respondents said they hoped artificial intelligence tools would automate all busywork, freeing up their time for more fulfilling activities such as “engaging with others.” These respondents have clearly never sat through a five-hour conversation about a three-word headline, but I digress: busywork has been cast as the enemy of innovation, and AI has been cast as the solution.

    A woman in sales and marketing said she values the solitude of rote tasks, and retreats into spreadsheets “when everybody’s annoying and I’m peopled out and my bullshit meter is filled.” A senior research program manager at a nonprofit explained that she values how data cleaning — combing through a dataset for errors, duplicates, and other issues — creates an intimacy with the information she’s processing.

    Cleaning data manually makes the phenomena she studies less abstract: “It connects you to a different way of working or being, or creates opportunities to see things in a different way.”

    I reached out to Gloria Mark, a psychologist and author of Attention Span: A Groundbreaking Way to Restore Balance, Happiness and Productivity, to ask her how workers might fare in a post-busywork society.

    And in a sense, I think busywork, even though it may not make us happy, is a way to relieve this cognitive load, because we’re doing things that don’t require a lot of thought.” (A lawyer told me that his kind refer to the time-consuming task of document review as “chillable billables.”)


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