I’m reading through Thomas Pynchon’s Crying of Lot 49 and it features this absurd and morbid aside:
How did the post horn come in? That went back to their founding.In the early ’60’s a Yoyodyne executive living near L.A. and located someplace in the corporate root-system above supervisor but below vice-president, found himself, at age 39, automated out of a job. Having been since age 7 rigidly instructed in an eschatology that pointed nowhere but to a presidency and death, trained to do absolutely nothing but sign his name to specialized memoranda he could not begin to understand and to take blame for the running-amok of specialized programs that failed for specialized reasons he had to have explained to him, the executive’s first thoughts were naturally of suicide.But previous training got the better of him: he could not make the decision without first hearing the ideas of a committee.
The absurdity of the high-level executive has been a reality for quite some time. It reminds me of some conversations happening around A.I. in the service of “efficiency.” Almost 60 years later, and we may actually be able to automate C.E.O.’s out of a job.