back to article Why everyone* hates Salesforce's Marc Benioff

Technology has been replacing men with machines for over 200 years. It’s a good thing, except for the men and women whose jobs get replaced. We laugh at the Luddites who sought to destroy power looms and frames in the 1810s. We thrill to Mary Shelley’s story from that same decade, of science as a malevolent force creating …

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  1. hplasm Silver badge
    Devil

    More Baron Frankensteins-

    Fewer robber barons!

    1. AustinTX
      Terminator

      Re: More Baron Frankensteins-

      Moar robot barons!

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: More Baron Frankensteins-

      >Fewer robber barons!

      I suspect that is the point.

      It isn't the increased efficiency that is objected to, it is the massive centralisation and consolidation which is being accompanied by new and innovative ways to bleed the customer, including taking features away to increase lock-in (MS VM translator) or to add them back later as an "upgrade" (Galaxy S7), finding ways of totally removing the financial benefits of improvements in hardware by hiking the software license costs (per core); vendors deliberately killing their own software industry to allow them to hawk their products "as a service" or to tie them to hardware which mysteriously has a totally fictitious end-of-life not driven by support costs, but by the need to make the customer purchase the whole thing again - rental by another name.

      I like FLOSS - its the only "vendor" not deliberately making things worse for the customer.

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: More Baron Frankensteins-

        ... by new and innovative ways to bleed the customer, ...

        Mostly the only "innovation" available to the plebs these days; On my holiday, I now have to chose between paying in EUR or paying in my native currency on the credit card terminal.

        Why the fuck is that in any way clever or an increased value proposition?

        Well, it is, to the bank, because if I make a mistake and pick EUR, I now get stiffed by a "currency fee" bigger than the amount I usually get stiffed with on the exchange rate when using the native currency.

        I'd say: The Donald(tm) as El Presidente, Oprah as the Sidekick (VP) for a clean win. Burn the bums!

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: More Baron Frankensteins-

          The fundamental problem with El Donald(tm) as El Presidente is that he fronts for the very forces that are screwing the little people. Sure, he'll point the finger at "Silicon Valley", whatever that is, but the real villains are the financial people who have turned everything into a commodity. These people don't 'sip champagne inside walled enclosures', they're the economic foot soldiers who took the neoliberal agenda of Hayek, Friedman et al (which isn't particularly 'neo' or 'liberal', BTW) and implemented it to make both themselves and their masters plenty of money. Anyone with common sense would have told them that they're not creating wealth, just redistributing it, but its taken a generation or so before they've tentatively mentioned that, yes, just possibly this neoliberal capitalism thing doesn't generate the Horn of Plenty for the 99%. This is leading to some interesting conclusions. One is that unless we do something about this 99/1 thing the 99% is going to get very pissed off, something that in the past lead to revolutions. The other is that given this experience of the negative results of unbridled capitalism economists like Keynes came up with what they thought was a compromise, a way of having one's cake and eating it too. This was too high a price to pay for the neoliberals, though, so their pet mouthpieces spent the last 30-40 years dissing him and his ilk. So we're back to revolution....demagogues....the early 20th century except this time we're going to use technology to keep the lid on things.

          For an interesting read.....

          https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2016/06/pdf/ostry.pdf

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Couldn't give two fscks

      >Why everyone* hates Salesforce's Marc Benioff

      Who?

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "the Luddites who sought to destroy looms in the 1810s."

    Can't you even read the material you link to or do you not understand the difference between a cropping frame and a loom?

    1. Olius

      Personally, I thought it was the looms they destroyed, and I suspect most other people do too. If the author had said "cropping frames" instead of "looms", I would have been lost and possibly even forced to read in to the link...

      Sometimes the narrative is better preserved by writing what people expect rather than what is technically/anally correct. And one has to ask oneself the question, "does it really matter?"

      But here you go: +1 for accuracy. (Though I'm tempted to balance it with a -1 for unnecessary rudeness)

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re Luddies, the 200 year anniversary of the Pentrich uprising is in 2017

        Expect lots of articles about technology / unemployment issues next year tenuously referencing that

        .. or maybe not, as it assumes a bit of history knowledge from the article writers

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Personally, I thought it was the looms they destroyed, and I suspect most other people do too. If the author had said "cropping frames" instead of "looms", I would have been lost and possibly even forced to read in to the link..."

        It's a significant difference.

        Textile production in the West Riding had been based on the domestic system where spinning and weaving had been carried out by what were essentially family businesses with finishing processes carried out by specialists (one of these processes, fulling, had long been mechanised). Spinning seems to have been the choke point in this process.

        In the late C18th new water powered machinery became available for spinning which in turn allowed weaving to become a full-time occupation. There was a gradual move to the factory system. Productivity and employment were rising. Manual cloth dressing would have become the choke point had this not been mechanised by cropping frames.

        Without updating this step in the whole production system then at best the industry and the consequent employment would have had its growth limited; at worst, an more probably, it would have gone elsewhere. In short the few Luddites, who had been an elite, were endangering the employment of the many.

        I'm not sure that this accords with what the rant opinion piece was getting at because AFAICS the "scold in San Fransisco" is closer to the cloth dresser than those who object.

        1. Olius

          "It's a significant difference."

          It is indeed a significant difference, but not one which matters.

          If the author was writing that Mary Shelley's Dr Frankenstein created his monster because of the void left in his life by his cat dying, when it was actually his dog which died, that too would be a significant difference.

          But it would not be a difference which detracts from the point being made.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Being rude?

        Really your SJW slip is showing, get a life. He was correct and being correct is never rude. I see you would rather suppress truth with whatever your "opinion" is about History. But we are sick and tired of revisionists like your self. The truth is never wrong except when you don't like it.

        1. Olius

          Re: Being rude?

          "being correct is never rude"

          I draw your attention to exhibit A, your honour, the second paragraph, which has nothing to do with the facts relayed in the first paragraph:

          "Can't you even read the material you link to ..."

          Let's try an experiment: I'm correct above, so does that mean it isn't rude if I call you a ****?

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Though I'm tempted to balance it with a -1 for unnecessary rudeness

        How was the OP rude? He was precise, accurate and direct. Now if you want unnecessary rudeness, then search some of my posts. I'm rather proud of the ones that were so foul-mouthed but right on the knuckle that they were within a hairs breadth of being moderated away. And a few that you won't find did suffer that fate (they were fucking epic, I tell you).

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Doctor Syntax

      Can't you even email corrections@theregister.co.uk if you spot anything wrong, so errors can be fixed up straight away, or do you like your comments sitting buried unread for hours?

      Edit: Actually, I think it's OK. The article linked to says: "The name is said to derive from one Ned Ludd, an apprentice weaver, who some years earlier smashed a loom in a rage at his master who had beaten him."

      So... they did smash looms. They may have smashed other devices, but they also smashed looms - so the article's right and you deserve the down votes.

      C.

  3. Linker3000
    Facepalm

    So close

    I was working up to a state of worry and agitation when the article mentioned apps getting rid of bankers, lawyers and estate agents. I'm so very torn now.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: So close

      Most of us would agree, up to a point, that those are not the problem. Or rather those professions could stand to gain some ethics and lose some members.

      Deeper down in the article is problem. IF driverless cars are the future, what jobs will be lost.. besides cab drivers? Will cars only become rentals and not privately owned? Becoming rentals will kill off a lot of businesses pretty quick such as tire shops. repair shops, etc. since corporates (the rental cars) usually contract with one company. Auto accessories? They're gone as what's the point of putting something personal into a rental?

      Is tech bad? Not in itself. It's the application of the tech and how it affects people. It's a very mixed bag of blessings and curses.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: So close

        The historical problem has always been how to manage the transition and harm the fewest people. Too many cheerleaders fail to recognize that during the transition there is very serious skills disconnect between what people know and what they need to know in the future. This is a particularly problem for those who in the twilight of their careers.

        Overall technology will lead to improved lives but the transition is likely to be very brutal to some. This is an issue rarely addressed and addressed it is often done in dismissive manner.

      2. elDog Silver badge

        Re: So close

        And, of course, we would only need a smallish percentage of Personally Owned Delivery stuff.

        Mass Transit works well in inhabited places but not so well in Vermont such as on my 1 mile (1.6km) dirt road.

        Having a non-chauffered voiture arriving every morning to convey me to my place of work (and on return) would be great. No car, no insurance, inspection, upkeep. No prior occupants smoking or doing other smelly stuff.... Whoops!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Flame

        Re: So close

        Driverless ultimately vehicles do mean Taxi drivers, delivery men, truck drivers will loose their jobs, and if people do not have to own their vehicles that will mean fewer vehicles and thus fewer auto-industry jobs - What will those people do without the necessary but low status jobs, there are only so many Macjobs.

        of course the rich can then hire more Servants from the desperate plebs - back to the future!

        1. Swarthy Silver badge
          Terminator

          Re: So close

          Driverless ultimately vehicles do mean Taxi drivers, delivery men, truck drivers will loose their jobs...
          Nah, the delivery drivers won't lose their jobs, they'll "just" be demoted to delivery person, someone needs to unload the the truck. The'll lose probably the better part of half of their paychecks, but they'll keep their jobs.

          Or, at the loss of a significant chunk of their income (most likely the difference between making ends meet and getting evicted) they will leave their job to find one that pays them enough, and then the company can hire some spotty twerp to work for even less than the reduced rate of the driver. - And, because the first "driver" quit, the company doesn't have to pay unemployment if the driver can't find a job.

    2. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Linker3000 Re: So close

      "I was working up to a state of worry...." Don't bother, this is simply more alarmist nonsense. Whilst some services are being replaced by web bots, those that require a personal interaction most definitely are not, otherwise AutoTrader would have finished off all the secondhand car salesmen many years ago. It did not, it was simply used by those secondhand car salesmen to broaden their audience. Same goes for estate agents - no-one buys a house from a bot, they want to be shown it by a person that can answer their questions. "Bankers" is also wrong as only frontline counter staff and administration staff are likely to be replaced by online banking, the fat cats at the senior levels are untouched, and even then there are so many face-to-face banking duties that branches with people are likely to be around for a while yet. What is happening is that the small, independent operators are being driven out of business by franchises and chains that can use the Internet to reach those remote markets the independents used to own. Those chains and franchises have nothing to do with Silly-con Valley and plenty to do with investors like Trumpet.

    3. TechBearMike

      Re: So close

      You clearly have not had experience with a car salesperson. You left that category out.

    4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: So close - "when the article mentioned apps getting rid of bankers,"

      Because high speed trading is such a good idea.

    5. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: So close

      In general Linker, I would be next to you with a pitchfork, a burning torch and a bucket of vitriol but yesterday I completed on a house sale that was very much in my favour, the Estate Agents were honest! my Lawyer did a better than Sterling job ( plus she's quite hot) and the Bank could not have been more helpful, my usual stance is to 'Burn them all!' but there may be room for a little compassion.

  4. Olius

    Good lesson in economics - ta :-)

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

    Seriously, El Reg!

    The vilification of the Trump Voter as know-nothing flyover country hillbilly seems to be reaching new levels of hysteria.

    Better commentary here:

    Campaigns Spawn Really Bad Economics

    1. Don Dumb
      Stop

      Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

      "The vilification of the Trump Voter as know-nothing flyover country hillbilly seems to be reaching new levels of hysteria."

      But I thought Trump said there was "too much political correctness?" - clearly that must only be when attacking women, muslims, latinos and everyone else who isn't Trump.

    2. Drewc Gold badge

      Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

      That is a wilful misreading of the article. I suggest you read it again.

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

      On the contrary: it is saying that Trump's followers have a very real fear and grievance, and that they are correct in seeing themselves as sidelined and pauperised. Their solution is to go back to the good old days, which is not a solution that will ever happen, so they will continue on a loop of being victims, being angry, trying solutions that won't work, still finding themselves victims, etc.

      I think a more communard approach, where economic decisions that affect whole communities and societies are made by everyone (voting, referendums, whatever) might actually achieve the control people want over their own fates. We would trade off some advances to gain wider safety and contentment.

      Not that I believe it will ever happen anywhere.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

        "...a more communard approach..."

        Jimmy Somerville for President?

      2. Dan Paul

        Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

        Sorry Hollerith, can't buy the BS, we don't want your communism in the USA. You are already communist in almost all of Europe and it is failing miserably everywhere it exists.

        Give ME liberty or Death! You can keep your commie ideals over there.

        As for Trump voters being self made victims, that is a democrat & SJW tactic, not a republican ideal as you make it out to be.

        The media including here are twisting our words but we are truly being attacked for our opinions. Censorship by "social media" is rampant and well documented. Even here.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Devil

          Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

          God knows you don't have that much Liberty (except to shoot each other) and the way things are going what little you have will be taken away by Hillary or Trump, so Death?

    4. Filippo

      Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

      The article is actually not at all vilifying to Trump voters, if you read it without being in defensive mode to begin with. What the article says is that Trump voters actually have valid concerns, and that although their solution looks gut-driven and naive, the tech industry is not coming forward with ANY solution at all. The tech industry bangs on the mantra that the problem will solve itself because new tech always creates new jobs to replace the ones it destroys - but since they're the ones reaping the profits, they can't be trusted because they have an obvious conflict of interest. Overall, it looks like a fairly balanced piece to me.

    5. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

      Actually Hildafelon does not really care about the plebes, never has. She would rather see the entire state of West Virginia starve because it is a major coal mining region to please here wealthy "liberal" backers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        Re: Why is Hillary election propaganda being posted here?

        I'll correct that, neolib and neocon, the Greens & the Oils

  6. Buzzword

    Is it just Trump, or Sanders too?

    Both the Republicans and the Democrats have an anti-establishment candidate this year. Any mention of "Trumpistan" should be accompanied by "Sandernista".

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Is it just Trump, or Sanders too?

      True, but Trumpland would actually be more like one of the smaller South American countries while Bernieville would be more akin to one of the Nordic countries, such as Sweden, and be much nicer to live in.

  7. fritsd
    Happy

    fellow billionaires

    "Benioff and his fellow billionaires see none of this."

    I see what you did there

  8. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    Did he call a lawyer?

    "enjoined the battle". If you can stop a battle with an injunction, why not call your lawyer?

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    I wonder how many people realize "Ned Ludd" was just a createion?

    Sort of a bot to blame the damage on .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: I wonder how many people realize "Ned Ludd" was just a createion?

      As a perrson General Ludd didn't exist, otherwise he would have been hung or transported

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    As Bob Dylan wrote...

    "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows..."

    I was going to write a rambling response to this article but I'll just sum it up in that I think that there is a tendency to overstate the fears that technology will replace everyone and everything as stated. This IMHO is a very inward looking perspective and certainly not representative of where I live or the services that I use to move through my life. What these self aggrandising "new-tech" *cough* leaders people seem to forget to do is to actually look outside and see if what they are saying actually correlates in any way to ACTUAL reality. And generally I would profess, the answer is no, it doesn't.

    So, in summation : Better stay away from those that carry around a fire hose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As Bob Dylan wrote...

      What he was talking about was a subtle pun on the SDS or Students for a "Democratic" Society.

      It is what gave us the bomber Bill Ayers and the "Weather Underground". THAT is the weather he was speaking of as an inside joke.

      1. albaleo

        Re: As Bob Dylan wrote...

        Didn't the Weather Underground take their name from the song?

        1. albaleo

          Re: Oops. Misread

          Sorry. I appear to have misread your post. I will quietly disappear in full embarrassment mode.

    2. Swarthy Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: As Bob Dylan wrote...

      This article does seem a rantier version of one of Orlowski's better articles, or that one could have been written as a response to this one.

      Really, as ranty as this one was, I was looking for the "Originally posted at The Conversation" tag at the bottom of the tirade article.

  11. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Luddites, not this again!

    FFS! The Luddites were NOT anti-technology, repeat they were NOT anti-technology. The Luddites simply wanted a fair deal and jobs for loom workers put out of work by the machines being installed.

    1. smartypants

      Re: Luddites, not this again!

      Who are these mythical people who go around identifying others likely to lose their existing jobs and magicking up a "fair deal and (alternative) job"?

      These people didn't exist back then, and they don't now. What we end up doing isn't "our job". It's "a job". Life sucks when you find yourself in possession of skills nobody will pay you for, and there's no easy solution, no mythical people to come into your life and sort it out for you. It's shit and that's that.

  12. Esme

    half the story

    The trouble with this sort of piece is that all too frequently they only tell half the story (if that). I'm all for increasing automation and computerisation so that us humans don;t have to do drudge work and can have increased leisure time. In a sensible world, we'd all be employed, and have increasing amounts of leisure as automation and computerisation increases (a la Jetsons).

    But unfortunately, employers are stuck in a mediaeval mindset when it comes to actually employing people. They want to employ as few people as possible as cheaply as possible, and so when Modern Business replaces Ancient Business, it tends to employ fewer staff all still working the maximum hours the law permits, whilst those who've become unemployed get nothing other than state handouts.

    How best to help the newly unemployed? Someone Else's Problem, says Modern Business, and besides, someone'll come along and create a new business which employ them it continues, shrugging and waving its hands airly.

    Meanwhile, Government isn't giving businesses any incentive to employ more workers, still on a livable wage, but each working fewer hours than before. The financial system, mediated by Government, is still stuck in a mediaeval mindset where efficiency is measured in a very limited way and in purely financial terms. Governemnt waves its hands airly, thinks of a series of 'initiatives' funded for a pittance, and expects All Business to solve the unemployment problem for them, thus encouraging them in their unhelpful robber-baron mindset (unsurprising given that most in Governement appear to be in business, too)

    Society, meanwhile, doesn't seem to have spotted that the above implies that if businesses can all be run with fewer people, and if jobs for the unemployed will be created by new businesses arising, then logically that implies that more and more people will become employers. Which is all well and good until we run out of people who want to be employers (never mind that the number of people actually competent to be employers is far smaller than the number that want to be, and also never mind that the number of those both competent and with a reasonably ethical attutude toward their employees is likely to be smaller again).

    Countering this is the tendency for companies to buy each other and merge, reducing the number of employment opportunities at the top of the pile, as well as the bottom.

    Logically, we are heading toward a situation where fewer and fewer people are employed in a shrinking number of companies that are, nevertheless, turning out greater and greater quantities of products, and thus still able to supply society's needs. Society isn't happy with this because on the one hand, there's the long-term unemployed unable to afford the shinies created my All Business, whilst on the other, there's the ever-shrinking workforce working themselves to death, stressed, and lacking the time to properly enjoy the results of their efforts, even if they are lucky enough to have the means to buy the shinies their labour produces (not a given, as too many employers prefer to pay minimum wages and treat employees as replaceable robots).

    Meanwhile, the number of people controlling half of the entire world's wealth grows ever smaller.

    This is not a tenable situation, in the long term, and IMO it's probably gone beyond the point where governments alone could fix it - companies have far too much clout these days for that. It'll take either some kind of epiphany on the part of business leaders (I'll not hold my breath waiting, ta) or the entire stupid edifice of the current inefficient economic system is liable to collapse around our ears due to its being so insanely unbalanced (not to mention unhinged) and inefficient.

    I just hope things don't get too messy when it all goes bump.

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