“I can’t believe I’m laid off. I’ve been a chemist for twenty years and I don’t know what to do next. 2020 is not only the pandemic year, but also the death to the chemists year. It’s the fault of artificial intelligence. Let me tell you something about the pharmaceutical industry. In the past there’s a good demand for chemists to design, create, and test different compounds, but now 90% of the jobs are done by computers. Computers analyze one experiment and do optimization and selection for the next experiment. Most of undesirable experiments are eliminated before they are even started. The end results are like this: the work for humans is shrunk to 10% of what it used to be. I am eliminated. Just like that.” Nita says.
“Find another job. Let me review your resume and cover letter again.” Lulu says.
“I heard that it’s very difficult for an Asian woman over 40 to find a good job.” Lita says. “Also I don’t want to leave New Jersey–my old husband is working in Rutgers University and Kevin is attending college here too.”
“He’s not old. He’s the same age as you are.”
“That’s old as far as the job market is concerned.”
“What did he say about you losing your job? He must be just as upset as you are.”
“Oh, he gave me a long lecture. ‘Artificial Intelligence is the future.’ He said. He wanted me to learn C++ and computer science. Can you believe that?”
“You told me all the chemistry job is in computational chemistry and biological chemistry now. So a little computer may not be so bad.”
“Computer, at my age? Computer science is for young people. Not for people as old as I am.”
Lulu has come over to Nita’s place, helping with the resume update and the cover letter draft. However Nita’s quite dispirited. They talk and talk. Then it’s late. When Lulu gets up to leave, Nita wants to talk more and asks her to stay for the night. So she stays.
The next morning, Lulu wants to leave right after waking up, but it’s not very polite without saying goodbye. She comes downstairs. Nita’s husband Lian and son Kevin are talking in the kitchen. Nita’s obviously still sleeping–she’s a night owl, not an early bird.
“Kevin, you get up early today.” Lulu says.
“He hasn’t gone to sleep yet. He has this crazy schedule. I told him one day he’s going to mess up his stomach and liver. You know we Asians are weak in stomach and liver.” Lian says.
“The way you talk, Dad. It sounds like Asians are a special species or something. We suffer more; we are weaker; we are poorer.” Kevin says.
“We are, Kevin. That’s why we have to work harder.” Lian says.
“Dad, your hard work has caused Mom to lose her job. The smarter robots you’ve produced have replaced skilled workers like Mom, don’t you think?” Kevin says.
“Kevin, you can’t talk with me like that. I’m your Dad. You need to show your respect.” Lian says.
“I respect your diligence and your work ethic, but the better robots you’ve indefatigably produced are creating an existential crisis for human beings.” Kevin says.
“Oh, Kevin, your mom will learn computer and find another job. Stop being so dramatic.” Lian says.
“I don’t mean Mom alone. I mean your robots are making people superfluous. Read Stephen Hawking, Norm Chomsky, Thomas Piketty. When there’s mass unemployment caused by your robots, your work ethics cannot hold anymore.”
“Wait a minute, Kevin. Are you taking philosophy and economic classes? I want you to become an engineer. You hear me? I am working myself to death to pay for your tuition and I forbid you to take impractical courses.”
Lulu quietly gets up and walks out. Two minutes later, she is driving home, happy that she has escaped the escalating family drama.
For other Lulu’s stories, please click the link below:
Knowing Yourself And Others: Lulu thinks she knows her parents, until she realizes that she doesn’t.
An Afternoon With Champ: A martial arts champion falls in love with a girl from a prominent Tanasia family. The next thing he knows, he is sent to America to get a degree so that he can become more respectable in the eyes of his future in-laws.
Reverse Psychology Expert: Lulu meets a reverse psychology expert when she tries to fix her car.