Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook


Forgot your password?
IBM Patents Games

IBM's Patent To "Capture Expert Knowledge" With Games 97

theodp writes "Robert X. Cringely offers his take on IBM's patent-pending way to suck knowledge out of experts and inject it into younger, stronger, cheaper employees, possibly even in other countries. IBM's 'Platform for Capturing Knowledge' relies on immersive 3-D gaming environments to transfer expert knowledge held by employees 'aged 50 and older' to 18-25 year-old trainees, even those who find manuals 'difficult to read and understand.' It jibes nicely with an IBM White Paper (PDF) that advises CIOs to deal with Baby Boomers by 'investing in global resources from geographies with a lower average age for IT workers, such as India or China.' While Cringely isn't surprised that Big Blue's anyone-can-manage-anything, anyone-should-be-able-to-perform-any-job culture would spawn such an 'invention,' he can't help but wonder: When you get rid of the real experts, who is going to figure out the new stuff?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM's Patent To "Transfer Expert Knowledge" With Games

Comments Filter:
  • Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:02PM (#29477149) with Baby Boomers by 'investing in global resources from geographies with a lower average age for IT workers, such as India or China.'

    Yeah, I'm sure that's their motivation... (Nothing about salaries or insurance or taxes or any of that financial stuff.

  • Yeah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:04PM (#29477165)

    I'm sure the "Experts" are going to be really co-operative and forthcoming with the information...

  • Wrong career. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tecnico.hitos ( 1490201 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:14PM (#29477223) 18-25 year-old trainees, even those who find manuals 'difficult to read and understand.'

    Do these people have enough attention span to actually learn something? If they can't even read manuals, maybe they shouldn't be employed in tech related jobs...

    The Summary raises an interesting question: How you can have capable professionals if their learning process is dumbed down? We have a serious cultural problem. Idiocracy has taken over.

  • Ehhm... How? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:15PM (#29477227) Journal

    Sorry for being ignorant, but where is the invention? Reading the "patent" (I really cannot call it that), I see a lot of buzzword bingo (hint: put XML on your list) and not a single shard of how they want to accomplish that task. They do not explain what the interviewer has to do. I think that interviewer has to be an expert in his field himself.

    Furthermore, the text does not say how the knowledge is extracted from an interview, other than that it is "semantically parsed". Where is the invention itself? A system that COULD extract "knowledge" (if you can define the word at all) should be brilliant in itself. Now a patent should be explaining the invention and I cannot see the inventions themselves. Only that those mystery inventions are applied, and it is the application of those magical inventions that seems to be patented here.

    Furthermore, a magic box that could convert boring knowledge (I DO read manuals) to games is also high order magic to Ponder about. As a side note, I'd rather look up the manual page than blast all those aliens to their deaths first.

  • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:21PM (#29477279)

    Also the part about "even those who find manuals 'difficult to read and understand.'" makes me wonder just how much "expert knowledge" will actually survive the transition.

  • Capitalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mlwmohawk ( 801821 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:37PM (#29477373)

    I'm mostly a capitalist. I generally think I should be paid for work that I do, however, there is a sense of dignity missing in the rush to the bottom attitude of raw unbridled capitalism that is disgusting.

    Money "right now" greed will be the destruction of capitalism and the end of democracy as we know it. Democracy depends on an independent society. As the poor get poorer and the rich get richer, the notions of government and individual rights and dignity become less relevant. What good are environmental laws, worker safety laws, tax rates, etc. when corporations can just go to some 3rd world shit-hole and work those people for cheap. Then, if they have the temerity to demand rights and pay, then the corporation will just jump to the next shit-hole and exploit those workers.

    Maybe I'm old fashioned, but man-kind evolved a social structure that worked. It was a balance of personal avarice and societal responsibility. One was supposed to have an amount of greed BUT! Also have an amount of social responsibility. The community protected itself against threats. The well-to-do (from hunter gatherers to railroad tycoons) knew they needed the protection and/or good will of the community to survive, so, while they lived better than most, they made sure their wealth also provided for the society that allowed them to be successful.

    Once the society stops taking care of itself and it is an "everyman for himself situation," civilization is over. There must be a notion of a common good. There must be a notion of âoefor the good of society,â even in capitalism. It is a race to the bottom and no good can come from abandoning the stake holder for the sole purpose of enriching the share holder. There must be a balance between greed and society or we will lose both our wealth and our civilization.

  • Re:Uh huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by $RANDOMLUSER ( 804576 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:42PM (#29477415)
    Then don't bother with the disingenuous bullshit about "lower average age". Just say "We're putting middle-aged Americans out of work and sending it to countries with lower standards of living and more exploitative social settings because we can make more money that way". That wasn't so hard was it?
  • Re:Capitalism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jazcap ( 1125477 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @01:52PM (#29477479)
    There are precedents to IBM's behavior. A "use them up, spit them out" attitude to the workforce is common where "raw unbridled capitalism" prevails. Examples that come to mind are the factory system in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution, and the sex industry.

    Capitalism is the most successful economic system, and is greed-driven, but it needs checks and balances built into it to allow it to be as beneficial as possible to society as a whole.
  • Re:Capitalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow ( 1001386 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @03:59PM (#29478223)
    The 21st century, on the other hand, is a story of the middle class becoming poor, the poor becoming drug dealers, and the rich becoming insanely rich.
  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @04:47PM (#29478583)

    . Companies will retain workers that are valuable, regardless of where they're from.

    Sure they will--just look at what Circuit City did. No company would ever lay off its most valuable, experienced workers in a vain attempt to shore up the bottom line.

    Workers need to get with the program: all companies everywhere treat you like a resource that is disposable at the first whim of a PHB. Workers should therefore treat employment as nothing but a long-term consulting gig and always be on the lookout for the next one, and take it the moment there is a compelling reason to do so, regardless of any feelings of loyalty the PHBs might try to instill in their more manipulative moments.

  • Re:Uh huh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FriendlyPrimate ( 461389 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:40PM (#29478955)
    They can't do that because they exist to make money, and being honest in this particular case would affect their bottom line. IBM just happens to be one of the many companies that place shareholders above all else, including ethics.
  • Re:Capitalism (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:52PM (#29479051) Homepage Journal

    Or consider it to be recycling or crop-rotation, at the national level. As consumer demand picks up in India and China, the multinationals can jettison the US completely, workers and consumers both. The US becomes so badly depressed that in another generation they become the next workforce to be exploited, when the Indians and Chinese start to become too expensive. The crop rotation scheme is probably more complex than this, but it wouldn't surprise me to hear that some people are actually thinking this way.

    One fly in the ointment... At some point businesses will start to home-grow in India and China, and decide that those overpaid (formerly US) multinational executives are an unnecessary expense - and jettison them.

    One other fly... All things really aren't fungible. Sometimes it takes time and humility to know what is and isn't.

  • Re:Capitalism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Saturday September 19, 2009 @05:58PM (#29479101) Homepage Journal

    "Capitalism" is worshipped far too much around this place.

    It's a tool, not an end. Greed is a tool, not an end. Both make terrible masters. Better yet, the way we're practicing it, capitalism is unstable, as Karl Marx predicted. As you say, it takes checks and balances to stabilize it. Today's problem is that those who have want more, and have advanced the art of buying politicians and legislators to advance their cause - removing those checks and balances.

    Where it goes from here - fewer and fewer having more and more, more and more having less and less. Fuedalism. But that's not stable, either. The have-nots periodically die from plagues and such, raising the competition for labor, raising wages, creating a middle class, etc.

    Oh well.

  • by alizard ( 107678 ) < minus city> on Saturday September 19, 2009 @06:30PM (#29479307) Homepage
    Who cares?

    Incumbent CEOs who fire their experts will have left the company and cashed out their options long before "new stuff" can become a problem.

    It's their successors who will have to deal with the results. And of course, their customers.
  • Re:Wrong career. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday September 20, 2009 @10:38AM (#29482745) Homepage Journal

    Most manuals are fucking garbage. I don't know how many manuals I've gotten which are just plain wrong, and following the steps in them will lead to an entirely incorrect result, but the list is long and distinguished. Shit, I just installed a Bosch Aquastar 1600P-LP propane tankless water heater and the lighting instructions are incorrect — it tells you to slide the main front control to a symbol which does not exist because the heater silkscreen and the instruction sheet are out of sync. Add to this the fact that most tech writers have apparently never actually spoken to another human being and you get most modern documentation. I had to reverse examples in the HP IPSEC guide before they would work. Talk about amateur hour. Too bad most documentation is shit.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."