• June 9, 2017

What can U.S. employers do about the apparently constant threat of “brain raids” — when employees accumulate vast reserves of an employer’s valuable, confidential, commercial information and then jump ship with it to a direct competitor?

Obviously, they can devise strong employment contracts, confidentiality agreements, non-competition agreements, and they can go to court to try to enforce those agreements consistently and aggressively. This is done every day throughout the country. (Here is a link to a Minnesota-based Nilfisk‘s complaint against a former employee who allegedly jumped ship to join Minuteman International with all types of Nilfisk valuable property.)

But these cases can be incredibly expensive. They can also be disastrous for the “raided” company (as in Sorin Group v. St. Jude). After all, there are no guaranties in war or litigation.

Here’s simple solution: how about implanting “kill switches” in workers? If they violate company policy, the workers can simply be “deactivated”?

Some readers might object to this solution. They might even suggest it would be unlawful. Others might find this solution appalling and offensive, even to imagine in jest. Still others (some employers?) might find this solution extremely attractive.

We can all agree that this solution is much more attractive and much less controversial if a company’s workers are machines rather than humans.

That day is here.

Take Nilfisk, for example. Nilfisk is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of professional cleaning equipment​​​​​​​ and it is very excited to be launching self-operating machines.

Nilfisk is currently in the process of launching its first self-operating machine in the United States, the Nilfisk Liberty A50. Nilfisk’s proprietary advanced technology recognizes an entire room in a single pass. The sensor suite has been optimized to guide the machine quickly and safely, while detecting and avoiding any obstacles. The simple and intuitive interface makes this self-learning scrubber extremely user-friendly, allowing for hours of independent cleaning. Nilfisk showcased its innovative Liberty A50 machine at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America trade show in Chicago in October 2016. (Para. 43).

Human Who Will Not Have His Job Much Longer

The greater loyalty that machines show their owners than employees show their employers (and the relative ease with which one can destroy a malfunctioning machine) are two reasons why the replacement of one with the other is inexorable and inevitable in huge sectors of what had previously been monopolies for humans.

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