The Great Game Increases Its Stakes

With your lifetime of labor as its prized possession or an A.I. replaces you.

Thaddeus Howze
11 min readFeb 1, 2024

Cognitive Dissident | Thaddeus Howze


“The numbers are in: 26,000 people in the video game industry have lost their jobs in the latest gambit to control their workers, manipulate how much workers are paid and to increase shareholder value while removing the people who make that value possible.”

While this could be attributed to a host of circumstances and decisions stemming back from the pandemic, this feels like a shift in the sands of the economy, a deliberate effort to change the status quo.

Tim Gurner, Real Estate Mogul, BBC News

“We need to see pain in the economy.”

— Tim Gurner, Real Estate Mogul

What’s going on in the video game industry is going on in every industry. Unemployment is part of a grand strategy. 26,000 people have become unemployed in the last two years in what could only be defined as an economic, barnburner, profit-palooza to everyone but the rank and file. Rather than getting paid for their phenomenal work, videogame designers didn’t get the gold, they got the shaft.

Because, believe it or not, their leaders believe they can get more money and pay people less: An age old maxim being dusted off in the halls of vulture-capitalism:

“A.I. boosted worker productivity by 14% — those who use it ‘will replace those who don’t.’”

Stanford and MIT Study, CNBC

Greedy individuals who have bought into the hype of generative large language models believe they can dump a section of their modern workforce and recreate their same level of productivity with half the staff using machine intelligence leveraged by the remaining workforce.

If you still have a job, it is not because you are the best. You have a job because your employer believes you are a candidate whose capabilities will allow you to do the job you are already doing, and with the support of a distributed team using AI or by using AI yourself, to increase the potential output of the company without hiring new staff.

American businessmen have been getting high on their own supply, believing there is a productivity gain to be had using machine intelligent tools with a captive workforce.

The reality of this so-called productivity gain is designed to SELL MACHINE INTELLIGENCE, that’s it.

The remaining, demoralized, browbeaten workers who are currently fearful of losing their jobs, by design, will be only too eager to do whatever their employer says when they come back to the office with whatever tools they have decided will increase the survivor’s productivity.

It doesn’t matter what that tool is, it won’t matter how that tool works. It won’t matter whether the tool is effective, easy to use, accurate or worthwhile.

None of that will matter because the truth of American productivity is this: Productivity in this nation has reached a peak and has begun to plateau. There isn’t any more productivity to give and it has looked that way for quite some time.


Adding more workers didn’t budge the needle. Why should it, our workers were already putting in more hours than they were paid for, refusing to take vacations for fear of losing their jobs and were already commuting 1.5 hours each way to work, effectively burning themselves out with an additional 3 hours of travel time they were not getting paid for.

With their stress levels at an all-time high, barely compensated for their labors, spending $12,000 of whatever salary they were earning on TRAVELING to work and from work and the need to eat food, buy supplies as well as parking/bridge tolls/commute costs, most workers were not earning nearly what was necessary to survive.

In the Bay Area a $72,000 salary is equal to $53,515 per year, or $4,460 per month after taxes. Subtract that $12,000 commuting fee annually and you are earning approximately 41,000 a year in take home money before you take out healthcare costs, 401k retirement funds, and any sundry fees your job charges you, effectively HALVING your salary.

Overpriced rents and mortgages add to your monthly stress, and the challenge of dodging the coronavirus, toxic middle managers, over-demanding work environments and lack of employee satisfaction in general and you have a recipe for worker dissatisfaction which pegs the needle for productivity RIGHT where it is at the moment. The best in the world for all the wrong reasons.

Toxic reasons. Fear. Loathing. Inability to get and keep meaningful work. Inflation. Cost of Living. And god help you if you end up with any kind of chronic health issue — which given the nature of the coronavirus — is sure to be a reality for more of us than ever before.


They recognize there is about to be a seismic shift in how workers live, how they work, and how much bullshit they are going to be willing to put up with in the days ahead.

This means companies have decided to strike first. Demoralize their workforce. Delay paying good salaries. Undermine their self-esteem. Keep the workforce on the defensive until you can add this new technology PROMISED to increase their productivity, as promised by the machine intelligence providers anywhere from 15% to 900%.


Except it will never materialize. Those machine intelligence tools are not as good as advertised. They are not reliable. They are not flawless. They are not going to make your best workers better, more productive and happier to be slaving away with an arcane tool they barely understand, even after the plethora of training you will finally offer them because you don’t want to pay another salary you don’t have to.

This is the hype of the machine intellect. It is better, more reliable, more trustworthy, more likely to work overtime and in the right hands, capable of creating a workforce whose productivity will skyrocket once these tools are perfected.

Many places have said why wait until they are perfected. Act now. Fire those unnecessary workers, figure out where the technology is somewhat reliable, figure out the best workers to implement that technology and GO, GO, GO!


These gains of 15 to 900 percent will not happen. CEOs and executive suites will try and sell this idea to their boards of directors and their staff but the truth will be out again and again. Ask Men’s Health, ask Gizmodo, ask Sports Illustrated how using outside contractors leveraging machine intelligence worked out for them.

It reduced the quality of their product, the written word, because the machines they used lacked the Human experience, the nuance, the lifetime of focused, applicable knowledge brought to those articles by living beings whose experience gave their information relevance and meaning to the people reading it.

An AI contractor who knows just a tiny bit about the subject, asking through a prompt, no matter how well written is always drawing from the past, it lacks the ability to prognosticate, to intuit, to think and imagine possibilities which have not happened.

Their work, AI and contractor will always be inferior to creative writer with a lifetime of experience. Doesn’t matter what tool you are using, the power of the Human experience is precision, focus, experience and expertise fused together in a way NO STATISTICAL MODEL can match.

Thus, firing people by the hundreds of thousands only serves one purpose: to incite fear. To cause people to wonder where their next job, their next opportunity, to spend what little savings they may have been able to squirrel away on our overpriced economic engine which requires you spend 95% of what you earn to survive, no matter what you do for a living.

If you live below a certain threshold you may simply not make enough to survive, requiring you to engage in the debtor’s engine drawing down billions every day from people who cannot afford to live in our society and cannot afford to drop out unless they want to live on the streets.


CEOs, who are paid vastly more than their rank and file (275 times their lowest paid employees is the estimate) do not understand why their employees are burning up, burning out, making mistakes, fearful of returning to the office, hating their middle managers who have never been trained in the jobs of the people they lead or how to manage employees in general, they only know their workers are not as productive as they used to be.

Perhaps because there just aren’t as many workers as there used to be doing an ever-increasing workload while the workforce to do said work is getting smaller every year.

Perhaps because they are more stressed. Dealing with more debt. More student loans. An inability to purchase even the simplest of services without going into debt.

Perhaps because their health is, more often than not, compromised. Compromised because they sacrificed it on the altar of the company’s productivity model. The failed work-life model, the crushed diversity models, the inherently racist, sexist and hate-filled office environments which demean and undermine the psychological health of everyone who isn’t white, male and wealthy.

Which effectively is the entirety of most companies.

And when scientific studies of those environments are made, it is discovered that 9% of the companies inherent productivity is made up of the top members of the executive suite who draws down 50% of the company’s wealth, while the bottom 30% of the company is responsible for 60% of the company’s productivity draws only 5% of the company’s economic largess, you have a recipe for frustration, anger and resentment which surely cuts into the bottom line.

America doesn’t have a productivity issue. America has a greed problem. It has an inability to share the wealth problem. It has a false expectation that more productivity tools will equal higher productivity with fewer people.

Until we create true AGI, real machine-intelligence capable of replacing actual Humans with Human-comparable thought, every effort to place machine intelligence in a role of a person will result in failure. It will result in loss of income. It will result in frustration in the ranks, a loss of intellectual property as workers quit and go toward places which still value the Human experience in their workforce.


In this moment, you should begin to look at companies who have told you they are releasing workers to use machine intelligence.

Because in five years, 50% of those companies will have to revert to Humans again or will have gone down with the ship as their last workers give up in the face of tools which promised them the world but simply couldn’t deliver what was promised. Ultimately, because what was promised didn’t exist, generative AI is little more than a form of modern vaporware, heaped with the potential it cannot live up to, no matter how many billions of dollars you throw at it. You can’t expect it to increase productivity by reducing the number of workers. What you are saying is you are invested in burning out employees like a fuse on an assembly line.


If they had thrown the same billions into enriching their workers, providing them with better tools, better working environments, more compassionate and better trained managers and created environments which treated their workers as assets rather than liabilities; if those workforces were allowed to take the time off other countries allowed, if workers were treated humanely as the geniuses they continue to demonstrate every day they work under these toxic and adverse conditions of the modern workforce, companies would realize social, cultural and psychological benefits far beyond their offices.

Such largess would transform their countries, the social climates and their abilities to handle unexpected circumstances with their mental gauges on full rather than empty, pulling on the last vapors of their mental health before they stop entirely.

There are no productivity gains to be found in killing your workforce. Alas, America will try everything before treating their workers like Human beings. Slavery worked and when it was abolished, this nation appears to do everything it could to get back to the model which made them, for two hundred years or so, the most economically-powerful nation on the planet.


What would American productivity look like? Our leaders are shaping the laws right now, to get as close to that as current circumstances allow.

Force women to bear children to term.
Bring back child labor.
Under-educate the masses.
Education is only for the wealthy.

Using prisoners as free labor.
Criminalize poverty.
Bring back debtor’s prisons.
Continue to reduce pay across the board.

Refuse to let people retire until 70.
While forcing them out of the workforce at 45–50.
Reducing workforces.
Using machine intelligence rather than hiring.

Create an algorithmically-deployed workforce,
Said workforce is beholden to as few living individuals as possible.
See: Uber, Lyft and other samples of the algorithmic economy.

We will do anything in this country but treating people humanely. And pay them a wage which would actually allow them to live without fear of not having their next paycheck. Anything but allow the majority of people in this country to prosper, to be paid good wages, to have choices other than wage-slavery or death.

What does that say about this nation? We want our workers choking down their fear, fighting against microaggressions, living highly stressed lives with their infrastructure crumbling down around them, barely capable of stringing cogent thoughts together while the system steals every penny we can back from them, so they can go to bed broke, sick and tired and wake the same way every day, until they die from stress or we replace them because they cannot keep up on our corporate treadmills.

That is the reason tens of thousands of workers have been let go in the last three years and why hundreds of thousands more will soon join them on the breadlines.

The secret agenda of at least one political party is clear. To ensure a fascist dictator with delusions of grandeur who will run this nation while under house arrest, ensures freedom is a thing of the past and that workers who will have work will certainly not envy those whose fortunes have lead them to inhabit tent cities across the nation with no path back from that economic purgatory.

All of this is by design. The cruelty is the point. Don’t just take my word for it.

“Top Companies That Announced Major Layoffs & Hiring Freezes-2024.” 2024. Intellizence |. January 31, 2024.

Look at the trends. Look at the outcomes. Notice who is becoming richer and who is constantly sliding toward economic oblivion. Ask yourself why they, supposedly the most educated leadership in the world does nothing about what is happening.

The question answers itself. This is the design. To draw as much wealth as they can before the environment, or the national racial makeup challenges their profits in such a profound way, that its unsustainability is clear to even the most befuddled Trump supporters.

By then, it will be too late for anyone to do anything about it.

Cognitive Dissident — Thaddeus Howze

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