February 8, 2007, - 1:58 pm

Suicide & The GM Superbowl Robot Ad

By Debbie Schlussel
As you’ve probably heard, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is criticizing the General Motors Superbowl ad, in which a robot working on the assembly line loses everything for dropping a bolt and contemplates suicide.
The AFSP believes the ad may encourage others to consider suicide and is calling on GM to pull the ad. GM refuses and will be running it during the Academy Awards on February 25th.


A number of you cited that ad as one of your favorites from the Superbowl, and it scored high on USA Today’s Buzzmeter for Superbowl ads. As you probably noted, this ad was not on my list of favorites, but not because of the suicide stuff. When I saw the ad, I figured that groups like the AFSP would end up objecting, which they did.
gmrobot.jpg

But the reason I did not like the ad is something specific to living in Michigan, specifically near the Motor City. I remember as a kid, when robots were first replacing people’s jobs. If anything, they’re the ones who lost everything and contemplated suicide–the humans. I saw people in my parents’ synagogue lose their factories, their companies, everything they had because robots replaced humans. The same goes for autoworkers, many of whom were replaced by the electronic gadgets.
While I’m mostly a free marketeer, I’m also a “human-teer”, and I can’t help but lament the continued prospects of robots replacing humans. (And the Michigan economy–with so many lost auto-worker jobs–is already down in the dumps.) So, that’s why I didn’t like that ad, even though I agree that it was kind of funny (and sad).

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8 Responses

I just thought that ad was kind of lame to begin with.
hope i did not offend the ASLP (American Society of Lame People) with my comment. If I did it was probably taken out of context.

TheOmegaMan on February 8, 2007 at 2:12 pm

French Get Floyd Landis (American 2006 Tour De France Winner) not to race anywhere in France in 2007, including the Tour.
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=sportsNews&storyid=2007-02-08T185952Z_01_L08814884_RTRUKOC_0_US-CYCLING-DOPING-LANDIS-TOUR.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

Test Test on February 8, 2007 at 2:50 pm

“Robot and Me”

Jeremiah on February 8, 2007 at 2:56 pm

Deb,
I think you’re forgetting the fact that companies like Ford & GM don’t have to capitulate to the brownshirt tactics of the Robot’s union.
OH, NO, I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN. I JUST THINK IT’S SAD WHEN HUMANS ARE REPLACED BY MACHINES. AND IT’S KIND OF OMINOUS OF A SCARY BRAVE NEW WORLD-STYLE FUTURE.
DEBBIE SCHLUSSEL

Yiddish Steel on February 8, 2007 at 4:01 pm

This ad has come in for considerable criticism in lean-manufacturing circles, who take it as a sign that GM still doesn’t understand what’s really important in manufacturing. Extensive discussion at these blogs:
http://www.evolvingexcellence.com
http://kanban.blogspot.com
As context, it’s helpful to understand that Roger Smith, when he was running GM, put great faith (and money) into highly roboticized factories..while Toyota was more successfully focusing on continuous improvement with heavy input from line workers.

photoncourier.blogspot.com on February 8, 2007 at 4:02 pm

@debbie
“I JUST THINK IT’S SAD WHEN HUMANS ARE REPLACED BY MACHINES. AND IT’S KIND OF OMINOUS OF A SCARY BRAVE NEW WORLD-STYLE FUTURE.”
– and i think its sad that the luddites never notice that there are humans developing, manufacturing, selling, operating/supervising, and repairing those machines. we’re simply exchanging one form of labor for another. where’s the loss?

ready5 on February 8, 2007 at 8:58 pm

The conversion of US-Welder’s jobs to US Robotics and Spray-Painter’s jobs replaced by automated Coil Coating was tough – but those innovations protected workers health.
Now that brilliant US IT people (no slight to factory workers) are being ‘outsourced’ – there is reason for concern. Rush and Sean preach “Don’t Worry – America is the land of Innovation.” Well, that worked when the World population was small and advanced education was reserved to the West, but as we know – there are many smart and talented evil people in the Third world! It was a terrible mistake to allow superstitious and freedom hating foreign students to study advanced Mechanical and Nuclear Physics in the West (Medicine was Okay).

Irish Poet on February 10, 2007 at 5:14 pm

[irish poet]
the usa does enjoy an educational/technological advantage that i see no moral/logical reason against protecting. the problem is that most of those advances are in the private market, and we allow our domestic firms to employ cheap labor overseas. i agree that we’ve been far too casual about who we sell away our advantage to… but we also can’t be too isolationist. i firmly believe that employment should be more firmly tied to citizenship and that any immigration should be tied to the unemployment rate… else the usa will continue to erode what advantage it has left.

demagogueshatelogic on February 16, 2007 at 11:37 am

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