(Disclaimer: this is a highly fictionalized history and was written by Jen, an actual human.)
A long time ago in a land far away (1886) Josephine Cochran invented the automatic dishwasher. They didn’t really become a thing until the mid-1950s when women were suddenly thrust into the position of *checks notes* still having to do all of the housework even though their men had returned from war.
You know who was super pissed about this (besides women)?
They were pissed because if women stopped washing dishes by hand, Lux dish soap no longer had a reason to exist.
And so they did what any reasonable dish soap company in their position would have done: warned the public how dangerous and irresponsible automatic dishwashers are.
They sent employees to grocery stores wearing sandwich boards which warned: “Automatic dishwashers will undermine the government, destroy the constitution, and wreck the nation!” “DANGER! Automatic dishwashers are a MENACE to the Home, Men’s Employment, and to All Business.” “Automatic dishwashers are government spying machines!”
Many women were skeptical of this new technology mainly because their husbands controlled the checkbook.
But, when the cat’s away the mice will play! Automatic dishwashers dramatically improved women’s lives. They now had sparkling, sanitary dishes AND additional leisure time to
put their feet up and relax spend quality time with their little darlings invest time in their education so they could get a job, earn money, and become more independent (so close keep trying ladies!) cram even more housework into an already overloaded day.
YAY TECHONOLOGY 🥳
QUICK: Name a popular dish soap! Doesn’t matter, just whichever one pops into your head.
I can guess which one you picked and also guarantee it wasn’t Lux. We all know what happens to companies who spend their time complaining about progress rather than evolving with times and creating new opportunities for themselves.
Also, hi Cascade! Where did you come from?!?
Heeeeeeeey Jet Dry, looking extra sparkly today!
*waves frantically* Artisanal vegan fair trade dish soap! Hiiiiiiii!
(Dawn was the popular dish soap you thought of, right?)
Now that automatic dishwashers are fairly commonplace technology, owning one has become more of a matter of personal choice. I don’t pick up on strong anti-automatic dishwasher sentiment on social media these days but I might just be on the wrong side of Twitter.
While writing this I’m thinking of something specific I read a few days ago. The gist of it was basically that AI art = bad; a better use of AI is doing household chores so people had more time to make art.
Which ok, sure! YES!
I want to live in a house surrounded by Roombas and robot floor moppers and automatic lawn mowers and shit so I have more time to do art.
What? We have these things already? 👀
I don’t believe you.
Next you’re gonna tell me there’s a robot that lives my phone who automatically adds things to my calendar and has groceries delivered to my house when I tell it to. Puh-leeeeese 🙄
But like, why not both?
Why not run my house AND make my art for me, AI?
The thing about making AI art The Problem (in this specific context) is that it takes the problem of unequal distribution of household labor and slaps AI’s face on it. This shifts the burden of solving that problem from human to machine in ways that are ultimately harmful to women.
Freeing up women’s time for creative pursuits has long been the promise of timesaving appliances. If a century’s worth of technological advances hasn’t yet saved us from the drudgery of housework or taught men how to pitch in around the house, surely AI will fare no better. It’s almost like our capitalistic society is engineered to ensure that women have as little free time as possible, not that I have time to think about it.
All I’m really trying to say is that automatic dishwashers launched a cottage industry of therapists who specialize in helping couples who can’t agree on the right way to load the dishwasher. And for that we should all be grateful.
Let’s hope they’re also up to the challenge of helping people navigate their relationship with AI.