Robots are coming, you guys.
It started with the novelty of self-checkout at drug and grocery stores, and has grown to such an extent that robots are being discussed as replacements for baristas at coffeeshops, and replacement for soldiers in the field of battle.
We are putting more and more of everyday tasks into the hands of robots, and while most of the people I know can rant for hours about the imminent uprising, I’m totally cool with being used as a "Matrix"-type person-battery later if it means I don’t have to interact with a surly checkout person when I am buying my tampons now.
As a writer, and staunch believer in the importance of human connection, I shouldn’t be in support of automation. Or at the very least, I should be mulling over the potential ethics and “KILL ALL HUMANS” concerns. But more often than not, I don’t -- I just enjoy it.
When I’m at CVS after a workout buying a bottled water, I really like not taking my headphones out and zipping through the machine and getting on with my day. I even take a really deep pleasure in doing stuff like scanning my own coupons, and seeing how much Extra Care points I get at each transaction. It’s like when I was a kid and I would play grocery store -- only this time, I am not working with my baby sister who has only seen fit to wear an apron to pretend-work.
Maybe things would be different if I didn’t live in New York. Maybe I’d relish the daily interactions with people as I accomplished the myriad of quotidien tasks a person finds themselves doing in the course of a day. But typically, by the time by day is done, the last thing I want after a blisteringly loud, shoulder-to-shoulder, breath-of-stranger-in-my-face train ride, is to have to keep up the pretense of polite, good-will.
I was raised to smile at someone and tell them to have a good day. That said, I don’t think my parents anticipated that I’d be living in a place and an age where nine times out of 10, my “Hi, how are you todays?” would be greeted with glaring eye-contact and truculent silence or, worse still, nothing at all.
There have been days where I wanted to pinch myself just to make sure I did, in fact, exist. In a way, I respect the sort of attitude most clerks have. It’s not rudeness, it’s more like “I’m having a shit day, you’re having a shit day, let’s not add to it right now, OK?”
I don’t think we’re at a place where our robots are close to taking over all human-living-people jobs, either. Have you tried to rely solely on Siri? It is a disaster. I tried to send my roommate a text about my cat, and Siri was all “Brittany, Brittany, Brittany,” which, while hilarious, was totally unhelpful.
The same with Amtrak’s computer-lady Julie. That woman is all “You want to change the date of your travel? Let me connect you with an operator.” Because she is a useless. I am sure the aforementioned coffee-robot would destroy most if not all lattes.
Are you in favor of more robots or perhaps less? Do you fear their sentience? Should I maybe take my bad attitude and check it? Share that noise in the comments, dear ones.