Thursday, June 17, 2010

Machines Vs. Humans

It's amazing to think how much our society has replaced humans with machines and automations. I can just picture the conversations with my grandkids:

"When I was a kid, people actually had to STOP when they reached a toll booth."
"Why would you stop, Bubby?@
"Because, zeeskeit, in order to pay toll, you had to give it to a person who sat in this little shelter called a toll booth."
"But didn't that make huge lines at the tolls?"
"It did! But in the olden days we just had to put up with it."
"Gosh. I'm glad I didn't live in the olden days."

Online shopping has introduced us to entire new worlds. eBay, Amazon, Paypal... We no longer need to go into a physical store to spend our hard-earned cash. And think of those iPod vending machines. Credit card in, punch a number, and out slides your new iPod- no human interaction neccessary!

"I remember the days when you'd have to stand in line to buy an iPod. And you'd have to hand your credit card to an actual person!"
"Bubby, what's an iPod?"
"It was all the rage when I was younger. It's a music player that also did a few other things. Very cool."
"Why is that cool? All music players do other things."
"Not in the olden days cutie."
"Gosh. I'm glad I didn't live in the olden days."

And similar to the way that the advent of refrigerators left a bunch of ice-box delivery men unemployed, digital photography has changed an industry. 

"...and so we would take this thing called film, and we would bring it into the store. The man would give us an envelope, and we would write our names. Then the man would develop the film, and we would get prints of the pictures." 
"But how did you pick which pictures you wanted?"
"You didn't. In the olden days you had to print all of the pictures you took."
"Gosh. I'm glad I didn't live in the olden days."

Even a simple thing like rolling down your window to ask for directions has been replaced by talking little boxes who think they know more than we do. (Not to mention, nobody actually ROLLS down their window anymore.) But all this leads me to the one aspect of technological advances that I'll never get. Synthetic voices. 

I get how much easier it is to program a machine than train a person. And I get that machines don't take lunch break, sick days or vacation. I get that machines aren't unionized, they don't need medical insurance, and they never talk back. But some things just work better with a person. Self checkout? I can deal with it. But why can't I get an actual recorded voice? 

Am I the only one who's ears hurt from the sound of canned talking?


FrumJewInYU said...

My ears hurt from hearing (well, in my head) "who's" instead of "whose" (sorry for the grammar nazism, but I couldn't resist).

stam[azoid] said...

my car was hit by someone and i got stuck with a rental covered by the other guy's insurance, needless to day it's a very very basic model.

Not only do i have to ROLL THE WINDOWS DOWN, but even the locks are all manual!!! and we're not talking about a car from the 80s, this is a recent model.... i didnt think they even made cars without power windows and locks anymore.

Bookworm said...

Those horrible recordings they feed you through anytime you call a company? I just press "0" over and over until I get a pulse. Unless the world goes all "Blade Runner."

Yossi said...

Why would ice-box delivery men lose their jobs? Couldn't they just start delivering fridges?

(And my verification word is: shistpu. Thought that was funny sounding)

Mystery Woman said...

Try describing a rotary phone to kids. They don't get it.

David_on_the_Lake said...

Youre description of the old method of film development brought a smile to my face.
It sounds so primitive now. We used to be so excited to go pick up our clue how they came out.

lvnsm said...

I heard a skit that was similar and hilarious. He said people don't appreciate how quickly we can go across the country, how quickly we can send messages....