I think we need to talk about machines. They know our ways. It’s only a matter of time before Skynet actually happens. And then we’re fucked. All fucked. DOOMED, I TELL YOU. DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMED.
Well, ok I’m not quite at that stage yet. But I do think it’ll happen. It’s happening now in the most minute of moments. Placed in such a conspicuous place, that they’re actually hiding like the most skilled of ninjas.
And they are…
Self servicing machines at Tesco’s.
You heard me. It’s true, they’re getting too frigging intelligent and it took my mind to such a place where it made me wonder if I’m just overthinking way too much (as usual) or I’m onto something.
Let’s take last week for example. Did the scan of my £1 sandwich (Brexit, ennit), paid the dolla, get the receipt, and walk off.
Then it happened.
“TH4nK YOU 4 SH0PP1NG @T TESC0’5.”
And for that brief moment, before the complete wave of shame hit me, I was all, “awh, thanks”. I fucking responded to a machine in my head. I was having a conversation with an inanimate object. I took the bait. To. A pre-recorded message. With absolutely no emotional or living essence behind it. Fuck. Me.
Now, aside from the debilitating sense of misery and the now personally confirmed belief of my meaningless existence, I stepped back a sec, well, after the initial step back from the shock. The only essence of salvation was that I didn’t respond out loud. I mean, damn, if that happened I would’ve straight up called The Samaritans and begged them to work their magic.
Anyway, after the mental step back, it was rather worrying that for that brief moment, I was in a little bubble. And not that kind of bubble people make for themselves. And it made me wonder at how apparent this is in other places: Cashiers after a purchase at a store, machines ‘saying’ thank you when you exit a parking bay, card machines, and so on.
Now, I’m not saying that there needs to be more sincerity behind it or anything, that’s just being ridiculous. It’s more, “is there any point?”. Aside from that lapse in concentration which lead to the moment, there is genuinely no point at all in those thank you messages on machines existing. People behind the counter, yeah, of course, that’s the ideal manner in how you’d want to be treated as a respectful customer. But, why machines? I couldn’t care. I don’t think many people do and I think I speak for a fair few people in terms of both employees and customers that people want to get their shit, get in, get out, just get it over with. I’m aware employee and customer relations can be personal and fantastic, but you cannot deny that the above exists. Those are the things I’m on about right now. So, seeing as the person in the store and the customer effectively want the transaction to be quick as hell, and neither personally care for the other caring, why would they hell what the machine thinks? Even if the customer wanted a friendly service and was personally annoyed by the lack of it, will it evolve into a machine sending out a tissue and stroking them saying, “there there” in the most monotone of voices?
I’m just saying, it’s potentially a waste of electricity. And also because I still feel shame at the initial response to a machine. Sigh. I’ve been outdoorsy lately too.