Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dystopia

Some months ago, a popular high street bank near my work (HSBC actually, I don’t know why I’m being secretive here) was refurbished dramatically. It became rather futuristic looking, a vision of the future that would make Orwell proud. I didn’t like it but as it wasn’t my bank and I usually only used the machines outside, I thought no more of it until today when I went to use the Currency Exchange.

Gone is the nice man behind a counter who counts out currency while making pleasantries about your trip.!
Replaced by a machine!

A machine that allows you to withdraw different currencies but annoyingly restricts you to your normally maximum cash withdrawal amount, rather than it being a card transaction. It made no attempt at conversation and didn’t wish me Bon Voyage or anything.

Then afterwards, I go to Tesco where I scan my shopping and am told by a harsh robot voice to place my goods in the bagging area and insists mechanically that I use their plastic bags –as it won’t let me put my own bag anywhere near and if I move the shopping towards it, lights start to flash and she gets over-excited.

We are all being replaced by machines. And I’ve not even mentioned automated phone systems.

6 comments:

northern monkey said...

oh no that's horrible - I hate all this robotisation (is that a word or did I just make it up?)

So where are you off to? Is this your San Franisco trip?

Roses said...

I'm a bit quaint me. I insist on going into my bank to pay my credit card bill. The teller and I are on first name basis and when she is on automatic and tries to get me to use online banking, I just look at her pointedly.

I will always use checkout girls for the same reason.

I want personal service.

SandDancer said...

It is for my San Francisco trip which is still ages away but we thought we'd change some money now in case the pound falls further.

M&S seems to be going all out with their self-service counters now too. I don't like it. It doesn't seem to speed things up as the things keep malfunctioning and one day in the future they will rise against us, mark my words!

Anonymous said...

Hi you i i have no tolerance for automated things either! Just wanted to say hi and let you know im still reading your blog! My only net access is via my phone so i am not one for commenting as it takes too long! Love sam xxxxx

cogidubnus said...

One person's progress is another person's dystopia...It's been the same forever...the Luddites being merely one better known example...

Dystopia means simply the opposite of Utopia...Misery vv Happiness, Paradise vv Hell...

The guys who invented the Jenny and the Flying Shuttle are often credited with fuelling the Industrial Revolution...Happiness and efficiency for the nouveau riche owners, but to the workers whose jobs went, acute dystopia...

More recently,when I started work we had a "Comptometer Section" with half a dozen women who could use the special calculating machines to help produce accounts etc...within two years a device called an ANITA (looking somewhat like a TV) put them all out of work...three or four years later the pocket calculator, in turn, put ANITAs manufacturors out of work...

Do I have to expound further regarding typing pools, accounts sections and Computers?

I'm afraid all human progress is like that, bits we like and bits we don't, bits that work immediately and bits that don't...

The trouble with progress is, that on the whole if we adapt to it, we eventually thrive, but if we fail to adapt then we perish...sad but true...Darwinism in a modern context perhaps...

Personally I HATE the concept of automated supermarket checkouts and the lack of human contact this involves...but guess what...when the place is crowded, I'm the first in the queue...

On a cheeky note, doesn't ownership of certain battery powered vibrating devices represent dystopia for paid sex workers?

SandDancer said...

I'm well aware of the Comptometer as my mother was one of those women trained in using it not long before they were replaced!