Today I have been comunicating with a robot, yet another of our public services has gone automated. No longer is there a counter with welcoming ladies ready to assist with the returning and borrowing of books, now we have a robot, which apparently can do the job just as well, without the smile and chit chat of course.
I was in the library today and chose three books, pressed the 'borrow books' button on the screen, and inserted my card underneath the scanner, bar code uppermost. The message came up, 'error, seek assistance from a member of staff'. I looked round, where was the member of staff, now they have all been dispensed with. I spotted her sitting at a little table in the corner, tapping away on a keyboard. She put my details into her computer, and handed the card back to me. She said, 'That's ok now, you've been updated for another three years'.
The nice smiley chatty member of staff approached the robot to show me how it works. Scan the card, put the books onto the shelf below the screen, press 'print ticket', and there you go, job done. It even knows how many books, and their titles, I have out already. Apparently if you put 20 books on the shelf it will read twenty titles, and list them all on the ticket. Amazing. All very well when the system is working, but what happens when it crashes, will they go back to the old fashioned way of rubberstamping the date inside the cover?
I don't like all this automating things. I remember when I was at the Job Centre (Labour Exchange) searching for a job by pressing buttons on a screen, then printing a ticket out. The one I really hate is the serve yourself checkouts at the supermarket, what a pain that is. Whizz an item over the scanner six or seven times, and it still won't blasted well scan. I gave up with that one and would rather wait for a real person to serve me.
I can cope with the hole in the wall to withdraw cash, but I still like paying my bills the old fashioned way by writing a cheque. They say it won't be long before cheques will be phased out, I think we should all be fighting against that happening, and writing as many cheques as we can to let the powers that be know we want to keep them. Don't suppose it would make any difference though, we are all doomed to a world run by robots. That's a thought, maybe they will make a better job of it than the present lot we have in power.