Robots have made our lives economical, but at what cost?
Image courtesy of Wikipedia
My friend and I just came back from the local Shopping Centre. She expressed her annoyance regarding the replacement of real-life people with talking machines through which you could buy your goods.
At first I thought that these ‘Grocery Robots’ at Coles and Woolworths and the like were annoying, too. However, this was because I could not figure them out. I am of “Generation X” and I don’t know about others of my generation, but I find technology sometimes difficult to understand.
Now, when I am in a grumpy or rushed mood, I prefer these robots. I find them efficient and I have finally mastered how to get my goods through. You still get the fake “Thank you for shopping at Coles.”
My friend is extremely irritated by them – by their fakeness: she thinks they shouldn’t talk at all, and they speak in a very rushed way, making her feel worse. She would rather have a friendly interaction.
I on the other hand, feel more rushed when there are real people behind me. At least with the robots, people kind of stand back until you have figured it out. Sometimes, I am irritated by the fake “how are you” from real people in which you’re supposed to say “I’m good, and how are you?” to which no reply is expected.
However, I have watched my friend, who has exceptional people skills, interact with the person putting the groceries through, and they both seem to feel better for the interaction. When I am asked how I am, I do not feel the need to have a conversation. I have trouble enough maintaining eye contact for some reason. The robots don’t expect that. However, if I am feeling cheerful, I’ll even put my shoulders back, put a smile on my face, and have a friendly interaction.
I lose my patience most at Aldi, where despite the cheap prices the long queues I find annoying, in which there are only two, so they tend to be quite lengthy.
My friend pointed out that the “Grocery Robots” are replacing real life employees – they do not have to get paid and are probably a reflection of Australia’s poor economy at present.
I’ve also been told the queues are there so they do not have to pay as many staff to serve the customers.
I’ve been pondering what psychological characteristics of people are reflected in the type of service they use. Do introverts prefer robots? Do people who don’t feel confident prefer robots? Do they talk quickly to hurry society? Are we becoming less friendly as a result?
I am interested in how other people are affected by these talking mechanisms that allow us to take home our goods. I love them. My friend hates them. What do others think?
Importantly, no matter how rushed, or unhappy or how economical it is for the company, are robots detracting from our communication and humanity?
Thanks for your thought provoking article. I would prefer to deal face to face with a real live human being any time. I don't mind being asked how I am and sometimes get into a light hearted chat as my groceries are packed for me. If I am feeling a bit down the human interaction lifts my spirits.