There is hope for the future. Machines, as efficient as they are cold and as costly as they are profitable, are already here. And most of what we are learning about them is that the formula that works best is one in which the machine not only does not completely replace the human being, but complements him. To stop demonizing the new will help us to embrace it more quickly and we will all benefit from it. We must learn to coexist with new technologies. Neither the human being is so easy to replace nor the machine so ready to do so on a large scale. But we only have to go out of our homes to see that the future is already now.
When I finished shopping, I approached the machine. He spoke to me politely, perhaps a little cold. He asked me to choose a language, to pass the products and told me the price of each one. Every now and then she interrupted the process and told me that we had to wait for a manager. A woman came over and quickly swiped a card through a slot, tapped some codes on the screen and the machine recovered the account and speech. When she finished scanning all the products, she asked me what method of payment I wanted to use, swiped the card and gave me my receipt. I don’t seem to remember her thanking me or saying goodbye. She was cold to the last moment. That, yes, except for the small block, she was quite efficient. Of course, all the work was done by me: removing the products from the cart, activating the machine, swiping the products, bagging them, paying, let’s say on a scale of 1 to 10 the machine did 1 and I did 9.
That same night I was flying from Barajas, terminal 4. In front of the check in counters, a legion of “auto check in” terminals. Around them there were 4 or 5 people, from the airline, as support for those who were not sure how to use the machine. I put my passport in the reader and it did not work. I turned it over, back and forth, looked at the instructions again, but it didn’t work. A man in his fifties, wearing a shirt and tie, came to assist me. I told him that the reader had not worked for me and the two men next to me. “That’s odd,” he said, “they’ve been working fine all day.” I resumed the check in, but this time with the option of my pager number and then yes, the machine responded. Mute, it just kept advancing steps in the process through the screen. No hello, no thank you, no please. It was quite efficient, except for the fact that the passport reader was not working properly. Then I had to take the suitcase ticket, put it on and take the suitcase to another counter to send it to the belly of the plane, after going through the guts of the airport. Again, I did it all myself.
Having avoided the queues, it must be said, I saved time and was then able to go for a chicken wrap. At the entrance of the restaurant there were some screens, on which I could choose everything I wanted, even the method of payment. Once the order was finished, the machine spit out a ticket with the number 31 and a few seconds later I heard a clear, direct, human cry: “treintayunooooo”. At last a human being was entering the process, not to make up for the machines, but as part of it. She told me to wait and watch for a screen, that the screen would let me know when it was ready. Behind her I could see part of the kitchen, and I could see how machines and people coexisted in the preparation of the orders. Here, in this case, I had to do almost nothing, except order, pay, pick up, eat and then separate the remains to throw them in the corresponding garbage cans, because of this recycling thing. Almost nothing?
I have read in the blog rebeldesdigitales.com that “many fear a future plagued by machines without any autonomy that respond to the orders of a greater brain, but unfortunately those machines subtly programmed by a greater brain are already here”. Technology is extraordinary and progress has no brake, what is requested is not only to humanize this digital future but to give back to the person the value it has. Not only to assist the machine when it has a problem (what irony) but so that the humanization of brands is not bogged down in an interactive terminal as efficient and cold as the others.