by Bob Branco
While checking out at a local Walmart recently, I learned that they have a self-service machine which helps customers pay for their merchandise without the benefit of human assistance. My initial reaction was that more jobs will be replaced by automation which can potentially hurt our economy. What else can I think? If we are encouraged to use self-service check-out machines, who needs a cashier?
Here’s the other concern I have. As this form of technology becomes more readily available to consumers, they will be expected to use it. Well, one size does not fit all. While some of us are very good at operating self-checkout machines, many of us are not. Quite often, it takes longer to use automated check-out than getting help from a cashier.
I heard that many stores are getting rid of cashiers in favor of automation. How does that make sense? How can every shopper be forced to use automation just because it’s so wonderful? Not all of us are technological experts. We are human beings, some of whom have more knowledge than others. You can’t throw the entire human race into a field of automation and expect everyone to succeed. Like it or not, we still need the human touch.
Many McDonald’s franchises are replacing food servers with computers. Customers are now expected to order their fast food by pressing buttons. I’ve heard nothing but complaints about this. At one of our local McDonald’s, customers are walking out because they can’t handle the automation. Does McDonald’s really believe that it should downsize their pay roll? I thought McDonald’s had a gold mine of success because of its popularity. Yet, they want to automate. Personally, I don’t know how to operate a self-service check-out machine or an automated food service computer. Frankly, I don’t want to. If mistakes are going to be made, let the employees make them.
Recently, I was at a local bank when one of the tellers announced that their computers were down, causing a work stoppage until everything was up and running. Customers had to wait and waste valuable time.
With the rapid evolution of technology and how much it appears to be necessary in life, I would hate to see what would happen if there was cyber terrorism or a short circuit in a main electrical grid. Has anyone thought of the consequences of such a possibility if we are forced to put our paper and pencils away in favor of automation? I don’t know if many people realize these consequences because of all of this technological dependence and fascination. Society really needs to pay more attention.
About the Author
Robert T. Branco resides in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and is the author of five self-published books. He is a community organizer, tutors persons with visual impairments, has written columns for local and international organizations, and publishes a monthly online newsletter, The Consumer Vision. Bob’s website, with full information about his books, is http://www.dldbooks.com/robertbranco/.