Friday, November 19, 2021

Automatic For The People

The machines have now emerged and in control and we are their faithful, obedient servants. It has been a slowing creeping process, but now with COVID taking over the narrative it has created the perfect storm to kick automation into high gear, human workers be damned. Not convinced? When was the last time you went into a bank and dealt with a teller. Used money at or pumped your own gasoline. Spoke with a telephone operator. Did you notice that you are starting to check yourself out more and more when you are shopping. There is excitement for driverless cars and transport trucks. How about Pizza Delivery Robots?  Have watch of this video (its already 4 years old) and be very afraid.

Why this narrative today? I just went through an almost automated process from train drop off to sipping coffee at my boarding gate and when I took a minute it really kind of freaked me out...well not really but it gave me pause for thought. First up, GO Transit. As I approached a very dark bank of ticket windows there is one lonely person sitting there and yes in the dark. Their job is not to sell me a ticket, but to direct me to the ticket machine for my purchase. Cool, ticket purchased and my location, destination and history being tracked part 1 by use of my credit card.

 Next up, I need a ticket for the Union/Pearson Express. The ticket counter is closed off by plexiglass with a guy directing people to the ticket machine back down the stairs in the hallway. OK, ticket bought and off I go to Pearson Airport. My location, destination and history tracked part 2.

I had already checked in online as directed by Westjet 3 times within a 3 hour window. I must have been stressing the computer out by not doing it immediately like a good servant. Once at the airport I  still needed to validate my passport at the at the computer kiosk. This also doubled down to print both baggage slips as well as boarding pass. Then people with stored bagged carried or rolled them to the waiting rollers and loaded them, themselves. The human element is almost NIL. I took my boarding pass and off I went through what I feared was a COVID security check point like any good horror movie has driven into us what the future does hold. One the walk I did notice that there was a WestJet counter open for people who were having "technical issues", such as saying "fuck that, I am dealing with a human". That line was not very long and there were only 2 humans working.

I do not want to but I cannot ignore that the process was fast and efficient. Computers do not have personal issues that they take to work and have it affect their jobs and the end user experience. Computers 1 - Humans 0. I am not so concerned for myself as I am a long way down my personal road, however good luck to the up and coming generations who will be completely enveloped in AI and Automation. Human interaction will only be seen in old videos and museums.  They can focus on making Tik Tok videos, getting Instagram likes and tweeting all about it. It really is going to be a Brave New World. Enjoy the Soma Vacation.

Brave New World was published in 1932. "One of the most salient messages of Brave New World is the alarm raised by Huxley against the dangers of technology. Using scientific and technological advances to control society may give more power to totalitarian states to change the way human beings think and act."

My scary airport experience? From the time my hotel transport dropped me off at the airport to when I picked up my coffee and was at my gate, but no more that 20 minutes. That includes standing in line at Timmies. (which was .30 more than any Timmies I have been to. The security process has not changed. You put everything in a bin but now you keep your shoes on so I guess the scary "bomb in the shoe" scenario has passed. Your stuff scanned and away you go. I only travel with a 55Litre pack so I can carry it on. I normally don't have any liquids or gels as I get purchase whatever I need at my destination. This time I did have a used 100 ML tube of toothpaste as it is allowed. Just for my personal humor I pulled it out and put it in the tub with my computer. The agent actually picked it up, looked at it, opened it and smelled it and put it back. Good time happening in the circus that can be my mind. There were 7 different blue gloved people standing around menacingly and ready to pounce at  if you showed any signs of being sick. Good luck to the unlucky bastard who sneezes.

Fast forward to my entry into Mexico which was fast and flawless. I did have to fill out an online questionnaire about my Covid situation before my flight. I passed (surprise) and saved my credentials onto my phone. I was never asked to show it but much like Canada there were a few people glaring menacingly with blue gloves at the ready. I will see what the insanity will be when I return to Canada in the Spring. They just lifted the PCR test for short trips so lets see what the spring brings.

I bought my bus ticket from the Cancun Airport to the Central Metro Station I spoke with a human, then handed over Pesos,  my dirty and virus infected nasty polymer plastic payment method. I tossed my rucksack into the storage compartment and climbed aboard. Thirty minutes later I found my downtown hotel,  The Hotel Jardin and went searching for tacos. There will be no Cancun beach time today.

A small open air casita was about 10 minutes from my hotel on the way back to the ADO bus station. I missed it on the way to my hotel as I was on the other side of the very busy street. But, alas, here I was sitting on a wobbly plastic chair at my wobbly plastic table with the open air fryer behind me. Chorizo Tacos were 6 Peso each, .35 cents Canadian, so I had 10 of them. I had not eaten all day and my belling was singing with happiness as the return of the flavors of Mexico has begun.

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