Friday, February 08, 2008

The Way We Were

Back when I saw the first Terminator movie, it was pure science fiction. We just didn't have to worry about the premise coming true - it was too fantastic.

Recently, I began watching "TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES" on FOX, and suddenly, the whole thing seems a lot more plausible. Computers have a very large presence in our lives these days, no doubt. (for those of you unfamiliar, the storyline, in a nutshell, is that computers and robots destroyed the world in the near future, and the heroes of the story have come back in time to destroy all the computers before they have the chance to destroy the world)

Disney gave us "Finding Nemo" a completely computer-animated movie about some cute little fishies. It made sense for Disney to animate fishies because they are notorious primadonnas, and the Fish Actors Guild is tough - they're just sharks to deal with! But other companies have been working on computer animation. There's one production company that is spending millions to create computer-generated animation of people that look so real they're almost...well wait a minute, why not just use real people?

It's getting to be ridiculous. I mentioned recently that I also watch The Discovery Channel's "How It's Made", which shows the processes involved in making just about everything we buy. The thing that was noticeably absent from all the manufacturing processes was...PEOPLE!

It seems as though there isn't a job left out there that can't be done with computers anymore. I got a telemarketer call the other day that wasn't even a human. And it wasn't even a human voice on the recording! 100% computerized process right down to the similar voice. It didn't even respond when I cursed at it!

So when the computer puts you out of a job, you can go to automated job search websites (created by computers). But when you apply, you do it online. And when you submit your resume, it doesn't go to a people it goes to another computer! So a CPU decides whether you're qualified, and if not ---RECYCLE BIN BABY! The jobs are posted by computers, your rejection emails are computer-generated.

Call the bank to inquire about that $47 million dollar withdrawal from your checking account, and you'll spend a lot of quality time with that computer customer service representative. I know the bank designs that program in hopes that you'll just say "the hell with the $47 million" and go about your day bothering other computers.

Some companies tried the alternative, aka "outsourcing", but that's proving to be a security problem, plus, American citizens are getting tired of calling "American" companies, and being greeted with "press 1 to continue in English"

So slowly but surely, every consumer products company is going fully automated. Every service company is going fully automated. You can even log on now and get an automated lawyer. It's all very cost-efficient.

But with all this efficiency comes the loss of jobs. That's kinda where a lot of people get the money to spend on consumer products and services. So it makes me wonder...when all the computers are doing all of the jobs and no people work anymore, so they don't have money to spend, who are these companies going to make money selling to?

A-HA! The other computers! See, no need for peoples anymore!

When Arnold Schwarzenegger's robot character introduced us to the words, "I'll be back..." I thought it was a cool catch-phrase, not a prophecy.

But I have to go now. The computer wants breakfast.


  1. I agree things are getting scary. Unless I get a roomba. Then it's just progress.

    Hey, I have an award for you!

  2. eeeew this one would get my husband going. All you has to do to light his fire is mention: personality tests, you know the type you have to take when you're applying for a job so that the data can be fed into a computer which will analyze it and determine whether or not you'd be a good candidate for the job. He refuses to even apply for any company that hires that way.

    As for me, I see it as both good and bad. Obviously there are things computers should not be doing-answering ethical questions (and making telemarketing calls, good grief) for example, but I do wonder what would happen if everyone used all the time that computers are saving and put that time toward doing something useful and productive.

    Seems to me we wouldn't be as worried about losing jobs because we'd be busy finding all kinds of new things to do and explore and work at. However, if we just use the time automation saves us as an excuse to waste more time, we'd be much better off going back to life without it. Anyway that's my 2 cents.

  3. Ahhh...It's one of the reason's I did the post "Short Changed by Technology" in my own journal hon. It's seems as though more and more it's becoming too easy for us to sit back and have everything done for us. Have you gone by a playground lately and wondered why it's not overflowing as it once was when you were a kid? Take Christmas for example how much sports equipment and toys were on the list , versus techno gadgets?

    We wonder why we have become obese, lazy, arthritic human beings. Life is too easy! Someday I truly wouldn't be surprised if computers did evolve into another species altogether and we were no longer the dominate one. When was the last time you picked up a phone and talked to a live person concerning your phone bill, electric, or any other problem? It's scary real....(Hugs) Indigo

  4. Besides the fact that you wrote it in your usual witty way, and your comments thus far are wise...
    the whole thing actually makes me a bit sad.


  5. Anonymous5:24 PM

    It's all about $$$$$$$. If computers do the work, less payroll, more profit. Love of money = evil. This world, our country in particular, is TOO dependent on computers, no good will come of it. If the systems go down, we're all screwed.

    Whenever I call a company and get the automated garbage, I always opt to talk to a 'live operator' (if possible). Please everyone, do the same, it might help preserve a job or two for a while longer.

  6. There will always be jobs. I mean, someone's gotta fix the darn things.

    I hate having to 'press 1' to get my service in English. This is America, dangit! But I hate even more getting a rep that has only been speaking English for 2 months.

  7. Wow, this post really hit a nerve in me...actually, more than one. Excellent job.

    Kris Face and I still like to say "I'll be back" in our best Arnold Schwarzenegger voices.

    I ♥ "Finding Nemo"...big time! :)

  8. I don't think computers will ever take over the world. What does scare me is the idea that we will become so reliant on technology that any kind of physical catastrophe (eg earthquake, war) will leave us incapable of taking care of ourselves. I know for myself that I have no idea how to fix things or grow food and if I had to kill my own meat I'd probably be stuck eating nothing but fish. I also sometimes wonder how much technology distances us from our work. I suppose that people do pursue creative endeavours that keep them in touch with real things, but a lot more nowadays that we create is created in a virtual realm or using computer techniques.

    Anyway, good post. It's all so interesting to think about, and it really does make me wonder what the future holds.

  9. As ever, thanks for the giggles...true as they are. I have to add though, that, trying to circumvent the non-people-ization of banking by going with "hometown" banks doesn't work either. A few years ago, I was very excited that our elementary school "made the list" of "acceptible" persons/places who would be allowed to open an account with a certain credit union. I ran right down there just before I was scheduled to leave town on an extended trip (where I would need access to my new account). I was ASSURED...REPEATEDLY...that YES, their debit/credit card with the snazzy Visa logo WOULD work out of town. You guessed it...two days later, out of money...for THREE days. I was so humiliated. I was there for a specific reason...and could do NOTHING. What's a HUMAN to do? ;) C.

  10. Makes ya think don't it? I wonder if when we get old I bet there still won't be a computer to wipe our a*** though..... Watch this space.


I love comments. I won't lie about that!