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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Automation

Sometimes automation makes me wonder. In a time in history when we are facing serious economic problems,  we are entering the era of automation as a mean to save money and avoid human error. But sometimes I think, this could go to extremes; like the story I heard today in the news about the sophistication that the Japanese are reaching in making robots.  They look sooo real, that they are freaking frightening.  But there are other modernizations that are supposed to make life easier but that end up being more of a nuisance.  I had mentioned before, the annoyance that one has to go through when calling to make a claim to a certain company and you are answered by a complicated machine that "thinks that knows your problem" , but really makes it more difficult to solve it. 
The other day, for example (I shouldn't be talking about this so openly, but it lets me explain my point) I went to a public bathroom and never felt so helpless! I  placed a sterilized paper lid cover to the bowl and tried to sit , but the sensor caught me off guard and before I was able to do it, the toilet flushed automatically.  I had to literally try 3 times before  I could achieve my goal.  When I wanted to wash my hands, I had to hold the faucett open, because the the water spout was programmed to be opened for 3 seconds...how can you pour soap and wash your hands so fast?  Then you  want to dry them, and you put your hands over a lite on top of the paper dispenser.  It makes a wooshing sound and dispenses such a little amount, that it gets wet before you dry your hands...like you are going to save the forest if they dispense less paper!
Another time, I stopped at a convenience store by a gas station at a service area along a highway. Some of these stores usually have food and hot showers for the tired truck drivers who transit through the main roads transporting all sort of merchandise. Well...I am not a truck driver, but I certainly welcome a good cup of coffee to boost some self energizing caffeine into my body.  These stores have the coolest items which you could buy as last minute presents for your family or friends; but they also have the yummiest offers like.. two hot dogs for .99 cents or one extra donut if you buy 9 of them. I was marveled by the new technique to make milkshakes: You take a cup which contains flavored (you choose your flavor) powdered milk . Place it under a machine with a stirrer.  Some ice cream is released into your cup, and automatically your shake is made.  Very practical and also frightening!!! A hairy hand could have emerged from some dark corner! But it tasted simply deliiiiicious!
Cars are also getting more sophisticated.  Those hybrid cars that are so popular nowadays, come with unexpected gadgets, which can have you parked in a parking lot or in front of your house for longer than you expect. They are not powered like the ordinary ones.  You have to press a button, like you are turning on an electric appliance and then draw your automatic lever to the drive mode...but how does this work? How do you engage it? You could spend good 10 minutes or more, trying to figure it out and when you finally do, you should be worried , because upon arrival, parking it is another business...If you want to get familiar with you"appliance", you have to study and "digest" a manual with 100 pages and complicated divisions.  Sometimes I wonder how difficult they make it to let you protect your environment, save money and start using the new technology which is being offered to us.  A funny example of extreme automation can be found in a blog I posted not so long ago called Automatic Confession.  Boy!!!  You wish you were in those old times when you didn't have to worry about computer glitches or about life going on without having to use electricity, gas or tv.  Maybe our kids wouldn't be watching so much violence; our husbands wouldn't get stationed in front of this monster screen taking all their meals while they watch a baseball, basketball or football game; we would think instead of having a gadget that thinks for us. Maybe, with time, we will turn into slaves of our machines and the human race's mind will shrink as it goes through adaptation to their new environment.  The machines will make us their robots!  Scary!!!
                                                                                                                                  
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