In the past couple of weeks, two technological oddities appeared in the news, one relatively harmless (or so it seems) and one real crazy. The first was Applebees committing to having tablets installed in their tables so as to facilitate ordering and payment, and the second was Amazon introducing Prime Air, a service that utilizes octocopter drones to deliver packages less than an hour after purchase. Both ideas have positive outcomes, but point negatively to one major problem we all face, and that’s overarching laziness.
Business Insider reported simply that Applebees, following restaurant tech trends in Europe and Asia, wish to use on-table tablets to abolish the need to wait for a check. Which I guess is a logical solution, if you see customer complaints as a problem. The thing is… it’s tragic when diners can’t even deal with a slight amount of patience; they’ve already shirked the responsibility of cooking for the night, and now they are complaining that they’re not paying fast enough? The use of tablets here is ok on the surface, but at a deeper level highlights how little we appreciate so many things. Also, having a tablet on the restaurant dining table is a way of squeezing money out of people who only need to tap a screen to order, but not letting it go to the service workers who actually deserve the cash.
Then there’s Amazon’s Prime Air. Jeff Bezos revealed the new technology to 60 Minutes a few weeks ago, and since then Business Insider, Forbes, and many other news outlets have wanted in on the scoop. Bezos and his team showed a video of the octocopter drone delivering a package (to the shocked faces on 60 Minutes), and apparently this promotional clip wasn’t even made in the states because of laws forbidding certain uses of the technology. The news world has had a field day digging into the legal problems, and societal ramifications, of said army of delivery drones.
Both inventive uses of existing technologies boil down to how lazy we human creatures have become. I know I’ve written about this numerous times, but these two examples affect more than the private consumer. The restaurant tablet is further isolation in society, cornering the family in a little cubicle of privacy even in a large room filled with other families. It’s weird, and another step away from natural processes (feeding ourselves shouldn’t be this oddly sci-fi). And the Amazon drone bodes badly for the retail store of any kind, because a swift drone delivery could be faster than the mini-van outing to the Gap or Apple Store. Ever read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster? I’m reminded of this sort of consumerist isolation.
The other thing is that we’re depending on technologies without enough knowledge of how they function, what it takes to construct them, and what dangers come with their impending, widespread presence. In a world where we can 3D print a working firearm, why aren’t we stopping to look at the scary side effects of screens and drones and robots (we’re kinda the robots)? We’re so lazy that we allow non-human workers to take over even the easiest applications of being alive. If patience is a virtue, why not learn the virtue instead of snuffing it out? Go watch Wall-E and tell me we aren’t in trouble.