WE'RE FOREVER hearing about how the robots are coming for our jobs, and soon there'll be no gainful employment for real flesh-and-blood humans. In fact, I fully expect it to be a key campaign point for the 2030 election. But for some people, there are definite upsides to the robot revolution.
Sure, it might sound harsh to wish for lots of people to lose their jobs, but that's how societal progress works - loads of jobs don't exist anymore. You don't hear anyone crying for the local lamp-lighter, or the town plague doctor, or the King's chief bum-wiper. Actually, everyone was probably crying for him, what a job.
Seriously, though, there are some positions that us introverted or socially anxious types absolutely can't wait to see replaced by soulless mechanoids, so we never have to interact with them ever again.
Here are the top five.
There are so many reasons robot hairdressers will be amazing. For starters, we'll be able to pick a haircut from a menu and they'll just do it. There'll be none of this "show me a picture in a magazine and then I'll do what I was going to do anyway" malarkey. You'll pick haircut 3B, and you'll get haircut 3B.
There'll also be none of the awkwardness around tipping. Haircut 3B costs £20 and that's what you'll pay. There's no expectation that you might give the robot another fiver for literally doing the job it's employed to do, even if it does it really well. Which it will, because it's a robot.
And did we mention that robots are really, really quick? Put your trusting head into the HairBot 3000 at the train station and remove it ten seconds later with a perfectly coiffed 3B. Nice layers, by the way.
If there was a tickbox in the Uber app that said "No conversation," I'd tick it every time, even if it increased the fare. Heck, even if it doubled the fare. I can't deny that I learnt a lot about fishing on my last cab ride, but it was 45 minutes, and there are only so many questions I can think of about different types of trout.
Cab drivers are people too (for now…), and they need human contact to stay sane. But I don't think they're entitled to corner me into a conversation just because I need to be somewhere.
There's also a bit of a sexism issue: my male friends say they hardly ever get chatted to by Uber drivers (who almost all seem to be male themselves - I wouldn't get in an enclosed space with drunk passengers either, though), while the females say it happens all the time. That's not because they're chatting us up, necessarily (though it does happen - one tried to set me up with his nephew), but perhaps because there's a societal assumption that women are built to please and men are entitled to our time.
That's not as sinister as it sounds - at the end of the day these are just lonely drivers having a chat - but there's a reason the men aren't expected to natter and women, generally, are.
You know who doesn't expect you to talk about your day? Robots. They don't want to know what you do for a living, where you're going from and to, whether you've been at work, whether you're going out tonight, and what you think of rainbow trout.
Robot bartenders are already sort-of a thing: I've been served a perfectly shaken cocktail by the barbots on the Royal Caribbean ships, for instance. But they're not by any means mainstream, and they should be.
Why? Well, for starters, they're efficient. Those four-person-deep queues at a mediocre pub in Fitzrovia on a Friday afternoon will be a thing of the past. You'll just go up to the alcohol robot, punch in your order and go back to your table.
Secondly, there won't be any sniggering at the wildly out-of-date photo on your ID, because you'll just scan it or use your fingerprint or something clever like that. Which also means there won't be any 17-year-old TOWIE wannabes who somehow look ten years older because YouTube tutorials are a thing now. Bastards. You're not allowed to look good in your teens.
The number one reason robot bartenders are the holy grail, though, is that you don't have to talk to them. Or rather, they don't have to hear you. I'm already extremely uncomfortable to be here, don't make me scream "VODKA AND DIET COKE PLEASE. DIET Coke, yeah? DIET. AND VODKA. No, not diet vodka, fucking hell. FINE JUST GIVE ME BEER" across a wet, sticky bar while jostling for attention with a man waving a tenner. Let me press a button and leave.
It's lovely to be in the privileged position of paying someone to clean your home so you don't have to bother. But the benefits are almost entirely eradicated by the experience of dealing with that person. Whether you use an app, a service, or just someone your mum knows, employing a real human with thoughts and a sense of smell to clean your hovel is excruciating. This is how we've ended up with people who clean for the cleaner.
Even if your abode is fairly clean and tidy, it's awful. No one in Britain can face telling someone to clean UNDER the toilet rim next time, or to ignore the crusty pants they accidentally left in the corner, or that the splotch on the bedsheets is 100% definitely hot chocolate and nothing else.
Then there's the issue of generally feeling uncomfortable with a stranger in your home, whether for security reasons or just because you know they're judging your fridge contents. And they never do it the way you'd have done it, and are you supposed to get them a Christmas card, and will it invalidate your house insurance if you give them a set of keys, and ARGH, just invent the cleaning robot from The Sims already.
All customer service personnel, everywhere
"I'd like to return these shoes, please. I don't have the receipt, but legally..."
"Excuse me, um, sorry to bother you, but I think this chicken might be a bit pink, maybe?"
"At Gmail dot com. No, Gmail. G for Google. GOOGLE. Sorry, I think it's a bad line"
There is no customer service interaction that is remotely enjoyable for either us or them. They don't want to work out if you've worn the suspiciously warm shoes before returning them, they don't want to go and tell the arsey chef to cook your food again, and they definitely don't want to try and work out if they spelt "[email protected]" correctly over the phone.
Customer service is one of those horribly necessary things that greases the wheels of society but makes everyone involved miserable. Ordering, cancelling, returning, complaining and querying would be a thousand times less horrible if we only had to deal with robots. They're not great at understanding language, true, but at least if they can't help, they don't cop an attitude with you, like the kid in Waitrose who'd never heard of horseradish.
Of course, the other workers in the shop wouldn't want robot colleagues, so we'll have to replace them all with machines as well. In fact, hell, let's replace all the jobs. Except writers, obviously, because we're dead inside already. Beep boop. µ
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