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Welcome To The Machine

Sevendaysin.co.uk

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
5
The Machine is Here

I've just been struck how much machines are encroaching on our working lives. The Luddites smashed the machines during the industrial revolution because they feared that their jobs and therefore their livelihoods would be threatened. The French threw their clogs (sabots) into the machines to wreck them (hence the word "sabotage"). It turned out the Luddites were wrong , the industrial revolution produced great economies of scale for goods that could be mass produced, and generally standards of living improved.

Production lines had people doing repetitive tasks aided (and driven) by machines and wages enabled people to buy goods, creating demand because people had disposable income. Everyone was a winner.

However when I see staff being replaced by autotills at the supermarket (which often break down or don't work) but we as customers have to put up with it because there is no other option. If one doesn't work you move to the next one. The fact that these autotills are often unreliable mean that staff are required to attend them , but I often buy alcohol early in a morning and sometimes it can be ten minutes before an attendant comes to authorise it for me. In theory I could have gone to a normal checkout but there is only one open and usually there is at least one full trolley there.

Unless you are in Aldi (who’s checkout staff are remarkably fast and efficient) then you usually have a long wait , and therefore think the autotill will be the quickest option.

Bookmakers are turning into slot machine arcades, often opened in poorer areas (I have two with five minutes walk where I live), again replacing staff and making existing staff work more than twelve hour shifts often alone. Both these examples I do not see a benefit to the customer or staff only to the business owners.

I don't see myself as a Luddite, but I am worried that a lot more people will soon be out of work with no way of getting back in , and then I see a BBC article on future inequality, read it and frighten yourself because it could happen if we don't do something about the world.

In our own lives, think about the phone numbers you can remember. I know my own. That's it. I used to know lots but my phone remembers for me. This is a good use of technology because it doesn't reduce what I can do , it enhances it and that's what the introduction of machines in the workplace should do for people.

I also used my phone to measure my steps on my Million Step Challenge, though the app (Google Fit) needs resetting every couple of weeks as it keeps stopping or slowing down . This has actually improved and I have decided to stop the rolling million steps as it just puts a bit of unnecessary pressure on my daily life , and walking does take time out of your day when you could be doing other things.

You should actually use your extra time with purpose , not just sit and watch TV. YOu can read a book , practice a musical instrument or write something , like I am doing at this very moment.

So I could have gone with The Beastie Boys "Sabotage", but will go for the more obvious "Welcome to The Machine" by Pink Floyd. And remember that alarm clock that wakes you up for work tomorrow, that's another piece of good technology, though I think most of us hate it.

I remember Catweazle being absolutely disgusted that a device should determine when you wake regardless of whether it was light or not.

Sleep well my friends

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