|Automated Postal Center and new Priority Mail box display (Photo credit: Aranami)|
That’s what the final screen read as I completed mailing a package using the self-serve postal machine at the post office.
Serve me? I didn’t feel like the machine had served me in any way. Sure, the machine used a bit of processing power and ink, but serving? Hardly.
And pleasure? Really? Was the machine actually claiming to feel that emotion?
A more appropriate closing message might have been, “Thank you for your business,” or even, “Have a nice day.”
I’m not opposed to automation. I prefer it. Even if the service window had been open, I would have bee-lined to the self-serve machine. I like technology, and use it. At the grocery store I always choose the scan-it-yourself and self-checkout options. I find it faster and more efficient.
I prefer not to have to politely decline the upgrade to priority mail from parcel post; I’ll just push the buttons. But I do so knowing that I am interacting with a machine, and there is no part of that transaction that feels human to me. I am simply not expecting a machine to be “pleased.”
But then there’s Watson, who wowed us all with his Jeopardy performance last year. We laughed at his colloquialisms and his attempts at sounding as “human” possible. Yet, as I watched, I was acutely aware that Watson was indeed a machine.
What about you? Do you expect feelings from a machine? Do you think we will ever interact emotionally with machines the same way we do with humans?