A few months ago I ran across an automated Starbucks machine.
I couldn’t stop staring at it.
(No, I don’t get out much.)
By pressing the touch screen, I could command it to make whatever drink my heart desired. And of course, it took my payment too.
I didn’t have to interact with a single human. Push buttons, insert card, get coffee, go.
A friend told me there is now a fully automated McDonalds in Denver. You order through a screen and your food is delivered by robotic contraptions.
As much as I hate to say it, as a small business owner, I get it.
You don’t have to worry about employees calling in sick, messing up orders, or not understanding basic instructions. Everything is fast, streamlined, identical, and formulated. Brilliant.
As we run headfirst into this new era, I can’t help but think about the unintended consequences. The side effects swept under the rug of convenience, ease, and progress. (Just like they have been in eras before…).
When we look back on this time in another 20, 30, or 40 years, what will we realize we missed?
Personally, I think imperfectness will be one of the greatest casualties.
The proof of human touch. The sign that one of our kind made this thing in their own unique way. The everyday interactions with other people– the shared moments, the little smiles, and playful banter.
These are no small things.
At the risk of sounding “woo-woo,” I believe things crafted by human hands carry a different sort of energy. Think about a store-bought pie. It feels different than a homemade one, doesn’t it? A store-bought pie is perfect and uniform, but somehow feels flat and sterile.
In contrast, a homemade pie is an accomplishment. A declaration of mastery. Proof of hours logged and details observed. The crust bears the imprint of human hands. It just feels… different.
Of course, when humans are involved, there’s more margin for error. That’s part of the sacrifice. If someone can make the hamburger, they can also mess it up. If they can smile at you over the register, they can also scowl.
But the risk heightens the reward.
Right now the Internet is abuzz with talk of artificial intelligence taking over the internet. I think it’s inevitable. I’ve played around with ChatGPT (an AI chatbot that does all sorts of things) and it’s impressive. It spits out solid content on any topic imaginable within seconds.
Yet, it’s missing something…
The human touch. Creative crafting of sentences. Clever wordplay. Poetic phrasing. The words written by AI carry a flat sort of energy, just like the pie crust.
So as I stand at the cusp of this new frontier, I once again find myself in the middle.
I’m not willing to throw out all advancements (I may even use ChatGPT to generate a few ideas here and there), but will continue to opt for flawed human touch over robot perfection.
And I’ll always choose a homemade pie over a factory-made one.
Keeping it human,