Being a speaker and trainer, I visit a lot of airports to reach my clients. There are certain expectations or standards that rank some airports above others – easy access to connections, a Starbucks kiosk and short lines in the restrooms. Not glamorous, I know, but these are the basics for me when travelling.
Recently, I’ve noticed an increase in smart technology when I travel. It all started with my smart phone. When texting, the phone often “spells” the word it thinks I am typing. (An annoying habit as apparently, I am one of the few that still texts using proper grammar and full words.) That’s livable since the feature can be turned off — I appreciate the fact that the manufacture still gives me the option to apply my own intelligence over “artificial.”
That’s not always the case. Back to the airports…I’ve noticed an alarming trend of automating the process of travel. Those check-in kiosks are convenient – until you have an unplanned flight change and need a live person. Don’t even bother trying to call the airline as you will go through a series of automated options before ever reaching a live person. And then there are the moving sidewalks – again, very convenient if you choose to walk on them. Unfortunately, they can be very cumbersome if one treats them as a “ride” instead of walking.
My biggest beef of trying to automate our lives happens in the restrooms with automatic flushing. The idea is honorable but perplexing to me. Do we really need someone else to be in charge of flushing the toilet? What happens we return home? There is no magic sensor there to do the job – we must actually take action. And there-in lays the rub: are we becoming a society so engrossed with technology to the point of losing our ability to think beyond automation and “smart” options?
Just the other day I called a hotel to book a client’s rate. Apparently, the rate listed showed a king bed and since the hotel had no king beds left, she told me there were no rooms available. Yet a call to the 800 # service booked me at the rate with a double vs. a king. I see hundreds of examples of this inability to think or problem solve beyond technology all the time, and it concerns me that we are losing critical thinking skills thanks to the automated conveniences.
What about you? Where do you see a shift in skills or abilities because we are no longer required to think for ourselves? What are your pet peeves about technology that is supposed to enrich our lives but may have the opposite affect? Let us know and we’ll share your ideas in the weeks to come.