diamond geezer

 Friday, January 08, 2010

202 0 Vision: redundancy
I was at the supermarket checkout earlier this week with a small basket of groceries when the future hit me. Of the ten or so cashier-staffed checkouts only one was open, and a long queue had formed. Meanwhile as many as sixteen self-scan checkouts were lit up ready for customers to do it themselves, but most were empty. A handful of staff tried gamely to guide shoppers from the single queue to the no-queues, even offering to do the scanning on their behalf, but absolutely nobody over the age of 40 was willing to shift. They clung gamely to what they knew, to the nice lady who does everything for you, rather than risk the pressure and potential humiliation of having to bag stuff themselves. Better get used to it, however, because by the end of the decade refuseniks may not have the option. Automation and outsourcing are on the advance everywhere, cutting costs for businesses and taking away the human touch. Why hire someone if you don't need to, and why provide a personal service when a machine will do almost as well? There are going to be fewer jobs to go round over the next decade, never again one for every available adult in the UK population, which means a world where unemployment is increasingly the norm. Expect to battle harder for the skilled jobs that remain, and to end up having to do a lot more for yourself, for nothing. And do remember to bring your own bags to the 2020 supermarket, because there'll be nobody to do it for you.

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