OPINION: Bank on angry response to technology takeover

HUMANS are frustrating, annoying, sometimes even terrible, but I'd still preferring dealing with one to a machine.

The knowledge that the Commonwealth Bank is updating its Buderim branch to new technology is disturbing.

What it means is machines will be replacing tellers.

What's even more worrying is a little email I sent around the office asking others to think of examples where we have lost jobs to machines.

I received a stream of responses.

Shops, airport check-ins, toll booths, Medicare, even some restaurants now allow you to do the ordering on an iPad and don't get me started on the demise of video shops.

We are moving at a rapid rate to the loss of millions of more jobs deemed "clerical" to computers and the tide is threatening to overwhelm everything.

The pen-pushers (or rather, mouse-movers) behind it tell us we should embrace it, it is "the way forward" and is necessary if we want to enjoy our standard of living.

How can they be so short-sighted?

What are all those people whose jobs have been replaced supposed to do to earn a living?

And at what point do we say "no more" to the continual sacrifice of service at the altar of cost-cutting?

The movie WallE seemed far-fetched when it was released in 2008. Now it seemed almost prophetic.

But who is making these decisions?

How did someone at the Commonwealth become so out-of-touch with the market that he or she thought the mostly elderly community would welcome the change?

The argument machines make it quicker is rubbished every time you go to a shop and see how long it takes people to work out the self-service check-out.

A little surprise card from my vet this week has highlighted why human service is so invaluable.

We had to put our beloved dog, Tessa, down on Saturday.

It was incredibly sad and I did cry in the surgery.

When I got home from work on Tuesday, in our letterbox was a handwritten - not typed - condolence card from our Coolum vet, Dr Brian Collingwood and staff.

It acknowledged our dog by name and how much she meant to us as a family.

A computer could have a setting to automatically send an email saying the same words to their clients.

But that he, or someone in his office, went to the extra effort of licking a stamp, writing it by hand and putting it in the letterbox speaks volumes.

More and more people are crying out for that little bit of human interaction which costs so little and can mean much.

In the computer-driven world, it won't be long before this level of service obtains a monetary value.

This will happen when we take our business to places that treat us like a person by dealing with a person, and not a computer.

On that happy note, this is my last week at the Daily until next year as we are about to head off on our big adventure.

I promise to keep you updated on our adventures and mishaps and I will keep writing my column.



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