Monday, March 14, 2005

Manna and the water heater

This morning our water heater blew out its bottom and dumped several hundred gallons of water into the garage (the 50 gallons in the tank, plus a stream of cold water coming in from the cold water pipe). I cut off the water and the gas to the water heater and drove over to Home Depot at lunch to buy a replacement.

I found the water heater I wanted, and next to it was a pamphlet talking about same-day installation. I read the pamphlet. Then I walked up to the desk at the front of the store labeled "professional installation." There were two people at the desk -- a man and a woman -- both wearing their orange Home Depot aprons. The woman spoke to me:So I take two steps to my left, reach down and pick up the phone. I don't have to dial it or anything -- It auto-connects in less than 5 seconds. A voice comes on the line that says, approximately, "Hello, I am the automated attendant. What would like to do?" I am instructed to speak the word, "installation" if that is what I need, so I say, "Installation." I am asked what I want installed and I say, "Water Heater" without any prompting.

At this point I am transferred to a woman in a call center in Tampa, FL. She has a bad case of laryngitis today but is otherwise quite pleasant. She takes my order, quotes me a price, has me read my credit card number to her, gives me a reference number and we are done. It is supposed to be installed tomorrow.

My point here is simple. What we are witnessing is the Manna-tization of society right before our very eyes. When I approached the "Professional Installation" desk, there were two human beings who could help me. But they did not -- they stood by and watched. They instead had me get on a telephone and speak to a woman who was operating in a Manna-like environment in Tampa. She is being managed completely by computer.

Throughout her working day, this woman's thoughts and actions are dictated by a computer screen. Customers flow into her telephone head set automatically. She does voice recognition and types in their responses to questions that pop up on her screen. Then she takes another call. The woman in Tampa is essentially wet-ware filling in for the software that will eventually do her voice recognition job in five to ten years. Then her job will be gone.

See Manna for details. See also the post entitled Robots and the right brain.

Comments:
The question I have is "What can be done?"
 
Nothing can, or should be done. This is a good thing. We just need to be mentaly prepared for the changes to our society that are coming. Check out Technocracy for more.
 
"Check out Technocrascy.ca"

Why don't you explain how "this is a good thing" in your own words?
 
did you get your water heater?
 
> did you get your water heater?

Not yet... "Same day installation" for Home Depot translates into "at least two days later."
 
> Not yet...

That's pretty much what I figured. I've never had good experiences with anything to do with Home Despot. :p
 
In this case, HD was better than Lowe's. I went to Lowe's first because it is closer, but I could not get Lowe's to sell me a water heater. So I went to HD.
 
Don't you just hate it when you are
prepared to throw your money at a
company, and they won't take it?!?
 
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Manna or not, don't buy an Omega2000 water heater, especially not the OME 514-PV. It doesn't work, and the company stinks. They don't answer the phone, and when they do they don't give advice that helps. Also, they don't accept returns for refunds.
 
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