Talk to the Hand

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Many people dislike dealing with car salesmen – who are sometimes pushy and sometimes shifty.

But will they like it better when they’re replaced by AI “chatbots”?

Imagine it. Instead of dealing with a human – however pushy – you’ll be dealing with a machine intelligence that  (per the original Terminator movie) cannot be bargained with any more than the “customer service” phone tree that prompts you like the Rhesus monkey they think you are to push “9” for this and “*” for that and – just maybe – you’ll get a reward in the form of something approximating what you needed.

It’s coming soon, to a showroom near you, says Aharon Horwitz – who very much wants it to, as his company, Fullpath could make a lot of money selling its Customer Data and Experience Platform to dealers, who could then save money by getting rid of salesmen.

And customers, too.

They can talk to the hand – another Terminator reference – in the form of the screen. They’ll be prompted through the process like the Rhesus monkeys they are becoming.

“I think we’re talking a year to a year and a half where [ChatGPT is] doing a huge amount of the car-buying process itself in an automated way,” Horwitz told the trade publication Automotive News the other day. 

TrueVideo CEO Joe Shaker – who also has AI/chatbot skin in the game as well as skin in the car-selling game as owner of the Shaker Group car dealership chain in New England (its web site has a predictably Woke main page) says “It will touch every department  . . . I think it is going to be incredible  . . . a lot of people won’t even realize they’re using ChatGPT.”

Italics added.

Well, not counting those who used to have jobs that entailed chatting with customers – who will now “chat” with the bot. The latter will no doubt be suitably “diverse,” just like the images on the Shaker’s Group’s web site but only superficially, as the “non-binary person of color” will only look diverse.

In fact it – and it is an it – will be an image of what no longer is. Not unlike the recorded sounds of the engine that’s no longer there that are piped into the passenger compartments of some EVs, such as Ford’s “Mustang” Mach e.

Shaker  says he expects dealerships to move from being “curious and excited about the technology’s potential to a much wider adoption rate as ChatGPT is woven into dealership systems.”

But what about customers?

Will they be “excited” to no longer have someone human to deal with? To not even know whether the “intelligence” they’re dealing with is human?

And will the reduction in human staff at dealerships be reflected in lower prices for cars? For service? Of course it won’t. Just as you don’t get the slightest discount at the supermarket – or Lowes, Wal Mart and so on – for checking yourself out. The checkers that used to do that for you – and got paid by the store to do it – have largely been done-away with in favor of having you do the work. For free!

Why, that’s their favorite price!

This has been very “exciting”  . . . for the stores that make more money by making you do more when you buy things from them. It has also been habituating. Self-checkout has been common for more than 30 years now. When it was first “rolled out” – to use the lingo – there was usually just one or maybe two self-checkout aisle and these were usually not as popular as the full-service checkout aisles, of which there were – in those days – many more.

Now, of course, it is usually the reverse.

Not because the self-checkout aisles are more popular but rather because it is often the case that’s all there are.

Sometimes, there is a vestigial human employee standing by the self-checkout kiosks. But they are not there to check you out – and they won’t be there much longer. Once the stores figure out a way to limit pilferage to acceptable losses – perhaps by exits that don’t automatically open until another machine intelligence compares what you’ve got in your cart with the receipt in your hand. Or – as the supermarket chain Aldi is rolling out – requiring you to scan a QR code in order to shop.

Regardless, one can see where it’s all headed.

A problem, of course, arises in that as fewer humans are being paid to provide services to other humans, there will be fewer humans who can afford to buy the services – and goods – increasingly handled/transacted by non-human intelligences.

Henry Ford understood that in order for people to be able to buy the cars he made, they had to be able to afford them.

That’s made a lot harder when your job has been replaced by a machine that works for free – and you don’t even get the benefit of that.

. . .

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81 COMMENTS

  1. Particularly annoying are those recordings that say “in a few words…” followed by fake typing and another array of “main menu” selections to get you to the “right associate”. This is typical when you call your internet provider or your wireless phone company. At the end of the call they ask you if you want to complete a survey.

    These companies don’t even pretend that they care about their customers anymore. “your call may be monitored or recorded for ‘quality assurance or training purposes.’ ” Ive heard that line of shit since 1989. “you wait time will be approximately 27 minutes.

    I want to throw shit.

  2. Wait until AI comes to car repair. A computer will ask you to describe the symptoms that indicate a problem. Body shops with AI should provide even better material for stand-up comics (if they aren’t replaced by AI comics).

    Regarding self-checkout, there is an amazing market chain, Market Basket, in the southern New England area. Family owned, no self-checkout, excellent stock, low prices, crowded stores. Five or ten years ago, some members of the family that owns the company tried to force out the operating brother so as to raise the prices and make other changes. Customers and employees began a very public boycott of the stores, and won. I look at Market Basket and see hope for the future.

    Was it the Firesign Theater who said “Forward, into the past!”?

    • Hi Bill,

      That is a heartening story; so also what’s happened to Bud Light. We have more ability to change things than they want us to realize.

  3. Somewhat related and equally annoying is the new use of QR codes at restaurants instead of a tangible menu. They never load, frequently require you to link to the local wifi, and failing all that you can finally flag down the waiter for a paper menu. Everything sucks.

    • Hi BAC,

      I don’t eat out much so I have to encounter that QR code business. If I do, I will walk. I encourage others to, as well. These QE codes are intended to turn us into feedlot cattle. Let’s not allow it.

    • My BIL works for a restaurant buyout group. They buy failing restaurants like those owned by idiot celebs for pennies on the dollar and either sell the equipment and real estate or try to make a go of it with a refresh or re-do. The last thing he mentioned when I talked to him recently was “never sign into a restaurant’s wi-fi.” The TOS always includes language on how everything in your phone is fair game for them to use for whatever purpose. Be particularly afraid if no paper menus are made available. It that case, it is likely your phone data is being analyzed for “dynamic” pricing, whereby the prices you see are “customized” to the highest you are likely to pay given the data gleaned from your phone. One guy will be paying $15 for a burger while a table away another guy is paying $22.

      • Bill Gates should be charged 100,000 dollars for a hamburger, even if he grills his own. French Fries for 20 grand.

        Tax Bill 50,000,000,000 USD for being guilty of idiocy.

      • Your paranoia level is over the top. A restaurant cannot “analyze data” on your phone from you scanning a bar code. All it does is take you to a picture of the menu so you can make your meal/drink choices. There is no gateway to phone information from looking at a picture of a menu. It’s a restaurant not the CIA. And charging one person one price and another a different price for the same item is against the law. And a good way to get sued.

        • I said the TOS to “sign in to the wi-fi”. The shit no one reads but has the most important info in it. I don’t own a cell phone nor have I eaten in a restaurant in over 4 years, so I don’t know if that includes “scanning the barcode” or not. I’m thinking it does. You do that “offline”? Doubtful. I ain’t skeered. Maybe you should be, though.

          • His comment about, “Your paranoia level is over the top” reminds me of an article I read, the gist was something like, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to protect”.

            “Privacy is the first thing that a totalitarian state attempts to destroy. […]

            This is not a conspiracy theory. This is an extrapolation of what happens when people who crave power gain access to vast amounts of personal information.”…

            https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/07/no_author/nothing-to-hide-2/

            Those who like Fascism have no problem with corporations doing the door opening.

            …Eyes, not seeing.

            • I did some searches and research on this to make sure my BIL wasn’t BS-ing and I wasn’t tripping. Dynamic pricing is the #1 trend in restaurants in 2023. It’s the “data analytics” aspect that’s fuzzy. On purpose. They don’t want you to know that the data on a smart phone is part of that. Even if if it’s not on the restaurant wi-fi, but is connected to the internet, the data can be accessed and analyzed in milliseconds by other means. Sometimes, this might even lead to a dynamic discount. Yay, technology!

              What did Snowden say recently? Surveillance tech today makes 2013 look like child’s play.

        • Hey Cashy,

          you might should open your mind a little more to the powers of the central scrutinizer. Its not paranoia, just noticing patterns. Like the other day I was on the land line with my son. Had ZH open reading an article. Son and I were talking about greenhouses, I was telling him how I didn’t want one in the yard we were talking about as it (the yard) was too small. Suddenly at the top of the ZH page an add for greenhouses, ‘customized to fit small spaces.’ Cohencidence or the Central Scrutinizer? IDK, pretty trippy.

          • Maybe there was a drone watching you and intercepting your electronic communications and sending it to the central database so they could sell more greenhouses?

            • Cant be that as my house is wrapped in tin foil. It could just be the internet of things. Sheeesh man, you gotta catch up and get with the program.

  4. Whole Foods checkout clerks are definitely a cut above and the conveyer belt and whole dang store are so clean. I go to Safeway and there is sticky dirty stuff on the conveyer belt and I don’t even want to put my groceries on it. They do not tape up the eggs and other containers, are slower etc. so may he they pay more at WF. What I hate is being forced to order a meal online at a sit down restaurant. There are several in our area. The waitress just delivers the food you’ve ordered on your phone. I must just be old because young people in our group seem to have zero issues with it. For me it just makes the whole experience seem slightly crappy where I finally got to the point where unless its a special occasion and the restaurant is really good we rarely go out to eat anymore or even order pizza or chinese. It is too expensive for less value. But this is similar to the way we grew up. Going out to eat was a rarity back then too so it is like going back to the future.

    • Pre-Bezos WF was an expensive indulgence. One of the “premium” features was the checkout personnel would chat you up about your purchases and generally be very friendly with you. I wouln’t go so far as to say they flirted with me, but it sure reminded me of my wasted time and money at strip clubs…

      These days even if they still behaved that way I’d probably not engage them, as the hiring policies and/or worker pool seems to have changed dramatically as Amazon reforms Whole Foods into Amazon Physical Food Outlet. It’s their company, they can do with it what they want, but the race to the mediocre is obvious.

    • >forced to order a meal online at a sit down restaurant
      There is no way I would put up with that. Either you bring me a paper menu, or I walk out the door. Ben Franklin was a *printer*, not a QR code generator. Johannes Gutenberg invented the *printing* press, not the electron mess. 🙂

      — thus spake a grouchy Old Fart (das bin ich)

  5. I’m not sure self checkout for cars would be a bad thing. Last time I was in a dealership buying a new car it was about 4 hour ordeal dealing with pricing, financing, selliing undercoating and stuff. Never did that again.

  6. I apologize in advance for this rather grim comment. I am very old and have a long memory. The road to self checkout is a long one. It started with automatic elevators. Yes, elevators. No more elevator operators. Then banks adopted computers. Then the phone company got broken up and it was all downhill from there. The computer changed everything. In my opinion for the worse. That was the real beginning to the long down-hill slide. Over time we have had to become accustomed to serving ourselves. Transactions that used to take moments now take an inordinate amount of time. Technological progression is insidious. I am not digital; I am analog. The digital world with all its “convenience” dumbs us down, inhibits human interaction and isolates us from our fellows. Our technological gadgets are anti human and are going to change forever life as we now know it. Unfortunately, I think the only thing that can stop this insanity is a total and complete failure of the “grid” which while it lasts will drive our existence back to the early 1800’s at the very least. Should that scenario not occur I think our species will indeed become blended with the machine to the extent that we are creatures of the technology we created ruled by who knows what.

    • Ray Kurzweil’s book “The Singularity Is Near” is an interesting read. Kurzweil fully expected that one day in the future man would merge with machine and thus, live forever. He admitted he was not sure of that bothersome spirit aspect of humans, though. I cannot help but wonder if the self check outs, and the covid lock downs and subsequent isolation were just more steps towards those ultimate goals?

      • Once you read it, the scales will be removed from your eyes and you will understand what the WEF crowd is doing. They’re pushing the trans movement because they’re experimenting, with the hopes of converting themselves into an actual transhumanist Khan Noonien Singh, or Alex Murphy. Whichever tech gets them to immortality first. Homosapiens superior if you will, and with an upgrade cycle. But forcably experiementing on humans isn’t morally acceptable so they have to get people to undergo these horrors voluntarily. When it becomes clear that the gender changer experience is a failure the scientists who pushed it will just hide behind the Edward Teller excuse of “here was knowledge.” They didn’t know what would happen when you force the body to become what the brain imagines, but soon they will. In a better time the research would be carried out in institutions funded by private benefactors. Today it’s funded by governement largess, with the taxpayer having little to no influence over the distrubution of funds. And much like research into the atom, the governement is quick to fund research that leads to destruction.

        https://youtube.com/clip/Ugkxy_FsA-oM2fm_sF0Ogx1uOXwrl2XHQ8sy

        • >Edward Teller excuse of “here was knowledge.”
          Teller was the *REAL* Dr. Strangelove, IMO.
          I heard him speak on two occasions. The first was for a general audience, and open to the public. His comments were not very well received, though I cannot recall specifics. The second occasion was behind closed doors, and required a “Q” clearance to attend. Dr. Teller held forth on his favorite topic, which was the design of nuclear weapons, and, believe me, he was damned proud of what he, and the rest of the Los Alamos group, had done.

          This was not “knowledge for knowledge sake,” nor did he and his fellow scientists remain neutral with respect to the use of the weapons. In fact, Oppenheimer was very outspoken against the proposal to set off one weapon where it could harm no humans, and compel Japanese representatives to observe, to let them know what *would* happen if Japan did not immediately surrender. The “scientists” were not neutral, and were in fact weapons engineers working towards a defined military goal.

          In fact, based on its initial objective, the Manhattan Project was a failure, since it had been developed for use against Germany, and Germany surrendered before the bomb was ready. Bummer, eh? So, in that sense, using nuclear weapons against Japan was either a) a consolation prize, or b) an attempt at CYA, to prove the project was worth doing, at enormous expense, even if the original objective had *not* been met.

          My father was trained as a bombardier in the USAAF during WWII. He was made a bombing instructor and never saw action in Europe, having been stationed at Carlsbad NM AAF to train bombardiers. However, after Germany surrendered, he told me it was *total* mobilization to crush Japan via conventional bombing prior to a land invasion of the Japanese mainland.

          Air crews had a notoriously short life expectancy. Even though the U.S. had air superiority, it is possible my father might not have survived Operation Downfall, which operation might have been necessary absent nuclear weapons*. So, it is possible to argue that I (and others) owe our lives to the atomic bomb. I find that prospect too macabre to contemplate. My DOB is 2 September 1949, the 4 year anniversary of V-J Day.
          ——————-
          *There are those who contend Japan would have surrendered in August, even without the use of nuclear weapons. Freeman Dyson is one such person, though there are others.

          • I ascribe to the idea that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were demonstrations to the world, and the USSR specifically, that the US was in charge now, and everyone better get in line. Of course we’ll never really know what might be thanks to the Rosenbergs and other spies who wanted to hasten global communism. My guess is once Oak Ridge and Hansford made enough material the case for the bombing of Moscow would begin. Even willful blindness to Stalin and Mao’s atrocities couldn’t be ignored by the highest levels of the White House. But because they were able to fight back the default was détente. One only has to look at the actions and international diplomacy since the fall of the Soviet Union to get an idea of what Washington wants to do.

    • Hi Albert,

      I agree with your summary. I agree with Frank Herbert, author of the Dune series, that “thinking machines” will be our undoing. In the books, a war was fought agains the “thinking machines” – computers/AI – after which humans used their minds to perform high-order problem solving.

      Computers dehumanize – literally. For all their many advantages and conveniences, I think it is self-evident that their drawbacks pull them (and us) down into the abyss much the same as Titanic’s five water-filled compartments did.

      • As computers may at any moment be pulled down into the abyss by that one great big solar flare that flashes over the Earth. Again. Unfortunately, we get to go along for the ride this time.

      • Long ago (early 1970s) IBM used a marketing slogan which said, “Computers should work. People should think,” which evidently was intended to convey the message that computers could relieve humans of the drudgery of boring, repetitive work.

        A good friend of mine, who was and is a computer guy, liked to turn IBM’s slogan on its head, and say, “Computers should think. People should work.” His cynical take was that most people are either too stupid, or too lazy, to do much thinking. Henry Ford is famous for saying “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

    • I remember a black elevator operator in Savannah when I was a child. Nicest, funniest guy ever. I remember complaining to my mom I was hungry and the guy noticed I was chewing gum. He said “well you’re doing all that chewing and ain’t nothing coming down. That’s why.” My mom and I both laughed. Makes no sense and hilarious. They were cool and experts at customer service.

  7. I like the self-checkout at Walmart if for no other reason than that I no longer have to get stuck behind some woman who has fifty pieces of clothing in her cart that have to be taken off hangers and carefully folded. Then, without fail, one screwball item refuses to scan, and the checker activates the dreaded flashing light so we all get to wait for a manager to come over.

    Does anybody remember their Scan & Go system? You could scan your items with a phone app as you put them in your cart. It sucked. Everybody hated it, so Walmart quickly dumped it:

    https://tinyurl.com/433emr2f

    Brick-and-mortar stores seem fairly responsive to customer checkout preferences. It’s the telephone “customer service” that makes me crazy. With so many larger companies, it is literally impossible to talk to a human. Then what do you do?

    Intuit QuickBooks still has humans, but they are useless. I’ve had QuickBooks since Version 1.0, and now use their cloud product, QuickBooks Online. QBO support was excellent when I switched from the desktop version around 2012. The reps knew the program, knew something about bookkeeping, and seemed to speak English as their native language. Now their support is a joke. “Clear your browser cache” is all they know. If you can’t find a solution to your problem on a user forum, you’re just screwed.

      • Thanks Horst, that looks interesting. I need payroll capability, however. Having retired from my own business years ago, I use QBO only in my capacity as our church’s volunteer bookkeeper. If it gets too much worse I will un-volunteer rather than going through the headaches of switching to some other system. I also depend heavily on ACH transfers for bill payments, and automatic downloads of bank transactions. Wave Accounting appears to be a decent cloud alternative too. I think the basic version is still free.

    • I heartily agree on the QBO support. It was fantastic even in 2019 and 2020. Now I would not even try it. Good business for our CPAs I guess as they have access to our program and can answer more questions. For a hefty fee of course. God forbid if that online program ever fails. Better be up to date on your bookkeeping.

      • Hi RS, my daughter works in accounting at a small analytical laboratory. They switched from desktop QuickBooks to QBO about a year ago, and it’s not going well. I think a lot of customers assume it’s just a cloud version of the desktop product, but it’s completely different. They immediately discovered that some features that they depended on were missing.

  8. Around here (central Maryland) the Aldi stores in the area have finally buckled under and put in self check outs. Of all of the grocery stores I shop at, they were among the last hold outs. So far Lidl hasn’t followed, but that may change.
    And the self check outs really began proliferating as soon as Maryland’s 15/hr minimum wage went into effect at the beginning of this month.
    I don’t mind using them if the lanes with a clerk have long lines, but some can really be annoying, and often still require the input of a human employee. The one at the Giant store I stopped at this afternoon kept repeating “please place your item in the bag” over and over after every thing I scanned. It seems that the lag time between the scan and the item being in the bag was set too short. And then when I buy spray paint at Home Depot or Lowes….a real human has to verify that I’m over 18….
    That said, I really don’t think I’d want to buy a car that way, though. Some things are a bit too complicated to try and relegate to self check out and self pay. It irritates me when I go to have medical lab work done and I have try and work with a stupid kiosk to not only check in, but to provide my insurance information. I still have to see a human to hand them my labwork (behind the counter), so why can’t they scan my cards?

    And as for why there is no discount for using self check outs in stores, my guess is that the first store that did it there would be some kind of social justice fueled protest. The rationale would be that poor and darker skinned people would be somehow disenfranchised and be forced to pay full price if they don’t know how to use (or don’t want to use) the self check outs.

  9. This will be dandy for service work, especially warranty claims. My last warranty claim for the weeping radiator, that the service writer said wasn’t leaking after passing the “pressure test” . Convince a bot that can’t smell, that it’s leaking thus the hot coolant smell from the LH side of the engine bay. Can the bot navigate an inspection mirror so I can show “it” where it’s leaking? Sheesh.

  10. Amazon is using Ai for selling stuff. This past winter I was buying trail cams, for my bigfoot project, and I noticed that when I was engaged in buying one, the Amazon Artificial intelligence, lets call it AAi, would see I was buying, and being programmed to know that when people are buying, sell the fools more – as purchases are based on optimism and emotion.

    I would buy these inexpensive game cameras, 3 at a time, trying different brands and features, and the AAi knew this, having my purchasing record as part of my account, and all of a sudden, it would make me an offer on a trail cam, that I had purchased in the past, for a lower price than I had got before, and it was obvious from my end that the machine was trying to get some more dollars from me.

    I am not sure it is Ai or maybe just a sophisticated program. But it happened, several times, and I caught it in the act. This is no different than a salesman on the floor, seeing that you are in a buying spree, encourages or suggests another item.

    Incredible technology. The camera can sit up to a year on AA batteries and capture anything that moves in the range of the passive detector – which uses almost no power – then spring to life and take pics or videos. I highly encourage everyone to try one on your property – and they take good pics/videos at night also because they have infrared LEDs.

    ——————–

    Note the Amazon PRIME price is significantly lower than normal price, and free shipping. And the prices vary daily depending on the mood of the machine, lol.

    BTW these are the best trail cams for the money:

    WOSPORTS Trail Camera,36MP 4K 0.2S Trigger Motion Activated,Game Hunting Camera with Night Vision IP66 Waterproof 2.0”LCD 120°Wide Camera Lens

    or

    WOSODA 30MP 1920P Trail Camera, Game Camera with Night Vision Motion Activated 0.2s Trigger Time 120° Wide Sensor

    or

    CEYOMUR Trail Camera, 20MP 1080P Hunting Camera with Low Glow IR LEDs Night Vision Motion Activated, Video Game Camera with IP66 Waterproof

    Mystery furry arm messes with my trail cam:
    https://imgur.com/a/vfIuCPu

  11. Equipment is deductible. Employees are an expense.

    Front line employees have a very high turnover rate, in some industries as high as 50%. This presents a problem for the typical supervisor or manager. Do you take the time to properly train an employee in customer service, or do you give them enough to get by and throw ’em in the pool? If you know half your staff will be gone in a year? And remember in retail many of those who leave never really intended to be there very long anyway. So do you have a two-tier training and management philosophy? How do you figure out who’s in it for the long haul and who’s gone after a month? Sure, some will tell you, like college students on summer break, but most won’t or will even lie. And many will figure out that they’re just not cut out for retail.

    And that’s not including the “planted union agitator” road…

    Given the downside of employees, and the rewards for buying equipment, which way would you go? And given that most of your customers either don’t care or welcome self-service, why would you NOT put a few self-service lines in? -And maybe send a message to your more intelligent employees too: You can be replaced.

      • Machines do not require “health,” disability, or unemployment insurance. When they break, you either fix or scrap them, your decision. And the repair crew works directly for the employer. No third party payment schemes involving intermediary grifters with their hands out.

  12. Eric,

    I’ve used the self checkout because I can bag my stuff the way I WANT IT! I can put stuff going to the refrigerator in one bag; I can put freezer bound stuff in another; I can put toiletries in their own bag; and so on. In the past, no matter how I tried to arrange stuff on the conveyor, more often than not, items would be mixed up, which made it more of a PITA to unload and stow the stuff once I got home. Two, with the amount of stuff I have as a single person, it’s just easier and quicker to do it myself; that’s another reason why I originally started checking myself out. Three, I’m not stuck waiting behind someone with a cart overflowing with stuff; that’s NO FUN! Spare me the BS; I’ll do it myself, TYVM.

    As for the attendants, they aren’t there for loss prevention; they’re there to help you when the machines screw up. If the machine doesn’t feel you put something in the bag in a timely fashion (because the bags are stuck together or not opened), then the machine hangs up; it won’t let you continue checking stuff out until the attendant comes over to reset it. There are bugs with the machines, and the attendants are there to fix them when they happen.

    That is not to say that the attendants aren’t at the self checkout for loss prevention; they may be. That said, there’s normally only one, maybe two, of them. If the self checkouts are full, I don’t see how they could keep an eye on everyone. In any case, I’ve mainly seen them help folks when the machines screw up; I’ve used them for the same reason. Hence, I think that they’re there mainly to reset the machines, and to keep things moving smoothly.

    • Marky,

      People these days just walk out the door with a basket full of whatever they’d like. They don’t bother to go through the self-checkout trying to sneak something past it. A lot of places don’t even seem to have any “loss prevention”.

      As for the rest, I’d agree. Though, myself, I’m not often concerned with sorting the items, and often put as much as possible into each bag. Thus, one thing I like is not being given 15 bags I don’t need. The garbage processing facility probably likes that, too.

      • BaDnOn,

        I LOVE reusing the plastic grocery bags! I use them for cleaning out the litter box; I use them in my car; and I use them in the small waste paper basket in my study/extra room. Those I don’t use, I recycle. So, I’m not happy about the drive to eliminate these small, plastic bags, as I find them very useful not only the first time to carry things home; I find them useful for all the ways I can reuse them at home and in my car… 🙂

        • Hey MarkyMark,

          I reuse plastic bags too, but only to a point. Beyond that, they begin to accumulate as a bag of bags, and soon I have multiple bags of bags. I recycle them if I go somewhere where this is done, but not all stores do so, and when you’re in a more rural setting, recycling can be difficult.

          I have heard of these polypropylene bags being heated and pressed to create hard polyethene objects. I’d like to try that one of these days, but for now…

          I’m not part of any drive to rid stores of bags, but I don’t want to waste them, either. Often times, I do bring my own reusable bag(s), and have them load that/those up if I use the standard check-out.

        • Me too! I always used them as wastebasket liners, so now I have to buy small bags along with regular trash bags – probably the real reason they were eliminated, can’t let the serfs have something for nothing.

  13. Seems strange to me to complain about the loss of car salesmen… :p But, I understand the issue with technology replacing employees.

    It also seems today, however, that so many people don’t seem to want/seek employment. How they manage to escape the “job market” is beyond me, but I imagine it might have something to do with all of the sidewalk shanty-towns springing up all over the country. Possibly, these people are simply becoming vampires on their parents as long as possible.

    Regarding self-checkout: It seems to utilize the space more effectively, especially in the case of an “express lane”, and I think people like it specifically BECAUSE there is no or little human interaction. They don’t feel that they are going to be judged for their purchases, i.e. if they’re buying a little KY or condoms or adult diapers or hair dye, for example, not to mention their poor eating/drinking habits.

    I personally like new ordering kiosks at Taco Bell, not that I eat there much. But when you have to exclude dairy in your diet, for example, as in my case, the kiosk makes it SO much easier, as you choose all of your ingredients, and don’t have to get through the firewall of the thick-headed, teenage, register jockey. Just wish they’d put one outside for the drive-through.

    • Hi BaDnOn,

      Not only does the technology create a loss of jobs, but (eventually) it will keep the consumer from purchasing. If there is no one to sell the good the user cannot buy the good.

      We know that the WEF’s plan was to keep the average person off the roads. How do they do that? By making goods and services so expensive that the average person cannot afford them, by limiting selection (and availability), and then replacing the original salespeople with bots that makes it so frustrating that the consumer chooses to do without. We have arrived. This is the “new normal”.

      Week after week I am inundated with publication after publication about how my business will suffer without the implementation of AI into my workplace. I refuse to go that route.

      My clients get a live person answering the phone (me), I don’t have a website or any fancy portals for clients to upload docs, all of my meetings are either in person or through that thing invented by Alexander Graham Bell (I don’t Zoom). If clients want the most up to date technology and not have to deal with a human being there are many businesses in my industry that will fit their needs. If I lose clients because of it than that is what the consumer decides. So far, I haven’t had anyone complain when I show up at their house for our scheduled appointment. I hope when that day arrives I am long gone or sailing the British Virgin Islands.

      • >bots that makes it so frustrating that the consumer chooses to do without.
        Or order online and have it delivered. That works great for some things, typically packaged non-perishables. But, I would not buy fresh meat or produce sight unseen.

      • Raider Girl,

        “If there is no one to sell the good the user cannot buy the good.”

        Well, I think the bigger point, as I told ReadyKilowatt below, is that, as automation replaces all of the jobs, the number of jobless people will increase, and people with no money will be buying nothing.

        I’m sure it’ll be a hot minute before AI replaces your job, though, RG. The whole tax business if far too idiosyncratic, and people don’t even know what questions to ask or how to ask them. This type of guidance requires a human. Though, the income tax could be replaced with a “head tax” and make things much simpler. 😉

    • RE: Taco Bell kisok. Probably can use the app/web page and do the same thing, but at the drive thru. Of course that comes with all the usual PII baggage.

      But I see your point. What if customer service were acually good? What if all those horrible browser cookies were used for their intended purpose, remembering our preferences, instead of presenting our “profile” to advertisers? Then when you got the urge to run for the border, Taco Bell would remember you’re not on dairy and adjust accordingly? Or better yet, your computer would go out on your behalf and do all that stuff, like a personal secretary or butler? And your computer would be as discreet as you wish, much like Alfred was trusted to keep Bruce’s secret.

      • ReadyK,

        Regarding app/web page: I won’t be downloading any Taco Bell app, and I don’t think I’ll be breaking out the laptop in the drive-through line. The website might let me order pick-up, but if I’m going to pick up food, it sure as hell won’t be from Taco Bell. I go to Taco Bell when it’s the only food within 5 miles and I’m starving.

        Now, if customer service were actually good? Wow, mom, wow! That’s rare.

        Benevolent use of cookies? Bravo.

        Otherwise, I don’t need Alfred the Computer to buy me Taco Bell. Generally, BaDnOn doesn’t want to be fed; he wants to hunt. If Taco Bell hired better personnel or trained them more thoroughly (and this isn’t an attack on ALL TB employees, as some are very good at their jobs), then the food would be even more expensive. The kiosk circumvents that.

        But the problem remains as the number of jobs wanes: Less people with jobs are less people with money, and people with no money become heavily problematic, and problematic items are usually discarded, if you understand. The end result of the automation of nearly everything formerly done by people will be a small class of people whose jobs are still needed (with money), and a large class of destitute troublemakers, probably to be subdued by armies of robocops, a la “Elysium”.

        Time to cook dinner.

        • Sure. I’m just suggesting an alternate reality where things do what they say they do instead of what we have now, where nothing does what it should, computers are here to sell ads, and no one seems to care.

          The really early pioneers of computer networks thought of the personal computer as a companion device, like a personal secretary. It would screen calls, sort email, run your schedule and even respond to routine messages on your behalf. This never happened. Instead of call screening we got even more interruptions with Outlook push email notification, phones that are strapped to us always ringing no matter what (that has to be some sort of regulation becuase it’s just insane that phones still ring today), and the cacophony of text/IM/social media.

          Now I know that BaDnOn doesn’t have these issues because he’s opted out. I understand that living the Kazinsky lifestyle, it even has a certain appeal to me, but there could have been a much better way.

          • I hear you, Kilowatt! Technology is, of course, neither good nor evil: All of that comes from the user. Thus, the vampires and psychopaths metastasized into the magnanimous dreams of the technological innovators, realizing that computers and so forth could make THEIR lives easier as well…

            And I’ve only opted out to a degree. Here I speak with you. But I do attempt to limit, to the best of my ability, the influence and control of others with regard to the technology in my employ. Poor Uncle Ted took things in the wrong direction. He might’ve had much more and better influence as a EPAutos-style journalist, rather than a postal percussions specialist. 😉

  14. The Safeway in Spearfish, SD had self-checkouts, four of them, used them once. Next time through Spearfish, I visited the Safeway for some groceries, all of the self-checkouts had been removed.

    I asked why they were removed, the store employee said people were stealing groceries at the self-checkouts.

    A climate is a series of weather patterns, Antarctica is a polar climate, EF, a continental climate that never really changes much. It’s winter down there in Antarctica, must be dark and cold night and day. 3000 meters of ice covering the continent will be a weather maker. Dsa is a climate with snow in the winter, hot summer, also a dry summer.

    Köppen climate classification

    There are close to 30 BNSF engines parked on a siding near the switching yard. Must be a dip a business hauling freight by the ton.

    • I simply can’t use most of those I’ve tried. I’m hearing impaired, and they use vocal instructions. I get by OK with checkers because they have lips and facial expressions to read, and will repeat their words if you ask. Not so much with the self checkout machines.

  15. I usually don’t mind the self checkouts. Any opportunity to limit contact with the idiots that work the cash register is okay with me. Unfortunately the machines sometimes mess up with a double scan or wrong signal that something was bagged and then you have to wait for someone to clear the error.

    As regards automated car purchasing, I have no idea how that can work? Maybe if you’re rich and don’t care how much you spend and use a credit card to purchase the vehicle?

    My experience with car buying is that you look at cars on the lot, pick one you like for a test drive, someone has to get the keys, temporary license plate, and copy your drivers license. Before you can test drive it. Or maybe you want to drive another couple models.

    If you see one you like then you sit down for the considerable amount of paperwork. Haggling about the price, trying to get the many discounts offered, first time buyer, loyalty discount, employee discount, veteran discount, cash back, special sale price, etc. Then they run your credit and see what loan terms are available, what rates, how much down, length of loan.

    This typically entails talking to several people, the salesman who usually knows nothing, his manager, and then the finance guy.

    And when you do buy something there is a mountain of paperwork that has to be filled out, with someone that can explain it all.

    I don’t understand how any of that can be automated. Or why they would want to. Whenever I go to a dealer they do everything in their power to sell me something as they know if I leave I’m probably buying elsewhere. It can be a pain in the ass but I don’t see how else it would work.

  16. Ten years ago or so when I first saw the new machines at walmart there were two. No one used them and those that did invariably had some trouble. Last time I was there, couple weeks ago, there were two lines at manned checkouts and about twenty self checkouts plum dumb full of idiots. Several actually had lines! Best I can figure is people have figured a way of ripping them off.

    As a boomer I remember self serve gas stations. Gas was about 5-10% cheaper at the self serve. Today, nada, zip, cero, nothing. I’m waiting,,, next we will be stocking their shelves somehow.

    The worse of the worse is what I call LowsDepot. (Lowes and Home Depot) They are so much alike. Only difference is one is Blue,,, the other Orange. Much like the the two main parties people vote for decade after decade,,, century after century. But I digress. At LowesDepot ALL CHECKOUTS are self checkout except at the very end of the store where ‘contractors’ go. There is one and only one manned checkout. One day they insisted we go through the self checkout. We left with a cart full of stuff for them to put back up. Ordered the same stuff online at a lower price. After that they always had one manned checkout open. Last time I went in the manned checkout was empty and there were actually lines at the self checkouts. Totally insane but that pretty well covers everything these days.

    We have limited our shopping at walmart due to the checkout lines, lack of checkers and lately lack of product. Even though we pay more elsewhere its worth it to us to have a human check us out and not have to wait thirty minutes.

    • Hi Ken, it has been a long term trend; when the local Home Depot first opened here they had 20 registers, with at least half of them open. Over time you’d be lucky to find more than two open, which as I saw walking in I’d just do a u-turn rather than stand in line for a half hour. After the scamdemic they now have all self checkouts with maybe one manned one and the “contractors” register you mentioned. What a crock.

  17. No thanks. Starting to learn that there really isn’t that much stuff I actually NEED in this life. Decided some while back that I wont cotton to this BS. When I go to Walmart I often end up setting my basket of stuff on the floor, instead of standing in a long line. I usually say something to the other people standing in line around me like ‘fuck this shit’ and walk out with my head held high. If the line is more than 4 or 5 and they only have two checkers working I just skip it and leave my basket or cart in the middle of the isle.

    I believe this is starting to show results. One recent visit, there were 4 checkers working and two with no line. I stoped and told the ‘Manager’ good job and that this trend needs to continue.If more of us did this at HD WM and other Box stores they’d stop this nonsense most Ricky tacky da. The cost to them of paying to restock stuff continually would start to cut quickly

    We’re fortunate that the grocery near where we live (Bashas) is very responsive to its customers. They always have lots of checkers and you never have to wait in a long line, even when the store is packed. The self checkout is usually empty. This is probably because we have such a high concentration of bitter clingers here. So market forces do work if you let them work. If people are bothered by having to bag and scan their own stuff there is a simple solution. It just requires some mental toughness and temporarily giving up some convenience.

    • When Sam was alive there was a giant banner above the checkouts that stated “If there are ever more than two customers in line we’ll open a new register.”

      Those banners were in the ground before he was.

  18. “That’s made a lot harder when your job has been replaced by a machine that works for free – and you don’t even get the benefit of that.”

    Yeah, as if the dildos actually want to work in the first place! 😅 Believe me, they WANT to be useless, hence why they attacked us for not obeying the you-know-what “guidelines”. Remember when using a TV remote was considered “lazy”? Well, they can’t even be bothered to do THAT anymore! Now, it’s “Alexa do this, Siri do that.” Bottom line, they dream of a completely sedentary lifestyle, where they basically just sit around and play with their “smart” devices for the rest of their lives.

    • Also, though, breeding a lazy, sedentary people make them easier to round up because most will be too out of shape to fight defend themselves and fight back if and when SHTF.

  19. This obsessive push for self checkout is just one reason out of many I’ve grown to hate shopping at Walmart. You don’t get paid at all for checking out your own stuff, nor do you get a discount on your purchase. Whenever I’ve shopped there over the past few years, I usually looked for a human checker, but there were usually only one or two human checkers working, and they usually had a line of customers waiting to pay for their stuff. However, the last time I was waiting in the checkout line for a human cashier, he was painfully slow with some little old lady who was in front of me. I’m not sure if she was having trouble with some smartphone app or what, but the checker didn’t seem to have much idea of what to do, and when it came time for me to check out my stuff, he wasn’t any faster. In the future, if I want to get stuff from Walmart, I just assume order it online and have it delivered.

    • What’s even worse is that the self-checkouts are not actually meant to be a cost-saving measure, but rather, to get us acclimated to fewer and fewer human interactions. The end goal for the corporate elite, is to eliminate human interaction altogether (apart from themselves, of course). That way, we can’t “gang up” on them.

  20. Carvana was the beginning of this. A test run if you will. This makes it more important than ever to keep fixing your own machine i suppose.

    Since “I” have written off buying new cars, this wont affect me one bit. Car salesman in general, are fairly useless. With few exceptions theynknow nothing about their product anyway. If you listen to them, they claim to have no impact on the proice as the “internet price” is a take it or leave it proposition 90 percentnof the time. The average car buyer has been well primed for this brave new world of car selling.

    I feel bad for the people in the business. I dont celebrate anyone losing their job. Its pretty awful. It will be interesting to see what happens when people refuse to check themselves out of a dealership

    A sales transaction is fairly complex and usually needs some human navigation.

    Carvanas impending bankruptcy may slow the move towards AI domination of the industry. It doesnt look like the one proce gimmiky sales process worked too well.

    You have to test a car. It isnt a toaster. Yet.

  21. Well, this article is a bit freaky. Hubby and I experienced this new AI car salesman just yesterday.

    Hubby wants a new car. I ride along just so I can watch my husband talk circles around the salesman. He has been shopping three dealerships. Not once are you dealing with a real salesperson. The bot states there is inventory (and prices) that don’t exist. When you show up to see these imaginary cars no one greets you. The one lone customer service agent sits in the middle of the dealership waiting for you to ask for the salesman that is nowhere to be seen.

    Once you do this one person shows up in this dealership where no activity is taking place. Phones aren’t ringing, salesmen aren’t mulling around, it is as quiet as a mouse. The salesman greets you. You mention the availability of the imaginary car with the even faker price. The salesman states that vehicle does not exist because the bot is always stating that they have inventory they don’t have. Yep, at this moment you realize you have not been talking to a real person but some computer generated one. The salesman does have a car in stock though…with $20k in options that you don’t want nor will use.

    I watch hubby ask the salesperson questions. Most the salespeople has no answer for. He doesn’t know the car that he is trying to sell, the inventory that is in stock, the availability of new inventory, etc. Hubby shakes his head and laughs. I know that laugh…he is disgusted. We start walking out of the dealership. The salesman follows us asking (seriously) why are we punishing him? Hubby turns around and states “we aren’t punishing you, we just aren’t buying a car from you.”

    We get in our car and leave. We realize this is the future of car buying and it sucks.

    • >The salesman states that vehicle does not exist because the bot is always stating that they have inventory they don’t have. Yep, at this moment you realize you have not been talking to a real person but some computer generated one. The salesman does have a car in stock though…with $20k in options that you don’t want nor will use.

      Oh, I get it. “Tag team” selling. It wasn’t “Honest John” the human salesman who lied to you, it was that nasty computer. (*How* many “robots are evil” movies have we seen?) Don’t worry, little human. Honest John will take gooood care of you. Jesus, this gets old, really fast. Kudos to you and Hubby for *politely* declining Honest John’s “offer.”

  22. Given the amount of people who hate/refuse to use self check out and how packed my local ACE hardware is, where employees are aplenty to assist with questions and advice, I’m not so sure buying a car from a vending machine/chatbot will be as successful as some think.

    Sure chatbots are fun to play with, but they are simply language recognition programs, heavily biased by the info they are provided. They are not problem solvers, they don’t read non verbal queues, they have no understanding of what an individual customer requires to be satisfied.

  23. The self-checkouts that are popping up everywhere are annoying. How much do they pay the clerks? Let’s say they make $20 an hour and they spend 5 minutes checking you out. That costs $1.67 for their time. Raise it to $3 with benefits, to check out 5 small bags of groceries that now cost $100. The local Walmart has almost no clerk-manned checkout lanes, so those lines are long, forcing most people to check their own groceries.

    I remember when you didn’t have to pump your own gas and it didn’t cost extra. That was back in the early 70s when gas cost 25 cents a gallon. I remember when airlines had people behind the counters to check your bags rather than you checking them and handing them to someone to place on a conveyor belt.

    And as you note, what are all these people going to do when they don’t have jobs? They will be paid to stay at home rather than do some useful work. Money will be printed to pay them. Inflation will go up. My taxes will increase.

    Don’t get me started complaining about the infinite loop telephone answering systems where you can never reach a person to solve your problem.

    • > The local Walmart has almost no clerk-manned checkout lanes

      Where I live, Walmart has a few traditional checkout lanes, only the most distant of which has a human clerk. The main action, closest to the exit (shortest walk) is a rectangular space, which I call the “customer corral,” with self checkout machines against all four walls. There are usually 2-3 Walmart employees, which I call “herders,” in the customer corral, to “direct” (herd) customers to an open self checkout machine. It is (so far) forbidden to buy alcoholic beverages at the self checkout, but this limitation is not posted, so one of the functions of the herders is to redirect unsuspecting customers whose “access is denied” for attempting to pay for a bottle of wine at a self checkout to the lone human staffed scanning machine, down at the other end of the store.

      There is a human “minder” at the store exit which “checks” the printed receipt against whatever the customer is carrying. I never stop for the exit minder, just give the exit queue a wide berth, and *never* make eye contact with the minder. To date, I have never been challenged, and if I were, I would play deaf and keep walking, receipt in one hand (“open carry,” so to speak) bag of groceries in the other. Usually all I buy at Walmart is bread, which is already in a transparent plastic bag. Nothing to see here, folks. Keep the line moving.

    • “And as you note, what are all these people going to do when they don’t have jobs? They will be paid to stay at home rather than do some useful work.”

      That’s why THEY (the elites) want to kill us. AI will cause such massive unemployment that paying people UBI will be necessary . . . but THEY got the idea that it will be cheaper to kill people than pay them UBI. That is the reason for the plandemic and the kill vaxx.

  24. Just what we need, a Terminator car salesman chasing us down on the lot.
    If there is a checker available I will not use self checkout, regardless the length of the line. Fortunately, in the nearby small rural town where I conduct most of my business, such things as self checkout don’t even exist. Yet.

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