You ever walk into a Walmart, look at the greeter and think to yourself, “I bet a hologram could do that guy’s job.” Yeah, I’m guessing probably not, huh? But in all seriousness, these individuals and other members of the service industry may find themselves being declared redundant pretty soon. Thanks to the introduction of the AVA (Airport Virtual Assistant) by airportONE, the job of being the happy, smiling face that people see when they arrive and leave and get their helpful info from may soon be filled by a virtual lady. That’s right, holograms are taking our jobs!
Already, the technology has been installed in three major New York City Airports, including La Guardia, Newark, and JFK. Washington Dulles and Boston Logan are following suit, and expect to have theirs up and running soon. At present, the capabilities of the AVA are limited to reciting a 90 second loop of general airport information to anyone looking for guidance. However, airportONE is looking to expand on that by adding voice-recognition software and a fully interactive program which can answer people’s questions. They also plan to make future versions multilingual so that they can assist international travelers.
According to the company’s own promotional material, which isn’t creepy at all, the benefits of this technology are obvious:
“She works 24 hours a day, seven days a week and doesn’t charge for overtime. She never gets sick and doesn’t require a background check.”
Isn’t that exactly what Mr. Dyson, the guy who built Skynet, said in Terminator 2? Anyone remember how that out? And according to airportONE, plans are underway to create new and different models that can be used in hospitals, business offices, stores and museums. Very soon, the entire service industry could be outsourced once more… to a land of microchips and directed photons.
So far, reaction to the AVA has been a bit mixed. But I can imagine what the folks at South Park have to say about this act of technological outsourcing!