From time to time, I’ve speculated about how changes in technology will affect the future. (Blogs 7/25 & 2/14/14) Some consequences I hadn’t foreseen, however, until The Week brought them to my attention. (8/29/14) Let’s think about prostitution for a moment. Even the oldest profession in the world has succumbed to the newest technology. No more prowling shadowy streets for ladies of the evening. They have websites to advertise their wares, making it more convenient for a Jane to catch a John. But so many URLs have increased the competition that fees for service have dropped on average from $340 per hour to $260. (Ibid pg. 16.)
Pickpockets are reeling from the impact as well. So many people are switching from cash to credit cards that knowing how to pick a pocket isn’t enough. A new skill is required: knowing how to fence plastic. As one lifetime professional complained, “I’m too old for this.” (Ibid. pg. 8.)
Bellhops may be the next professionals to feel the sting of Silicon Valley. The latest robots have been programmed to maneuver elevators, recharge themselves and can travel fast enough to deliver room service in about 3 minutes, depending on the size of the hotel. The good news for the guest is that these electronic bellhops don’t require tips — though if the “tip” button is hit, the machine performs a short dance — something I’ve never seen a human bellhop do. (Ibid pg. 18)
The impact of technology on our lives is pervasive, and, like the prostitutes, pickpockets and bellhops, I’m not entirely happy with its progress. Yesterday, a man at the grocery store paid for his peach with a credit card. The transaction took 4 minutes. Paying with cash would have had him out of the door in 1. If time is money, he might have saved enough to buy a second peach.