There isn’t hardly anybody around who can say their lives haven’t been influenced by computers. Computers have all but taken over society as we know it. Everywhere you look, computers have greatly improved our lives. It can be as simple as going through a carwash, a computer processes the information that we feed it and adjusts the machine accordingly to give us the particular wash we paid for. Computers also play an extremely complicated role in one of the things that everybody uses in their everyday lives, our cars. Most people don’t realize how much our cars have been taken over by technology, until they get the bill after one of these computers go out. Just about everything in a new car is controlled by a computer, a computer will read and recognize your driving patterns and adjusts how and when the transmission should shift from gear-to-gear so that you, as the driver, will get maximum performance from your car.
In some vehicles, a computer will adjust how high the car rides from the ground. It lowers the car at highway speeds to make it more aerodynamic which will give you better gas mileage and makes the car easier to handle at these high speeds. The latest computer technology is an on-board navigational computer that will direct the driver into using the fastest and most efficient way to get to the destination. It will plan your route around any construction, traffic jams, and even inclement weather. If and when these cars break down, a mechanic will simply ask the car’s on-board computer what is wrong, rather than having to go through a series of complicated troubleshooting tests. As I have clearly stated, computers have greatly improved something that most of us use every day.
Another advantage of the computer that until recently I was unfamiliar with is the role of the computer in the workplace. I have worked at various jobs in my short existence on this earth. For the most part, the most technologically advanced any of them were was merely punching prices into a cash register, hardly a state-of-the-art process by any means. Most of the jobs I have worked at were more labor-oriented jobs, so I suppose that is why this is kind of a change for me. These days I wait tables at a local bar and grill. I have worked at restaurants like this before, but none of those places were dependent on a computer like this one is.
For example, at my old job, when we took orders for drinks we scribbled it down on a sheet of paper and then threw it at the bartender along with another ten people so he could try and figure out just what the heck was written down. This process seemed to take forever. Now all I have to do is go to the computer, press a couple of buttons, and voila, the bartender gets a clear printout of what needs to be made. And with any luck, the drinks should be ready by the time I get to the bar. Needless to say I like the method of using the computer much better than the old way of writing everything down.
This has also solved a lot of problems of the same kind in the kitchen, also. As having the experience of being a cook at one time, there was nothing that got on my nerves more than trying to read the handwriting of someone who had to take an order in a room filtering out more than 150 people making noise while trying to jot everything down as fast as they can. As you can probably imagine, this turns into a lose-lose situation for the people trying to work through all of this. The cook is mad at the server for not being able to write the order in plain English. The server is mad at the cook for always being so critical and not worrying about themselves.
Eventually the person who is effected most by all of this is the customer. What happens is the cook finally just doesn’t care about the order anymore and doesn’t prepare a good meal, or the server gets ticked off at the cook and ends up taking out their frustration on the customer who doesn’t get the quality of service that they deserve. That is a whole bunch of problems that came out of just one tiny little detail, that being not writing the order clearly enough. At my current job, when a food order is taken, the same process is followed by simply pushing the right series of buttons for what the customer ordered. After this, a copy of the order is printed out in the kitchen and is very easy to read.
This makes it hard for the cook to blame anybody else other than themselves for any problems that occur. There never has to be any guessing games as to what the server was trying to write down. But there are a few drawbacks to this system, it seems that every computer is a little bit different and you can’t expect everybody in the workplace to become an expert on that particular computer that is there. Henry David Thoreau’s statement saying men have become tools of their tools can definitely true in this case. I have had it happen to me where I accidentally hit the wrong button at the wrong time and the computer froze up.
One time it took me almost ten minutes to figure out what I had done wrong and fix it. I had truly been at the mercy of technology at this time. All in all I definitely feel that, in this case, a business is better off using technology than going without it. On the basis of his statement, Thoreau would probably disagree with me saying that this technology is only the beginning. Before long there will be robots and computers waiting the tables, cooking the food, and mixing the drinks.
He might suggest that eventually only one person will be needed to run such a business, and that person is the one who supplies all of the capital and buys the equipment. Then the place would just run itself, while that person sits back and reaps the benefits. My counter-argument would be this, so long as there are people in this world who are interested in getting the most value for their dollar, they would rather be at a place where they are treated like a person, by a person. The alternative option is this, every time you want or need a service, you will become nothing more than an invoice number. You will talk to a computer about what ever is your current need, and then if you are lucky, that need will be quickly satisfied.
The truth is nobody really wants to be an invoice number. So as far as society being taken over by technology completely, I can’t imagine that will ever happen. I believe that we as a society will use technology to every advantage possible, but it will always be used to our advantage and it will always improve the quality of our lives. We need to be sure that we stick with our values and make sure that technology doesn’t get out of hand. A lot of people disagree on what exactly is too much technology.
In my opinion we can always keep adding technology to our everyday lives as long as the technology isn’t manipulated to the point that we have to take advantage of and exploit other people in order to get ahead. I know it would be great if everything worked out that way, but as we all know we don’t live in a perfect world and no matter what the scenario is, somebody’s toes have to get stepped on if anybody wants to rise to the top. Another problem I can see arising is people letting technology overcome their lives and eventually they will be overcome by laziness. Erich Fromm was also aware of this problem when he wrote his essay Work in an Alienated Society by stating the following: It is not difficult to recognize the widespread longing for the state of complete laziness and passivity. Our advertising appeals to it even more than to sex. It is amazing what kind of perspective Fromm had on the subject considering he wrote the essay in 1955.
A lot of people today are willing to spend huge sums of money on something that will make a task easier and effortless, whether or not it will do a quality and efficient job. As long as they don’t have to use up too much energy, the consumer is happy they got the job done, never mind the fact it cost them hundreds of dollars to buy the equipment to get the job done easier. As far as computers in the workplace go, in my example of having computers put to use in a restaurant doesn’t cause the workers to become lazy. It enables the business to operate more efficiently, and that is something that everybody looks forward to, including the owners, managers, employees, and most importantly the customers. The morale of the employees where I work now is ten times greater than that of where I worked before.
Simply put, the environment that I get to work in is fun. It may sound strange to give computers all of the credit but I believe that having computers in this setting have contributed to an all-around better business which has shown up in the revenue generated by this particular business. As much as I have praised the presence of computers in a restaurant setting there are a few setbacks, of which are greatly outnumbered by the positive aspects. The most prominent setback incurred by these computers that I have seen is the training-in process. As I said earlier everyone of these computers is different, so even if you have had prior experience with computers in a similar setting, you will be basically starting from scratch when it comes time to learn a new computer.
Personally I have been at my present job for about a month and-a-half and I am still learning how to use the computer. It seems like every day I learn something new on that thing and, at times, I think it has a personal vendetta against me. But on the other hand, about 95% of the time it helps me to do my job better. It would be interesting to see how many complaints I would have if I had to write out everybody’s orders and bills. With my handwriting, chances are I wouldn’t have lasted a week in that place.
In today’s society, the main issue of technology is ethics, people are afraid that technology can be corrupting, and with good reason. However, I think that people feel this way because they are the generation that has to adapt to this technology. Tomorrow’s generation will have a totally different attitude about the subject, they will be accustomed to technology in the workplace because it will have been there ever since they entered the job market. All in all, everybody will learn to use technology in each of their professions and it will make this world a better place to live.