I recently visited a former colleague at his work place. There, they have a true love for technology and take pride in the technologically advanced and cutting edge nature of their workforce and workplace.
They scour the world and find the most advanced tech for nearly every aspect of the business.
And so it was when I was asked if I wanted anything to drink. He was proud to show of their Scanomat drink selection system.
Scanomat is a Danish company that has developed an app-controlled coffee machine. The way it works is there’s a server under the counter, and it contains holding areas in which you put the wide selection of coffee beans for the variety it serves.
You just load up the app on an iPad, install the iPad in the uniquely designed counter holder, and control what you want with the app. You can make an assortment of coffees (latte, mocha, espresso, etc), teas, hot chocolate, and waters (hot, sparkling, cold).
Always interested in what people think are great technological advances, I was excited to experience this. When we got to the kitchen, this is what we found…
The server was out of order and needed maintenance.
Because of this, they had no way to make coffee, tea, or even drink water. The only water available was the luke warm water out of the tap.
The entire office was shut out of any liquid refreshment.
They tried restarting the server (a classic tech fix), but it didn’t work. They tried opening and closing all of the coffee bean drawers (kind of like the way you would open and close all printer doors to get past a jam). Still nothing.
But what fascinated me the most is the unique, selling-point design of the in-counter iPad holder prevents them from using the iPad “home” button. It’s buried beneath the counter so you can’t press it. So they couldn’t even navigate the iPad, which has the app that controls the entire service.
I looked around and asked if they had a water cooler. You know, one of those big jugs of water that sits on a dispenser and relies on gravity, which is never unavailable, to mete out the water. They didn’t need one because they had the Scanomat.
This entire experience was just a little micro-example of why I have great concerns about things like electronic medical records, putting any of my information or tools in “the cloud,” self-driving cars, automation, our entire energy grid, and our general inability to do anything with our hands anymore because of, well… technology.
Many people think technology is going to free us up to all pursue our own interests and creative expression.
I wonder if we miss our stop and drive past that point when we decide to use technology, data, and AI for everything we can.