WNYC reported yesterday that five “avatars” are going to be taking up customer service duty at Port Authority airports.
The above video is a demonstration of what one of these projected robots will do. They will not be interactive, nor holographic like Tupac, but rather be a kind of 2D video displayed on a life-sized cutout.
What “she” says is pretty scary.
I am the latest and greatest in next generation public guidance and advertising!
I never take a break, don’t charge overtime, hardly ever take sick leave, and I don’t need a background check!
I’m so versatile, I could be used for just about anything!
I can say what you want, dress the way you want, and be just about anything you want me to be!
For a moment, forget how creepy the “woman” looks, and how incredibly sexist, fetishizing, subservient and blatantly anti-labor/anti-humor the demonstration video is. (Really, it’s like an Onion video made inside the world of The Matrix after the machines have taken over and rendered all of us, even red-coated Port Authority customer service agents, irrelevant.)
Really, though, there’s a much simpler question here to be considered. Since the issue is getting rid of human laborers who dispense information at the airport, one of our colleagues pondered this on twitter: “i support all post-humans but i dont get y they cant just post a map+schedule somewhere visible? this is better how?”
We’re not sure it is better. And if an avatar is going to give us directions at the airport, we want to hold out for Tupac’s posthumous agents to book him with that gig.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 22, 2012