Mariner mentioned that he took a trip recently to visit friends and family. He has been traveling the Pennsylvania Turnpike for many, many, many years. Do any readers remember the service stops alongside the turnpike where one did not have to exit the toll road? If the reader hasn’t traveled I-76 recently, these service stops have been upgraded to modern facilities. They are pleasant, much roomier, with up-to-date restrooms and the stop incorporates several chain stores chief among them Starbucks and Burger King along with tourist trap stores and gasoline stations.
This was mariner’s first experience with order kiosks at Burger King. A customer doesn’t need to interact with another human being to have a meal; just push buttons and pay with one’s transaction-tracked credit card. Mariner chose to interact with a fellow human being and ordered lunch at the traditional counter by talking with a pleasant older woman who shared in an aside that she didn’t like the kiosks, either.
This isolation of human beings appears to be a trend. No longer does one need a checkout clerk to kibitz with or an aisle clerk to tell one where Mexican catsup is. Increasingly, a customer checks themselves out now with the conversation limited to a muttering to one’s self about checking out alone. Even more isolationist is the ability to order one’s groceries over the telephone and have them delivered to one’s home. The US claim of “In many one” will soon be “In many none.”
Walmart and Amazon are well on the way toward social isolationism. What happened to a human’s natural relationship to environment, time invested and store clerks visited? Then there’s Facebook. Lack of government regulation about privacy and security aside, there are members of mariner’s family whose only family relationship across years of time is digital; digital photographs are shared to remember what a human lifeform looks like.
And of course the smartphone and Alexa. Mariner is quite sure that soon humanlike robots will be purchased so real humans will have someone to dance with when they ask Alexa to play some oldies.
Mariner has read some marginal futurists who claim the human being will evolve into a brain with a few key visceral organs – all of which are sustained by AI food supply, medicines and communication – a lot like Facebook now but much more sophisticated and very, very, communist. Even the five senses will be replaced with electronic sensory imitations. In other words, the end of Homo sapiens is a gushy basketball attached to a port in a massive network of gushy basketballs.
But mariner doubts this scenario. He listens to Amos, who says the entire Planet is in a death spiral; the Sixth Extinction means humans too, not just tigers and giraffes.
Have a pleasant election.