Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Virtual Reality

At work we always have visitors that come in and out from various other organizations. While someone was getting a tour of our facility they crossed our call center and our Technical Support agents were assisting customers. We have a very warm, welcoming setup here, and our call center is no exception. The person getting the tour stated "This looks so nice and cozy. It's so much different than what I was expecting. I guess I was expecting one of those call centers in India like in the movies." We all looked at each other for a minute then continued the tour like nothing had happened.

There's been such an increase in virtual work places and outsourcing that often we forget what the people who do jobs that our integral to our businesses look like. There's a certain dehumanization at play when the only interaction you have with someone is via email. Even if you use conference call setups, there's no replacement for being in a room with someone and reading their body language and composure. This online, digital age we find ourselves in has seemingly replaced human beings with just avatars that respond to our email written requests with a certain SLA.

I know the thing that spawned this line of thought was the tour at work but I thought about how detached we as a society have become in our personal lives as well. It's almost like we're afraid of being alone and must always be connected to one another via social media. We text more than we talk on the phone, and I'm guilty of this. There was a critically acclaimed movie that hit theaters recently about a man being in a relationship with his computer, and smart phones are basically hand-held computers. All of the stigma has been removed, and we're now detached from other human interaction more than ever.

I received a message on LinkedIn by someone who has recently started up a company. The company, which I won't name, sells articifial intelligence software that basically is able to read and interpret text and spit back intelligent answers. Basically, this software is able to replace call center agents that are needed to deal with email, message boards, etc. and basically link queries directly to a directory of help documentation. Everything we have this day and age is getting smarter and smarter to remove human error, but isn't that what makes society so great? I know that human error can lead to huge mistakes, but it can also lead to flashes of brilliance as well. I love humans. Maybe I need to start displaying it more.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

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