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Technology lacks perfection, but so do humans

Technology is taking over 8212; at least, it appears to be that way at Stacked, a California restaurant.

According to a Feb. 16 article in USA Today, Stacked’s customers will order from iPads. Essentially, they will be able to build their burgers, salads, and pizzas however they want and can even opt to pay through the iPad, which sounds an alarm if taken outside the restaurant.

The idea for ordering from the iPad at restaurants is not new. Delta Airlines uses iPads at New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports to let customers order custom meals. At Bone’s Restaurant in Atlanta, wine sales have increased 20 percent since the iPads were added in August, according to the USA Today article.

Technology will continue to advance, but that does not mean that humans will become irrelevant. Jobs are not generating as rapidly because of technology, but they are still being generated.

Over the holidays, customers’ spending increased 6 percent, according to a Dec. 17, 2010 article in the Los Angeles Times. The increase in spending correlated to only 26,000 California jobs added in November. In contrast, in November 2006, California added 62,000 jobs. In an article published by Texas Ahead updated Friday, Texas added 230,800 jobs between 2009 and 2010 and only 20,000 jobs between November and December.

Even with that information, one should still be confident knowing that there is a delicate aspect of any job that cannot be generated by any machine.

Technology has taken giant leaps in every area of knowledge. Take Watson, the IBM supercomputer which beat Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter at “Jeopardy!” Watson had the ability to understand and process everyday English.

This is beyond what the typical human brain can do, but with another factor: it is completely impersonal. There is no way for a computer to portray confidence, discouragement or cockiness.

While this may be a great treat for a game show win, it does not help whatsoever with customer service. A machine cannot understand the frustration of a customer if a cook gets an order wrong, nor can it sympathize about someone’s day or catch someone trying to swindle their way out of paying for their meal. It cannot slow down for someone who is not tech savvy.

Yes, technology is now capable of doing something far beyond the capacity of the human brain. We do not have the same 15-terabyte databank Watson does, or the ability to instantaneously cross-reference buzzwords. However, there will always be a need for someone to maintain the machine and step in when it glitches.

Technology is not perfect, but neither are humans. Instead of dreading the oncoming takeover of technology at every turn, one should embrace the idea. Restaurants will be able to cut down on mistakes during ordering as long as the programs are working properly. Military intelligence can hone in on any piece of information it would want in a matter of minutes, making decisions quicker and easier.

There is an opportunity to expand on our horizons as long as one can embrace the changes coming. They will not be easy changes, but they are necessary with the advances of technology, and one cannot afford to be left behind.

Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.

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