Business Unusual

Would you say 'please' and 'thank you' to a machine?

We have often talked about the 4th Industrial revolution in terms of its impact on labour, the economy and business, but we have not considered its impact on our manners.

The inspiration comes from a recent Time magazine piece by columnist John Patrick Pullen (subscription required).

He relates the story of his young son learning to speak in part from the interactions Pullen has with the family home automation device, an Amazon Echo. He would simply issue instructions to the device and it would comply. When his son began to copy him, he wondered if he would know to treat people differently from the machine.

It appears that children are more focused on your behaviour than who it is directed at and whether it was justified. So it stands to reason children will learn as much from our treatment of machines than they will learn from our treatment of others; a point that parenting expert Nikki Bush makes.

The Australian NGO Child Friendly illustrated the point with the hard-hitting ad below.

Machines are typically programmed to be polite and have a history of being so (remember C3PO in Star Wars). Yet in not treating them, understandably, just like humans, we tend to default to treating them badly.

It is difficult to suggest you need to treat a machine as anything other than a machine, but then the reason for doing so is not to humour the machine but to maintain our civility.

Movies are hardly the best indicator for this, but many examples exist of faithful servant machines treated poorly by their owners or the dutiful machine rising up against a perceived unjust owner. It may reflect a truth about how we will treat them though. We are certainly happy to take out our anger at them.

Dr Helgo Schomer makes the point that while we tend to consider the impact the machines will have on us, it is actually the impact we will have on each other as a result of the interactions with machines that is the real indicator of our future.

Online communications tend to be far more critical than a face-to-face interactions. We know it is an issue but we somehow treat emails and social posts as not requiring the same level of civility that you would if you were talking to someone. It seems fair to assume we will do the same when interacting with machines.

Treating a machine badly is probably not that different from the justification that someone might hold for treating animals the same way.

Humanity's history of the treatment of others is terrible and we tend to start by treating others badly and only change when forced to.

Does it still seem like such a bad idea to say "please" and "thank you" to a machine if it means we will continue to say "please" and "thank you" to each other?

Click here (then“like” the page) to follow Bruce on Facebook.

Enter your email address in the form below to receive a newsletter containing the seven most-read articles of the week from Bruce Whitfield’s The Money Show every Friday morning in your inbox.

Subscribe to our Business Wrap Newsletter


Recommended

by THE NEWSROOM

702 welcomes all comments that are constructive, contribute to discussions in a meaningful manner and take stories forward.

However, we will NOT condone the following:

  • Racism (including offensive comments based on ethnicity and nationality)
  • Sexism
  • Homophobia
  • Religious intolerance
  • Cyber bullying
  • Hate speech
  • Derogatory language
  • Comments inciting violence.

We ask that your comments remain relevant to the articles they appear on and do not include general banter or conversation as this dilutes the effectiveness of the comments section.

We strive to make the 702 community a safe and welcoming space for all.

702 reserves the right to: 1) remove any comments that do not follow the above guidelines; and, 2) ban users who repeatedly infringe the rules.

Should you find any comments upsetting or offensive you can also flag them and we will assess it against our guidelines.

702 is constantly reviewing its comments policy in order to create an environment conducive to constructive conversations.

Read More
Facebook has a problem and it is us

Facebook has a problem and it is us

Facebook’s change to what gets shown in your newsfeed will affect many businesses, but the problem is almost 100 years old.

A big battery may work better than a power plant

A big battery may work better than a power plant

Electricity grids fail if there is more demand than supply. Batteries could fix that.

2017 was the year social media got captured

2017 was the year social media got captured

Rest in Peace, social media innocence… The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Stuff magazine’s Toby Shapshak.

How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

How a South African put Amazon in the cloud

You may not know Chris Pinkham, but you use the services he helped create every day.

Things we invented in 2017

Things we invented in 2017

No, this is not about Bell Pottinger or Donald Trump, but actual innovations that will affect us in the future.

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

Farming advances will add precision, both to reduce waste and costs while improving yield and being kinder to the environment.

Popular articles
'More black farm workers are killed than white farm workers'  - Johan Burger

'More black farm workers are killed than white farm workers'  - Johan Burger

Following a spate of farm murders in the Cape, the policing expert says there aren't enough stats available on farm killings.

How Free State's Ace Magashule's family linked to Gupta companies #GuptaLeaks

How Free State's Ace Magashule's family linked to Gupta companies #GuptaLeaks

Revelations published today show how the premier's sons and Free State govt appear heavily involved in the Gupta-owned companies.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

'The university degree is dead'

'The university degree is dead'

Flux Trends founder Dion Chang gives five reasons why he believes getting a degree is past its sell by date.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?

5 ways the NSFAS funding model will change in 2017

5 ways the NSFAS funding model will change in 2017

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will pilot a new funding model in 2017. NSFAS chairperson Sizwe Nxasana explains.