I work with diabetics providing testing and insulin as needed. One patient had a new glucometer which included a voice. The meter was rather polite. It said hello, the strip was placed in the unit, instructed to add blood, and reported the result. All this was reasonable, especially for those with poor eyesight. The intriguing part was the moment when the strip was removed from the machine to be disposed. The machine, at this point, would wish the user a “nice day.” That is a nice sentiment, but received from a machine programmed to say the same thing at the point of stimulus made me think how hollow the sentiment actually was – in that context. Receiving that sentiment from a person would be much more pleasurable as the person could choose how to address the ending of the contact and thus provide an individual thought for the situation. The repeated phrase would still have some additional value as the provider has the option of choosing which sentiment to say. The machine has no choice and as such becomes a vehicle for a more empty feeling set of sounds.
BTW, I received a call from a car company from which I had purchased a tire. It was a computer asking for an analysis of my experience there. I hung up as the usage of the computer shows they really didn’t want to know. Maybe I could set up my cell phone to call in a reply to their computer…that’s an interesting thought.

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