Not long ago, I had this dream that stuck with me. It went like this:
Not far from our present time, I walked into a Target box store of the future. It consisted of a lobby leading to a wide hallway with about forty individual shopping rooms, each with a number above the door. They appeared like dressing rooms. I walked down the clean, bright white space. Target branding was on the walls and ceiling. There were no employees or customers around. All alone, I picked door number 23 (Don Mattingly's number... naturally) and entered a colorful room the size of a guest bedroom. It was was sparkling clean and well lit.
Inside the room, there were two conveyer belts coming in and out of the room from somewhere else (will explain soon), one on each side of the room against the wall. A white screen sat in between. I shut the door, the lights dimmed, and a video of a friendly Target employee with fabulous hair and perfect skin appeared on the screen. It greeted me by name.
"Welcome to Target, James. Let's go shopping," it said.
It was at that point that I woke up. While I did not get to go shopping with a flawless representation of a human, I understood exactly what I had saw and how the Target of the future would work. Here's how:
I will to use the interactive video screen to digitally travel throughout the store, shopping for whatever I need with ease: My digital attendant will answer all my questions, I can travel from one end of the store to the other in seconds, shelves and displays will always be pristine, I can sit down while I shopping, there is no chance of losing my kids in the store (they'll be sitting in the corner all alone... nice and safe), and so much more. As I shop, items come in through the conveyer belt. On the other side of the wall is a warehouse (smaller than today's giant Target stores.) that operate like today's hyper-efficient, fully automated Amazon shipping centers with minimal employees (robots to the rescue!). If I decide not to purchase an item I select, I simply place it on the other conveyer belt to go back into the warehouse for re-stocking by Hal 9000 itself. The items will be paid from my credit card automatically if I sign up for such a service, or I'll pay at the terminal inside my shopping room. I'll bag it myself and walk out not having to engage with anyone. Easy. Simple. Efficient. Isolating. No exercise required. No need to talk to anyone. Lonely.
I assume that most of us have mixed feelings about what I saw in my dream. It makes sense in many ways... in a way we are already doing it as we order things from Amazon. But what are we sacrificing? As the decline of human interaction continues, where will we go to satisfy our deep physiological need to interact with one another?
I know one place... I think you do too... your local coffee shop. There is a reason why the cafe and restaurant industry is booming. We all need to satisfy the need to engage with one another, since we are losing it in our day-to-day lives. At a Booskerdoo you order from a human barista, and you can hangout and chat with the baristas or with any of the hundreds of customers that walk in each day. It's totally acceptable to do just that... Booskerdoo is a welcomed throwback to the age of having to talk to people to get things done.
Cheers to my vision, good aspects and bad... cheers to a future that won't be close to perfect, but a future where we can all find a healthy way to stick together. Cheers to saying "Good morning, how yu doing?" and meaning it.