I remember begging my sister for a coin while waiting for the Granville train so I could purchase a Coke from a dusty drink machine? It wasn’t many years previous you could find a stubble-faced bloke sitting in a kiosk on that train platform, newspapers in piles and PIX and POST magazines hanging from pegs, cigarettes, chocolates and drinks to choose from and local gossip.

I got my license and I recall the first time I drove into a self-service service station. Now that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one. It was on Alison Road in Randwick and instead of a driveway attendant wandering over to fill my tank I heard a squawking voice on a P.A. From behind a window a single cashier was giving instructions to motorists how to use the petrol pumps. Inside there were no fan belts or motor oil on display, there were milk, bread and Smith’s chips and I gave the cashier three dollars which was the price to fill my motorbike.

Then, without requesting them, the banks sent everyone plastic Bank Cards. This marvel of technology allowed anyone with a card to purchase goods on credit which was later extended to EFTPOS. It’s taken almost 35 years but the ease and convenience of electronic funds transfers at the point of sale have almost eliminated cash transactions and the cashiers.

 

It took the internet for self-service to really take off. Self-service check-in at airports, drive through toll booths, public transport scanners and bagging your own groceries at the supermarkets has become the norm. The EFTPOS, scanner and touchscreen computer were a match made in business heaven. Now you can have it your way at McDonalds and book your room, bed and breakfast at a hotel. Drone deliveries by Amazon are now a thing and hot Schawarma from Uber Eats an everyday occurrence. Self-service now means nothing is inaccessible. Except for real old fashion service.

Enter A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

“After the tone tell me in a few words the service you would like today.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Can you say that again?”

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