Heartbreak on the streets: A.I. bots force carol-singing local school children into redundancy
Dark cloud cast over the festive period as island’s youth becomes latest casualty of rapidly evolving digital landscape
Social workers have been dispatched onto the streets and lanes of Jersey to offer counselling and advice to the scores of local schoolchildren who have found themselves elbowed out of the carol-singing market by the devastating efficiency of Artificial Intelligence.
The latest generation of robots, the T-1000’s, currently moving door-to-door through the Bailiwick, represent a stunning advancement in autonomous technology, and are capable not only of singing in seventy-five different languages, but also at eight-times normal speed. They are equipped also through voice-pattern recognition, to not only detect anger and sarcasm in householders, but so too irony: buying themselves invaluable time in their ability to remove themselves from potentially hostile situations.
‘This is just the thin end of the wedge’ claimed honorary St Mary’s police officer Judith Cloisters ‘Our town colleagues are having to do great round-ups of children at Tamba Arcade. Hundreds of them there are. Aimless and disillusioned, don’t know their next step. We must act’ she said ‘Fast. Before they start listening to Marylyn Manson or playing that awful video-game where you smash everything up in stolen cars and bazooka people with bazookas’
The displaced children join former financial service employees, business administration staff and call-centre operatives in feeling the sharp-end of a technological upheaval which looks set to alter forever the very essence of island life.
‘In the short-term’ explained Digital Hub’s head of values, Morris Lyteflicker ‘I think we can expect to see charity cake-baking and grocery packing as being the first traditionally ‘‘children’s’’ areas to be targeted by bots.’ ‘Then’ he said ‘who knows? Sponsored cycles? Orienteering? Pokemon Go? The implications are truly limitless’
One islander who is less than enamoured by the machines is Five Oaks store owner Fran Snout.
‘I confronted them outside the shop last night’ Mrs Snout explained ‘I asked them what they were doing. I couldn’t go as far as to say they were actually malevolent’ she said ‘but something about them just left a nasty taste in the mouth. They’re small, almost dwarf-like; eerily persistent, and they had this peculiar tick every time they said something. A bit’ she said ‘like Gino D’Campo’
Mrs Snout sighed.
‘It just doesn’t bode well’ she said ‘Hemp and Minioti: that’s all Jersey will be in twenty years…. Ice cream and holdalls.’ ‘And what will it be next?!’ she shouted. ‘A virtual Santa’s grotto at St Peter’s garden centre? Electric mince pies? In twenty years’ there’ll be no celebration of Christmas as a time of togetherness. And everyone will buy their JEP’s on Amazon, just you see’
But, as many an entrepreneurial luminary will tell you: as one door closes, another opens.
A fact not wasted on enterprising Le Rocquier pupil Claude Lightfoot, who, noticing that the robotic singers were struggling to access some staircases, quickly fashioned in his parents’ garage, a ramp and pulley system using scaffold boards and a retractable washing line cord. Claude’s operating system was quickly earning him five pence per robot, per property, after having successfully thrashed out a deal with the machines outside Caribbean Vibz restaurant at Havre des Pas.
‘He’s always been a tinkerer!’ laughed proud mother Rachael Lightfoot ‘He has posters of Duncan Bannatyne all over his walls; and narrowly missed out on a scholarship with Dyson after his motorised nose wiping machine lost out to a graphene rescue ladder from a boy in Crewe’
More information on the robots can be found on the States’ website, along with helpline details and enrolment forms for Youths to Work initiatives.