Late last year Tom Cruise was heard screaming and swearing at crew members on the set of the latest film in the Mission Impossible franchise, because they were standing too close to one another. It has been reported today, that the star of Top Gun and Minority Report has purchased two “sophisticated” robots that can patrol during filming and warn staff if they are breaching social distancing guidelines. The machines can also test crew members for coronavirus. Cruise has reportedly shelled out £500,000 of his own money to keep the production of the film, the 7th in the series, on the rails. A Source told The Daily Mail; ‘The robots are really sophisticated and rather intimidating. It’s like the Terminator only not as violent.” Well thank heavens for that.
Speaking on BBC Radio this morning, a representative from UK Hospitality acknowledged that the workplace is going to look and feel very different post coronavirus. He was scant on detail when pressed by the presenter, but maybe Tom Cruise has given us a preview of what we can expect. Routine testing of staff is likely in your place of work in the very near future, irrespective of whether your job brings you into contact with the public. Robots that can monitor you and your co-workers and perform routine medical testing, was once the stuff of science fiction, but it’s here now. Last week we learned that the BBC has purchased a new type of digital lanyard for its staff, which will emit a warning if the wearer is getting too close to a colleague. How dreadful.
Sadly, when reporting on these developments, UK broadcasters speak in terms of wonder and awe. They praise the innovators and the boffins who design these awful machines, but never discuss what it might mean for personal freedom and the impact on natural human behaviour and interaction. Sometimes I miss being in a bustling newsroom, the energy, the craic, the camaraderie. But not today. There won’t be much craic in the workplaces of the near future. New Normal here we come.