In the world of "The Jetsons," robots and other technology do most if the jobs that humans used to do and it makes everyone’s life easier and more fun.
In the London borough of Brent, one such futuristic advance is causing a backlash as critics say it is too expensive and costs human jobs.
The Brent town council today introduced the new front-desk receptionist at its £90 million ($141 million) new civic center. The problem is, the new receptionist named Shanice is not a real person. She is a holographic projection.
At a cost of almost £12,000 ($19,000), critics say the holographic receptionist, portrayed by actress Shanice Stewart-Jones (pictured), is way too expensive, especially at a time when Brent has been chopping municipal jobs.
“There have been complaints about signage in Brent’s new civic centre, but this is a startlingly expensive way of solving the problem,” said Alison Hopkins, budget and finance spokeswoman for the Liberal Democratic Party, which opposed the expenditure.
But Brent officials say that Shanice will save the borough more than £17,000 ($26,000) compared to hiring an actual human being for the job.
“This is the sort of space age technology you hear about but never really expect to see, especially in council buildings,” said council member James Denselow. “The best thing is it’s going to save us lots of money without compromising our service."
However, the hologram, while attractive, cannot answer all of the questions that could, in theory, be answered by a real person. Shanice does not come with artificial intelligence, but instead is preprogrammed to respond to a limited number of basic questions — mainly about locations of certain areas within the new civic center.