What's the Latest Development?
Rather than pay a real person to greet visitors at their new civic center, the local council in the northwest London borough of Brent decided to install a hologram behind the reception desk. When a person enters their question on a touchscreen, "Shanice," played by actress Shanice Stewart-Jones, appears on a see-through screen and provides the answer. Currently, the number of available questions and answers is limited; people who are looking for directions to certain departments will be satisfied, but anything more complex will most likely require a search for a human employee.
What's the Big Idea?
"Shanice" came with an initial cost of £12,000 (US$18,800), which the Brent council says is a savings of £17,000 ($26,600) over a real receptionist. However, Brent SOS Libraries spokesperson Laura Collignon says it's still a waste of money: "That £12,000 should be spent on essential services. When they cut libraries they said they needed money for things like home care and other core services, clearly a hologram isn’t a core service." Brent council member James Denselow disagrees: "Nowadays we're constantly having to look at innovative ways to cut costs and they don’t come more cutting edge than Shanice. I hope people come down and visit her...she looks great and she’s always very friendly."
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