What's up with the flirty NYC airport avatars?

I am so not getting the whole point of these interactive avatars the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has installed in Newark Liberty, JFK, and LaGuardia airports. I guess it's not a bad idea to have a way for a traveler to quickly get answers to their airport-related questions, but isn't that what the information booth is for? Staffed with real live people who need the jobs and can project a little humanity into the already dehumanizing experience of air travel? After all, the decision to implement projections on plexiglass (kind of like a visual Siri, or maybe Max Headroom's sister as a commenter snipes in the comments about the below video?) was based on a customer survey that showed people wanted more human interaction. OK, to be fair, they're also hiring more actual humans to augment the avatars, but still, at $250,000 a pop, I'm just not seeing the benefit.

But what really creeps me out is the way it flirts with you. Sample quotes from the video: "I'm so versatile, I could be used for just about anything." Um, OK, but all I really need to know is which baggage claim my suitcase will be coming in on. "I can say what you want, dress the way you want"—say what? What does your blouse have to do with my baggage claim question? And then there's "...and be just about anything you want me to be." Eeek! OK, if I take that at face value, can you be Darth Vader and aim a death star at the person who kicked my seat for the past five hours? I didn't think so.

Anyway, check it out, and if you can explain why these things are worth $180,000 apiece for six months of rental time, please let me know. All I can envision is more noise pollution, probably crowding as people play with its outfits and try to get it to be things other than an airport info dispenser. Ick.

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