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Imagine Robot DJs Taking Over Nightclubs?

Watch out boys and girls, there’s a new kid on the block. Well, ok, not really a kid, more of a machine, but still, the point stands: a new player was recently introduced to the game of DJing. According to the latest gossip from the world of clubbing, more and more managers are choosing to “hire” a robot DJ than a human one. There are a lot of pro’s, they say, and very little con’s – for the owners, at least.

It seems that the makers of this machine found another way to exploit the pains of club owners, hitting them where it hurts – this robot DJ, called POTPAL will bring in more money, since you can program it to do whatever you want! And there is the keyword: money. It would seem that the robot was made for the sole purpose of raising profits. Yes, it optimizes the clubbing experience and makes the visitors happy – but a well known fact is that happy people spend more money.

So, let’s take a closer look at this latest invention of technology.

The most important thing that a robot DJ does is calculate things that a human could never access. As one of its makers says, before it can get to work, three zones must be marked in each club: dance floor, bathroom and bar. “The system is constantly observing how many people are in each zone and maintains a maximum number of people at the bar consistently. Each song gets a rating by our staff and we have key songs to play to make people leave the dance floor and go to the bar. If the line at the bathroom is too long, the system slows the pace a bit, we don’t want to clog up the bathrooms, right? [laughs] This is the sure fire way to make sure clubs have a very steady profit at the bar and people don’t spend too much time on the dance floor dancing, which only costs the club money anyway”, says the project founder. Which means that – to exaggerate a bit – while you are enjoying yourself, forgetting about your worries, a system will be monitoring how much you spend, urging you drink more and spend more by playing you the songs you hate, thus moving you away from the dance floor.

Also, the system of the robot is loaded with the latest Top 40 EDM tracks and remixes and keeps a current Top 10 Beatport list, which means that only the hottest tracks will be played any given evening. It is also programmed to mach and mix the songs to achieve whatever goal a club owner wants – bring more people to the bar or keep the atmosphere hot. Finally, the developers are working on creating a way that will enable song requests to be fulfilled. As they say, the POTPAL will have a touchscreen unit that will enable you to choose your favorite song. All you have to do is feed it a $20 bill and your wish will come true. This way, everyone is happy. You get to dance to your favorite tracks and club owners will earn more money.

So it seems to me that the only losers in this case are the (human) DJs, who, being only human, have to take bathroom brakes, eat, drink and need a place to sleep. But, I also believe that, like in every other area, robots won’t be able to replace humans completely (or so we hope). For example, no matter how well the sensors work, there are some details that only an experienced DJ can feel. Also, there must be more songs “stored” in a human brain than on a hard disc, or at least, a human can combine tracks in a more creative and less mathematically calculated way. Also, it will probably cost less to hire a human DJ, than to buy this machine. So, this might be just a short term fascination. And even if the trend picks up, it will probably become a good strategy to hire a live DJ than a robot one – they will become something of an attraction.

If not, maybe this is it. The machines will take over and all those movies predicting the end of humankind will come true. And it will all begin in the nightclubs.

So, if you are a club owner, you might think of making an investment. But if you are a DJ, definitely sleep with one eye open. As for you clubbers, you should probably relax and enjoy the ride.

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