IN THE early 19th century the famed Luddite uprising - in which workers rebelled against the adoption of machinery in place of jobs - left death and destruction in its wake.

More than 200 years later, I can forsee it happening again - thousands of people marching upon offices, restaurants, schools, hospitals and other places of work, demanding to have their jobs back.

Elon Musk has predicted that robots will take over our jobs, and he could be right. I found it quite disturbing to see, on the news, a production line in a Chinese factory, filled with half-finished, lifelike robots, gearing up to take over our lives.

Personally I don’t want to be served by a robot in a shop, have my hair cut by a robot or be greeted by a robot in a hotel. It’s bad enough being talked at - and I say ‘at’ not ‘to’ - by so-called chatbots, who don’t come anywhere close to chatting and can never actually help you. Having a ‘conversation’ with one of these is impossible.

Now we are destined not only to suffer these robotic voices - “say in as few words as possible how I can help you today” - but robotic bodies, who will be able to take our orders in Argos and serve us coffee in Starbucks.

No thanks. Some may welcome artificial intelligence, or AI, with open arms. But there are many who don’t.

As I continue to stress in this column, there are still plenty of people who crave the human touch and believe that there is no substitute for a real person to help them, whether it’s to pay a gas bill or buy a new sofa.

Look at the hoo-ha over ticket offices at railway stations. Plans to close hundreds of these across the country have been scrapped because they failed to meet high passenger standards.

It was stopped in its tracks due to a huge public outcry. Had the plans gone through, just how long would it have been before the few remaining staff dotted about mainline stations substituted with robots striding about: “Say in as few words as possible where you would like to travel today.”

Of course, robots and robotic machines have plenty of uses, from exploring lunar landscapes to assembling cars and assisting - with assisting being the operative word - surgeons in open heart surgery.

But rolling them out more widely and creating robotic versions of ourselves, will not only put people out of work, it will exacerbate the endless frustration of trying to get ‘help’ from machines. Only a human can offer the breadth of knowledge, expertise, creativity, understanding, empathy, sensitivity and guidance that other humans need in all walks of life.

I have no desire whatsoever to own and have a ‘conversation’ with a device like Alexa or Siri and can’t see the appeal. To me, it’s no different to having a chat with my toaster.

For years we have been fed the line that technology makes life easier. In many respects it does, but it also brings with it a lot of problems and eats up far too much of our time. Remember life pre-email, text and social media?

We are becoming far too reliant upon technology, and have little regard for the long-term consequences. It can’t be good for us.

Some say the expansion of AI is frightening, could easily get out of control and ultimately put mankind at risk. I agree, but what can be done? We are going into this with our eyes shut, and unlike the Luddites we citizens are not protesting loudly enough, if at all.