Dear Noble Robo-Witness,

So, can you use your imagination, and “see” a robot-like image, that appears to be looking down at you, right in the middle of the figure, shown?  Do you see its head as an inverted triangle with a beak, flanked by an inverted, triangle-shaped arm coming to a sharp point on either side, just below the head?  

 

 

 

 

Backroom Robots At Walmart

With pointed triangular heads or without them, Sarah Nassauer, of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (Jan. 9, 2020), informs us that, Robots Help With Walmart’s Groceries.  Well, let me ask you:  “Have you seen any robots, there, supposedly helping Walmart shoppers with their groceries?”  – – I haven’t!  You don’t see them, because they are so-called backroom robots.  As Nassauer reveals to us, “In the backroom of a Walmart store in Salem, N.H., is a floor-to-ceiling robotic system that the country’s largest retailer hopes will help it sell more groceries online.  Workers stand on platforms in front of screens[,] assembling online orders of milk, cereal and toilet paper from the hulking automated system.  Wheeled robots carrying small baskets[,] move along metal tracks to collect those items.  They are bagged for pickup later[,] by shoppers or delivery to homes.”

Why are these wheeled robots being used – – in places behind the scene in Walmart stores – – where we shoppers can’t see them?  “The backroom robots could help Walmart cut labor costs and fill orders faster and more accurately,” the article explains.  Stated in another way, the chief motivation for using wheeled robots in the backroom, is to further eliminate those pesky and inefficient HUMAN workers, so that Walmart can “cut labor costs and fill orders faster and more accurately.”

Robots Now Invading Las Vegas!

USA TODAY  (on June 14, 2019) featured an article by Ed Komenda, warning us that, Robots Are Invading The Vegas Strip: Coming automation worries service industry.  Therefore, still-HUMAN service workers in Vegas are legitimately fretting about their jobs!  “The arrival of the machines is inevitable.  And Sin City knows it,” Komenda starkly reveals the facts.  The article talks about the plans of MGM Resorts International to install automated beverage systems that are programmed to mix hundreds of different drinks.  “What does a future with robots look like in Las Vegas?  What will happen to a service industry hopeful that union powers will provide protection?  Should workers be afraid?”

Such questions can be asked about the future of nearly ALL service jobs in the U.S.!  “In January [of 2019]. a Brookings Institution report declared a quarter of [ALL] U.S. jobs will be severely disrupted as artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of existing work.”  This severely troubling invasion of the workplace by AI, was likewise sounded by THE WALL STREET JOURNAL REPORT (Jan. 6, 2020):   Maitane Sardon wrote Fund Themes Investors Are Likely To Bet On.  “Technological advances are going to have a huge impact on the job market.  The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that up to 800 million workers could be replaced by automation [,] by the end of 2030.  Experts say algorithms, big data, data mining and analytics to solve problems and perform tasks[,] could affect not only blue-collar jobs[,] but also jobs in architecture, law and journalism.”

“Entire companies will be at risk[,] because they are going to be replaced by something more technologically advanced, says Guillaume Mascotto, vice president, head of ESG and investment stewardship at American Century Investments in Kansas City, Mo.”

Returning to the article about automation taking service jobs in Las Vegas, the author warns us that, “The Washington think tank reported roughly 36 million Americans hold jobs with ‘high exposure’ to automation – – meaning at least 70% of their tasks could be performed by machines [,] using current technology.  In 2017, CityLab reported Las Vegas and the Riverside-San Bernardino area may be the most vulnerable to automation – ‘with 65% of jobs in Las Vegas and 63% of jobs in Riverside predicted to be automated by 2025.'” 

Well, Dear Witness, this source gives a Grave Robo-Warning about coming job loss to over 60% of workers  in the Las Vegas area, in only five years, doesn’t it?  That short amount of time certainly won’t allow those workers to thoroughly “upskill, reskill, or change jobs fast,” advised Mike Muro, a senior author of the Brookings Institution report.

The Future of Consumer Shopping And Service Industries Definitely Includes Robots and Automation!

Whether it’s “backroom” robots operating behind the scenes at our local Walmart store, or “hospitality” robots directly impacting the experiences of us human consumers, it certainly appears that AI, robots and automation are here to stay!  – -Why?  Because companies save money, by eliminating HUMAN workers!  Much more troubling, is the Fearful Promise that AI and robotics will continue to quickly evolve, ALL-TOO-SOON becoming ever-more-capable of performing formerly HUMAN jobs at even higher levels of complexity!

As suggested by the figure in this post, there may eventually be such a huge horde of robots REPLACING SO-MANY FORMER HUMAN WORKERS  in our shopping and service industries, that they will all act together, as if they are interconnected into a vast, ALIEN ROBO-NETWORK!