Dear Noble Robo-Witness,

Our previous (July 23, 2020) post talked about how the only temporary problem of Covid-19 infections, has been PERMANENTLY “cutting into” the work of formerly HUMAN meatpackers!  Unfortunately, we now are also seeing that AI and robots are invading the HOTEL industry, as well!

ROBOTS AS THE NEW HOTEL, SOCIALLY-DISTANCED “WORKERS”

David Oliver wrote a July 28, 2020, article in USA TODAY, entitled,  Drink up:  These hotels’ robots bring you wine.  Oliver (like the co-authors of the preceding article about Robot Meatpackers), used the TEMPORARY problem of the Covid-19 pandemic to justify widespread entry of robots into formerly HUMAN jobs.  He claims, for instance, that in certain Hilton and Marriott hotels in California, “One way to ensure you can socially distance during your stay is to have a robot deliver items to your room.”

To cite a particular example, let us consider the case of Rose – – the “social distancing robot ambassador.”  “‘Rose can bring you anything, either in-house or via a complimentary shopping service:  Think wine, pillows, pet treats, towels, and groceries.  The robot is sanitized after each delivery.  For guests who prefer contactless deliveries, Rose provides them with peace of mind as she can deliver items to their suite,’ Scott Satterfield, general manager of Hotel Trio, said in a statement.”

As if anticipating our legitimate objections to this startling new form of ROBO-TAKEOVER of formerly HUMAN hotel service jobs, the author adds that, “You may be wondering if Rose replaces staff members who might otherwise be delivering items.  That’s not the case:  The robot can’t carry luggage, make beds or take reservations.”  Okay, Oliver notes that robots can’t YET take over ALL of the human jobs in a hotel, such as luggage busboys, hotel maids, and front-desk workers.

Creating concern for me, however, is Oliver’s admission about the ever-more widespread availability of such robots in a number of Marriott and Hilton Hotels in California:  “Each hotel at the properties had a robot available before the pandemic, though now they are much more popular.”

    Virus-zapping “room-cleaning” robots.  One of the more unusual types of new hotel-staff robots are the “virus-zapping robots.”  Oliver explains that, “They can assist with hotels’ intense cleaning regimens, given new guest and industry expectations for cleanliness. . . . . . .  Used in hospitals, the LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots . . . emit broad-spectrum ultraviolet light[,] to destroy viruses and bacteria within minutes.”  Again, Oliver does seek to address our HUMAN job loss concerns over this particular issue:  “They do not replace the hotel’s regular cleaning:  They go in afterward and provide a super-sterilizing second blast without added chemical risk.   . . . . . Direct exposure to general UV light is dangerous to human tissue, so, after set-up, the robots work alone, overnight in the public areas and in each guest room after checkout.”  Well, I do have to admit that robots that can zap bacteria and viruses with UV light that is dangerous to humans, is a legitimate added use of robots that are NOT replacing any STILL-HUMAN jobs!

“‘It is an expensive investment,'” the VP of operations for the particular Westin franchise using the virus-zapping robots, admitted. “‘But we know we made the right decision[,] because this is going to be the norm, sadly.'”  This final statement I must disagree with, because this CURRENT, TEMPORARY, Covid-19 pandemic is surely NOT “going to be the norm,” FOREVER!  My final worry is this:  “Now that you have made the Covid-19 pandemic your main excuse and explanation for bringing robots into your hotels as workers, can we assume that you will GET RID of these robots, once the pandemic IS finally over?  – – I think, NOT!  I think that you will keep them, there, and – – year by year  – – just keep EXPANDING the robots’ use, until they eventually DO start taking over many of the jobs, of your merely HUMAN HOTEL WORKERS!  Why?  Because, as you can see in the above illustration, it’s all about saving and making more MONEY!