Technology continues to advance
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is one of the most anticipated events in the convention calendar, the annual showcase of the latest technological developments. While so much innovation is exciting, last week's CES in Las Vegas wasn't particularly attractive to many in the hotel industry because it featured robots and AI technology that could threaten people's jobs.
One of these robots was a barista robot that could make latte art. It sounds like a trivial use of technology, but in this case it takes a long time for a human to master latte art. So if the technology can handle the click of a button, Las Vegas casino resorts could jump at the opportunity to deploy a robot that can learn new designs on the fly.
“It’s very scary because tomorrow is never promised,” said Sahara bartender Roman Alejo Las Vegas Review Journal. “There is a lot of AI coming into the world. It’s very scary and eye-opening to see how people can think about replacing other people.”
He acknowledged that some of the innovations were “incredible” but was not thrilled that “today's world seems to be all about technology.”
Meng Wang, co-founder of food tech startup Artly Coffee, said: “We are not replacing jobs. We’re meeting the need in the market and bringing specialty coffee to more places.”
The Review Journal described the scene at CES:
“And there was a lot of new stuff on the show floor: robots with friendly faces making deliveries to hotels and restaurants. A robot masseuse. Bots that can prepare and serve coffee, ice cream or boba. AI-powered smart grills that can handle tasks like grilling and searing without a human in the kitchen. And chef-like robots that herald a future of “autonomous restaurants,” as one company put it.”
The contract provides some protections
Part of the new contract that the Culinary Local 226 union negotiated with casinos toward the end of 2023 was protection from technologies that could replace humans. The contract requires casino companies to warn their employees six months in advance of the introduction of new technologies. Unions also have a say in the selection of technology providers.
Technology is not guaranteed to protect employees, but companies are required to train those affected by technological innovations for new positions. Additionally, someone who is fired because their job was replaced by technology will receive $2,000 in severance pay for each year of employment, as well as six months of health and retirement benefits.
Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union, said: “This idea that technology, robotics and artificial intelligence are completely out of control can do incredible damage.” So what we need to do is get ahead of the curve , and CES is where it’s at.”