Robots are Taking Over: Are They Coming for Your Job?

By: Kassidy Coleman

About a month ago, many people were talking about how bestselling historian Yuval Noah Harari predicted that in the 21st century, more humans will be pushed out of employment by robots and thus create a useless class of society. While some people may say that it could never happen due to AI not having the intelligence and overall cognitive ability that humans have, others are truly worried about the future. And now, AIs are starting to outperform humans in the cognitive field, so what does this mean? Well, more robot workers have been appearing in retail stores, parking lots, and hotels, but will they really end up taking jobs from humans?

(Photo source: Simbe Robotics)

(Photo source: Simbe Robotics)

It seems like retail stores are having fun trying out robots. Specifically, Target Stores. Target has been using robots to take store inventory, which if you have never worked a retail job, taking inventory is an incredibly mind-numbing, boring activity that could probably be classified as cruel and unusual punishment. The Tally, a robot designed by San Francisco startup Simbe Robotics, has been helping Target by working as an “automated shelf auditing and analytics solution.” Basically, the Tally can go up and down the store aisles and do an inventory of the shelves. According to Simbe, the Tally is much more efficient than a human worker doing these tasks and completes an inventory of the shelves in about 30 minutes with 95 percent accuracy. That same inventory would take a human employee roughly 25 hours and with only a 65 percent accuracy rate. What’s more is the Tally reports any and all misplaced items so that store employees can put it in the correct place. We’re not so worried that one day a Target will be completely run by robots. The Tally seems like it will free up time for the human employees to work on other tasks they might not have had time for before and in turn customer service should improve.

(Photo source: Savioke)

Would you go to a hotel with robot staff? Savioke, another Silicon Valley company, designed a robot named Relay aka Botlr to be used in hotels. The main purpose of Botlr is to deliver items to guests around the clock. Here’s how it works: A guest calls a hotel employee requesting say, a tooth brush or more towels. The employee then enters a code to open up Botlr’s to compartment. They then enter in the guest’s room number and the robot is on its way to deliver. Right now, according to Savioke, Botlrs are working in eight hotels in California. You don’t have to tip this delivery robot for it’s service; it appreciates gratuity in the form of tweets. Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke, stated that “This is not about replacing people, but augmenting them.”

Even though more robots are showing up in different workplaces, it shouldn’t be something to worry about right now. These robots have been making hotels and retail stores more efficient and freeing up more time for workers to catch up on other tasks. However, there is a lot more to still learn about this technology and of course there’s always room to improve.

What do you think about the presence of robots in hotels and retail stores? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on Twitter!

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