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Robots are pouring drinks in Vegas. As AI grows, the city's workers brace for change

  

Category:  Health, Science & Technology

Via:  hallux  •  6 months ago  •  40 comments

By:   Deepa Shivaram - NPR

Robots are pouring drinks in Vegas. As AI grows, the city's workers brace for change

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Walk any direction in Las Vegas and it's easy to find machines doing human work.

Check-in kiosks have replaced people at the front desk of hotels. Text-bots now make restaurant recommendations instead of a concierge. Robots can serve food, and behind the bar, machines are pouring out drinks.

Automation and technology replacing jobs has long been a conversation in Nevada's most populated city.   Studies   show that between 38% to 65% of jobs there could be automated by 2035.

With the use of artificial intelligence on the rise, the economy of this city --which relies on tourism and hospitality — is at an inflection point, as companies look to technology to reduce labor costs.

"Wherever the resort industry can replace their workers and not affect productivity, profits or the customer experience — wherever they can do that with artificial intelligence... they will," said John Restrepo, principal at RCG Economics in Las Vegas.

"The question is, how do you factor in and how do you adapt your economic development strategy, your community strategy, your resiliency strategy to accommodate a world where certain jobs no longer exist?" he said.

Restrepo said he believes the city has to diversify its economy to be less reliant on tourism and hospitality.

"We need to move ... to those occupations that are more highly skilled, that are not easily replaced by AI and that provide a greater level of balance and resilience so we're not so hard-hit," Restrepo said.

The Culinary Union is prepared to strike over AI


Unions in Las Vegas are closely watching the changes. The largest union in Nevada, the Culinary Union, represents 60,000 service and hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno. Later this year, it hopes to have a new negotiated contract that includes protections against AI replacing jobs.

"We had a huge fight about tech in our previous contract. We're going to have the same fight this time around," Ted Pappageorge, the secretary-treasurer of the union, told NPR.


In its last contract in 2018, the union pushed for companies to agree to a six-month warning for workers for new technology introduced in the workplace, as well as free training on how to use the new technology.

"How do our folks make sure that the jobs that remain, that we can work them? And that we're not thrown out like an old shoe? We're not going to stand for that," Pappageorge said.

While the precise impact of AI on service work is not yet clear, the union is prepared to make AI an issue to strike over when it negotiates its new contract, Pappageorge said.

"We'd like to say we're going to be able to get an agreement. But if we have to, we're going to have a big fight and do whatever it takes, including a strike on technology," he said.

AI and machines can't replace the human touch, some workers say


Sabrina Bergman works at the Tipsy Robot, a bar inside Planet Hollywood on the Las Vegas strip. Her job is to help the robot do its job, tending bar. When the robot accidentally tips over a cup, she resets it. If the robot doesn't pour a full drink, she tops it off.

Bergman said she's not worried about the machine replacing her entirely — even though the bar just opened a second location earlier this year.

Bergman and other service workers told NPR there are some human jobs that technology can't eliminate. Machines don't have the same human touch and cannot provide the same experience, they said — and often times, the machines add more work.

"We have a lot of guests that are regular guests, and they come for the personal interaction. They don't come for the technology," said Holly Lang, a cocktail waitress at the MGM Grand. "There's some things you can't replace."

Lang said she's confident the Culinary Union will establish good protections. "A lot of people are concerned that it'll take our jobs but we have more comfort in the fact that we have contracts to protect us ... we've fought hard to keep our jobs for a long time," Lang said.


It's not just service workers who will be affected


Artificial intelligence won't just impact lower-wage jobs. Technology like ChatGPT, which is a form of generative AI, will impact white collar jobs, too, in fields like accounting and data entry.

In some cases, AI will help make workers more productive, while other roles might be eliminated entirely. AI is also likely to create brand new jobs that don't even exist yet.

Las Vegas city officials are starting to brace workers for that shift now. In August, the local Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel on using AI. A few dozen people attended, including Tony Yee, who owns a small moving company in the city.

He said he wants to learn how to use AI to build his company, and use the technology to help him with tasks like dealing with customer evaluations.

"I am really intrigued with AI and I know it's the next frontier. It's just like how people didn't believe in the internet in the '90s," Yee said.

"This is the next revolution, and if you're not on board, you're going to be left behind. And I don't want to be left behind."


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Hallux
Masters Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    6 months ago

Yikes, full circle ... first we went to bars because our wives did not understand us, now we go home because the barmaid does not understand us.

 
 
 
MrFrost
Professor Expert
2  MrFrost    6 months ago

I hope it doesn't expect a tip. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    6 months ago

Human beings will destroy themselves at the altar of technology. It is a constant theme of science fiction. 

We dont really know how to prevent it either, given the constant demand for "progress". 

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
3.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  JohnRussell @3    6 months ago

I think it is more likely that humans and technology will merge into a new evolutionary being.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Hallux @3.1    6 months ago

Human beings are not machines, and should not be looking to merge with machines. You and I wont be around to see it but there will be dystopia on earth, unless the path we are on changes. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
3.1.2  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JohnRussell @3.1.1    6 months ago

I’m a doctor Jim, not a machine.

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
3.1.3  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @3.1.2    6 months ago

I am a holographic doctor Kathryn, not a human.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
4  JBB    6 months ago

It might work, if it is programmed to overpour...

People always go where the drinks are strong!

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
4.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  JBB @4    6 months ago

Birdbath size Martinis made my local a habitual stop off and swelled Chandra the barmaid's purse.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5  TᵢG    6 months ago

I was there.   It is an interesting machine.   Very gimmicky.

Big deal.

BTW, this is an application of robotics, not AI.

 
 
 
Hallux
Masters Principal
5.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  TᵢG @5    6 months ago

The merger of the 2 is nigh upon us. Meet Sophia:

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.1  GregTx  replied to  Hallux @5.1    6 months ago

Exactly, when we get to the point that AI can manage the robotics at the production level then there's really no point in having any human employees.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.2  TᵢG  replied to  Hallux @5.1    6 months ago

Yes AI will supply the brains of robots.   But in the case of the bartender, you basically pick the drink you want from a menu and it picks the ingredients and pours the correct amounts and then a conveyer delivers the drink to you.

Not AI, robotics.   But yes AI+Robotics exists today and will advance in perpetuity.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.3  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.1    6 months ago

AI is currently replacing white collar pseudo clerical workers.   One key example is Robotic Process Automation where an AI technology learns how to handle the various nuances of a worker (working with multiple conventional systems) by observing the worker.   Eventually the AI learns the ins and outs of the job and can automatically take over.

There really is no stopping this.   And it will almost certainly increase unemployment.    What is helping now is the continual retirement of baby boomers.    After that, we will see a net reduction in human jobs.

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.4  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.3    6 months ago
AI is currently replacing white collar pseudo clerical workers. One key example is Robotic Process Automation where an AI technology learns how to handle the various nuances of a worker (working with multiple conventional systems) by observing the worker. Eventually the AI learns the ins and outs of the job and can automatically take over.

And no doubt at some point it's going to replace white collar executive workers. 

There really is no stopping this. And it will almost certainly increase unemployment. What is helping now is the continual retirement of baby boomers. After that, we will see a net reduction in human jobs.

I agreed, though I don't see how the retirement of baby boomers is helping.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.5  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.4    6 months ago

Because baby boomers are currently retiring, jobs are left to be filled by unretired workers.   Because the baby boomers are so numerous, when they are all or mostly out of the workforce, the rate of open opportunities due to retirement will wane.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
5.1.6  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.5    6 months ago
Because baby boomers are currently retiring

Unfortunately not so much in elected office positions.

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.7  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.5    6 months ago
Because baby boomers are currently retiring, jobs are left to be filled by unretired workers.

I'm not sure that AI+Robotics won't eclipse that. Why would you hire experienced (i.e. middle aged) workers approaching retirement age when you could make an initially heavy investment then have a much more predictable output?

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.8  GregTx  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @5.1.6    6 months ago

Who's to say?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5.1.9  JohnRussell  replied to  GregTx @5.1.7    6 months ago
Why would you hire experienced (i.e. middle aged) workers approaching retirement age when you could make an initially heavy investment then have a much more predictable output?

So people dont starve to death? 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.10  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.7    6 months ago

The evolution of AI into the workplace will be gradual.   The more senior positions in a business (occupied by senior employees) are not easily replaced (if at all) with automation.   The automation starts at the most mechanical, predictable levels that can be handled by today's technology.    Over time it will take over more sophisticated jobs where deep experience and reasoning are involved.   But AI technology is far from that point.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
5.1.11  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JohnRussell @5.1.9    6 months ago
So people dont starve to death

How many have you hired?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.12  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.8    6 months ago
Who's to say?

The electorate.   It is not doing its job.

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.13  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.10    6 months ago
The more senior positions in a business (occupied by senior employees) are not easily replaced (if at all)..

Why would you think that? If AI is able to handle the problems of maximizing production management, why would it not be capable of mapping out business strategy? BTW I'm talking about AI and automation. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.14  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.13    6 months ago

Do you think business strategic planning is a mechanical process.

Maximizing production (per various factors) can be formulated as a mathematical model to be optimized (and this was done quite effectively prior to modern machine-learning AI).  Do you think that is possible with business strategic planning ... express it fully as a mathematical model to be solved?

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.15  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.14    6 months ago

Is your concept of AI is that it's a mechanical process?

Do you think that is possible with business strategic planning?

Do you think that it's not?..

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.16  GregTx  replied to  JohnRussell @5.1.9    6 months ago

Why would a corporation only concerned with profit margin care about that?....

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.17  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.12    6 months ago

Could you elaborate some please?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.18  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.15    6 months ago
Is your concept of AI is that it's a mechanical process?

Yes, it is currently a mechanical process.   It is very sophisticated (and very cool) but ultimately contemporary AI (speaking mostly of machine learning) involves formulating a high dimensional mathematical model of a problem domain and then (typically) optimizing with linear algebra using a very large corpus of carefully chosen, cleaned-up data.   (There are many variations on this theme.)

Do you think that it's not?..

Clearly I think it is not.   The factors involved in setting direction for a business are heavily based on judgment and experience and not something one can reasonably express in a mathematical model.  TODAY.   In the distant future I expect AI to achieve a state of AGI (general intelligence) which would enable reasoning / insight / imagination based on world knowledge.   We are nowhere near that today, but a true AGI certainly could do strategic planning.   It could do anything a human mind currently can do (and no doubt much more).

To be clear, I am speaking of strategic planning for large businesses where strategic planning would be a necessary process.   Strategic planning for a local hardware store, for example, is an entirely different matter.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.19  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.17    6 months ago
Could you elaborate some please?

Politicians too old to do their job properly should not be voted back into office by the electorate.   We do not have term limits so it is up to the electorate to remove politicians who no longer properly represent them.

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.20  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.18    6 months ago
Yes, it is currently a mechanical process.  

In what way? Statistical analysis is still statically analysis regardless if who does it.

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.21  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.20    6 months ago

I explained that in my comment.

Statistical analysis is still statically analysis regardless if who does it.

Are you equating large business strategic planning with (merely) statistical analysis??

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.22  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.21    6 months ago

So,not something AI or robotics are able to do?.. interesting opinion 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.23  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.22    6 months ago

What, specifically, are you referring to by 'something'?    Large business strategic planning or mere statistical analysis?

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.24  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.21    6 months ago

Merely?  No, are you stating that statiscal analysis has little relevance to strategic planning?

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.25  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.24    6 months ago

No, obviously I am not saying that.   I am clearly stating that strategic planning is substantially more than merely doing statistical analysis.   

Strategic planning (determining the direction of a business in multiple dimensions over the time) represents use of imagination/creativity, drawing from substantial world knowledge, understanding human trends and behavior, applying complex reasoning, etc.   The decision to move Apple from predominantly a personal computer manufacturer to an integrated, highly (revolutionarily) ergonomic device manufacturer is not the result of mere statistical analysis.   The inspired decision to create a product that people did not realize they absolutely had to have (the iPhone) is not a result of mere statistical analysis (Jobs invented a new market and it turns out he was spot on).

AI is nowhere close to the human skills involved at this level of cognition.   And it does not take AI to engage in mere statistical analysis.   Computer systems have been doing this for many years (consider the automation behind insurance companies, stock brokers, marketing firms, professional sports, etc.).

 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.26  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.25    6 months ago

Ok and I'm clearly stating that if you think AI is only capable of replacing "white collar pseudo clerical workers" then you're shortsighted. 

 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.27  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.26    6 months ago
Ok and I'm clearly stating that if you think AI is only capable of replacing "white collar pseudo clerical workers" then you're shortsighted. 

You take my statement of the current state of the art of AI relative to assuming jobs:

TiG @5.1.3AI is currently replacing white collar pseudo clerical workers. 

... and somehow read this to mean that I am saying that is all that AI will do.    You are working real hard then to not understand what I wrote.

Hell, just read my @5.1.10 alone and you can see I am talking about a progression through the workforce:

TiG @5.1.10The evolution of AI into the workplace will be gradual.   The more senior positions in a business (occupied by senior employees) are not easily replaced (if at all) with automation.   The automation starts at the most mechanical, predictable levels that can be handled by today's technology.    Over time it will take over more sophisticated jobs where deep experience and reasoning are involved.   But AI technology is far from that point.
 
 
 
GregTx
PhD Guide
5.1.28  GregTx  replied to  TᵢG @5.1.27    6 months ago

I did read it.

The evolution of AI into the workplace will be gradual.

I disagree. 

The more senior positions in a business (occupied by senior employees) are not easily replaced (if at all) with automation..

Why would you think that?

The automation starts at the most mechanical, predictable levels that can be handled by today's technology. 

I agree, however the rest seems like wishful thinking in my opinion. 

Over time it will take over more sophisticated jobs where deep experience and reasoning are involved. But AI technology is far from that point.
 
 
 
TᵢG
Professor Principal
5.1.29  TᵢG  replied to  GregTx @5.1.28    6 months ago
I disagree [that the evolution of AI into the workplace will be gradual]

You actually believe that AI is going to just sweep through the workplace and put everyone out of work?   That this is not a gradual evolution??   That AI is even capable today (or the near future) of taking on the more sophisticated jobs??

Why would you think that [the more senior positions in a business (occupied by senior employees) are not easily replaced (if at all) with automation.]?

I explained this in detail in this thread.   

I agree, however the rest seems like wishful thinking in my opinion. 

'The rest'?   What, specifically, is wishful thinking?   Do you believe that AI technology has achieved the deep experience and reasoning of someone like Jobs?

 
 

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