Technological unemployment is becoming a reality for millions of people across the globe. Indeed, the combination of rising labor costs, innovations in automation, and relentless market demands are accelerating the inevitable. Ironically, the latest indicator of this anxiety-inducing labor paradigm shift comes from Sin City. It’s been reported that MGM Resorts International is looking to replace thousands of workers with robots very soon.
In January, MGM Resorts announced plans to improve profitability by cutting staff in the United States. The global hospitality and entertainment brand has set out to increase its cash flow by $300 million by 2021.
The plan requires trimming around 2,000 employees from its current workforce. The organization initially stated that the cuts would mostly be in management, but that’s proving not to be the case.
Robot Bartenders, Cashiers, and Unions, Oh My
The corporation has now revealed that it is looking into using robots to replace thousands of cashiers and bartenders. Apparently, the company is assessing the viability of outfitting its Las Vegas-based resorts, casinos, and hotels with machines that can measure and mix drinks at the touch of a button. Similarly, the hospitality conglomerate is aiming to replace its cashiers with a mobile payment solution.
However, there is one major obstacle keeping MGM Resorts from turning into Delos Incorporated. In 2018, the organization inked a five-year deal with the Las Vegas Culinary Union (LVCU). The labor agreement has provisions to protect workers from technological unemployment. Specifically, the contract requires the firm to give the union six months before implementing any solutions that would affect workers.
The 2018 agreement also mandates that the company and the union work in tandem to provide displaced employees with training, job placement, and other support services.
How Long Until the Robots Take Over Las Vegas?
Currently, the MGM-LVCU compact provides a degree of job security to the corporation’s 50,000 Las Vegas-based workers. However, if the resort company’s plan to make its bartenders and cashiers redundant is successful, that job security might evaporate. The reality is modern robotics has already made much of the union’s members redundant.
For example, coffee maker Delta Q introduced a robot that can serve drinks. The machine used artificial intelligence and facial recognition software to ensure order accuracy. By 2022, Delta Q will likely have an adorable solution for MGM Resorts’ server needs.
Along similar lines, Japan recently unveiled a robot that could make human porters and bellhops redundant. The HRP-5P has the range of motion, precision, and power to do construction work so it can handle luggage transport.
The robotic revolution isn’t going to spare chefs or kitchen workers either. In the past few years, robots capable of preparing everything from burgers to chicken-bacon sweet potato hash have been successfully deployed. A British firm has even developed a consumer-grade machine that can cook and prepare practically anything on demand.
Right now, companies like MGM Resorts are only prevented from downsizing their existing workforces because precision robotics is expensive. But market competition will eventually make advanced automation solutions affordable and scalable.
Once that happens, the only thing left to do is hope our new mini cheetah overlords are kind and merciful.