If you want to toast to the end of human usefulness, head to Las Vegas and have your drink of choice poured by a robot bartender.
As NPR reports, the Tipsy Robot, a bar inside Planet Hollywood, is currently tended by robot servers (with a little human supervision to deal with spills and knocked-over glasses.) While it sounds fun, it is an ominous sign of what’s to come for humans working in the hospitality industry.
Per the Nevada Independent, between 38 percent and 65 percent of these kinds of jobs will become automated in the next decade or so. That represents between 500,000 and 860,000 gigs disappearing by 2035. As a robot would say, holy bleeping bleep.
Some have tried to put a rosy face on this development, like the University of Nevada, Reno economist Frank Fossen. Fossen told the Nevada Independent that these occupations “will actually be restructured” so that there’s a “new division of tasks between human workers and digital algorithms.”
“This can actually make workers more productive because as they use these new technologies to become more productive, they could see higher wages and less unemployment,” he said. “So some occupations are impacted a lot by A.I., but that doesn’t mean the workers will lose their jobs.”
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The Culinary Union, which represents 60,000 service and hospitality workers in Las Vegas and Reno, isn’t quite so cheerful.
Ted Pappageorge, the secretary-treasurer of the union, told NPR: “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.”
“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 added.
Related: Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence
But aside from the economic impact, what about the impact on vacationers? Is it the same thing to order a round of shots for your bachelorette party when they’re served up by a fancy toaster oven?
“We have a lot of guests that are regular guests, and they come for the personal interaction. They don’t come for the technology,” Holly Lang, a cocktail waitress at the MGM Grand, told NPR. “There’s some things you can’t replace.”
Of course, as experts point out, service jobs aren’t the only thing being taken over by emerging technology. Will AI start taking over financial, marketing, and real estate jobs in Vegas? You can bet on it.