LAS VEGAS (AP) — Baristas pour jugs of smooth, frothy milk over lattes, first pouring slowly, then lifting and tilting the jug like a choreographed dance to paint tulip petals.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Latte art is a skill that can take months, if not years, of practice to master – but not for this barista powered by artificial intelligence.
Robots of all kinds took over the show floor this week at the annual CES technology trade show in Las Vegas.
It’s innovations like these that worry Roman Alejo, a 34-year-old barista at the Sahara Hotel-Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, who can’t help but wonder whether the clock is ticking on hospitality jobs in the age of AI. Is.
“It’s very scary because tomorrow is never promised,” he said. “A lot of AI is coming into this world. “It’s scary and eye-opening to see how humans can think about replacing other humans.”
The world’s biggest tech show put those fears back in the spotlight just a month after the casino workers union in Las Vegas approved new contracts for 40,000 members, ending a bitter, high-profile fight. Which drew attention to the threat of AI to union jobs. ,
“Technology was a strike issue and one of the last issues to be resolved,” said Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Workers Union, who led the teams that negotiated the new five-year contracts, leading to a historic The strike was narrowly avoided. Dozens of hotel-casinos on the Strip.
Hospitality workers told The Associated Press in interviews eight months into bargaining that they were willing to go on strike and take pay cuts to achieve stronger job protections against inevitable advances in technology. It includes technology already in use at some resorts: self-check-in stations, automated valet ticket services and robot bartenders known as “Tipsy Robots.”
Pappageorge said the emergence of robotics in the hospitality and service industry has been on the association’s radar for years. The difference now, he told the AP this week, is “the combination of artificial intelligence and robotics.”
Experts say breakthroughs in AI technology have forced labor unions to rethink how they interact with companies.
Bill Werner, associate professor in the department of hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said unions now have to be “much more thoughtful” in their negotiations for job security.
The types of casino union jobs at risk could look quite different five years from now, for example, when the culinary union’s contract expires.
“What is going to happen to these people and what rights do they have?” He said. “And what happens to them if they lose their job to a robot?”
In its latest contract, the union strengthened its so-called safety net for workers, winning $2,000 in severance pay for each year if a job is eliminated by technology or AI, as well as a separate department. Also given the option to try to go in. company.
Pappageorge said they will have to “develop a new language” that protects workers from both today’s technology and “technology we don’t even know is coming.”
“The idea that technology, robotics and artificial intelligence running amok without any control could cause incredible harm,” said Papageorge. “So what we have to do is get ahead of the curve, and CES is the place to be.”
More than 100 union members attended a trade show this week to explore emerging technology that could put more casino jobs at risk.
And there was a lot of new stuff on the show floor: robots with friendly faces that complete deliveries in hotels and restaurants. A robotic masseuse. Bots that can prepare and serve coffee, ice cream or boba. AI-powered smart grills that can handle tasks like grilling and roasting without a human being in the kitchen. And chef-like robots are hinting at a future with “autonomous restaurants,” as one company put it.
Meng Wang, co-founder of food tech startup Artily Coffee, one of more than 4,000 exhibitors at CES this year, said he’s not in the business of eliminating jobs. Wang said Artly’s autonomous barista bots could help address labor shortages in the service industry.
“The job of a barista is hard. It is very laborious, long time work. The pay is not that good,” he said. “What we are doing is not changing jobs. “We are meeting a market need and bringing specialty coffee to more places.”
But Werner said AI poses a real threat to casino union jobs that don’t require face-to-face interaction with customers — housekeeping, food preparation and cooks, for example.
“Automation removes a lot of risk when the industry doesn’t have to worry about the impact on customer service,” he said. This is especially true for a crowd-pleasing tourist destination like the Las Vegas Strip, where customers expect top-notch service and experiences, including the latest trends in technology.
This, he said, makes Las Vegas “a good place to test these things and see how customers react to it.”
The culinary union and its members, like Alejo, Barista, recognize that the hospitality industry is constantly evolving.
“The innovations are incredible,” Alejo said. “But it’s very scary that in today’s world everything seems to revolve around technology.”
Video producer James Brooks contributed to this report.