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Zona de Azar USA – Casino Workers Fear Job Loss Amid Robot Baristas, AI Chefs at CES 2024

USA.- January 16th 2024 The appearance of robot baristas and AI chefs stirred up commotion at CES 2024, as casino union workers express concerns about their jobs.

The barista skillfully poured smooth, foamy milk over a latte, creating intricate latte art, a talent that typically takes months or even years to master. However, this particular barista was powered by artificial intelligence.

Various robots showcased at the annual CES technology trade show in Las Vegas heightened worries for workers like Roman Alejo, a 34-year-old barista at the Sahara hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Alejo wonders if the clock is ticking on hospitality jobs in the era of AI, describing it as “very scary” and “eye-opening” to witness the potential replacement of human jobs by AI.

The CES technology show brought these concerns back into focus just over a month after the casino workers union in Las Vegas finalized new contracts for 40,000 members. This marked the end of a high-profile dispute that emphasized the threat of AI to union jobs. Technology became a significant issue during negotiations, with the Culinary Workers Union securing new contracts, narrowly avoiding a historic strike at several hotel-casinos on the Strip.

The emergence of robotics in the hospitality and service industry has been on the union’s radar for years, and the combination of artificial intelligence and robotics is now a critical factor, according to Ted Pappageorge, the Culinary Workers Union’s secretary-treasurer. Experts suggest that the breakthrough in AI technology has forced labor unions to reconsider their negotiation strategies for job security.

In its latest contract, the union established a safety net for workers by securing $2,000 in severance pay for each year worked if a job is eliminated by tech or AI. Workers also have the option to try to move to a different department within the company. Over 100 union members attended the CES trade show to explore emerging tech that could pose a threat to more casino jobs.

New innovations on the show floor included friendly-faced robots for deliveries, robotic masseuses, coffee, ice cream, or boba-serving bots, and AI-powered smart grills. Chef-like robots teased a future with “autonomous restaurants,” showcasing the rapid evolution of technology in the service industry.

While some argue that AI can fill labor shortages and improve efficiency, experts like Bill Werner, an associate professor in the hospitality department at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, believe that AI poses a real threat to certain casino union jobs that don’t require face-to-face interaction with customers.

The Culinary Union’s latest contract aims to protect workers from job losses due to technology, offering severance pay and the option to move to different departments. As technology continues to advance, the union recognizes the need to stay ahead of the curve, with CES serving as a platform to explore emerging tech trends.

The hospitality industry in Las Vegas is ever-evolving, with developments such as autonomous barista bots aiming to address labor shortages. However, concerns persist among workers like Alejo, who find the rapid integration of technology both incredible and frightening in today’s world.

Edited by: @MaiaDigital


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