Are Smart Robots the Future of Grocery Employees?

The Lempert Report: As many as 800 million workers globally could be replaced by robots by 2030, a report suggests.

Last month at the International Consumer Electronics (CES) Show, a new supermarket worker was introduced. LG Electronics of South Korea showcased a new robot that was created to work with customers at a supermarket. It tells them the price of products and then guides them through the aisles to find the products they want. 

LG has already produced significant innovation for home appliances that can order items, and the combination of smart home appliances and smart robots in-store could simply be amazing. 

This is just one of three new models; the second was a server robot that can deliver food and drinks to customers at hotels and airport lounges, and the third is a porter robot that can handle check-in and checkout services at hotels and carry luggage to rooms. And just what if they could all communicate with each other? Say, the one in the airport lounge that just served you a drink could let the one in the hotel know when you’ll be arriving and have everything already set for your arrival, including any special requests such as that extra mint on your pillow or having your luggage brought right from the airport to your room.

A report released by McKinsey & Company last November suggested that by 2030, as many as 800 million workers globally could be replaced by robots. Even if automation adoption is slower, as many as 400 million people could still be affected, the report said. But with 19 states already increasing the minimum wage, I would expect industry to push ahead to replace more workers and outfit these jobs with smart robots. 

According to McKinsey, new technologies often create more jobs than they destroy, sometimes in areas that "cannot be envisioned at the outset." We can only hope their prediction is true.


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