Robots Could Wipe out Another 6 Million Retail Jobs

Discussion in 'HardForum Tech News' started by Megalith, May 20, 2017.

  1. Megalith

    Megalith 24-bit/48kHz Staff Member

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    According to a new study, retail could actually lose a greater proportion of jobs to automation than manufacturing has: over the course of 10 years, 6 million to 7.5 positions (which represents at least 38% of the current retail workforce) may be replaced. We should expect to see many less cashiers in the future (self-checkout lanes) as well as sales jobs, as touchscreen computers and similar devices could take their place. Stocking and inventory positions would also be prime targets for automation.

    The retail industry is already undergoing cataclysmic changes, with about 3,300 store closings announced so far this year, according to Fung Global Retail & Technology, a retail think tank. But automation will drive more job losses than store closings in the next decade, Wilson said. "Store closings have to do with overbuilding and e-commerce," Wilson said. "But going forward, job losses will really be about automation." Rising wages are also helping to drive automation, as state and city governments hike their minimum wages. Additionally, several major retailers including Walmart (WMT), the nation's largest employer, have increased wages in order to find and retain the workers they need.
     
  2. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Has anyone asked farmers if they want to go back plowing the land by hand? Those pesky tractors stole their jobs! The land that previously needed 100 farmers now can be handled by a tractor and a harvester all with neat GPS control, you don't even need a driver in the cab anymore.
     
  3. Shintai

    Shintai [H]ardness Supreme

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    Exactly.

    If you fear job loss your country is doing it wrong.
     
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  4. Galvin

    Galvin 2[H]4U

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    Just means as we go forward jobs will be harder to get, unemployment will rise. But we saw this coming already.
     
  5. Shintai

    Shintai [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yes, we still have massive unemployment when agriculture changed from ~95% of population to less than 1% today. And we also still work 16 hours a day every day. Oh wait.... :)
     
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  6. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

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    I recently ate at a Red Robin restaurant, and every table had a touchscreen that you could use to order appetizers, drinks, and desserts, as well as pay your bill (with a card)

    All it would take is one tiny software change (to allow ordering food) and suddenly they no longer need (as many) waitresses.
     
  7. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

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    Everyone who would have gone into unskilled farm work ended up in unskilled service-sector work instead. Where will they go from there?

    The industrial revolution may have created as many jobs as it destroyed, but there is no guarantee that the AI revolution will do the same.
     
  8. aliaskary77

    aliaskary77 Limp Gawd

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    argument is that it automation will create new types of jobs, but these types of jobs will typically be higher skilled, for which people losing out will be less suitable for...be it ability or education
     
  9. Time2Kill

    Time2Kill [H]ard|Gawd

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    The push for $15/hr min wage is just driving automation and job loss. A McDonalds wage was never meant as a living wage, it was for young workers to get experience and a starting wage.
     
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  10. Shintai

    Shintai [H]ardness Supreme

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    I can understand the worry if you live in a country where education cost money and people tend to be locked in social classes without mobility. But then its simply time to start some reforms of the country.

    If you fear automation instead of embracing it, no wonder it will go wrong.

    Even farming isn't an unskilled job anymore. If you are unskilled you need education and continual education throughout your life. It doesn't stop when you leave school.
     
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  11. heatlesssun

    heatlesssun [H]ard as it Gets

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    Well, at least the robots are sick of winning.
     
  12. Shintai

    Shintai [H]ardness Supreme

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    People get 20$ for flipping burgers here (DK). We even pay people to educate themselves and guess what the result is. :)
     
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  13. Dead Parrot

    Dead Parrot 2[H]4U

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    Automated checkout has a way to go if you are buying anything that forces an age check. Buy hard lemonade and BEEP, halt for human override. Buy spray paint, BEEP, wait for human override. Didn't remember the override 3 items ago for the hard lemonade. And some of the check out gizmos have a near meltdown if you don't bag your stuff just so.
     
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  14. Twisted Kidney

    Twisted Kidney 2[H]4U

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    Change has happened, more change is coming. That's the only thing that doesn't change, people can fear it all they want.

    Self-checkout has a long way to go before it stops annoying the fuck out of me.
     
  15. c_porter

    c_porter [H]Lite

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    People at the time of great agricultural change could have said the same thing. I doubt you think that the only things that are possible are the things we can dream up while chatting on this forum.

    That's the thing about the economy - nobody could piece it together. That's one reason why central command economies perform terribly. No group of bureaucrats could possibly get a grip on the entirety of the decentralized activity that comes together to produce the huge variety of goods and services we have access to today, let alone do it in such a way that is equal or superior to each of us, in our own way, doing the activities we find most valuable. Really this is just Bastiat's That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen. It's vastly easier to point to the job lost (a farm job, a manufacturing job, etc.). People can comprehend that. It's not nearly as easy to appreciate the unseen potential of productivity improvements.
     
  16. c_porter

    c_porter [H]Lite

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    The bagging areas for self checkout are what get me. They're so incredibly tiny, but it insists on me balancing everything on the stupid scale.

    These days my wife just orders online. Go to the grocery store, some employee brings out your food and puts it in your trunk. Done.
     
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  17. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris [H]ard as it Gets

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    *cross fingers in hope of post-scarcity economy*

    [​IMG]
     
  18. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Depending the system - some of the checkout systems seem to look for a vibration versus the actual weight. There's a few (Fujitsu) that are sensitive to the weight. But in my experience, the ones at Walmart tend to let you "tag up" an item by tapping it on the bag tray. They used to nag like crazy. I think they were reworked software wise as those small bagging areas made it so people would bag and then remove the bag. Whereas before, it'd bitch if anything was removed.
     
  19. Spidey329

    Spidey329 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Difference between the industrial revolution and the current one is that the job offset was local to the country being offset. Now, it's global.

    Imagine the industrial revolution where all of the new equipment/tech/etc. was being made in a far distant impoverished land.

    That's the issue with the automation/AI revolution.
     
  20. ZeqOBpf6

    ZeqOBpf6 Gawd

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    Who the F needs a job when robots will do everything for us anyway
     
  21. DukenukemX

    DukenukemX [H]ardness Supreme

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    I think we're far away from retail job losses. First will be desk jobs and driving jobs. If you're an accountant or a taxi driver, you're going to lose your job within the next 5-10 years. After that you have loading jobs, which will use robots that load and unload products. Just stick a QR code on the box and the robot will know what to do with it. Finally retail jobs, but don't expect self check outs to be the normal. Humans would rather deal with humans, and you would need a very believable robot to take their jobs. Basically an Android that is hopefully beyond the uncanny valley.

    But I think that within 10 years from now we need Basic Income.

     
  22. Loop242

    Loop242 [H]Lite

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    The steam engine took away a lot of jobs too.
     
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  23. Semantics

    Semantics 2[H]4U

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    Self checkout won't become more prominent until all items get RFID tagged like quite a few retailers have started to transition to. People steal like crazy though self checkout.
     
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  24. viscountalpha

    viscountalpha 2[H]4U

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    Yes. Yes they do. But it depends on the attendant. If there's no attendant the the store is being stupid and letting cash walk out the door.
     
  25. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yep, whole industries will be going away, the people/government will have to have a plan to fill in. Retail is just a small part of it. 3.5 million truck driving jobs that are majority middle to upper middle class wages will also go.
     
  26. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Not really, automation and robotics is cheaper then even past min wage. Hell it is cheaper than wages in China which is why new factories there are heavily automated. Lifetime automation costs cannot be approached by manual labor at pretty much any wage rate (with some of the data pointing to even free labor not being competitive).

    We are quickly approaching the inflection point of the productivity paradox where a subset of the population will be able to produce more than the whole population can actually use. Once that happens, there is basically nothing to replace those jobs with because more people producing doesn't actually do anything.

    As far as retail not going away, retail is already going away. Thinks like Amazon Fresh and Prime Now are examples of that happening along with various other online purchase system (online + pickup being another big one). Many companies are already trialing the next gen of stores which basically are completely automated on the customer side. Amazon Go being the most public version of that. No RFID, no automated check out. You literally walk in, grab what you want and walk out. All the actual purchasing is done via imaging and AI automation, the store tracks what you have and who you are. Retail in general is in massive decline throughout the US with vacancy rates at malls and other commercial spaces on a swift rising trend.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
  27. aaronspink

    aaronspink [H]ard|Gawd

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    Amazon has already solved all that in their store in Seattle. Literally no checkout, no ids, nothing, walk in, walk out.
     
  28. dethklokworkorange

    dethklokworkorange Limp Gawd

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    I believe you're being sarcastic, but you might be surprised. Those 100 farmers almost all had families, and those families almost all shopped locally, leading to a thriving local economy. Now, as the small farms have been bought out by big farms (and the big farms by corporations), the owner of those farms no longer lives there, and no longer supports that local economy. Without support, that local economy dies, as stores close and jobs vanish. This leads to a "brain drain", where the best and brightest locals are all forced to move away to get a decent job, leaving the dregs to make meth. I know country music is all trucks and beers down by the river, but it's actually a little more grim.
     
  29. Verge

    Verge [H]ardness Supreme

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    Farmer's don't exist anymore, they were priced out by megafarms years ago. The idea you describe above is only true on television.
     
  30. Staples

    Staples [H]ardness Supreme

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    I hate waiters.

    When you get a shitty one who never comes to fill your glass or ask if everything is ok, there is no self serve option.

    And the whole 20% tip thing pisses me off. I tip what I think their service is worth to me and let me tell you, it is probably a lot less than the "accepted" norms.

    I hate wait staff, I am glad to see them go.

    I feel for all the other jobs though. I was in TRU yesterday and the only employees in the store were the people behind the cash registers so I had to buy one of them to get a bike down for me. It seems like this is happening in all stores.
     
  31. Darkswordz

    Darkswordz Gawd

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    They could always try attaining a skill.
     
  32. Gigus Fire

    Gigus Fire 2[H]4U

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    don't you think they would have if they could?
    Or do you think they love retail jobs?
     
  33. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    I see this coming soon out here in California with minimum wage growing to $15/hour in a few years.
    Restaurant prices are already so high that we rarely eat out any more. Based on how many restaurants I see closing, it appears I'm not the only one.

    As for retail, the real change will come when they can automate delivery (driverless trucks and robots).
    That will lower delivery cost so much, that it will be cheaper to home deliver products from a large warehouse than to sale products out of a retail store.
     
  34. raz-0

    raz-0 [H]ardness Supreme

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    The problem as I see it is that even IF there are enough jobs, which is doubtful, you will need new skill sets, and they will likely be complex skill sets. It's easy to say "attain new ones", but look at the current reality. People are taking on massive amounts of debt and spending more time in school. This increased monetary and time cost means that it is increasingly difficult to repeat said effort multiple times in one lifetime.

    It's not so much the change I fear as the obvious lack of a plan to not have it end in riots and people getting shot in the face.
     
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  35. nutzo

    nutzo [H]ardness Supreme

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    And many of these people taking on massive college debt are still only fit for unskilled labor due worthless majors and poor education being provided many colleges.
     
  36. Trimlock

    Trimlock [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I'd like to see a utopia where the only jobs are for engineers or scientists and everyone gets to live their life in bliss with the only economy being revolving around entertainment.
     
  37. tetris42

    tetris42 [H]ardness Supreme

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    I'm actually in agreement that minimum wage is barking up the wrong tree. It will accelerate the automation trend. What we need is a failsafe so that you can still get by even if your job doesn't pay enough and there aren't better ones available.

    That will never happen until our actual systems are changed. For example, there are more foreclosed homes than there are homeless in the USA by a factor of 6:1. Banks prefer to demolish the extra homes in order to keep the price high on the remaining ones than allow people to live in any of them. The only Star Trek world we'll be living in is a Ferengi one.

    Yeah, to everyone thinking this will work out just fine, that implies everything is ALREADY great with the economy and we're still not barely recovering from the recession. I see automation more like a combo punch.

    Best quote I've seen on the entire situation.
     
  38. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

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    That is the main plot behind the sci-fi book Steel Beach.

    In the book, CGI characters or overlays in movies are banned in order to protect jobs forhuman actors, so alien or fantasy characters have to be created though surgical modification of the actors, including things like turning them into centaurs. ( the main character complains about putting the actors through months of physical therapy in order to walk on their new horse legs, only to have them mumble though their lines)

    There are also places called "disneylands" that are period-accurate snapshots of history (such as the 'wild west'), and people can choose to be part of that as a 'live-in role-player' for thier job.
    Everyone is guaranteed a job if they want one, no matter how useless the job may be. (one person in the book lives in a disneyland as a wild west parody of the perpetually-drunken sawbones)

    It all goes great until the central AI in charge of everything goes insane.
     
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  39. sir-gold

    sir-gold Gawd

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    We already live in a post-scarcity world, but the reason we don't all have a small amount of luxury is because a small number of people are living in utmost luxury.

    We work hard so that someone else can buy a second (or 3rd, or 10th) yacht or mansion.
     
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  40. M76

    M76 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Who said it happened now? It happened in the mid 1900s. The point was that nobody ever said they wanted old style unmechanized farming back, or protest tractors in favour of manual farming. So why anyone wants people wasting away their lives as shop clerks, if there is another way?