The tourism-heavy economy in Las Vegas has made workers vulnerable to being replaced by robots, and experts recommend diversifying the city’s economy to ensure job opportunities for humans. Hotels and establishments like the Tipsy Robot in Planet Hollywood have already started using robots for tasks such as bartending, and many hotels have implemented self-check-in kiosks, according to a report by NPR. Studies indicate that up to two-thirds of jobs in Las Vegas could be automated by 2025 due to the increasing use of artificial intelligence. A recent report by the Chamber of Commerce ranks Las Vegas as the city with the highest potential job losses to AI.
John Restrepo from RCG Economics in Las Vegas states that the resort industry will replace human workers wherever possible to save money, as long as it doesn’t affect productivity, profits, or the customer experience. Restrepo suggests that the city needs to transition from a hospitality-centered economy to jobs that are more highly skilled and less easily replaced by AI. However, hospitality workers are fighting back. The Culinary Union, which represents around 60,000 hospitality and service workers, plans to negotiate protections against job replacement by AI in their new contract. Secretary-treasurer of the union, Ted Pappageorge, emphasizes the importance of ensuring job opportunities for workers and not allowing them to be easily discarded. He recalls the previous fight over technology during contract negotiations and expects a similar battle this time. Despite the challenges, some remain optimistic. Sabrina Bergman, who works alongside the robots at the Tipsy Robot, believes that machines will never fully replace the human touch in customer service roles. (Read more artificial intelligence stories.)
Pappageorge tells NPR that there was a “huge fight about tech” while negotiating the last contract and he expects the same this time around. “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,” he says. Optimists include Sabrina Bergman, who assists the robots at the Tipsy Robot. She says machines will never fully replace the human touch in customer service roles.