In Las Vegas, Robots Are Taking a Lot of Jobs

Hospitality workers' union predicts a 'big fight' over tech in contract negotiations
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2023 5:58 PM CDT

The tourism-heavy economy is Las Vegas has left many workers vulnerable to being replaced by robots, and the city should work to diversify its economy to make sure humans still have jobs, analysts say. It's already common to see robots doing jobs including bartending at establishments like the Tipsy Robot in Planet Hollywood, and many hotel check-in desks have been replaced by kiosks, NPR reports. With the use of artificial intelligence rising, studies have shown that as many as two-thirds of jobs in the city could be automated by 2025. Indeed, a July report from the Chamber of Commerce ranked Las Vegas as the No. 1 city when it comes to potential job losses due to AI.

John Restrepo at RCG Economics in Las Vegas says that to save money, the resort industry will replace humans wherever it is possible to do so without affecting "productivity, profits or the customer experience." The city, he says, needs to move away from hospitality toward jobs "that are more highly skilled, that are not easily replaced by AI." But hospitality workers aren't giving up their jobs without a fight. Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer of the Culinary Union, says the union plans to make sure protections against AI replacing jobs will be in the new contract. The union represents around 60,000 hospitality and service workers.

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. (More artificial intelligence stories.)

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