My neighborhood Smith’s grocery store has replaced three human-staffed lanes with a new style of self-checkout machine. Smith’s encourages me to carry a scanning device as I shop and scan the items I’ve selected. With this device, I simultaneously do the work of a check-out person — without being paid for my service — and eliminate the job of the same. All for the convenience of not having to interact with another human being.
Why such vociferous concern for industry and hardly a peep about job losses in retail?
I am familiar with the assertion that the destruction of one industry leads to the creation of another. I’ve read how carts and buggies gave way to automobiles. The creation of new jobs is not the companion to today’s innovations for the most vulnerable among us. By steadily replacing human interaction with AI interfaces we render more and more human beings irrelevant. We destroy our communities when we erase jobs that provide a livelihood to unskilled workers.
If you yearn for something to resist, resist the latest “convenience” at Smith’s.
Brandi Chase, Salt Lake City