“The next time you check out at Whole Foods, you might meet my friend Esther at the register. In a few years, you might meet a robot. Or no one at all.Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is expected to revolutionize the grocery business, accelerating a trend toward increasing automation and the elimination of cashiers and other human workers. The Amazon Go store in Seattle, devoid of sales clerks and checkout lines, offers a glimpse of what this “just walk out” grocery shopping experience might look like.
I’m not looking forward to it. While interactions with cashiers may seem insignificant, or at times even a nuisance, they also foster sociability between strangers.I first met Esther 10 years ago when she worked as a cashier at a mom-and-pop bakery in Manhattan, where I’d come to study how adults over 65 used neighborhood spaces to develop social connections that helped them avoid social isolation and live independently.”
I’m with this lovely op-ed by Stacy Torres. I can’t stand it that the supermarkets I shop in are trying to force us into the robot check out machines. Stop It, Stop and Shop. Do Right, ShopRite! Let our neigbors keep their jobs.
Under employment is a giant problem. As I’ve written before, I propose a new, national, full employment tax on all business and business people. The proceeds of this 1-2% tax would go to support make work progams so that all Americans who wish to can work. It would go down, as the employment rate went down, and up, when the unemployment rate went up. This would penalize those retailers who think they can replace all working Americans with robots.
There are many good comments. Here are some that caught my attention:
Will these robot workers pay taxes?
If you want a view into what our society will look like when the robots are doing all the jobs, look no further than the hopelessness behind the opiate crisis that is currently unfolding in many of our rural areas. And if you think the government will come to the rescue, note that many of these same people voted for an administration that is poised to redirect a trillion dollars to tax cuts for the rich that before that would have went to health care for many of these addicts.