|Flickr photo by landofnodstudios|
Years ago I noticed the self-serve checkouts at the grocery store. I've never used them. First, I don't really want to and the more people who go through the line themselves, the less people that the store will hire to do that work. And in the end, they will eliminate jobs. We have enough problems with so many jobs being outsourced.
In the past six months or so, I noticed that CVS added the self-serve machines. I don't use them there either. If anything, I've noticed lines are often longer now. Or maybe just the irony of the situation makes it feel like they are longer. There are less people working and usually one of the people who is supposed to be ringing up customers is at the self-serve machine helping people put their items through. Because the machine isn't working. So we all wait.
Just a few weeks ago, I noticed that the library now has a self-serve area for picking up items being held and for checking them out. I wonder if any people have lost their job at the library, because the machine can do the work? How many?
What do you think about the increasing numbers of self-serve places? Do use them? Do you think it causes people to lose their jobs?
Maybe it's just the old way giving in to the new and is the only way for a society to move forward. The article makes the case and acknowledges the downside too.
"From an economist’s point of view, the new machines represent an economic boon. They are the classic substitution of capital for labor. Productivity — how many people it takes to generate a certain amount of wealth — is a key measure of an economy’s success; with the new machines, for instance, CVS can now run the same store with fewer employees. That creates greater wealth which, in general, should be a good thing."
"It is a problem that has bedeviled us since the dawn of the industrial age. Just as sewing machines once replaced seamstresses, so too today’s check-in machines replace hotel receptionists."
I guess there are no easy answers to these questions. There never were. Nobody ever said that life was fair.
*Updated 1/20/2011* On a related note, below is a quote (with emphasis added) from an article that I just read today on the Harvard Business Review website.
"Job growth has slowed significantly in the financial- and business-services sectors due to technology-driven service industrialization (automation, outsourcing, off-shoring, process re-engineering, and self-service."
Anali's First Amendment © 2006-2011. All rights reserved.
This Post’s Link
Subscribe to blog posts. Follow me on Twitter.
Print this post