Lifeboat Kills – Robot Bartender A Suspect?
CNN reported today that a crew member aboard the largest cruise ship in the world, the Harmony of the Seas, was killed by a falling life boat while the ship, docked at Marseilles, France, was undertaking a safety drill. Although no evidence of foul play has emerged, I suspect the robot bartender. As depicted on the attached video, Harmony of the Seas’ robot bartender Kuka made me a drink while in Marseilles this past June. I trusted Kuka until I got the bill, which included an 18% service charge. (What does Kuka do with his tip money?)
Are robots a good thing or a bad thing? Will they make our society better or will they create money for the few at the top and leave the rest behind as a displaced underclass? Either way, they are certainly on the move. The occupation of long haul truck driver will likely be wiped out by driverless vehicles, just as the Internet largely displaced travel agents and traditional stockbrokers. I am no Luddite, but I am concerned about what people in small towns will do for a living 15 years from now. Truckstops are likely to change dramatically, if not disappear altogether. Occupations previously requiring lots of humans, like underground trona miner, workover rig operator and cruise ship attendant, may see the ground cut out from underneath them by robots who don’t go on strike, file claims for workers’ compensation or die from a falling lifeboat.
As the twin forces of globalization and technology continue to put pressure on both skilled and unskilled workers, the future will be in brainpower. That doesn’t mean that every child could or should become an engineer, computer scientist or robot service technician, but it does mean that we should train our children to get good at something that other people want, whether that is a good haircut, a tune up on their Tesla, or an elk hunting trip.
Meanwhile, I am avoiding lifeboats. They’re killers.
©2016 Clark Stith
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