Are Robots and Artificial Intelligence Real-Life Threats to Humans and Their Jobs?

By Ken Greger Managing Director, AETHOS Consulting Group | March 12, 2017

Co-authored by Robert Rippee Director of the Hospitality Innovation Lab and also the Director of the eSports Lab at UNLV

A robot first appeared in a motion picture in 1919, The Master Mystery. The machine was called “the Automaton, ” as the term robot would not be used until 1920. Since then our imaginations have been led by humanoid machines capable of capturing our hearts ( R2D2 ) to threatening our very destruction ( Westworld, The Terminator ). A common theme among these robots was an intelligence, sometimes sinister and sometimes benevolent, but always present. The movies implanted a mental image of a robot, but don’t be unduly alarmed – C3P0 is not yet on the horizon.

Robots have reshaped manufacturing, technology, aerospace and online retail/warehouse supply chain structure and process. That same quantum leap is on its way to hospitality just as surely as the computer changed the front desk process late in the twentieth century. Robots entering the hospitality industry will be very different from their fictional counterparts and certainly won’t possess the artificial intelligence of the sinister HAL Computer, at least not yet.

The rate of technological change is said to double every two years under an observation called Moore’s Law.( 1 ) This doubling of change brings significant implications for today’s hotel executive not only about the speed at which robotics will become an integral part of your operation, but also the potential conflicts this will present with your human capital during the adoption phase of the new technology.

The authors, Robert Rippee, Director of the Hospitality Innovation Lab at UNLV and Ken Greger, a partner with AETHOS Consulting Group specializing in Hospitality & Leisure, collaborated on this article to elevate the discussion by raising what we consider to be the three key topics for hotel executives:

  1. Robotics & human capital in hospitality: Where will they be a complement and where will they diverge?
  2. The issue and impact of creative destruction on economic capital.
  3. What is the current state of robotics in hospitality?

Robotics and Human Capital in Hospitality - Where will They be a Complement and Where will They Diverge?

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Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.