Don’t count on those service jobs

The Christian Science Monitor has an amusing story on Robots set to overhaul service industry, jobs:

As a growing number of robots become capable of working alongside humans, the service industry may face a pattern all too familiar in the manufacturing sector: robots replacing humans in jobs.
“The service sector, which is a gigantic part of the employment landscape in the United States, is inevitably going to be a place where you can replace millions of people with robots that work 24/7 for less money,” says futurist Marshall Brain.

The story is mostly about the emergence of “autonomous mobile robots”, such as those which deliver supplies and meals in hospitals. But as the story points out, service automation has been going on for many years:

Though they might not look like robots, automated checkout lines at grocery stores or touch-screen check-in kiosks at airports are the tip of the service industry’s robotic revolution.

Just another illustration of what Levy and others have pointed out: if your job can be routinized, it can either be automated or done by someone in a lower wage area following instructions.
(See also a posting from a couple of years ago on jobs in the intangible economy).

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