Eduardo Porter, Hotel Workers Fret Over a New Rival: Alexa at the Front Desk, The New York Times, September 24, 2018
“Marriott just rolled it out in China,” enabling guests to check into their rooms without bothering with front-desk formalities, said Ms. Te’o-Gibney, a 53-year-old grandmother of seven. “It seems they know they will be eliminating our jobs.”
Through the WI Lens
There is now ample evidence that the low-wage portion of the service economy is about to be displaced by technology. Jobs like cashiers, front-desk and concierge are being automated cheaply with Alexa or other equivalent devices. Occupations like cooking and cleaning are also in the firing line, with the cost of investing in robot-cleaners or robot-cookers decreasing sharply. As in the airline industry, the future of the service economy looks like this: humans will serve (at a low cost) high-end customers, while automated systems will be deployed for the rest of us.
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”
“All roads lead to a wellbeing anchor, whether that be economic/financial, physical, mental or emotional: all contribute to a progressive and inclusive cosmopolitan world. The answer should not be a choice of one or the other but of a joined up and compassionate solution for society, business and individuals.”
“The paradox is that we continue to do this in spite of recognising that striving to become ever-more productive is an intrinsically unhealthy behaviour, leading to stress and too often, a sense of failure.”
“The same broad-sweeping structural racism that enables police brutality against black Americans is also responsible for higher mortality among black Americans with Covid-19,” Maimuna Majumder, a Harvard epidemiologist working on the Covid-19 response, tells Vox.
The take-out from this? Wellbeing cannot exist at a more elevated level without our basic needs being met.