The Atlantic

The Quiet Ways Automation Is Remaking Service Work

Workers may not be replaced by robots anytime soon, but they’ll likely face shorter hours, lower pay, and stolen time.
Source: Ben Margot / AP

When blue-collar workers go on strike, demands such as wage increases and better hours are usually the objective. But when nearly 8,000 Marriott International employees marched outside hotels for two months in late 2018, one request stood out among the rest: protection against the automated technology that’s remaking the hotel industry.

Marriott employees are right to worry. Over the past few years, the service industry has started hacking worker schedules by outsourcing human duties to machines. Automated experiments include robots that take over and duties on cruise ships and in airports, and that . More hotels are offering automated check-in via app or even—in China—via . Alexa-enabled let guests ask for without talking to staff.

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