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NO SOAP ON AISLE 7? THAT DOES NOT COMPUTE!

PHOTOS/VIDEO: Robots to work in 50 Wal-Marts, including several in Arkansas

By Robbie Neiswanger

This article was published October 26, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

a-robot-prowls-the-aisles-of-a-wal-mart-store-in-a-test-run-of-the-autonomous-devices-mission-to-check-shelves-and-alert-workers-to-stocking-or-pricing-needs

A robot prowls the aisles of a Wal-Mart store in a test run of the autonomous device’s “mission” to check shelves and alert workers to stocking or pricing needs.

This photo released by Wal-Mart shows a new robot that will be used in some of the retailer's stores.



Wal-Mart Stores Inc. customers in a few Arkansas stores will soon cross paths with robots roaming the aisles.

This photo released by Wal-Mart shows a new robot that will be used in some of the retailer's stores.



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Print Headline: Robots to work in 50 Wal-Marts

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Comments on: PHOTOS/VIDEO: Robots to work in 50 Wal-Marts, including several in Arkansas

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RBear says... October 26, 2017 at 6:24 a.m.

Good use of automation to help keep Walmart stores stocked with merchandise. Even though inventory management should take care of this, somethings data gets out of sync. This helps make sure inventories are more accurate AND keep merchandise in the stores and out of the distribution centers.

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Nodmcm says... October 26, 2017 at 8:43 a.m.

Has anybody thought about the future of robotics and what is going to happen to all the workers who are displaced by technology? The robots are coming but we have to figure out how technology and human workers can coexist....or do the robots just take over and say goodbye to your job...with dim prospects of getting another job. This is something as a society we need to seriously consider.

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DoubleBlind says... October 26, 2017 at 9:07 a.m.

Yes, Nod, workers will absolutely be replaced and the expense of salaries, healthcare,etc., eliminated. It's why the topic of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a hot one around the world. The article here even cites WMT as lamely claiming 'robots won't replace workers.' Of course they will.
*My primary issue is that WMT is using robots from a CA company. **WHY ISN'T WMT FUNDING A ROBOTICS STARTUP IN THE MUCH BALLYHOOED LRTP? OR AT UA? ASA? ANYONE HOME?***. Isn't Asa about to embark on a boondoggle to recruit Asian co's to AR? WHY LET WMT OFF THE HOOK SO EASILY? Crazy!

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Whippersnapper says... October 26, 2017 at 9:15 a.m.

Nod, this is what they said when machinery replaced master craftsmen. Ultimately, everyone's standard of living went up. It creates new jobs that we haven't even considered yet, and our overall work level goes down. In the 1800s, every family member (and there might be 8-15 people in the family) would put in 80 hours a week on the family farm just to get by when automated equipment replaced the people making things (and growing things). Today, 1-2 family members put in 30-50 hours per week to live comfortably

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Zepplin1 says... October 26, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.

when i worked for southwest airlines, they said the creation of being able to book flights online would not replace call center employees. less than 5 years later they went from 9 call centers to 3.

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hurricane46 says... October 26, 2017 at 11:52 a.m.

Robots?, will they also ignore the customers like the human workers do now?...LOL

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RBear says... October 26, 2017 at 11:53 a.m.

A first. I agree with Whipper on his points. Now, the real question will be IF people take the initiative to retool. This is not an option as we move forward. Robotics and AI are coming. People should be preparing.

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JohnCampbell says... October 30, 2017 at 2:36 a.m.

It's hard to believe that some people actually think that robots are going to replace humans thus leaving them unemployed. This story and some of the comments generated from it are a prime example. There simply isn't an ability to create a human being styled robot that actually can do everything a human can and that's what it would take for the nay sayers vision to come to pass. Life isn't a Hollywood movie where fiction comes to life on the big screen. I've had the honor and privilege in my life to see and work with some of the most sophisticated automation in the world. People, for whatever reason, don't stop to think about what it takes to produce just one tiny aspect of it nor the costs. Some assume that everything can be simply automated where the human hand and mind has no need to exist for an end product. Anyone who thinks that the grocery store or something like a Walmart can simply be run by machines is chasing a fools errand and Walmart, like anyone else in business, is well aware of that.

The one place that automation has been tried to simplify and cut down on employee overhead is the checkout clerk. Keep in mind that this aspect is not the one I was originally referring to. The problem with it is no one wants to have their life run by automation, yet that's exactly what happens when a machine is attempting to do the job of a checkout clerk. If I have to go to a line only to be forced to place my would-be purchase in or on a machine in some specific way to accomplish the task then that is automation running my life. It's highly resented. I will go elsewhere and elsewhere will be there. Thus the automated checkout clerk is a failure. That's just one example.

Getting back to my original thought, consider what it takes just to produce a single robot to do the most simplistic job. That same robot is immediately obsolete the moment any part of that job is altered. Now try adding that up for all things that a human being does in just one day at a Walmart or any other store. One could "ya, but" this to death, but it will not change the reality. A conveyor belt, as an example, can eliminate the need for a person to carry an object from point "A" to point "B", however, someone has to feed the conveyor belt and someone has to receive the item at the other end. Then there has to be someone to maintain the conveyor belt and when it breaks down you had better have enough people standing by to cover for it while it's being repaired. What was the gain of the conveyor belt? Less injuries to staff and much faster volume transfer from point to point. How many jobs did it eliminate? None. In fact, it required an even more highly trained individual to maintain the conveyor belt and that's not even a start on all the jobs created to build the conveyor belt to begin with. Now change just one aspect that requires a change in the conveyor belt for the conveyor belt to be able to handle it and the associated costs. Reality is a hard teacher.

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rdon0548 says... October 30, 2017 at 10:06 a.m.

I work for a large building supply firm. We have 6 registers and 4 self service registers. We are getting ready to eliminate 2 of the regular cash registers. On the floor we are so busy with 15 other things we can barely wait on customers as they pass through the department. Management last week had to cut 250 hours as it was the end of the quarter. Yes, 250 hours. We have about 135 employees, only about 35 full timers. So the burden seems to fall on the part timers to loose the hours. Each morning specially marked counters get first attention for restocking, etc. A lot of merchandise in my dept has to be wrapped with theft prevention tags
that the night stockers simply put on the shelf. It is up to us to find it and tag it. Yesterday I wrapped 30 tools that had been on the shelf for several days.

With this scenario and all the other work we do such as helping another dept or answering phone calls we can barely find time to take proper care of the customer's needs. It is a bunch of crap.

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DoubleBlind says... October 30, 2017 at 10:30 a.m.

No one is saying AI will replace all jobs. But even if they replace say 5% of jobs, that's more than 7.5million jobs according to Bureau of Labor Statistics workforce sizing. That's not the almost 9million lost during the 2007-10 recession, but it's still a lot of jobs, and jobs that won't come back. It would more than double the unemployment rate to 10%. And that number will accelerate as AI improves. Most manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation; far more than those lost to trade. Net displacement will be significant in even conservative scenarios.

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