50,000 Las Vegas workers set to strike, demand protection from robots

They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but a strike planned by hospitality workers across Sin City could plunge its bright lights and late nights into functional darkness, and inspire similar demonstrations across the nation.

Among the demands of the 50,000 members of the Culinary Workers Union are higher wages, better job security, and protections against automation. The workers, whose contracts are up on June 1, are employed by more than 30 of the city’s renowned resorts.

“We know that many hospitality jobs are slated to be automated in the next coming years, so we want to make sure that we’re innovative and thinking about how we can protect workers and their jobs,” Bethany Khan, director of communications at the Culinary Workers Union, told Digital Trends. “Our automation and technology proposals deal with protecting workers. We know technology is coming and we want to make sure that workers are protected and have a say in how technology is implemented in their workplace.”

The real-world impact of automation is tough to understate. In the decade after 2000, robots and A.I. were responsible for about 87 percent of jobs lost in the United States, according to one study. American jobs as a whole face cutbacks of 38 percent by 2030, according to another. The issue is significant enough for the Executive Office of the President put together a 55-page report outlining how technologies like A.I. And robotics could displace millions of workers.

Automation is also likely to affect workers across the board. Both blue-collar jobs, such as truckers and hospitality workers, and white-collar ones, such as attorneys and financial advisors, are at risk.

Workers in hospitality have already felt the impact of these changes, as fast food restaurants and hotels have increasingly implemented automated systems, from ordering screens to self-check-ins. There are also behind the scenes cases, the ones customers don’t directly interact with, that may increase efficiency but decrease employment opportunities.

“There’s all kinds of ways robots and automation are impacting the workplace,” Khan said. “It’s already doing that for prep-cooks, for example. They used to prepare the food to go into the main dish, but now much of that is prepared off sight in factories.”

For members of the Culinary Workers Union, this strike isn’t so much a show of outright opposition to technology as it is an effort to integrate disruptive tech into a compatible role with humans.

“We think technology can be supportive and we want to make sure that we can grow with technology,” Khan said. “Technology can enhance the customer and guest experience, and employers really face the dilemma — they can either have technology be supportive in the workplace or be responsible for mass layoffs that can impact the entire hospitality economy.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Ubtech’s new and improved robot assistants take a bow at CES 2019

Chinese startup Ubtech has debuted its improved Walker humanoid robot and Cruzr service robot at CES 2019. Here's what distinguishes the new versions from their immediate predecessors.

Baby, you can’t drive my cube: All the insane self-driving lounges at CES 2019

Why drive when you can ride? At CES 2019, car companies are showing off an array of self-driving shuttles, cars, and vans that promise to ferry passengers from Point A to Point B while they kick back and relax in comfort.
Emerging Tech

Earth’s magnetic field is shifting, vital map can’t be updated due to shutdown

The Earth's magnetic field is moving, effecting navigation systems of all kinds. A model of the field should have been good until its scheduled update in 2020, however, it has moved so quickly that an update is required much sooner.
Emerging Tech

Scientists debate mysterious flash of light in space, known as ‘The Cow’

On June 16, 2018 there was an unusual flash in the sky which puzzled astronomers around the world. NASA researchers have been collecting data on the event and have shared two competing theories for what could have caused it.
Emerging Tech

Brightest quasar ever seen discovered by Hubble, may be star-producing machine

The brightest quasar even seen has been observed with the Hubble Space Telescope using a technique called strong gravitational lensing. The quasar is enormously energetic and may be producing thousands of stars per year.
Emerging Tech

Watch China’s moon mission touch down on the planet’s far side

Video has been shared of a lander's-eye view of China's Chang'e 4 mission touching down in the Von Kármán Crater on the far side of the moon. The craft captured footage of the descent with a camera which was attached to the probe.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX nails its first launch and landing of 2019, but job cuts loom

SpaceX has nailed its first launch and landing of 2019 with a mission that deployed more satellites for Virginia-based Iridium Communications. But the success was soured somewhat by reports of upcoming job losses at the company.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers for 2019

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.