Robots Travel and Artificial Intelligence. The Good the Bad and the Ugly!

Robots Travel and Artificial Intelligence

A bit less “I’ll be back” and a bit more “How can I help to help you”? ๐Ÿค–ย  It all sounds very nice, but all this talk about robots, travel and artificial intelligence (AI), well its a pretty major global shift.

I feel like I blinked and suddenly it was all happening ๐Ÿ‘€ the pace is raging ahead and I’m trying to keep up, out of curiosity more than anything else.

We used to be living in a ‘material world’ – (cue the Madonna track ๐ŸŽถ) and now its evolving into a robotic one.

All the while I get flashbacks from the film I, Robot and The Terminator…android robots that look like humans (Alien).

Plus a few other films where human biology and robotics are combined (transhumanism), but I’m not sure that sort of thing has hit the travel industry yet. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

Some robotic aspects are already so ‘normalised’ that we probably don’t even think of them as robotic or AI anymore – they’re simply ‘smart’ and cool. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Robotic Revolution: Is the travel industry witnessing a robotic take over?

Hotel and hospitality experts such as Revfine.com have written extensively about how artificial intelligence is shaping the travel and hospitality sector. ๐Ÿค–

From hotel porters, house keepers, cleaners, waiters, chefs, receptionists and more – actual robots have been seen doing these jobs and others, in hotels/restaurants across the world and its a growing trend. ๐Ÿ“Š ๐Ÿ“ˆ

What are your thoughts on AI and robotic technology replacing some traditionally human roles?

There will be pros and cons I guess, but overall it seems like the scales are tipping more heavily toward robots and greater use of AI when looking ahead and hearing about advances in this type of tech.

๐Ÿง We’re hearing more about things like this:

Robotic security guards at airports: moving around the airport detecting eye level images from the ground, as well as sensing things like smoke, heat etc… similar to this one below.

Facial recognition at check-in: also thought to be useful for finding lost passengers in airports – amongst other things.

Avatar robots: that can travel on behalf of humans. You get to fully engage with everything the robot does, and sees – and your face will be on the robots face screen as it travels (presumably with your passport). So in theory you could send a robot on holiday on your behalf and experience it all through the robot (via your laptop or virtual technology).

Just let that sink in. ๐Ÿค”

Avatar robots were used in parts of Japan to attend graduation ceremonies on behalf of students this year!

Guest apps: to connect you with all the hotel’s services at the tap of a finger. I guess you could request extra pillows for your room while you’re lying on the beach sipping cocktails that you also requested on the app. ๐Ÿ–

Voice controlled entertainment: in hotel rooms.

Robotic suitcases: that follow you around, turning 360 degrees unaided. Not sure I want to walk through an airport with my hand and eye ‘off’ my luggage – but hey, different strokes and all that. ๐Ÿค”

Crikey – when you run, the thing literally chases you …but what if it malfunctioned and started following someone else while your back was turned #paranoia ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

We also have baggage robots that can transport your luggage through the airport, check you in and print your tags.

I’m beginning to think this fourth industrial age we’re in, ought to be aka ‘The totally spoilt age’ where robots and technology will eventually do everything for you – no need for us to lift a finger, think or even speak anymore. ๐Ÿ™„

Wonderful, or horrifying – you decide!

Chatbots: to help package your holiday together and complete your booking. Sorry but I’m one of those people who loves researching and pulling all that stuff together myself so I’ll probably pass on this one.

Heathrow Airport: has been busy rolling out various robotic services this year, including robot cleaners and driverless luggage vehicles in Terminal 5.

Covid19: has created increased demand for robots at Heathrow “Ultraviolet cleaning robots are being used at Heathrow as the airport encourages passengers to return to air travel. The airport said the machines use UV rays to kill viruses and bacteria at night.”ย  Sourceย 

From what I’ve read, hospitals have been using this UV cleaning technology for a while too, and hotels are staring to employ it to clean guest rooms. ๐Ÿค”

Over in Thailand, robots are being used to wander around shops carrying hand sanitiser on their backs, taking temperatures and directing customers to toilets.

They sound ever so helpful!

Impact on Unemployment?

As it is (in the UK anyway) low skilled jobs have been steadily declining over the years, so those in greatest need of them are up against a new breed of competition. ๐ŸฅŠ

In the video above, reference is made to robots taking on ‘low skilled jobs’ in the tourism industry.

Will this expand to other seemingly ‘low skilled jobs’ creating even greater disincentive for businesses to employ ‘humans’? Humans, who might be seen as more expensive and complex to manage.

After all, a robot is less likely to go off sick, doesn’t take any leave, won’t be late for work or resist/deviate from following instructions. Robots will do as much overtime as their battery life allows and they won’t expect any pay!ย  ๐Ÿคจ

We already see shops, banks, etc. pushing the popular trend for self service machines, which seems like a gentle step toward a new robotic norm….I think I touched on this in a review of ‘The Fourth Age by Byron Reese.

So what are some of the pros and cons of increased robotic assistance and artificial technology, generally?ย  ๐Ÿ”Ž

The Goodย 

  • More cost effective for businesses
  • Improved efficiency – in some respects
  • Environmentally friendlier in some cases, by reducing waste and energy
  • Greater conveniences for customers (including speed and efficiency)
  • Robots can do some of the more dangerous, tedious and undesirable tasks that humans don’t want to do
  • Robotic labour can be leased when demand is high and returned when surplus to demands – without all the red tape attached to employment laws/rights, taxes and redundancy payments

The Bad

  • A global study published in February 2020 revealed respondents were sceptical about robots preparing food, babysitting and offering hairdressing services, as well as a range of self-driving vehicles (I share the scepticism) ๐Ÿ˜ณ
  • There is no substitute for human interaction – especially when its at its best. A machine can never think in the same complex, sophisticated and emphatic way a human being, it cannot pick up on subtle non verbal cues and emotions – robots don’t have feelings – do they?
  • Arguably, in this present day, robots can only think within the confines of their programming, thinking is limited
  • The use of automated systems places greater accountability on the customer – this could be used as a sneaky ‘get out’ for businesses to blame tech rather than take responsibility for an unsatisfactory customer experience
  • Potential costs associated with purchasing, maintaining and updating robotic technology could prove burdensome

The Ugly

  • What about when robots malfunction and AI gets it wrong – the consequences could be dire
  • Could we reach a point where we create a monster. Bryson’s ‘The Fourth Age’ย  and many others have talked about the capacity to create robots with unlimited thinking power and knowledge capacity, posing the possibility of limitless independent thinking!!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ
  • This debate isn’t specific to the travel industry by any means, it’s a wider discussion around the future of AI, and highly though provoking

It’s fair to say, the good the bad and the ugly all depend on which side of the fence you sit at any given time, the complexities make robotics and AI are hard to approach in simple black/white terms.

Moral, ethical and spiritual beliefs all have an impact on how we interpret AI and its capabilities for the future.

What’s good for boosting profits may not always be in the best interests of every person and their human /social needs, but that’s nothing new is it!! ๐Ÿค”

Robots Travel and Artificial Intelligence – what might the future hold?

From what we can tell, robotics, AI and all things SMART are leading the way forward – a new and technologically advanced way, and there seems to be no evidence to suggest we’ll make a u-turn on this. ๐Ÿงญ

If business’ want to stay cutting edge, they’re likely to be jumping on the AI bandwagon – this is no longer the stuff of sci-fi films, it’s real life.

By 2030, robots are expected to have replaced check-in processes, according to a report published this year by UK based inventory management company Vero Solutions. Source.

If the words of Ricardo Vidal, head of innovation at BA are anything to go by, I think projection for robotics in the travel industry is glaringly clear “in the future, I envisage a fleet of robots working side-by-side with our people, offering a truly seamless travel experience.โ€

According to Research and Markets, โ€œIn 2018 the global robotics market was worth $98 billion, and it will have surpassed $275 billion by 2025ย  Source

Judging by the projections above, it doesn’t look like robotics and AI are going anywhere but all the way!!ย  Fasten your seatbelts!! ๐Ÿ‘€

I’d love to hear some human thoughts and opinions below ๐Ÿ˜‰ it’s a highly intriguing topic….Source

I also have a copy of ‘The Fourth Age’ by Byron Reese to give away. If you want to be entered into the draw, just remember to include #artifificalintelligence in you comment. Ends 25/10/20 midnight UK time.

8 thoughts on “Robots Travel and Artificial Intelligence. The Good the Bad and the Ugly!

Leave a Reply