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The Dark Side of Automation: NY Cab Driver Suicides, Striking Hospitality W...

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New York, NY 10001

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The Dark Side of Automation: NY Cab Driver Suicides, Striking Hospitality Workers, and the Growing Fear that We Are Not Prepared for Job Disruption to Service Industries

Speaker TBA. (Lite food and beverages included)

Event Website: bit.ly/darkautomation

The Urgency of Automation

"My advice to everyone: Get a platform while you still can. If you don’t control an app, run an e-commerce store, have your own media business or at least manage a Twitch stream, you’re screwed. (Please follow me on Twitter. My future livelihood may depend on it.)” – Eric Newcomer (A Tough Week for Tech Workers, Bloomberg)

The future is bright.

According to research published by experts around the world, we have every reason to believe that AI and automation technologies will ultimately benefit society and create unimaginable opportunities for us to reinvent how we live, work and entertain ourselves (not to mention improve the quality of our health and extend our lives).

But... at what cost?

JOIN US for this special think tank session where we will explore the impact of automation on service industries from the perspective of all stakeholders (tech companies, legislators, workers, consumers). We will review and analyze three case studies in particular: (1) NYC taxi cab drivers and ride hailing apps (Uber, Lyft, etc.), (2) unions and striking hospitality workers in Las Vegas (Marriott's backlash from concierges on installing Amazon Alexa devices), and (3) fast food workers (McDonald's $6 billion "Experience the Future" automation of almost 1,000 of its locations, replacing cashiers with self-serve Kiosks and the employee backlash). If we have time, we will also touch on bus drivers in Ohio threatening to strike over proposed driverless buses.

Per our usual think tank format, you will participate in an interactive, problem-solving session with our guest speakers and offer your anonymous feedback which will be documented in a short research survey and published after the event. Ultimately, we hope everyone walks away with ideas and an impetus to participate in finding solutions to the daunting problems of automating the world.

The Challenges We Will Address

It’s all happening so fast. Everyone (from politicians, to tech companies, to workers and the general public) is beginning to see the potentially devastating impact of automating at warp speed. The Silicon Valley ethos (move fast and break things), clearly will no longer work.

What can we (everyone) do to ensure that we are implementing these technologies in a way that will truly benefit society while protecting the people who are most vulnerable to displacement? How can we ensure that the companies developing these technologies behave responsibly, are transparent, and engage with the public and legislators to develop regulations that are fair for them and us? Immediate, and innovative, solutions are needed everywhere:

  • Workers are unprepared for the shock of entire job categories being abruptly deleted from the economy and they are not being retrained quickly enough to fill new, tech-oriented jobs (never mind the fact that many are not suited for tech jobs).

  • In the wake of recent techlash and scandals, Silicon Valley is struggling to figure out how to disrupt markets responsiblybut in a way that won’t hinder their ability to innovate.

  • While legislators (who need to work with tech companies and businesses to craft fair regulations for workers and consumers) are governing in a political climate that is more volatile and divided than any other time in recent American history.

  • And finally, the consumer is driving the relentless demand for more, faster, cheaper, convenient and better services and products – pressuring companies to deliver all of this and more at all costs – even if it means replacing millions of people with robots. What role do consumers play in ensuring companies and legislators develop fair automation practices?

Additional Reading

  • Every study we could find on what automation will do to jobs, in one chart (MIT Technology Review)
  • A Taxi Driver Took His Own Life. His Family Blames Uber’s Influence. (A series of suicides in New York has drawn attention to the economic desperation of drivers competing with ride-hailing apps.) (NY Times)
  • McDonald's workers quit as mobile-app orders and new offerings create chaos (LA Times)
  • Las Vegas casino workers prep for strike over automation: 'Robots can't beat us' (The Guardian)
  • Bus driver union: "We will take strike action" over self-driving buses (ABC 6 Ohio)
  • Hotel Workers Fret Over a New Rival: Alexa at the Front Desk (NY Times)
  • With automation threatening NY jobs, Gillibrand wants to help affected workers (Auburn Pub)
  • We Still Don’t Know Much About the Jobs the AI Economy Will Make — or Take (MIT)
  • San Francisco’s Prop C Would Make Tech Companies Address the Homelessness Crisis They Helped Create (Talk Poverty)
  • A Tough Week for Tech Workers, and It Won’t Be the Last (Bloomberg)
  • Amazon May Open Up to 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021 (Ad Age)
  • Why the Automation Boom Could Be Followed by a Bust (HBR)


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New York, NY 10001

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