Living it up at the Hotel WTF

A Japanese firm, apparently, is about to open a hotel staffed almost exclusively by robots.  Just so you don’t get too freaked out, they’ve called it the Henn-na Hotel, or the “Strange Hotel”.  Oh, it’s also near Nagasaki:

The Henn-na Hotel, or “Strange Hotel,” will open its doors on July 17 on the grounds of Huis Ten Bosch theme park near Nagasaki, according to an announcement from JNTO on Jan. 28.

The hotel will initially be staffed by 10 robots working alongside humans to provide a wide range of services from manning the reception desk to carrying bags and cleaning rooms. The management hopes to eventually have the hotel almost entirely staffed by the machines.

“In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots,” said Huis Ten Bosch president Hideo Sawada.

In addition to the robots, Sawada says the 72-room facility will feature high-tech gadgetry aimed at making Henn-na the “most efficient hotel in the world,” The Japan Times reported.

Instead of traditional air conditioning, for example, rooms will feature radiation panels that create a “comfortable indoor environment with no unevenness,” the hotel website added. The panels will automatically detect body heat and adjust room temperature as needed.

Hotel guests will also be able to access their rooms using facial recognition technology instead of room keys. Anyone uncomfortable with the system will be free to use old-fashioned keys, the hotel’s website said.

Of course, it is a bit tempting to get carried away with the novelty of it, but as usual, the real story lies in what this means for employment in the (not-so-distant) future.

The tendency is to think, hey, this could never work, but I suspect that that’s just a defensive mechanism we have to stop ourselves worrying about the implications.

But the implications are obvious: less jobs for everyone.

I guess you could argue that maybe people will be too freaked out and just won’t go there, but I really doubt that.  It will be true for some people, but not for everyone.  And gradually, this sort of thing will become less novel, more normalised.

And look at those room rates:

Henn-na Hotel has tentatively priced single and twin rooms at about $60 and $75 per night, respectively.

Amazing how the rates go down when you’re not paying wages.  So plenty of people will be enticed on those grounds alone (of course) and thus do we enter, however reluctantly, into the conditions of our own redundancy.

You can check out anytime you want, but you will never get a job there.

As usual, I’m not necessarily against these developments, I’m just stunned that the social and economic ramifications aren’t getting more attention.


Categories: AI, Robots, Work

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