Artificial Intelligence: a term that is foreign to most, but for all, it is the future of our society. Here is a sight that many can relate to in our unique time: it has been ten months since the start of the coronavirus, but it has felt like a millennium. You have been cooped up in your home, awaiting any news that can liberate you from quarantine. As you scroll endlessly searching for a sliver of hope with a downtrend in COVID-19 cases, you stumble upon something slightly more intriguing. A vaccine. A special type of vaccine, known as an mRNA vaccine, can be administered to billions of citizens around the globe, radically decreasing the number of cases and drastically increasing immunity to the disease. Sounds amazing, but there is one question that tends to skip everyone’s mind: How will this vaccine be created to suit billions of people?

The simple answer is, with the assistance of robotics and artificial intelligence. In order to save humanity, we will need the tireless efforts of artificial intelligence, as vaccine creation and distribution can only be possible with robotic assistance. Think about it like this. In order to make the vaccines on a mass-produced scale, companies such as Pfizer and Moderna would need to hire hundreds of thousands of employees.

These employees can only work a maximum of eight hours, as anything over that amount will violate labor laws. Simply put, at this rate, it will take too long! People around the globe are dying from this fatal disease, and action needs to be taken at the fastest pace. As a result, robots become crucial. Robotic help is not limited to an eight hour day, as machinery does not have labor laws nor tiring muscles. They can work 24/7, allowing citizens to be able to get the vaccine as soon as possible and prevent more deaths. Therefore, many companies that are responsible for the distribution of vaccines have implemented robotic help to be able to target this dire issue effectively. However, a seemingly underreported area that could tremendously benefit from the integration of robotics and artificial intelligence would be the retail industry.

When you logically think about it, you might be wondering, huh? How would one be able to obtain proper information from artificial intelligence? With that point in mind, I would beg to differ that artificial intelligence can be even more effective than having human employees in retail stores. Picture this: you are on a time crunch, and you are looking for an item in a store. Not being able to find the item, you desperately search for an employee to ask, but there is no employee in sight. Frustrated, you spend hours searching for the item, only to discover that the store does not even carry the item. Unfortunately, this is a rather common aspect of retail shopping, and it can be fixed with robotic assistance.

For example, if a Consumer Database Monitor (CDM) were placed throughout a store that had every item in its database, consumers could simply stop by and search for the item they were looking for. No incessant need to search for an employee. In addition, the CDM could have a sensor that if a customer desired for more information about the product, such as the price, material, or availability, all they would need to do is hold the product up to the sensor and the CDM would search its database for similar results. This way, if an item did not have its price label, all the customer would need to do is find a local CDM. Then you might ask: If there are no attendants present, how will CDM prevent stealing?

Truth is, the CDM cannot prevent theft, as any regular human being could not either. However, the CDM that are set up around the store can have facial recognition technology, as seen with Apple’s iPhone, so it will note all those that are passing by the store. This will encourage shoppers to not steal as their information has been noted at the second they entered the store. There will always be the regular detectors that every store has, so if someone walks out of the store with a product in hand, authorities will be immediately alerted.

In addition, the CDM can be used as a manual check out place. With hundreds of CDM’s implemented in the larger stores, consumers will not need to wait in those long, pesky lines. As soon as they are done finding all of their products, they simply head to the closest CDM, check out, and pay. However, the looming question to address is, “What impact will this have on employment?” At first, you might presume that millions of Americans will lose their jobs and the unemployment level will shoot up. However, the opposite is true.

Wherever Artificial Intelligence operates, there must be humans to operate and regulate it. As a result, the CDM will create many more jobs that are not even in existence currently. For example, whenever a CDM is not working properly, there will be a branch of jobs known as “CDM Repair” who are citizens designated to fixing these machines throughout a store. Plus, there will be a new branch of job employment who derive the code and series of algorithms into the machine in order for the CDM to be able to provide the consumer with the proper information.

Along with repairing, the creation of the product is crucial as well. Manufacturing these products will create a plethora of jobs, allowing those in retail to adjust to other areas of interest. A critique might ask, “Won’t all of this cost much more money than hiring humans?” Initially, it will. However, on a long-term basis, it will drastically cut costs for store operators. CDM’s will need to be paid to install and maintain, in case of any destruction, but they do not need to be paid for on an hourly basis. Store operators will have to pay a one-time fee in order to purchase all of the CDM, plus any maintenance that is required, but that is all.

Whereas with employees, they all need to be accommodated on an hourly basis, along with an hour-long break and worker risk compensation. For instance, if a worker gets hurt on the job, the company will have to provide them paid leave and hire another employee, which will be double the costs. Plus, human workers can have drama issues, trouble working together, or other humane problems that can inhibit the quality of work that is performed at the store.

As a result, having artificial intelligence in the form of Consumer Database Monitors is much more efficient than hiring a human employee. All in all, the Computer Database Monitor, designed to provide an easier life for consumers around the globe, will alter the world we live in. Alleviating the frustration from either helplessly searching for an employee or never being aware of the price of a product, the CDM will provide this information in an accessible manner that is detailed and thorough.

Foremost, picture this final scenario: Your boss requests you to pick up a red sweater for her for a Christmas party, which is in 15 minutes. Once you arrive at the 180,000 square foot store, you begin to panic, realizing that you have no idea where the clothing section is, let alone a red sweater. Instead of anxiously searching for an employee, you see a sign that indicates where one CDM is. Quickly running to the CDM, you type in “Red Christmas Sweater.” It spits an image out at you, and it tells you the precise location. You run to that aisle, pick it up, and head back to the CDM.

You hold it up to the scanner, and it states, “$29.99.” You pull out your credit card and the CDM scans it in a few seconds, and you return to your workplace. Your boss is happy, and your happy because your boss is happy. This is the future of the retail industry.

Author's Bio: 

I am a computer science professor. Being a tech enthusiast I keep close tabs on trends and will be glad to share and discuss the latest wrapups in the field with the community.