Wal-Mart deploys self-checkout systems

I went to Wal-Mart tonight, and our local store in Cary, NC has four brand new self-checkout aisles installed and operational. This is the first time I have seen self-checkout systems in a Wal-Mart.

Now that America's largest retailer is using them, expect every other retail chain and supermarket to follow Wal-Mart's lead. Self-checkout aisles will spread as rapidly as automated gas pumps and ATMs did. Right now, self-checkout is the exception. Soon it will be the norm. Perhaps one million retail employees (especially cashiers in grocery stores, because many of them still have decent pay and benefits) will be out of work over the next three to five years.

The important questions are:
  1. What new jobs will the economy create to absorb these jobs that are lost?
  2. How much will those new jobs pay?
  3. What will happen when the unemployed cashiers collide with the unemployed factory workers in the unemployment office? Or with the unemployed IT workers and other off-shored employees?
Welcome to the Robotic Nation.

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