People are starting to see more and more self-checkouts in shops. Self-checkouts cater to customers rather than an employee. Many big scale markets including E-Mart and Lotte Mart have started to set up self-checkouts. Because of their convenience, more and more customers are using them, and stores are increasing their number to meet demands. Fast-food establishments such as McDonalds and Lotteria have already added kiosks to meet the needs of consumers. While some agree with the spread of these self-checkouts, insisting that the system is convenient and fast, others dislike the system claiming it is difficult to use and operate. As their usage is only expected to increase, voices surrounding possible problems including unemployment have started to appear. SMT presents two Sookmyungians’ opinions on the issue.
The Spread of Self-Checkouts Should Be Prohibited
Department of Social Psychology ’19
Advances in technology have brought about changes in people’s lives. One of them is the self-checkout system, which is easily seen everywhere. The number of self-checkouts has soared recently, and we are no longer surprised to see them. For instance, many restaurants have placed kiosks at their front entrances so that customers can make and pay without waiting to be served. Many people claim they are very efficient because of the shortened time taken to order and pay. Also, they claim they are very easy to use. However, the self-checkouts are not without problems. They are not convenient for older people who find them difficult to use. Older people are unfamiliar with the system and as such, they find ordering and paying hard. In fact, some older people simply leave establishments without buying products because they cannot figure out the self-checkout system. Besides senior citizens, some disabled people are also complaining about them. Korea needs to think of all citizens and not leave out senior citizens and the disabled who are also important customers. There needs to be a system in place that benefits all, a system that allows for both self-checkouts and staff at self-checkouts. Self-checkouts also bring about unemployment. If an establishment were to replace all staff with self-checkout machines, employees would lose their jobs. Many part-time workers rely on cashiering jobs to earn money, so the spread of self-checkouts takes their jobs. The unemployment rate will continue to rise, which will have a negative effect on society. I do not deny there are benefits to self-checkouts and I’m not calling for them all to vanish from establishments completely. However, I think a balance is needed. We need to keep what is operating now, but I do not agree with the spread of more self-checkouts. To sum up, to reduce difficulties faced by customers, who do not understand self-checkouts, and to ensure no loss of jobs for staff at checkouts, self-checkouts should not rise in numbers anymore.
Department of TESL ’19
Thinking about the prohibition of self-checkouts, the first thing I consider is Luddites. The Luddite riots were organized by English textile workers. Rioters wanted to destroy textile machinery in a “fraudulent and deceitful manner” because they believed that the surge of machine usage would devalue the worth of human labor. Nonetheless, the Industrial Revolution that started in the 18th Century has now evolved to include robotics, virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI). Numerous stores in the US have also incorporated self-checkouts, from Wal-Mart to CVS. Amazon Go does not require checkout procedures because it uses the same technology found in self-driving cars, sensor fusion, and computer vision to help users make payments. The biggest reason corporations are joining this new trend is efficiency. According to a Vox article, new research suggests Amazon’s cashier-less Go stores could be a 4 billion dollars business by 2021. There is definitely a concern that jobs could be lost, which leads to economic inequality and later a financial crisis. However, on the other hand, the rise in revenue drives and expands the FinTech (Financial Technology) industry. In other words, self-checkouts are only possible through many people behind this procedure, just like the first Industrial Revolution that started in 1760. Society cannot afford to ignore technological evolution. Society needs to embrace what is to come and look at technology as a way of enhancing life. For instance, the technology that benefits both companies and individuals in society by offering free education is one such way to embrace change. People who once held jobs such as cashiers would benefit from new job training, which decreases education inequality. Companies would then profit from having more qualified employees working in other advanced fields in their companies. At the end of the day, what matters is that everyone endeavors to bring about a better vision for the new era. That is to say, a cashier-less society may be the spark that leads to more advanced and better technological developments in the future.