resulting in a higher natural rate of unemployment.?
?The Future of Employment (Oxford, 2013)
Stardom a non-factor in job retention
Better make a little more room on the Oxford study that shows 47 percent of America?s occupations falling prey to robots and computers within the next 20 years.
Right in there among the jobs to be eliminated, like library technicians, data entry keyers and telemarketers, should now go a new listing for Hollywood stars. Yes, even Hollywood?s brightest luminaries are no longer immune from losing a job to a robot.
Oscar-winning George Clooney is just such a case.
And robots, well, they?ve just one-upped themselves, leaping from being only fit for dull, dirty and dangerous jobs to the ranks of the glamorous like star promoter for Nestle?s Nespresso line of coffee makers; a job formerly held by the aforementioned George Clooney. Clooney, in representing the brand since 2006, has reportedly earned upwards of $40 million from Nestle .
To the literally millions of Nespresso Club Members worldwide, Clooney has been the most suave Nespresso drinker on the planet for seven years. Until now.
The Oscar-winning Hollywood star?s job now seems to be squarely in the plastic mitts of a new Nespresso brand presenter from SoftBank and Aldebaran Robotics: the 61-lbs, 4-foot tall, multi-lingual, consumer robot named Pepper.
Although Clooney is more attractive, better spoken, certainly has better hair, has lips and taste buds (Pepper has neither) for enjoying an exquisite cup of Joe, and has a much longer battery life than the newcomer (Pepper needs recharging every 17 hours), Pepper works far below Hollywood scale, never needs makeup, never takes a break (except to recharge) and is always friendly and pleasant to speak with 24×7.
Unfortunately for the debonair film star, reports Stuart Smith in More About Advertising: “The writing has been in the froth for poor old George for some time now. New senior personnel at Nestle, new agency, new ideas: and George has been at it for seven years now, making his brand of charm a tad tired.?
Seems that even having visited Costa Rican farmers, as Clooney did three years ago with Nespresso corporate types to see first-hand the company’s coffee farmers, didn’t help a jot to stave off his unemployment from Nespresso. Nestle can rest assured that Pepper will never seek a jaunt to Costa Rica to investigate sustainability concerns. Reliable sources say that Pepper has no concerns over anything, making him a completely safe ?spokes-robot? for the brand.
PCR added to the robot coup details that Nestle has developed a campaign that will see 1,000 stores across Japan have their own Pepper robot, ?which its makers claim can meet customers and answer their questions.? All of which is a major stumbling block for a mere mortal.
A joint statement from Nestle and Softbank confirmed how Pepper will be deployed and why, saying in brief, the robot will help them to ?discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper.
Although Pepper can?t smell the coffee and was born without taste buds, he, times 1,000 clones of himself, will be able to gather a lot of data?Big Data!?for Nestle to noodle over the significance of at powwows with its ad agency.
Aldebaran, the developer of the technology for Pepper, admits that its robot can understand only 80 percent of conversations. Fortunately for Nestle?s Big Data aspirations there may be an algorithm that accounts for the missing 20 percent. If not, Clooney can take comfort in the fact that he, being a human, can readily understand all 100 percent of a customer?s conversation, only if the exchange takes place in English. Pepper, able to speak four languages (English, Japanese, French, Spanish) has a bit of an upper hand gathering Big Data about the cultural differences of coffee drinkers.
Smith also claims that there has long been a public movement afoot to remove Clooney from the lucrative endorsement gig. ?Early on,? writes Smith, ?Clooney ? who is as well known for his do-goodist persona as his acting and directing ? was brought to book by the Nestle boycott crowd. They pointed out, in no uncertain terms, the hypocrisy of Clooney?s stance in the film Michael Clayton, where he plays a maverick lawyer taking on an, er, sinister international corporation; and his simultaneous commercial endorsement of Nestle, cynical purveyor of baby-milk formula in Third World countries where mothers have insufficient access to clean water. George?s response? I thought I was just earning a living.?
Nestle will never have to worry about Pepper getting into such mischief with the public. He?s incapable of causing or participating in mischief. In fact, born without a personality, Pepper will have great difficulty speaking about anything other than coffee, Nespresso, and Nestle.
However benign Pepper seems and probably is, there are those that hate him just for being a robot and for having snatched away a human job. The Neo-Luddite Manifesto (from the Second Luddite Congress 1996) espouses resistance against such incursions on human employment.
Although Clooney will easily survive the job scare and the Nestle snub, Hollywood has been put on notice that no job is safe from robots, even if you’ve won an Academy Award.