Tilly Comments on Rise of Cleaning Robots

Urban Planning Professor Chris Tilly spoke to the Washington Post about the rapid spread of cleaning robots. Many hospitals, airports and other businesses are investing in cleaning robots that use ultraviolet light to disinfect rooms faster and more thoroughly than most human workers. The robots also help maintain social distancing standards. Some robots are used in tandem with human workers to speed up the cleaning process, but many working-class people face heightened risks of losing their jobs due to increasing automation. Tilly noted that this type of Big Tech adoption could disproportionately affect women and people of color, who hold retail and custodial jobs in greater numbers. However, he added that it does take a fair amount of time to train robots, making some hesitant to invest in the new technology. In some cases, robots were still struggling to learn shelf inventory after being in stores for nearly a year.

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