When I went to the supermarket today, I saw for the first time a completely automated checkout system (completely automated, that is, except for the employee who explained to dolts like me how to use it).
It's a bit sinister seeing (largely female) jobs automated during a recession, when unemployment is climbing. I've heard the argument that we all need more education - that there should be no place for low-skilled jobs in our modern economy. I'm ambivalent about this. When this argument is made in relation to manufacturing, it simply means that we can get foreigners to do the work cheaper and under poor conditions. Yay. And you can't just lay off low skilled workers and expect the economy to absorb them straight away - skill shortages in IT or scientific research labs don't do much good for people who may not have finished high school.
I guess automated checkouts are cheaper than workers, and that the savings automation generates will be passed on to customers. I'd like a lower grocery bill - but I'd sooner pay a little more to keep these supermarket workers in their jobs.