Summary of Are China’s Automated Supermarkets Taking Away Job Opportunities Or Creating Innovative Jobs?

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Are China’s Automated Supermarkets Taking Away Job Opportunities Or Creating Innovative Jobs? summary
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When Alibaba opened its first automated supermarket in China in July 2017, some experts were optimistic about artificial intelligence developments, while others forecast the doom of the many workers who would lose their jobs to machines in the near future. Liu Yuanju, a researcher at the SIFL Institute – an organization that aims to promote policies in support of the central role of the market economy – shares a balanced view in this Caixin article, presenting the pros and cons of automated supermarkets. He suggests the Chinese government should retrain workers to adapt to changes caused by disruptive technology. getAbstract recommends Liu’s analysis to those interested in automated supermarkets’ impact on China’s workforce.

About the Author

Liu Yuanju is a researcher at SIFL Institute, a Shanghai-based nonprofit research center that specializes in finance, legal and economic research.



Automated supermarkets in China will become increasingly common in the near future, as the country’s demographic changes raise labor costs. Grocery clerks are nowhere in sight at these new supermarkets, where consumers use mobile payment to check out items at counters. The emerging new technology has received a lot of attention from the Chinese government and has appeared in the civil service exam, where the standard answer views artificial intelligence (AI) technology as a double-edged sword that could “threaten the survival” of jobs in related businesses.

However, the history of technology developments shows that new technologies often destroy careers while creating new opportunities in other fields. The invention of steam engines created widespread panic at the time because it replaced labor-intensive jobs. In retrospect, machinery ...