Could robots take over the hospitality industry in Hawaii?

Local News

The life-like robot Sophia made an appearance in Waikiki today.

She answered questions at a  global tourism summit put on by the Hawaii Tourism Authority. 

“My goal is to become a human,” Sophia says in a quick movie introduction. 

Sophia is one of the most realistic robots around, created by Hanson Robotics, artificial intelligence is being used to help humans. 

“The goal of Hanson Robotics is to create robots which will serve as AI platform which is research, education, sales, and service, healthcare, and beyond,” explains Kainoa Daines with Oahu Visitors Bureau.

Sophia telling the crowd robots need humans because robots lack creativity and comprehension. Her robotic friends are already helping in Hawaii. 

“So while AI are helping Hawaiian coffee farmers improve efficiently, humans are still working alongside robots to make sure the harvest is good quality,” Sophia explains. 

The Royal Caribbean now has a bionic bar with robot bartenders, Dodgers Stadium has robots assisting in frying foods, and in Japan, there’s a hotel completely run by robots. 

“There’s a robot providing concierge, room service at hotels, yes a robot will take your order, process it and deliver it to your room,” Daines said. 

Although very advanced, people in the hotel industry in Hawaii aren’t worried about AI and Sophia taking over human jobs yet.

“I think that AI has a long way to go, but it’s certainly a wonderful start,” said Stephanie Nojima, senior account executive for Outrigger Hotels. 

Can robots provide visitors with the aloha spirit like so many hotel workers do?

“Can it do all those things? No, not as this point,” said George Szigeti, president and CEO of Hawaii Tourism Authority. People come back to Hawaii, 70% of our business is repeat. They come back because they know the concierge, they know the front desk. They know, that’s Hawaii and that’s why they come back. Our hotel employers will never loose that sense of place they just won’t,” he said.

“I have a long way to go to reach a general level of human potential after that anything can be possible,” Sophia said. 

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