Why Big Chains Have More Self-Checkout Machines

When you first started seeing them, maybe it was a little exciting. Especially if you were a kid, getting to beep an item over a scanner seemed fun. But self-checkout machines aren't really there to help you the customer. The bottom line is much less charming.

HuffPost reports that in 2016, sales of self-checkout terminals increased by a massive 67 percent. Manufacturers and businesses might tell you that shoppers are driving demand. No one wants to wait in line for excruciating small talk, especially if you're just buying a few items. For customers, however, the answer might be found in the business model of tech companies: If you're not paying for someone else's labor, you've been enlisted as a cost-saving measure — or a product.

Dan Schlademan is co-director of Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which advocates on behalf of employees at the world's largest private employer. "The whole industry is trying to think of how it can get rid of every human it can," he told HuffPost. "This isn't some secret."

Futurists have been warning about the effects of automation on the economy for decades. The future of work, even in offices, will likely feature a lot more AI and machine-learning than we ever thought possible. Cashier may become a job of the past before long — either that, or a prestige position, intended to provide a special experience for the customer. So if self-checkout is still fun for you, hold on to that feeling: It's going to be a lot more unremarkable in the years to come.