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The Rise of the Robot Employee

Our menial jobs are going to be filled by intelligent machines.

by
Bonnie Ramthun

Bio

April 8, 2014 - 3:00 pm
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President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)

Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?

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Top Rated Comments   
Here's a few thoughts:

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

You forgot that robots don't hang out with their friends in the parking lot after their shift smoking cigarettes, cursing and scaring away families. Robots don't forget to wash their hands. Robots don't get bad attitudes and demand higher wages while making you look bad and scaring away customers. Robots don't ditch work and then sue you when you fire them for it.

Bonnie, your first two examples aren't great ones, because in each case you still require a human operator. Sure, there are some purely automated vacuums out there, but they aren't very versatile and they're still expensive. The dishwasher will never load itself.

There was an article recently (perhaps here at PJM) that talked about a new robot that can freshly slice all the ingredients for a burger, cook and assemble a burger, and clean itself. The machine can put out something like 360 burgers an hour. That's a burger per second.

We've had fast food for several decades. We've had automation for several decades. Only now are fast food players like McDonalds even considering replacing low-wage workers with this level of automation. Why? Because it is now that the culture has devolved to this point. When the dolts working for McDonalds walk outside to stand with union thugs and demand $15/hr, those dolts are going to find themselves without jobs. The union thugs? They already have good jobs, riding in buses around the country to professionally protest outside of restaurants.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?"

I hope so. I really, really, really hope so.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question becomes: would we want to go back to a time before these innovations? Would we want a world without washing machines and vacuum cleaners? How much would today's telephone networks cost consumers if they were manned instead of computerized? What effects would that have on the broader economy and our quality of life?

Fears of a robot dominated tomorrow fade when we look back objectively upon the technology of yesteryear. Tomorrow will be brighter, faster, and more efficient.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
the best thing about robot workers is you know they won't skip out on work to go and destroy the Wisconsin or Indiana state house
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Loved the article, but I absolutely loved the comments. OMG, Bonnie, you have amazingly fun followers. worth checking in often, for sure!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
And what about drones? We no longer have to commit soldiers to hazardous situations unless its absolutely necessary. If a drone gets shot down, the "pilot" is safe in a rear detachment and another drone is sent up in its place.
http://mashable.com/2014/04/10/crazy-drones/
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Robots involve substantial capital, and regular maintenance. I generally agree with the idea, but if you want to see robots taking over the really awful jobs, stop illegal immigration and let rising wages both encourage robot replacements as well as make unskilled workers less dependent on government assistance.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
People put themselves into a position to be replaced by robots or software systems. If you allow yourself to stagnate in your job by not constantly improving your knowledge to exceed what machines and software can do then you will eventually be replaced by them.

The real problem is that more and more people are getting less and less education. These people will become an underclass who are useless to society once robots and software are doing all the menial work. What happens next will be revolution as they rage against the machine. If they win, the result will be another dark age in human progress as they make laws to ban technology and throw the engineers and scientists in jail for crimes against humanity.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now, are these robots legal robots or illegal robots? Will our native robots have to contend with unfair competition from more foreign than our foreign robot workers? Will Mexican robots do the work that American robots will not do?

Fanciful? Not in our absurd world.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Our menial jobs are going to be filled by intelligent machines."

Questions: what to do with un-intelligent humans? Will they evolve out of the human species, or will they thrive and humans become stupider and stupider?

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Once upon a time some decades ago, I remember reading a science fiction story where the un-intellligent female humans were used a breeding stock. As I remember the story, all these human un-intelligent females did was lie about all day gestating new humans. They weren't required to work, they weren't required to know how to read or to add, they weren't required to do anything except stay healthy for nine months, produce a baby, and then start the process all over again, after said baby was taken away to be raised by their betters, the males and females who were educated, who had jobs and who didn't want to take the time to do the baby-making thing themselves.

I don't remember what the un-intelligent males in this scenario did. But I'm pretty sure they weren't used as studs for the dumb females.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Will our intelligent machines be able to figure out that they can apply for benefits and not have to work?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The guys (and gals) who got displaced from the "liveable" minimum-wage job are not going to be the ones who install, program, or repair those robots. Those new jobs will require highly-skilled workers, who have probably a minimum of two years of specialized training, plus relevant experience.

The progressive answer to the problem will ever-higher minimum wage regulations, possibly combined with "feather-bedding" workplace rules (the burger-flipper can't be fired, even though all he does is sit around and watch the robot do his former job).

It will just continue to get uglier and uglier.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
This article begs for the question in people's subconscious mind, why do we need immigrants? What will we do when we have a permanent menial class which includes an American born group of all races? What is this nation going to do with illegal alliens? There are more questions than answers to these pesky problems.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
We need immigrants to provide votes for Democrats and cheap labor for Republicans.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Here's a few thoughts:

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

You forgot that robots don't hang out with their friends in the parking lot after their shift smoking cigarettes, cursing and scaring away families. Robots don't forget to wash their hands. Robots don't get bad attitudes and demand higher wages while making you look bad and scaring away customers. Robots don't ditch work and then sue you when you fire them for it.

Bonnie, your first two examples aren't great ones, because in each case you still require a human operator. Sure, there are some purely automated vacuums out there, but they aren't very versatile and they're still expensive. The dishwasher will never load itself.

There was an article recently (perhaps here at PJM) that talked about a new robot that can freshly slice all the ingredients for a burger, cook and assemble a burger, and clean itself. The machine can put out something like 360 burgers an hour. That's a burger per second.

We've had fast food for several decades. We've had automation for several decades. Only now are fast food players like McDonalds even considering replacing low-wage workers with this level of automation. Why? Because it is now that the culture has devolved to this point. When the dolts working for McDonalds walk outside to stand with union thugs and demand $15/hr, those dolts are going to find themselves without jobs. The union thugs? They already have good jobs, riding in buses around the country to professionally protest outside of restaurants.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Bonnie referenced the article you mentioned. It's the "Momentum Machines" like above...
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Per 10 seconds.

In other news robots do math.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oops, 360 burgers / 60 minutes = 60 burgers per minute

60 burgers / 60 seconds = 1 burgers per second

My original number (360) is probably incorrect, but both of us suxx0rz at teh maths.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
360/60 = 36/6, after the factor of 10 is cancelled. 36/6 is 6 burgers per minute, or 1 every 10 seconds. Of course, I got my math skills at a 4 year college, so maybe that's part of it, heh.
Oh well, you updated while I had the window open, so I can't even poke some fun, Jaycen.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh noes. I can't even get my correction correct. Good lord.

360 burgers per hour / 60 minutes = 6 burgers per minute

6 burgers per minute / 60 seconds = 1 burger per 10 seconds

Thanks, TomDPerkins.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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