Skip to comments.The Robots Are Coming, And They Are Replacing Warehouse Workers And Fast Food Employees
Posted on 05/25/2014 5:49:16 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
There are already more than 101 million working age Americans that are not employed and 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that has a job. So what in the world are we going to do when robots start taking millions upon millions more of our jobs? Thanks to technology, the balance of power between employers and workers in this country is shifting dramatically in favor of the employers. These days, many employers are wondering why they are dealing with so many human worker "headaches" when they can just use technology to get the same tasks done instead. When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems. Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late, they never waste time on the Internet and they always do what you tell them to do. In addition, robotic technology has advanced to the point where it is actually cheaper to buy robots than it is to hire humans for a vast variety of different tasks. From the standpoint of societal efficiency, this is a good thing. But what happens when robots are able to do just about everything less expensively and more efficiently than humans can? Where will our jobs come from?
And this is not something that is coming at some point in "the future".
This is already happening.
According to CNN, there will be 10,000 robots working to fulfill customer orders in Amazon.com warehouses by the end of 2014...
Amazon will be using 10,000 robots in its warehouses by the end of the year.
CEO Jeff Bezos told investors at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that he expects to significantly increase the number of robots used to fulfill customer orders.
Don't get me wrong - I absolutely love Amazon. And if robots can get me my stuff faster and less expensively that sounds great.
But what if everyone starts using these kinds of robots?
What will that do to warehouse jobs?
PC World has just done a report on a new warehouse robot known as "UBR-1". This robot is intended to perform tasks "normally done by human workers"...
The UBR-1 is a 4-foot tall, one-armed robot that could make warehouses and factories more efficient by performing tasks normally done by human workers.
Unlike the industrial robots widely used in manufacturing todayusually large machines isolated from people for safety reasonsthis robot can work alongside humans or autonomously in a workspace filled with people.
This little robot costs $50,000, and it can work all day and all night. It just needs a battery change every once in a while. The creators of this robot envision it performing a vast array of different tasks...
We see the robot as doing tasks, they could be dull, they could be dirty, they could be dangerous and doing them repetitively all day in a light manufacturing environment, said Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics CEO and co-founder. Those tasks include stocking shelves, picking up objects and assembling parts.
The UBR-1 isnt designed for small component assembly, but it can manipulate objects as small as dice or a Lego piece, Wise said. Unbounded Robotics is targeting companies that want some automation to speed up their manufacturing process, but cant afford to fully automate their businesses.
To many people this may sound very exciting.
But what if a robot like that took your job?
Would it be exciting then?
Of course you can't outlaw robots. And you can't force companies to hire human workers.
But we could potentially have major problems in our society as jobs at the low end of the wage scale quickly disappear.
According to CNN, restaurants all over the nation are going to automated service, and a recent University of Oxford study concluded that there is a 92 percent chance that most fast food jobs will be automated in the coming years...
Panera Bread is the latest chain to introduce automated service, announcing last month that it plans to bring self-service ordering kiosks as well as a mobile ordering option to all its locations within the next three years. The news follows moves from Chili's and Applebee's to place tablets on their tables, allowing diners to order and pay without interacting with human wait staff at all.
Panera, which spent $42 million developing its new system, claims it isn't planning any job cuts as a result of the technology, but some analysts see this kind of shift as unavoidable for the industry.
In a widely cited paper released last year, University of Oxford researchers estimated that there is a 92% chance that fast-food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades.
It is being projected that other types of jobs will soon be automated as well...
Delivery drivers could be replaced en masse by self-driving cars, which are likely to hit the market within a decade or two, or even drones. In food preparation, there are start-ups offering robots for bartending and gourmet hamburger preparation. A food processing company in Spain now uses robots to inspect heads of lettuce on a conveyor belt, throwing out those that don't meet company standards, the Oxford researchers report.
Could you imagine such a world?
When self-driving vehicles take over, what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living?
Our planet is changing at a pace that is almost inconceivable.
Over the past decade, the big threat to our jobs has been workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
But now even those workers are having their jobs taken away by robots. For example, just check out what is happening in China...
Foxconn has been planning to buy 1 million robots to replace human workers and it looks like that change, albeit gradual, is about to start.
The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot about three times a workers average salary and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?
Perhaps you think that your job could never be affected because you do something that requires a "human touch" like caring for the elderly.
Well, according to Reuters, robots are moving into that arena as well...
Imagine you're 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you're widowed. You have a live-in aide - but it's not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.
And robots are even threatening extremely skilled professions such as doctors. For instance, just check out this excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled "Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly"...
Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies -- not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctors offices for $150 per procedure -- cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.
And this is just the beginning. In a previous article, I discussed the groundbreaking study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University which came to the conclusion that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.
That is crazy.
What will the middle class do as their jobs are taken away?
The world that we live in is becoming a radically different place than the one that we grew up in.
The robots are coming, and they are going to take millions of our jobs.
If the middle class is smart (not necessarily a given), it will start taking classes on the arduino, the raspberry pi, and SCADA. There will still be quite a number of jobs, as robotic engineers and support techs.
a recent University of Oxford study concluded that there is a 92 percent chance that most fast food jobs will be automated in the coming years...
So let me get this straight:
1. There was a study at Oxford
2. It's conclusions can be applied to "most" (non-quantified) fast food jobs
3. The time-frame for its prediction is "the coming years" (non-quantified)
4. It concludes with an accuracy of "92 percent"
So we have an NON-QUANTIFIED prediction of an event to take place in an NON-QUANTIFIED period of time with an accuracy of EXACTLY 92 PERCENT!
Wow. That's pretty freaking good.
My only question is, why did they limit themselves?
Why not claim 93 PERCENT???
Shows you how freaking ridiculous "studies" can be... along with the articles that uncritically report them.
Are they unionized? Will they be allowed to vote? If both are true we are doomed.
Luddites of the world UNITE!
Just yesterday I was thinking about all of the entry level jobs that have disappeared since I was a boy. Other than those of you who live in states which ban self-pumped gas stations, has anyone had their gas pumped, oil & tire pressure checked & windshield washed lately?
Those evil Caterpillar and Mack dump truck companies have taken all the jobs of those who used to move dirt in wheel barrows or with large baskets carried on their heads.
Yellow Cab totally obliterated the rickshaw pullers in the USA!
Supermarkets doomed the milkman.
Radio and the printing press sent all of the town criers to the poorhouse.
Elevators made unemployed destitutes of all those folks who used to sit on their stools on every 10th floor stair landing of high rise buildings, ready to give CPR & oxygen to exhausted climbers! /s
Oh, the Huge Manatee!
The political parties have been programming people to vote a certain way for ages.
If you think we have unemployment now, just wait until robots take over and occupy (former) American jobs!
Hey, where is my good friend CNN, the “Bring Back American Jobs” fellow...
I think this is the right course and it is also the right course for America. The problem is in the long run political rather than technological because robots will undeniably put lower skilled people out of work even as it creates high paying jobs for high skilled innovators. The Democrat party, and increasingly the Republican Party, will demagogue this situation and insist that the government solve these dislocations. The unintended consequences resulting will no doubt impose a very heavy burden on the economy and take a severe toll on individual liberty.
Even worse, the Democrat party is preparing to flood our country with tens of millions of illiterate and unskilled workers who will now have to compete not just with Americans for jobs but with American robots for jobs. If the dislocations becomes severe enough we have the raw tinder for spontaneous combustion, a situation desirable to anyone who seeks to fundamentally transform America.
For conservatives the challenge will be to find a way to maintain opportunity in an increasingly complex and technologically challenging world for our aging population and for our broader society with an utterly failed educational system. Wealth will be created by machines and distributed according to capital and technical know-how, leaving millions adrift. If we do not want the government to take over the distribution of those profits, we better come up with some creative solutions that preserve freedom, give the technologically challenged a stake in the political system without making them dependent, yet leaving undisturbed incentives for the creative to do their thing.
My wife is working on a paper at the moment and our multifunction printer just kicked out a page.
Computerized printers in every office & home!
Typists, scribes, fountain pen repairmen! Gone, vanished, DOOMED!
Speaking of fountain pens, what about quill pens? If you tried to carry a “pen” knife is many locations you would be arrested as a a weapons carrying homicidal maniac. PETA or the USDA or the EPA or OSHA have probably banned snatching high quality quill feathers from non-free-range geese, to boot!
I gladly would be waiting for robotics to take over in the kitchens and cook areas of fast food joints. At least a robot won’t spit in your food.
This has actually been going on for hundreds of years. It’s just accelerating a bit now.
Society will adjust...
Hmmm, perhaps robot repair or computer programming.
Eliminate the minimum wage.
This little snippet tells all there is you need to know about this article. What ignorant crap.
The key is not worrying about or outlawing robots, the key is to change bloated, bureaucratic regulations and excessive taxation that make it difficult or impossible to have competitive industry and free enterprise in this country.
Make it easier for people to make money in industry, and the employment issues will improve.
Instead, you get people sniveling that the employers have the upper hand on employees because they employee can be replaced by a robot.
In my opinion, the onus is on the worker to provide value to the employer, not on the employer to provide a job, pay and benefits. In a well run business, if a worker provides value to their employer, they should (and often are) compensated.
What better definition of a robot is there?
It means WE DONT NEED TO IMPORT MILLIONS of cheap laborers from Mexico. Immigration policy should be designed to benefit Americans, not illegals, and not the Chamber of Commerce.
What will be a “marketable” skill in the future? 92% of fast food jobs is an interesting prediction, but WORTHLESS without a time frame. Doing the market analysis is a capital/labor decision, with price, demand and supply as the factors.
What NO ONE wants to deal with is we live in interesting times. If workers can be replaced by robots, then there are downward market pressures on their market skills. I may like the interaction between myself and the grocery checker, but how much extra will I pay for that? I may like having Johnny Cab to talk to, but will I hire someone’s car out to help them outset the cost through my Tablet app?
Are we seeing the end of capitalism as the source of how we allocate goods and services? If very few have marketable skills, and the robots services are really cheap, how will the allocation of goods and services happen? Communism? Slave economy? Some new and unimaginable?
Google car is the better example. When no one is driving a car, and that drops off as a marketable skill what percentage of the population will lose their source of living...livelihood? When no one would think of using a human surgeon...
The economics is where the real decisions will be make. Whether our current kleptocracy likes it or not, those decisions will be made by the market.
Gives a whole new meaning to the term, "entry level job."
Now, that is funny. We have a group of uneducated, refused to be educated, demanding that businesses should pay them more money that what they are worth, and businesses are just saying: “NOPE, WE’LL JUST HIRE OURSEVES SOME ROBOTS, TO DO THE JOB FOR NOTHING”. Just think about it. No head aches, trying to mollify all these ignorant people. No more outside signs saying “EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK”. Or “WE WANT $25/HR. FOR DOING NOTHING”.
So what in the world are we going to do when robots start taking millions upon millions more of our jobs?
Eliminate the minimum wage.
More likely they will institute a Guaranteed Income subsidy, a Guaranteed Housing subsidy and a Guaranteed Nutritional subsidy for everyone.
The technologically adept will not be safe as newer models of robots will self-diagnose and self-repair or just turn themselves in to the factory for upgrades performed by other robots. One engineer will be able to entirely oversee a large operation, with help from robotic techs.
AIs could eventually take over the creative programming and perhaps even the political and legal fields. Who knows? One day all our music, drama and literature could be composed by artificial intelligences and the performing arts will utilize digital performers.
The paradigm will change. That’s been the truth forever. This may be the impetus for Pelosi’s remarks about how everyone can now become an artist or a poet or whatever. She likely is already looking at machines to replace the illegals working in her families’ businesses.
I have spent a few minutes trying to think of present endeavors/jobs that cannot be done by a sufficiently intelligent and dexterous robot. Not only can’t I think of one, I can see leased personal helpers available to everyone for the same cost as we pay for communication and entertainment today. I can even see how this could be incorporated into whatever Guaranteed Subsidy program eventually emerges.
Boredom will be the scourge of this sort of future.
“When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems.”
And you create a whole new set of problems that must be dealt with.
“Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late”
But when they do somebody has to fix or replace them.
If I were a young man, I believe I would be looking at new opportunities in the field of robotics and getting an education or experience with such.
But then again, don’t we need more neighbourhood activists, not scientists and engineers :}).
Crazy question just crossed my mind, will my robotic bodyguard have to have a gun permit and be licensed to kill?
The word robota means literally "corvée", "serf labor", and figuratively "drudgery" or "hard work" in Czech and also (more general) "work", "labor" in many Slavic languages (e.g.: Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Polish, Macedonian, Ukrainian, archaic Czech). Traditionally the robota was the work period a serf (corvée) had to give for his lord, typically 6 months of the year. The origin of the word is the Old Church Slavonic (Old Bulgarian) rabota "servitude" ("work" in contemporary Bulgarian and Russian), which in turn comes from the Proto-Indo-European root *orbh-. Robot is cognate with the German root Arbeit (work).
The mechanical devices that perform work are slaves and they will help the Political Elite re-institute a feudal system in which most humans are serfs.
You forgot travel agents and telephone operators.
“Instead, you get people sniveling that the employers have the upper hand on employees because they employee can be replaced by a robot.”
The employer never has the upper hand unless he is granted a government sanctioned monopoly.
The day the employer gets lazy or fails to innovate and keep up, that is the day the business is headed for bankruptcy.
We will always need programmers and health care services. Robots replacing everything is a long way off.
I think we are on the same frequency. I would not like this world at all yet we are headed to it. Maybe the Amish do have some points. B-P
Habitat restoration is not a skill set easily adaptable to robots. On my property, I weed 124 plant species. I must recognize most of them in their juvenile states under vastly different settings, tangled in other plants, and lighting conditions. Extraction often involves considerable dexterity, particularly when speed is at issue. The terrain is rugged and dirty, involving remote locations far from a battery charger.
Having been doing this kind of work for 25 years, I know badly habitat restoration is needed. Our forests for the most part are overstocked and impacted with weeds. Fuels have become a hazard. Our reservoirs are filling with sediment unnecessarily. Our fisheries are degraded. Our soils are in need of rehabilitation (which is a very demanding skill set). Stream channels are incised and water infiltration and retention seriously degraded, to the point of spreading desertification across much of the West. Flooding is an increasing problem. The general productivity of the system, whether for forage or cropping, is in huge areas less than half what it once was. These are serious problems involving engineering, biochemistry, hydrology, animal and veterinary sciences, entomology, machine design, chemistry... there is so much research and development to be done that it boggles the mind, and the implementation involves every skill level and manual ability.
What we need is to get the government out of land management, for which I have developed the legal bases.
I have been an engineer in highly automated electronic manufacturing involving pick and place operations, machine vision, and locomotion. Believe me, this kind of work will not be automatable any time soon and the data collection, management, and information systems needed will dwarf anything we have now. In fact, what is needed is an enormous amount of design and manufacturing work to build the infrastructure of a mobile and low-impact semi-nomadic cohort that could operate on a self-sustaining basis for long periods. I cannot over-emphasize the impact such a "society" would have on liberty, as it is the antidote to the extreme hazards to the entire nation presented by the Agenda 21 Sustained Development racket. The left is putting a gun to the heads of urban civilization and setting them up for extermination, all to save a "Nature" about which they have deep misunderstandings.
For the most part, the "thinkers" of this world have no clue of the opportunities what I just wrote present, and are unlikely to have the tools with which to perceive them. I have researched the origins of that mentality, but even if people understood its serious misconceptions, that habit of perception is so entrenched that without serious reeducation, they will have no idea what I mean, much less the capability to envision.
An interesting and thought provoking comment. Not sure I'd agree with going back to the 70's and 80's (the sexual revolution followed by the rise of feminism) but agree that we as human's need time to catch-up to where the technology is taking us.
Robots certainly aren’t replacing as many people as illegals are.
Good. Maybe robots will get the orders correct and not demand a living wage for entry level work.
EXACTLY. When labor is too expensive, businesses will find another way, as they should.
Not a given. All you mention are on my table as ‘hobbies’, a better career having been chosen by me.
Backup is good kung fu...
The irony of the article is they already have vending machines making pizzas.
Of course burgers are just around the corner. Fast food will soon resemble a cross between a self-checkout lane and Star Trek ‘food synth’ delivery...
All the lefists did by foisting the ‘livable minimum wage’ BS argument on us was accelerate this move.
I agree. One source of employment for millions of Americans would be highway construction and repair. Limit automation there.
When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems. Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late, they never waste time on the Internet and they always do what you tell them to do.
They also DON’T earn a salary and they DON’T purchase the product you or anyone else produces. That means they are also a dead end on the Economic ‘Circle-of-life’.
Famine wouldn't be a concern. New tractors could be delivered from the factory if needed (not necessarily "free" but somewhat like an EBT card). People would be expected to work, but they'd have some purpose and control over their lives.
It wouldn't be an attractive choice for everyone, but the alternative may be to live in a high-rise, in a bad neighborhood, watch bad TV, and wait for the monthly check.
I see the vast majority of people getting two basic choices: live in the ghetto, or live on a farm. And right now, the farm choice isn't exactly available, but laws could shift to make that a viable choice. This was discussed in England in the early 20th century under the slogan "three acres and a cow". It was pushed by GK Chesterton and Hillaire Belloc under the name of Distributism --an economic system designed as Christian Economics.
I'm not saying it's flawless, but with the rise of automation, people really do have to think about "What will I do?"
Sounds like a union rally in here this morning doesn’t it?
Ever read Vonnegut’s “Player Piano”? Or Simac’s “How To”?
I think the solution can come from undoing what government has done, from dealing with some of the unintended consequences of government solutions which have distorted the culture as it has distorted the marketplace. The first place I would start is with the privatization and rationalization of the education establishment. Until we can produce an educated product that can contribute to a technological age, we are going to see a society with greater and greater distortions and ever greater and greater demands for government intervention to undo those distortions.
I believe that most of the distortions come from government and not from the marketplace but the electorate, guided by the media and academia, will no doubt blame the marketplace and turn to the government for relief.
I can imagine the job where you will make sure the robot is doing what it is supposed to. Those pesky robots will make a real mess of things if they can.
Actually, I see robot arms failing to pick up things, dropping things and going into program lock up after power surges and outages. I see cases not being sealed properly, conveyer jam ups and critical production pieces wearing out. This is automation in a world made as perfect as possible. A free roving robot will work in an ever changing, imperfect world. What kind of chaos will that robot create?
For the government this will be easy: tax corporations for each robot-hour to support welfare for idle humans.
We already have robots. They’re called Democrat voters. They vote Democrat over, and over, and over -— as long as they keep getting their government benefits that’s what they do.
What better definition of a robot is there?
Yep, I have always thought they were giving up their humanity, when they react and vote like robots.
Ultimately, the question of robots is merely a smaller subset of “How will production be distributed?” - a question at the core cause of more wars and revolutions than any religion.
When wool was more widely available thanks to power sources being harnessed to weaving machines, an early form of automation occurred - and society was roiled and eventually emerged far better off.
History does repeat, and this time can we do a better job of transitioning?
Crazy question just crossed my mind, will my robotic bodyguard have to have a gun permit and be licensed to kill?
When he saves your life don’t for get to tell him “Domo Arigato, Mr Roboto.”
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