Skip to comments.The Minimum Wage and the Rise of the Machines: The robot future is coming
Posted on 12/06/2013 8:54:25 AM PST by SeekAndFind
After you heard President Obamas call for a hike in the minimum wage, you probably wondered the same thing I did: Was Obama sent from the future by Skynet to prepare humanity for its ultimate dominion by robots?
But just in case the question didnt occur to you, let me explain. On Tuesday, the day before Obama called for an increase in the minimum wage, the restaurant chain Applebees announced that it will install iPad-like tablets at every table. Chilis already made this move earlier this year.
With these consoles customers will be able to order their meals and pay their checks without dealing with a waiter or waitress. Both companies insist that they wont be changing their staffing levels, but if youve read any science fiction, you know thats what the masterminds of every robot takeover say: Were here to help. Were not a threat.
But the fact is, the tablets are a threat. In 2011, Annie Lowrey wrote about the burgeoning tablet-as-waiter business. She focused on a startup firm called E La Carte, which makes a table tablet called Presto. Each console goes for $100 per month. If a restaurant serves meals eight hours a day, seven days a week, it works out to 42 cents per hour per table making the Presto cheaper than even the very cheapest waiter. Moreover, no manager needs to train it, replace it if it quits, or offer it sick days. And it doesnt forget to take off the cheese, walk off for 20 minutes, or accidentally offend with small talk, either.
Applebees is using the Presto. Are we really supposed to believe that the chain will keep thousands of redundant human staffers on the payroll forever?
People dont go into business to create jobs; they go into business to make money. Labor is a cost. The more expensive labor is, the more attractive nonhuman replacements for labor become. The minimum wage makes labor more expensive. Obama knows this, which is why he so often demonizes ATM machines as job-killers.
Just a few days before Obamas big speech on income inequality, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos launched a media frenzy by revealing on 60 Minutes that hes working on the idea of having a fleet of robot drones deliver products straight to your door. I can only imagine the discomfort this caused for any UPS or FedEx delivery guys watching the show. There are still a lot of bugs to be worked out, but does anyone doubt that this is coming?
You might take solace in the fact that there will still be a need for truck drivers to deliver the really big stuff and to supply the warehouses where the drones come and go like worker bees. The only hitch is that technology for driverless cars is already here, it just hasnt been deployed yet.
None of this is necessarily bad. Machines make us a more productive society, and a more productive society is a richer society. They also free us up for more rewarding work. As Wireds Kevin Kelly notes, Two hundred years ago, 70 percent of American workers lived on the farm. Today automation has eliminated all but 1 percent of their jobs, replacing them (and their work animals) with machines.
While some hippies and agrarian poets may disagree, most people wouldnt say wed be better off if seven out of ten people still did backbreaking labor on farms.
That doesnt mean the transition to a society fueled by robot slaves wont be painful. The Luddites destroyed cotton mills for a reason. Figuring out ways to get the young and the poor into the job market really is a vital political, economic, and moral challenge. My colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, James Pethokoukis, argues that one partial solution might have to be wage subsidies that defray the costs of labor, tipping the calculus in favor of humans at least for a while.
Of course, Pethokoukis notes, wage subsidies are an on-budget, transparent cost which politicians hate while the costs of the minimum wage are shifted onto business and hidden. But the costs exist just the same.
The robot future is coming no matter what, and it will require some truly creative responses by policymakers. I dont know what those are, but Im pretty sure antiquated ideas that were bad policy 100 years ago arent going to be of much use. Maybe the answers will come when artificial intelligence finally comes online and we can replace the policymakers with machines, too.
Jonah Goldberg is the author of The Tyranny of Clichés, now on sale in paperback. Y
Robots - You can’t get any more ‘minimum wage’ than that.............
We’re gonna need robots to fix the robots too.
Because policymakers always do such a bang up job in responding to the effects of creative destruction.
Of the 203,000 jobs created last month,
41% or 83,200 jobs are in government!
Every government job is overhead on private sector.
More people in government to suck blood of hard working
people who must be productive enough to make a profit
just to stay in business.
The enemy is not robots, it is the bureaucracy and
regulations from the government.
In Boise, ID on the corner of Overland and Five Mile, there is now a motorized sign waving device that mimics a person waving around a sandwich board sign. Robots are even replacing the guys that wear foam pizza costumes and stand outside on street corners. Also, there are now automatic sky writing devices which make perfect messages. All you need is a drone to fly it. I hope the blue skies don’t get littered with ads...
I don’t think it’s a problem right now - but this has always raised a question in my mind about the future.
Given that technology always advances and it does more and more of those chores and duties for us - at some point in the future, it’s conceivable that robots could do every bit of “work” required in society. Perhaps it wouldn’t be 100% of the total “work” available, but the overwhelming majority - anyway (with a very few people to “manage” certain situations).
I wonder WHAT EXACTLY is the majority of human beings on this planet going to do in order to “earn income”.
Is this going to completely change the entire economic structure to be something completely unrecognizable to us today. It seems it would have to be something completely different - because the majority of people could not “work” to earn income - no matter what.
Oh, I can see this at McDee’s...
tap tap tap
two cheeseburgers, medium fries, diet coke, swipe, ding!
$15 / hour is about what I'd expect for a low-end tech to receive for keeping the fast food robots running. Not high-end work, mind you, but low-end, keep things on track and running, type-stuff. However - it would be more skilled than punching buttons with pictures on them, and asking "Would you like fries, too?"
It would be ridiculously easy to replace many of the behind-the-counter staff with automation. A couple of $15/hour people to keep the automation in line would be what I'd expect, and dump many - if not most - of the rest.
Dems and FF workers should be careful what they wish for.
It's too cold today for a human sign waver, anyway. (Currently 19 degrees, 8 with the wind chill)
Will the off shored manufactures use Cantonese speaking robots?
The service industry in our society has grown leaps and bounds. People don’t wipe their own butts, anymore. All while manufacturing jobs have decreased.
Automation, robots might reverse that a little. Where service jobs are replaced, manufacturing and engineering jobs will be created to design, assemble, program and maintain automated systems. They will require higher skills, they will be fewer but they will pay better.
Thank you Winston please report for reeducation. Peace is war.
Big deal. In the 60’s and 70’s the burger chain called King’s had phones at every booth.
You just picked your menu items and picked up the phone to give your order.
Somebody still has to bring it out to your table.
This is the exact some thing but updated for modern times.
When thye actually have androids coming around to your table, I’ll begin to worry.
I think that is only a matter of time. Further, I think the mechinization of fast food places is very near.
Tap, tap your order onto a screen then the computerized fry basket automatically drops into the fryer, and the cheesburger conveyer process starts and the drink machine automatically dispenses. Done. A total of 3 or so workers max at each fast food location.
“I wonder WHAT EXACTLY is the majority of human beings on this planet going to do in order to earn income.”
I dunno. If what I hear about “Agenda 21” is correct, most of them won’t be around to worry about.
We'll have those, too, though we'll also have engineers and technicians to fix them when the meta-robots can't.
But this is raising a serious question: how will we organize society when every job that can be reliably done by a person of average or below average intelligence can be done at lower cost by a robot? Yes, even picking fruit. For that matter how will we organize society when the use of robots reduces the number of such jobs significantly below the supply of people who aren't suited for other jobs requiring more intelligence? We American conservatives (and our brethren the classical liberals world wide) had better figure out an answer that preserves liberty and individual responsibility, because if we don't the answer the left and the professional managerial class will give us will look like the worst aspects of 1984 and Brave New World rolled into one (maybe with a dash of The Hunger Games thrown in for bad measure).
That question was the real point of The Bell Curve which got lost in the left tarring the book as racist.
Well ... without Agenda 21 ... the net result of the majority of people in the world unable to earn income - is basically “death” (under our present economic system).
"Repliee Q2 can mimic such human functions as blinking, breathing and speaking, with the ability to recognize and process speech and touch, and then respond in kind.:
Would you like fries with that?
When I was a kid, my grandfather took me to a restaurant where your order was delivered by a toy train.
Yeah, it's pretty low tech, but it does eliminate the server.
At that point the political battles will shift and it will be those who wish to have a government run by the incorruptible machines versus those who want the machines suppressed to maintain the current corruption/graft system.
Liberalism/socialism will not stand a chance against the irrefutable logic of an AI capable of becoming millions of times smarter than a human so watch for them to be the leaders among the tech suppressors. Their illogical laws and regulations designed to make everyone a potential criminal will need to be stricken and a more sensible system will be required with no room left for pie in the sky ideology. Congress will be made up of coders working to replace our laws with versions that we can all live with under an AI that cannot be tricked or hidden from.
Agreed. Many, if not most of the problems in this country today are a result of government interference and control.
Those unable to earn an income can at least grow food if they’re rural. Agenda 21 plans to eliminate that subsistence as well.
We supplement our income with a huge garden. We would be unable to do that in an urban environment. We would be forced to eat whatever the elites wanted us to eat.
Beware that road.
How much would the average customer be willing to tip for the mere delivery of food? My guess... not much.
We’ll still need BLADERUNNERS.
Bell Curve bump.
Remembered when it came out, and assumed it was a racism-apologist book, as it was presented by the media.
Recently bought it at a garage sale, and was surprised to find out it was nothing of the kind. The authors address the issues you mention. Every single one of the trends they identified 20 years ago have continued and accelerated.
Yet we are still not having a public discussion of how to address the issues they defined.
What the elites are doing is this. Preparing for a day when YOU and YOUR offspring are no longer necessary to the pursuit of their lives and goals.
The numerical ‘goal’ of 100M worldwide as a desirable population number hasn’t been thrown out there for effect. They really do mean that.
They already support unlimited infanticide and euthanasia. They’re just working up to the real goal. Elimination of most of US. Robotics helps them achieve that goal as painlessly (for them!) as possible.
Eliminating the excess regulations will do nothing to change that goal or the eventual achievement of that goal.
Back in the ‘70s a friend and I made a stopover in Stephenville, Newfoundland. We went to a relatively nice restaurant and when the waiter came over to see if we were ready to order, he gave us a blank form to fill out. We asked why the customer was supposed to fill it out and he just said “it’s traditional here.”
Apparently the chef was able to read our scribbling and the order came out fine. Then we had to total it. LOL.
and under the inevitable single-payer healthcare system that’s sure to come, each seat & booth will have scales/BMI readers.
“Sorry, Mr. Wilson, but you are forbidden from having the double-cheeseburger...perhaps you’d like a salad?”
I think that many people laugh that off, but they could not be more wrong.
Nature always selects the strongest to survive and reproduce. Only humans think intelligence uber alles. There are fertility, immune and other health traits (20/20 vision, good teeth, longevity, cancer risk) that will be dumped if the push for only intelligent peoples having children is put into place. Many uber intelligent people have other striking faults that should be reproductive end games. But, thanks to technology are not.
Fertility problems, for example, were widespread and extreme in my chosen field (STEM) Particularly with the women. And no, not all of us waited until we were 40 to have a kid. It was something conspicuous enough to have been a frequent topic of conversation. Of my friend group of 4 or 5 women, 2 were told they had the eggs of a 45yr old when they were 28-30. Even if they had begun having children at 16 or 18, their total number of children would have been significantly less than an ‘average’ woman who can usually bear children until their early 40’s.
Intelligence may be less genetic than epigenetic. Supplementation with micronutrients (iodine, choline, inositol, omega 3, others) during preconception and pregnancy can have a profound impact on the intelligence of the child. Many of the problems with continental Africa, for example, stem from chronic malnutrition in these and other (b complex vitamins) that stem from subsistence farming. Chicken, egg, chicken, egg.
Social darwinism is a human aspiration. Natural selection is a much more complex thing.
Yep, there was no tipping at Kings. LOL
Well, not much anyway.
There’s really nothing to stop a Soros or a Gates (both absolutely OBSESSED with population control of everyone BUT their own germlines) from buying an army of robots in 10 or 15 years and just turning them loose.
You’d never know who did it. Imagine the gunshot detection technology in use in the cities right now being used to triangulate in on a baby’s cry.
What robotics will do is let the psychopaths have complete run of all their little fantasies. What might be difficult to convince 100 people to do will be completely doable when you need only program the robots.
I’m not sure what your point is. From a Darwinian perspective, the “strongest” is the organism that reproduces itself. Nothing else.
In modern societies there is a very obvious inverse relationship between intelligence/success and reproduction.
Which of course means the “most fit” are the less intelligent and successful. For the logical conclusion of this trend, see the move Ideocracy.
Humans would still make decisions, set directions, negotiate, educate, design and build. As for jobs requiring few skills, there is a point where automation is more expensive than human labor -- unless government continues to raise wages by law.
Only government can create what you fear.
Think of what they can do now with drones. That’s frightening enough.
Only if you define ‘fit’ as intelligence only.
Beware that definition. As I said in my previous comment, Nature has a much broader definition.
It isn’t that they’re having babies in excess of their ‘place’ and therefore it’s our place to stop them from that. Or set up a system that forces them to starve. Even the bible tells the farmer not to gather up all the wheat that falls on the ground. He’s to leave it to allow the gleaners to have something too.
The problem is that intelligent people are deselecting themselves from the evolutionary island by having ‘other’ pursuits and placing greater importance on those.
And as I said in my reply to trisham, the elites view ALL of us as ‘those other people’. Robots will allow them to eliminate us with little everyday pain to their lifestyles.
Again, the problem isn’t less intelligent people having too many kids. The problem is intelligent people voluntarily deselecting themselves to pursue online gaming, sci-fi conferences, expensive high tech hobbies and just ‘me’ time to ‘think about stuff’. These habits are the true evolutionary defects.
From a long term nature standpoint, having a great immune system is far more important than being simply intelligent. Even with all the smart people working in great teaching and research institutions now, one pandemic could still wipe most of us out. And along with it, most of the smart people. Only those with a great immune system would survive.
I’m pretty sure allowing humans to select themselves and using only IQ as that selection mechanism will be a spectacularly bad idea, long term. Nature’s been doing this for billions of years. Starving the poor (by eliminating even their very ability to grow their own food by moving them forceably to the cities), and other eugenic methods are just that. Eugenics. No different than Margaret Sangar.
I get a strong vibe of that in this thread. The ‘yay robots, those stupid low iq denizens will starve to death! Special US will not because we’re smart! yay us!’.
What do you do with the majority of the population that doesn’t take care of the bots? Starve them? Feed them for free? Turn the bots on them?
In a free society, like the early Republic of Rome, suddenly gets flooded with cheap labor (in that case, slaves from Germany) that the free man can’t make a living, you have a situation that will either lead to revolution, or to the State caring for most people in order to keep them happy. In Rome, it led to both. Massive welfare and a revolution from a Republic to an Empire.
We are trending to the same place.
“You just swipe and go.”
How do you pay in cash?
Not a very good example since waiters and waiteresses in most states aren’t even paid the minimum wage. They get a fraction of the minimum wage plus tips. Obama’s raise won’t change that.
” there is now a motorized sign waving device that mimics a person waving around a sandwich board sign.”
A friend of mine has a barber shop that bought one andfor 2 weeks it brought in twice the business that his lazy person wavers did.
The only problem was after 2 weeks the city code enforcement cited him and he can’t use it any longer!
You and me both. Even now, people with no real skills or education cannot perform most jobs.Back in the day, they could do something, and at least make some money. But, those days are gone forever.
And what was that saying about the Devil and Idle hands?
“Increase SNAP, extend unemployment benefits, and tax the robots to pay for it.”
GO TO HELL!!!!
Eliminate snap, welfare and unemployment!
If you can’t figure out a way to make a living lie down and croak!