Skip to comments.The Employee of the Month Has a Battery: Minimum wage hikes accelerating trend toward automation
Posted on 02/03/2014 2:15:40 PM PST by SeekAndFind
Ten years ago it might have seemed far-fetched that a customer could order food in a restaurant without speaking to anyone. But it's a reality now as service employers across the countryincluding Chili's, Chevys Fresh Mex and California Pizza Kitchenintroduce tabletop ordering devices. A few clicks on an iPad-like device and the food is on its way.
Technology has made these changes possible, but that's not what's driving their implementation. Steady federal and state increases to the minimum wage have forced employers in retail and service industries to rely on technology as the government makes entry-level labor more expensive. Now Democrats are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 at the behest of President Obama, who argued in his State of the Union address that the increase would "help families." Lawmakers should consider the technology trend a warning.
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made the connection in a recent interview on MSNBC. Asked if he supported a higher minimum wage, Mr. Gates urged caution and said the policy would create an incentive for employers to "buy machines and automate things."
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
This suggests even the expansion of technology is not always a good thing. If it can make blue collar workers and sales people and teaches wholly obsolete, pretty soon the same will happen for managers, many if not most engineers and many, if not most, business men as well. Which, if the economy does not drastically improve enough to the point where other options immediately come up, could lead to literally 10s of millions of Americans, in addition to the currently unemployed Americans, who now have no job opportunities of any kind whatsoever.
Robots don’t vote. Grumbly, desperate, unemployed low-info people do. May not produce quite the ROI these companies were expecting.
We’re still a long way from machines replacing people in all but the most basic tasks.
Robots will never truly think or will, but in theory, there is no limit to how well they can be made to imitate humans.
And don't forget that wonderful gift to robotics...Obamacare.
A higher minimum wage leads to higher costs which devalues the higher minimum wage. (Not to mention the jobs lost as a result)
Actually there is a profound change operationally and financially created by robots. They shift "variable" costs to "fixed" and thereby increase a company's Degree of Operational Leverage (operation leverage as opposed to financial leverage). For example, once the robots are in place, much of the labor component is removed from product costs and an increase in production over that to cover fixed costs falls right to the bottom line (well, except for non-labor product costs.).
Think of Microsoft...once their software is written, they just hit copy and paste to meet increased demand.
Of course, in the end, it's not quite as simple as this, but you get the point. Obama is, as usual, having a counter-intuitive affect on the economy.
Technology enables us to work smarter, do more, at a higher level that was never dreamed possible than before. There are always bumps in the road and always those who moan that this is the end of jobs for everyone. In one generation it’s fast food machines replacing burger flippers, in an older one it was tractors replacing horses, and I suspect if you go back far enough, someone worried that the wheel would eliminate the motive to go capture slaves to do the toting and lifting...
Also, the next step in robotics (or computer driven machine tools) is to connect them via the cloud so that they can provide feedback to each other in real time. A handful of humans my oversee an army of computer driven machines. Once a correction is made on one...it is communicated instantly to all others.
And then there is the "internet of things." Google it. The whole world will be filled with sensors that communicate to each other via radio waves.
And anyone who thinks they can stand in the way of progress should try going to the beach and holding back the tide. They are equally impossible.
Just curious, how do you tip in a place like this? How much percentage-wise?
If robots can make thousands of accurate welds in a matter of minutes on a car body they can make hamburgers and pizzas. we’re talking unskilled and semi-unskilled jobs that make the minimum wage. Robots are already making these types of foods in frozen food factories. the difference would be in scale and cost. If it comes to the point that robots are cheaper and more reliable than workers (supervised by humans of course) then that’s what businesses will do. I think we’re very close to the realm of unintended consequences when it comes to minimum wage.
Though, this isn’t making the hamburgers and pizzas, just entering the orders. Preparing them then serving them will come later.
That’s what I keep trying to explain to people. What good is a 20% raise if your costs of living increases by the same amount.
Or put another way, this is just turning the order register around to face the customer and extending it to a spot on the table. It’s not really all that big of a jump.