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The Employee of the Month Has a Battery: Minimum wage hikes accelerating trend toward automation
Wall Street Journal ^ | 01/30/2014 | MICHAEL SALTSMAN

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 country—including Chili's, Chevys Fresh Mex and California Pizza Kitchen—introduce 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 ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: automation; minimumwage
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1 posted on 02/03/2014 2:15:40 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

2 posted on 02/03/2014 2:18:11 PM PST by Red Badger (Proud member of the Zeta Omicron Tau Fraternity since 2004...................)
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To: SeekAndFind

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.


3 posted on 02/03/2014 2:19:54 PM PST by freedom462
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To: SeekAndFind

Robots don’t vote. Grumbly, desperate, unemployed low-info people do. May not produce quite the ROI these companies were expecting.


4 posted on 02/03/2014 2:21:23 PM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: freedom462

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.


5 posted on 02/03/2014 2:24:44 PM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: SeekAndFind
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.

And don't forget that wonderful gift to robotics...Obamacare.

6 posted on 02/03/2014 2:26:11 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: SeekAndFind

A higher minimum wage leads to higher costs which devalues the higher minimum wage. (Not to mention the jobs lost as a result)


7 posted on 02/03/2014 2:29:20 PM PST by cripplecreek (REMEMBER THE RIVER RAISIN!)
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To: Buckeye McFrog
May not produce quite the ROI these companies were expecting.

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.

8 posted on 02/03/2014 2:33:42 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: SeekAndFind

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...


9 posted on 02/03/2014 2:34:30 PM PST by bigbob (The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. Abraham Lincoln)
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To: SeekAndFind

10 posted on 02/03/2014 2:37:38 PM PST by Vince Ferrer
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas
Actually, thinking is not always required by workers or robots and can always be injected into the process by a human supervisor when and if needed.

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.

11 posted on 02/03/2014 2:39:31 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: freedom462
If it can make blue collar workers and sales people and teaches wholly obsolete, pretty soon the same will happen for managers...


12 posted on 02/03/2014 2:40:21 PM PST by Hugin
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To: bigbob
Right.

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.

13 posted on 02/03/2014 2:41:07 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: SeekAndFind

Just curious, how do you tip in a place like this? How much percentage-wise?


14 posted on 02/03/2014 2:41:56 PM PST by rawhide
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To: St_Thomas_Aquinas

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.

CC


15 posted on 02/03/2014 2:42:41 PM PST by Celtic Conservative (tease not the dragon for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup)
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To: Celtic Conservative

Though, this isn’t making the hamburgers and pizzas, just entering the orders. Preparing them then serving them will come later.


16 posted on 02/03/2014 2:47:14 PM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: cripplecreek

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.


17 posted on 02/03/2014 2:48:10 PM PST by autumnraine
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To: SeekAndFind

18 posted on 02/03/2014 2:48:13 PM PST by struggle
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To: Celtic Conservative

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.


19 posted on 02/03/2014 2:49:04 PM PST by lepton ("It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into"--Jonathan Swift)
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To: SeekAndFind

20 posted on 02/03/2014 2:50:26 PM PST by Cyber Liberty (H.L. Mencken: "The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Part of the evil dynamic of Rats proposing an increase in the minimum wage is that they get to claim that they are trying to help the working poor, thus securing their vote; while actually forcing more of them on unemployment and greater dependency on government programs and locking in their votes even more.


21 posted on 02/03/2014 2:50:49 PM PST by Truth29
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To: lepton

But the displaced humans will vote Democrat almost immediately. Unintended consequences all around.


22 posted on 02/03/2014 2:51:30 PM PST by Trod Upon (Every penny given to film and TV media companies goes right into enemy coffers. Starve them out!)
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To: lepton

They exist:
http://www.businessinsider.com/burger-robot-could-revolutionize-fast-food-industry-2012-11

They’re just too expensive right now to be cost effective. If FF salaries rise too high though that’ll change.


23 posted on 02/03/2014 2:53:18 PM PST by discostu (I don't meme well.)
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To: Buckeye McFrog
Robots don’t vote.

Not yet, anyway. Democrats will be calling for Comprehensive Robot Reform and the GOP will nod in agreement.

24 posted on 02/03/2014 2:54:33 PM PST by digger48
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To: rawhide

How much to tip? Just leave a can of 3-n-1 oil and a couple double A batteries.


25 posted on 02/03/2014 2:55:57 PM PST by N. Theknow (Kennedys-Can't drive, can't ski, can't fly, can't skipper a boat-But they know what's best for you.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Just about everyone here uses office devices, tools, labor saving devices, or even chemicals and products that eliminate secretaries, assistants, helpers, reduces dependency on tradesmen, maids, cooks, stable help.........


26 posted on 02/03/2014 2:57:42 PM PST by ansel12 (Ben Bradlee -- JFK told me that "he was all for people's solving their problems by abortion".)
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To: bigbob

But in this case it is not quite the same, as others have pointed out, there could be attempts to have robots, connected through human supervisors, replace humans in all blue collar working jobs, in management and business positions, in teaching jobs, construction, nursing, salesmanship,engineering and that is just in the near future. Which again, could mean we now have many tens of millions of Americans who have spent their lives learning specific trades that are obsolete and therefore have become wholly unemployable.


27 posted on 02/03/2014 3:03:31 PM PST by freedom462
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To: RoosterRedux

Which in this case is not something to celebrate. I just don’t see how rapidly growing technology combined with a gov’t that cannot manage a functioning economy at all is a good thing. If we could get our economy back to, say, the level of the Reagan years it would be different, but we will most likely be building whole nations on Mars and perfecting time travel to the future and past and reanimating the dead before that happens.


28 posted on 02/03/2014 3:06:01 PM PST by freedom462
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To: bigbob

But back then, people were much more capable of building a functioning economy that America is today. Therefore, any jobs being replaced by machines cannot really be considered a good thing.


29 posted on 02/03/2014 3:07:10 PM PST by freedom462
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To: freedom462
Which in this case is not something to celebrate.

Not good nor bad...it is what it is.

30 posted on 02/03/2014 3:09:54 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: SeekAndFind
I program and fix the machines that replace people who do what used to be done by hand. Allen Bradley (Rockwell Automation), Siemens, and a little of ABB are disgustingly wealthy from their extortion rackets. New software must be relicensed each year per computer or face incompatability issues in spares. Rockwell by far is the king of the designed incompatability.

Last I knew the new set of software keys each year ran $12,000 per single station. The cost of upgrading a ten axis Kinetix servo control cabinet with RS Logix 5000 runs about $300,000. That's without someone to write, debug, and test the logic. Tie it into a network for the sake of production data collection and remote servicing using General Electric's "Proficy", and add another $200,000. All that is without the actual machine you are controlling. That's just to automate it.

Then you add the three electrical support people to keep it all current with engineering and marketing's seemingly insignifigant, but huge change demands, and there is another $325,000 per year. Then the spares to keep on hand for when a thunderstorm or power surge hits, and that ties up another $300,000. Then hire three mechanics to change out motors, bearings, shafts, and gearboxes, and there goes another $200,000 per year.

31 posted on 02/03/2014 3:12:23 PM PST by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: bigbob

To which all the slaves said, “Amen”.


32 posted on 02/03/2014 3:12:26 PM PST by Jonty30 (What Islam and secularism have in common is that they are both death cults)
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To: freedom462
But back then, people were much more capable of building a functioning economy that America is today.

People don't build an economy, though they sure can muck it up.

An economy is just the collective business, farming, trading, hunting activity of a people, a community, a region, a nation, a world.

Invisible hand and all that.

33 posted on 02/03/2014 3:14:28 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: Celtic Conservative

This could also lead to way more people on a sort of permanent welfare and unemployment, since if robots actually can effectively replace the jobs of tens of millions of Americans, rendering them effectively unemployable, it will lead to welfare programs being vastly expanded too. It would be great to eliminate these programs entirely, however we as a society are not even close to being prepared to let these huge swaths of Americans not have anything to eat or go without shelter of any kind due to the fact that robots are rendering them unemployable. And so the economy will ultimately get much further burdened than it already is.


34 posted on 02/03/2014 3:15:35 PM PST by freedom462
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To: RoosterRedux

Well yes, but with robots doing all that business, farming, trading and hunting for us, humans will have nothing to do other than ruin economies. Add to that the fact that, as I noted above, given the current state of affairs, robots replacing humans entirely will necessarily lead to massive increases in welfare programs and unemployment aid could in tons of cases become permanent.


35 posted on 02/03/2014 3:17:35 PM PST by freedom462
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To: lepton

It’s not the big changes that seem to upset people. It’s the incremental, “evolution, not revolution” things that seem to confuse them. Something that is familiar, yet slightly changed seems weird to some. Self service checkouts in grocery stores were like that for me. now that i’ve gotten used to them I love them, they’re a lot faster, especially when you have a few items.

CC


36 posted on 02/03/2014 3:17:53 PM PST by Celtic Conservative (tease not the dragon for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup)
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To: Celtic Conservative

Are you going to like it when technology combined with our nation’s current inability to produce a functioning economy leads to the majority of Americans not working at all and being on welfare of some sort?


37 posted on 02/03/2014 3:21:21 PM PST by freedom462
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To: SeekAndFind

I hate “Chili’s” but, was in San Diego last year with no alternative to my hunger.

Gotta say I luv’d their automated table service.

I plugged in my request and was met by a server maybe 10 minutes later with my food.

Still sucked but, they had salsa and I can hide anything under fire.

I think restaurants would be well served, as would the customer, by automating ordering.

They could even automate frying burgers and fries.

Seems lame anymore to pay someone that a large manufacturer like Swanson Meals has automated.

Scale it Down to McD’s and their competition.


38 posted on 02/03/2014 3:26:06 PM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
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To: Vendome

Will you still have that enthusiasm for automated solutions to everything once your own job also becomes completely obsolete thanks to automated gadgets?


39 posted on 02/03/2014 3:32:24 PM PST by freedom462
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To: freedom462
Well yes, but with robots doing all that business, farming, trading and hunting for us, humans will have nothing to do other than ruin economies.

That's not the way technological advancement works. We may all have to change jobs but computer driven machines will simply provide humans will a different array of things they might accomplish...not replace them.

Think of the way in the industrial revolution created millions of jobs. They weren't always attractive jobs but they paid more than farming at the time.

This was the beginning of the creation of the middle class.

Nowadays our jobs are cleaner and more analytical and creative. They can still be stifling, but they are a step forward.

40 posted on 02/03/2014 3:32:31 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: RoosterRedux

But what about teaching jobs, from K-1 through to university level, or jobs in sales, managing,accounting, marketing and product design? How would people who specialized their whole lives for work in those fields be able to find alternative work in the automated age? i don’t see how they would - and in these job areas alone we are talking millions upon millions of Americans in addition to currently unemployed Americans.


41 posted on 02/03/2014 3:35:10 PM PST by freedom462
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To: freedom462

I said nothing about liking it. I’m just pointing out some possible outcomes. Outcomes which fall under what I referenced as “unintended consequences”. Conequences which are usually negative in nature. But these are not inevitable outcomes.. It just points out the liberal mindset that in it’s desperate need to make things better tends to make them immeasurably worse. A mindset that is rooted in a deeply flawed understanding of human nature, and thus of reality itself.

CC


42 posted on 02/03/2014 3:35:11 PM PST by Celtic Conservative (tease not the dragon for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup)
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To: Celtic Conservative

That makes more sense. I think we can’t figure out how to improve our economy and encourage more efficiency, that the age of technology could lead to a situation where 80 + % of Americans are simply unemployable and have to rely on welfare of some sort to survive. Particularly as the Millenials and generations after that get older.


43 posted on 02/03/2014 3:37:31 PM PST by freedom462
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To: RoosterRedux
It took six months for a bunch of women with no experience in manufacturing to produce 25 P-51 Mustangs per day, four B-24 bombers, and DC-3 Transports by the hundreds.

Today it would take ten years to make the first article for test flight.

That's some "progress".

44 posted on 02/03/2014 3:41:38 PM PST by blackdog (There is no such thing as healing, only a balance between destructive and constructive forces.)
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To: blackdog

LOL yeah but back then they weren’t handicapped by computers and the internet.

#sliderule
#pencilonvellum


45 posted on 02/03/2014 3:49:34 PM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: freedom462
Teaching is going to be replaced with the Khan Academy model or the MIT Opencourseware model...and rightly so. It's better.

Managers, salesmen, accountants, designers are not being replaced, but their jobs are being enhanced and made more effective by technology. And consider the Da Vinci Surgical robot that allows a surgeon in Baltimore operate on a kid in South Africa.

There are plenty of jobs available for kids that go to technical schools and learn basic trades (many of which are now high-tech) and the oil fields in Texas and North Dakota are screaming for workers.

Much unemployment today is due to kids going to college and majoring in something that doesn't prepare them for a job.

All this said, yes, sometimes people get replaced and/or just fired. New technologies come along...some companies simply fail.

So those people will have to retrain and sometimes move...but such is life.

46 posted on 02/03/2014 3:57:55 PM PST by RoosterRedux (The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing -- Socrates)
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To: RoosterRedux
Teaching is going to be replaced with the Khan Academy model or the MIT Opencourseware model..

Certainly in some countries but not here.

Big Education is integral to the progressive control of society.

47 posted on 02/03/2014 3:59:30 PM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: Vendome
MOMENTUM MACHINES BURGER ROBOT


48 posted on 02/03/2014 4:00:22 PM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Impressive.
I’ve commented previously that the only fast food employees remaining will be janitorial and logistics.
The manager will be an Indian lady in Mumbai with an internet connection.


49 posted on 02/03/2014 4:03:52 PM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: RoosterRedux; nascarnation

Actually, the Kahn model by itself could not replace classroom teaching entirely - Kahn himself said that was never the original goal of it. At the moment, it is designed to enhance and complement classroom learning. In order for an automated technology to make classroom teaching completely irrelevant, it would also have to replace teacher student interactions and individual tutoring and be able to help with individual questions the way a teacher would. As much as we rip on public school teachers - and yes, of course, tons of them deserve all the abuse they get around here, the Kahn Academy and the MIT open courseware by itself cannot make classroom teaching irrelevant.

A technology that can actually make classroom teaching completely irrelevant would also make scores of other vital jobs irrelevant as well and continue to place millions out of work, at least temporarily while they are forced to adjust and learn new trades. And in our nation, this would damage the economy since, regardless off what we prefer, we are not at all prepared as a country to have these Americans go without food or shelter of any kind while they learn these new trades and make themselves employable again.


50 posted on 02/03/2014 4:08:30 PM PST by freedom462
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