Examples where our robot overlords are still gaining ground:
Fast Food: The minimum wage has gone up in a few places and there’s talk of Fast Food becoming more automated. I think it’s funny that this is even a topic of discussion. It’s not talk, it’s simply a mathematical calculation. There is a number on a spreadsheet where it’s a done deal. Opinions, from either side of the political spectrum, play no part in this decision.
Here’s one link among many.
“McDonald’s employees who picketed for a better living wage (whatever that means) may come to regret that decision. According to a Redditor, a McDonald’s in Illinois replaced their cashiers with machines. The machines appear to be the cousins of the ones found in grocery stores, big box stores, and CVS that allow customers to complete transactions.”
Let’s start with the obvious. Fast food won’t become automated, it will become more automated. It’s already an assembly plant and not a restaurant. The other side of the counter at McDonalds is like the damn Space Shuttle but with newer technology. You’re not running machines, you’re in an automated system of smallish machines working in concert. Everything is either beeping or planning on beeping, there are big ideogram buttons for the illiterate, and all cooking that can be done in a factory has been done in advance and frozen. Whining about automation in McDonalds is missing the point. McDonalds is already a soulless automated technological marvel and it already nearly put the corner coffee shop out of business.
Remember the corner coffee shop? Gladys’ sister Marge used to be the waitress and the cook was Spike’s Uncle. Lets call him Ralph. Ralph made better food than any McDonalds. Marge would tell you all about her grandkids and bring you free refills of coffee. In the old days Marge smoked. In the old days she’d accidentally drop ashes in your eggs.
I preferred Marge and Ralph. I still eat there but it’s not McDonalds and it fills a different niche. When I’m in a hurry I go to McDonalds. You do too. Don’t lie to me. The NSA has records and darned well sometimes you buy a Happy Meal to shut up the kids or shove a BigMac in your piehole while driving.
McDonalds (and its ilk) are already automated. So automated that you pigeonhole yourself into its great unfeeling gears. You get whatever the hell Supreme Overlord Ronald McDonald puts on the menu. That means no steak with your eggs and the eggs can’t be served over easy. No mash potatoes, no collard greens, no beer (in America), no flavor, no class, no style, no bullshit. Get in, get out. Uniform shitty calories fast.
Suppose the dude (or dudette) at the counter was no longer there. Suppose you’re in Seattle where you’re smart enough to pump gas (unlike Oregon) but the minimum “living wage” is sixty grand and a weekly massage with a happy ending. Imagine the counter person is gone. So what?
All the counter dude does is listen to you in English (if you’re lucky) and push the buttons for your McGrease Meal #1. You slide a credit card and the computer does the rest. Or maybe you hand over cash and the change device on the side counts it so the victims of public education don’t have to count $0.74 and try to do it with quarters. That’s a job that is primed for replacement by robot. I’ve seen a couple test ordering kiosks over the years. You probably have too. Using them wasn’t hell. (The food was but you already knew that.)
At the right labor cost, it’s simply going to happen. No questions asked. No quarter given. Don’t wish it was otherwise because it ‘aint happening any other way.
It’s simply math and math never loses. So why fret about it?
P.S. Note the tone of the post “employees who picketed for a better living wage (whatever that means) may come to regret that decision”. I humbly suggest we let it go. There’s no need to be bitter. People learn to regret in their own time and in their own way. (Or perhaps they perfect denial.) Don’t twist the knife. Fate will do that and it’s not our job.
P.S. In the interest of complete disclosure I’ve seen both sides of this. A billion years ago I lost a job when the minimum wage went up. (Yeah, really. That shit happens and I didn’t have a thousand politicians giving me a parade over my “living wage” crap job.) I wasn’t bitter. I had been an excellent worker and was probably the best they’d had at it in years but the job sucked and always would. When the numbers took a dump on me I figured it was a hint applied with a sledgehammer and I moved on. Also, I have replaced a robot. This was at a different job. I was cheaper than the robot. I tried my best but had virtually no natural talent and sucked. I did my mediocre best a couple years, and like employees at most of these sorts of jobs, moved on. So there you have it, at the low end me and robots fought it out in the labor market. You win some you lose some. This is nothing new.