I tried to warn you that Terminator was a documentary, but did you listen? No.
It may not be time for SKYNET to fully activate yet, but the robots are off to a good start and they’re gaining ground all the time. And with the rapid rise in minimum wage rates sweeping the country, the long foreseen turn from human labor to our soon-to-be robotic overlords is no longer just theoretical. A former CEO of McDonald’s weighed in on the subject this month and he points to places where the robots are already taking and delivering orders. (The Mirror)
A former McDonald’s CEO is warning that robots will take over jobs at the huge enterprise – because it’s cheaper than employing humans.
He said that buying highly skilled robotics is cheaper than employing people at the fast food restaurant.
The worrying forecast comes as he warns huge job losses are imminent, and that it’s ‘common sense’ to replace humans in the workplace.
You can leave all of the science fiction and technological squabbling out of the equation when it comes to replacing minimum wage workers and just focus on one word in the above quotes: cheaper. So how much cheaper are we talking?
“It’s cheaper to buy a $35,000 (£24,000) robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who’s inefficient making $15 (£10.20) an hour bagging French fries.
“It’s nonsense and it’s very destructive and it’s inflationary and it’s going to cause a job loss across this country like you’re not going to believe.”
He told FOX: “It’s not just going to be in the fast food business. Franchising is the best business model in the United States.
The price of technology always comes down as it becomes more common and goes into mass production. There was a time when robots were priced beyond the reach of almost anyone, but that’s changing rapidly. Some of the earliest, simplest robots were the welding machines used in Detroit on automobile manufacturing lines. They put a lot of people out of work and, yes, they were cheaper than hiring union labor by a long shot. They cost a fair chunk of change up front, but once they were on the line they only required routine maintenance and they worked three shifts per day for years on end with nearly error free precision at a formerly high skill level task.
Those robots were “simple” because they were locked in a stationary position and did what amounted to one task over and over again. A server has to be mobile and do a bit more, but it’s not beyond the reach of the current technology. If you can put a robot into a fast food store for even $50K it’s going to pay for itself in a single year as compared to a $15 per hour employee once you factor in all the other benefits they receive. And each robot is going to replace more than one worker in reality because it can work both shifts.
But it’s not only low skill, minimum wage labor we’re talking about here. As we previously saw, robots are replacing people at the opposite end of the pay spectrum when they start taking the jobs of lawyers. (CNN)
The law profession is being reshaped by new automation technologies that allow law firms to complete legal work in a fraction of the time and with far less manpower. Think IBM’s “Jeopardy!”-winning computer Watson — practicing law.
“Watson the lawyer is coming,” said Ralph Losey, a legal technology expert at the law firm Jackson Lewis. “He won’t come up with the creative solutions, but when it comes to the regular games that lawyers play, he’ll kill them.”
That means potentially huge cost savings for clients, though it’s not so promising for law school graduates looking for work.
Shakespeare is credited for once predicting that we’d need to kill all the lawyers (though that’s an inaccurate interpretation). Little did he know that there was no need to resort to violence. We’ll just replace them with Robbie the Robot.