Robots for Trump (and Clinton)

Under President Donald Trump, illegal immigrants and possibly even legal migrants will have a harder time finding work, meaning the businesses that now rely on their labor will turn to machines. Under President Hillary Clinton, a big increase in the minimum wage is certainly in the cards, in which case get used to ordering your Big Mac on a touch screen.

At the same time, robotics is advancing technologically by leaps and bounds. Driverless cars are looking more and more like the future of the taxi industry, thus cutting off one of the typical routes to employment for immigrants. Truck-driving, meatpacking, fast-food preparation and hotel cleaning are ripe for automation as well.

The robotics industry has so far concentrated on relatively high-end work—vehicle-assembly systems or medicine. But the combination of the minimum-wage hikes in cities and states dominated by Democrats and new pressures on immigrant workers will create a set of incentives for the world’s robot-builders. They will begin to concentrate their efforts on building new categories of affordable and reliable machines to replace what used to be called entry-level jobs.