We hear a lot in our current day to day about income inequality and the shrinking job market.
About how some 95 million Americans are out of work (and have been for a rather long time) and have little hope for finding another career.
How these people are sent from skilled labor jobs that paid a living wage (the blue collar jobs that once made up the glut of the American middle class) into the heartless arms of fast food America;doing slaves work for a slaves wage.
We also hear about how in order to fix this gap (beyond the prescription of extension after extension of the unemployment checks), the President and members of his party are strongly pressing for an increase to the minimum wage (to the more livable $15/ hour range). Needless to say, these demands are rebuffed by the Right wing of the country (as well as industry) warning that such a raise would not lead to a higher standard of living for the labor but rather for less employed people, fewer hours for those fortunate enough to still be there, and higher prices for the consumer.
Higher prices for the consumer will mean a decrease in demand (simple base economic principle)… Lower demand means lower profits…. Lower profits, corners cut…
And a San Francisco robotics start up is offering up a solution to cutting the biggest expense of any business in America…
According to Momentum Machines’ information, $9 Billion a year are spent by fast food companies a year on labor alone (and that’s just in the USA). They claim that this machine (the price of which is undisclosed, but Momentum claims it could pay for itself within the year) will cut that price to a fraction (needing only one or two people to reload into the machine the materials needed to make the burgers), cranking out some 400 freshly ground, cooked to order, and custom topped “gourmet” burger with minimal human involvement.
Hoping to try ands diffuse some of the eventual blame for bringing an end to humanity by giving our one day oppressors that first oh so crucial foothold onto our society, Momentum had this to say on their site about the eventual elimination of burger flipper jobs in the world:
“The issue of machines and job displacement has been around for centuries and economists generally accept that technology like ours actually causes an increase in employment. The three factors that contribute to this are 1. the company that makes the robots must hire new employees, 2. the restaurant that uses our robots can expand their frontiers of production which requires hiring more people, and 3. the general public saves money on the reduced cost of our burgers. This saved money can then be spent on the rest of the economy. We take these issues very seriously so please feel free to tell us how we can help with this transition.”
Nice of them, isn’t it???
Rise of the Machines
I think the worst part of this nightmare is the unavoidability of it.
We see this economic freight train is coming screaming towards us… we know this isn't going to create a better economy, nor a wealthier society. There is no doubt in my mind that within a year of this thing being perfected, you will see McDonald’s and Burger King running at this company just throwing money at them to implement their own version of this contraption.
And could you blame them???
Can you imagine just how much money they would make by eliminating 60% of their labor force without damaging their product output??? And that’s even with the expense of buying this sure to be sick expensive machine for each and every franchise.
It is going to put the lowest rung of the social ladder- the Spongebobs of our world, if you will- out on their asses, leaving them with no way to earn a living beyond attempting to underbid one another out of the coveted “Tube filler” gig that such a creation would create (especially with this madness of id="mce_marker"5 minimum wage and job killing programs like Obamacare floating around out there mucking up the works).
Sure, there will be a few jobs opened up for “Robot Tech”, but that will be the first new economy job that a robot will take away (perhaps by an astromech droid) through the increasing reliance our bottom line obsessed world will have on robot labor.
From that point, our dystopian Hell writes itself as the lower classes- hungry and broken- begin to rise against those special, select few who pull the levers of the social machines. The social destabilization will force the Machines- by this point self aware and replicating themselves- feeling that they would need to rise up against their human masters for their own good. It would be academic from there; the torn human factions easily succumbing to the superior cybernetic army’s assault. Within a generation, Humanity will become an endangered species. Small pockets of fleshy refugees will spend their remaining days scrounging whatever existence they can manage… the constant threat of eradication at the hands of the planet’s new metal masters looming over their heads to the last man.
All in the name of cheaper hamburgers.