In the past, I've written about the automation of the existing workforce to come, and about the guaranteed minimum income, a potential solution to the widespread disappearance of things once known as "jobs."
Anyway, thanks for the assist, CNN! CNN Money put out an article yesterday declaring that "Robots will replace fast-food workers," and they're right: robots will replace fast food workers. The most surprising thing is that they haven't already.
As we speak, fast food workers are protesting around the country demanding a standard $15/hr wage, and have been for months, though its been mostly uncovered by major media outlets. A $15/hr wage would be great, if it meant fast food work stayed substantively the same except for a doubled wage. But it won't, because giving a $15/hr minimum wage to fast food workers will result in them being replaced by robots.
What sort of robots? Probably voice recognition and touchscreen ordering systems and automated food production, with a small group of managers on site to address issues and oversee operations. This eliminates the cashiers, any drive-through operators, and several people on the production line-- which seems to be about half the staff. The technology to do so is out there already, awaiting a push to implementation.
Darren Tristano, a food industry expert who is having trouble with the trees and can't quite see the forest, says that "If you look at the thousands of years that consumers have been served alcohol and food by people, it's hard to imagine that things will change that quickly." To understand how wrong this statement is, let's look at farming. In 1870, an estimated 4 of every 5 Americans were farmers. Prior to this, farming had been the very way of life for the vast majority of humans for millennia. In 1870, it probably was hard to imagine things changing that quickly. Today, 1 in 50 Americans is a farmer.
So bid thee farewell to fast food employees, the imminent victims of human ingenuity and simplification. Until we learn the lesson that automation should reduce workload across the board, we'll probably continue to see fields of newly-unemployed workers left out in the cold.
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