"Pressure to boost fast-food workers' wages [...] may accelerate the move to automate more jobs."

Minimum wage increase paves way to automation

#Workplace

Mon, Apr 18th, 2016 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

With minimum wage set to increase in the United States, companies like McDonalds and Wendy are looking into removing the human factor altogether and replacing it with automation. Automated McCafé kiosks are already appearing, while companies like Momentum Machines are already producing machines capable of making 400 complete burgers in one hour with very little human supervision.

[...] A San Francisco-based company, Momentum Machines, says it has already built a working hamburger-making robot that can do the job of up to three kitchen workers, grilling a beef patty, adding lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions and dropping it all on a bun. It can reportedly produce up to 400 hamburgers per hour. “Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas has said. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

There’s a good chance that will happen, according to The Future of Employment, a 2013 Oxford University paper. “Commercial service robots are now able to perform more complex tasks in food preparation, health care , commercial cleaning and elderly care,” write co-authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne. “As robot costs decline and technological capabilities expand, robots can thus be expected to gradually substitute for labor in a wide range of low-wage service occupations, where most U.S. job growth has occurred over the past decades.” On a scale of “0” to “1,” where 0 indicates a low probability of humans being replaced by robots or other mechanization, and 1 indicates a high probability, the category of Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, including fast food, is rated at .92 — almost certain replacement.

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