Tag Archives: automation

Minimum wage? Self-service pays $0 per hour…with absolutely no benefits, by Ethel C. Fenig

Make your customers do what employees used to do, it’s a lot cheaper. From Ethel C. Fenig at americanthinker.com:

As Parker Beauregard proved once again yesterday, when preening politicians force businesses, in this case grocery store workers in Long Beach, Calif., to pay their workers higher wages — for the workers’ own good, of course — the workers lose.

Indeed, just about everyone loses.  Except the politicians.

In this case, the grocery store workers lost their jobs.  The residents in the neighborhoods where these grocery stores were located lost the convenience of having reliable, well stocked grocery stores serving a wide variety of fresh food close by.  The city lost the tax revenue the stores generated.  The residents of the city will lose money or services because the city will have to charge higher taxes or reduce services to compensate for lost tax revenue.  The remaining stores will increase prices to cover their increased labor costs.

Indeed, so the only winners will be the politicians, who will pat themselves on the back as they compliment themselves for their own wonderfulness.

Something similar is occurring in my city, hundreds of miles from Long Beach, Calif.  When the minimum wage increased, a local grocery chain, Target, Home Depot, and a number of other stores reduced the number of full-service checkout lanes and 10 items or fewer checkout lanes while greatly expanding the self-checkout lanes.  Boom!  Many of the cashiers lost their jobs!  The baggers, many of whom were (warning: P.C. speak ahead) developmentally delayed and were placed in these jobs through a coordinated effort with the company, neighboring schools, and social workers, lost their jobs.  Instead, now, with multiple closed-circuit cameras overhead, one worker, enjoying newly increased pay, supervises the multiple terminals, watching as shoppers scan, bag, and pay for their items, helping out when necessary.

Continue reading→

Will Automation Kill Our Jobs? by Walter E. Williams

Technology has almost always created more jobs than it destroys, and there’s not reason to think that trend won’t continue. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title “Robots will destroy our jobs — and we’re not ready for it.” The article claims, “For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. … This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce.” According to an article in MIT Technology Review, business researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States.

If technology is destroying jobs faster than it’s creating them, it is the first time in human history that it’s done so. Actually, the number of jobs is unlimited, for the simple reason that human wants are unlimited — or they don’t frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something that will create a job for someone. To suggest that there are a finite number of jobs commits an error known as the “lump of labor fallacy.” That fallacy suggests that when automation or technology eliminates a job, there’s nothing that people want that would create employment for the person displaced by the automation. In other words, all human wants have been satisfied.

Let’s look at a few examples. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our workers were employed in agriculture. Today less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. And it’s a good thing. If 90 percent or 41 percent of our labor force were still employed in agriculture, where in the world would we find the workforce to produce all those goods and services that weren’t around in 1790 or 1900, such as cars, aircraft, TVs, computers, aircraft carriers, etc.? Indeed, if technology had not destroyed all of those agricultural jobs, we would be a much, much poorer nation.

To continue reading: Will Automation Kill Our Jobs?

Does Technology Destroy Jobs? If Not What Does? by Mike Mish Shedlock

If technology destroys jobs, how come, if we are at the most advanced state of technology ever, we are not all unemployed? Perhaps technology creates more jobs than it destroys. That’s not the drift of about 85 percent of the articles on the Internet (the Drudge Report seems to have at least one new scary headline about automation per day), but it’s the truth. From Mike Mish Shedlock at mishtalk.com:

In light of my posts on robots, driverless vehicles, and automation, readers keep asking: where will the jobs come from?

I do not know, nor does anyone else. But does that mean jobs won’t come?

Is technology destroying jobs for the first time?

Daniel Lacalle on the Hedgeye blog offers this bold claim: Face It, Technology Does Not Destroy Jobs.

If you read some newspapers and politicians’ comments, it seems that technology companies are a threat and robots will take your job . The idea is interesting and has populated hundreds of pages of science fiction books that feed on a dystopic view of the future where humans are only an annecdote.

It’s an interesting idea, there’s only one problem. It is a fallacy.

The idea that technology will destroy jobs starts with exaggerated estimates – as always – with the objective of presenting a world in which there must be an intervention – fiscal, of course – from governments, in order to save you from a future that has always been wrongly predicted … But this time it’s different.

The empirical evidence of more than 140 years is that technology creates more jobs than it destroys and that there is nothing to fear of artificial intelligence. Randstad studies show that technology will create more than 1.25 million jobs in Spain alone over the next five years.

Evidence shows us that if technology really destroyed jobs, there would be no work today for anyone. The technological revolution we have seen in the past 30 years has been unparalleled and exponential, and there are more jobs, better salaries.

The best example is the German region of Baviera, one of the parts of the world with a higher degree of technification and robotization, and with a 2.6% unemployment. An all-time low. The same can be said about South Korea, and the world in general.

To continue reading: Does Technology Destroy Jobs? If Not What Does?


The “Curse” of Labor-Saving Machinery Is Nothing New, by Brittany Hunter

It will be a long before machines and computers do all the work. From Brittany Hunter at mises.org:

At the end of last year, Amazon unveiled, “Amazon Go,” a futuristic, fully-automated convenience store set to open its doors in Seattle, Washington, within the next few months. While this exciting new venture promises to make quick-stop shopping trips easier for busy consumers, critics are wary of this type of advanced automation, and fear its widespread use could jeopardize a vast amount of jobs.

Amazon Go is a truly unique shopping experience free of lines, registers, and checkouts of any kind. Instead, the store utilizes its customers’ smartphones and “grab and go technology,” which allows the consumer to simply walk in, grab desired items, and then get on with the rest of their day.

However, since this modern convenience store does not require human employees, labor activists fear the negative implications Amazon Go could potentially have on employment rates, especially if more companies begin moving toward automation.

These concerns in regards to employment are not necessarily unwarranted, nor are they specific to our modern world. In fact, mankind actually has a long track record of fearing mechanical progress and blaming it for high unemployment rates throughout history.

During the Industrial Revolution, many workers resented mechanical innovation, believing it would result in mass unemployment across sectors which traditionally relied on manual labor. In the stocking industry, for example, fear of machines was so intense, massive riots erupted as soon as workers were introduced to the new mechanical knitting machines known as, “stocking frames.” In the midst of all the chaos, new machines were destroyed, houses were burned, inventors were threatened, and peace was not restored until the military eventually intervened.

To continue reading: The “Curse” of Labor-Saving Machinery Is Nothing New


Will Automation Make us Poor? by Aaron Bailey

The blogosphere is full of overwrought stories about impending mass unemployment due to automation. You could leaf through several centuries of history and find similar stories, but that automation-driven mass unemployment never seemed to happen. There have been instances of mass unemployment, but automation has not been the culprit, almost invariably it’s government. From Aaron Bailey at mises.org:

Automation has become a huge concern in recent years. With computer algorithms getting more and more sophisticated, machines are becoming increasingly able to do jobs that are many people’s bread and butter.

Driverless cars have been tested on our roads for years. Although they aren’t commercially available yet, they eventually will be. Once that happens, they’ll replace cab drivers, as well as people currently contracted by rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. After all, if employers can remove the expense of paying drivers, they can provide their services for much cheaper while still retaining a greater net profit. Automated vehicles will also replace commercial freight drivers.

That’s not the only place automation might shift the job market. We’ve already seen integration of self-checkout registers in large grocery chains. Even fast food restaurants are getting behind the trend. McDonald’s currently has kiosks at various locations that allow customers to order and receive their food without any human interaction. Carl’s Jr. and Hardees intend to test out kiosks at some of their locations as well.

Back in 2012 a robotics startup company Momentum Machines developed a prototype of a fully autonomous machine that takes orders, cooks the burger, slices the toppings, assembles the burger, wraps it all up, and gives it to the customer. This machine was shown to be able to prepare 400 burgers in an hour, and the company has already purchased a building in the San Francisco Bay Area and intends to open a fully autonomous restaurant very soon. The restaurant will still require a few humans to ensure the machines run smoothly and to empty out the cash and perform other small tasks.

To continue reading: Will Automation Make us Poor?