Covid-19 Could Accelerate the Robot Takeover of Human Jobs

 – Re-Blogged From MIT Technology

Machines were supposed to take over tasks too dangerous for humans. Now humans are the danger, and robots might be the solution.

Inside a Schnucks grocery store in St. Louis, Missouri, the toilet paper and baking ingredients are mostly cleared out. A rolling robot turns a corner and heads down an aisle stocked with salsa and taco shells. It comes up against a masked customer wearing shorts and sneakers; he’s pushing a shopping cart carrying bread.

The robot looks something like a tower speaker on top of an autonomous home vacuum cleaner—tall and thin, with orb-like screen eyes halfway up that shift left and right. A red sign on its long head makes the introductions. “Hi, I’m Tally! I check shelf inventory!” A moment of uncertainty ensues. Tally freezes, sensing the human, and the customer pauses, seeming unsure of what to do next. Should he maneuver around the robot? Or wait for it to move along on its own? After a few seconds, the customer chooses to divert, and heads down another aisle.

Franziska Barczyk

35 Cows Live on a Floating Dairy Farm Staffed by Robots

Milkworld

Off the coast of Rotterdam, Netherlands, a bizarre floating farm is providing locals with a fresh supply of milk.

The farm-boat-combo, created by an aptly-named company called Floating Farm, has been selling the milk of its 35 seafaring cows since May, CBC News reports. The mostly-automated operation is an undeniably weird bid to help make cities more self-sustaining — especially in the face of worsening climate change that threatens the area’s infrastructure.

Secret Cow Level

The farm is a three-story barge, according to CBC. The cows live on the top floor, but they can also wander ashore when the barge is docked — eating local grass clippings, potato peels, and beer broth, while supplying nearby fields with manure.

Robots in the Workplace

By Morgan Franklin – Re-Blogged From RS Components

The future role of robots in everyday life is a hot topic, particularly when it comes to the workplace. As more and more industries welcome automation, it’s no surprise that workers are concerned, but just how worried are they? Take a look at the infographic below to see who is most concerned [in the UK -Bob] when it comes to robots taking their job.

This Robotic Warehouse Fills Orders in Five Minutes, and Fits in City Centers

By  – Re-Blogged From Singularity Hub

Shopping is becoming less and less of a consumer experience—or, for many, less of a chore—as the list of things that can be bought online and delivered to our homes grows to include, well, almost anything you can think of. An Israeli startup is working to make shopping and deliveries even faster and cheaper—and they’re succeeding.

rows of shelves goods in boxes modern industry

Coming Soon, Computers That Will Read Your Heart Tests

By HealthDay – Re-Blogged From Newsmax Health

Tapping into the technology behind facial recognition programs and self-driving cars, researchers in a new study have taught computers key elements of assessing echocardiograms.

The advance might simplify an otherwise extensive process now done by humans.

Researchers created algorithms to recognize images and potential heart problems that echocardiograms commonly capture, including enlarged chambers, diminished pumping function, and even some uncommon diseases.

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Robots With Soft Hands Could Be the Future of Sustainable Production

By Carl Vause – Re-Blogged From World Economic Forum

In 2011, Professor George Whitesides of Harvard University helped rewrite the rules of what a machine could be. He developed biologically inspired ‘soft robots’, in collaboration with Harvard and the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Food handling and packaging, primarily in produce and baked items, is a highly manual process
Image: Soft Robotics

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Who Is Going to Suffer From Automation?

By Kristin Houser – Re-Blogged From Futurism

Educated Guesses

Thanks to rapid advances in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, smart machines that would have once been relegated to works of science-fiction are now a part of our reality.

Today, we have AIs that can pick apples, manage hotels, and diagnose cancer. Researchers at MIT have even developed an algorithm that can predict the immediate future. If only they could train it to predict how automation is going to impact the human workforce…

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Wal-Mart’s New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster

By Thomson Reuters – Re-Blogged From Newsmax

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is rolling out shelf-scanning robots in more than 50 U.S. stores to replenish inventory faster and save employees time when products run out.

The approximately 2-foot (0.61-meter) robots come with a tower that is fitted with cameras that scan aisles to check stock and identify missing and misplaced items, incorrect prices and mislabeling. The robots pass that data to store employees, who then stock the shelves and fix errors.

Image: Wal-Mart's New Robots Scan Shelves to Restock Items Faster
Gary-Arbach/Dreamstime

Are Deflationary Forces Here To Stay

By Sol Palha – Re-Blogged From http://www.Silver-Phoenix500.com

Manufacturing output continues to improve, even though the number of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. continues to decline and this trend will not stop. While some Jobs have gone overseas, the new trend suggests that automation has eliminated and will continue to eliminate a plethora of jobs. As this trend is in the early phase, the momentum will continue to build in the years to come.

Machines are faster, cheaper and don’t complain; at least not yet. So from a cost cutting and efficiency perspective, there is no reason to stick with humans. This, in turn, will continue to fuel the wage deflation trend. Sal Guatieri an Economist at the Bank of Montreal in a report titled “Wage Against the Machine,” states that automation is responsible for weak wage growth.

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The Forces Driving Democratic Recession

By Jay Ogilvy – Re-Blogged From Stratfor

Liberal democracy is in retreat across the globe. Following decades of expansion since the 1950s, the spread of democracy hit a wall in the new millennium. Freedom House, using carefully crafted metrics, has measured a decline in democracy and freedom worldwide. Definitions are important: Does the fact of elections, even where the outcome is autocratically determined, qualify a country as a democracy? By most measures and definitions, there are now about 25 fewer democratic countries than there were at the turn of the millennium.

Founding co-editor of the Journal of Democracy Larry Diamond wrote a 2015 paper, “Facing up to the Democratic Recession.” Diamond asks, reasonably enough, “Why have freedom and democracy been regressing in many countries? The most important and pervasive answer is, in brief, bad governance.” But this tells us very little. How and why has governance been so bad?

McDonalds Reacts To $15 Minimum Wage, Announces All U.S. Stores To Be Automated

By Jeff Dunetz – Re-Blogged From The Lid

This post comes from the “Department Of I Told You So.”  Back in August we reported that a Heritage Foundation study looked at the effect of the $15.00 minimum wage on a state by state basis the progressive program would put between 7 and 9,000,000 Americans out of work. The first indication that the unemployment wave may be happening is the latest news that McDonald’s is planning to expand its digital self-serve ordering stations and table service to all of its 14,000 stores in the U.S.

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Economists Report that a $15 Minimum Wage Only Hurts Low Wage Workers!

From the Daily Caller News Foundation:

The push by labor unions and activists to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour may hurt young and less-educated workers the most.

In 2013, the Obama administration proposed an increase to the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour. President Barack Obama has continued to call for an increase in the federal minimum wage.

The fight focuses on $15 as the new minimum acceptable number to activists and labor leaders. Seattle raised its minimum wage to $15 in 2014, followed by San Francisco and Los Angeles. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law a new $15 minimum wage for New York state in 2016, and the University of California has proposed to pay its low-wage employees $15.

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Wendy’s Replacing Workers With Kiosks In Response to ‘Fight For $15’

By – Re-Blogged From Infowars

Wendy’s announcement leads to fully robotic restaurants. In response to recent minimum wage hikes, Wendy’s is now replacing fast food workers with robots.

The fast food chain announced it will start automating all of its restaurants by installing self-serve kiosks in 6,000 locations by the end of the year.

Although McDonalds has already been experimenting with kiosks, Wendy’s announcement is the largest roll-out to date and will likely spark a trend leading to fully robotic restaurants.

“Wendy’s President Todd Penegor said it will be up to franchisees to decide whether or not to adopt the kiosks in their stores, noting that many franchise locations have had to raise prices to offset wage increases,” Slashdot reported. “California’s decision to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will impact Wendy’s 258 restaurants, all of which are franchise-operated.”

“About 75% of 200-plus Wendy’s restaurants are run by franchisees in New York, a state that is also on its way to $15.”

It’s simple economics: when labor costs are too high to stay in business, owners will look for alternatives – including burger flipping robots.

One such robot, developed by the San Francisco start-up Momentum Machines, can replicate a fast food worker by shaping burger patties from ground meat, grilling them, adding the specified amount of ingredients, and serving them to customers on a conveyor belt.

Many fast food chains may be forced to outsource jobs to these machines because they cannot afford to stay in business paying workers $15 an hour, given the number of restaurants that have already closed after Seattle enacted such a minimum wage.

“The businesses that couldn’t afford it either shut down or laid off workers, and the businesses that could afford it simply shifted some money around by eliminating benefits and putting those dollars toward wages,” Joshua Krause of the Daily Steeple reported. “What the supporters of a higher minimum wage just don’t get, is that it hurts poor unskilled workers the most.”

 

The Minimum Wage

cropped-bob-shapiro.jpg   By Bob Shapiro

The push to raise the Minimum Wage refuses to die, both the Federal Rate and Rates in the various States. Supporters say that poor people need to earn enough to support themselves and their families, and nobody – certainly not I – can argue with that sentiment.

However, I think that it is valid to explore the actual effects of a Minimum Wage hike. I’d like to suggest three examples to consider in this quest – two may seem unrelated at first, while the third will use extreme numbers.

Example 1: Suppose you are considering the purchase of a new computer. In your locale, you find you have two choices. The first is a fully loaded, name brand PC with a selling price of $5000. The other choice is one assembled at a local shop to your specifications. For what you need, the price will be $1000.

The $5000 box is appealing, but your budget pushes you toward the $1000 option. Before you can make your purchase, the government (at whatever level) issues an order saying that “No computer may be sold for less than $4000.”

You still may opt for the lower cost choice, but relatively, the $5000 price is not so bad. Of course, your budget still is your budget, so you may just forget the purchase altogether.

Example 2: Your roof leaks. One contractor offers to repair your roof for $5000, while another will do only a full new roof, and the charge will be $50,000. Before you can choose, the government declares that roof work may not cost less than $40,000.

Once again, the law is discouraging the lower price option, while encouraging either the higher priced work or letting the leak continue.

Example 3: Putting food on the table, clothes on your back, and a roof overhead are serious needs. Nobody should have to make do with less than everything he desires. So, let’s raise the Minimum Wage to $100 an hour, so that every wage earner can afford to live in dignity. </sarc>

As it turns out, very few employment opportunities can repay the hiring business enough to be able to pay the $100 per hour tab. So, almost zero new jobs appear. Many previous tasks that people could do become automated. With less business competition, the few remaining companies are able to raise their prices to offset the higher Minimum Wage.

Existing jobs also are affected by the same burden of $100 per hour wages. Many (most?) existing jobs disappear and unemployment goes up. Jobs are traded in for automation where possible.

Image result for $100 minimum wage clipart

The net effect is that a few businesses, and a few people, benefit from the new $100 Minimum Wage. However, the business must pay more, many people become unemployed, consumers must pay more, and taxpayers now must support a larger population of out-of-work people.

So, how do these three examples apply to a raise only to $15 over several years? It’s all the same!

A few people benefit. The few who get hired benefit. The few who get a raise will benefit. And because of reduced competition, higher wage employees also may get a raise.

BUT!! Many more people will be unemployed. Taxpayers will have to pay more. And, consumers will have to pay more.

So, why would anybody support this nonsense?

As it turns out, Democrats are favored by several voting blocs, two of which are unions and poor people. We’ve seen that higher wage earners benefit from reduced competition, and indeed, unions are the driving force behind the push for a higher Minimum Wage.

Poor people will be hurt as their already high unemployment rate becomes even higher due to a higher Minimum Wage. But the socialist left which makes up the majority of the Democrats are telling the poor that they’ll get paid more – and yes, those who do get new jobs (and those not being fired from current jobs) will be helped.

But, the socialist left is committing a lie of omission by not telling the poor how the higher Minimum Wage will hurt them.

The Democrats had to choose between two constituencies – unions and the poor. They’ve made their choice and have thrown the poor under the bus. They’ve covered it up with the lie that they’re helping the poor.

Image result for unemployment clipart

It’s not like the ill effects of raising the Minimum Wage have been kept a secret. Anybody with average intelligence who has seen the kinds of examples I’ve laid out can understand the concept.

To me, the Democrats (and not a few Republican socialists) are doing evil. They are stabbing the poor in the back and then bragging how their stupid policies are helping the poor.

Unions Seek Exemptions from Minimum Wage Laws

By Michael Greibrok & Logan Albright – Re-Blogged From Freedom Works

Since the first federal minimum wage went into effect in 1938, there have been people calling for an increase. Recently, there has been a push for a $15 hourly minimum wage at the federal level, as well as within various state and municipalities. Many of these calls for minimum wage hike have been led by, and funded by, unions. One in particular, Raise the Wage, called for a $15.25 minimum wage in Los Angeles and was funded by unions, including AFL-CIO.

While unions have been fighting for increasing minimum wages, they have also been fighting for unions to be exempted from the increased minimum wages. Rusty Hicks, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, argued why union members should be exempt from minimum wage requirements.

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