Says Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago Mayor, Congressional Representative and former Obama Chief of Staff, said this in this news interview. Laid off workers should “Learn to code”.
He’s likely correct that due to structural changes accelerated by the pandemic, many retail jobs may not return. The U.S. had way too many square feet of business space devoted to retail, as compared to other developed nations before the pandemic.
Now with online ordering and delivery services, much of retail is irrelevant. This was going to happen away – but a variety of events accelerated the trend. $15 minimum wage plus mandated benefits dramatically increases labor costs (a variable cost) just as the cost of automation have plummeted (a mostly fixed cost).
It is sort of a “no brainer”  – automation, online ordering, even using an app while sitting at a restaurant table – all of these will reduce the need for lower skilled labor.
Continue reading Hmmm: Laid off retail workers should “Learn to Code”
Younger Americans are more open to the idea of creating a federal agency to oversee robotics than older Americans.
Source: What Americans think about a new federal agency to oversee robots
32% would like to see the creation of a Federal Robotics Commission.
One of many companies working to automate the restaurant business and reduce labor and benefits costs:
Pasadena-based hardware startup Miso Robotics just got a big vote of confidence from investors, in the form of a $10 million Series B. This latest windfall led by Acacia Research Corporation brings…
Source: Miso scores $10 million to bring its hamburger-flipping robot to more restaurants | TechCrunch
Autonomous self-driving cars are continuously surveying their surroundings using an array of sensors and recording this to memory.
In the event of an accident of malfunction, this data can be retrieved for analysis.
However, this data could also be retrieved as surveillance data – even when the vehicle itself has not been in an crash.
Consider, a bike versus human driven car crash at an intersection. Two other vehicles at the intersection are autonomous vehicles and they have recorded the entire scenario, in detail, including subject and object positions and travel speeds.
All of this data is available to the police. Police agencies that today operate their own license plate readers and intersection surveillance cameras might choose to contract with autonomous vehicle companies for use as public data collection systems. When your autonomous vehicle is connected to your EV charging station, it might communicate over WiFi to upload collected data to a master database.
This is not particularly difficult or far fetched and police may already have the legal authority to pursue this collection.
Source: Why cops won’t need a warrant to pull the data off your autonomous car | Ars Technica
Study finds that 2 in 3 jobs in Las Vegas may be automated by 2035. That’s just the headline.
The real story is that 50% or more of jobs in most metro areas at a risk of automation by 2035. Areas in yellow, orange and red indicate where more than 50% of local jobs are at risk of being automated by 2035.
Source: Future job automation to hit hardest in low wage metropolitan areas like Las Vegas, Orlando and Riverside-San Bernardino | ISEA
Studies like these should be viewed as “possible scenarios” and not as absolute predictions for the future.
Automation has been happening for a hundred years. New, low cost technology enables automation to be applied in places where it was previously cost prohibitive or the tasks were too difficult to automate. This change is happening quickly.
Again, as frequently noted on this blog, automation is happening. The rapid increase in minimum wage and benefit requirements is accelerating the trend towards automation, improved work place efficiency and variable cost cutting – and a loss of many types of jobs (not all job losses will be low skilled either).
This discussion by Charles Schwab & Co highlights that the ratio of workers to non-workers is dropping and may reach 1 to 1 in another 20 years in many parts of the world.
When labor is abundant businesses make less investment in “productivity enhancing technology”. Presumably the opposite is true – as labor supply shrinks, businesses will invest in more automation. This comes at a time when the capabilities of automation are increasing rapidly while the costs are dropping dramatically.
When the global labor supply became more abundant, spending on productivity enhancing technology by businesses became less attractive or necessary. Wages stagnated along with productivity and spare capacity helped keep inflation in check. But as labor becomes more scarce, the opposite should occur: greater investment in productivity enhancing technologies, faster wage growth, and tighter capacity leading to higher—but not runaway—inflation.
Inflation may be kept from a destructive resurgence and social programs for the elderly from becoming overburdened if productivity rebounds with more business investment in productivity-enhancing technologies, including robots and artificial intelligence.
Source: Expecting the Unexpected: Is a Demographic Disaster Looming? | Charles Schwab
As noted repeatedly on this blog, automation is coming anyway – rising minimum wages are not the cause of increasing use of automation. However, rising wages, including mandated higher minimum wages, accelerate the adoption of new tech to eliminate jobs.
The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) just rolled out new research confirming record growth in the areas of robotics, machine vision, motion control, and motor technology for the first half of 2017.
Source: Automation by the numbers: Record-breaking year for sales of robots, components | ZDNet
This happens when wage and benefit requirements rise as capital costs (robots/automation) fall rapidly:
“Wendy’s plans to install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its stores — about 16 percent of its locations — by the end of the year.”
Source: Wendy’s to install ordering kiosks in 1,000 stores this year
FedEx is looking at everything – replacing drivers with autonomous delivery trucks and small robots, integration with Google Echo and Amazon Alexa to request package delivery via voice command, using “platooned” semi-automated truck caravans to reduce the number of drivers and reduce fuel consumption, and more:
The shipping giant is investing in autonomous trucks, and is interested in delivery robots and an Alexa app.
Source: FedEx Bets on Automation as It Prepares to Fend Off Uber and Amazon
Last night I had a bizarre dream. In my dream (really, I had this dream), Amazon had located package warehouses near trauma centers. After helicopters delivered trauma patients, they were then picking up and carrying packages by air on their return trip to their operation base generating a little revenue on the otherwise non revenue part of the flight.
Yes, probably a silly dream, but who knows?