Arts for Action's Sake

The Robots Are Coming? The Robots Are Coming?

March 21, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs, fast food

Flippy waiting for humans to catch up
Well, I do still think they are, and sooner than we think, although in the spirit of fair play there have been a flurry of reports that suggest otherwise. Or insist that if and when they do come, they will have minimal impact on American jobs.

The most recent apparent setback was the death of a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, on Monday, struck by an “autonomous” Uber car, despite the presence of a human safety-driver. In response, Uber has suspended all tests of self-driving vehicles until an investigation is complete. There were several mitigating circumstances: it was dark, (more…)

The Robots Are Coming? Or Are They Already Here?

January 4, 2018

Tags: Robots, jobs, fast food

"Flippy" working the grill
Robots Will Transform Fast Food” reads the headline in the online edition of The Atlantic, and “That might not be a bad thing.

The Atlantic article goes on to describe how Japan—where else?—is already ahead of the curve, with a fully functioning okonomiyaki restaurant that makes a gin and tonic to serve along with the cabbage-and-meat-topped pancakes. Here in the US we’re still in the development and test phase, with “Sally,” a boxy robot from Chowbotics that assembles salads ordered on a touch screen, and “Flippy”—the inspiration for the McRobots in The Piketty Problem—who’s turning out 150 burgers an hour (more…)

The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming

October 31, 2017

Tags: Robots, fast food, income inequality, Carl's Jr.

Knowing my concerns about the danger of robots making the already corrosive economic inequality in our country even worse, a friend and former colleague of mine passed on a blog post that is a must read: The Real Story of Automation Beginning With One Simple Chart by Scott Santens. The one simple chart shows that when the number of oil rigs began to rebound after the 2016 decline in oil prices, the number of oil and gas industry employees didn't budge. The reason? Robotic "Iron Roughnecks" now perform the repetitive task of connecting drill pipe segments as the well is drilled deeper and deeper. What once took a crew of 20, will soon take a crew of 5.

The trend is difficult to ignore. And there are so many other good points (more…)

Germs or Jobs?

October 20, 2017

Tags: Robots, income inequality, fast food

Those of you who have had a chance to take a look at my new novel, The Piketty Problem, or The Robots Are Coming, The Robots Are Coming, know that its underlying theme is the impending impact of robotics on fast food in general and McDonald’s in particular. For those of you who might think I was stretching novelistic license, I thought this recent article about Chowbotics (now that’s a stretch!) in the New York Times might be of interest. The company has come up with a salad-making robot (more…)