Fast food industry rapidly moving to replace employees with robots and eliminate payroll, health benefits and human unreliability
by J. D. Heyes – If you’re reading this, it’s very likely that, within your lifetime, you’re going to see a revolution in robotics. In many ways, this technological revolution will be a very good thing for humanity, but in some ways, it will be a very bad thing.
As noted recently at Bugout.news, there is little question that the Age of Robotics will make life easier for humans, make companies more efficient and profitable, and advance certain technologies beyond anything we can comprehend today.
“But in the process,” the site added, “these advances will mean massive job losses and, in fact, many jobs that exist today will at some point in the future become obsolete.”
Indeed, we are already seeing this transition taking place, and not so ironically, humans themselves are largely responsible for it.
“Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”
The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has been inspired by the 100-percent automated restaurant Eatsa after having visited the place, and it has given him some new ideas about how to deal with the issue of government-mandated minimum wage increases.
“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider (BI) of his plans to add more automation to his restaurants. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”
He says his interest in restaurants that are free of human employees – which he adds would only be possible if the company found the time to research and test the concept while Hardee’s works on expanding in the northeast – is being driven by government mandates that he pay employees wages above and beyond what their qualifications would otherwise demand.
“With government driving up the cost of labor, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” Pudzer told BI. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”
Indeed, Puzder – who will no doubt be vilified by some elected officials and others who push higher minimum wages as a political issue and who have never had to make a payroll of their own – is one of the most outspoken advocates against minimum wage increases. He has written a pair of op-eds in The Wall Street Journal describing what forced wage increases are leading to – less overall employment.
“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” he said. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”
“This massive social change is coming”
Of course not. But pushing the issue might help one of those two be elected president, even if it makes it more difficult for American companies and small businesses to afford labor.
So Pudzer and others in his business are not sitting around waiting for the shoe to drop. They are already eager to invest in automation, the end result of which will be fewer overall employment opportunities for some of the poorest Americans with the least amount of marketable skills.
“If you’re making labor more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” Puzder told BI.
That said, and though there are financial benefits, automating the restaurant business is not an easy process. For one thing, the technology has to work all the time, and at present, Pudzer says he doesn’t think a machine is capable of taking over all of the nuanced kitchen work performed by Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s employees. But for rote tasks like burger-grilling and order-taking, technology is actually more accurate than human employees.
“They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case,” he said when discussing the benefits of swapping machines for workers.
“This massive social change is coming, there is no stopping it and governments are too inept, slow-moving and in some cases outdated to do anything to mitigate it,” Bugout.news noted.