Robotics In the Labour Market

We have been capturing references to robots and their impact on the labour market. We believe that the trend to displace human workers will continue across ever more industries. Targets are high paying  and simple routine jobs. The trend will continue as robotics costs decline and labour market costs – wages and benefits – increase. We are already seeing robots appearing in fast food restaurants offsetting increases in minimum wages.

People argue that low-paying jobs may be eliminated but high-paying highly skilled jobs will be created. While undoubtedly true, the numbers are asymmetrically biased against the low-paying jobs, the labour pool for which is growing due to our immigration policies and the decline of the educational system. The social impact is the area to be concerned about.*

People will buy a Big Mac served by a robot instead of a person if it is cheaper. And the people that argue we should simply boycott this trend are irrelevant. They lost the battle of Walmart against the downtown core of small-town America and they will lose this one.

Links are below:

  1. John mauldin gives some good links to reports on the job impact of robotics: The Fragmentation of Society.
  2. Made in the USA (by Robots): China to Open Sewbot Factory in Arkansas, Producing Shirts for 33 Cents
  3. Meet “Aida”, the Perfect Banker (and a Robot): End of Branch Banks Coming
  4. Elon Musk’s Worst Nightmare: Russian AK-47 Maker Builds Fully-Automated “Killer Robot”
  5. Chinese Manufacturers Are Scrambling To Replace Workers With Robots As Wages Soar
  6. Two articles on autonomous electric vehicles and ships: Autonomous Future: Electric Feeder Ships and Autonomous Future: Disruptive Forklifts, AGVs, and Battery Swapping Devices for Cars.
  7. McDonalds Is Replacing 2,500 Human Cashiers With Digital Kiosks: Here Is Its Math
  8. Meet The Robots That Will Build Your Next House
  9. Viral Video Shows Chinese Warehouse Where Humans Were Replaced By Robots
  10. Automation is set to hit workers in developing countries hard
  11. The Robots Win: Blackrock Bets On Computers Over Human Stock Pickers, Fires Dozens
  12. New Study Says Robots Took All Of Detroit’s Jobs, Not Mexico
  13. Why Foreign Robots Are The Real U.S. Job Killer
  14. Meet SAM, Brick Laying Robot That Does The Work Of 6 Humans
  15. Meet “Flippy”, The Burger-Flipping ‘Bot That CaliBurger Is Rolling Out In All Its Restaurants
  16. Sooner Than You Think: GM to Build and Test Thousands of Self-Driving Bolts in 2018 for Ride-Sharing Lyft
  17. How The Coming Wave Of Job Automation Will Affect You.
  18. Amazon Plans Robotic Supermarket Staffed by 3; Chinese Factory Eliminate 90% of Humans, Defects Drop 80%.
  19. Here Come The Robots – And They Are Going To Take Almost All Of Our Jobs.
  20. Meet The “Bionic Barrista” Whose Mission Is To Terminate Millions Of Minimum Wage Jobs.
  21. How “Superstar” Companies And Technology Are Killing The American Worker.
  22. Online Grocer Debuts “Fruit-Picking Robot” In Latest Blow To Minimum Wage Proponents
  23. How to Make America’s Robots Great Again.
  24. EU Parliament Committee Votes To Give Robots Rights (And A Kill Switch)
  25. 3,000 Ride-Sharing Cars Could Replace 13,000 New York City Taxis
  26. Insurance Claim Adjusters Replaced by “IBM Watson Explorer”.
  27. Foxconn boosting automated production in China replacing robots with 2nd generation robots.
  28. Drone Delivery Wars: Delivery by Drone in US, 7-Eleven Leap-Frogs Amazon; France First at Federal Delivery
  29. How AI can bring on a second Industrial Revolution
  30. Outsourcing Giant Capita Replacing Thousands Of Jobs With Robots.
  31. Two-Thirds Of Workers In Developing Nations To Be Replaced by Robots, Report Warns
  32. Good current status: Get ready for the driverless revolution. It promises to transform both the automotive industry, and our lives
  33. The regulatory start: DOT Embraces Self Driving Vehicles: “Rise of New Technology is Inevitable, Unknowns Today Become Knowns Tomorrow”
  34. Chatbots: Is This About To Radically Change The World Forever?
  35. Domino’s Launches Drone Pizza Delivery, Shows What It Will Look Like
  36. Mish provides a timeline for rollout for several manufacturers: Singapore Beats Pittsburgh to World’s First Self-Driving Taxi Rides.
  37. Uber Offers Driverless Rides This Month! What About Snow, Rain, Pigeons, 80-Year-Olds on Roller Skates?
  38. Ford Targets 2021 for Mass-Market Self-Driving Car: 2021 a Near Certainty
  39. Singapore Unveils “Real” Self-Driving Taxis (No Steering Wheel, No Pedal) Dateline 2019
  40. A robot bricklayer: Is This How Trump Will Build The Wall Cost-Effectively?
  41. Self-Driving Shuttle Starts Operation in Lyon France in September
  42. Fighting Back? “Robo-Lawyer”-App Overturns 160,000 Parking Tickets.
  43. Autonomous Bus Testing On Swiss Public Roads
  44. How the state can nullify the economic benefit of robots: Robots To Pay “Social Security” Under EU Tax Proposal.
  45. When they leave the reservation …Self-Learning Robot Escapes Testing Ground (And Goes Missing For 45 Minutes)
  46. Army Tests Driverless Vehicles On Michigan Roads To “Save Lives, Cut Costs”.
  47. Adidas is moving to 100% robot made shoes before 2020: We Need New Labels: I Propose “100% Robot Made.
  48. The “System” Won’t Survive The Robots
  49. China Is Executing To Plan: Foxconn Replaces 60,000 Workers With Robots; also Robots Taking Over: Foxconn Terminates 60,000 Employees, Hires Robots!
  50. An alliance between Toyota and Uber sets Uber up for using autonomous cars: Days After Apple Invests In China’s Didi, Toyota Invests In Uber To Boost Car Leasing.
  51. Wendy’s to Employ Self-Service Kiosks at 6,000 Locations.
  52. Goodbye TAs: Georgia Tech Professor Reveals Online Assistant “Jill Watson” Was a Robot.
  53. “Nikola One” First-Ever 2000 horsepower (HP) Electric Class 8 Semi-Truck.
  54. Google, Chrysler Team Up on Minivans; GM, Lyft Test Self-Driving Electric Taxis.
  55. Surgical Robot Outperforms Humans; Airbus Plans Humanoid Assemblers. New areas of application.
  56. Automating Ourselves To Unemployment.
  57. China Is Building An Army Of Worker Robots: China plans to introduce large number of robots leaving the question of what they do with the displaced workers. The same question is one we face. Let’s see who is forced to find an answer first.
  58. Are Robots Taking Our Jobs? There is no reason to believe jobs lost will be compensated for by new jobs created. What is clear is that the disparity of wealth will grow under automation.
  59. McDonalds Responds To Minimum Wage Hikes, Launches McCafe Coffee Kiosk
  60. Charting the Automation Potential of U.S. Jobs
  61. Andrew McAfee: What will future jobs look like?
  62. Automation, jobs, and the future of work
  63. McKinsey on Automation of Knowledge Work
  64. Four fundamentals of workplace automation
  65. Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. 15% growth in robots.
  66. Accelerating introduction of industrial robots: Visualizing Why Manufacturing Jobs Aren’t Coming Back
  67. Several cases of a robotic interface to services: Meet Concierge Connie; Sophia, Your Medical Robot; “Joy for All” Robotic Pets; DC Delivery Bots.
  68. Successful test of a convoy of autonomous trucks: Autonomous Truck Update: Successful Autobahn Test of Platooned “Connect-Equipped” Mercedes Trucks
  69. First we saw Amazon’s delivery drone. Now Domino’d Pizza has an autonomous delivery vehicle: Domino’s Unveils “DRU” Unmanned Pizza Delivery Robot, On Trial in 7 Countries
  70. A number of links in this list describe advances of robotics and automation in the service sector. Fast food is an early adopter but now banks are doing it with robo-financial advisors: RBS Goes to Robo-Advisors, Fires Hundreds; Real Advisor Requires £250,000
  71. Update on several fronts: Japan Expects Driverless Taxis by 2020 Olympics; UK Testing Fleets of Driverless Trucks; Sweden Announces Unstaffed Food Store
  72. The one to look at is the robot “Atlas”: Google’s “SkyNet” Robots Are All Grown Up, And Terrifying
  73. Anecdote on Boeing’s use of robots: Robots at Boeing: Ex-Boeing Employee Chimes In On Robotics
  74. Mish offers an update: Driverless Truck Update: Next Phase “No Backup Driver” Hits Nevada Highways.
  75. The Age of the Intelligent Machine
  76. New Robot Trends: Soft, Flexible, Squishy
  77. The website Driverless car market watch  has a forecast timeline: Autonomous car forecasts.
  78. The future of agriculture: World’s First Robot-Run Lettuce Farm to Produce 30,000 Heads Daily; Tipping Point for Workerless Agriculture
  79. This time may be different, job creation wise:
    Fourth Industrial Revolution: Robots, Artificial Intelligence Will Destroy 5.1 Million Jobs by 2020 and Future of Jobs. We think with each industrial revolution, a smaller, smarter more educated lablor pool has been needed. This time the jobs created will continue this trend in the extreme. The more important realization is that this revolution is fundamentally about eliminating human workers and nothing else.
  80. More on cars: Drivers Not Needed: Tesla “Autopilot” Software Allows Self-Parking Without Driver; Completely Driverless Public Transport Test in Arizona
  81. This is a different labour market: military combat robots.
  82. A good argument why will never recover to past levels of employment: The World Of Work Has Changed And It’s Never Going Back To The “Good Old Days”.
  83. An interesting application of automation: Hit-And-Run Driver Arrested After Her Car Calls Police
  84. Warehousing and distribution: Robots Made Fast-Food Workers Obsolete: Now They Are Coming After These 791,200 Jobs
  85. Not an article on robotics, it deals with wage and labour cost issues that are part of the automation revolution: Destroying The “Technology Always Creates More Jobs Than It Destroys” Meme
  86. From Zero Hedge, a synthesis of fast food industry technologies already captured: Dear Striking Fast-Food Workers: Meet The Machine That Just Put You Out Of A Job. Also from Mike Shedlock: Fight for $15 vs. Drive to “Completely Obviate” Need for Fast Food Workers.
  87. Automation Doesn’t Just Destroy Jobs – It Destroys Profits, Too
  88. Brookings has a crap-laden introduction to a paper: How robots, artificial intelligence, and machine learning will affect employment and public policy.
  89. An update of an earlier theme: Step Aside Human: World’s Second Biggest Mining Company Unveils Robot Trucks
  90. Two TED talks showing the development of flying robots (drones): Vijay Kumar: Robots that fly … and cooperate, and The Future of Flying Robots.
  91. We don’t note everything that Mish writes on autonomous vehicles but here’s one:Robot Taxis Starting 2016 in Japan; Self-Driving Trucks on German Autobahn; Millions of Truck and Taxi Driver Jobs will Vanish in US by 2025.
  92. This technology will not displace a lot of jobs but it demonstrates the penetration of technology and sutomation into seeminglt remote areas of the economy: MIT Researchers Solve Temperature Problem in 3D Printing Glass; End of Glass Blowers?
  93. While it is a picture only, it says a thousand words: Happy “$15 Minimum Wage” Labor Day From McDonalds.
  94. This article has a section on the impact of robotics: We Are Now In The Final Endgame For Humanity.
  95. This article is included because it gives important insight into the development of future robot development:Survival of the Fittest Robot: A Mother Robot and the Evolution of Her Offspring.
  96. From a Brookings Institute conference, the chief economist of General Electric, Marco Annunziata, presents a paper that gives an overview of thr digital revolution on industry.The impact on future labour markets is sketchy. Read The future of work in the developing world.
  97. The title says it all: Chinese Company Replaces Humans With Robots, Production Skyrockets, Mistakes Disappear.
  98. The article, Driverless vehicles will have tremendous impacts on government revenue, discusses economic implications of autonomos vehicles, particularly of lost re venues to governments due to a decrease in driving infraction fines.
  99. Another article by Mish on driverless trucks: The Most Common Job in 29 States to Nearly Vanish in 10 Years; Know What That Job Is?. We don’t think this utopian scenario will unfold as he thinks. After all, what one has to date?
  100. King World News had a blog piece on the penetration of robots into the labour market: Global Elite Moving To Make Human Beings Obsolete
  101. Continuing the theme of humanoid robots: Robot Teacher Gives Lectures in China.
  102. A list of jobs and an estimated liklihood of replacement s robots: Odds of losing a Job to Automation: Which Jobs are at Risk, Which Aren’t?.
  103. From Zero Hedge: Will A Robot Steal Your Job?. The fundamental basis for introducing automation and robotics lies with macroeconomics or the cost of a human worker including benefits versus the amortized cost of automation for the same level of productivity.
  104. Mish posted an canticle on the zero labour factory: Introducing the Zero Labor Factory (90% Free Actually); Robots at Chili’s, Applebees, Panera.
  105. The overall theme in this post is the replacement of workers by robots and other forms of automation. Here’s one from Mish we didn’t see coming: Robo-Journalism Will Produce 1 Billion Web Stories in 2015 (This Isn’t One of Them); McJournalism Coming Up. This actually invites an examination of the relevance of the MSM.
  106. We have provided links in the past to the automation of fast food restaurants. Here is McDonald’s contribution: McDonalds Responds To Minimum Wage Protests.
  107. Consider from Mish: Morley the Robot Master Chef; Cognitive Cooking. The Turing test for a master chef robot, however, is can it make a Big Mac with fries and a Coke?
  108. One from Mish: Robots on Verge of Replacing Human Anesthesiologists, and one from Zero Hedge: The End Of Meaningful Work: A World Of Machines And Social Alienation. The latter argues the need for meaningful work. It is an appeal so shallow that it is of no consequence but some of the ancillary information is.
  109. While not directly a robotics issue, 3-D printing offers new possibilities in automation. As we see in this piece from Zero Hedge, Chinese Firm Reveals World’s First 3D-Printed Five Story Apartment Building, the ability to build large structures with this technology, when refined may have a major impact on the construction industry. (also read: STL Prep For 3D Printing.)
  110. Even labour has become too expensive in China: Chinese Company Moves To Replace 90% Of Its Workforce With Robots.
  111. Mish reports: Robots About to Take Away 18 Million German Jobs, 59 Percent of Germany’s Work Force? A German study indicates the impact of robots over the next few decades.
  112. This is an article on automation rather than robots. The significance is the reduction of workforce for increased production, the effect robots have economically. From Mish: Miracle Twinkies Comeback.
  113. Here’s one for rail buffs. While not autonomous robots, these machines automate the process of upgrading rail tracks by removing old wooden ties and replacing them with concrete ties in one continuous process: 2-minute short take; 25-minute video; and another 17-minute video that catches other details missed in the previous videos such as laying rails. The point is that a set of tasks that was completely done by hand by rail gangs in the 19th century is almost fully automated today. Finally, a video of an American crew replacing ties: CSX MOW Crew Replacing Ties On The Old Main Line.
  114. In The Old Models Of Work Are Broken, Charles Hugh-Smith discusses the type of job that an escape the commoditization process leading to automated and robotic systems to replace them.
  115. This short piece by Charles Hugh-Smith, Disrupt Or Be Disrupted, discusses industries vulnerable to major economic disruption by new technologies, especially robotics.
  116. From Mike Shedlock: Humanoid Robot Wows Crowd, Reacts to Facial Expressions, Can Engage in Conversation and Make Eye Contact. From Reuters: Humanoid robot starts work at Japanese department store, and Humanoid robot can recognize and interact with people.
  117. Mike (“Mish”) Shedlock posts a double header. The first is a novel advance in mechanized landscaping: Autonomous Golf Green Mowing and the Death of Lawn Maintenance Employment in General.
  118. The second is a nice video of an iron ore mine that is fully automated including driverless haul trucks: Peek Inside Caterpillar’s Fully Autonomous Mine Site – Drivers Not Needed
  119. Zero Hedge posted  good article on robotics and its impact on jobs in developed countries: The Biggest Threat To The Low And Middle Skilled Worker: Robots. Implications are for an increasingly larger and marginalized classes of individuals with low education and skills. The social impact will carry with it an increasing financial burden.
  120. Driverless cars are becoming mainstream as a news item and consequently we don’t follow the genre. However, here is an update from Mike Shedlock that contains a reference list of the articles he has written on the topic:
  121. An interesting story of the penetration of robots into a formerly cheap labour market: China. From Reuters, China to have most robots in world by 2017.
  122. A TED talk that introduces advances in machine learning. This technology will begin replacing some categories of service jobs in the next few years: Jeremy Howard: The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn.
  123. MarketWatch has an interesting article on Amazon’s deployment of 14,000 robots. While they may not have displaced human workers they have displaced a need for more of them. Read Amazon deploys fleet of robotic ‘elves’.
  124. A more general discussion on automation: Businesses Moving Too Quickly to Robots? Will 1 in 3 Jobs Vanish by 2025?
  125. Mike Shedlock has written several articles on robotic vehicles. Here’s the latest: RoboTrucks from Mercedes-Benz to Hit US Highways Within 10 Years; Mish Supply Chain Proposal.
  126. John Mauldin extracts from a large report on the future of robotics in: AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs
  127. From Mish: Meet “McCashier” Your $15.00 Per Hour McDonald’s Worker Replacement. Put this in context with the burger maker 8 links down and you can see the fully automated fast food restaurant. They’ll always need a cleaner, someone to feed the machines and a manager/technician to monitor the whole operation. But staff cuts are coming.
  128. Latest from Mish on driverless vehicles:Driverless Cars on UK Public Streets Starting January; Transforming Personal Mobility; Taxi and Truck-Drivers Targeted
  129. The Daily Mail (h/t Zero Hedge) reports: Will Apple’s iPhone 6 be made by ROBOTS? Chinese manufacturer Foxconn confirms Apple will be first customer for its ‘Foxbot’ robot assembly line. The article, really speculation about the iPhone 6, states that Each $25,000 Foxbot can complete an average of 30,000 devices per year it. Whether in fact it launches in time to make the iPhone 6 is not important. What is important is that it is imminent and that most consumer electronics products will be able to assembled by robots in the near future, drastically reducing human jobs on the production line. At $25,oo0 a robot now, production costs will decline in the future while wages and benefits for human workers go the other way. Connect the dots – there are only two of them.
  130. Continue Mike’s reporting on robot vehicles:
  131. From Zero Hedge: The International Brotherhood Of Burger Flippers Will Not Take It Any More.
  132. Mish introduces a new variant with drone ships: Are Drone, Workerless Ocean Freight Ships Coming? What About Jobs? Insurance? Inflation?
  133. John Mauldin interviews an expert on robotics. The parameters for robotic applications are  … something that is repetitive, and on top of that, something that is boring. If you have those two things, it’s likely that in the near future that will be replaced by a machine.
  134. From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Will the 2nd Great Machine Age be a frightening jobless dystopia?A couple of key points: Wages don’t matter any longer. Off-shoring was just a way station. … We are back to reshoring, but without jobs and Some 80pc of US taxation is now on labour. But how do you shift this burden to wealth taxes in a world of open capital flows and competing national tax jurisdictions? – or robots don’t pay taxes.
  135. In DO YOU REALLY THINK MCDONALDS WILL BE PAYING BURGER FLIPPERS $15 PER HOUR? we see the future of fast food. Never mind the burnt bun – that can be fixed. The loss of minimum wage jobs can’t.
  136. John Mauldin in Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution: Lettuce has to be thinned. When you grow lettuce, you have to plant a large number of seeds close together and then come back after they germinate and thin them out. This is a labor-intensive process that typically takes 50 workers two days in a 15-acre field. Except now there is a new machine called Cesar that can do the entire process in three hours for a fraction of the cost. (video)
  137. Not from Mike and not of robotics per se, Zero Hedge reports (Is Your Job About To Be Outsourced By A Computer (The Probability Is 47%)): Researchers at Oxford just published an analysis assessing what jobs might be computerized in the future. Their conclusion: a staggering 47% of the US workforce, spanning a range of career types.
  138. Not from Mike but in the same vein that he publishes such articles, from ZeroHedge read The Biggest Threat To Minimum Wage Restaurant Workers Everywhere?
  139. Carl the Robot Bartender Mixes Drinks and Chats With Customers
  140. Farm Robots to Make Migrant Worker Vegetable Pickers Obsolete; Welcome the “Lettuce Bot”, the “Grape Bot”, the “Strawberry Bot”
  141. You Are About to Become Obsolete; Perhaps You Already Are (But You Don’t Realize It Yet)
  142. Robotic Outsourcing; Food Preparation Robots Invade China, Japan, US; Who is to Blame, and What Can be Done About It?
  143. Robot Reality: “Last Resort” Service Jobs Next to Go; “Baxter” Back in the News. We are in the early stages of a robotics revolution that will seethe increasing replacement of low-end jobs by cheap universal robots.
  144. Robots Don’t Commit Suicide (and Other Robot Advantages).
  145. Robot Wars in China; Bugger Flipping Robots Serve 360 Gourmet Burgers and Hour
  146. Meet “Baxter” the Robot Out to Get Your Minimum-Wage, No Benefits, Part-Time Job, Because He’s Still Much Cheaper; Fed Cannot Win a Fight Against Robots A general purpose low-cost robot.
  147. $210,000 Cow Milking Robot; Presenting the “Astronaut A4 – A Natural Way of Milking”; How Far Off is the Completely Robotic Farm? Farm labour is generally not counted for labour statistics, but it does indicated a trend towards mechanization and the replacement of labour.
  148. Can the Fed Fight Droids and Win? Apple’s SIRI, Driverless Trucks, What’s Next? Riveting Video: Are Droids Taking Our Jobs? Summary points on the above video.
  149. Robots to Rule the World? Taking All Jobs? Replace Women? In particular he notes that many jobs coming back onshore from China are going to robots. He prints a list of links to a dozen related articles.
  150. Part II – Robots to Rule the World? Taking All Jobs? Replace Women? In this part Mike looks briefly at social impacts of this trend and presents optimistic and pessimistic views of the future of employment.
  151. Mass Layoffs Rise; One Million Robots to Replace Workers; Looking Ahead: Dismal Job Situation No Matter What Job Report Shows. Within a wider article on unemployment he mentions some examples of robots moving onto the workplace.
  152. We add this video from Mike from 20121217 (click on the YouTube logo or [ ] symbol in the lower right to enlarge):

Other links to articles on the use of robotics and high technology (data centers):

*Comment from Bill Gross found two hours after opening this post

Bill Gross, otherwise known as “the bond king” recently moved from PIMCO to Janus Capital in a high profile switch. He is legendary for his knowledge and investing acumen in the bond market.

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