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So Much For The McDonalds Jobs Renaissance: Burger Maker To "Hire" Computers Going Forward

Tyler Durden's picture


If nothing else, last month's 62,000 minimum wage, part time-job expansion program by McDonalds generated lots of commentary on whether it should or should not be counted in the April NFP number. While paying a bunch of janitors (sub) minimum wage will have precisely 0.00% impact on GDP, the possibility that America could convert even more full-time into part-time jobs, generating a few more press opportunities for the teleprompter was certainly bullish, sure generated a lot of contradictory blog posts. Alas, even paying minimum wage appears to be too much of a chore for the world's largest burger chain. Enter computers. From Fox Biz: "McDonald's is jumping on the technology bandwagon with a new system that will soon change the way European customers order food -- picture computers instead of humans asking whether customers prefer fries and supersizes. The fast-food restaurant, known for its golden arches, Big Mac burgers and Happy Meals, will replace cashiers with touch-screen terminals and swipe cards at its 7,000 chain restaurants in Europe, according to the Financial Times. That would mean, in part, the end of cash payments." Also picture no more millions of job applicants for something, anything at the Golden Arches. And like that another several million of America's lower class are about to become outsourced to robots.

From Fox:

In addition to the digital screens, McDonald's will stay open longer, modernize its stores and introduce new menus in an effort to attract tech-dependent, spend-wary and health-conscious consumers. McDonalds will be able to better track customer order trends and hone in on the most popular foods while cutting back on millions in staff costs.

The Oak Brook, Ill.-based company has been growing in Europe despite many of its rivals’ sluggishness, posting a 6% improvement in year-over-year sales at its more established stores in April and booking stronger growth in the region than it did in the U.S.

McDonalds has been implementing several global initiatives in an effort to keep sales high, introducing oatmeal, fruit and coffee  options on U.S. menus in an effort to attract health-conscious customers and those looking for an affordable breakfast, while modernizing its facilities around the world and adding free Wi-Fi services for the modern laptop and tablet user.

In an interview with the London-based publication, McDonald’s president of Europe, Steve Easterbrook, said the new process would change a traditional system that has been in place for 30 to 40 years.

The changes, he said, would improve efficiency and smooth the ordering process for customers by making average transactions three to four seconds shorter than traditional methods.

And just like reprofiling is now a pretty word (even if it means very ugly things), so "efficiency" is and continues to be the good ole' "synergies" also known as mass layoffs.


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Tue, 05/17/2011 - 09:55 | 1282685 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Subway already does this. Funny because that was what Subway used to be known for. (Interacting with your sandwich "Artist")

Their food sucks now. Not surprisingly.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:06 | 1282716 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

Mmmmmmm.....Fiat Food. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:20 | 1282782 Left Right Wrong
Left Right Wrong's picture

Have you guys ever been to an international McDonalds?  Incredibly different experience, not just for a tourist like me but for all of the local people too.  I was trying to party in Morocco one time and the most popular damn place was the McDonalds!  There was a live band in the back, everyone was on their laptops for the free WiFi, it was well lit, exceptionally clean, and offered a nice respite from 24/7 Moroccan food (plus the golden arch fez on the cashier was just adorable).  However, had to go to an underground place to secure myself a nice G&T.


Much different experience in America though.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282818 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

It's true here in India. In fact some of the fancier ones (McD's) have doormen! i near fell flat on my face when I saw that. And some of their Indianised food is supposedly tasty even.

BUt it's all machine food now. With electronic cashiers, more so than ever.

We're becoming borgs in ways we don't even realize.


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:28 | 1282859 vxpatel
vxpatel's picture

it's funny to watch the 'indian shining upper middle class crowd' pay top INR for white trash dining...Pizza Hut, Subway , Dominoes, KFC etc...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:39 | 1282914 Oh regional Indian
Oh regional Indian's picture

Too true. People actually dress up to for "dinner" to these places. 


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:45 | 1283442 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Well, Indian food is good and all, but try eating it 24/7 and you, too, would enjoy the typical American "slumming" experience.  If they only knew, though...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:42 | 1283443 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Well, Indian food is good and all, but try eating it 24/7 and you, too, would enjoy the typical American "slumming" experience.  If they only knew, though...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:32 | 1282870 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

Unfortunately the I have not left the Amerikant prison except for Canada eh.  America, Canada's Mexico.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:34 | 1282877 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

It's funny (to me anyway) that McDonalds is trying to become the Starbucks of fast food. People tell me their coffee is good too.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:39 | 1282901 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

I love diarrhea as much as the next guy, but I find it hard to eat their garbage since Ronald put his hands out to the taxpayer as well. 

Think about how much better the world would be without the taxpayer propping up the undesirables of this world. 

Just thinking about this gave me a chubby.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:15 | 1283043 Brevard Times
Brevard Times's picture


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:50 | 1282950 serotonindumptruck
serotonindumptruck's picture

I generally make a conscious decision to never eat the infectious waste that is served at this particular establishment, however I did order a meal from MD while visiting Rotterdam back in '87. I only knew a few words of Dutch, so the ordering process was a bit confusing. I think I still have the receipt in a souvenir box somewhere. I'm not sure exactly why I decided to keep it.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:03 | 1282719 Fish Gone Bad
Fish Gone Bad's picture

Has anyone noticed that Timothy "Eraser Head" Geithner looks considerably like the creepy original McDonald's Hamburgler? 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:32 | 1282882 r101958
r101958's picture


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:04 | 1282725 Ahmeexnal
Ahmeexnal's picture

So the much touted McHiring was nothing more than an act. Hypocrisy.

Speaking of hypocrisy, the Governator, who used any and all oportunnities to attack illegal mexican aliens has just admitted that he has a half mexican son:


Donald Trump no go in 2012.

Terminator no go in 2012.


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:15 | 1282760 Derpin USA
Derpin USA's picture

Arnold can't be president. He wasn't born in Kenya.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:20 | 1282801 c0ncerned citizen
c0ncerned citizen's picture

I knew he was a Keynesian!!!

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:22 | 1282822 c0ncerned citizen
c0ncerned citizen's picture

I knew he was a Keynesian!!

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:29 | 1282851 American Sucker
American Sucker's picture

Now?  Their food was always terrible.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 17:33 | 1284783 Rainman
Rainman's picture

agree....if you could eat a picture of the burger you're supposed to get maybe it would taste better.

Copper slang for a burger and fries is gut bomb and a sack of snakes. They are major consumers.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:37 | 1282905 max2205
max2205's picture

Sooo, now they will fire those 50,000 people they just hired last month? or was it last week. These Corp boys need a PR Road Map

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:01 | 1282998 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

In most major America cities, a good chunk of the population is illiterate (47% illiteracy in Detoilet). Those people are the customer base for McDonalds. Dumbed down food for a dumbed down population

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 09:59 | 1282688 Doode
Doode's picture

It was inevitable with the advent of both Asimo and Watson. They will merge those together and make them cheap in about 10 years and then first 10% then 20% then 50% of the labor force will become unemployable within another decade or so. Fun times are coming!

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:13 | 1282749 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture


There are always potential jobs available for everyone. Legal liability and regulatory barriers cause unemployment.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:18 | 1282785 Derpin USA
Derpin USA's picture

Yeah, because people who make $7/hour are living like kings. Let's cut it in half so we can magically claim unemployment is lower. Damn those OSHA requirements for a safe work environment. Just faggy liberal red tape that makes good, white businessmen cry into their pillows at night.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:04 | 1283008 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

Those blue-eyed devils always keepin the brothas down. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282796 Doode
Doode's picture

Heh, I have been working for years on the forefront of making people absolete. I am saying that a new societal order will be required because there will be virtually 0 humans employed in services/manufacturing fields. Most clerical and even a lot of white color jobs will not be outsourced, but permanently replacedwith machines as well. I would say you will start seeing it in the next 10 years culminating in about 20-30 years from now.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:06 | 1283004 theopco
theopco's picture

Oh we're already seeing it. The fact is that we only need a small fraction of the populace to produce everything anyone might need or want. The vast majority of people today are doing make-work jobs, even now. Pushing paper selling paper- corporate and government bureaucrats. The trend will continue. In the end, once we find a way to adjust to this reality, it could be a good thing. But we are living in the past, and there will be great pain until we change the nature of our hierarchies.

In the middle ages, it took the peasantry about 10 hours of labor a week to provide for themselves and their masters. Something to think about.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:11 | 1283030 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

The homeless will purchase the millions of cars and electronic gadgets produced by the machines and robots.

In reality, there are a few jobs that robots and computers can't do. Construction, maintenance and repairs on machinery, medical field, fine dining, farming, etc. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:32 | 1283112 buzzard
buzzard's picture

Farming... now there's a thought. Why don't we all become farmers before the rush?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:03 | 1283283 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

I guess farming is beneath the elites like you. How about construction? Electrician? Plumbing? There will still be jobs, but not enough for 6 billion people. 

Wed, 05/18/2011 - 00:31 | 1286026 aka_ces
aka_ces's picture

For a long time the advent of robots was supposed to free all humanity to a life of leisure.  Perhaps the actual has something to do w/ concentration of wealth and of ownership of capital ?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:16 | 1282869 carbonmutant
carbonmutant's picture

Who needs robots if you have a cell phone and a vending machine?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:04 | 1283000 NumberNone
NumberNone's picture

Without people, who videos the transgender beatdowns? 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 20:45 | 1285400 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

I'm reminded of the Nutrimatic™ Drink Machine from the Sirius Cybernetics® Corp...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 09:59 | 1282691 SwingForce
SwingForce's picture

Good luck with that, people are too stupid to know The Benbernank is killing them, you think they can order a happy meal on their own? Where's the NO PICKLES button? Ha.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:06 | 1283020 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

This is what I was thinking.  Half the customers don't know what they want after waiting on line for 10 minutes, don't see a self-order line helping that.

On the other hand, it could eliminate the half-hour delays that always result from someone being handed their bag and saying, "Hey!  I ordered pies, not fries!"

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 20:49 | 1285403 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

It's right next to the 'Any' key...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:00 | 1282692 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Already happening at Home Depots, too, with self-checkout. 


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:04 | 1282696 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Walmart has self-checkout and many other places.

Soon to be replaced:

Gas station attendants

Wouldn't surprise me if the BLS adds jobs done by computers to the labor statistics to put some really rosey lipstick on this pig.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:08 | 1282712 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Gas station attendants have already gone the way of the dodo bird unless you live in NJ. Or are you talking about the person inside the convenience store that sells gas to get you to buy the coffee and muffins?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:08 | 1282737 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

If you add a cash feature at the pump to accompany the credit/debit feature and replace the convenience store attendant with a vending machine type machine then you have eliminated those jobs right there.

You might need a guy to come by periodically to facilitate restocking/refueling.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282791 tmosley
tmosley's picture

That is tremendously capital intensive.  Raise the minimum wage a few more time and that might happen.  Further, the likelihood of vandalism destroying said capital would be too high for most convenience store owners to handle.  Further, beer and wine sales would be difficult or impossible without human judgement.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:29 | 1282848 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

Capital Intensive?

In the first year you would be saving $15,080 in a state with a minimum wage of $7.25 p/h. A state where it is higher, let's say where min wage is $8 p/h you are saving $16,000. This assumes 1 employee working a typical 40 hour week.

Over the course of 10 years you will save (with the conservative $7.25 p/h) roughly (not taking into account future min wage increases over a 10 year period) $150,000. And that is PER employee, which many stations have several employees on the pay roll and stay open 24/7. Like I said that $150,000 is for 1 employee working a standard 40 hour work week.

What is more captial intensive?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:36 | 1282893 Sgt.Sausage
Sgt.Sausage's picture

==> In the first year you would be saving $15,080


You'd be saving quite a bit more than that. Employer share of SS and Medicare, worker's comp, unemployment, and all the various other expenses, on top of the $15 KiloBucks in salary.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:08 | 1283029 tmosley
tmosley's picture

Have you ever been inside of a convenience store?  We're not talking about one or two vending machines here, but DOZENS.  You would need machines for coffee, machines for doughnuts, machines for candy (easy), drinks (easy), bread, milk, plates, plastic cutlery, motor oil, window washing fluid, etc, etc, etc.  How many hundreds of thousands of dollars would that number of vending machines cost?  

And again, how many are going to be destroyed each year by vandals?

If it was cheap and easy to do, it would have been done already.  Automated checkout works in grocery stores and fast food restaurants because there are other employees there.  In a convenience store, the attendant does everything from providing security, to cleaning the bathrooms to making change to restocking.  Might be able to get away with cutting down on the number of people at larger convenience stores, but you are going to need SOMEONE there, for security if nothing else.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:37 | 1283153 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

Make the entrance/exit an armored airlock mechanism, and keep the customers under surveillance.  When the system detects vandalism, just seal the perpetrator in the airlock as he leaves, gas him into unconsciousness, and send a security-bot by to scoop him up and drop him into an onboard wood-chipper.

Sure maybe it's capital-intensive, but it would be efficient.  And anyway, they can just print more money or something.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 20:49 | 1285416 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Where's a RoboCop® when ya need one? :>D

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:19 | 1283067 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

It won't happen. The majority of convenience store profits come from alcohol and tobacco sales. You can't sell those from a vending machine. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 15:53 | 1284353 DrunkenMonkey
DrunkenMonkey's picture

In Europe (france, mostly) it already has, Esso have about 50% of their operations as pump only, and have removed the store section.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:26 | 1282853 -Michelle-
Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:48 | 1282936 QQQBall
QQQBall's picture

tsmosley - waivers aside, what do you think the medical insurance premium is on a machine?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:14 | 1283040 tmosley
tmosley's picture

What is the medical insurance premium on a part time worker?

How much is the maintenance contract for the two dozen vending machines you have to instal to replace a single worker?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:20 | 1283052 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

What will be the cost in lost tobacco and alcohol sales since it is illegal to sell those products from vending machines?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 13:11 | 1283540 nufio
nufio's picture

technology will evolve to read drivers license and facial recognition.

and laws will be changed when this technology becomes available.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:23 | 1283088 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district was the hands-down winner in the latest set of health care law waivers announced by the Obama administration.


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:01 | 1283264 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Went to a Fresh n' Sleazy the other day. All self-checkout. Only needed human intervention to ID me because of the beer.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:19 | 1283068 Brevard Times
Brevard Times's picture

Motorists also stop at gas stations to use the restrooms.  Gotta have someone on unclog duty.

Wed, 05/18/2011 - 00:26 | 1286037 aka_ces
aka_ces's picture

France had automated public pay toilets by the early-mid 80s, mostly removed now, if I recall because they were subject to vandalism.  25 yrs on, I imagine that problem can be resolved with additional technologies.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:42 | 1283175 Bagbalm
Bagbalm's picture

You still need one person on site to report spills and fires and theft. Nobody is going to insure a business selling flammables with nobody on site.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 13:13 | 1283548 nufio
nufio's picture

there will be video surveillance and security contracted out to a security firm where a guard will watch monitors over 20 such gas stations/convenience stores.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:11 | 1282741 Rick64
Rick64's picture

Oregon too.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 14:47 | 1284041 Cognitive Dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance's picture

I didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

I thought NJ was alone in their "save the endangered professional gas pumper" program. :>)

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:03 | 1282722 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

Airline counters, trains, subways, etc.

Get ready for Johnnie Cab...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:09 | 1282733 Dr. Richard Head
Dr. Richard Head's picture

It's not a tumah.....It is an illegitimate child with the house help. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:29 | 1282855 Dog Paper
Dog Paper's picture

Automation, bitchez!

This will lead us all to a life of leisure, remember?


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:55 | 1282858 Dog Paper
Dog Paper's picture

Holy shite, I got junked...I'll remember the </sarc> next time...sheesh


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:05 | 1283290 Rodent Freikorps
Rodent Freikorps's picture

Crazy movie.

His job is using a jackhammer, but they have Johnnie cabs.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:04 | 1282705 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Oh pretty much every single place has self-checkouts. It makes way way too much sense not to have them.

In a not so "downer look" at everything, one upside is that usually 1 person manages all of that. Thats at least something to put on a resume if you know how to spin it. "Managed multiple checkout terminals." That is a hell of a lot better than a single cashier might be able to say. Its not even really a big spin either. If i was working some place I would much rather higher somebody who has had experience managing multiple automated machines than a person who had only been a cashier.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:33 | 1282844 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

Oh boy.

First, you would "hire" someone, not "higher" someone.

Multiple terminals versus a cashier?

You mean they let a computer do most of the work and know how to go push a button versus do what the computer was doing?

Wow, utopia is so great, and so "talented".

Brave new world.


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:35 | 1282898 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Yes, it takes great intelligence to point out trivial "spelling" mistakes. I'm sure you never make them. I must be a village idiot right? I'm glad you add so much value with your posts.

Apparently you've either never used a self checkout or pay no observation of what a person managing it does. Do you really think that a cashier is better skilled than a person who maintains terminals, since it has been proven that ANY joe blow can be their own cashier with no training? You have to maintain the dollar amounts, fix mistakes, make adjustments, and monitor the flow of not just ONE register.

Who said anything about utopia? I guess you'd rather have people working for the sake of work then right?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:55 | 1282969 ebworthen
ebworthen's picture

I'll wave to you sitting on the wall as I leave town, don't fall.

Wed, 05/18/2011 - 00:30 | 1286044 aka_ces
aka_ces's picture

Race to the top !

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 09:58 | 1282694 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

We already have these at Sheetz. 


OT: bumping between 50MA and 50VWAP, some algos might be breaking a sweat as to what direction to take.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:00 | 1282697 Doode
Doode's picture

This is bound to bring eugenics back at some point - otherwise the state will have to care for tens of millions of people that would not be able to find a job! Liberals will come out swinging in full force at that idea of course. Lol. Of course, maybe they will figure out a pill to make Mcd employees smarter - you never know. Darpa is working on that for the soldiers right now.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:04 | 1282708 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Oh you mean planned parenthood?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:09 | 1282731 Doode
Doode's picture

RINOS are cutting funding for them - bad idea! Should double their funding instead. That said I think it will require a fundamental rethink of the society because the day of reckoning is coming - and robots will permanently replace a very large group of people within our lifetime.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:16 | 1282763 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

There will always be plenty of jobs if government allows it.

Efficiency is good, you Luddite.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:34 | 1282892 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

There will always be plenty of jobs if government allows it.

Efficiency is good, you Luddite.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:19 | 1282770 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

Eh i disagree with this assumption. Its been said for decades. Yes technology has replaced a hell of a lot of jobs, but that can only go so far.

Where are all of these materials going to come from to build this? Who is going to build these robots? Who can PAY to build these robots? With less and less jobs, comes less and less ability to buy things, like robots. Hell which companies even have money to INVEST in this kind of technology with barely any margins or fake profit margins at best?

I have been pondering this question for some time. If technology gets rid of alot of jobs, and globalization makes products cheaper (because there are plenty of people willing and able to do a job for less), what then happens to countries like our own? Either they work for less, OR they have to get jobs that can't be turned into "robots." Neither one of those are going to happen particularly anytime soon. The most realistic is the first.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:23 | 1282809 Derpin USA
Derpin USA's picture

Just wait until the robots are the builders of the robots.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:38 | 1282900 Sgt.Sausage
Sgt.Sausage's picture

Are you Sarah Connor?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:27 | 1282854 Doode
Doode's picture

Robots will replace as many people as it makes sense in terms of efficiency - if one firms does not do it for some sentimental reasons the other competing firm will. So the replacement is inevitable, but what I am saying is the society will have to change to accommodate for that. Possibly go back to the slave ownership like structure where people own robots that do work for them, and certainly the government will have to control reproduction to a higher degree. These new robots, btw, will both build and repair and harvest new resources by themselves. We will still need designers for some time, but not too long - a few more decades at most.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:43 | 1282917 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

You've been reading/watching too much science fiction. The more you know about technology (I'm an aerospace engineer), the more you realize its limitations and its fragility. I think we're already reaching diminishing returns with technology and the pace of technological innovation is slowing down. In my opinion, the future will be the exact opposite of what you propose - that people will move away from their keyboards and do more hands-on work.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:51 | 1282967 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

...people will move away from their keyboards and do more hands-on work.

There is an app for that.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:15 | 1283044 Doode
Doode's picture

Hahahahaha - I work on the forefront of making people absolete and let me break it down for you. You are wrong in a way I have not seen people being wrong for a long time! Just something to think about.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:24 | 1283095 hedgeless_horseman
hedgeless_horseman's picture

I work on the forefront of making people absolete...

So, are you hiring?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:38 | 1283145 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

I guess you've also made spelling "obsolete" hah, i'm just messing with you. I just had to do it because somebody did it to me above, like a tool.

As long as their is the ability to innovate (which will always be the case) more meanial jobs will be removed. But that doesn't mean that its practical, efficient, or reasonable enough to be profitable. If that was the case why is there such an illegal immigrant problem in the US? Seems like alot of people are willing to work jobs for cheaper than it would be to innovate and automate those jobs.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:11 | 1283330 Doode
Doode's picture

Yep, i am a Word slave. Still, thanks for pointing it out. The illegal immigration can be solved in part by the robotics - probably again, about 2 generations from today or ~10 years from now. I think that robots will be priced at around 10-20K and will work tirelessly and without much need for human intervention just like the PCs of today. Current robots cost 300K a pop - not a threat to anyone, but at the aforementioned price it will be a direct threat to any minimum wage job. Imagine a time charge (lease) of 20K and then get work done 23/7 for 3 years straight. That is a bargain by any standard.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 20:59 | 1285449 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture


RICH Economy step 1:
Offer a prize of $50,000/year to any worker that designs a
machine/software/process that will replace him/her.
Offer an additional prize of $30,000/year to ALL OTHER WORKERS that get replaced.
Answering conservative objections:
1. A machine works 24/7, thereby tripling output immediately.
2. Machines do not take sick leave.
3. Machines are never late for work.
4. Machines do not form unions and constantly ask for higher wages and more fringe benefits.
5. Machines do not take vacations.
6. Machines do not harbor grudges and foul up production in sneaky, undetectable ways.
7. Cybernation was advancing every decade anyway, despite the opposition of Unions, government, and other Alpha males; it was better to have huge populations celebrating the reward of $30K to $50K/year for group cleverness than huge populations suffering the humiliation of welfare.
8. With production rising due to Cybernation, consumers were needed and a society on welfare was a society of very meager consumers.

The majority of the unemployed, living comfortably on $30k/year, spent most of their time drinking, smoking, engaging in primate sexual acrobatics and watching TV.
When Moralists complained that this was a subhuman existence, Hubbard answered, "And what kind of existence did they have doing idiot jobs that machines do better?"

[/quote] -- R.A. Wilson

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:48 | 1283192 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

I don't know what being "on the forefront" means, but anyone who believes in the limitlessness of technology doesn't understand that the laws of physics and thermodynamics place limits on how far a given techology can advance. I suspect that your vision of a robot-dominated future is just talking your book and used as part of the marketing plan of your robot company.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:08 | 1283315 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

One of the side-affects of Physical Education courtesy of WiiFit seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding about how the really real physical world works. They read about things like entropy and gravity in a book once.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 14:14 | 1283816 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Maybe they can found new churches and we'll have a bunch more wacky new religions that fear science and mathematics and don't have to pay any property taxes.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:31 | 1283125 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

I agree completely.

Bulk consumption I think is coming to an end, and with that the need for "extremely efficient" high overhead systems that require intense amounts of power and bulk distrobution to keep profit margins.

People have been saying robots taking over for a long time. The japanese are the "furthest" with the technology and from what I've seen its not coming to a home near you ANY time soon.

Alot of science fiction doesn't really capture my attention or make me take it very seriously beyond about 5% of the technology advertised.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:45 | 1283172 buzzard
buzzard's picture

Most people don't understand what technology actually is. A shovel is about as far as we ever should have gone down the tech road. The "technology will save us" meme is alive and well today. However, this only works if we have cheap and abundand energy. Oil fit the bill for a hundred-fifty years. Now that it has peaked, we will begin to see peak technology too.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:27 | 1283382 TheTmfreak
TheTmfreak's picture

I was getting ready to reply above stating this very same thing.

Everyone has the "cure" for cheap energy, except they don't.

Everyone seems to be banking on technologies panning out to our wildest hopes and dream.

I laugh everytime anybody mentions cold fusion in particular. I'll just keep holding my breath on that one, while real problems mount, we'll solve them with "tomorrows" technology. Doesn't mean we don't try to, but we can't put all of our chips in that basket.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 14:13 | 1283826 aerojet
aerojet's picture

Sure, then you get sick and it's all "save me, modern medicine, save me!"

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:32 | 1283113 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture

Please, return to the 1960's & take Asimov with you.

Robots are useful for highly technical precision work (largely industrial level). Anything else, people are cheaper. Easier to replace, easier to manage, less expensive to repair and a (virtually) infinite resource. Compare that to robots, and the organic always wins.


Unless you're talking biotech. Now biotech has all kinds of gravy attached to it. Hint:

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:58 | 1282977 Alex Kintner
Alex Kintner's picture

Yeah, all these dick heads who want to cut funding for planned parenthood also whine about paying for kids on welfare. Save $100 on an abortion to pay $200,000 on welfare for the 'dependent years' of the kid.


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:16 | 1283045 Doode
Doode's picture

That is exactly my outrage as well! Freakonomics confirms exactly that!!!!

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 15:02 | 1284126 blunderdog
blunderdog's picture

A fair number of those dickheads don't want to pay welfare either.  They want to make sure there's always a large subpopulation of destitute and toothless illiterates so they have someone left to look down on and jeer at.

It's a coping mechanism to fall back on when your own life makes you miserable.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:03 | 1282698 Sandy15
Sandy15's picture

It will be exposed later that they got 'Government money' to hire, so the employment numbers wouldn't look so bad.  If you remember the birth/death numbers added 175K, McDonalds added 62K.......... without those two numbers only 7K jobs were added.......  Unemployment rate would have been more than 9%.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:00 | 1282699 treemagnet
treemagnet's picture

I wonder how long before they get the whole greasy process stuffed into a vending machine?  Maybe they'll even program it to fuck up every 4th order just to keep the experience "real".

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:01 | 1282702 RobotTrader
RobotTrader's picture

MCD now trading at fresh, new, world record highs as we speak.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:18 | 1282787 d00daa
d00daa's picture

Your boy Kaltbaum called the top yesterday.

Get out while you still can.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:22 | 1282799 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

Which means that it is time to buy some mid-term OTM puts

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282814 firstdivision
firstdivision's picture

Which means that it is time to buy some mid-term OTM puts

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:01 | 1282707 BillyBoy22
BillyBoy22's picture

Delicious Delicious Schadenfreude

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:02 | 1282711 Natasha
Natasha's picture

If enough people refused to do business with robots, the robots would get tossed. Alas, the crowd will comply. Just like they do now with self-check out.

Smells like a bonus bonanza for Jim Skinner.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:11 | 1282740 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:13 | 1282748 Derpin USA
Derpin USA's picture

The embracing of a digital currency will only lead to the enslavement of its users.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 13:29 | 1283608 nufio
nufio's picture

what if someone finds a faster algorithm to generate a bitcoin in the future. would that not render the entire bitcoin currency useless?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 14:21 | 1283854 aerojet
aerojet's picture

That's a worse scheme than even the stock market!  Aaaaaand it's gone...

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282793 buzzsaw99
buzzsaw99's picture

I was waiting for someone to point that out.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:05 | 1283013 Natasha
Natasha's picture

And the Luddites were right.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:03 | 1282714 Bad Asset
Bad Asset's picture

Why can't I just order with my iPhone and get Asimo to bring it to my car???

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:06 | 1282720 Apostle of Unknown
Apostle of Unknown's picture

we can only pray the buttons are big enough to avoid fat finger trades

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:13 | 1282762 LRC Fan
LRC Fan's picture


Will there be "broken" or "busted" burger orders? 

Maybe GS can create an algo that "slices and dices" the Happy Meal orders (think: onions) and could sell it to some rich clients? 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:05 | 1282727 Herman Strandsc...
Herman Strandschnecke's picture

It would be a welcome improvement on the very rare occasions when I drive my children through one of these establishments.

I can't understand a word coming from the speaker except the part about "would you like to be large size and would you like to be an onion ring today at the first window" and I always say back; "If I wanted large or side order I would have bloody well asked for it-woodin eye" ?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:49 | 1282959 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

They're using the Jedi mind trick on you... "These are not the droids you're looking for" ... "You want to super-size your fries"....

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:14 | 1283041 serotonindumptruck
serotonindumptruck's picture

Rude language with fast food workers will earn you the inclusion of random bodily fluids in your food order.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:08 | 1282729 Josh Randall
Josh Randall's picture

They need more security guards than order takes at McDonalds these days

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:08 | 1282738 Apostle of Unknown
Apostle of Unknown's picture

that's why new employees will have to go through McBootcamp before attending Hamburger University

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:06 | 1282732 godzila
godzila's picture

I honnestly don't think this will work in many European countries (as apprently they intend to implement this idea there). Unless there is a significant price advantage people will rather interact with a human being.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:12 | 1282758 orca
orca's picture

Well, I live in Europe (Belgium) and on april 1st they opened a brandnew McD at my city, with computerterminals. You can order at a counter too, except that it is very small and crowded, and the alternative, a couple of computerterminals with swipe function, is much faster and spacier. That, and they hired retards for the counter ordering, so the choice isn't that hard. Traffic is brisk, maybe because it is the only McD in a 20 kilometre radius.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:16 | 1282767 Herman Strandsc...
Herman Strandschnecke's picture

.....people will rather interact with a human being.'

I would rather, in the case of Mc Donaldsis interact with an 8" colour monitor in my dashboard whereby the menu is displayed and orders are made via blutooth and paid for in credits from my vault.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:20 | 1282784 bob_dabolina
bob_dabolina's picture

I agree.

The employees at Mcdonalds have often caused me to lose my appetite.

When you can smell the person serving you over the deepfry, MSG, food, and their nails have enough dirt to fill some holes in my backyard, ones appetite can be lost quite swiftly.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:26 | 1283092 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

If those are the ones they present to the customers, what kind of people do you think are making your food in the back?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:17 | 1283355 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

Whole new spin on the car-hop. Asimo will deliver your order in roller skakes and a mini-skirt.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:11 | 1282742 Stoploss
Stoploss's picture

I think the big story here is the method of payment, which apparently does not involve any type of "cash" transaction.

Plastic only is here, bye bye paper, hello plastic, hello trackable and traceable electronic transactions, good bye dealers and drug lords. Only thing missing so far are the barcode tatoo's. That comes next year.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:16 | 1282779 Use of Weapons
Use of Weapons's picture


Glad someone is paying attention.


Never forget that credit cards are essentially monopolies, backed by Uncle Sam's muscle. Never.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:57 | 1283196 Mad Cow
Mad Cow's picture

Don't worry, they'll legalize drugs by then. In fact they might be mandatory.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:12 | 1282744 Derpin USA
Derpin USA's picture

Would you like another EXTRA BIGASS FRIES?

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:12 | 1282746 youngman
youngman's picture

Actually they are smart to get ahead of the Politicans raising the minimum wage because they can not cut spending...required security..high wages...probably a shorter work week so more people can work a transportation ...all these new and improved(increased) costs to an employeer....and still try to keep the costs down for a fast food restaurant...This will raise prices...transitory inflation..

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:16 | 1282777 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Only Luddites fear efficiency.

You have pointed out true barriers to employment. I could.hire several more people if the regulatory, health care cost, liability issues, and overall cost structure was more rational and efficient.

Governments create unemployment thru regulatory and cost barriers.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:21 | 1282788 Herman Strandsc...
Herman Strandschnecke's picture

Governments create unemployment thru regulatory and cost barriers.'

Yes they do but why? That's what I would dearly love answered.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:36 | 1282823 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture


Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:23 | 1282831 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Barriers to capital and labor flows to protect special interests.

Also a naive altruistic desire to make life better for the people without clearly thinking thru the consequences. Some regulations have of course been helpful. Many are just plain harmful, but inadvertently.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:31 | 1283120 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

All departments must justify their existence. All managers must justify their promotion. They come up with rules and regulations to do so. The more rules and regulations they must enforce, the more warm bodies they need. The federal budget was $1.9 trillion back in Clinton's last year in office. Ten years later it had ballooned to $3.8 trillion. Did anyone notice a lack of federal government services ten years ago? Even if we remove the $150 billion annual cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we've nearly doubled our spending. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:03 | 1283293 Mad Cow
Mad Cow's picture

Governments create unemployment thru regulatory and cost barriers.'

Yes they do but why? That's what I would dearly love answered.

Because the more people on the big sagging gov. tit the better. Pretty soon all jobs will be gov. jobs.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 21:03 | 1285485 StychoKiller
StychoKiller's picture

Because "Progressives" want/need Govt Jobs! :>D

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:20 | 1282802 Herman Strandsc...
Herman Strandschnecke's picture

Governments create unemployment thru regulatory and cost barriers.'

Yes they do but why? That's what I would dearly love answered.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:23 | 1282806 d00daa
d00daa's picture

Perhaps if you repeat this mind-numbing, black-and-white mantra another 100 times, it will become reality.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:32 | 1282864 topcallingtroll
topcallingtroll's picture

Then please explain how Luddites are right.

Increased productivity in farming, manufacturing and services has led to a modern, comfortable lifestyle.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 11:34 | 1283137 sun tzu
sun tzu's picture

You are correct, but the question is what to do with the surplus labor. Once all the jobs at McDonalds, manufacturing,  etc are computerized, roboticized, there won't be enough jobs for 10 billion people. 

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 12:27 | 1283395 A Nanny Moose
A Nanny Moose's picture

People had to build shovels, then tractors to increase productivity. Somebody has to build, install, and maintain those machines. Somebody has to build install and maintain the networks across which they will communicate with the borg hive. Somebody has to spin up the virtual servers in the borg hive that will store the reams of data they produce. Somebody will have to interpret the data, and make business decisions based on that data.

Tue, 05/17/2011 - 10:17 | 1282759 cat2


Oops someone beat me to it up there.

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