The Robot uprising has had a minor setback as a Pasadena burger joint was forced to take its brand new burger-flipping robot, "Flippy," offline after the first day due to slow performance, reports USA Today.
Except, it wasn't Flippy's fault.
The restaurant, Cali Burger, says that while Flippy held up its end of the deal - there weren't enough to prepare the patties fast enough prior to cooking, nor finish the burgers with all the fixings, according to Chief Technology Officer for the Cali Group.
The robotic arms of "Flippy's Kitchen" is still on static display at Caliburger. The stage where patrons would normally line up for a peek was dark when USA TODAY visited Thursday, and there was little sign that Flippy would be coming back, but just when was "TBA" -- or to be announced. The restaurant was operating without the robot using its regular, human-run kitchen
Meanwhile, Flippy's "human helpers are also getting extra training to help the robot keep up with demand." In other words, the kids looking forward to that $15 / hour minimum wage in 2022 are learning how to dig their own graves more efficiently.
Last November we reported on Walmart's new DARPA-funded autonomous cleaning robot, dubbed Emma; an A.I.-navigated system capable of operating floor care equipment on night shifts which can clean an entire store without human interaction.
"Emma" - test bedded in five Walmart locations, was developed by San Diego-based startup Brain Corp., which works with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop novel machine learning algorithms that focus on taking jobs from middle class Americans. BrainOS is the company’s flagship product that enables robots to “perceive their environments, control motion, and navigate using visual cues and landmarks, while seeing and avoiding people and obstacles”.
The machine resembles a traditional scrubber but comes equipped with similar technology used in self-driving cars: extensive cameras, sensors, algorithms and Lidar for navigational mapping. Think of it as a Roomba crossed with a Tesla. A human must first drive the device to train it on a path; it can then operate largely independently, including when a store is open to customers. If a person or object gets in its way, it momentarily pauses and adjusts course. -Linkedin
In San Francisco, a local startup called Café X is rolling out robots which will make all manner of beverages for all the unemployed baristas. Drinks can be ordered in advance through a smartphone app, or you can simply walk into a location and use a touch-screen kiosk.
The robot—an arm, really—brings a cup to and from a machine that actually makes the coffee, or pulls cups of cold brew from a tap. When you enter a numerical code on a touch screen in front of the robot’s, er, cage, it places your drink on a platform so it can be lowered into a slot, kind of like a prize in a claw machine at an arcade. If you need help figuring out how to order, or finding a lid for your cup, there are also some human employees on hand (well, for now, at least). -technologyreview.com
And in China, shyrocketing wages have caused the rapid adoption of robot workers in manufacturing industries, cementing the country's position as a world leader in industrial automation.
Japanese company Fanuc, as Bloomberg Businessweek reports, manufactures robots that can perform all manner of functions. From constructing complex motors to making injection-molded parts and electrical components. At pharmaceutical companies, Fanuc’s sorting robots categorize and package pills. At food-packaging facilities, they slice, squirt, and wrap edibles.
Indeed, all we're going to need in short order is flying cars and a robot maid before we're living in The Jetsons.
Universal Basic Income or Cheap Everything or Both?
While people like Elon Musk believe that automation will ultimately require a universal basic income (UBI), others have suggested that automation will reduce the cost of living so substantially that we'll be in a cashless "Star Trek" utopia where scarcity doesn't exist.
There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better ... I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen. -Elon Musk
New York businessman Andrew Yang - founder of Venture for America and 2020 presidential hopeful, has a simple philosophy: America needs to radically restructure its society to prevent robots from causing Great Depression-level unemployment...
...At the core of his philosophy is something called the "Freedom Dividend"...essentially a rebranded take on UBI....
To fend off the coming robots, Mr. Yang is pushing what he calls a “Freedom Dividend,” a monthly check for $1,000 that would be sent to every American from age 18 to 64, regardless of income or employment status. These payments, he says, would bring everyone in America up to approximately the poverty line, even if they were directly hit by automation. Medicare and Medicaid would be unaffected under Mr. Yang’s plan, but people receiving government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could choose to continue receiving those benefits, or take the $1,000 monthly payments instead. -NYT
According to Yang, major disruptions in society caused by robots are closer than many Americans understand...
"All you need is self-driving cars to destabilize society," Mr. Yang, 43, said over lunch at a Thai restaurant in Manhattan last month, in his first interview about his campaign. In just a few years, he said, "we’re going to have a million truck drivers out of work who are 94 percent male, with an average level of education of high school or one year of college."
"That one innovation," he continued, "will be enough to create riots in the street. And we’re about to do the same thing to retail workers, call center workers, fast-food workers, insurance companies, accounting firms." -NYT
Perhaps it will be a combination of both in varying proportions; a basic, socialized, crappy McLifestyle for low skilled individuals, while those who specialize in jobs which robots haven't yet usurped will be able to upgrade to the bourgeoisie package. Kind of like today only with robot strippers and self-driving cars.
Or, perhaps after we've unleashed armies of robots throughout every tier of society, AI will deduce that human beings are cancer and we'll end up in battery pods - if we're not floating around in them already.