Robot Economy Essay

Submitted By woodythewise
Words: 1285
Pages: 6

George Swartout
COSC-321-101
Homework #1 Imagine a world where everything is automated and embedded with some sort of technologically advanced computer system. Now, imagine having to wake up in that world tomorrow. The idea of such a lifestyle is becoming more and more possible considering the addition of “Baxter” and “Alpha”. Baxter and Alpha are two robots that can eliminate the need of human employment in select industries. Most of these industries could benefit economically and financially from using these technologies. On the other hand, middle-class workers and the unemployment could suffer greatly from the implementation of new, more efficient machines. Exponentially accelerating advancements in the technological field, such as these machines, will either benefit or destroy the job market for people in the long run. Registered investment advisor Mike Shedlock wrote an article entitled, 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”. The title may seem a bit light-hearted, but it is also dead accurate. Baxter is the “Automation Robot” that can literally replace a person, be cheaper to the employer and do the job perfectly each and every time. At Vanguard Plastics, the average employee makes about $9.00 per hour stacking and packing textured plastic cups. With a little work, Baxter can do the same task for $3.40 per hour. This shocking statistic would be a relief for the employers at Vanguard Plastics who may see a rise in wages of their employees in the near future. Employers contribute an additional 6.2% of their employees’ hourly wages to social security, which means Vanguard Plastics is actually paying $9.56 per worker, per hour. That total doesn’t even account for the money lost when having to compensate for vacations, sick-time, training costs and other unforeseen liabilities. Shedlock claims that Baxter is the ultimate “deflationary force”. Even if minimum wage remained at it’s current 7.25, or 7.75 for some states, Baxter would still be the most cost-effective option in any scenario. When it comes to small businesses, Baxter is going to be equally convenient. At this point in time, small businesses don’t have to provide healthcare to employees. However, when the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, under the employer responsibility provision, any small business with less than 50 human workers will have to pay significant penalties if they continue in such a way. With Baxter, wages paid to employees will be cut in half — at least. The article emphasizes the idea that Baxter’s cost rivals the “wages in China.” Also, depending on the success of the machine, the reasoning for upgrading and customizing Baxter for multiple uses will be justified. At the moment, Baxter is being worked on to take over more complex tasks, such as constructing parts to machines on an assembly line. The implications of a robot being able to make other computerized items are incredible to say the least. Another great machine in the works is Alpha, the burger-flipping robot. In the article, ROBOT SERVES UP TO 360 HAMBURGERS PER HOUR, the Alpha machine from Momentum Machines is proclaimed to cook and dress hamburgers. In fact, these burgers are of “gourmet quality”, but can cost as little as the average cheeseburger. Not only does this machine slice and dice its own ingredients, but it does produces 360 of these burgers per hour. Alpha will, reportedly, pay for itself within a year. In the future, Momentum Machines intends on equipping Alpha with a custom meat grinding feature and different cooking abilities. This feature would allow for mixing different meats in to one burger for an added variety. The cooking ability that is spoken about in the article is charring. Charring is done by professional chefs and is a very sought after method of cooking. Considering of the lack of human workers, the restaurant will be…