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The State of the Mainstream Press

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Bad Dragonite
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Post by Bad Dragonite » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:07 pm

the same applies to most low wage jobs, once it's that much more expensive to pay people than it is to automate, why not have a mcdonalds that's just a straight up food dispenser with a lobby and without any people actually doing the cooking? That's just capitalism, if you raise the wage too high then the market will change to what's cheaper. That's already where factories have been going slowly. Not even mentioning that if the minimum wage goes up to something like 15 then you'll also have to pay everyone else with a higher paying position more as well otherwise there is no incentive for those people to stay in those positions. To make up for it you'll likely see more jobs being taken by machines and eventually you'll have a store with nothing but a manager and maybe a specialized mechanic. If the two don't become the same job. Then you'll have more and more unemployment piling up as well. It's not really fair either as you're taking the lowest of low skill jobs and essentially putting them in the same pay bracket as specialists and college graduates, so less training and effort goes in but you still get paid the same, not really fair. Also [USER=35827]@SKELETOR[/USER], that's not entirely true, you have politicians like Bernie pushing for a 15 minimum wage, and it could just be they say it to become more popular, but I can't see a socialist not loving the idea of a universal income.
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Post by The Amazing Tazy Ten » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:09 pm

It's still pretty fiddly and if it breaks hard enough your business is unable to function during business hours. Not to mention that if something unexpected happens, like a fight or some sudden flooding, a robot can't close the store or alert the authorities without some human input (or having something get tripped due to misinterpretation). I just don't trust machines to do everything just yet. Make cars and plastic bottles? Yeah I get that, but given how easy it is to ruin food or simple orders I don't want machines that can't tell from a glance when something is wrong necessarily. If you want a store staffed entirely by computer programs you'll need to look at it very differently from what we're used to.

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Post by Bad Dragonite » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:27 pm

[QUOTE="The Amazing Tazy Ten, post: 1624401, member: 19345"]It's still pretty fiddly and if it breaks hard enough your business is unable to function during business hours. Not to mention that if something unexpected happens, like a fight or some sudden flooding, a robot can't close the store or alert the authorities without some human input (or having something get tripped due to misinterpretation). I just don't trust machines to do everything just yet. Make cars and plastic bottles? Yeah I get that, but given how easy it is to ruin food or simple orders I don't want machines that can't tell from a glance when something is wrong necessarily. If you want a store staffed entirely by computer programs you'll need to look at it very differently from what we're used to.[/QUOTE]
to be honest the same already happens anyway, every job I've worked at, if a specific machine broke it crippled us for the day. That's in printing, fast food, retail, meat cutting, you name it and like I said there wouldn't be no interaction from humans, you'd have a manager and a mechanic, if they aren't the same person. Or you could just have the manager and then they call the mechanic/technician from another location like we had to do when I worked at Wendy's or what we do now at the grocery store I'm at. The same problem still applies either way. I mean hell, grilling there at the wendy's was pretty easy, it was just "take the meat patty of the right size, pull the lever down, wait for the timer, then put it up for the sandwich maker" aside from the fact that that's hardly worth fifteen an hour, it's also mostly automated. The lever even comes up for you. It wouldn't take much to remove human interaction. Hell I've seen places like that run by one or two people at a time already. Plus I mean if you want to see where vending technology is at just look at Japan, they have vending machines for everything. Did you know that soda shops used to be a thing in the US? You know why they aren't much of a thing anymore? Vending machines. Fully automated now besides stocking them and maintenance.
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Post by The Missing Link » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:28 pm

[QUOTE="The Amazing Tazy Ten, post: 1624396, member: 19345"]That doesn't make any sense. Companies would rather keep the status quo than spend money on machines that have the possibility of breaking or getting hacked. They have no reason to spread this if they don't like it because they're profitable at this moment.

I'd need proof of that sort of gambit before I believe that's possible.[/QUOTE]
Macca's has started putting in automated machines to place your order and take payment.
Supermarkets now have self-checkout.
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Post by Bad Dragonite » Thu Mar 09, 2017 5:32 pm

Yeah I mean the WalMart here only ever has real cashiers during busier times of the daytime and they never have every lane covered it seems and at night they only have the one person covering the self checkout no other cashiers, thats potentially about a dozen jobs boiled down to one position.

Part of the reason they likely started using it more is because Wal-Mart's minimum pay is actually higher than the minimum wage of most states. Here it's 7.25 an hour, at WalMart you can start out anywhere between 9-12 an hour depending on position. To help with the cost they started making more or less automatic cart grabbers and self checkouts among other things.
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Post by The Amazing Tazy Ten » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:22 pm

^ They also want you to put as many people into rewards programs as possible to make up the difference. Or at least that's what Sam's Club does.

You can only automate so much. Fries and burgers are still over or undercooked no matter how much you automate the process. You still need to clean the cooking area, determine which order is which and if anything is wrong you need to fix it. A machine will either a) offer nothing and ignore complaints entirely or b) someone will find a way to trick it into giving them a free meal eventually. Not to mention that the more you automate the bigger the place has to be and each food item has to be calculated differently unless you shrink down the menu size to just one type of item with variations.

Soda Shops closed because everyone started having soda, not just vending machines, so there was no reason to go to a separate place for that. Drive In Theaters have mostly been fazed out too, even though they are more automated than movie theaters were. You'd think it was the future, but not so much. It's hard to see where this is going to go, and hey maybe I'll be wrong. But I just don't see any place going full on machine without either some pushback or something going wrong. Because if that manager/repairman can't fix that broken machine immediately than that's lost business and especially if you need to replace it entirely. At least some places can still sort of function if a printer is busted. If no one's able to take orders and everything only works via that now broken machine there's nothing you can do.

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Post by Shane » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:28 pm

The supermarket I used to shop at recently got rid of their self checkouts because they said people asked them for better customer service. Rather than shopping like I did in the 90s, I just started going to the place down the street. I'm capable of scanning and bagging my own groceries and probably more competent at it than most of the people who work there. The only problem I have is if they have five of them but insist on only keeping two open or if someone gets in the line who has no business being there, but the drawbacks are rather minor compared to being able to go at my own pace and do my own thing without waiting in a line.

Some are taking it even a step further. Now all the talk is about stores without any employees at all, except I suppose for stockers and a person or two to troubleshoot issues.
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Post by The Missing Link » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:40 pm

^ The main reason supermarkets here are considering getting rid of self-checkouts is because people filch things using them. I think Coles here says they lose about $1M per annum because of self-checkouts for that.

Actual true story, someone in Queensland was arrested because a lady printed a slew of barcodes for 65¢ ramen and applied it to expensive items in supermarkets and went through the self-checkouts.

So I'll admit that there will be some amount of short-term resistance to it when the capacity to defraud is sufficiently high. However, given how the world has been transformed just within the last decade technologically speaking, it's hard to predict when technology will be sufficiently advanced to radically change our economy as we know it.
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Post by I am nobody » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:23 pm

Tazy, computers can already beat our world champions at go and Jeopardy, drive cars, identify faces, and translate text and speech. Even putting aside that the process behind those advancements is still barely understood and has been in widespread use for less than a decade, do you really think the problem that's ultimately going to stymie machines is cooking a burger? Seriously?
The Amazing Tazy Ten, post: 1624411, member: 19345 wrote: You can only automate so much. Fries and burgers are still over or undercooked no matter how much you automate the process.
Not really. You could treat this as a vision problem and have a computer learn to recognize what a cooked burger looks like, it's even easier than that. Cooking and frying are ultimately about internal temperatures of food, so you just need a thermal camera and predictable burger placement. Flip when the burger circles turn get into a certain color range, then pass to the burger assembly bot when they reach another.
You still need to clean the cooking area
If you have things in predictable places, this can pretty much be done with one of those bowling machines. Turn off the stove, lift whatever cookware you have, then use another arm to scrub everything within reach for a few minutes. Use a fancy Roomba for the floor.

Pest control is easy with the thermal camera you already bought. Make a basic vision package that can tell the difference between the heat signature of stationary things like a circuit breaker or boiler and moving things like a rat or cockroach nest. Call pest control if there's enough suspicious movement. They'll probably stay human for the foreseeable future since they deal with dangerous chemicals and get into awkward spaces by the nature of their job.
determine which order is which
Vision will certainly reach the point that computers could easily identify meals within the next few decades. But you don't need to do that - meals should take a predictable amount of time to make, so as long as the cooking bot knows when and where they started being prepared, it should know the order and identity of meals waiting to be served.
and if anything is wrong you need to fix it.
Server bots could already understand things like "I ordered a rare burger" or "I didn't get a spoon." But again, you don't even need to go the AI route. Just put a webcam on your robot that links to a call center somewhere and have a human take the complaint and issue instructions to the server and/or cook bots to fix it. A machine will either a) offer nothing and ignore complaints entirely or b)
someone will find a way to trick it into giving them a free meal eventually.
People find ways to get free meals from humans, and human employees find ways to take free stuff. Restaurants should have less of a problem with this than grocery stores since fast food asks for money up front (ie, operate like a vending machine) and slow food is already operating on trust that you won't dine and dash. If it's really a concern in the latter case, have your human manager work near the exit. That's basically what restaurants are already doing, save for the "manager" bit.
Not to mention that the more you automate the bigger the place has to be and each food item has to be calculated differently unless you shrink down the menu size to just one type of item with variations.
Depends on how you build it. Machines can fit inside eachother, fit on the ceiling, etc. They also don't complain about being packed in perfectly, unlike humans.

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The reason we're not seeing robot restaurants is because building one is much more expensive than paying humans minimum wage, not because no one has any idea how to do it. And these probably aren't even the best solutions - if McDonald's gave this problem to a robotics lab, I have a feeling they'd come up with something a lot better than what I did in the last 20 minutes.

More automation is going to happen unless we make the human minimum wage even less livable or artificially increase the cost of building robots. But the first option obviously isn't viable, and the second one only is until one country or company breaks rank and forces everyone else to follow by virtue of their massive competitive advantage. We're better off acknowledging that it's inevitable and improving our education and technical training systems so that far few people are stuck in the kinds of low or unskilled jobs that are obvious targets for replacement.

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Post by Bad Dragonite » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:33 pm

We could always pull a Sweden and just get rid of the minimum wage laws and allow companies to compete for workers or have unions negotiate for certain wages.

Personally I'm kindof on the fence as to whether we need minimum wage laws or not. I think they can be helpful and hurtful depending on the situation.
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Post by I REALLY HATE POKEMON! » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:34 pm

Or we could pay according to the cost of living.

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Post by Bad Dragonite » Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:40 pm

I don't think it should be a federal issue either way, it should be more a state issue.
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Post by The Missing Link » Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:39 pm

^ It already by and large is a state issue. Each state has the capacity to raise the minimum wage to a certain level, and specific cities have the capacity to further raise their state's value.

The reason why there ought to be a federal level, however, is the fact that you don't want a country that is so lopsided in terms of differing pay that people in one state cannot reasonably afford to ever move somewhere else should, say, all industry moves out.

I'm reminded of the movie In Time starring Justin Timerlake; in that movie, people lived in different "time zones" that were effectively separated by affluence. The only way to move to a more affluent time zone was to, in essence, pay a toll allowing you to cross the border into another state. You can treat these designations as states and, say, housing costs/costs of living. If, say, Iowa were to become dirt poor or have such an overflow of labour compared to jobs that the minimum wage because $1.05/hour, and then the industry supporting employees who invested/learned that trade vanished/moved elsewhere, then people could not hope to afford to move to higher minimum wage housing. That is a federal Commerce Clause matter (supported by the Constitution).
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Post by Shane » Fri Mar 10, 2017 5:39 pm

The per capita income in Mississippi is $36k, which works out to about $17/hour at 40 hours per week. $15/hour might not be much somewhere like California where it costs $500/month to rent a cardboard box, but in small town MS, it's a good living. Even if there is an argument to raise it, a sensible level should be chosen, and then just let the states choose if they want to go over that, which 29 states have done with the current one.
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Post by CaptHayfever » Sat Mar 11, 2017 1:57 pm

^Fair point. On the other hand, the state of Missouri recently blocked the city of St. Louis from raising the city's own minimum wage. At all. Surely we would agree that's too much overreach, right? After all, we agree that urban living is more inherently expensive than rural living.

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Post by Bad Dragonite » Sun Mar 12, 2017 8:25 pm

Not necessarily, if the minimum wage went up in just the one city you would likely see a large influx of people, but you would then also likely see businesses start to leave to other parts of the state for workers, so then you'd have a bunch more people in an already crowded city with less jobs. Considering St Louis is also a tourist spot, having circumstances like that could directly hurt the city's tourism industry and thereby directly hurt the state as well. That's not all taking into account jobless people on welfare and so on. It basically just seems like a mess waiting to happen that would probably directly affect not only the city but the whole state. I admit I don't know much about the situation there, but it doesn't really seem like an overreach to me.
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Post by Random User » Mon Mar 13, 2017 7:55 am

[QUOTE="Bad Dragonite, post: 1624772, member: 32425"]Not necessarily, if the minimum wage went up in just the one city you would likely see a large influx of people, but you would then also likely see businesses start to leave to other parts of the state for workers, so then you'd have a bunch more people in an already crowded city with less jobs. Considering St Louis is also a tourist spot, having circumstances like that could directly hurt the city's tourism industry and thereby directly hurt the state as well. That's not all taking into account jobless people on welfare and so on. It basically just seems like a mess waiting to happen that would probably directly affect not only the city but the whole state. I admit I don't know much about the situation there, but it doesn't really seem like an overreach to me.[/QUOTE]
That is a lot of speculation. I would suggest waiting on the results of the research on the effects of the minimum wage hike that is ongoing in Seattle before anyone makes any drastic moves. So far, it has affected only the region around the city.

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