By the author of Be Ready for Anything and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
Caliburger, a restaurant in Pasadena, California, has a new employee named Flippy. But this fry cook is different. It’s equipped with 6-axis arms and Artificial Intelligence. Flippy is a robot that unerringly cooks the perfect burger, every single time. And it’s helping to usher in a dependent society I’ll call modern feudalism.
Not only does Flippy cook the perfect burger, but the robot doesn’t need smoke breaks, doesn’t complain about raising the minimum wage, and doesn’t show up late for work. Flippy is there all the time, and once the robot is paid for, it is a lifer without any further paycheck except some maintenance costs. Sorta like a robot slave you can buy.
The artificial intelligence robot flips burgers and places them on buns amidst human employees at Caliburger, and the owners of the franchise are so delighted that they’re dispatching Flippies to 50 more restaurants.
TechCrunch interviewed Miso Robotics CEO Dave Zito to ask about Flippy’s future.
“Flippy is novel, but definitely not a novelty,” Zito told TechCrunch ahead of the announcement. “As it improves its speed and skillset over time such as frying, chopping and grilling menu items and adding seasoning or cheese to patties, CaliBurger will see an increase in productivity. In addition, we’ve modeled our pricing based off expected value each robotic kitchen assistant can provide at scale.”
Flippy’s entry-level price tag is $60,000 — considerably higher than your average burger chef makes in a year. There’s also a 20-percent recurring annual fee for the robot’s leaning and maintenance, but Caliburger is confident in its return on investment through decreased wait times, consistency and decreased food waste. (source)
It’s easy to see how, in an industry with extremely high turnover, a robot that never complains or asks for more money would be appealing to employers.
Here’s a video of Flippy at work.
Oh, and see, Flippy cleans the grill even better than human employees.
Incidentally, Miso Robotics was given $3.1 million by Acacia Research and Match Robotics VC last summer to speed up the creation of Flippy.
This is how AI moves us toward an economy without jobs for the unskilled.
The number of Americans employed in the fast food industry is expected to be 3.8 million humans as of 2018. The average wage of those humans is $13,501.37, a paycheck that has changed little since 2004. Once a job for high school kid, now more fast-food workers are adults than teens. In fact, 70% of fast food workers are not teenagers, and 36% of them are supporting children on this salary. Six percent of them have college degrees (and likely student loans).
While it’s understandable that they’d want to see an increase in minimum wage, it would be tough on many business owners to do this. Is Flippy what all the protests for $15 per hour have wrought?
McDonald’s has rolled out self-serve order kiosks in 2500 locations and they swear it isn’t going to take jobs from humans.
McDonald’s has repeatedly said that adding kiosks won’t result in mass layoffs, but will instead move some cashiers to other parts of the restaurant where it’s adding new jobs, such as table service. The burger chain reiterated that position again on Friday.
“Our CEO, Steve Easterbrook, has said on many occasions that self-order kiosks in McDonald’s restaurants are not a labor replacement,” a spokeswoman told Business Insider. “They provide an opportunity to transition back-of-the-house positions to more customer service roles such as concierges and table service where they are able to truly engage with guests and enhance the dining experience.” (source)
Panera Bread and Wendy’s have also adopted self-serve order kiosks in thousands of locations. While Panera and McDonalds keep saying that the kiosks won’t cut any jobs, Wendy’s had made no such claims.
The kiosks are intended to appeal to younger customers and reduce labor costs, according to Wendy’s chief information officer, David Trimm, by allowing customers to circumvent long lines during peak dining hours while increasing kitchen production. (source)
Now we have Flippies to work in the kitchen…how long before fast food restaurants need only one or two humans instead of teams of 6-12?
And this is how the argument for Universal Basic Income moves forward.
If there are literally no jobs to be had for unskilled workers, then what are they to do? Everyone wants to survive. That’s human nature.
But the big picture is that this slippery slope leads to nothing but modern feudalism. And many will welcome it with open arms.
Quite a few people are ready to give up their freedom so that someone else can take care of them.
They don’t think they’re giving up freedom. They’re convinced that they are embracing a smart, fair system that eliminates poverty. The greed, entitlement, and lack of ambition that seems inherent in many people today will have them slipping on the yoke of servitude willingly.
They feel like they deserve a living just for drawing breath. As Gawker’s headline reads, “A Universal Basic Income Is the Utopia We Deserve.”
The idea of a universal basic income for all citizens has been catching on all over the world. Is it too crazy to believe in? We spoke to the author of a new book on the ins, outs, and utopian dreams of making basic income a reality.
The basic income movement got a significant boost this week when the charity GiveDirectly announced that it will be pursuing a ten-year, $30 million pilot project giving a select group of Kenyan villagers a basic income and studying its effects. As an anti-poverty solution, universal basic income appeals to impoverished people in Africa, relatively well-off Scandinavians, and Americans automated out of their jobs alike. (source)
Sure, money for nothing sounds great on the surface.
But what would the real result of a Universal Basic Income be?
Feudalism. Serfdom. Enslavement.
UBI would fast-track us back to the feudalism of the Middle Ages. Sure, we’d be living in slick, modern micro-efficiencies instead of shacks. We’d have some kind of modern job instead of raising sheep for the lord of the manor.
But, in the end, we wouldn’t actually own anything because private property would be abolished for all but the ruling class. We’d no longer have the ability to get ahead in life. Our courses would be set for us and veering off of those courses would be harshly discouraged.
People will be completely dependent on the government and ruling class for every necessity: food, shelter, water, clothing. What better way to assert control than to make compliance necessary for survival?
And what better way to make compliance necessary for survival than to give all the jobs to robots?
Don’t think that this is some pie-in-the-sky commie dream. It’s already being rolled out on an experimental basis in Oakland, California, a high-crime city where nearly 24% of residents are unemployed and 26% are disabled.
Let me justify my comparison with a quick glimpse at peasant life in the Middle Ages.
I’m honestly not being melodramatic.
The period of history from the 5th to the 15th century was known as the Middle Ages. During this time, the law of the land in Europe was the “feudal system.” This system was the manner in which the upper 10% (the nobility) controlled the lower 90% (the serfs or peasants).
- It is estimated that just over 90% of the population of Europe were peasants. Most peasants were basically slaves. They were provided with a small shelter on an inferior piece of land and the “protection” of the noble in charge of that area. In return, they worked for the estate, farming the land with no recompense, paying taxes and having no control over their lives. Some peasants were “free” and had small businesses: blacksmiths, carpenters, bakers, etc. They paid for the protection of the “Lord” with money, goods, and services.
- Peasants had few rights. They could be taxed at any time, were obligated to use (and pay for) services of the manor like mills or large ovens, and had to request permission for marriages, change of locations or educating their children.
- Each year, the peasant was required to give the best part of his harvest to the lord of the manor. The peasants were not allowed to own things that made their lives easier, like oxen or horses, for example.
- A peasant did not own the land on which he lived and was therefore obligated to live where he was told, grow what he was told, and farm in the manner in which he was told. They were not allowed to hunt on the lord’s land – poaching was an offense punishable by death. They were not permitted to cut trees for firewood but forced to gather fallen branches to stay warm.
- A peasant was not allowed to have real, effective weapons – those were reserved for the armies of the nobility, to keep the peasants in line and immediately quell any quest for dignity and independence.
- Most of the peasants seemed content with the arrangement because they received security and safety from the Lord. He was obligated to protect them from marauders and barbarians and provide enough land for subsistence. (Learn more about feudalism here.)
So, you tell me. Is my comparison really that far-fetched?
People will be trapped into servitude because they feel entitled to a certain lifestyle.
Over the past years, the education has drummed a sense of entitlement into students. And now, world leaders are counting on using that feeling of entitlement to march society willingly right into a tiny gilded cage.
The World Economic Forum is held yearly in Davos, Switzerland. It is at this meeting where a couple thousand of the world’s top economic and political leaders meet to plot our future.
If you think I’m crazy for the comparison between UBI and serfdom, wait until you see last year’s vision for our future.
Ida Auken, a Danish politician who is a contributor to the World Economic Forum, doesn’t believe we should own things. She doesn’t stop at personal possessions, though. She believes we should eschew privacy in our homes, that cash is unnecessary, and that even our thoughts and dreams are not really ours. You can read about her idea of a perfect future in an article for the Annual Meeting of the Global Futures Council titled “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better.”
In her article, Auken idealizes feudalism, and the kinds of people who believe they “deserve” certain entitlements, like the UBI will welcome this loss of individuality and freedom with open arms.
Chilling as all get-out, right?
(For more information about a futuristic feudal society, watch the documentary Obsolete, available for free with an Amazon Prime membership.)
This is the road we’re on.
Decades of an education system that emphasizes entitlement.
Millions of college graduates who are deeply in debt for their education but can’t get jobs in their fields.
The Flippies of this world may have friendly names and no heads. We may be assured that these robot fry cooks are just here to help.
Even though you’ll be called a technophobe and a Luddite if you see where this is going, anyone paying attention knows it’s going nowhere good.
Yesterday I wrote about the looming demise of our economic system and the day before I wrote about how the retail sector is imploding. Now, it doesn’t take a prophet to see that the future of work in the fast food industry is in question. It may not be a great job, but there is dignity in employment no matter what the job is. For many of us, a job with limited opportunities is still preferable to being on the dole.
Can you feel the net tightening? If so, you’re in the minority, because most folks will never see it coming.