Sunday, May 10, 2015


Or, as the founder of Momentum Machines, Inc states quite accurately (and somewhat chillingly): Momentum Machines co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas is very forthright about the company’s objective: “Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” he said. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

In an online article on , "Robots are coming for your job: Amazon, McDonald’s and the next wave of dangerous capitalist “disruption" , the next wave in automation is the fast food industry. 

The Salon article describes the McRobot as a machine that will;

     San Francisco start-up company Momentum Machines,  Inc., has set out to fully automate the  production of gourmet-quality hamburgers.  Whereas a fast food worker might toss a frozen patty onto the grill, Momentum Machines’ device shapes burgers from freshly ground meat and then grills them to order—including even the ability to add just the right amount of char while retaining all the juices. The machine, which is capable of producing  about  360 hamburgers  per hour, also toasts the bun and then slices and adds fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, and pickles only after the order is placed. Burgers arrive assembled and ready to serve on a conveyer belt. 

The Author has heard that these robots are coming from several sources. An event that might trigger their wide spread introduction is increases in the already subsistence wages paid  to fast food workers.

Additionally, as the article states:

      Those burgers might sound very inviting, but they would come at a considerable cost. Millions of people hold low-wage, often part-time, jobs in the fast food and beverage industries. McDonald’s alone employs about 1.8 million workers in 34,000 restaurants worldwide. Historically,  low wages, few benefits, and a high turnover  rate have helped to make fast food jobs relatively easy to find, and fast food jobs, together with other low-skill positions in retail, have provided a kind of private sector safety net for workers  with few other options: these jobs have traditionally offered an income of last resort when no better alternatives are available.

And as everyone that is paying attention knows, fast food workers are not the stereotypical high school kids looking to buy a car or save for college.

       While fast food employment was once dominated by young people looking for a part-time  income while in school, the industry now employs far more mature workers who rely on the jobs as their primary income. Nearly 90 percent of fast food workers are twenty or older, and the average age is thirty-five. Many of these older workers have to support families—a nearly impossible task at a median wage of just $8.69 per hour.

And these low wages come with a high social benefits cost.

   ... an analysis by the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half of the families of fast food workers are enrolled in some type of public assistance program and that the resulting cost to US taxpayers is nearly $7 billion per year.

The potential loss of one of the last nongovernmental safety nets, fast food jobs, does not augur well for a nation that purports to value hard work, but undermines the value of hard work with the loss of the traditional union manufacturing job further devaluing the labor. And despite mammoth productivity gains in the last 30 years, these productivity gains are not inuring to the benefit of workers, a class that once shared in the productivity gains.

Here in the Swamp, things are looking bad and getting worse. But remember, we Fish the Swamp so you don't have to.

The title of this Blog, “Welcome to the Desert of the Real”, comes from the 1998 film “The Matrix”. The world in the Matrix is a Simulacrum, a computer–generated illusion. It only “looks” and “feels” like the late 20th century. Instead, human beings are enslaved in tanks of fluid, wired to the Matrix. Humans are the ultimate wetware, the Meatmen of the Matrix. Also, readers steeped in post-structuralist philosophy may recognize the title as a paraphrase of a quote in Jean Baudrilliard’s 1981 book, “Simulacra and Simulacrum.

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