“360 Burgers per Hour” – Meet the Burger Flipping Robot that Could Change Fast Food Forever

Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 11.14.54 AMPoliticians aside, I think that the vast majority of people pushing for a higher minimum wage are well intentioned. A good example of this is Nick Hanaeur in his recent article about how pitchfork’s are coming for the 0.01%. His article garnered an incredible amount of attention, and rightly so, but was in my opinion greatly lacking in solutions. While he accurately identified the perilousness of the current transformation of America into an undemocratic oligarchy, his primary solution revolved around raising the minimum wage. This is a superficial and largely meaningless answer to a symptom of a very structural problem.

If you want to solve structural problems you need structural solutions, and raising the minimum wage is not a structural solution. In case you missed it, I outlined my thoughts on the matter in the post: The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%.

Equally important, the entire argument of raising the minimum wage cannot be had without discussing the impact of technology. As I and many others have highlighted over the past several years, one of the most troubled segments of the U.S. economy consists of fast food workers. They simply cannot survive on the wages being paid to them by employers and need food stamps, disability and second jobs merely to make ends meet. In theory, raising the minimum wage will help these folks the most, but will it really? I think not.

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The main reason is that if employers are forced to pay these employee more, the employers in this industry are likely to move as quickly as possibly to fast-food preparing robots. This isn’t just some pie in the sky fantasy either, there’s a company called Momentum Machines that has already assembled a product that can make a burger in 10 seconds, or 360 burgers per hour. Raw Story recently reported on this and here is what they said:

A robot that can make 360 burgers an hour could put many fast-food workers out of a job – exactly as its designers intended.

Silicon Valley-based Momentum Machines developed the device, which is more like an assembly line than a humanoid robot, reported Singularity Hub.

“Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient,” said Momentum co-founder Alexandros Vardakostas. “It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

The company says the burger-flipping robot could take the place of two or three line cooks and save restaurant owners about $90,000 a year in salary and benefits.

The robots also reduce liability, management duties, and the space needed to prepare food, the website reported.

Some restaurant owners could use those savings to improve the quality of ingredients – basically offering gourmet burgers at fast-food prices – but others could offer the same quality food at lower prices.

Oxford University researchers predicted in a recent study that 47 percent of U.S. jobs were at risk of being automated within 20 years – especially service occupations, where most recent job growth has occurred.

The folks at Momentum Machines are very serious about their undertaking and boast an impressive pedigree. Its website boasts that:

Our team was trained in mechanical engineering, control systems, and physics at top tier institutions: Berkeley, Stanford, UCSB, and USC. We draw from work experience that includes cutting edge firms such as: Tesla, NASA, Semiconductor Technology Associates,  etc. Our investors are tier one venture firms and we are advised by the best in the restaurant industry. 

Moreover, if Oxford University is correct, up to half of U.S. jobs could be threatened by automation. Raising the minimum wage doesn’t do any good if it causes your job to disappear faster.

As I have written for years, we need radical structural change to address the real root problems in America. These problems including central banking and the Federal Reserves unaccountable power, TBTF banks, corporate interests running Washington D.C., a disappearance of the rule of the law, the surveillance state and out of control intelligence agencies, the militarization of the domestic police force, corruption, and an overly aggressive foreign policy.

Calling for an increase in the minimum wage sounds good, but it is a superficial and ultimately meaningless solution. If we want to be serious about change, we need to seriously and radically address the issues listed above.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

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  1. If everything is automated and no one is working, who is to buy all these burgers? The robots?

  2. I recently watched a bit of the 2003 documentary, “The Net.” In it, NASA engineer Robert Taylor comments on technology (54 minutes) as a force primarily for good in our society, saying that he fears al Queda and cancer far more than technology, because technology isn’t even close to reaching a point where we cannot control it.

    This was pretty upsetting to me because it is painfully obvious that we are surrounded by machines that people cannot control — most obviously the government and corporations. They are machines, with their own agendas, which strip humans of their individual autonomy by coercion or force. I call them “social machines.”

    Within a social machine, an individual has no autonomy. Not really anyway. If you try to object to your company’s policies you will be removed. If you are a CEO or board member and attempt to stop the company’s destructive policies, you will be removed. If you are the president of the United States and you attempt to make changes, you will be removed.

    EXAMPLE: Right after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, executive Don Cornett told Alaska residents: “You have had some good luck, and you don’t realize it. You have Exxon, and we do business straight. We will consider whatever it takes to keep you whole.” They then spent 20 years fighting payments. You see, even if Cornett was sincere, he couldn’t have followed through on his promise. The system is set up to prevent that kind of autonomy. Even in the extreme unlikelihood that every executive at Exxon agreed to pay out immediately what was owed, a different kind of machine would have brought Exxon into line — the machine of the US market, which in turn is dominated by what Lewis Mumford called, “The Megamachine,” the culture itself which determines acceptable behavior in all matters. Exxon’s financial troubles, coupled with “doing the right thing” would have destroyed the company’s ability to borrow and sunk it, handing it’s assets to other machines. In short, the machine is self-repairing. It limits or eliminates human autonomy.

    Even the president of the United States, allegedly the world’s most powerful man, cannot make changes. Even by his own admission, President Obama says “Washington cannot be changed from within.” Alas, it cannot be changed at all! That’s the problem and that’s why solutions to our crisis will not be forthcoming. They aren’t just problems of finance, or government corruption. These are problems of civilization! A whole God damned apocalyptic nightmare where machines are set up to promote “rational” reactions out of people, thereby controlling them. This has the effect of forcing people, figuratively (or not), on to the train cars as they are shipped to their executions. At least there’s hope of life if you obey, you might say to yourself. And you’re right to say that because if you don’t obey, you’re dead anyway. Through rationality, the machine controls individuals. Only irrational, principled decisions have any hope of stopping such a machine, but alas, that can never happen in sufficient numbers to stop the madness.

    We are doomed. Doomed to follow the orders machines give us right to the figurative (or not) gas chambers. Don’t hold your breath for any solutions that don’t involve complete and total collapse. That is our only hope at this juncture, short of divine intervention.

  3. Fix your font color. It’s a faint gray. Really sucks.

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