There are a lot of theories spinning around trying to account for the missing members of the nation’s work force.
While that hunt continues, some employers are wasting no time looking for solutions to fill the jobs they say they can’t find applicants for, or simply no longer want to staff at all. Robotic solutions:
According to a recent New York Times report, many are turning to robots to “make French fries, mixed drinks and even clean toilets, and they never ask for a raise” (or complain about Dave Chappelle). A Connecticut seafood chain says it will soon have as many as five robotic “servers” programmed to “bring food out to tables and dirty dishes back to the dishwasher station.” A California eatery now offers robot-served Japanese food. A robot that makes pizzas is replacing workers while another company prospers as it sells robotic arms that make everything from burgers to salads to sushi. These companies know one thing for sure: Robotic servers and robotic arms show up for work every day.
Some will see this as a dystopian future in which people are little more than surplus goods. Others will see a future in which repetitive, low-paying tasks that workers seem to be avoiding anyway are handed over to automation.
Workplaces and conditions change. Fretting that a machine is making fast food is fretting about exactly the wrong thing. We should be making sure labor markets are as free as possible, so that workers and employers can each maximize their benefits. In short, we need more labor market freedom. And let the robots worry about the fries.