San Diego’s minimum wage experiment accelerating adoption of automation

San Diego raised its minimum wage very rapidly. Data suggests that while the wage hike benefits those with minimum wage jobs, it is also rapidly eliminating low wage jobs all together. Read the entire (and long) story for the details.

This blog has long noted that while automation is going to happen regardless, rapid minimum wage hikes accelerate the adoption of automated systems, eliminating jobs more rapidly:

And California’s decision to speed Darwinian selection also encourages automation. McDonald’s is rolling out ordering kiosks, Starbucks is testing robotic baristas, and hamburger-making machines are nearing production.

One local restaurant owner told me that all his future locations will allow customers to buy and pour their own beers.

A 50-handle system costs $1,800 per handle. That’s well above $1,000 per handle for the bartender-based system, but it pays off in a year by eliminating one or two workers per shift. Presumably someday robots will listen to our problems, too.

Rising productivity is good for the bulk of consumers, because fewer workers equate to lower bills.

Source: Is San Diego’s new minimum wage already hurting its poor? – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Eliminating jobs through automation is not necessarily a bad thing. ATM machines, self service gas, self service check outs are all examples of recent semi-automated services that we take for granted. Throughout history, many jobs have gone away – elevator operators and telephone “manual switch” operators all went away.

If automation frees up labor to be put to more productive uses, this is a good outcome. However, there will be some who are not able to transition to higher value added work and may be come unemployable.

Improving industrial efficiency using #InternetOfThings #Iot sensor technology

Reno startup Filament is gearing up for high-scale production. The startup recently closed a $15 million round of new venture financing. The capital will allow Filament to scale manufacturing

[Their tech is designed to upgrade legacy industrial systems]

First, the device can physically connect to the machine if it has a diagnostic port. Second, the technology can monitor the environment around the infrastructure. Their devices can monitor temperature, humidity, light, sound pressure level and accelerometer movement. Lastly, the devices can provide a large-scale network in areas where there is little or no cellular service or WiFi.

Source: Reno-based tech startup Filament secures $15M in venture financing | nnbw.com

This is a great area of opportunity – enabling the monitoring of legacy equipment. Some times, just knowing the variation in temperature and humidity can be an important piece of information on a manufacturing line, or in an HVAC system or what ever your system process is.

Does the #InternetOfThings increase your privacy, decrease your privacy or leave it unchanged? #IoT

Are there any examples of consumer-level #IoT devices that increase your level of privacy?

I cannot think of any.

  • Does anyone other than us weird computer scientists think privacy and security are problems?
  • Will consumers readily give up all privacy to use a new toy?

The next post, below, is about consumer product manufacturers putting Wi-Fi into everything – from children’s toys to coffee markets, refrigerators, washing machines and products that do not seem to offer real consumer benefits for being always connected.

The obvious benefits include:

  1. Manufacturers learning about how their products are used, identifying failure or maintenance problems, and learning how to build better products from that information,
  2. Collection of marketing data to use in selling more stuff to consumers.

The actual product features do not seem to offer real benefits to the consumer, though. Yet the consumer has likely given up a bit of privacy to enable these capabilities.

Do coffee makers really need Wi-Fi? #IoT #InternetOfThings

It’s not just ovens and refrigerators that are getting wi-fi, often bundled with cameras that let you see your food. It’s also coffee makers, digital thermometers, crock pots and virtually any other small appliance you can imagine.

Source: What Fresh Hell Is This? Kitchen Gadgets You Don’t Know You Need – Bloomberg View

The mostly likely use of Wi-Fi in a plethora of basically dumb home devices (do refrigerators really need Wi-Fi too?) is so manufacturers can keep tabs on how often their devices are used, and how they are used. In some cases, the data might even be sold for marketing purposes – perhaps someone that makes a lot of coffee is a candidate for blood pressure medication?

How #IoT extends the product life cycle for manufacturers. #InternetOfThings

Once products ship, the manufacturer is unlikely to see the product again, except for a few returns. They have only a general idea of how the product is used, based on market surveys, or on product returns.

IoT technology enables manufacturers to monitor products after they are in use at a customer site as the product can conduct self checks and monitor product wear and tear – and send that information back to the manufacturer to identify weaknesses in the product.

Other manufacturers see benefits to monitoring their product usage too:

As prices of communication equipment and sensors continue to drop, smart manufacturers will be able to gather information from a wide range of devices. With connectivity enabled via IoT, these devices will be able to send valuable information back to the seller or manufacturer. For example, a refrigerator could send a signal to the manufacturer indicating a detected malfunction. With this data, the manufacturer would be able to put in measures to prevent the problem in other products in the line. In another example, an air conditioner might be able to detect when it needs maintenance and send a message to the manufacturer, which can then initiate remote maintenance service. As a result, the customer will be happier and the manufacturer can save on the cost of doing business.

Source: How the Internet of Things Makes Manufacturers Smart and Connected | Automation World

On the flip side, some products like Windows 10, collect a very large volume of data and “share” that with Microsoft. Such data can include, for example, the list of applications you have installed on your computer.

Wendy’s to install self order kiosks in 1,000 stores #Robots #IOT #Automation #Wendys

This happens when wage and benefit requirements rise as capital costs (robots/automation) fall rapidly:

“Wendy’s plans to install self-ordering kiosks in 1,000 of its stores — about 16 percent of its locations — by the end of the year.”

Source: Wendy’s to install ordering kiosks in 1,000 stores this year

Bank of America testing fully automated bank branches – devoid of staff #IOT #Automation

Bank of America is designing bank branches that no longer have onsite staff. Interaction with the bank will be through automated systems and ATMs – with video conferences to remotely located banking staff if you need a live person for assistance.

“We are literally automating every single thing”

Source: Bank of America says it’s testing ‘completely automated’ branches | The Charlotte Observer

Policy makers are oblivious to understanding the technology trends – and that many of their policies have the side effect of accelerating the elimination of labor with automation.

Calls for higher minimum wages and more mandated benefits increase the costs of labor to a point that automation is not only cheaper, but may even deliver improved service quality.

The transition to automation – and loss of jobs – were going to happen anyway. But policy choices have the side effect of accelerating this transition.