We’ll be lucky if robots only steal our jobs, rather than also enslaving civilization and mocking our weak sacks of soft-muscled frailty. Roughly 47 percent of jobs will be replaced by robots over the next 20 years, says one Oxford University study.
The fast food industry is specifically at risk, since labor and food costs represent 60-70 percent of industry revenues, according to a Cornerstone Capital Group report, while the recent national dialogue about a $15-hour minimum wage for quick service employees may speed things up.
And it’s already moving quickly. I mean, it seems like just yesterday I first saw servers using tablets instead of notepads. That’s been evolving too. Earlier this year, Olive Garden said it was going to install Ziosk tabletop tablets at all its restaurants by the end of 2015, so right there, tech’s limiting servers to basically just food runners.
But now robots are locking down kitchen gigs too! Hell, Momentum Machines went ahead and actually invented a burger-flipping robot—a step hopefully more toward Futurama than Terminator—and the bot can do up a burger every ten seconds. In short, the robot replaces three full-time kitchen employees, which is what the company’s founders intend to do. Why make employees more efficient when there’s money to be made selling “employees” to restaurants?
And there are a lot of jobs for those robots to take. We’re talking 2.4 million servers, about 3 million cooks and food preparers, and 3.3 million cashiers. It hasn’t exactly been a booming industry either. Since 1987, fast food eateries have grown at 0.3 percent per year, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That number is about to skyrocket if the government starts tracking robot employees, who never need vacation days, tips, or HR. So I hope you all enjoyed visiting your favorite server at that local country-themed family restaurant or rolling your eyes at every single server at Buffalo Wild Wings, because those days might be over soon.