The first salvo in the war on low-wage fast-food workers was a touchscreen menu that let customers order without ever interacting with the depressed human behind the counter. Now, the tech world is looking to replace our flesh and blood burger flippers with a robot that will take care of all the cooking for them, or rather instead of them. It's even got a cutesy name that will be the bane of every low-wage worker's existence. It's called Flippy, so named for the burgers it'll flip and for the middle fingers laid-off restaurant workers will flip as they make their way out the door for the last time.
"Surely, such a device must be way too expensive for the average fast-food restaurant to afford," you ask, looking for the ray of hope that will never shine upon our bleak jobless future. Flippy used to cost about $100,000 each, but now comes as cheap as $10,000. And if that's too expensive, companies can instead choose to pay a monthly subscription fee of $2,000. A human doing the same job would cost that company anywhere between $4,000-$10,000 a month. A person would have to reduce their already low wage all the way down to a monumentally pathetic $3 an hour just to compete. Their hourly wage wouldn't be enough to afford a combo meal from the fast-food joint that employs them.
But maybe it's not all doom and gloom. A professor of engineering at UC Berkeley interviewed by the Los Angeles Times said a Flippy in every professional kitchen will be a lot like "when spreadsheet software first came out everyone was predicting the end of all bookkeeping and accounting jobs," but instead all it did was change the type of work people do. The writer of the article then suggested that restaurants will always need people to load and unload dishwashers, seemingly gliding over the fact that in between those two actions is a machine doing all the dishwashing. So what happens when we inevitably get a plate-stacking arm, at half the cost of a high schooler -- who's just trying to get paid enough to see a date-night movie, so he can get a handjob? How will that kid get handjobs now, fast food industry? We demand answers.
Luis can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Check out his regular contributions to Macaulay Culkin's BunnyEars.com and his "Meditation Minute" segments on the Bunny Ears podcast. And now you can listen to the first episode on Youtube!