Will human labor become obsolete?

Can a machine build a better hamburger than a human? A new company called Momentum Machines out of San Francisco is betting that its machine can.  Although McDonald’s and Burger King have stream-lined fast food burger cooking, its assembly line of minimum wage workers may be usurped by machines. 

(Credit: David Kover, seriouseats.com)

Momentum Machines new Alpha claims that it can do everything a pimply faced sophomore burger line cook can do, only better.  The Alpha costs nothing to train, needs no breaks and never takes a sick day.  It cooks the burgers more consistently, is more sanitary and produces around 360 burgers per hour!  How can we measly humans compete? 

The restaurant industry is one of the most labor-intensive industries there is.  A single machine can save over 100,000 dollars per annum in labor costs and is said to pay for itself in saved wages in less than a year.  From a business perspective this is a no brainer.  From humanity’s perspective it is threatening.  

With more and more mechanical automation taking over, human labor (at least physical labor) is under threat of being replaced by harder working, cheaper, and more efficient machines.  

It is predicted that the advent of 3D printing will completely redefine manufacturing, reducing materials needed, time to complete, and minimizing (if not removing) human involvement.  Humans would still be behind the design and creative elements; however that may not last either.  

One of the biggest and most-funded technological races of our time is creating Artificial Intelligence.  Creating A.I., which many researchers claim to be on the brink of, would begin to chip away at the intellectual side of the human work-force as well.  

When our minds and bodies and their combined abilities are surpassed by machines, what will be left for us to do?  How will we make money?  Will we even need money?  Will technology and science be our support and guardian, or will it be decided that we are obsolete?  With the advent of more companies like Momentum Machines, the upheaval of manufacturing by 3D printing and the creation of A.I., our future is less than certain.

Resources and further reading:

http://momentummachines.com/

http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2012/10/momentum-machines-burger-making-machine-robot.html


2 Responses to “Will human labor become obsolete?”

  1. Tane Hunter says:

    It is a very scary thought. We can only hope that humans continue to find their niche is a technologically expaning world.

  2. Tina Hosseini says:

    As amazing as it is to know that humans are capable of producing such machinery – its a scary thought to imagine what our world will be like in 10-20 years time. It started with self serve stations in supermarkets – soon we may not even need to have real people for completing tasks such as the dispensing of medication, like a pharmacist would? Scary thought.