The Target near my apartment in Brooklyn is not giant, but due to population density it has a ton of registers. Over the holidays, the replaced a sizable chunk of these registers with self-checkout kiosks. Although there was a long line to use the self-checkout kiosks, it was a faster and better experience than waiting for a register to open.
More importantly, there were still a lot of people working in this section. People were directing customers to registers, guiding people through checkout, and (my favorite) putting things that people left behind back on shelves immediately. Although it was still hard work, the job definitely seemed preferable to standing behind a register and moving things past the scanner.
I am still confident that short-term automation will improve environments and turn bottom-tier jobs into more productive roles (in Jack-in-the-Box's case, maintenance teams for the kiosks, software developers to code the kiosks). In the debate about minimum wage increases, a lot of people see automation as a negative. It may hurt in the short-term but we will see a major benefit faster than people assume.
I used a Jack in the Box kiosk in San Diego. It was awesome; I almost always order the same thing and it would ring my usual by just swiping the credit card to pay for it. Normally, I wouldn't bother to the cashier with the extras, since I had only ok success with them being done correctly. The kiosk order was always on point though. The only friction was the time to make the food. (and in retrospect, the caloric content).
I'm curious if higher minimum wages in a small number of states will also impact jobs in low-wage states. I would imagine a fair bit of the cost of installing these machines is fixed (software development, machine design), and chains might as well roll them out in low-wage states as well.
These kiosks are already in tons of McDonald's locations from what I understand (I've only seen them in Canada but I'm told they're elsewhere) so I don't get the hesitation.
They work well, especially if there's a long line or you're hungover and don't want to talk to anybody.
What I'm wondering is when they're gonna figure out how to replace the cooks with machines (though that's a different task from kiosks, you need actual robotics) and staff the place with a single manager to deal with customer complaints.
Reminds me of an oldie but a goodie: Manna, a short story by Marshall Brain. It is speculative fiction from 2003 that starts with the first burger joints being automated.
It is available to read for free on the author’s web site.
In Europe the McDonalds I have been to already have screen everywhere where you can order food. There still seems to be a bunch of people working there.
I think this might is problem with automation. If you automate everything and you hire no people then who will buy your products. I think its why Henry Ford paid his people so well. So they could buy cars.
McDonalds around the Europe already have those kiosks (not all, yet). Same like self-checkout in stores - it’ not uncommon.
Most Jack in the Box orders are through the driv-thru, there’s not nearly as many people coming in to eat compared to McDonald’s. Adding Kiosks to their 10 urban locations would be a waste of money at this point.
My local Burger King has transitioned to this. I don't often eat there, but I'll admit it is a guilty pleasure.
One interesting thing I've noticed is that with ordering kiosks, I'm much more likely to be upsold.
Having all the option laid out in front of me, and no pressure from someone trying to "sell" me I find it far easier to select add ons.
This says to me that there is a profit motive beyond simple efficiency. It creates opportunity for better sales as well.
Cant blame the higher minimum wage in some states (that still does not pay an actual living) on fast food firms using automation. It just makes sense for firms to do this.
If a job is pointless to a human (ie a human is STILL using food stamps while gainfully employed) then its a garbage job. We need to get rid of all the garbage jobs and the companies that supply them.
Is it really true that the minimum wage before was JUST at the point where replacing workers wasn't worth the cost, and now it's going just over that threshold?
If they can find a way to replace workers with machines, my guess is they will. My local walmart has one worker managing about ten self-checkout stations now. Panera Bread has stations where you order your food; no cashier needed. And the wage they are paying here is well above minimum wage, anyway.
CEOs will eliminate all the employees they can, because they consider that their job. And then they'll give out executive bonuses as massive as they can get away with.
There is no reason why the minimum wage should be so low that no one could make a living off it.