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Retail serfs to vanish, all thanks to automation

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so they are saying

A current university degree is only good for a job at Macdonalds

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so they are saying

The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"

The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?

The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"

The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

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Re: so they are saying

The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree

Are there different kinds of arts degrees?

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Re: so they are saying

the Liberal Arts grad gets a place in management or marketing.

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Re: so they are saying

The jobs at McDonalds will be to maintain their burger flipping machines.

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Re: so they are saying

"Are there different kinds of arts degrees?"

Yes, fine arts.

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Re: so they are saying

I suggest you look up McDonalds Phoenix Arizona, that went robotic around March this year, with o ly 25000 to follow if it's successful.

Remembering an earlier Reg story, you can't wave an AR15 at a robot to impress it much

For all the serfs that don't have a decent degree, get used to toiling in the fields and sharing a turnip for Sunday lunch, the degree holders will be able to have a potato with the turnip, PhDs will get a spoonful of gravy too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: so they are saying

"[...] PhDs will get a spoonful of gravy too."

With all the anti-expert rhetoric being spouted by politicians these days - we seem well on the way to a Mao style Cultural Revolution. IIRC Pol Pot did something similar too.

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Re: Chris G

I'm rather offended by that. The turnips around here are rather tastey!

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Orv
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Re: so they are saying

It turns out, at least in the US, the majority of people who sign up for liberal arts degrees go on to get a graduate degree in some other field -- business or law, often. And it's perfectly possible to end up at McDonalds with a science degree, I've seen it happen many times.

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Re: so they are saying

The Graduate with an BA in History asks, "Why can't you catch all the pervophiles on the Internets? You have the best people who understand the technology, who understand the necessary hashtags to stop this stuff even being put up!"

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Re: so they are saying

Actually, the guy with a liberal arts degree asks 'Do I need to hire a science, engineering or accounting graduate for this?'

A liberal arts degree pays shit only if you go for a job in that discipline. However, people with degrees in medieval poetry might end up running banks and government ministries. A liberal arts degree shows you can think analytically and deal with and in heaps of BS. There's demand for those skills.

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Anonymous Coward

There's no 'to' about it

It's already a 'have'.

Good wife 'works in retail' as a casual.

As good as unemployed now.

Shops B dead.

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Anonymous Coward

time to Tax the Robots

After all with no one working who will pay the taxes to keep those unemployed alive?

Then how will all those unemployed people be able to afford to buy all that 'tat' from the likes of Amazon?

Has Bezos thought about this? Could he be cutting his order supply off just to save a few pennies getting stuff shipped and sent?

He probably don't care as he'll be retired to his Island in the sun that is staffed entirely by Robots.

Asimov will be turning in his grave.

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

Seems no especial reason why a robot shouldn't pay the tax and national insurance contributions of the worker it replaces.

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

Then how will all those unemployed people be able to afford to buy all that 'tat' from the likes of Amazon?

Time to invest in the supply of machine oil, nuts and bolts, fancy battery packs and decals etc

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

Seems no especial reason why a robot shouldn't pay the tax and national insurance contributions of the worker it replaces.

Ethically you may be right but economically you'd be discouraging productivity improvements and continue to play workers off against robots, which is likely to drive wages down further.

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

So are these robots also going to go out and spend their hard earned cash on WD40 and silicon lube like the good little consumers that humans have been up to now?

The current model of economics is based on consumerism, automation is going to move more money into the pockets of bosses and shareholders, a smaller consumer base who will have to spend like crazy to maintain the economic status quo.

Of course I could be wrong but I would like to know how else it might work.

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

How and what are you supposing is taxed on robots in replacement of people? Think about every mechanism every person and machine, factory is a "robot".

Tax the company. Tax the business. Tax the whatever. Just be careful what and why, for definitions. Else someone could just have 1 employer press "yes/no" to the entire factory to class as "manual" work.

Wait, I think I saw that tax avoidance scheme... that's why Homer never lost his job! :D https://youtu.be/R_rF4kcqLkI

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

Seems no especial reason why a robot shouldn't pay the tax and national insurance contributions of the worker it replaces.

How do you determine their wages to tax? Will they get free repairs from the state for NI?

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

"Ethically you may be right but economically you'd be discouraging productivity improvements"

Economically you'd have to tax them or find some other way of shifting the tax base if there isn't income to tax.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: time to Tax the Robots

"Of course I could be wrong but I would like to know how else it might work."

There was a sci-fi story a while ago that postulated such an automated society. Only hairdressing remained a human job.

The essence of the system was a large factory which automatically produced everything - and its waste heat was also recycled. All overseen by one man. Then the position became occupied by a "rebel" who tried various strategies to cause the plant to fail. First overproduction - then letting it fall silent until the stocks were used up.

Anyone know title and author?

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Re: time to Tax the Robots

One of these?

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Unhappy

Cheap labour

There's also the depressing reality that in the UK, in some areas automation is being phased out in favour of very cheap labour.

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Re: Cheap labour

I should clarify that by "depressing reality" I meant the poor wages that some people earn.

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Re: Cheap labour

@Korev

I came here to post just this, so have an upvote.

It is cheaper to get the (I think Albanian, judging by the football tops of choice) hand car wash guys to wash my car (it's quite a large 'SUV' jobby) than it is to have the premium wash form the local tesco (automated) car-wash.

That's not because it should be, it's because the poor bastards are willing to do it for whatever pittance they are being chucked by the owner.

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Not all bad

> 63 per cent of jobs in sales are at risk of disappearing, thanks to increasingly capable automated systems

However, that will be more than made up for by the rise in demand for call centre operators. People to answer calls complaining that they were sold the wrong thing, that it doesn't do what they thought it should, that it doesn't work with the other gizmos they have or that the instructions are gibberish.

The problem (well known to owners of HiFi shops since at least the 1980's) is that customers go to "posh" shops to ask about stuff, see it demonstrated, decide which one they like, then bugger off to get it cheaper from a discounter or online outlet.

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Re: Not all bad

However, that will be more than made up for by the rise in demand for call centre operators.

You jest. I've worked for a big call centre business, and the forward plan is entirely about "moving customers to a digital relationship". In practice this is about making more money by cutting costs, and specifically that the majority of call centres will be closed. You'll be expected to interact by computer, tablet or smartphone, and even if you ring them up, it will all be IVR ("press 6 to continue circling our confusing and unhelpful menus"), recorded and synthesized speech responses.

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Re: Not all bad

Sorry Pete, they won't do that, the call centres will be chatbots with Bombay accents.

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Re: Not all bad

It's call "showrooming"

It'll be the death of the highstreet, and it's something i'm guilty of for almost every purchase that goes above £100.

I do my research online, head to the shop or shops that stock my top 3 items on the list. Have a poke and feel of them.

Then, in most cases, it's back to the internet to find the best deal on the one you've settled on.

The future of the highstreet is basically to function as a warehouse and a showroom for big online entities.

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WTF?

Call centres?

Nah - the sooner they are automated the better. It's already happening.

Tried ringing the Inland Revenue lately? Piss poor voice recognition software with the intelligence of a re-entrant telephone tree.

Just wait till someone integrates the two.

Pro Tip.

Swearing at the system doesn't work. But confessing nicely to the poor abused human you finally get through to that you've just seriously verbally abused their computer system often makes their day.

Pro Tip 2.

Try making animal noises. The computer seems to think it's speaking to someone high up in the IR or the grubbyment, and you get put through to a human.

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Re: Not all bad

A similar thing is hurting cycle shops; there are a number of companies (Canyon, YT etc) bypassing the traditional local bike shop which are able to save the consumer a pretty big chunk of money.

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Anonymous Coward

Sales.

Aren't they already robots?

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Re: Sales.

I believe the correct terminology is "drone".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sales.

I thought it was droid. Sales-droid.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sales.

I see we have someone from sales reading el reg.

Can I be the first to say f*ck off from everyone in IT or related practises?

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Re: Sales.

i quite like the term Peter F Hamilton used in his Nights Dawn trilogy

"Sellrats"

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Spanner in the works?

If this stuff is true, what chances we'll see some neo-luddism? Warehouse robots being beaten up by meatbags? People hijacking amazon parcels from couriers? How about a campaign against self service tills? A crow bar as the unexpected item in the bagging area?

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Re: Spanner in the works?

Frank Herbert's Butlerian Jihad comes to mind. Thou shalt not build a machine to do the work of a man/woman.

On a side note I was wondering the first time I saw the phrase, why would a load of butlers have a religious war?

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Re: Spanner in the works?

I for one refuse to use self service tills for exactly that reason.

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Re: Spanner in the works?

I embrace self service tills.

This has got me banned from a few shops.

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Re: Spanner in the works?

"How about a campaign against self service tills?"

I only use them if I'm buying three items or less* otherwise the probability of it failing to recognise something is too great to be bothered with.

*For the would-be but ill-guided pedants that signifies a lesser number.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spanner in the works?

The last time I was in B&Q all the self-service tills appeared be cards only - no longer any cash facility.

It is surprising how many suppliers insist on limiting the buyer's options. Wickes DIY online ordering needs a phone number before the order will progress. Fair enough for the driver to give a warning of the imminent delivery - but it will apparently only accept mobile numbers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spanner in the works?

three or less items

three items or fewer

- grammar is about communication, not rules

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Re: Spanner in the works?

Who gives a damn? You get the picture anyway: 1, 2, or 3 items. It's just like how "Where you at?" has become a tagline; as you say, it's about communication, and since humans are involved, things change. For exmaple, is it "jail" or "gaol"?

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Paris Hilton

A crow bar as the unexpected item in the bagging area?

Or a crow, Min.

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Re: Spanner in the works?

A Wickes tilldroid once asked me for my postcode, mobile number and email address when I was paying 69p cash in a store for a packet of mug hooks.

I just said, and I was remarkably restrained, by my standards, no.

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Facepalm

Good news

for the educated among us

Crap news for those (and theres lots more of them) who aren't educated

PS... if the vast majority are unemployed, just how are they going to spend money buying tat from robot staffed warehouses?

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Re: Good news

Good news

for the educated among us

Crap news for those (and theres lots more of them) who aren't educated

Now there's a short-sighted (and undeservedly smug) outlook.

Not least that the more 'educated' you are, often means advanced specialisation in one field, but once all the unskilled and semi-skilled work was been moved to parts of the world where the cost of paying humans amounts to less, they'll be turning to the skilled positions.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Good news

"[...] once all the unskilled and semi-skilled work was been moved to parts of the world where the cost of paying humans amounts to less, they'll be turning to the skilled positions."

Government minister Priti Patel wants EU immigrant workers replaced by those from the Indian subcontinent. The Indian government is making that part of any post-BREXIT trade deal.

I don't see those workers coming to pick crops in East Anglian fields.

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