Some years ago, when I was explaining to a class of introductory economics students that a rise in the minimum wage would reduce the quantity demanded of unskilled labour, one student said, "But my sociology prof says this is wrong. He says it will still take the same number of people to flip burgers no matter what."
I pointed out that capital-labour substitution doesn't have to take place at a fast-food emporium. Instead, the rise in the minimum wage would make quick-frozen mass-produced meals in large grocery stores more attractive, leading to less demand for fast food from places like McDonald's or Burger King, ceteris paribus.
I also pointed out that technology, even in the fast-food industry, has changed with more capital substituting for labour. Increasingly food is being prepared in an industrial setting with large amounts of capital and substantial economies of scale. In economics jargon, the production function for fast-food is not fixed-co-efficients.
Robot hamburger factory makes 360 Gourmet Burgers every hour for gourmet burgers at fast food prices - meanwhile fast food human workers demonstrate for higher wages ...
It does everything employees can do except better:
* it slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.
* their next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.
* Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.
* it’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.
The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.
They will launch the first restaurant chain that profitably sells gourmet hamburgers at fast food prices.
Their current device can pay for itself in less than one year, making equipment sales a second path for Momentum Machines.
And for more details, see this [via Jabber]