Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label economy. Show all posts

Would You Like Microchips With That? Wendy's Unveils Touch-Screen Ordering At Many Locations

Well, it's been at least a week since our last robot report, detailing which jobs are now going to be outsourced to non-humans.  Clearly manufacturing was headed this way since mechanization proved how woefully weak humans are at churning out cheap goods without the need for rest of any kind, but what about the service industry?

Robot bartenders may not be able to talk about your problems, robot hoteliers may not be able to score you the best drugs on the DL...will robot fast-food workers really improve things so humans can "have it our way"?

Fast, good, cheap...pick two.
Guess which ones Wendy's owners are going with?
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Number One For The Sun: World's Largest Solar Power Plant Fires Up In Morocco

We're now well into the 21st century, and it's time for energy technology to reflect that.  On Thursday, a major leap was made by Morocco, who became the nation that put the world's largest solar power plant online.

Who says you can't grow anything in the desert?
Noor 1 has officially begun harvesting solar energy.
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On With The Wind: Over A Third Of U.S. Power To Be Won From Wind By 2050

Abundant energy is there for the taking thanks to natural, sustainable sources, and now, the U.S. thinks that harnessing even more of it may (literally) be a breeze...

The powers-that-be are upping American wind power.
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Shared Space: Is China Poised To Have Earth's Superior Space Program?

With plans germinating to launch a major new telescope and buzz that we possibly might make it to Mars by the 2030s, NASA has been no slouch lately.  Thanks to commercial spacecraft like the SpaceX Dragon being capable of ferrying supplies and personnel to the International Space Station, we've proved that private space companies and America's own space division can work excellently together.  But what about our working relationship with international space organizations, namely, China?

Surely there must be enough space for the both of us...
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Burger-Bot: Robotic Skill On The Grill

The coming decades will inevitably be powered by many automatons, particularly in fields that hold little appeal to humans. Now, the stereotypical "burger-flipping" gig may be outsourced completely to machines, thanks to a new robot.

Momentum Machines' meat-managing masterpiece is not humanoid, and it doesn't need to be. It doesn't want to be your friend, give you travel advice, or monitor your house or body. It wants to make burgers. Lots of burgers, and fast. An assembly-line style setup of burger-building materials (patties, buns, lettuce, tomato, cheese, etc.) are lined up, and well-engineered robotics (the creators have experience at Tesla and NASA) take over from there.

According to, the average fast food restaurant spends $135,000 a year on human burger-flippers. With living, breathing workers, there is sickness, margin for error, strikes and accidents to consider. However, one Momentum could alleviate all that trouble (and not make snarky remarks at mean managers, either.) One 24-square-foot Momentum machine can spin out a burger every ten seconds, or 360 per hour.

Momentum cofounder Alexandros Vardakostas doesn't mince words about the company's mission. “Our device isn’t meant to make employees more efficient. It’s meant to completely obviate them.”

There's little dispute that this may soon become the norm for many by-rote professions. However, Momentum isn't completely coldhearted about their orchestrated robot takeover. They plan to ally with vocational schools to offer (better) job training for those who have been replaced by their robot.  Perhaps the ousted kitchen hands can go into a more lucrative field with their new knowledge...maybe robotics?

Today, they build burgers...tomorrow, a new empire!

Renewable, Sustainable, And Affordable: Clean Energy Is Cheaper Than Fossil Fuel

It appears that fuel-fiending folks will soon be able to leave energy sources that are literally dead and buried (oil, coal, etc.) where they belong, underground. Thanks to breakthroughs in energy technology, it is now possible for clean energy to be more affordable than fossil fuels.

In an article by former Sierra Club director and executive chairman Carl Pope for the Huffington Post, it is stated in no uncertain terms that fossil fuels will soon become too expensive to extract, maintain, and use for any sort of extended productive lifespan. Comparatively, elements like solar, wind, hydro, and other readily available resources will become the new driving - and lighting, and otherwise electrifying - forces. Entire governments, such as India and Germany, are making strides to help their people use more sustainable sources of energy.

While fossil fuels still command a high market share, even the banks know that their time is limited. The Bloomberg New Energy Finance projection claims that over the next 15 years, 2/3 of incremental global power generation will be renewably generated. They are also quick to note, however, that the energy business infrastructure still spends big money ($674 billion was spent last year by the oil industry seeking new reserves despite them being increasingly more expensive) due to the nature of the "quasi-cartel"-style industry wanting to get all their profits before the party is over. They are dying dinosaurs staring at the solar rock hurtling towards them, but they will still eat those smaller than them.

Yet the numbers can't be denied any longer. As the Pope article notes, "Fossil fuels generate 63 percent of the world's power, renewables less than 5 percent, but 1/3 of fossil electricity now costs more than competing wind and solar." While the transition to more renewable energy will require a lot of adaptation (retrofitting homes, reworking transportation ideas, weaning off our oil dependence, and most of all changing our overall mindsets on the issue), it will be worth it to live in a world that we're not destroying just to keep it moving.
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Solar Rock 'n Roller: More Jobs In Sun Power Than Coal Mining Says Senator, Statistics

When U.S. senators make extraordinary claims, the public often takes them with a grain of salt, if not outright disbelief (particularly when science is involved.) However the statement that there are more jobs in solar power than coal mining, postulated by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and verified as true by, is a breath of sunshine-saturated fresh air.

Regarding solar jobs, The Solar Foundation’s "National Solar Jobs Census 2013" states that the solar industry, "employs 142,698 Americans as of November 2013."

According to statistics from a 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, issued in May 2013, an estimated 80,030 jobs existed in the coal-mining industry, a faction of the overall coal industry.  The 2013 U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration cited 123,227 jobs, also fewer than the number of solar jobs cited by Whitehouse. This number also includes contractors who may work in the surveyed mines.

A contrary view from the National Mining Association, numbering the coal jobs at 195,494, counted "coal" jobs that included off-site transportation workers (such as railroad operators and coal barge or freighter sailors.)

Whitehouse's excellent observations inspire hope in our sustainable energy and long-term job infrastructure. He continues to crusade for clean energy, stating in a May 2014 Providence Journal article that, "there is more economic security in our own American know-how than in corrupt foreign fossil fuel countries." Shine on!

After The Automatons: Could A Robot Take Your Job Soon?

With 47 percent of the world's jobs poised to become automated in the next twenty years, what is half of humanity going to do when it is retired by robots?

While creative endeavors and skilled jobs still maintain their value for labor, automated jobs are quickly being phased out by those with the means to reap more capital by building machines to do so. As reports, "last year Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook were worth over $1 trillion combined, but employed just 150,000 people." With labor jobs dwindling and information jobs not escalating, what will workers do when their careers and cash all vanish thanks to the rich and their robots?

According to the Oxfam report "Working For The Few", "those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1 [trillion], as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population." With 85 people controlling the same amount of money as 3.5 billion, it is no surprise that ideas like wealth redistribution and possibly guaranteed minimum income may become serious social issues in the coming years.

How safe is your livelihood in the robot revolution?

Tech Drives NYC's Private Sector Growth

From a report for the Bloomberg Technology Summit:
• New York City’s share of the nation’s private sector employment has reached its highest level in 20 years because of the growth of the tech/information sector.

• There are 262,000 workers in the New York tech/information sector, contributing almost $30 billion annually in wages to the local economy.

• While the financial sector, including real estate, is the most single important engine of the New York economy, the tech/information sector is now number two, surpassing the private health care sector.

• Between 2007 and 2012, the number of private sector jobs in NYC rose by about 4 percent, com- pared to a 3 percent decline nationally.

•Since 2007, when the Great Recession started, New York City’s tech/information sector has grown by 11 percent, or some 26,000 jobs, adding $5.8 billion in additional wages to the economy. Indeed, these wage gains accounted for two-thirds of the growth in private sector wages over that stretch.

• Using a conservative estimate, the tech/information boom was responsible for roughly one-third of the private sector job creation in New York City since 2007.

• New York City also significantly outperformed its suburbs during this period. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private sector jobs actually declined by 3.8 percent from 2007-2012 in the New York metro area outside the city. Tech/information jobs also dropped by 6.9 percent in the suburbs, compared to an 11 percent gain in the city.

• The growth of Brooklyn’s tech/information sector has outpaced every other large county in the country, with the exception of San Francisco. This includes traditional tech hubs such as Austin; Seattle; Cambridge, MA; the Research Triangle; and Silicon Valley.