Now You Can Rent a Robot Worker:
Polar Manufacturing has been making metal hinges, locks, and brackets in south Chicago for more than 100 years. Some of the company's metal presses—hulking great machines that loom over a worker—date from the 1950s. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, Polar hired its first robot employee.The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.Jose Figueroa, who manages Polar's production line, says the robot, which is leased from a company called Formic, costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says."Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can't spend the capital to invest in new technology," Figueroa says. "We're just struggling to get by with the minimum wage increase."
Polar Manufacturing has been making metal hinges, locks, and brackets in south Chicago for more than 100 years. Some of the company's metal presses—hulking great machines that loom over a worker—date from the 1950s. Last year, to meet rising demand amid a shortage of workers, Polar hired its first robot employee.
The robot arm performs a simple, repetitive job: lifting a piece of metal into a press, which then bends the metal into a new shape. And like a person, the robot worker gets paid for the hours it works.
Jose Figueroa, who manages Polar's production line, says the robot, which is leased from a company called Formic, costs the equivalent of $8 per hour, compared with a minimum wage of $15 per hour for a human employee. Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says.
"Smaller companies sometimes suffer because they can't spend the capital to invest in new technology," Figueroa says. "We're just struggling to get by with the minimum wage increase."
Re they sexbots? Asking for a friend ...
Well, it's a robot Arm. You can get attachments for the end of the arm -- including ones that try to very much mimic the grip of a hand.
Does that work for you?
Somehow "Touché" is both appropriate and wrong.
Why didn't they hire Bender?
Here's there own press release: https://formic.co/resources/polar-hardware-deployment-press-release [formic.co]
[Formic] delivers customized robots at a low hourly rate with no money upfront and guaranteed uptime. Formic’s full service includes everything from planning and deployment to maintenance.
So no upfront costs which I wasn't expecting.
A higher minimum wage results in increased automation. This is because the automation results in lower operating costs. The higher minimum wage can provide the push to invest in automation. Some low skilled jobs will be permanently lost as a result.
At most that speeds the process up. Eventually, bots will be cheaper even than slaves.
Still not a good reason not to pay livable wages. Humanity will have a choice, a good world or a dystopian nightmare. We've been trying the nightmare methid for 40+ years now and things are only getting worse. Queue khallow saying without all the nightmare conditions we wouldn't have technological progress and average lifespan would be under 30.
If you pay everyone down to the guy who mops the floor $60,000, do you know what prices of goods and services will be for everyone, including the guy who mops the floor? Watch his raise get eaten up by inflation. This is what is happening now under Biden cutting free checks to everyone.
This is what is happening now under Biden cutting free checks to everyone.
Other than the fact that the "free checks" stopped quite a while ago, why do you guys keep thinking this (other than you just regurgitate whatever some evening idiot tells you on Fox because it's too scary to think for yourselves)?
Central bank games aside, inflation is roughly determined by the ratio of the amount of currency (real, electronic, and debt) in circulation to the the amount of (real, non-monetary) wealth in circulation.
Double everybody's pay without without altering wealth production, and the value of the currency is likely to roughly halve to match, so the net effect is nobody is better off, and the value of any non-invested savings have been halved.
So you're not completely wrong - paying people more without increasing the amount of wealth they generate will in fact cause some inflation. There are two important question to answer though
1) How much does the *total* amount of currency in circulation change? The
Wealth inequality is pretty extreme, with the top 20% of households averaging $234k (an makes up 52% of the nation's total household income), while the lowest 40%averages only $25k (and makes up only 11% of the nation's household income).
You could triple the household income of the poorest 40%, and the nation's total household income would only increase by 33%. And with 133% as much money spent on the same amount of real wealth you'd expect the value of the dollar to fall to about 75% of it's original value. Which kinda sucks for the people at the top, but the 40% of the population whose income just tripled are still taking home 3x75% = 225% as much real wealth as they were originally.
And that's ignoring corporate income and debt - that's another huge amount money in circulation that wasn't affected, so instead of having 133% more money in circulation reducing money's value to 75% of its original value, you're looking at maybe 110% more money in circulation, reducing money's value to 91%, so that the bottom 40%'s tripled income means they're taking home 275% as much real wealth.
2) Does the amount of wealth generated/purchased change? If you increase the amount of wealth in circulation, you increase the value of the currency it's traded in.
If people at the bottom suddenly have a lot more wealth, they're likely to start buying higher quality goods. That means production capacity currently dedicated to cheap Walmart trash will instead be allocated to more "premium" products whose real value is greater, and so there's more real wealth in circulation. Potentially a LOT more wealth, since at the low end quality tends to increase much faster than cost.
Don't forget the one-off effect on the poor that is the effective 25% reduction of their debts. Student loans might not be bankruptcy-cancelable, but you can inflate them away.
Yep, that's how the roughly $275tn equivalent WWII debt was paid off, they inflated it away.
This guarantee means if the system is not functioning, Formic covers all of the engineering and costs to repair and maintain the system. Additionally, Polar will not pay for the robots during any downtime.
On the other hand, I guess that's no worse than what you get from human workers.
The Formics, eh? Time to start training Ender and Bean.
how is this different to large, automated plants, where there is a machine ("robot"?) for each step in the process, and each feeds the next?
This enables large numbers of employees to 'do other things' (usually, "get a job elsewhere")
How many individual steps does the machine need to perform before it is a robot?
Is every conveyor belt a 'robot', or only if it is leased?
When you factor in the cost of health insurance and unemployment in addition to the base salary it adds up to a lot more than the usual min. wage a Human gets. For a small company it could benifit them greatly as they can afford more "workers" doing the repetative and sometimes dangerous tasks for substantially less than a Human which would free up funds for hiring Humans for the tasks that need more adaptability and multi-roll abilities. It could potentially make workers with "Jack of all trades" skill sets that much more valuable.
That said I agree with you that for larger companies, or even smaller ones that run more production line style operations this kind of "rent a bot" option will displace Humans and likely leave them unemployed.
This is another situation where something new, be it a high versatility bot or a desktop computer with basic office software, may end up having a much larger impact on it's targeted area than originally expected.
Time will tell, as it has with every other new application of technology.
I have a robot (CNC mill) working for me right now. I pay it (or rather the company bought it from) about $2k/mo. In four years it'll be paid off.
The difference is the huge up-front investment to build a large automated plant. You won't do that unless you've got the money to invest. This, on the other hand, has no more up-front cost than hiring another worker. The investment risk lies completely with the company providing the robot.
The line between "robot" and "machine" is very fuzzy. Usually, the line gets drawn around programmability, but it is completely arbitrary.
E.x. a fully automated stamping line can have a coil feed metal into the stamping head and the die eject the scrap and parts into separate bins. That's a machine. If you replace the die ejector with a two-DOF arm and actuator that pulls the part out of the die, most people will call that a robot... even if it's dumb as a rock.
Hmm. Something that could plausibly be re-purposed for another task? (Automobile assembly arms that do exactly one thing)
I think machine is something that follows a fixed path (programming isn't fixed, but gears and pins are). For a robot, it needs to ask *something* (program, punchcard) for its next action. If it does does-thing-when-thing (sensor on a conveyor belt) it's a machine.
What's strange to me in this discussion is that a recurring theme is that robots are not machines. In my view, robots are a certain class of machines. A robot is always a machine, but a machine may not be a robot.
For me, a machine is a robot if it has many ways of movement. A big block that goes up and down is not a robot. An machine arm that has many joints is a robot. And yes, the boundary is fuzzy. As are the boundaries of almost all real-world concepts.
I'm with you. Electrically, pneumatically, or hydraulicly actuate mechanical critters, smart or dumb, are machines.
There are more fuzzy edges when we start looking out to intelligent machines. A machine capable of locomotion, self-preservation, procreation, planning, execution, communication, and introspection is probably going to be a machine, robot, and person.
Back in the late wire-wrapping days, we had a couple of employees who built our wire-wrapped prototypes. They did a good job, as good as you can with wire wrap, but... they were people, people who had a bad habit of leaving when it got hot in Miami to "visit their sick mothers in New York," and then when it would get cold in New York they would show up in Miami again and ask if they could have their old job back. Well - good wire wrap techs are hard to find, so we did take them back through about 5 cycles of this, but... one July we wanted a prototype, and we didn't want to wait until October-November to get it started, and we didn't really want it wire wrapped anyway, so, for less than the cost of 6 months of their salaries we got a circuit board milling machine - and while it wasn't perfect, it was better in so many ways, particularly if you wanted more than one of something... and the wire wrappers didn't get their jobs back this time when they showed up in October, but on her last trip out of the building one did manage to slip and fall on the same doorstep they had used every work day for 7+ years without incident, and that initiated a lawsuit that drug on for another 7+ years.
$8 sounds nice, especially for something one might need only briefly. But what ARE the upfront costs for something like this, if needed for a permanent basis?
How does this thing handle unexpected situations? Given that a human was doing the job, and not a machine in the first place, it stands to reason some part of the job involved things only a human could manage.
Like any "as a service" this opens up the possibility for the company leasing these things to nickel-and-dime someone to death. Need to add a skill? $$$$ Need to adapt to even very slightly different changes? $$$$. Use it more than a contract states? $$$$ "Fix" it every time there is a "problem"? $$$$.
You know, once they figure out how to make these things walk properly, we will finally have the robots promised in early science fiction stories - with with all the "as a service" badness of modern day enterprise shit.
"bdbdbdbdbd... the function KILL ME will cost extra $$$$, Buck. Or you can listen to some advertisements first..."
I'm wondering if that calculates in the unemployment insurance, medical insurance, paid vacation, payroll taxes, etc. that are "hidden" employee costs -- what's left is as if they're paying the machine $8/hr (but really a human at minimum wage costs the company $36/hr and the robot costs $28/hr)
That's what the single human-overseer is for. This is a sheetmetal press, right? So part goes in, robot pushes a button, mechanical machine does its work, machine pulls part out. What's to go wrong? Figure out how to make that part not go wrong. Like optimizing efficiency in an engine -- if a part fails, design that part to not fail. Over time, the process will be improved such that there are no un-handled / unexpected scenarios. Of course it will be an issue at first.
Like any "as a service" [...] Need to add a skill? $$$$. Need to adapt to even very slightly different changes? $$$$.
Only if you change the process. If you're doing something for 50+ years, you're probably not doing that much.
Use it more than a contract states? $$$$
See above. They're paying hourly(?), so if it works overtime, it works overtime. Extra orders leading to increased production -- what a wonderful problem to have! (And you don't have to find another human!)
"Fix" it every time there is a "problem"? $$$$.
Note the provider, break-fix is on the provider. You're only billed for the time the robot is running.
Yes, that is the plan. Replace workers with robots, lower fertility rates, start a few pandemics and wars, etc.
Robots don't want to kill all humans. They just want to take our jobs.
From the article
The fact that Polar didn’t need to pay $100,000 upfront to buy the robot, and then spend more money to get it programmed, was crucial. ...
Sounds like the upfront costs are non existent beyond the initial installation of the hardware and associated safety equipment.
Factor in the extra costs of a Human like unemployment and health insurance payments the company has to make using a bot makes a lot of sense for the erpetative and potentially dangerous tasks on a production floor. Just until now its usually been to costly to install a bot.
Whoops, one follow-up to that:
It's probably like an employee, where it's hard to fire them. You likely commit to minimums per time period, and you likely commit to minimum time periods. It doesn't make sense for Formic to give you a robot that you leave sitting in the corner, nor for them to ship you a robot that you're only going to use for a week. (You'd likely pay exceptionally for that -- and it might still be less than bringing on an employee, but not less than hiring a temp agency for temporary labor.)
I recall a story published in an early 90s issue of Analog SF&F where the Upper-Middle/Bourgeoisie-class had moved on from being Landlords and Property 'developers', to doing this same thing of owning/shareholding of Robot stock that were rented out to Industry (..and gaining control over it)... As the author didn't protect this into being a Bad Thing for the rest of society, I suspected their motivation was proselytizing the idea...
If it was in Analog, the author probably didn't consider the negative effects. Astounding-Analog had a long tradition of techno-optimism.
The bare minimum wage is one thing, but when comparing to a Full-Time Employee it's even cheaper. Due to the fact that with a full-time employee you have things like, paid time off, overtime pay, and pesky things like insurance. Trust me, the insurance for a thing is much cheaper than medical insurance. In the event that you don't even have to pay that, just the $8 an hour, you as an employer are getting quite the deal. You could have twice as many robots and still come out ahead.
Robots don't make up stories about being badly treated by the programming bros.
Modded "disagree"? Some loony thinks robots *do* make up such stories?
Well, if some joker installs GPT3 on them, they just might. :-)
imagine how fast he could jack you off
Awww apk I MEAN RUNAWAY1956 got triggered by is failing journals and is back to racist spamming. Deal with your own issues insecure douchebro.
Any job that can be done for $8 an hour SHOULD be automated. This from the summary is key:
Deploying the robot allowed a human worker to do different work, increasing output, Figueroa says.
I would not want to sit at a press all day long feeding it. I bet that their turnover is terrible, especially if they only pay minimum wage.
What job do you think a person who takes a job like that is qualified for? Take away rote jobs, and you take away the only kind of jobs some people can do.
All but the most incompetent person is still smarter than a robot.
There are certain tasks that requires a human, but something simple and repetitive is best handled with automation, especially when you're having trouble hiring. The place I work at has had that problem before the current conditions, and they invested in a lot of automation to fill the gap and move our workers to do other jobs not so easily automated. No one here has ever been laid off because the job is now automated.
I mean, yes but no.
The cotton gin allowed slavery to end. (All the slaves were layed off.)
There are cases where people can be moved to different tasks, but if you have a very old/strictly defined business, then maybe you have a very well-defined process that doesn't change much that is ripe for automation. If the owners aren't trying to grow the company, just do that one thing and do it well, then you perhaps don't have a need for those automated out of a job.
It's a cart-before-the-horse sort of thing. We're telling people that if they want to eat, they have to work. Then we're using robots to automate their work. And their next job? McDonalds switches to robot fry-flippers. And on it goes. We should automate food production. When we have that, it won't matter if we automate people out of a job: we don't need to exchange human labor for food. (Robots are producing the food, right?) Unfortunately, the thing that we're automating first isn't food production, and that's leading to a hurt-class of people, and people who say that if they have to work (farm) then others shouldn't get their work for free. (But give everyone a free TV, because automated production lines.)
This is kind of the opposite of true. The cotton gin (of the American style) was invented in the 18th century and slave based cotton agriculture was developed around it. Slavery existed previously, of course, but the slaves were previously used for tobacco or sugar. It took the cotton gin to make even slave based cotton agriculture competitive with cotton from India, which had a different kind of fiber that was easier to process. It turns out that slavery isn't even that much of an economic benefit to anyone except the slave owner.
Only a benefit to the slaveowner? It allowed cotton to become a dominant part of the economy. So much was produced so cheaply that it was exported to the North and to Britain's vast textile mills which wove cloth for export to the rest of the world. The North benefitted tremendously as the textile mills fed by cheap domestic (Southern) cotton drove industrialization.
Yes. The same production could have been achieved with paid labor, as evidenced by the fact that that's exactly what happened after the Civil War. Even though the British had switched to Egyptian cotton during the war due to unavailability of American cotton, they switched back when they could. By forcing African Americans into menial labor, slavery destroyed whatever other things they could have otherwise done (inventions, leadership, entrepreneurship, whatever), which harmed, not helped, the economy.
Sugar was never really a crop in America. The Caribbean and Brazil were where that crop was grown. Working on a sugar plantation had a much, much higher fatality rate than working in America picking cotton.
The ones that aren't, are clearly future managers
Yeah, the people that got fired now how free time to pursue minting NFTs.....