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Replacing McD’s Workers With Computers?

The dumbest thing I’ve ever heard is that McDonald’s will replace it’s employees with computers before they pay them $15 per hour. This came to mind when this heaping pile of stupid showed up in my G+ feed;




What is that idiocy based on? The wave of automation that swept through the fast food industry in Denmark where the minimum wage is $20 per hour or Australia where it’s $15 per hour(converted to US)?

Let me tell you a story of something I saw with my own lying eyes. Sometime more than 15 years ago (I haven’t lived there in 15 years) when I lived in northern CA, I had to give a presentation in Palo Alto. That was a 20 mile drive for me and since I was running late, I didn’t have time to eat that day. I just jumped into my car and hoped to get to Palo Alto with enough time to grab some fast food. So I get to Palo Alto, and I see an Arby’s (it was actually Menlo Park, but same diff). In the grand scheme of fast food, that seemed like the least disgusting option so I went in. There were no cashiers, just three computer terminals. I went to the first one and it didn’t work. The second machine also didn’t work. The third and final option worked.

I found the whole thing creepy and isolating. Now that was a long time ago, so maybe that creepy feeling wouldn’t happen for most people today since we’re plugged in all the time, but those machines are still going to break. Publicly accessible hardware breaks often and early.  Ever been on a plane with a frozen screen and wondered why they can’t keep up with your smartphone, which works nearly all the time?

Anyway, I went back to that Arby’s about a year later, just to see if the screens were still there. They were gone and I’ve never seen that setup in silicon freaking valley (or anywhere else) since. If this were viable, I’m pretty sure the genius executives at McDonald’s who insist they’re worth thousands of dollars an hour more than everyone else who works for the company, would have figured it out over the span of (at least) fifteen years.

A hardware engineer makes six figures. A software engineer makes six figures. The network engineers and the system administrators all make six figures. So one engineer (of any variety) for one year makes what one fast food worker makes in eight years. If you double the salary of the fast food worker, it will take them four years to make what one engineer makes in one year.   

How do these idiots think this is going to be an attractive alternative for the fast food industry? What kind of magical math replaces 10 fast food workers with three engineers and comes out ahead? Honestly, is any thought at all put into these inane comments? Or is the burning need to punch down all the thought needed to come up with this shit?


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