I was reading about the disharmony aboard the Harmony of the Seas, the ship that is supposed to be the last word in cruising that has turned into a bit of a PR disaster, demonstrating that building site holiday resorts aren’t just confined to dry land.
Cruising isn’t something that has ever really appealed to me, no matter how hard Rob Brydon tries to sell the idea. And I quite like him.
It strikes me that it would be like spending your entire holiday inside the same hotel. It doesn’t matter that the Harmony has seven separate ‘neighbourhoods’, sixteen restaurants and a theatre twice the seating capacity of the Garrick in London, it’s really just the same place with the same food, same people and the same chance of contracting norovirus come to that.
Among the stats of life on board – fifty tons of ice made every day, 60,000 eggs and 100 gallons of ice cream served every week etc – the one that stood out for me was the 1,000 cocktails a day made by the robot bartenders pictured above.
You can see them in action here, the latest example of robots putting people out of a job, in this case those louche ‘mixologists’ who must spend years practising the art of bottle juggling, slicing lemons in mid-air like a samurai and shaking, stirring and setting fire to the finished product.
It shows that robots can do almost anything that people can do, and usually do it better, without mistakes, and you don’t have to pay them a penny, not even the minimum wage.
By coincidence, I was also reading that the world’s third largest burger chain, Wendy’s, is planning to replace its human staff with machines to keep down labour costs. To be honest, I’ve never heard of them, but apparently they have 6,500 outlets in 30 countries, so they must be a big player in the flavourless food franchise market. And when the accountants had totted up the fiscal pros and cons of human versus machine, they figured that it simply wasn’t worth paying burger-flippers the $10 an hour fortune they can earn in California and New York.
It’s all very depressing and it’s only going to get worse, but what I’d like to know is what happens when the world is out of a job because of the rise of the robots? Yes, there will be perfectly cooked burgers and super smooth cocktails, but no-one will be earning the wages to pay for them.
Lest you think this trend is something new though, below is a video extolling the brave new world of automated fast food from 1964.