Is Flippy the Robot stealing our jobs?


Is Flippy the Robot stealing our jobs?


In a previous blog, I briefly touched upon how technology will affect employment in the decades to come. Well, it’s happened sooner than we thought. Flippy the Burger-Flipping Robot is a reality, and he’s taking our jobs.

I came across a BBC News video which details the story of a humanoid robot who CaliBurger CEO, John Miller, has employed. The robot uses heat sensors and image recognition to know when the burgers require flipping. This robot costs $60,000 to buy and $12,000 a year to maintain. In the long run, this works out far cheaper than hiring, employing and training staff. John also stresses that it will be more efficient and is doing a job that people don’t actually want to do. Whilst this technology is still in its infancy it shows that companies are now investing in technology as a replacement for staff.


This is not the first time John Miller has implemented a futuristic scheme in order to modernize the fast food industry. A few months ago, they introduced AI enabled kiosks with facial recognition. Once you register your card details it will remember who you are and you can automatically pay within seconds if your face matches the photo.


John Vincent (Co-Founder of Leon) has stated that he believes automation isn’t ‘stealing’ jobs from unskilled workers. He believes that technological alternatives will become more prevalent due to the lack of supply of workers in the fast food industry. In a recent interview by the BBC, John believes this is a direct result of Brexit. Many of his staff are EU Nationals and losing a proportion of the workforce or not being able to replace workers who move on, would lead to a heavy dependence on alternative methods.


"There's a danger if we can't recruit people - and we've already seen it in America - that people will be replaced by robots, and that's not something we want to see... So, that's not 'Mad Max fantasy world', it's already happening." – John Vincent (Chief Exec and Co-Founder of Leon)


The idea that robots will (and should) replace human workers is also endorsed by prominent Brexiteer and Tory MP; Jacob Rees-Mogg. However, opposed to John, he believes this succession is inevitable due to increased efficiencies and reduced costs, rather than as a result of Brexit.


Regardless of whether robots are used to solve recruitment issues or a logical investment, it’s interesting seeing the steps companies are making in order to make sure they are technologically innovative. I do believe that the Flippy story will be replicated within the next decade in order to replace or improve upon the work of unskilled labourers. But how will this affect the current employment market? And how will we adapt to ensure this doesn’t lead to increased unemployment for low skilled workers?


What are your thoughts on robots taking on our unskilled work? Is this an example of us ‘moving with the times’? Or an unnecessary hurdle for our unskilled workforce and a source of future unemployment?

ElliotI joined Mattinson Partnership in September 2016, having graduated from Queen Mary, University of London with a BSc (Hons) in Environmental Science. I started off working as a resourcer within Dominic's Built Environment team and I was promoted to Consultant in the Spring of 2017. I now cover BIM, Structural and Civil Engineering. My background is in insurance sales, where I gained experience in client and customer relations, which I have built upon in my time in recruitment. In my spare time, I like to stay active and I am known amongst my peers as a fantasy football guru.



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