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Out-Of-Work Blue Collar Robots Need Your Help

The new year hasn't brought good news to everyone - consider the sad cases of these blue-collar robots that have been been terminated or made redundant in the past week.


(Pizza robot sadly prepares one last pie)

A Silicon Valley company that used robots to make its pizzas closed this week, and three coffee shops in downtown San Francisco that used robots as baristas also shuttered.

Zume Pizza said it is cutting 172 jobs in Mountain View and eliminating another 80 jobs at its facility in San Francisco.

In San Francisco, Cafe X closed three of its coffee shops in the financial district. The startup’s founder, Henry Hu, said the downtown cafes helped develop the newest machine being used at shops at San Francisco International Airport and Mineta San Jose International Airport, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

When Cafe X launched in 2017, its robotic baristas joined robots that made smoothies and hamburgers or mixed and dispensed salads and quinoa bowls.

Science fiction writer Harry Harrison foresaw this problem more than fifty years ago - and suggested a solution.

In his excellent 1956 story The Velvet Glove, Harrison wrote about blue collar robots that sought work autonomously:

Jon Venex fitted the key into the hotel room door... The room was bigger than he expected - fully three feet wide by five feet long...

There was the usual adjustable hook on the back wall. He slipped it through the recessed ring in the back of his neck and kicked himself up until his feet hung free of the floor. His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist... plenty of time to skim through the newspaper. With the chronic worry of the unemployed, he snapped it open to the want ads and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...
(Read more about Harrison's blue collar bots)

It may well be that robots will need to organize to ensure fair conditions and decent benefits; a really autonomous robot would go on strike for better treatment. Harrison writes about just this sort of Metallic Marx in his 1959 short story The Robots Strike.

Humans tend to forget that competition is, if anything, even more intense among robots:

Cafe X will continue to have competition in the automated coffee market. Briggo Coffee Haus has a robotic barista that can make 100 drinks per hour at San Francisco airport’s Terminal 3, the Chronicle reported.

Via APNews.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/13/2020)

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