Category Archives: Computer technology

Restaurant Automation Is Almost a Guarantee

Consumer preferences, reduced technology costs and government policies that increase labor costs are driving a trend toward automation in the restaurant business. If you make something more convenient and less expensive, it tends to catch on.

As recently as the 1960s, gas-station employees would rush to fill your car’s tank, wash the windows, check the oil and put air in the tires. Telephone operators made your long-distance calls and bank tellers cashed your checks. Those jobs now are either gone or greatly diminished.

Today, we reduce jobs whenever we shop on Amazon instead of our local retail outlet, use an Uber app rather than calling a cab dispatcher, order a pizza online, use an airport kiosk to print boarding passes, or scan groceries. Each of these changes in behavior has increased convenience and reduced labor costs—and competitive businesses pass the savings to their customers.

Marc Andreessen On When The Robots Come To Take All Our Jobs

It’s one of the great mysteries of our time, why there are so many insisting that this time around is different. That automation, as it proceeds, is going to leave everyone out of work and idling away their time with nothing to do and no income to do nothing with. It’s as if no one is willing to believe that the Luddite fallacy was in fact proven wrong. What’s worse is that all too many of those getting this wrong are setting themselves up as thinkers, philosopher kings, on the subject and as a result of their complete misunderstanding of the basic situation then they’re proposing all sorts of nonsense.

The simple fact is that as long as there’s things that humans can do which add value then humans will continue to have jobs. And when there’s nothing left that humans can do which adds value then no one needs to have a job so who in heck cares whether there are any or not?

The necessity of more skilled IT professionals

Today’s kids need to consider a role in IT.  Here is a quick paragraph from a recent Wall Street Journal article.

It doesn’t hurt their cause that the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that there will be one million unfilled jobs for programmers in the U.S. by 2020. And that may be an underestimate, … He adds that the more software and hardware humans create, the more jobs in software there are, as new platforms like smartphones and drones spawn their own software ecosystems.

The Second Job You Don’t Know You Have

With the move to $15 or higher minimum wage, you can bet there will much more “shadow work” that will be moved to consumers or lost to automation. Shadow work is all the unpaid jobs we do on behalf of businesses and organizations: We are pumping our own gas, scanning our own groceries, booking our travel and busing our tables at Starbucks. Shadow work is a new concept, so as yet, no one has compiled economic data on how many jobs we, the consumers, have taken over from (erstwhile) employees. Yet it is surely a force shrinking the job market, and the unemployment it creates is structural.

So now the Lois Lerner emails are not missing?

lois lerner photoIf you have been following me here on this site or on Facebook, you know that I am quite upset about the IRS targeting of groups that disagree with the administration. I honestly believe that the government should NEVER pick sides in politics. When politicians win, it should be a requirement that they cannot use their governmental power to hamper the criticism of them. Remember those Lois Lerner emails that conveniently went missing in a “hard-drive crash”? Judicial Watch, which is suing the Internal Revenue Service under the Freedom of Information Act, says they still exist.

It seems to me that the hijacking of the IRS to suppress grass-roots opposition to the administration in power would qualify as a “government-wide catastrophe,” but I am sure the government would disagree. That notwithstanding, if the backups are “too onerous to search” now, what good would they be in an undisputed catastrophe? One can never rule out incompetence as an explanation, but this does have the feel of a deliberate effort to keep the truth concealed.

LinkedIn maps are a cool way to visualize big data

LinkedIn Maps are a great example of using Big Data processing tools to create a meaningful representation of data. I have labeled my largest clouds. The largest clouds were places that I worked the longest. Also it is interesting that the customer dots tend to be located in the middle since they tend to have connections to a wide variety of software companies. Of course, my alma mater, Rose-Hulman, tends to be interspersed with customers for the same reason.

It is unfortunate that LinkedIn is turning off LinkedIn Maps. Hopefully, they will replace it with something just as cool. From their website:

Sometimes we have to retire tools we love so we can focus our attention and resources on creating even better experiences for our members. We’re currently looking at new ways to help you visualize and gain insights from your professional network. That’s why we’re discontinuing InMaps as of September 1, 2014.