We are rapidly approaching a future where the entry level jobs like fast food / picking crops / warehouses can be automated away and even well paying ones such as truck driving / taxis could disappear or scale down drastically. We really should be having an urgent conversation on how to handle this and what the responsibility of those that own the means of production will be (if any) when this occurs.
Yang is obviously speaking about this and suggesting a BI as a band-aid / solution but I do think this should be getting a lot more attention that it is.
I see frozen uncooked pizza in stores. I feel like it existed 20-30 years ago too although I'm not sure exactly. Surely these are not hand made.
Whenever I read about impending automation, I wonder which millennium I'm in.
The barrister is still responsible for steaming milk, but I only assume that is because the sounds and smells of that are what make the coffee shop atmosphere.
There's nothing new in this discussion -- we've been automating away manual labor since the Industrial Revolution. We end up creating these human touch jobs with the resulting productivity gains (this is the transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy, the value isn't in the muscle anymore, it's in the relationship).
In fact, thanks in no small part to capitalism's ruthless efficiency, loneliness and isolation are at record highs. The demand for a little TLC has never been higher.
We'll have fewer pizza makers but more people whose job is essentially to make you feel good.
AFAIK, the barista will try to pull the best espresso out of the beans that they have. I'm not sure variance in customer tastes can be accomadated at this level, beyond a ristretto or an americano.
I know the term "coffeehouse" was a cultural touchstone in the US because it was used in titles of books published before the 80s. Sorry I don't remember specifically, but this "nothing existed until Starbucks" is ridiculous. Starbucks came out of somewhere. Coffeehouses came from Europe to the US, before and after the American revolution.
I'd link directly to it but the site forces you to pay to see the graph unless you clicked on it from a Google search results page, which is bad and evil. I can't find a better source.
Even in NYC, a coffee shop was mostly a Greek diner. While it may reveal my Irish working class roots, I never saw espresso made or consumed outside of an ethnic Italian restaurant in Arthur Ave until I was like 17.
Last week, I had a mediocre latte from a Starbucks at an I95 truck stop adjacent to a cotton field in North Carolina.
Top speed of the latest racing drone : 265 km/h
Top speed allowed under FAA rules : 160 km/h
Average Flight time for a delivery (7.5km @ 160 km/h): 2 min 48 seconds
Assume additional time for loading, take-off, speed ramp, speed slow, landing and unloading: Door-to-door in less than 5 minutes (average).
For example, the area of a circle with radius 15 km is about 707 km², while the area of a circle with radius 7.5 km is only about 177 km². If the population density by unit land area is evenly distributed, this circle will only enclose a quarter of the city's population, rather than half.
I think an interesting future limiting factor is air traffic from delivery drones. Right now it seems absurd to worry about that because there are no delivery drones flying, but if this method becomes popular, the presence of other drones in the airspace could limit delivery drones' mobility.
I'd like to add that the pi r^2 circle we know and love isn't the only one. It depends on the "metric" which in that case is Euclidean ("as the crow flies"). If you have have traffic rules, like only flying certain routes you get a different shape circle and a different area as a function of radius. A famous example is the "Manhattan" metric where you drive around on a square grid. In this case the "circle" looks just like a square and has area 4 r^2.
So the trick might not be "cheaply and reliably automate making a fifty thousand a day of the same pizza" , but in the detail of "cheaply and reliably automate making a pizza, composed of any combination of the basic ingredients, but only amortised over a hundred an hour for a few hours each day".
Little Caesar's entire business model is "the lowest quality pizza at the lowest possible price". I assume they already have automated away most of their workforce; given a minimum wage, that's a key part of low prices.
“Machines have been making frozen pizzas for years, but Picnic’s robot differs in a few respects. It’s small enough to fit in most restaurant kitchens, the recipes can be easily tweaked to suit the whims of the restaurants, and — most importantly — the ingredients are fresh.“
They did do an episode on frozen pizzas, and it is fully automated. But the techniques are difficult to adapt to making individual pizzas. Sauce, cheese, and toppings are sprayed all over the assembly line; the stuff that falls off is dumped back into the hopper.
They also did an episode on building pizza-making vending machines, and it does seem as if that was technology that was ready years ago.
When looking into manufacturing of things I'm often amazed how much manual labor there often is involved as humans still are cheaper than construction and maintenance of machines doing complicated tasks. Also humans can be replaced simpler on failure than a machine and can simpler be adopted to varying products.
Specifically on pizza I only found this video: https://youtu.be/OMPFlbGXdFA where humans at least fix the salami slices. It doesn't show how they portion and form the dough, which I assume to be the complicated part.
The problem with that is the people who would be in a position to make change don't feel the constriction of the immediacy of it and those who do are rarely invited to the table to talk.
We still don't have a better answer as to what the displaced will do for work than we did in the 18th century, other than "oh, we'll create new jobs". Not comforting, especially to anyone that simply can't afford to go to a coding bootcamp, or those that have gone and dropped out. They, too, deserve not to starve or die in the gutter. Thus, there is wisdom from the 1800's that is relevant, even today.
No, I got a better idea - give away the guillotine, make money selling the blades.
Or perhaps a subscription model for the blades?
Probably the best option is decapitation as a service.
These things are very hard to predict. We have a long history of such "automations" and the outcomes have been often unpredictable. Effectively, "automation" is interchangeable with any labour saving tech. Production lines, tractors, etc.
Agriculture basically did shed jobs due to the green revolution and mechanisation. Fewer farmers grew the food and people moved to towns. You could argue that towns pulled agricultural workers in rather than automation pushing, but machines replaced people regardless.
Industrial manufacturing, OTOH, increased output and added jobs to the sector for hundreds of years despite labour saving "automation" progressing constantly.
It's only recently that manufacturing employment plateaued. Global trade and other shifts have caused some severe job shedding locally, but even that is only in the last 30-40 years. The long term trend was more automation and more jobs.
Computers landed on every desk very fast. Typists, mailrooms, secretaries and other such "entry" jobs became mostly obsolete. Still, the "white collar" and administration sectors experienced massive employment growth since the 80s.
Think of colleges, with their ever rising admins/academics ratio even as "administration automation" technologies became available.
When it comes to something like automating restaurants it's so dependant on "consumer preferences" and food culture that I wouldn't hazard any guesses.
Prepared food isn't a commodity and restaurants aren't driven by efficiency. There's no hard, purely rational reason why one burger is worth €3 and another is worth €20.
McDonald's us extremely efficient, in terms of labour cost per bite, but most newer competitors compete by being less "efficient" and more "artisinal."
There are many things someone in such a situation may decide to do next and that "next" thing for that person is what could be unpredictable. And if tens of thousands of these people were replaced over a several year period, each of them making individual decisions about what to do next, it is hard to say where they all end up. We simply don't know.
That doesn't mean white collar jobs, even those that are high-skilled aren't at big risk.
You just need to look at the rate AI is advancing, the amounts of startups and money aiming at white collar jobs, and what's waiting in research.
Yeah just looking at it I couldn't stop myself from imagining how nasty it's bound to get after getting put to work full time. Too many nooks and crannies and it would need to be easy to tear down and put together again for cleaning.
Now we have 7.7 billion people and it is estimated we will have 10 billion by 2050. Pace of current technical development is much faster than in 1800s and education for acquiring new skills probably takes even longer than in 1800s.
Will we be able to hypothetically reskill 5 billion of people in the next 50 years? Personally I doubt it.
EDIT: source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population
The first expectation is perhaps that mass unemployment would abide; clearly we don't have mass unemployment in most places (most of the world has a relatively high employment), so the phenomenon must not be occurring or there's the oft-mentioned effect of workers moving to high level tasks.
Since Quantum Supremacy was en vogue, let me coin another term: Robotic Supremacy. That is when a robot (i.e. some kind of automatic machine, not necessarily a humanoid robot) will be able to perform each and every task a human can do more economically. Humans will become unemployable. My hypothesis is that Robotic Supremacy is still far away (maybe a century); and also that this milestone doesn't matter as much as it appears.
The scenario of unemployability is highly unlikely; there's almost always something you can get a human to do that'll pay their food and shelter (we're fantastic machines evolved for billions of years; robots are still far away from domination in many niches). The question is how much this person will earn -- perhaps increasingly less, not more; because it has more competition and the tasks are not as essential as before. So a natural manifestation would be rise in income/wealth inequality. That's precisely what we're seeing. If left unchecked, most places will see a spiral of a tiny elite concentrating all wealth.
You can't just handwave those changes away by saying "ultimately, they found other jobs". They didn't. There were entire generations that suffered. At some point there was an equilibrium, but it was far from instant, and "advanced" work doesn't help the person displaced.
People were dying because of famines pretty regularly before the Industrial Revolution. I don't know which number of deaths was greater.
The role disappear children instead stayed children for longer and continued education.
Children started to be children for longer because labor unions helped end the practice. That was a good chunk of time after those jobs changed, and it wouldn't have happened without active pushback. (The AFL pushed for an end for child labor under 14 in 1881, and it took until 1938 to get the Fair Labor Standards Act)
The idea that paradigm-shifting transitions somehow don't affect anybody because "there will be new jobs" shows a stunning unawareness of historical precedent, or how capitalism in general works.
I'm skeptical of the idea that before factories, farms didn't use child labor. Isn't the practice of closing school during the summer kind of suggestive?
Anyway, you seem to be arguing the opposite of the previous post, that there were more jobs and this was bad. I thought the issue was there were fewer jobs and that was bad.
I don't think that's the case since education wasn't a given for the poor.
Linking to a google query like that is a step below even Wikipedia. If you have a source you consider authoritative, why don't you provide that. I'm not going to read the clickbait garbage in those hits.
There are a variety of factors, but farm work didn't appear to be it, especially given that summer probably isn't the biggest time crunch.
I descend from Arkansas farmers, not at all suggesting they were illiterate; more that they weren't in the driver's seat on the issue.
And I'm mostly arguing that tech has a large contingent of selfish assholes who don't care about the impact that they have on other human beings.
Maybe that's a feature, not a bug. It's worthwhile imagining how life might be impacted in the present if a sizable portion of the homo genus has not died off over the past ~2.5 million years because they couldn't adapt. How would humans today handle the continued co-existence of homo austalopithecus, habilis, erectus, etc over those ~2.5 million years up until the present?
(We all, eventually, end up on the other side of the equation.)
Given that resources are indeed not infinite, there must be a limit to this planet's capacity to sustain human beings. Most governments don't seem to want to limit childbirth and instead _encourage_ it (more babies == more taxpayers).
Once that limit is exceeded, barring technological advances, what other outcome can there be?
We have some other examples worth considering though, like literal workhorses. Once the engine came around, horses became inefficient and were relegated to shows and races. With AI able to do superhuman pattern recognition, it's only a matter of time before humans also become a luxury, as they're no longer needed for traditional work.
In a lot of data science focused places, like mine, people are more or less researchers. There is no repetitive work, and everyone must show creativity and autonomy. You can't automate that.
AI's permutate artwork. They don't feel, they don't assign or derive meaning. They don't feel, they aren't inspired, they aren't moved.
They don't derive joy from the beautiful, despair and disgust from the loathsome, awe at the sublime, and dissolution and insignificance in the face of the all encompassing.
They don't dance with glee at a bright and bouncy tune, they aren't struck to the edge of tears by the melody of wind through a forest of bottles. They know and can reproduce patterns that are labelled for them, but they don't get it, ya dig?
They don't relate or understand the soul of Jazz, the message of Blues/Rock and Roll, the Struggle and perseverance evoked by a good fight song.
They can't appreciate the byproducts of their work, or "make 10 more, but different."
They can't appreciate, display, or develop technique; they cannot perform. When composing, they generate content based off of higher-dimensional correlations between words as encoded through syntax and grammar, but a poem generated by a machine is not but a permutation of words ejaculated forth, with no rhyme, reason, or correlation to the world at the time; even being removed from the whimsy of it's programmer.
Art is a tricky thing. It is what it is because a human found that at that time in their life, in the details of their personal situation was the right time for that work to be born forth into the world, in all it's symbolism, ugliness, beauty, sublimity, and to affect all those who gazed upon it.
Think hard about the significance of that. That man's mortality factors into the fruits of his labor; something a machine, deriveable from a prescription can never truly know or imitate.
It isn't humanistic chauvinism...merely that as the clock is not the first cause of time, so the AI is not the creator of the Art it produces, if what it produces can even be truly called Art.
It may not always remain that way. Right now though, it is.
Least that's my guess.
People are moved everyday by music created by machines. That's enough to put artists out of business because the output is the same even if the input is different.
I never really accepted that. Otherwise, the response I've gotten to a hypothetical man under a rock perfectly replicating the Mona Lisa without having witnessed or heard of it before would be as great and worthy of celebration of artistic work as the original; many of more artistic inclinations I've spoken to balk at the very suggestion. Man that was a fun day in Philosophy of Art class.
Most of the artistic I've gone back and forth with do not see the end product alone as Art, but also the process, from ideation, to execution, and finally display. The reason behind the creation of that particular work and not another even has a place in the Art-Ness of the work-of-art.
Just because something is moving to someone, somewhere can be said to be necessary, but not quite sufficient to bestow the quality of being Art. It's a rather perplexing problem to discuss. I tend to approach it like linguists do language. Descriptive, not prescriptive. Though I haven't mingled in artistic circles recently to reconduct a census with regard to generative music/art. Most of those I do run into though tend to be non-committal on the subject and just treat it as just what I've described. A pleasant, and surprisingly novel sensation from an unexpected origin.
The economy might be at full employment, but people are often underemployed, getting few hours, and shit wages. Most people are employed but many don't make enough to support even just themselves on their earnings let alone a family. Real wages have barely increased since the 1970s while costs have risen. We've had the first generations of Americans who are worse off than their parents. I wouldn't say our current situation was at all encouraging.
"Where has all the income gone" Minneapolis FED research
I don't get why we use this term. You're either employed or you're not. Just because you got an education in something that is no longer valued by society doesn't mean you're entitled to a job doing whatever you're educated to do.
Society rewards those that provide some good or service that is wanted/needed.
Furthermore, employment by others is not the only option. You can also work for yourself (except when the state forbids it through licensing and permits)
We have another term, "unemployed", for people who have no work.
We need a third term, "underemployed", to describe people in between those two situations, who have some work (so they're not "unemployed") but nonetheless do not earn a living wage (so counting them as "employed" is disingenuous).
Where are you getting this? From the govt statistics that don't include people who have dropped out of the workforce entirely? The same stats that don't differentiate between a salaried career and scraping by in the transient gig economy?
I'm extremely skeptical. Can we afford to just dismiss all these legitimate concerns because, "the govt told me everything is okay"?
I would agree with you if wages had risen enough that workers could work one job and have their needs met but that won't happen any time soon, especially with robots on the horizon. The only thing that makes sense is to plan ahead.
This is exactly what's happening in every large metro area today. Larger amounts of work are being by fewer, highly paid individuals using technology. This drives up rents and fuels the homeless crisis everywhere.
We as technologists know better than anyone how quickly new tech can sweep across the industry. Once the tech/product/process is figured out, scaling it is trivial in comparison. This is the same song and dance but 100x as loud and 100x as fast.
I studied the industrial revolution quite extensively at school and I follow AI research today, reading individual research papers.
It's not clear that we're going through anything even close to as disruptive as the industrial revolution. In fact I'm sure we're not. Absolute numbers may be higher because the population is so much larger, but as astutely pointed out elsewhere in this thread, civilisation is massively parallel by default so it's proportions that matter.
And when we get to that, we're not seeing massive job displacements caused by automation. If anything we should be asking why not: why is the software industry apparently so unexpectedly bad at reducing employment? This isn't just me waffling by the way. Economists say (caveat emptor) the same thing:
Productivity growth i.e. the rate at which machines replace people, has been falling over the decades. The spike you might expect from massive automation is not only not present, the data shows the opposite - we are getting less bang for our technological buck, it's a long term trend, and economists are worried/puzzled by it. If productivity growth continues trending towards zero, what it means is that our society is getting no automation benefits whatsoever. It means the only way to produce more stuff is to use more people!
We can join economists in speculating as to the reasons, but either the data is flawed, or we're in a time of unprecedented job stability, despite the froth and hype around AI (whose impact is so far extremely limited).
This is starting to get dystopic rather quickly.
This almost never happens in real world. The next generations do benefit that. But the current generation is fucked.
You wont retrain 40> years old truck drivers into anything that will pay even remotely the same. Most of them will be stuck doing minimal wage jobs somewhere, and be happy that they have them.
(of course there are exceptions)
I have seen that play out in ex communist countries, where whole swaths of jobs became obsolete over few years.
It's been almost 30 years, newer generations have moved on somewhat, but there are still a lot of people that were better off before.
Industrial revolution was great in general, but its effect on people also gave rise to communism (i am not defending it).
The machine in the video kind of sucks. Slow, one pizza at a time, poor control of amount and placement of toppings, poor consistency, lots of waste with toppings flying off everywhere.
I don't think machines are going to be putting pizza places out of business. The margins are already quite high, and paying one guy to sling pies at a restaurant and get high quality product isn't a huge expense.
Maybe a place like little Caesars would use this tech but local pizza joints? nah
Have you ever actually picked a crop? It's an extremely complex problem. For the bulky crops (s.a corn) we've had machines for decades. For fruits... we're decades away from automation.
There will always be jobs. AI won't be able to do everything, we are far off from that world.
Think about it, it's the year 2019 and we can't even invent a robot to separate plastic bags from normal trash.
Yes, but there will be fewer jobs. That's a problem.
The industrial revolution removed a large number of jobs (basic manufacturing skills) and created a load more (advanced manufacturing skills / logistics / etc.).
There is no expectation or even hope of a new class of jobs coming out of the high-power automation that we are liable to see in the next couple of decades.
Jobs will be created elsewhere because human wants are endless.
Most of the new jobs created in the past 10 years are temporary / gig jobs without benefits, nothing like the manufacturing jobs lost.
So, great opportunities for some, but many will suffer.
I'm sure "we" can, but nobody (who could) sees it as a potential profit-making product that they could sell.
We cannot just move forward and leave the people behind. Capitalism should try to care for more than jist the few.
So we should stop all innovation so youth can work at McDonalds to pay for college?
You said no we shouldn't stop progress, then what is your solution?
Continue to innovate, people will find a way to make things work. Don't stop innovation because you want to provide low paying jobs for people.
This is not a threat, this is the reality. If we take the food from the table, and exclude them from retraining etc, then at some point they will go hungry and will seek food that is in other tables.
This is already happening to a small degree in some countries. Let's make sure it won't happen to a higher degree and in more countries.
old people can now summon rides on their phone and be out and about instead of being home-bound.
> and we don't pull the rug from under our childrens feet
Everything we build, our children will inherit. It will be their responsibility to improve upon what we leave them. It's not like older people end up taking these technological improvements with them to their grave.
There are more jobs than just fast food. People did jobs that weren't fast food before McDonald's existed and people will do jobs that aren't fast food once McDonald's is fully automated. Right now, on the Internet, you can learn so many things for free. The necessity to learn a skill that pays the bills will drive people to learn skills that can be used to provide goods and services others are willing to pay for. All that is necessary is to open your eyes and look around and see what people are willing to pay for.
Also, old people are not necessarily only use-less consumers. Giving them Uber is nice, but if they can and want to offer/produce it would be a waste to put them in the sidelines just because they can't use the latest technology.
My big priority would be ensuring continuing access to education. Schooling that pushes certain students toward skilled blue collar work seems potentially a little classist if folk aren't given the appropriate opportunities to achieve something else, if they want it, throughout life.
Associate-level Programmer's degree and Computer Technician's degree do, though.
Lots of Greek people work in the fast food industry in Greece; they are in for a big surprise in the near future.
A farmer in 1700 would have seen the 1880 machine and said « We’ll all lose our jobs »... and he’d be right. Also « and money will be centralized in the hands of the factory owner ». He’d be right too. « We’ll never be able to make everyone learn ti read and work in a desk job ». Right again. We just raised everyone’s education, and also raised everyone’s IQ in levels that would seem impossible to a 1700 farmer. We’ve also have the underside: poverty for those who can’t get office jobs and socialism to try level the field.
Similarly it seems to us like we’ll all lose our jobs to AI, wealth will be concentrated by 99% more and we’ll never be clever enough to make each of us an AI scientist. That’s what it seems today. You can call to regulate but it’s hard to know in which direction. After all, we had to spend 2 centuries of wars and famines till we figured a merely stable system, and even today, we wouldn’t stand upright if we didn’t rely on Chinese workers being poor. So all the regulation in the world didn’t suppress any problem, we just put it out of sight.
I see no difference between the scale of the AI revolution and the scale of the industrial revolution.
1) Speed. The industrial revolution took place relatively slowly, over the course of 60-80 years (2-3 entire generations). Once a tipping point in automation is reached, it will very likely happen extremely quickly in our connected, easy-capital, globally competitive economy.
2) Reach. The industrial revolution primarily impacted manufacturing and to some extent farming. Today's automation is attacking almost every single major industry on the planet at the same time. Farming, manufacturing, finance, construction, food service, you name it. If your warehouse picker job gets automated away it's unlikely you'll be able to go get a job at Burger King because those jobs will be automating at about the same time.
3) New economies. The Industrial Revolution led to the industrial economy, which enabled the service/information economy. It's unclear what new economy is waiting beyond automation for the workers who lose out. Entertainment economy? Personal servant economy? What's left if most of the manual labor jobs and a good chunk of white collar jobs all go away within a generation?
Just to add to what everyone else is saying, the first industrial revolution led to one tiny island conquering a 24% of the planet while simultaneously their historical enemy and immediate neighbours controlled an additional 7.7%, and then a newly unified and industrialised nation  managed to drag both of those two into a war that killed 16 million people and which stalemated against those two superpower empires for a few years until America joined in, so even if the AI revolution is basically equivalent to the industrial revolution, I’d still say it’s not going to be fun for quite a lot of people.
 I know, I’m simplifying it :)
Sure, there are risks in everything. So we'll take no responsibility and just wait to see what the worst that can happens ?
You know, historians believe that the two world wars are deeply connected to the industrial revolution?
But honestly, I could see both sides of the argument here.
Placing minimum employee costs upon an employer or minimum qualifications upon an employee both have the same effect: reducing the ability of entry-level employees to get work. Either the jobs don't exist due to minimum costs, or the labor that qualifies demands too high a wage.
A highly-restricted labor market doesn't make any sense in an ever-changing global economy.
Second, the concept of "means of production" is now not just about the factory the workers work in but the factory that makes things on it's own. We have to accept that if someone else owns something, if they have property rights over it, it just isn't mine no matter how much I want it. If I own a breadmaker machine and it makes me bread anytime I want, I still don't owe anyone my bread no matter how much they want or need it. They can ask. They can't take.
A person might ask "why can't they take? what goes wrong when they have a right to your bread?" The answer is that without strong property rights, we fight over who gets to own eachother's stuff instead of making new stuff for ourselves. Making new stuff instead of trying to take someone else's stuff is how we have more stuff. And before anyone says we don't need any more stuff; If you don't need any more stuff, don't take anyone else's. I disagree; I want more stuff. I want a space ship. But I'm not going to try and take bread from another or a space ship from another. I'll have to find a way to buy or build my bread or space ship.
I often wonder why there are no such robots in Manhattan now? I have to assume this is simply a matter of fashion. Robots seemed very futuristic in the 1930s, and even something as simple as a pancake making robot helped a little boy feel in touch with the future.
As someone in the food automation space, I would suppose this is probably some combination of: (1) Cost to custom-manufacture in small volumes, where small < 1000s. (2) Patent encumbered. (3) Food safety regulations. (4) Low output volume. (5) Reliability not 100% (eg. fails in winter temperatures) (6) Cost of site-call engineers to resolve semi-frequent issues too high. (7) Electrical consumption rather high. (8) Potential issues connecting to public water system, limiting viable sites and potentially introducing issues of pest ingress. (9) General novelty / wow-factor wears off. (10) You can't eat it every day.
Interesting theory in the link that they died off in the 70s because coins were no longer worth enough to buy a decent amount of food and bills couldn't be accepted by machine yet.
(Continental) Europe has €2 coins, worth just slightly more than two dollar 'bills', here in the UK we have £2 coins (worth slightly more again) (and commemorative £5s), Canada has 'twonies' too.
The 50¢ top-out seems surprisingly low now that I think about it. Is there any particular reason it's developed that way?
A decade ago I remember being surprised that they were becoming a "thing" -- getting them as change, might have been from vending machines too -- but now I realize I haven't seen one in years.
Before they added a refillable card, i hated getting a heavy pocket full of golden "pirate money" (sacajawea's or presidential dollar coins) buying a $3 ticket with a $20 bill, if i forgot to bring smaller bills.
(FWIW I support a UBI)
Atleast in Virginia, the attendants are usually off to the right side with the other slower traffic. They have the change available right away, usually in several different sets for the most common ways of paying. I believe the big bucket machines used to provide change back when tolls were well under a dollar, but they would just overfill since most people didn't even know they could get change back and were just mad they didn't have correct change. Some kind of vending machine style system of people trying to insert dollars on the highway would just cause more problems.
Its been especially awful recently when they've tried to remove them. EZ-Pass has started to become fairly common, but so has the ubiquitness of debit cards and credit cards so people are lacking cash and change more often. The automation on tickets has increased to near perfect levels, so when someone doesn't have change on hand they end up trying to back up and cross over several lanes to the single one or they root around in their car for minutes looking for any change when there are no attendants.
Does Kansas have the same protections? Plenty of humans in booths on the Turnpike.
NY does have EZ pass though on toll lanes
It sounds like it only made one pancake at a time? A person stood at a griddle can make a dozen pancakes at once. And we don't know how often that robot broke down. I somehow suspect the novelty was one of the reasons to have such a device, not necessarily the efficiency of the thing.
Also, that sauce depositing methodology is just not right. This robot does it much better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=cc-ClpymK_Q
That's a bit subjective. I, personally, like a very saucy pizza!
Normally on my thin-crust pizzas with a somewhat watery sauce (what you get when you use fresh tomatoes, or canned crushed tomatoes, or anything along those lines without mixing it with lots of paste) you can see about 50% of the dough through the sauce, it's that thin, but if I make it much thicker the toppings get very... slippy-slidey.
The boxes are already square. Two long rectangle pizzas in a box. As a bonus, it's easy to pack two DIFFERENT pizzas with different toppings into a mixed box, for group orders. And variety.
As for the pizza in the machine video: it looks downright horrible, and only acceptable when compared to what goes for the average 'US-style pizza'. I'd much rather eat a frozen pizza from the supermarket, or something else entirely. Don't see the point of have 'more customization options' compared to a frozen pizza created in a factory, if the quality threshold of the pizza is so low in the first place. But maybe I'm just being a food snob ;-P
The trick is that pizza is baked at a very high temperature. Our oven goes up to 500°C (900°F). Baking time is 90s-2min if you put the pizza on the fire stones directly, or ~3mins if you use a screen (tray).
i.e. if they can make more per hour, they'll sell more per hour.
There's already robots that can make frozen pizza at thousands of pizzas per hour...
(Disclosure: My brother worked for this company for about a year.)
Pizza seems simple... until you want something that tastes really good...
Yes, good quality toppings are necessary.
But what really sets pizzas apart is the crust. You _must_ have a good quality crust.
Unfortunately... it's the crust that most cheap and/or frozen pizzas skimp on.
The actual ingredients may be more fresh than if a random pizza joint bought them from a grocery store that picked them too early, shipped them half way across the planet, let them ripen in the back, brought them out, got bought a day later, left them hanging around for 5 days at the pizza store fridge before cutting them and putting them on your pizza 8 hours later.
this robot to me is just the next level up from the skittles sorting robots.
I think this isn't really aimed at people seeking the joy of pizza, it's aimed at people selling slices in a stadium. There's a lot of those.
Of course the popular meaning requires a lot more autonomy than just not requiring human intervention, but in a factory that distinction is pointless.
Maybe pay people more and treat them better?
But I can see the appeal of restaurant automation. Machines can work 24/7, don't need health insurance, don't fight for higher wages, don't need to be trusted around cash registers, etc.
How very un-American of you. /s
One thing that always staggers me in endless discussion is that nobody ever, ever talks about decreasing profits as a way to fix societies problems.
I mean, in 2018 McDonald's returned $8.5 billion to shareholders through share repurchases and dividends, it announced a 15% increase in its quarterly dividend to $1.16 per share. 
I bet the workers would like some of that.
Shares outstanding 768,000,000
Percentage of McDonald's that are corporate owned: 20%
Dividend per employee: ($1.16 * 768,000,000 * 0.2) / 210,000 ~= $850
Or, more snarkily, what have the investors done to "earn" this?
I completely agree that if you're offering a minimum wage hourly job with no benefits you don't get to complain about difficulties finding staff and retaining them. They have tons of options at that price point if they want to switch jobs. If you want to avoid having to constantly deal with turnover you need to offer more.
This is the situation in restaurants, where most purchases are not going to be willing to pay extra for food to so that the cooks can make more money, because a competing restaurant with acceptable food is almost always available at a cheaper price by not paying the staff as much.