Economics/Class Relations

Robots want your job

Nicholas Carlson October 18, 2022


Hello, Insiders. I can’t get over how weird this economy is. I traveled over the weekend and the airports are completely packed. Data says flying is back to pre-pandemic levels. Clearly lots of people feel good about their finances and are willing to spend. Meanwhile, unemployment is low and many people have savings, thanks to stimulus and reduced spending during the pandemic. If those aren’t signs of a great economy then, what the hell, right?


Well, the hell is a fear of inflation that won’t stop — and that people are too willing to spend on fun goods and services right now. Because when there is too much demand for too little supply, prices keep going up. So here come the rate hikes to make borrowing more expensive. And there goes the flying, savings, and low unemployment. It’s just weird!

I highly recommend following our economy team’s stellar coverage to keep up with all this. Now, without further ado…

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The big story
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For three days last month, 1,000 food-service workers at the San Francisco International Airport went on strike. During the walkout, there was nowhere to eat at the airport.


Except, that is, at two automated coffee kiosks where robots served up espressos and green-tea lattes.


For decades, robots have been replacing (or nudging aside) human labor, senior correspondent Adam Rogers writes. They put together cars, pick stock in warehouses, vacuum floors. But at SFO, robot baristas didn’t simply replace humans — they crossed a picket line.


But this isn’t just about coffee. All workers are facing increasing competition from automation and algorithms. We need to figure out how to synchronize our labor with the souls of these new machines — before things get out of hand.


Read the full story on the coming robot apocalypse here.

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Today’s sound bite
“Each day, I walked out of 30 Rock knowing there were elevator operators who were better known at NBC than I was.”
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Today’s team
Nicholas Carlson (@nichcarlson), Lisa Ryan (@lisarya), and Jordan Parker Erb (@jordanparkererb).
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