This is no soda machine or dispenser of pre-made fare. The Mr. Go is complex. So complex, it is cleaned regularly, "but every two or three days it's completely dismantled" and sanitized. This mechanical wonder mixes flour and water, spins it into dough, kneads it, sauces it, tops it, and bakes it. The whole deal, from nothing to pizza, costs you about 3 minutes and $5.30 to $7.00.
The MSN.com writer that travelled to Rome to sample this was seemingly impressed. There are four varieties of pizza available. The system contains enough ingredients to produce up to 100 pizzas. Some critics argue that for the price one might obtain a "lovely woodfired marguerite" or a nice snack in a local bar for even less. But, the inventor claims no intention of competing with restaurants, bars, or pizzerias. Instead, this is seen as filling a unserved niche.
Admittedly, this is not necessarily "real pizza." The innovator and others have likened it instead to "piadina," which is an Italian flatbread, often used in sandwiches. An actual pizza dough, according to the innovator, "would dirty the insides of the machine" and present more challenges; tomayto, tomaato? Notably, just making this snack overcame challenges. A hot, fresh snack in 3 minutes? Bellissimo!
The author notes that late night food in Rome is a challenge. She says there have been times when she was "desperate to eat something," and that "Mr. Go would have been heaven-sent" in those instances. This is, according to the innovator, "an idea to create something that wasn't there: pizza at night." Will this come to America, and if so could it threaten the vast legions of pizza producer/deliverers? Possibly not. But, a three-minute pizza on a college campus, high school cafeteria, and similar settings might become a huge hit. And, even if not in a vending machine, might such a robot make the next delivery pie you order?
Without or without the full automation of a free-standing kiosk machine, technology is nonetheless booming in America's post-COVID. The Associated Press cites examples from artificial intelligence ordering at fast food restaurants to devices performing more complex tasks. Overall, this is seen as a negative impact for unskilled workers in the short run. The pandemic has accelerated deployment of robots and artificial intelligence. In the long run, this technological revolution we are seeing is expected to fuel "more jobs than they destroy," but, the AP notes this will not be simultaneous and there will be "growing pains." Skills will be increasingly necessary to enter the workforce of the future.
The most threatened occupations noted by the AP are "salesclerks, administrative assistants, cashiers and aides in hospitals and those who take care of the sick and elderly." These occupations are threatened by employers "eager to bring on the machines." It reports growth in equipment investment of 26% since 2020 (around when the pandemic hit America). There are now machines that do the cooking, clean the store floors, and deliver food in hotels. Couple these potentials with the coincidental challenge employers face in finding workers willing to return to the job, as reported by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM) and the convergence is only likely to encourage this (r)evolution.
The pace and variety of technology's breadth and depth are each notable. I was recently confronted in the grocery store by what I thought was a runaway riding floor cleaner. As it approached, however, I noticed that the driver's seat was cordoned off. About 5 feet from me, It sensed my presence somehow and stopped until I moved away. An eerie harbinger of things to come. I reflected on that as I later scanned my own purchases, paid, and bagged my groceries. That store regularly has a single check-out with a human staffing it. This morning, I reminisce on the idea of a person with a mop that used to be ubiquitous before there were even riding floor cleaners.
As employers make these investments, there will be less opportunity in what might be entry-level jobs. The AP expects "The consequences could fall most heavily on the less-educated women who disproportionately occupy the low- and mid-wage jobs," and somewhat unexpectedly in the service sector of the economy. Some anticipated that so called "contact jobs" were relatively safe, and yet the artificial intelligence and robots are quickly becoming a significant factor in the service industries.
Is Mr. Go a cute novelty? Is it a harbinger of things to come? Will we embrace the self-check out, ordering kiosk, and more? Or, will the human connection be sufficient to draw us to the in-person alternatives while they exist? If we are not drawn to that interaction, with the impacts of product cost, how long will those human alternatives be retained. We are indeed on the brink of a new world that will be defined by our purchasing decisions.
Whether Mr. Go and its relatives are our future will be for us to see. In the end, the best advice to young people is to find a path to skills. Entry level will never disappear, but what that word means may very well evolve.
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