Superstore — Handheld Automation

 

Corporate has created new devices for customers to use that will allow them to look up where items are located in the store, scan the items, and pay for their total. The employees quickly point out that the device essentially replaces the workers and they are left wondering what that means for them. Dina tries to point out the relationship between ATMs and bank tellers, although she doesn’t have it exactly right.

At the end of the clip, Amy points out that corporate has also asked the stores to cut back employee hours, which implies that the new machines are replacing some of the labor in the store.

South Park — Alexa is Stealing Our Jobs (NSFW)

 

 

In the episode, everybody in South Park is buying that Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant to make their lives easier, however there is a negative externality to buying the Alexa. The local low-skilled workers in their town believe that these new machines are stealing their jobs, a classic South Park catchphrase, and they start to protest. Randy Marsh, a tv show personality comes up with a solution to fix this by having the locals replace the personal assistants, but not all of the locals are happy about this.

Thanks to John Miller for the clip suggestion!

Rick & Morty — What’s the Point of Automation?

 

 

Rick’s quote in this episode is as followed, “The point of automation is to reduce cost and labor!” He says this because his robot’s dialogue disappointed him. This directly relates to economics, labor economics in particular, as when a firm’s supply of labor becomes too inelastic they will substitute capital for labor in order to reduce costs and increase profits. The firm, or Rick, is substituting capital for labor as we saw when examining firms’ reactions to labor markets.

Thanks to Justin Cooper for the clip and description!

Dangerous Missions: Timber!

Documentary about the many dangers lumberjacks face while doing their work. The impact of the technological advances of chainsaws over the last century in the lumber industry is also highlighted. Great discussion for capital/labor decisions plus scale/substitution effects when capital prices change.

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