Will Automation Screw Men Over More?

We hear often in the news about the rise of automation and how millions of people will be replaced by robots and machines in the coming few years. While I don’t share the sentiment that there will be macroeconomic shifts so drastic that measures such as Universal Basic Income will be the only way to provide a means of spending for the average person in such an automated society, I did wonder about what kinds of jobs automation will replace and how it may disproportionally affect men.

Generally speaking, automation and robots will have the largest immediate impact on jobs that are repeatable and physically demanding. Work such as manufacturing and farming has already been largely automated and similar types of work may be next on the way. Let’s take a look at the jobs listed on Kiplinger, a D.C. based business journal, regarding “8 Jobs That Will be Replaced by Robots Soon” and look at them on a gender based lens.

1. Store Clerk

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,200,000 cashiers in the U.S. of which 73.8% are Female.

The Kiplinger article discusses the Amazon Go Store which has eliminated the checkout line using advanced cameras and additional sensors and Tally from Simbe Robotics which audits retail shelves for out-of-stock items. While Tally doesn’t equate to a cashier position, because the numbers in retail spaces heavily skew towards women, in this case it seems like women may be affected by automation more.

2. Data Analyst

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 1,929,000 accountants and auditors in the U.S. of which 60.6% are Female.

While not exactly the shame, the job function between accountants and auditors are similar enough to draw a comparison. Largely, positions where data is transcribed and or analyzed for reports are getting automated via software.

3. Fast-Food Worker

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 322,000 food preparation and serving workers, including fast food in the U.S. of which 63.0% are Female. There are 2,067,000 cooks of which 58.2% are Male.

Startups around Silicon Valley and elsewhere are trying to tackle the fast food industry by bringing down the cost of fast food even lower by eliminating the cost of labor. Cooking robots such as the “Flippy” are able to flip burgers without rest.

4. Truck Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 3,549,000 driver workers and truck drivers in the U.S. of which 93.4% are Male. There are 631,000 industrial truck and tractor operators in the U.S. of which 91.9% are Male.

Automated trucks have been a breeding ground for autonomous vehicles as long hours and relatively simple driving routes along highways have made the opportunity irresistible with even large players such as Tesla developing trucks to help automate this industry.

5. Livery Drivers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 777,000 taxi drivers in the U.S. of which 82.0% are Male. This number may not include gig economy drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft as it may not be counted as a full-time economic activity.

Google’s Waymo has been developing self-driving cars for several years now and companies such as GM-Cruise and Uber are also spending considerable resources to automate everyday cars with concentrated effort and bringing down cost of the taxi service.

6. Deliverymen

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 302,000 postal service mail carriers in the U.S. of which 60.2% are Male.

Companies such as Grubhub and Marble are leveraging self-driving technologies for the delivery of food.

7. Security Guard

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there are 958,000 security guards and surveillance officers in the U.S. of which 77.6% are Male.

8. Front-line Soldiers

According to Pew Research, there are 1,340,533 active military personnel of which 83.0% are Male.

Conclusion:

The 8 jobs discussed by Kiplinger account for roughly 15 million jobs in the U.S. of which 9.5 million belong to men. Thus, it seems that automation may indeed affect men about 1.6 times more than it will women.

*Bureau of Labor Statics

The Summer Blockbuster Season and MoviePass

TechCrunch reported today that since last Thursday (5/3) MoviePass’s parent company Helios & Matheson has lost over 63% of its stock value going down from $2.13 a share to $0.79.

For the unfamiliar, during the past 6-8 months, MoviePass has garnered a huge following and uptake in users by promising users access to a movie a day at theaters for a meager entry price of $10 a month.

Basically, at this pricing MoviePass losses money on every active user. If a user watches at least one movie at full price, that user is a cost not profit for the company. Add on top of that maintenance and development costs of the app as well as the physical shipping cost of the debit card – it’s a pretty strange business to be in.

The company claims that it can turn a profit by one of two ways. 1) By aggregating user data and selling it to interested parties. The company has demonstrated somewhat that push notifications and promotion on their platform can drive sales to a particular movie. It can, in theory, than drive movie advertisers to pay them a sum to be promoted to MoviePass users. 2) Somewhat like the gym membership model, they can have lots of registered users and hope they do not use the product – however at $10 a month this is not sustainable by the point above that every user is pretty much a loss.

So what’s in the future for the company? The $10 pricing tier may have to increase. Or additional limitations may have to be added like number of movies users can watch.

I believe that the next 2 to 3 months may be make it or break months for the company. Running at such heavy losses, the best thing that can happen for MoviePass is that Hollywood does not release movies worth watching. In essence, MoviePass has a strange relationship with the movie industry. For one, must-watch movies have to come out for customers to subscribe to the MoviePass service, however they should not be released often so the service is not used.

Here is the list of upcoming blockbusters:

  • May 18 – Deadpool 2
  • May 25 – Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • June 8 – Ocean’s 8
  • June 15 – Incredibles 2
  • June 22 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
  • July 6 – Ant-Man and the Wasp

Of course this isn’t all the movies that is being released in the next coming weeks, but Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar (all Disney affiliates) are huge franchises that millions of viewers will go see in theaters.

Time will tell what happens to MoviePass.