Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Robot Consumers

The second half of the industrial revolution?
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The industrial revolution automated production. Now we need to build robots to automate consumption.
muppetboy, Dec 04 2002

Originally baked in "Cracked" magazine circa 1978 http://www.rollcall...cartoon_011008.html
But this is all I could find via web searching [LoriZ, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Wired Magazine Article http://www.wired.co.../mustread.html?pg=6
be afraid... [dbsousa, Oct 04 2004]


       Isn't this idea baked? Consumers appear to be automatons to a frightening degree. I would like to see a deconsumerizer. BTW, more annotation would've been helpful.
jackoutofthebox, Dec 04 2002

       From a media standpoint, TiVO already automates consumption by recording programs that it "thinks" you would like. It also seems to be in the works to one degree or another in the field of e-commerce. So, it's effectively baked.
Pharaoh Mobius, Dec 04 2002

       Have a robotically chosen croissant! Simple and hilarious.
krelnik, Dec 04 2002

       This is Baked in a classic Isaac Asimov story.
8th of 7, Dec 05 2002

       I've always found it darkly amusing that some nuclear weapons have "Best Before" dates stencilled on the side.
8th of 7, Dec 06 2002

       Someone correct me if my economic theory is faulty:   

       Doesn't the economic good of consumption come from the fact that goods of value are being exchanged? I.e., when you buy a hamburger for $5, the hamburger is worth more than $5 to you but less than $5 to the seller, and so you're both better off after the exchange. A robot, on the other hand, doesn't value what it consumes; you might as well be destroying the goods.
bookworm, Dec 06 2002

       The thing is, [bookworm], goods of value *are* being exchanged. In this case, they're being exchanged by proxy (in the form of a robot). The robot's owner/operator would still value what was purchased. Conversely, if you're proposing that the robots are autonomously purchasing goods, then it would be fair to assume that at least a portion of what the robot buys would be consumables and maintainance materials for the robot's own benefit. As those goods would be used for maintaining the robot's optimal performance level, it can be argued that the robot would value them.
Pharaoh Mobius, Dec 06 2002

       The robots are programmed to value consumption.
muppetboy, Dec 06 2002

       [Pharaoh Mobius]: I understood the idea to mean that robots would be autonomously purchasing goods. Otherwise it's just a walking, talking credit card. Furthermore, that they would be programmed to "value" goods of no use to them.   

       What you're really doing is increasing the scarcity of resources, which hurts the already-existing consumers who now have more competition for goods. Since these robots create no new wealth (compared to otherwise equivalent robots who are not programmed to consume goods beyond what they need to function, anyway), producers in general are no better off. Sure, they have a bigger market, but that market has no additional buying power.   

       [waugsqueke]: Maybe they're Canadian dollars. Maybe it's a really good burger. Maybe the influx of hamburger-buying robots has driven up the price.
bookworm, Dec 19 2002

       Sounds like "program buying" on the stock exchanges. These bots would be your personal agents buying, negotiating and acting on your behalf according to your mental, physical and monetary makeup.
zig, Sep 15 2003

       You would need a meta-robot consumer to purchase the lubrication and spare parts for the robot consumers. And a meta-meta-robot etc...its an infinite recursion...better just to hire Mexicans at below minimum wage--less philosophical conundrums.
mystic2311, Dec 03 2003

       //This is Baked in a classic Isaac Asimov story// Hey, [8th of 7], which story is that in ?
riskyrisk, Dec 03 2003

       Robots can't consume. (except maybe oil, electricity, and metal for spare parts)
DesertFox, May 12 2004

       Somewhat worryingly, [bookworm]'s anno above reminds me of George Orwell's 1984. In 1984, the continual war is justified (well, sort of, you have to keep the whole doublethink business in mind) by the party in that it wastes resources and so keeps the standard of living down. When the people are too busy worying about survival, they have no time to revolt.
RobertKidney, May 12 2004


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