Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan: It's the future - where robots mean business

Robots won't insist on minimum wage and they'll do longer hours. Photo / 123RF
Robots won't insist on minimum wage and they'll do longer hours. Photo / 123RF

Can you believe it's been six years? Clearly, Christchurch wasn't rebuilt in a day.

I suppose the good people of Christchurch are shaking their heads (deliberately, not due to some aftershock.)

In six years, somewhere like Dubai, or Shanghai, would have been transformed - nay, rebooted. Maybe not beyond recognition, but certainly Google would've been through a few times to update their maps. Like a Real Housewife of Wherever, you'd certainly know they've had some work done.

Yes, there's a trade-off for that kind of efficiency - living under tyranny - but, still.

On radio, there was a story about Christchurch, talking about "the donut": a usable zone of land, encircling the CBD, in a shape even Homer Simpson would recognise.

Imagine what developers could do with a donut shape of land.

Planning a city-sized one-lap horse race? Have we got the race course for you! Building a Large Hadron Collider? Have we got the torus for you! (Science talk for a donut, since anyone building a Large Hadron Collider is likely a nerd. Know your audience.)

The sixth anniversary, apparently, is candy. Not making this up. Which makes me think of Cadbury.

How are we meant to feel about the Dunedin factory moving to Australia?

Is it just the sentimental childhood notion of a chocolate factory that makes us want Cadbury to stay in Dunedin? Or are there economic benefits, which mean the Government should give Cadbury some kind of tax temptation to keep them there?

Should Kiwi Peter Thiel invest in a Dunedin chocolate factory, a place that produces some kind of high-tech chocolate, which, once eaten, surveils its eater from the inside, all the while snapping pics and putting them on social media?

Come to think of it, why isn't chocolate manufactured in the cloud? Why don't we all just buy 3D printers, and make our own chocolate at home, in whatever shape and flavour we please? (I can imagine a copyright case when someone decides to make their own Crunchie bar. Big Chocolate will enlist the FBI.)

Moving the Cadbury factory to Australia isn't like Martin Shkreli price-gouging on prescription medication. Unless the Government wants to get into the chocolate biz, and is happy to make a level of profit which Cadbury Global Inc deem insufficient, then this is how things are.

Apple builds its products where it wants, Trump sews his caps where he wants, and the reasons are the same. It's hard to fault greed, especially when greed is the main reason we eat chocolate.

Keep the jobs here, or we boycott, is kinda what Trump said about American car manufacturing. But really, those jobs didn't go overseas: they went to robots.
Raybon Kan

How would we feel, if the Cadbury factory stayed in Dunedin, but the workforce was replaced by robots?

This is surely the future. The Australian chocolate jobs won't last forever. The robots who take them might be Mexican, or Muslim, and some, I assume, are good robots, but Mexico probably isn't sending its best robots.

They'll bring drugs, they'll bring crime, and we might have to build a wall, temporarily, til we figure out what's going on. Now, I'm the least anti-robotic person you'll ever meet. I have a great relationship with the robots.

Sorry, went off on a tangent there.

But robots own the future. The future is a planet with ten billion humans, mainly living longer, wondering what the hell to do with all this time on our hands. We will want to eat chocolate, but we'll need a universal basic income to pay for it. The rich will inherit the earth.

A robot doesn't insist on a minimum wage, much less a living wage. They work longer hours, make fewer mistakes, and they don't eat the chocolate. Is it even worth educating millennials, when they'll all be replaced in the workforce by robots and apps?

You might like your phone now, but what about when your phone gets promoted ahead of you? You won't even be needed to drop your phone at work: there'll be a driverless car for that.

And if robots or apps are the future, maybe that's where we should be going. New Zealand's appeal to billionaires, as the place to be when mushroom clouds billow in the other hemisphere, is largely due to the oceans around us. And these oceans add cost if we're exporting.

So if we get into the robot biz, even we might not want to manufacture them here.

- NZ Herald

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Raybon Kan is an award-winning stand-up comedian

Raybon Kan's books of humour include ‘America on 5 Bullets a Day’ and ‘An Asian at my Table’. Before comedy, he graduated with honours in law and his legal research was published in the New Zealand Law Journal. His TV work includes a documentary in which he trained to be a casino croupier. He once held his breath for 3 minutes and 50 seconds. Visit RaybonKan.com

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