Forgive us a bit while we dabble in the law of economics—a subject of great interest to all of our business clients.

If your sushi is not being made by robots, it soon will be. A $15,000 device, it is said, can churn out 200 perfect sushi rolls an hour instead of the 50 a chef can produce.

Considering there is a shortage of sushi chefs, this machine will increase productivity without the need to compete for new chefs in the labor market—a move that would be likely to drive the salaries of these gastronomical wizards higher.

If there were a surplus of sushi chefs, the machine would have no market. But in the face of rising labor costs, or the inability to hire needed labor, businesses will invest in capital equipment. A recent Morgan Stanley survey indicates that many publicly-traded companies are buying machines with enhanced technology, including products with embedded intellectual property.

Not only is this good for the IP developers and sellers, if you are one of those who believes inflation is not so good for the economy, these devices are intended to replace labor and reduce inflation by preventing businesses from battling over the limited, skilled labor market. This is especially of interest to businesses that have realized their skilled, older workers are leaving the job market for retirement, and that their skills need replacement.

These machines enhance productivity throughout the economy at a lesser cost than increasing labor. But there’s a hitch. When the economy gets adept at developing and deploying machines that do the jobs of people, jobs will suffer, except amongst those who develop and manufacture the machines. Add artificial intelligence to the designs, and use robots to manufacture these new robotic machines, and the future job market will be, well, interesting.

Jim Astrachan (410)-783-3550 (jastrachan@agtlawyers.com).