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Fast-Food Robots

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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

What impact will robots and artificial intelligence have on jobs? In previous commentaries, I have discussed some of these questions and concerns. If you don’t want to be replaced by a robot, we are told, choose a service job, like cutting hair or serving food.

A recent article about fast-food robots dismantles that advice. Ryan Mills begins with a story of a restaurant providing high-quality, affordable Mediterranean dishes at a food truck park in San Francisco. It was created by three Stanford grad students. Each day, a small team prepares the ingredients. Then the robot takes over.

One review said: “The bad news: Artificial Intelligence is going to kill us. The good news: AI can sure serve up some tasty Mediterranean at a beautiful price.” The co-founder described their invention as what would happen if a vending machine and a restaurant had a baby.

There are many other examples. Sweetgreen (an LA salad chain) debuted its fully automated “Infinite Kitchen” at a restaurant in Illinois. Salad bowls move down a conveyor belt and the robot automatically portions out ingredients.

A CaliExpress burger joint has a robot that cooks burgers and fries. The kiosks, powered by artificial intelligence, allow customers to order and pay. Many believe this may be the first restaurant where all the cooking and ordering are fully automated. The inventor says the robots “don’t call in sick, they don’t get drunk the night before work and come in with a hangover.”

Other restaurants are experimenting with robots to deliver food. And robot bartenders and baristas are in the works. We will likely see more and more robots as states raise the minimum wage and labor costs increase. viewpoints new web version

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