Is Our Waiter a Robot?

Toddler-with-robot-waiter

Via muchies.vice.com

As technology improves and robots become more intelligent–and in many ways more human–the future seems to be slowly approaching Hollywood’s classic model of it. Picture robots serving us food, selling us clothes, and taking over the service industry we depend on. If you think about it, we might already be in our Hollywood-like future.  We have self checkouts, which eliminate the use of human tellers, automated phone receptionists, robotic assembly line workers, and so on. If the future is indeed here, the question isn’t whether or not robots will take our jobs, it’s whether they’ll come to dominate the these kinds of industries entirely. While that may sound terrifying and interesting at the same time, it’s not unreasonable to think that it might actually happen. The University of Oxford published a paper in 2013* that estimated in the next few decades there’s a 92% chance fast-food preparation and serving will be automated. Where will that leave those who fills those jobs now?

 The idea of humans facing off against robots has been around for some time. We’ve clearly benefitted from the machines, but we’ve struggled with them, too. What’s more, finding the middle ground is often easier said than done.  On one hand, we want to be the “masters” of technology and, on the other, we want to incorporate it into our lives such that or creations sweep away the tasks we don’t want or care to handle. –There’s no shortage of popular fiction that tries to grapple with this opposition.  We seem to always have had this push and pull of fearing and loving tech. It might just reside in the fear of change that the future promises. Will the benefits of these robots outweigh our fear? Time will tell.  However, seeing as tech has become so entrenched in our lives, we may very well be sipping on drinks delivered by apron-wearing androids.

How much would you tip a robot?

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http://www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk/publications/view/1314

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