Robots are taking over the world
Sure, you’ve heard that before. You even remember the Twilight Zone episode that warned us about it 60 years ago. But now it’s getting real. One android recently published a novel. At Café X, in San Francisco, robot baristas make and serve coffee, and another California restaurant chain, Caliburger, is trying out a robot that can flip 2000 burgers a day. What human can compete with that? Especially when you consider that androids don’t complain, ask for raises, or microwave fish in the break room.
But before we hand over the keys of society to our automaton overlords, let’s recognise that there’s another side to robot-kind – one that’s all too human. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the coining of the word robot, by the Czech playwright Karel Čapek, we thought it would be fun to take a look at a by-no-means-complete list of AI’s failed attempts to replace us flesh-and-bones types.
Hold the Beothurtreed!
Janelle Shane, an optics research scientist, wanted to find out if artificial intelligence could create a menu that didn’t taste, well, artificial. So, she fed a computer 30,000 cookbook recipes, then programmed it to create its own recipes. The result? Let’s just say McDonald’s has nothing to worry about. One recipe the computer created was something called “Beothurtreed Tuna Pie.” Want to make it? You’ll need the following ingredients:
“1 hard cooked apple mayonnaise”
“5 cup lumps; thinly sliced”
“Surround with 1½ dozen heavy water by high, and drain & cut in ¼ in. remaining the skillet”
Of course, that’s how everyone’s grandmother cooked Beothurtreed Tuna Pie. The computer’s other specialty is the “Tart Cover Shrimp Butter Wol,” which calls for something we all have sitting in our pantry: “1 can fried pale fruit to cover the drain.” Down the drain is probably where the meal will end up after one bite. So will another dish, which required “1 cup grated white rice.” There’s a lot more where this came from, but you get the idea. So make sure you turn down any dinner invitation you get from this computer.
A few years back, the Henn-Na hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, hired 243 robots to cover duties ranging from concierge to bellhop. But not long after the experiment began, it ended with managers “firing” half of the robots because they kept malfunctioning. The check-in robots had trouble answering guest’s questions and photocopying passports, while bellhop robots kept banging into walls and tripping over curbs. If a guest wanted to sleep in late, too bad. One in-room assistant kept waking up a lodger every time he snored, saying, “Sorry, I couldn’t catch that. Could you repeat your request?”