It’s tempting to herald each new announcement of humankind’s glorious automated future with the same PR enthusiasm as the creators of our latest computerized advances.
We’ve bought into the hype ourselves from time to time.
Like when we proclaimed science fiction as “science fact” after a Japanese hotel unveiled its ultra-creepy robot staff.
But this week we’ve been asking ourselves how big a step forward is having our dumplings and roasted duck delivered to us by uncoordinated cyborgs.
When the “Taste and Aroma” restaurant in Guiyang, capital of China’s Guizhou province, rolled out its new robotic wait staff this week, we thought, “Cool, let’s check it out.” (See video above.)
Trouble is, robot waiters have been bleeping and blorping in restaurants across China since at least 2014 and often haven’t lived up to expectations.
On April 4, China’s Workers’ Daily newspaper reported that three restaurants in the Chinese city of Guangzhou recently sacked their robotic staff for incompetence.
“Not only could robots not carry food with too much soup, they also frequently break down,” a staffer was quoted as saying.
“So our boss has stopped using them.”
Two of the restaurants reliant on the machine servers actually had to close down.
While on first glance the five new robots at “Taste and Aroma” seem super-futuristic, it turns out they can only move along fixed paths and are unable to respond to requests from customers.
Frankly, we expect more from our interns – who on their first day in the office can be programmed to fetch tea and coffee faster and cheaper than the $6,500 (each) Chinese kitchen bots.
Don’t get us wrong.
We’re still interested in the future – and robots.
Next time we’re in Guiyang, we might even order a bowl of noodles from one.
Assuming it’s been pre-loaded with gawking-tourist empathy, we might force it to pose for pictures with us.
Local Guizhou media even vouched for their uniformity (report in Chinese), suggesting they won’t discriminate between different customers.
But until they’re able to deliver our food as efficiently as the servers on roller skates back at the old 1950s drive-ins, we’re not going to worry too much about their takeover of the world.