The Ohio-based Wendy's chain is piloting a program at a corporate-owned location in Columbus that does just this: replace fast-food order-taking employees with an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by tech giant Google.
According to Wendy's chief executive Todd Penegor, the test bot will be "very conversational," and customers may not even know they are talking to a robot rather than a real person.
Though still in its testing phase, the Google chatbot that Wendy's is using can apparently already recognize certain keywords from the menu, allowing customers to talk at it and receive their orders with no human inputs.
Wendy's chief information officer Kevin Vasconi claims that the AI chatbot is already better than most of the company's human employees.
"It's at least as good as our best customer service representative, and it's probably on average better," Vasconi said, insulting the thousands of Wendy's restaurant workers who take orders at the drive-thru.
(Related: Earlier this year, an AI chatbot convinced a man to kill himself in order to stop global warming.)
Since money is the only thing that matters in corporate America, Wendy's is continually tweaking the AI chatbot to squeeze as much cash out of customers as possible, including by upselling menu items.
The AI chatbot is also being designed to swiftly take orders and rush customers through the drive-thru lane at warp speed in order to avoid long lines and keep the profits flowing.
However, should a Wendy's customer change an order mid-way or call a menu item by something other than what the AI chatbot recognizes, problems could quickly arise, the company admits.
If one person's order gets all screwed up and the AI chatbot just freezes up, then the entire drive-thru line could get backed up, angering customers and driving them to better establishments like Chick-fil-A and In-N-Out Burger, both of which have optimized their drive-thru lanes using actual humans.
Since very few people even eat at Wendy's anymore, the company is clearly trying to come up with drastic new cost-cutting measures that are likely to dig the company's grave even further – that is, unless it is able to truly "humanize" its Google-created AI chatbot ordering system.
In the comments, someone wrote that it is possible Wendy's customers will figure out a way to hack the AI chatbot to receive free food items, or otherwise tamper with the system since no humans will be present to intervene.
"I'll bet that in one month after implementation, smart humans will find loopholes to order for free from Wendy's Google AI chatbot," this person wrote. "The contest will be at least funny to follow."
Another warned that this is "just the beginning" of the coming conversion to a robot-based economy where humans become obsolete.
"AI is going to create a mess in a lot of ways," this person added.
Another wrote that maybe his Wendy's orders will finally be correct, since apparently the fast-food chain's workers have trouble delivering the correct food items to customers.
"It is hard to get people to work for pittance, let alone sell any products that stink, especially when the product is really bad food," wrote another. "Even if you pay them correctly, which corporations almost never do."
"This is a further continuation of a downward trend of human intelligence. Bigwigs will reap the benefits of more money in their pockets as the rest of society becomes dumber and more dependent on help from those above them."
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