I've got no beef with technology. That said, the increasingly automated nature of certain segments of the food industry does give me pause. A recent article from the Canadian Broadcasting Centre (CBC) introduces us to HyperActive Bob, a robot designed to minimize the involvement of actual people during the fast food experience. According to the article's author, "Despite being one of the world's largest industries, fast food restaurants still depend far too much on human involvement..."
Far too much on human involvement, eh? Without human involvement a fast food restaurant is essentially a vending machine. With a drive-through.
Enter Bob, a robotic sensor mounted on a restaurant's rooftop that detects incoming traffic and tells the staff to start cooking. I know you haven't decided what to order yet, but Bob isn't concerned with such trivialities.
"While early versions of the system tried to profile vehicles and guess what the occupants might order -- a minivan entering the lot could indicate children approaching, for example -- Bob now works on statistics derived solely on traffic volumes."
Woah, not so fast there, Sally. This early version may have been abandoned, but it still provokes THE SHIVERS that someone tried to predict my order based on the make and model of my car.
And there's more. McDonald's in Venezuela uses biometrics -- sensors reading fingerprints and handprints -- to confirm that employees have actually reported to work. "'You'd save not just on payroll expenses but on supervision,' says Peter Cheesman, marketing director for the International Biometric Group in New York. 'If you don't need someone watching people clock in and clock out... you can save thousands of man hours.'"
I bet you can. And we may very well be at a point in our society where biometrics have their place -- in airports, perhaps, and certainly at nuclear power plants. But at a burger joint?